When it comes to concealed carry, the rules are simple you need to use the best concealed carry holster to secure your weapon at all times. When you have a concealed carry permit you will carry your gun daily, which means you need to use a tough, reliable holster that will allow you to quickly and easily access your weapon in the event of an emergency. Additionally, there’s going to be times that you need to carry your weapon and a non-permissive environment. This means that you’ll need to use a deeper concealment holster and gun combo from time to time, which also means that you’ll have to have more than one holster on hand. But if you’re new to the whole concealed carry permit lifestyle then you may not know which type of holster options are available and which one you’ll need in order to honor the restrictions of the permit.
And that’s where I come in. I’ve tested out many of the leading concealed carry holsters on the market and I’ve narrowed it down to six models that any gun enthusiast will love. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide that goes in-depth concerning the different types of holster options available, the benefits and drawbacks of each type, in addition to everything you need to know about this style of holster, how to use them to your benefit, and much more. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that features each of the holsters that made it onto my top 6 list, their best features and how they rated.
Concealed Carry Holster Comparison Chart
Gootus Concealed Carry Holster
This is a comfortable concealed carry holster that features the belly band design. The holster is made out of highly breathable neoprene material that features micro-holes that are designed to prevent excessive sweating. This holster is very versatile and adjustable. It can fit waists measuring up to forty-four inches. It can be worn cross-body, outside the waistband, or inside the waistband. It can also be worn high up like a shoulder holster, at the small of the back, and in the 5 o’clock position, or AIWB.
- Hybrid design
- Works well for shorter firearms only
This hybrid style holster is very versatile and can be worn in a wide variety of concealed carry options. The innovative design allows you to choose the most comfortable position. The highly breathable design and overall comfort of the harness will make it feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. Offered at a great price and compatible with several models of firearms, you can’t go wrong with this top seller from Gootus.
Concealed Carrier Universal IWB Holster
This is an IWB holster that’s made out of breathable and heavily padded surgical-grade elastic neoprene material, complete with air holes for improved airflow. The soft inner padding of the holster is designed to prevent rubbing, irritation, and chafing. The holster is designed to fit firearms of all sizes, which means you can use this holster for all of your handguns. The holster’s thumb break design will allow you to flip up the retention strap using the back of your thumb in order to quickly draw your firearm. Additionally, you can also run, jump, and walk without causing any movement. This is due to the holster’s sturdy metal clip, which holds your firearm securely in place. This model comes with an extra clip holster that you can use for a taser, pepper spray, a folding knife, or an extra magazine.
- Heavily padded
- Includes free extra smaller holster
- Weapon can get stuck inside holster
This breathable neoprene holster is lightweight, heavily padded, versatile, beginner-friendly, and highly adjustable. The universal design allows you to use it with any type of handgun, in the IWB concealed carry position. This model comes with a small extra holster that can be used to secure a non-lethal weapon, such as pepper spray or a folding knife, which is a great extra for most buyers. Overall, this holster is class all the way and features the type of versatile design that most gun owners are looking for.
Depring Concealed Carry Holster
This holster features a universal fit for the IWB carry position. It’s designed to fit compact and subcompact handguns and offers the type of durability you need in a holster designed for daily use. The holster is made out of eight hundred denier nylon that’s designed to prevent tearing. The elastic retention straps, complete with strong snap buttons can keep your gun securely in the holster for a silent and fast draw. The holster also features an ambidextrous design, which means it can be used by both right-handed and left-handed users.
- Universal fit
- Ambidextrous design
- Design allows for silent draws
- Designed for compact and subcompact handguns only
- Not breathable
This model earned top marks in a variety of areas, but the fact that it will only accommodate subcompact and compact handguns can be a big drawback for many buyers. Additionally, because the holster is not made out of breathable material, when worn in hot weather, you can expect excessive sweating. While the holster is durable and highly adjustable, it does come with some limitations that can be a deal-breaker for some buyers.
Concealed Carry Glock IWB Holster
This is a right-handed style IWB holster that’s specifically designed for Glocks. It features a lightweight design and positive retention assurance in the form of an audible clicking sound. The retention can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the hex nut located on the bottom of the holster. The holster’s angle can be easily adjusted in order to accommodate a zero to twenty-degree cant.
