Carrying a firearm concealed is the best way to take responsibility for your safety and self-protection. You can’t bring a cop with you, but you can carry a gun. If you conceal carry or plan too, you need a quality holster.
Today we are going to talk holsters and go through the process of choosing a quality and safe holster for concealed carry. Stick around at the end we are going to point out a few of our favorites.
By the time we are done, you’ll have a rock solid understanding of holsters and what makes them work. Plus you’ll have some solid recommendations for six different types of carry.
Alien Gear Cloak Tuck
Leather & Kydex
Phalanx Defense Stealth Operator
BCA Light Bearing
Alien Gear Cloak Mod
Concealment Express IWB
NSR Tactical C-4
Blade Tech Klipt
Galco Miami Classic
Gould and Goodrich Gold Line
Aker Leather 101 Comfort Flex
Galco Ankle Glove
Desantis Die Hard
One of the most critical factors for a concealed carry holster is the comfort. If your holster isn’t comfortable will you even carry it? Comfort, especially when it comes to concealed carry is critical.
The thing is that there is no one choice for comfort when it comes to material, style, and size. People’s body types, firearms, and clothing considerations all affect comfort. There are a few different factors to consider that are always present.
The first is quality matters. A cheap universal holster is not a comfortable holster. Quality doesn’t cost, it pays.
Some folks may sacrifice comfort for a few other factors, but in general, the closer the weapon is held to the body the softer the material should be. Modern leather substitutes are an excellent example of an elastic material for close body carry.
You also want a holster that doesn’t mean when held to the body. A holster that slides and moves even a fraction of an inch will cause pain and chafing. This means you will need a proper CCW belt, but this also means decent clips and adjustment degrees for the holster.
Regarding adjustments for shoulder rigs and IWB holsters, you want to substantial adjustment range. With IWB holsters you want to be able to adjust for height. With shoulder rigs, you want to adjust for fit and ensure it’s tight.
After this, it’s on your body type and gun’s size. Often the more prominent the weapon is, the harder it is to carry, especially tight to the body. Big guns are more comfortable to carry further from the body in OWB holsters.
Concealed means concealed, and holsters offer different levels of concealment. IWB is often the easiest to conceal, but the least comfortable, especially with big guns. As I mentioned with comfort, your body type matters.
This is true for both comfort and concealment. Larger men and women often find it easier to carry a gun concealed in an OWB format, and the same goes for shoulder rigs.
Smaller individuals often find IWB and Appendix carry easier to conceal.
In general, holsters that hold tight to the body are the easiest to conceal. The closer they cling, the more comfortable they are to hide. While a military or duty style holster is thick and sturdy, you don’t want those features in a concealment holster.
You want thin and lightweight. A thin holster is an easy to conceal holster. Modern materials like Kydex and Bolatron are excellent materials for concealment holsters. The same goes for neoprene, a leather replacement.
Of course, leather has a long history of use and is a thin and robust material that shouldn’t be discounted for concealed carry.
A thin holster held tight to the body, or inside the waistband is almost impossible to detect, even under something as light as a t-shirt.
Duty holsters tend to stick out from the body, and this serves a purpose for duty use. However, concealed carry and duty use are two very different things. Concealed carry holsters are purpose-built for being hidden, and you need that type of design.
Retention is the holster’s ability to retain the weapon. Poor retention may mean the gun falls out of the holster, and that’s not a good thing. Retention is a compromise between an easy draw and a safe way to carry.
There are two types of retention, active and passive.
Passive retention is a type of retention that doesn't require you to defeat any retention devices. It’s typically done through a variety of means, with friction being the most popular. Alternatively, there is a pinch point in the holster’s trigger guard portion that snaps over the weapon’s trigger guard.
As soon as you draw the gun, the passive retention device is defeated. It’s simpler, and my preferred option for concealed carry.
Active retention devices have a device the user has to defeat before they can draw the gun. This could be a thumb strap over the gun with a simple button to defeat. You could also have a modern release option that requires you to press a button or lever to release the gun.
This can present a slower draw but ensures the gun stays put in any situation. No one can fight and rip the gun from your holster without a major device defeat. I prefer a passive retention device for simplicity's sake, but retention arguments can be made.
Style of Carry Defined
There are so many different types of holsters out there that it’s easy to get wrapped up in which is best. In all honesty, there is no best holster overall. There are however some very amazing holsters out there.
Choosing the best holster for you is the name of the game. The best holster for you is going to be defined by your body type, your firearm type, and the way you typically dress. My best advice is to own a multitude of holsters to cover a variety of different styles of dress and situations.
We are going to look at the six most popular styles of carry and give you a few suggestions in each style of carry.
