When you choose a handgun and holster, you are investing in a concealed carry system. The holster is an important part of the system, at least as important as the handgun itself. I have seen too many unserviceable, sorry excuses for holsters in my classes, and the hell of it is many carry such holsters to defend their life!
They have practiced little, if at all, in drawing from these holsters. The owner is constantly adjusting the holster, using the arm to re-position the holstered handgun or otherwise regarding the holster as a chafing nuisance. The holster must offer a balance of speed and access, as well as retention. The holster must suit your handgun, body, and daily garments. Some may find a crossdraw works well, others a strong side scabbard. Most will find the inside the waistband holster works well.
It is asking for trouble to wear a holster that protrudes under the covering garment, and it really isn’t wise to choose the largest handgun you think you can carry. I have worn the Government Model 1911 for many years but mostly carry a lightweight Commander these days. It works with quality, well designed and executed holsters.
The Beretta 92s, or big frame Glock handguns such as the Model 21, are a stretch for anyone, not to mention a four-inch barrel Magnum revolver. It takes dedication to carry a handgun of appropriate size, beginning with the Glock 19 and SIG P229, but it can be done.
I like quality leather holsters for most applications. The leather should be tight on the handgun, meaning that the handgun must wear-in to enable a sharp draw speed. The holster will also more or less adapt to the body, making for a comfortable ride. You will know it is there and that is as it should be.
A high ride pancake or a strong side belt scabbard is good if worn under a concealment vest. The Galco Stinger, as an example, is a very fast holster for compact-type handguns. The Galco Hornet is a great holster for crossdraw use, allowing the wearer to draw the handgun when seated or driving.
Inside the waistband holsters are probably the best choice for most of us. The inside the waistband (IWB) design keeps the handgun hidden inside the trousers, with only the gun butt exposed. This means that a much shorter covering garment may be worn to cover the handgun. A strong-side belt holster demands that the covering garment reach all of the way to the tip of the holster and a bit beyond. While the strong-side holster is faster and offers a natural draw, the design doesn’t lend itself as well to concealed carry.
The late great Lou Alessi, one of the great minds of holster making and an immensely talented individual, called safety straps ‘suicide straps.’ He felt that a properly design holster for concealed carry should have enough tension to maintain retention on the handgun—otherwise, the design wasn’t well suited to concealed carry. I agree. This type of holster demands a break-in period and will serve well for personal defense.
This is the type of holster that you should execute a solid 100 draws from before carrying it with the handgun. Another recommendation is the sweat guard. The sweat guard keeps the handgun and the skin separated. This protects the finish of the handgun and prevents the handgun from gouging soft skin.
An important consideration is the gun belt. This is an important load-bearing device. Dress-type belts are not useful for concealed carry. The gun belt can be stylish, and it must be thick enough to keep the trousers at bay from slipping. The handgun and holster must be in exactly the same place, day after day and for each draw. Otherwise, the draw may be an awkward pantomime.
Practice the draw often and choose your leather with an eye toward quality, suitability for your daily chores, and for a balance of speed and retention. Use a holster designed for a specific mission and stick to it. Moreover, practice the proper techniques.
Do you have a favorite holster? What feature or features makes it stand out for you? Share your answers in the comment section.
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