Reviewed: New Handgun Holsters
We check out the latest and most innovative holsters on the market in 2017.
As concealed carry grows at unprecedented levels across the country, holster makers are coming up with new and improved designs to meet the needs of this diverse group of gun owners.
Here’s a look at some great new holsters that will not only help conceal your gun, but also keep it safe and secure through your daily routine.
The Blackhawk A.R.C. is easily reversible and can be used in appendix or hip positions. author photo
If you want versatility, check out the Blackhawk! A.R.C. holster. While A.R.C. stands for Appendix Reversible Carry, you don’t have to use it in that position because it works equally well in more traditional hip locations too. It comes with two belt clips so you can choose to mount it on 1.5- or 1.75-inch belts. To switch it between right- and left-hand operation, just move the belt clip to the matching holes on the opposite side of the polymer holster body. The holster body is well out of the way of the rear sight area, so if you want to carry a pistol with a red-dot sight, it’ll work fine. There’s a retention screw so you can adjust draw tension to your preference.
Just three models of the Blackhawk! Omnivore work with over 400 handguns. That’s because the holster mounts to a weapon light or rail accessory and doesn’t have to be shaped to the gun’s frame. mfg photo
Carnivores are awesome, and I consider myself to be one, but omnivores might be a step higher on the food chain because they eat both meat AND Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. While the Blackhawk! Omnivore won’t eat your dinner, it will consume all types of guns.
Designed primarily to solve the problem of having to make a near-infinite number of holsters to fit every gun and weapon-mounted light combination, the Omnivore takes a completely different approach to securing your gun. The gun barely contacts the holster. Instead, the holster attaches to either a weapon-mounted light or a small rail attachment. As a result, the company can maintain compatibility with over 150 different handguns. That’s the official number—company insiders tell me they’ve tested successfully with over 400 models.
Currently, there are three Omnivore holsters available. One fits Streamlight TLR-1 and TLR-2 weapon lights. The second is made for the Surefire X300 models. The last is designed to fit that discreet rail attachment. Just mount the rail adapter to each of your pistols (that have rails), and the same holster will work with all of them.
It’s a level 2 retention holster, so the gun stays put until you depress a thumb button as you draw. I found it quick and intuitive, and you can literally pick up a holster wearer up by the gun inside the holster without the holster letting go.
The Blue Force Gear Double Pistol Belt Pouch is made of a military-grade elastic material that’s seemingly indestructible, but retains its ultra-stretchiness through use over time. mfg photo
If you carry a pistol, you ought to carry a spare magazine as well. You’ll get two benefits from toting around a little extra bulk: more ammo, and a spare for the part of your pistol system most likely to fail. The Blue Force Gear Double Pistol Belt Pouch is one of the handiest things I’ve used in years. It’s made of a military-grade elastic material that’s seemingly indestructible but retains its ultra-stretchiness through use over time.
When empty, the pouches are thinner than a piece of cardboard. Stuff a magazine in, and it’s held securely, with no sharp edges to dig into your soft spots. It’s also a one-size-fits-all system so you can put single- or double-stack magazines of virtually any type in the pouches. We’re talking about the dual pouch model here but you can also order a single pouch version that works the same way. One more thing: If you get the double pouch version, you can use one for a magazine and the other for something else like a flashlight, knife, or pocket tool. This gear is insanely handy.
A while back we reviewed a novel inside-the-waistband solution, the Clinger No-Print Wonder holster, which smartly combines Kydex and leather for improved concealment. Even though the new Comfort Clink also works inside the waistband, the brand-new Comfort Cling takes a completely different approach. This soft holster is made from three layers: a sticky exterior, a gel-like center, and a ballistic nylon interior. The tacky exterior makes it a great pocket holster, because it will remain in your pocket when you draw the gun. These same sticky qualities allow you to use it as a clip-less inside-the-waistband holster. It will stay put tucked between clothing and body via surprisingly effective friction. The gel-like layer dampens sharp gun edges and improves comfort.
The Comp-Tac Cavalry is designed specifically for the new breed of compact pistols like the Glock 42/43, Kimber Solo, Ruger LC9/LCP, and Sig Sauer P238/P938, among others. Like other Comp-Tac models, the Cavalry is adjustable for ride height and can’t angle—you just move the belt clips to different positions on the backing.
The Cavalry brings hybrid holster benefits to compact handguns. mfg photo
Hybrid holsters that use a large and comfortable backing married to a Kydex gun pouch are everywhere. Why? Because they work well. The large backing provides comfort and stability, and Kydex conforms exactly to a gun’s contours for security and retention.