Best IWB Holsters
IWB stands for inside the waistband. IWB holsters are some of the most popular options for concealed carry due to how easy they are to conceal. They slide between your pants and your body. They are typically secured via a set of clips to your belt or waistline.
IWB holsters are better suited for smaller guns unless you want to go up a size in pants. Carrying larger guns inside the waistband can be uncomfortable, but it does make concealing them easier.
1. Alien Gear Cloak Tuck
The Cloak Tuck series is the evolution of hybrid concealed carry holsters from Alien gear. The Cloak Tuk is where they cut their teeth when it comes to IWB holsters. This hybrid design incorporates both a polymer shell for a holster and a soft, cool neoprene backing for comfortable carry.
The Cloak Tuck uses Alien Gear's CoolVent Neoprene which helps reduce sweat and is ultra soft to prevent chafing. The Cloak Tuck can make use of multiple shells to make the backing adaptable to different guns. This is a cheap way to have a holster compatible with multiple guns.
The Cloak Tuck is adaptable and adjustable, and you can change height and cant with ease. The Cloak Tuck is a very modern option for concealed carry.
2. Galco KingTuk
Galco is a legend in the holster industry, and they’ve been around forever. Their work with leather is second to none, and their IWB holsters are a favorite for their refinement and comfort. The KingTuk is a hybrid style holster with a Napa Leather backing and a molded Kydex shell.
The KingTuk’s Napa leather is a tough and rugged material that’s also soft against the body. The holster uses adjustable clips to change the height and cant of the holster, and the belt loops are metal.
The KingTuk is an ultra strong design that’s rigid, but comfortable. Retention is top notch due to the molded shell, and like all Galco holsters, the KingTuk is made to last.
3. Desantis Sof-Tuck
Desantis is another big name in the holster industry, and it’s a well-deserved reputation. The Sof-Tuck is a minimalist design for those who like small guns and small holsters. Don't let the small size of the Sof-Tuck deceive you.
It’s a rugged and reliable IWB option for concealed carry that's great if you wan;t to keep a very low profile. The Sof-Tuck is only made for small guns, and therefore it does use a single clip. The slip is adjustable slightly for cant as well.
The holster is made from leather, and therefore it’s rugged and reliable, as well as comfortable against the skin. The holster's thin nature and small size make it disappear when worn in the waistband. Perfect for keeping your gun concealed in competitive situations.
Best OWB Holsters
OWB stands for outside the waistband. OWB holsters are the most common holsters out there and are typically what people picture when they here the words holster. OWB holsters are quite comfortable, regardless of gun size.
They are more challenging to conceal though, and with bigger guns can be somewhat bulky. Design choice is critical when it comes to carrying IWB holsters. Thinner and tighter to the body is more essential than anything else.
1. Phalanx Defense Stealth Operator
The Phalanx Defense Stealth Operator series of holsters come in both full and compact sizes. These holsters are made from a durable polymer material that makes them quite modern and robust. They are very thin, and they hold your gun very tight to the body.
The main selling point is their compatibility with a ton of different guns. One holster can house dozens of firearms. I own three Stealth Operators and use them with a wide variety of weapons including CZs, Walthers, Glocks, and more.
They are easy to draw from and feature passive retention that gives you a satisfying click when the gun is holstered properly. The Stealth Operator is made in the USA and backed by an excellent warranty.
2. Bravo Company BCA Light Bearing
It's a real shame to have a rail on a handgun and not be able to carry a light on your gun. Bravo Company is awesome enough to embrace a light bearing holster design designed for concealed carry. The Bravo Company BCA holster is a polymer design that holds the gun very tight to the body and makes it very easy to hide.
The BCA OWB design incorporates either an X300 or Streamlight TLR 1 light with a Glock or S&W design. The Bravo Concealment holster is rugged and fitted for each gun. The BCA holster also incorporates a cut for a red dot sight, as well as a threaded barrel.
The holster is easy to draw from and incorporates a passive retention system as well as a full-length sweat guard. The gun features a forward cant for enhanced concealment and a quicker draw. It’s a comfortable holster and fits the body well.
3. Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Paddle
The Alien Gear Cloak Mod paddle holster is a comfortable and convenient OWB holster that comes from a reputable and reliable manufacturer. The Cloak Mod’s paddle is extremely convenient if you hate wearing a belt and want a reliable and retention driven means to carry your gun.
The Cloak Mod has a steel flexplate to help aid in retention, and the retention device is passive but very firm. You have to intentionally pull the gun to get it to draw. The Cloak Mod is made to last and made to be concealed.
The Cloak Mod was Alien gear’s first step into the OWB world, and it was a fruitful one. They made an amazing holster that’s not only functional but reliable and concealable.
Best Appendix Carry Holsters
Appendix carry is a type of IW carry that’s become quite popular in the last few years. Appendix carry is a simple idea. Place the holster in front of the beltline, where your appendix would be. The benefits are numerous.
