The most important decision you make after deciding you’re going to carry concealed and buying your first gun is buying your first holster for said gun. There are literally thousands of options out there from hundreds of companies and it can be a bit overwhelming.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: after you finally decide what holster to get and you plunk down your hard-earned money on it … you’re going to buy another holster. Sometimes, it will be simply because you want to. Other times, it will be because you have to.
Homework: go ask any gun owner / concealed carrier you know how many holsters they own. Go on, I’ll wait.
OK, welcome back. Did they immediately smile or chuckle or blush or shake their head … or do all of the above? That’s because we’ve all got a box (or two or three) full of holsters we bought that we just knew was going to be the holster. Period. Or not.
There are a lot of things related to holsters that people don’t find out until they’ve been carrying for awhile. It’s not as comfortable as I thought it would be; it inhibits my movement; the retention isn’t as good as I’d like; I cannot access my gun when sitting; I think I’d prefer crossdraw; maybe I’d like to try appendix carry, and so on and so forth.
The fact of the matter is that the quest for the perfect holster is a fool’s errand—almost. It may feel like that while you’re searching, but eventually you’ll find something you like.
So, to help you figure things out along the way, here are five common issues and fixes for people who are looking for the perfect holster.
Kydex is too unforgiving.
Try a leather holster. Obviously, it’s a much softer and more forgiving material than kydex. Or, you can try a hybrid holster that combines a Kydex shell that molds to the gun on the front with a soft leather backing that provides some flexibility and more comfort against the skin when worn inside the waistband.
My holster positions my gun that makes it hard to reach when seated.
You’re probably wearing a holster that positions the gun somewhere just behind your hip or possibly even in the small of your back. That’s fine while standing, but cumbersome when seated.
Try a crossdraw holster, which is worn on your weak side in front of your hip. Or, you can try an appendix holster, which puts the gun right at the front of your waist.
There’s too much (or not enough) retention.
If the holster is holding your gun too snugly or too loosely, first make sure you have the right holster for your gun. Most holsters are make and model specific. In this case, close is not good enough. An exact match is key. Many holsters offer a tension adjustment mechanism that can often solve this problem, but not always.
If it’s still too loose for your liking and it’s a kydex holster, you can remold certain areas of the holster (like the trigger guard) to provide for a more snug fit. I’ve done this on one of my holsters. A word of caution: never do the remolding with a loaded gun. Doing it with a stand-in like a Blue Gun is OK, but you also have to test the holster with a real unloaded gun to make sure you haven’t reshaped it to the point where it engages the trigger—that’s a very bad thing.
Conversely, you can remold the holster to make the fit less precise, providing an easier draw if you’re having trouble. To do this, you can use a heat gun like in this video. You can even remold some Kydex holsters to fit a different gun of roughly the same size, like this YYouTuber does.
If you’ve got a leather holster that’s too loose, you can look into getting one that has an extra method of retention, such as a snap closure thumb break or a hammer thong. If you’d prefer not to do that, you can always opt for getting the holster wet.
This can help in both ways: you can slightly reshape the leather for a tighter or looser fit by working it when wet and then letting it dry in the modified shape.
This setup is too heavy and uncomfortable on my belt.
The first thing to do here doesn’t involve the holster; it involves the gun. Make sure you’re carrying a gun that is sized comfortably for you. Perhaps a 39 oz. N-frame Smith & Wesson revolver isn’t right for you. Instead, try a smaller wheelgun or a polymer semi-automatic. Both will be lighter.
If the size of the gun isn’t an issue, try getting a holster that fits your body differently or is carried in a different position. Some holsters distribute the gun’s weight differently than others. Changing that variable might be just what you need.
I don’t (or can’t) wear a holster on my midsection.
There are plenty of other options to choose from. Pocket carry, ankle carry, and shoulder rigs all get the gun completely off of your waistline.
If you don’t mind a gun on your midsection but want to carry without a belt, try a belly band. These elastic holsters are designed to hug your waistline and firmly (but comfortably) keep your gun in place.
BONUS: Problem #6
Everyone is their own harshest critic. Of course you can see the outline of your gun when you look in the mirror—you know exactly where to look to see it! In reality, the majority of society isn’t paying close enough attention to you or scrutinizing your wardrobe in an effort to see if you’re carrying a gun.
Once you get more comfortable with carrying, the fear of being “made” in public will go away. There’s no such thing as a print-proof holster, but you can certainly minimize it by dressing around your gun and choosing a carry method that best suits your body shape and your firearm. And of course, a colder climate requiring layers and coats makes everything a lot easier.
Most of us have limited financial resources. Buying a new gun, ammunition, range time, and even some training can be expensive. Don’t cheap out on the holster.
The sooner you come to terms with the fact that a good holster is going to cost good money, the better. Besides, once you find the (almost) perfect holster for you, you won’t even think about how much it cost or how many duds you’ve got in your closet.
Don’t believe me? Go ask the same person who smiled, chuckled, blushed, and shook their head from your earlier homework assignment. They’ll tell you the same thing.