Approximate Street Price: $25
The XDSC Holsters from Fobus use a super-simple mounting method. These holsters go inside the waistband and rely on two hooks to stay in place. The top hook goes over the belt, while the bottom hook catches on the lower edge of the belt through the pants. It’s easy to install and remove without undressing and reconfiguring your belt. Fobus makes the backing from ventilated rubber to help keep you cool and dry. The gun pouch is injection-molded polymer that’s shaped to your specific gun model.
The newest iteration of the popular Galco KingTuk series features ventilation holes in the backing to keep you cool and reduce sweat buildup. mfg photo
If you live in a rice-cooker climate like I do, you might appreciate the latest iteration of the popular Galco KingTuk line. Like its predecessors, the Air model is a hybrid holster made with a large steer hide backing for comfort and stability, and a Kydex holster pocket for thin profile and gun security. The idea is to get the best of both worlds from the two materials. The Kydex pocket is strong and ultra-thin, so the overall bulk inside your waistband is minimized. It also provides a perfect fit for your gun and excellent friction retention.
This new Air version comes with a heavily perforated back panel to allow airflow between the holster and your body. It fits belts up to 1 3/4 inches wide. This holster is tuckable, meaning that you can pull your shirt over the gun grip and tuck it in behind the belt clips. Optional C-hook clips are available to minimize what shows on the exterior of the belt in the tucked configuration.
The heavy-duty snap loops allow you to place and remove the Galco Side Snap Scabbard after your belt is in place.
If you like to carry in an outside-the-waistband holster, then you know that advance planning is a requirement. As you get dressed, you must remember to mount the holster as you’re running your gun belt through your pants belt loops. The Galco Side Snap Scabbard does away with that requirement because the holster loops open and close with heavy-duty snaps. I’ve been using one with a Sig Sauer P226, and the system works like a champ. The snaps stay put and do not come open, even during vigorous physical activity.
The holster is high quality. Made from steer hide, it also features a reinforced mouth so you can easily re-holster your gun one-handed. There’s an adjustment screw to set retention force to your preference, and the cant angle positions the gun’s butt forward for a smooth draw. It’ll fit belts up to 1 1/2 inches wide.
The name is pronounced “Nate squared” because two guys named Nate started the company. Yes, really. I met the pair of Nates some years ago at an industry event and have been using their stuff ever since. These holsters are advertised as the most comfortable you can find, and I would agree. The large back panel completely shields the gun from your body, keeping sweat away from your gun and sharp edges away from your skin. Better yet, the packing is mushy and comfy because it’s made from three layers of stuff that make everything happy. Against your skin is suede, so your love handles are happy. In the middle is Neoprene, which is what wetsuits are made from, so both you and your gun are happy because moisture can’t travel either way. Next to the gun is leather, which both polymer and metal guns like, so they’re happy.
The Original series of holsters uses an elastic holster pouch that stretches to house your handgun. If you want retention, the Professional Series uses a hard polycarbonate holster pouch that requires a twist as you draw. If you don’t twist the gun, it stays in the holster.
The newest offering from N82 is the Ambassador. This holster uses two clips, one on either side of the gun. This helps draw the gun closer to the body. The second clip also helps “wrap” the grip around the contour of the body for better concealment. Unlike the Professional model, this one relies on passive retention, so no special motion is needed to draw the gun. The tight fit of the Kydex shell to the gun, assisted by pressure from inside-the-waistband carry, is what keeps the gun securely in place. Like the Original and Professional models, the large back panel completely isolates the entire gun from your body parts.
Got a Gun Light or Laser? Here Are Holsters That Fit
Hey! Great news! Handgun lights and lasers are getting smaller and lighter by the day. Hey! Bad news! It can be a real pain to find holsters to fit carry guns with lights and lasers mounted. That’s because there are more gun/light/laser/holster combinations than paparazzi at a Kardashian family reunion. Fortunately, the folks at Crimson Trace produce the Holster Resource Guide. This PDF available free online will offer you a selection of holster fits, complete with direct links to the product you need. Just look up your gun and the Crimson Trace light or laser product you own.
Before you commit to a holster, remember the three things that a holster must do:
It must protect the trigger to prevent inadvertent discharges.
It must keep your gun securely on your person, even during vigorous physical activity.
It must consistently hold and present your gun in the right orientation so you can make a sure draw.
Whatever you do, don’t skimp on quality. After all, your life just might depend on it.
You may have a certain holster type in mind, but is it really the best choice for you? Check these real-life-threat scenarios before you plunk down your money.