It’s fast to draw from this position, and the gun is very easy to conceal. There are no noticeable bulges on the side of the body, and the way the body conforms makes appendix carry nearly invisible.
The downside is the comfort. Many people find appendix carry uncomfortable, especially when seated.
1. Concealment Express IWB
Concealment Express is a relatively new company, but they are making some impressive and high-quality holsters. This Appendix model is a modern take on a classic design. The holster is made of Kydex, which a tough and reliable material popular with modern holsters.
Each holster is molded to a specific gun type and this aids in safe carry as well as increased retention. Like most AIWB designs the Concealment Express utilizes passive retention. It also utilizes one single large clip that is adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees of cant.
The holster is minimalist in design, and the passive retention can be adjusted via a simple screw. The design incorporates a full-length sweat guard, and black oxide components mean it’ll stand up to hot weather carry.
2. NSR Tactical C-4 AIWB
NSR Tactical is one of the big boys when it comes to new and innovative AIWB designs. They’ve long incorporated RMR cuts, threaded barrel openings, and other features into their holster well before other manufacturers.
The NSR C-4 is one of their flagship AIWB holsters, and it’s famous for a reason. It’s insanely comfortable and comfortable to wear. The dual leather belt loops keep the gun in place and avoid any twisting or moving when the body moves dynamically.
The high cut means the gun doesn’t poke into your stomach during the day. You can adjust the cant from a forward to a straight or backward cant as well. The NSR C-4 is an excellent option for AIWB carry.
3. Blade Tech Klipt
Blade Tech is an impressive company that’s innovative and always delivers a high-quality product. Their holster business is only one side of the company, but a critical side. The Klipt AIWB holster is one of the OG appendix holsters.
The Klipt is an ultra-thin and lightweight holster option for concealed carry, and it’s smooth and unobstructed. This makes it soft against the body and prevents any unfortunate chafing. The holster’s cut makes it very easy to draw from and quick to get on target.
The Klipt is made with a precision mold and uses a passive trigger lock design. This delivers an audible click when the gun is holstered and ready to go. The Klipt is a lightweight choice that delivers performance well beyond its price range.
Best Shoulder Holsters
Shoulder rigs come in and out of style but remain an excellent way to conceal carry in certain situations. Shoulder rigs make carrying the biggest guns easy, and even comfortable in a concealed manner. A good shoulder holster is a perfect rig for road trips.
It takes the pressure off the waist and puts the gun in a position to be easily accessible. The same goes for situations where you might just be sitting for a long period. Shoulder rigs are great in those certain situations.
The downside is concealability. You have to have an over garment like a jacket of light button down shirt. This can be a challenge in warm environments.
1. Galco Miami Classic Shoulder Holster
The Galco Miami classic gains its name and fame from the classic 1980s television show Miami Vice. It was carried by Sonny and became quite popular during the show’s run. It’s still widely considered to be the best shoulder holster ever made.
The Miami Classic features a ton of adjustment capability to allow you to tailor the fit of the holster to your body. The Miami Classic is also modular with left and right handed options, as well as pouches for magazines, handcuffs, and even a Ka-Bar.
The Miami Classic sports all leather construction and is rugged and reliable. The adjustment design makes it very comfortable for day to day wear and allows to position optimally for concealed carry.
2. Gould and Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster
The G&G Gold Line holster is another standard-setting design. It's one of my personal favorites and it's a holster well suited for discrete day to day carry. The Gold Line sports very wide straps which are near endlessly adjustable.
The Gold Line’s wide straps help you distribute the weight of a fully loaded pistol and a couple of spare magazines. The holster does, in fact, come with two additional magazine pouches that are worn under the right arm. The Gold Line’s holster is also custom molded for individual firearms.
The G&G Gold Line is an all leather design that’s soft, but strong. It’s designed for day to day carry, and for professionals. It’s an excellent option for long road trips and formal wear if a shirt and tie are involved.
3. Aker Leather 101 Comfort Flex
The Aker Leather 101 Comfort Flex holster goes back to the basics of shoulder holster carry and redefines them. The holster excels at being an excellent shoulder holster by offering wide straps for weight displacement, adjustable straps to fit the gun to your body, and both a holster and dual mag pouch design.
From there they add a very modern holster that will accommodate a threaded barrel as well as a miniature red dot optic. This gives you an old school way of carrying a new school gun. The Aker Leather Comfort Flex will chest up to 62 inches and accommodates full-sized and compact Glocks with medium sized frames.
This rugged holster is in use with LE agencies and has proven to be a tough and reliable option for day to day wear.
Best Ankle Holsters
Ankle holsters are another niche option for concealed carry. The advantages are total concealment and challenging to detect guns. Ankle carry is an excellent way to carry a backup weapon.
