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If you're new to the world of concealed carry you’ve probably realized there’s a lot to know. In this article we will discuss the best types of concealed carry holsters. But first let's clear up a common question that I receive from students.
Do You Need a Holster To Concealed Carry?
According to Florida Concealed Carry Law you are not required to use a holster. However if you choose to carry a firearm concealed without a holster you are the king of idiots. The internet is full of people who accidentally shot themselves while carrying a firearm without a holster. Our goal should be to not be one of those idiots.
Many years ago I heard a story of a police officer who carried a Ruger LCP in his right front pocket. This officer was an experienced firearms owner, so he didn’t think he needed to use a holster.
One day when he was exciting his patrol vehicle he placed the keys inside of his right front pocket. Normally he placed his keys in the left pocket but today he made a mistake.
A few hours later he reached into his left pocket to grab his keys.
“Where are my keys?” as he quickly began searching his other pockets and soon discovered his keys inside of the right front pocket.
As he began pulling the keys out of his pocket the firearm discharged. What this officer didn't realize is that the key ring was wrapped around the trigger. As this officer pulled the keys out of his pocket he inadvertently pulled the trigger off his firearm, shooting himself in the leg.
This story is a perfect example that firearm safety applies to everyone, even experienced shooters. It also magnifies the importance of using a high quality holster every time you carry a firearm.
What Are The Types of Materials Used with Concealed Carry Holsters?
Concealed carry holsters are available in three types of materials; nylon, leather and kydex.
Nylon holsters are the cheapest concealed carry holster material available today. Which means they are a common choice for new firearm owners. While this low cost does save money upfront, the negative qualities of nylon holsters far out way the positive.
The first negative of nylon holsters is that over a short period of time the nylon will stretch and change shape, making the holster useless.
Second, nylon concealed carry holsters are known for absorbing moisture which could lead to rust and corrosion on your firearm.
Third, nylon concealed carry holsters provide zero retention of the firearm. Unless of course you purchase a nylon holster with a built in strap, but who wants that?
Finally, the buckles used on nylon holsters are very poor quality. When a concealed carry permit holder is attempting to pull the firearm from a position of concealment it is common that the entire holster will be pulled out of the waistband with the gun.
Raw Leather Concealed Carry Holsters
Next, we have raw leather concealed carry holsters. For years I carried a Glock 19 using a raw leather holster just like this. This type of holster is attractive to new concealed carry permit holders because of the low price.
Raw leather holsters will not change shape like a nylon holster however they will absorb a tremendous amount of sweat. As a Floridian who carries a firearm 100% of the time in which I am legally allowed to, I sweat sitting on my firearm is a major concern.
Second, reholstering your firearm one handed is impossible with raw leather holsters. The problem is that this type of holster does not maintain its shape. Once the firearm is removed from your waistband the holster collapses.
Finally most raw leather holsters sit way too deep inside of my pants. That might be good, if your goal is to significantly reduce printing but it makes presenting your firearm from concealment very difficult.
Finished Leather Concealed Carry Holsters
Next, we have finished leather concealed carry holsters. If your goal is to drive women crazy on Miami beach, a finished leather holster is definitely the way to go.
Finished leather concealed carry holsters are made from high quality leather that is extremely thick, rigid and beautiful. However finished leather holsters do have some drawbacks.
The first major drawback is that no one is going to see your holster, at least not in Florida, because most people carry their firearm inside the waistband, so it’s covered.
Second, the thick leather that this type of holster is made out of adds additional weight and increases discomfort.
Plastic / Kydex® Holsters
Finally, we have plastic / Kydex® concealed carry holsters. The massive benefit of choosing this type of holster material is retention. When you insert your firearm into a quality Kydex® concealed carry holster you will immediately hear and feel the firearm snap into place. This is because Kydex®/plastic concealed carry holsters are molded to fit a specific make and model firearm perfectly. One of the things that I enjoy about having such positive retention is that I can play with my children without fear that the firearm will fall out of the holster.
Kydex® concealed carry holsters also retain their shape better than nylon or leather holsters do. This allows me to holster my firearm easily and safely.
The second major benefit is that Kydex® does not absorb sweat like leather and nylon holsters do. Which makes Kydex® the perfect choice if you live in a humid state like Florida.
There are two major drawbacks to using Kydex® or plastic concealed carry holsters. First Kydex®/plastic holsters are molded to fit one particular firearm only.
For me I don’t think this is really a big deal because for the last 10 years I’ve been carrying the exact same firearm. However for some people this can be a major roadblock.
The second concern is that the Kydex® holster will damage the finish of your firearm overtime. As I mentioned previously Kydex®/plastic holsters are designed to provide positive retention on your firearm. This means the Kydex® is extra tight in certain areas of the gun. Some concealed carry permit holders complain that the finish on their firearm was damaged by their holster.