- Covered by a lifetime warranty
- Lightweight design
- Highly adjustable
- Works for Glocks only
This model is specifically designed for Glocks and features a highly adjustable and durable design, making it perfect for daily use. The holster is covered by a one hundred percent money-back guarantee, no questions asked, which is a huge incentive for Glock owners looking for a sure thing. The holster has a reputation for its comfortable fit and lightweight design of just a couple of ounces, making this a great choice for the Glock enthusiast in search of a holster that’s both durable and breathable.
TACwolf Universal Right Left IWB OWB Holster
This concealed carry holster by Tacwolf comes with one OWB/IWB holster and two holster magazines. It’s designed for both right hand and left-hand draws and provides faster access to your firearm, which is something every buyer is looking for. The holster will work for compact handguns only. This model can fit inside the pants or outside, features a design that’s highly adjustable, and it’s made out of breathable neoprene, for a more comfortable fit.
- Ambidextrous design
- OWB/IWB carry positions
- Designed for faster draws
- Designed for compact handguns only
Made out of lightweight, breathable, and soft neoprene, complete with padding located on the inside of the holster, this model is so comfortable and light, you’ll forget you’re wearing it. Built tough, designed to last, and designed with a faster draw in mind, this is one holster you don’t want to pass up.
Pole Craft Concealed Carry Holster
This IWB holster is rugged, durable, and can easily be concealed in your waistband. Made out of high-quality kydex, this model is designed specifically for the Smith and Wesson 9MM. The holster is washable, waterproof, and sweat-proof. The cant can be customized using a screwdriver, making this model highly adjustable. The belt clip is made out of fiberglass and nylon and can be adjusted from zero to fifteen degrees. The retention pressure is also adjustable, so you can adjust it to achieve the designed extraction strength.
- Made out of Kydex
- Only designed for the Smith & Wesson 9MM
This model is not exactly versatile in terms of the guns it’s compatible with, but the Smith & Wesson owner will fall in love with its durability and adjustable design. This holster is made out of tough Kydex and is covered by a lifetime warranty that will provide buyers with peace of mind knowing their holster is covered and that the manufacturer clearly stand behind its products.
Concealed Carry Holster Buyer’s Guide
After you’ve purchased your firearm, deciding on the type of holster you’re going to use is going to be one of the most important decisions you make. There many different styles and types of holsters on the market these days. Unfortunately, many of these models are not ideal for a concealed carry weapon.
If you’re a new firearm owner, then you may be wondering what type of features you should look for in a concealed carry holster.
In order to find the right model, look for the following:
- Trigger coverage
Before I get started going over these important features, first, let’s take a look at the many benefits that come with wearing this type of holster.
Benefits of a Concealed Carry Holster
Concealed carry holsters are designed to keep your firearm secure and safe. It will also protect you from accidentally discharging your firearm which is a common occurrence with those new to firearm ownership who decide to carry their weapon in their pocket. Holsters will not only protect you but they will protect your firearm from damage that can be caused when it’s placed in your waistband or in your pocket making it more susceptible to scratches and dings especially if it rubs up against your belt or another type of irritating surface
Buying a solid concealed carry gun holster can be difficult if you don’t know much about the benefits of using the right one. Purchasing this type of holster isn’t a major deal since most holsters are essentially the same. However, finding one that works for you is very important.
Holsters are designed to protect your gun. Some models will allow your gun to stick out which can make the gun visible and susceptible to damage. When you purchase a good concealed carry holster you can avoid both of these issues. When you’re dealing with this type of holster, there are certain specifications that work to conceal the gun and protect it from damage.
If you pocket carry which involves placing your gun in your pocket, then you’re doing a few things. First, you’re taking up valuable space in your pockets that is normally used to carry your personal items such as your cell phone and keys. Second, you’re also putting yourself at risk of injury. When you put a gun in your pocket it’s not exactly the best idea, but for a short-term problem, it can be a good solution. For example, if you’re carrying a gun from the shooting range back to your vehicle. But if you’re keeping your gun in your pocket for a longer period of time, such as when you’re out running errands, you could potentially hurt yourself. This is where a concealed carry holster comes in.
Another benefit of using the style of holster is the fact that they’re highly adjustable so you don’t have to be uncomfortable when you’re carrying your weapon. If you don’t purchase this specific style of holster you may be uncomfortable, and it can also make it difficult to access your gun in an emergency. Additionally, these types of holsters are very versatile and can accommodate different styles of guns.
