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Understanding Concealed Carry Holsters

By USCCA // 08/07/2013

Once you’ve gotten your concealed carry permit and have decided what handgun you will be carrying, it’s time to choose a holster. Just as there are countless guns available on the market, the wide array of holsters to choose from can be overwhelming for both new and experienced gun owners alike.

As USCCA founder Tim Schmidt once shared, if you don’t choose your holster carefully, “you will find you are not carrying very often… The reason to have a handgun is to carry it, so choosing from the various concealed carry holsters is an essential part of your self-defense strategy.”

Typically, concealed carry holsters will fall into one of the following categories: Ankle holsters, inside waistband holsters (IWB), pocket holsters, outside waistband holsters (OWB), shoulder holsters, or “smartcarry” holsters. Each type of holster is designed to offer specific features and advantages, so let’s take a look at some of these differentiating factors.

Ankle Holsters: These holsters are one of the easiest to conceal and are great for the smallest of guns. They do come with a slower draw time, however, due to their location.

Inside Waistband Holsters: Also referred to as an IWB, this is one of the most popular holster choices. IWB holsters are secured to the inside of a concealed carrier’s pants by belt clips or loops. They can be worn anywhere around the waist for ideal comfort and quick and easy drawing. Those who choose to go this route should be sure to acquire pants with a slightly larger-than-normal waist measurement to accommodate the gun and holster.

Pocket Holsters: Quite simply, pocket holsters provide flexibility and versatility for carriers. These small holsters can be carried most anywhere, can be carried with almost any attire, and are one of the simplest holsters on the market to use.

Outside Waistband Holsters: Also called an OWB, this type of concealed carry holster works well for those who prefer to carry a larger caliber gun. But because it is worn on the outside of the carrier’s pants, an OWB is harder to conceal.

Shoulder Holsters: Designed to evenly distribute the weight of the gun across the shoulders, these holsters work well for carrying while wearing a jacket and for carrying comfortably while sitting.

“Smartcarry” Holsters: This type of holster features a unit with a pouch designed to hold a gun and a spare magazine. The pouch is part of a rig worn around the waist, but unlike an IWB, doesn’t require a belt.

The best piece of advice we can provide is that you take your time and be strategic when choosing a holster. Research the types and brands you’re interested in and try them on at your local gun shop so that you’ll be find the right holster for you. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to concealed carry holsters. Everyone has a different preference and opinion when it comes to holsters, so it’s important that you make the most educated decision you can based on your needs.

Related: Find the perfect holster for your gun…