If you choose to carry your firearm everyday it is going to get damaged. The finish is going to wear off, it's just the way it is. If your firearm is so delicate that you can’t imagine getting a scratch on the finish then you should leave it in the safe.
What Are the Types of Concealed Carry Holsters?
A popular type of concealed carry holster in Hollywood, the shoulder holster wraps around your shoulders and the pocket for the gun rests against your ribcage. The shoulder holster can carry a single firearm, or one on each side of the body. This type of concealed carry holster is good for larger weapons, and gives good access to the handgun even while sitting. It’s comfortable, and adds no extra weight to the waist. But, it does require you to be wearing a jacket that will allow you to conceal the firearms yet access them quickly. It’s also a slower draw than when pulling from the hip.
Inside the Waistband Holsters
This clips into your waistband, using your belt for support in keeping it in place. These types of concealed carry holsters very often will carry one handgun and an extra magazine. It’s one of the easiest types of concealed carry holsters to conceal, but it can be uncomfortable, especially when sitting (or if you have a paunch to your gut). The draw is slower than outside-the-waistband holsters, and it requires you to wear a size pant that is larger than you normally would.
Outside the Waistband Holsters
These come in two varieties: the paddle holsters and the belt holsters. Both attach to the belt and are on the outside of your pants. They’re among the hardest to conceal, requiring a long jacket, coat or sweater. However, they have one of the fastest draw times of any concealed carry holster.
Worn on the belt, these concealed carry holsters are smaller than paddle holsters and are easier to conceal. They’re among the fastest draws and can accommodate handguns of almost all sizes, even sometimes carrying additional magazines. However, a coat, long shirt or jacket, or some other long loose-fitting clothing is necessary to keep them concealed.
This type of concealed carry holster straps to the ankle and is very easy to conceal as it is covered by the pant leg. It requires a smaller handgun, and the draw time is much slower (and you have to wear pants that can accommodate the extra bulk at the ankle).
These holsters are made almost exclusively for women who are wearing dresses or skirts, as that clothing is what conceals the firearm. They are great at concealment and give easy access to the firearm, but one downside is that they can slip down the leg and are not good for large guns.
What Kind Of Concealed Carry Holster Is Best?
When answering the question “What kind of concealed carry holster is best?” We must first determine which holster position is right for you.
The most popular concealed carry position is Appendix Carry. This means the firearm is inside of my waistband at the one o'clock position. You’re probably thinking to yourself, that has got to be really uncomfortable. Surprisingly appendix carry is extremely comfortable unless you have a gut.
The firearm goes right down the crease of my leg. This allows me to drive a car, sit down at a table, play with my kids, run, climb a ladder. I can live my life in a normal way, and carry my gun 100% of the time, with very little interference.
Tier 1 Concealment - Axis Elite
Currently I carry a Glock 19 Gen 5 inside of a Tier 1 Concealment Axis Elite holster. While this concealed carry holster is one of the more expensive holster options, it is extremely slim, comfortable and worth every penny.
The second most popular carry position is inside the waistband at the 4:30 position. This allows the firearm to rest naturally against the side of the body. Some of the benefits of the inside waistband position is that it's very comfortable, you have reduced printing, and a very fast draw
I have two IWB holsters that I absolutely love, CrossBreed SuperTuck and the Alien Gear IWB Holster.
The Crossbreed SuperTuck has a Kydex® shell that provides maximum retention of the firearm. To increase the comfort for the permit holder CrossBreed decided to use a leather backing that is available in several different colors and types. What I like about this style of holster is that the two buckles evenly distribute the weight of the firearm across my waistband which in turn increases comfort.
Alien Gear IWB Holster
One of the major problems that happens to all gun owners is you buy a brand new gun and then you have to spend $70 to get a new concealed carry holster.
Alien Gear decided to fix that problem by creating a modular holster system. This modular system allows the user to change the outer shell based on the make and model firearm they choose to carry that day.
The shell is made out of a high strength polymer and the backing is called Alien Skin. It's a proprietary material designed to increase comfort.
Who Makes The Most Comfortable Concealed Carry Holster?
In my opinion I would say that the two most comfortable concealed carry holsters I have used are the CrossBreed SuperTuck and the Tier 1 Concealment Axis Elite. This is one of the reasons I would call these two products the best concealed carry holsters on the market today.
Choosing to carry a firearm concealed is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. If you choose to carry a firearm concealed and you want to avoid having a hole in your body that you weren’t born with you need to use a high quality holster.
Next you need to choose the best holster material to fit your lifestyle and budget. And finally you need to choose the best holster for you.
However all of this is pointless unless you get your Florida concealed carry permit and carry your firearm 100% of the time you are legally allowed to. We never know when a violent attack is going to begin so we must be ready at all times.
That's all I have for today. So until next time keep training and stay safe...
Ryan G. Thomas
P.S. You’re one step away from getting your Florida concealed carry permit….FAST & EASY…
And for a limited time you can watch the concealed carry course online for free... Click here to get started...