Other Important Features
When it comes to using a concealed carry weapon the most important aspect of keeping your weapon on your person is safety. More than likely you’ve heard the concealed carry safety rules by now, but if you haven’t it’s important that you learn them in order to ensure your safety and the safety of others when you’re out of your home and wearing a weapon.
The safety rules include:
- Every weapon should be treated like it’s loaded
- Never point your gun at anything that you’re not willing to shoot
- Your finger should be kept straight and off the trigger unless you intend to fire
- Always know what your target is and what lies beyond it
- Each of these rules is very important and should always be kept in mind when you’re out of the home and wearing your weapon.
Because of these safety rules, finding the right type of concealed gun carry holster is crucial. So, what makes a good holster?
As I mentioned earlier, there are many different styles and types of these holsters on the market. But many of them do not reach the type of safety standards needed in order to ensure your gun is protected and easily accessible to you when you need it the most.
When you’re shopping for a holster, make sure that you look for the following:
- Complete trigger coverage
- Positive grip
- Body and skin protection
- Weapon protection
- Excellent concealability
- Durable design
Below, I’ll go over each of these important features and how to find a holster that can deliver.
There are many models of holsters currently on the market where the trigger is covered by a slim piece of material or it’s not covered at all. In order to ensure your safety, it’s best to choose a holster that’s made out of a durable material that fully covers the trigger. It’s your job to do everything you can to prevent the possibility of a gun discharge. Leather or Kydex are both good examples of sturdy material that you should look for. Both types of material do a great job when it comes to protecting the trigger. Kydex is a type of material that is essentially nothing more than a type of polymer composite that’s formed in the shape of the gun with many properties that allow it to do its job. There are some models on the market that will feature a design that contains both a leather backing and Kydex for the shell.
A good holster with solid retention will securely keep your gun in place. In order to test out a holster’s retention, stick the gun in a holster, turn it upside down, and if the gun falls out the holster has poor retention. In some cases, this will simply mean that the retention must be adjusted. This can be done via a screw or you may need to use a different method of carrying or a different holster all together. Holster retention must be strong enough to prevent the firearm from moving out of place but should have enough give to allow you to remove your firearm quickly.
Unless you have a permit that allows you to carry openly, then you’ll want your weapon kept in a discrete position where it cannot be seen by the public.
There are many styles of holsters that specifically cater to this. As an example, waistband holsters offer a significantly better level of concealment compared to outside the waistband holsters. As far as the inside waistband holsters are concerned, they have a reputation for offering the best concealment.
Appendix carry involves a gun that is placed in the front of the belly button and ends at the pelvic bone. However, if you want to use this type of holster, it may not be the most comfortable. Essentially, it will depend on the body type and what works best for you. I recommend playing around with your holster a bit in order to find a balance between concealment and comfort.
Obviously, your holster must protect your gun. Over time, some of the harder materials can cause rub marks on the gun’s finish. The holster may also rub your skin the wrong way, leading to redness and irritation. While it’s not a huge deal, it can be very uncomfortable and may cause you to not carry your gun as often as you should.
Additionally, if you choose the wrong type of holster, it can also damage furniture and clothing. If you’ve ever used metal clips on a holster in the past, then you’ve probably noticed that they can wear holes in your clothing. While plastic clips are not quite as strong, they do their job well and are much gentler on your skin, clothing, and furniture compared to metal.
The holster you use will allow you to easily draw and fire from any position you’re in, including directly off the body, should an attacker fall on top of you. I recommend buying a holster position where the wearer is able to reach their weapon using their weak hand.
Different Types of Concealed Carry Holsters
If you’re shopping specifically for a concealed carry holster there are a few different options available:
- Belly band
This is an outside of the waistband holster. When you carry your holster on the outside of your waistband instead of on the inside you need to wear a cover garment in order to conceal the weapon. Concealing a holster when you’re wearing it outside of the waistband is done by wearing a baggy t-shirt, a jacket, or your favorite blue sweatshirt. As you can see, these concealed carry holsters really don’t conceal much and it will be up to you to wear some type of clothing that can prevent people on the streets from seeing your weapon.