Ankle carry is another good option for long road trips, or even in an office situation. Ankle carry has a few downsides. It's very slow to access and draw your gun in a lot of situations.
Ankle carry also restricts you to very small guns, that’s why its a solid choice for carrying a second gun.
1. Galco Ankle Glove
The Galco Ankle Glove set the standard for ankle holsters. This design incorporates everything you need an ankle holster to be. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and designed and molded for individual firearms.
The Galco Ankle Glove is made from premium steer hide and a neoprene ankle band. The Ankle Glove fits ankles that are up to 13 inches, so it's even fit for giants. The Ankle Glove uses an active retention thumb strap that’s easily and quickly defeated when it comes time to pull that smoke wagon.
The Galco Ankle Glove uses sheepskin padding to provide a comfortable fit. It’s rugged, strong, and designed for heavy duty day to day carry. The Ankle Glove set the standard for quality ankle holsters and continues to be a favorite choice for ankle carry among law enforcement.
2. Desantis Die Hard
The Desantis Die Hard holster is one of the few that competes with the Galco for the king of comfort. The Die Hard was designed with Federal Law Enforcement in mind and designed to last. It’s made from top grain saddle leather and finished with a super tough PU coating.
The Die Hard Sports a neoprene leg band that's padded with foam and with sheepskin for increased comfort for long-term carry. The Die Hard also has a traditional thumb break which does align it with a typical Desantis holster.
The Die Hard also has a soft leather lining inside the holster to protect your gun’s finish and ensure a snag-free draw. The Die Hard is a comfortable, rigid, and well-designed holster for concealed carry.
3. Lirisy Ankle Holster
If you are looking to mix affordability with comfort and control the Lirisy Ankle holster is the way to go. This nylon ankle holster is a two-piece system designed to maximize comfort and control.
The Lirisy has the typical around the ankle design but also incorporates a second around the calf design. This aids in comfort, retention, and keeps the ankle holster from moving. The design maximizes comfort and makes ankle carry a dream.
The Lirisy Ankle Holster will fit most small automatics like the Glock 42, Ruger LCP, and S&W Bodyguard. Ankle carry doesn't allow for much more significant than that. The Lirisy is also affordable, and a reliable option if keeping to a budget is essential to you.
Best Belly Band Holsters
Belly bands are a means of deep concealment that allow you to carry a gun without a traditional holster. Belly bands typically wrap around the stomach and are often a soft, neoprene material. This gives you a means to carry a gun when you are required to wear formal clothes.
Belly bands are a little slow to draw from and do limit you to small guns. These holsters are well suited for formal clothing and tend to be very comfortable unless you are in hot environments.
1. Galco Underwraps Belly Band
The Galco Underwraps Belly Band is a professional grade belly band holster designed using tough and rigid materials. The Galco Belly band is designed to hold up to 2 guns, as well as extra magazines, handcuffs, flashlights and other necessary gear.
The Underwraps is a heavy duty belly band and is perfectly capable of retaining and your firearm and necessary gear. The Underwraps is made to accommodate most subcompact guns, and because there is a holster on both sides, it is ambidextrous.
The Galco Underwraps is all white, so it hides well under most clothes and is invisible to the naked eye. The Galco Underwraps Belly band is a great option if you need something heavy duty and durable.
2. ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band
The ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band is designed to be slim and sublime for carrying a gun and spare magazine. Its made from ultra-soft neoprene, so it feels good against the body and keeps decently cool. The ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band gives you the ability to carry compact firearms and an extra magazine.
The ComfortTac low profile nature makes it a solid choice for civilian concealed carry and gives you a good low profile option with just the essentials outlined. The ComfortTac low profile holster doesn't bend, pinch, or twist when worn due to its stable design.
It’s a simple, but effective holster for concealed carry that’s also affordable. ComfortTac makes a quality product that’s quite comfortable.
3. The BravoBelt Belly Band
The BravoBelt is the belly band you need if you are looking at an option for concealed carry at the gym or when working out. This very stable and supportive belt is soft and comfortable. It’s also very strong and won’t sag, slip, or twist when moving dynamically.
When positioned in an AIWB section it's quite comfortable and easy to draw from. The BravoBelt has room for a gun, and two magazines, or two accessories. The BravoBelt is also ambidextrous and can be positioned around the entire body.
The BravoBelt is well made, and designed with a built-in retention device that's quick and easy to defeat. The BravoBelt will accommodate a wide variety of guns.
Concealed carry is an amazing right we have in the United States. It allows us to protect ourselves outside our homes day in and day out. To make sure you are exercising your responsibility consistently and safely you need a secure holster.
A concealed carry holster has to be high quality, well made, and most of all comfortable. Stay ready, stay safe, and stay armed.