When you’re starting out in concealed carry, it’s a little overwhelming. Not only are you worrying about the new responsibilities of carrying concealed and all the different gun choices, but you also have to think about how you’re going to carry it.
I’m writing this post specifically for males because I’ve been there and I know what worked and what didn’t work for me. Some of these options may work for females as well, but because of the difference in clothing, we plan to do another post just for women’s concealed carry.
So what kinds of options are out there for guys? I think the most common choices are: inside the waistband holster, outside the waistband holster, shoulder holster, ankle holster, and pocket holster. Of course there are other ways to carry, but from working in a gun store for a few years, these always seemed to be the most common choices.
So let’s break each one these down slightly and I’ll let you in on some of the pros and cons I’ve noticed with each one.
Inside the Waistband Holster – This is quite possibly the most common and easiest way to carry for guys. This is the way I personally choose to carry. Essentially, it’s a holster that fits between the top of your pants and your underwear. There is usually a clip that fits over the top of your pants and may even hook onto your belt. This secures the holster from moving around. There are tons of different styles of holsters. There are leather, kydex (kind of like a hard plastic), cross breed, and a few others. I personally like the leather/suede styles because they seem to fit the most comfortably. But once you’ve decided on the material and holster, then you have to decide where you want to position the holster. This just takes some playing around and getting used to. Some people like it in the front of their pants. Some like it on their lower back. Some like it on their hip. I personally have my holster situated barely behind my right hip bone. It’s far enough forward that I can draw pretty easily, but it’s comfortable to walk, run and sit with. — A little tip if you’re wanting to carry it in the small of your back. Get the opposite handed holster. So if you’re a right hander, get a left handed holster. This way, it’s natural to draw with your right hand. — One last tip, make sure you test sitting with the holster that you want. This is where I’ve found the most discomfort with holsters. You want to be able to sit naturally and for long periods of time if necessary in case you’re in a car or something.
Outside the Waistband Holster – This is a less common carry option but there are people who love it. This works especially well if you wear a suit jacket or even a baggy coat or top. This is almost always carried on the dominant hip with the clothing or jacket draped over to conceal it. There are a lot of options for material but the two most common I would say would probably be the kydex style or a nylon style. The nylon ones allow for a “pancake” shape. This keeps the gun’s profile slim and close to the body. The downside is, it doesn’t hold it’s shape and it tends to bounce around a little more. You’ll usually want some sort of retention on outside the waistband holsters as well since the gun is more exposed. Generally this can be something as simple as a strap that goes over the gun’s grip and buttons closed. On the kydex style, there may be a button or a certain movement that unlocks the gun. This is a very comfortable way to carry the gun but it’s one of the harder ways to actually keep it concealed.
Shoulder Holster – These holsters fit on a strap that you wear around your shoulders. Most of them fit on like backpack straps and then have the holster on the weak side of your body. This is a very comfortable holster style to wear but it’s very difficult to conceal in the everyday world unless you wear a suit jacket consistently. These are usually nylon or leather. They also usually have a button style release on the holster. A nice option is that some of them allow you to carry additional magazines and accessories on the other side of the shoulder strap.
Ankle Holster – This is one of the most commonly sought after holsters. I think it’s because most beginners think it is the most comfortable, out of the way option to carry concealed. While that may be true, it’s still somewhat awkward. Generally, it’s made of nylon and secured with velcro around your ankle. Obviously, the smaller the gun, the easier and more comfortable it will be to carry on your ankle. So on the plus side, it can be comfortable and it can be something that’s out of the way completely. On the down side, you can only carry a very small gun and drawing from it can be extremely awkward. You can’t lift your leg off the ground and draw from it. You have to physically bend over to reach the gun. This doesn’t seem like an ideal situation to me. I think the only time I could rationalize an ankle holster would be if it were for a backup weapon. There are many people who like to carry two guns. Usually they have one bigger one on their hip, and small, micro-carry on their ankle for backup. Other than that, it just doesn’t make sense.
Pocket Holster – Pocket holsters are certainly designed for a specific style of gun. Most importantly, the gun needs to fit in your pocket. Pocket holsters are usually made of something light and thin like nylon. You simply put the gun in the pouch and put the pouch in your pocket. There are usually no clips or anything. However, on some models, I have seen a stickier exterior on the holster so that when you draw the gun from the holster, the holster stays in your pocket. Pocket holsters are awesome because they’re extremely comfortable and easy to draw from. The only reservation I have with them is again, they only allow for a really small gun. They also take up some valuable pocket space.
So there you have it. A quick and dirty rundown of (what I think) are the most popular styles of holsters for male concealed carry. Hopefully those gave you a little more insight and at least narrowed down the playing field for you.
We’ll do a future post on individual holsters and the benefits of each style of material but for now, this should get you going. If you have any questions or feedback, leave them in the comments below. Let us know what you’re favorite way to carry is.