This type of holster offers more variety than OWB models. They’re a perfect choice for concealed carry because they’re concealed. However, there are some drawbacks with the style, as you may need to change up your wardrobe so you can accommodate a gun on the inside of your waistband. In many cases, this seems to impact women more since their clothing tends to be more form-fitting. It can make it impossible really for you to comfortably wear one of these holsters unless you’re willing to go up a couple of dress sizes and have the extra space inside your waistband to accommodate your gun and prevent it from moving.
However, a well-made model will not print, which means that it will not show a stark outline of the gun through your clothing. Many wears also claim that this style of holster is probably the most comfortable, since they are designed to hold your gun higher on your waist compared to the outside waistband models and they offer excellent retention while also protecting the trigger guard.
Appendix Inside the Waistband
Appendix inside the waistband, or AIWB holsters are essentially IWB holsters with a twist. Carrying this type of holster means that you’re holstering your weapon around the one position. Because of the pelvic placement, you will also look a lot cooler drawing your weapon.
The type of material that the holster is made out of should be another important consideration. As I mentioned earlier, both kaydex and leather are great options. You will also run into nylon holsters and hybrid designs.
In the past, most gun owners preferred holsters that were made out of leather. A leather holster tends to be much more comfortable, versatile, and more durable. A good design should be molded to your gun and should not be simply glued or sewn in a gun shape. But with this style of holster, the retention is going to vary so you will need to pay attention to your specific needs, prior to picking out a new model. If you’re considering retention, keep in mind one major advantage of using a holster that’s made out of leather is the fact that they don’t stick and they don’t prevent you from quickly removing your firearm.
Because of how it can be shaped, Kydex is currently one of the hottest choices for holster designs. Throw in the fact that it has a reputation for withstanding plenty of damage and a longer lifespan than even some types of leather holsters, it’s easy to see why Kydex models are crushing the market. A holster that’s made out of Kydex will secure the frame and slide and will cover the trigger guard completely. One of the best things about this style is how precisely it is molded to any gun and whatever sights and lasers the gun has. The big drawback here is that it can break, usually at the worst time.
For the gun enthusiast, nylon is an option they will quickly pass by. A holster that’s made out of nylon is formless and soft, however, they’re incredibly affordable and comfortable to use but most serious gun owners will not use an all-nylon holster. Usually, it’s the beginners that make this mistake. While it’s true that there are some types of soft holsters that work well, many are very thin and flimsy. Does this type of holster ever work? They can, but they’re not the best choice for a concealed carry weapon.
If you have experience using a holster, then you either love or hate hybrid models. A basic hybrid will feature a Kydex shell and a leather back. The shell of the holster is held in place via some screws or pins and they can be very comfortable to wear, due to their highly adjustable design. However, before you head straight for this type of holster you should become familiar with the disadvantages and advantages that come with using one. while these holsters can be very comfortable to use and they offer decent retention, they tend to crack or they can fail dramatically. If you’ve decided to try out a hybrid holster, make sure that it’s built tough and has a reputation for quality. You should also pay close attention to wear since these holsters tend to wear out much faster than traditional models.
Wearing and Adjusting an IWB Holster
Since these holsters are by far the most popular option, I decided to go over how to use one, adjust it, and carry it comfortably. The IWB holster features a standard design for concealed carry weapons since this type of holster is the easiest to conceal. It’s also considered one of the most comfortable to use.
There are a few tips you want to follow in order to use this holster more comfortably.
- Putting on your holster is the first step. The installation process will greatly depend on the type of holster you’re wearing. There are some models that are designed for easy installation, while others are more difficult to use. The idea behind this style is to simply slide it inside the waistband and go. However, many people have found that the holster design takes some adjustment in order to ensure the holster retains the gun well. Keep in mind, with a larger firearm it will put a lot of weight in one spot.
- Because of this, the winged inside the waist belt holster design is so popular. The hybrid design simply works better. The weight of the firearm is nicely spread over a larger area and the holster is able to retain the gun due to having its own pacifier tension. However, the style of hybrid holster can also be more difficult to install. The first time you put on your holster make sure that you do so without your gun in place because it will give you a better feel for the design.
- To put the holster on, start off by undoing your belt and unfastening your pants. Next, you’ll slide the holster between your waistband until you have reached the right carry position. You’ll then slide the belt clips over your belt and fasten your pants and the belt. I recommend installing the holster in front of a mirror the first few times. Once you’ve found the right position and gotten the hang of quickly installing it, you can try doing so with your gun. With the gun installed, keep in mind that you’ll have to adjust your belt or waistband for a more comfortable fit.
- Placing the holster in the back carry position can be difficult for some people especially those that are overweight. Three o’clock and nine o’clock is the point of each hip while six o’clock is in the middle of the back, with the belly button and 12 o’clock.
- Once you have put the holster on you may find that you need to adjust or loosen the retention shell on the inside of the waistband before you put it in your firearm.
- With some styles of holsters, the factory settings on the hardware can be very loose or tight depending on the specific model. Adjusting the retention is done via grommets, hex screws, or Chicago Screws.
- In order to ensure you have a good fit make sure you start off by unloading and clearing your firearm then try to insert it into the holster. If your firearm is able to go smoothly into the holster without any issues and you’re not able to draw it without feeling like the firearm came out too loosely or it required too much effort to pull out then it should’ve, then you’ll need to make an adjustment.
- As an example. If you need to tweak your holster, make sure you use the included hardware tool to slowly loosen the hex bolt set anchor to adjust the holster’s tension. You can tighten or take out the bolts using small increments. I don’t recommend using more than a 1/2 turn at a time. Make sure that you take your time and test each new setting by both drawing the gun and holstering it until you’ve achieved the desired setting.
- Once you have determined the right amount of tension and the correct positioning, then you’ll want to experiment with adjusting the cant. For some models, in order to do this, all you have to do is make an adjustment to the holster’s clasps. This is often done using an Allen wrench to unscrew them, then placing them down or up depending on how you want the grips on your firearm to face
In the end, make sure that you pay close attention to the included instructions, in order to make the proper adjustments and ensure that you’re able to easily, smoothly, and quickly remove or holster your firearm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Inside Waistband Holsters Comfortable?
Yes and no. How comfortable this type of holster is can depend on the type of material it’s made out of. Many IWC holsters are made out of Kydex, which is a much more comfortable material that will not mold to your body like neoprene, leather, or suede holsters, so it will not cause excessive sweating. These holsters are also a good choice for the gun owner who wants a minimalist design for a price that’s affordable. Additionally, comfort can also depend on your clothing. If you’re willing to wear some loose pants, a pair that will give you an extra few inches at the waist, then this type of holster is a great option.
Can I Conceal Carry in My Pocket?
Concealed pocket carry is usually best done when the gun is kept in the front pocket of your pants, or a cargo pocket, or in a jacket pocket. But with the right choice of holster and gun, and with a little practice, a pocket carry with a holster can be a great concealed carry method. However, for beginners, I recommend choosing an alternative method, such as a waistband carry.
Is it illegal to carry without a holster?
Whether or not it’s legal to carry a gun without a holster will vary from state to state. In some states, carrying a gun without a holster is legal, yet it’s not the safest method to use. Instead, I recommend purchasing a concealed gun holster, which is designed to protect both you and your weapon, while making the gun easily accessible.
Can I Open Carry Without a Holster?
An open carry handgun is allowed with the proper permit, as long as the gun is in a shoulder or belt holster. A permit is required for any type of chambered firearm. Using a holster is required since it’s the safest way to carry a firearm and protects both you from injury and the gun from damage by properly securing and covering the weapon.
Is Carrying a Handgun in a Holster Considered Concealed?
A concealed weapon must be concealed when carried. This means it should be secured in a holster and hidden from plain view by clothing. You are not able to keep your firearm in a manner that makes it highly visible.
The best concealed carry holster will allow the user to carry their weapon safely, while keeping it highly accessible so you are able to access your firearm when you need it. Concealed carry holsters will allow you to carry a weapon safely on your body and keep it out of sight until it’s needed. If you’re new to carrying a weapon this way, then you may be surprised to learn that there are many different types of holsters to choose from, each of which has their own advantages and drawbacks. In order to choose one that works for you, you’ll need to find a type that suits your needs. This guide and the top six products that made it onto my lineup are designed to help guide you on the path to finding the perfect model, one that’s durable, reliable, highly adjustable, and designed to keep your firearm safe yet highly accessible so you’re able to use it in the event of an emergency.