Types of holsters for different uses

The world of holsters is as varied as the firearms they are designed to hold. Just like finding that perfect pair of shoes for a long hike or the right hat for a sunny day, picking out a holster is all about what works for you and your lifestyle. Whether you’re a law enforcement officer, a sports shooter, or a responsible citizen carrying for self-defense, knowing the nuances of holster types is key to finding the perfect match for your firearm and your needs.

Concealed carry holsters

Concealed carry demands a blend of invisibility and accessibility. When choosing a concealed carry holster, it’s important to select one that allows you to quickly reach your gun while also hiding its outline under your clothes. This prevents the shape of the gun from being visible through what you’re wearing. Preferred options include:

  • IWB Holsters: They remain hidden while ensuring firearm accessibility. Key features include slim profiles, sturdy clips for belt attachment, and moisture-resistant materials.

  • Pocket Holsters: They are ideal for small handguns, as they fit inside a pocket and help disguise the shape of the gun, offering deep concealment.

  • Ankle Holsters: Ankle holsters are best suited for backup weapons, offering ultimate stealth. They wrap around the ankle, remaining out of sight, and are best suited for smaller firearms.

  • Shoulder Holsters: They provide comfort and easy access under a jacket. Ideal for longer periods of wear, they distribute weight evenly and reduce fatigue.

drop leg holster
OWB holster

Competition holsters

  • OWB Holsters: OWB holsters are attached outside the pants, allowing for natural drawing motion and ease of access.
  • Thigh rig holsters: Offering flexibility and ease of movement.
  • Holster pouches: Attached to your kit, they ensure quick access to multiple firearms.

Tactical holsters

Tactical holsters are designed for military and tactical purposes. They often feature MOLLE systems for tactical gear integration and are made from robust materials. These holsters offer additional retention features and are designed to withstand extreme conditions.

They can be thigh holsters, which strap to the leg, or MOLLE holsters, which attach to a tactical vest.
While generally less concealable, OWB holsters are sometimes used in tactical situations due to their ease of access and comfort, especially in open-carry settings.

Everyday Carry (EDC) holsters

The best holster for everyday carry can vary based on personal preference, body type, and the specific circumstances in which the firearm will be carried.

IWB holsters are a popular choice as they offer a good mix of concealment and accessibility.
OWB holsters are suitable in environments where open carry is acceptable or preferred.
Shoulder holsters can be useful for individuals who spend a lot of time seated or prefer the weight distribution across the shoulders.

Holster selection tips

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Consider your primary use

Whether it’s for daily concealed carry, personal defense, or professional use, the primary purpose will dictate the type of holster you need. For instance, law enforcement and security professionals often prefer duty holsters with level II or III retention systems.

Comfort and fit are key

A well-designed holster should allow you to adjust its angle and height. This means you can set it to the most comfortable and convenient position for carrying your firearm.

The holster you choose should also fit your body size well. For example, people with smaller frames might find big outside-the-waistband (OWB) holsters too bulky, while those with larger frames can use them comfortably.

Trigger coverage and retention

Safety first. A good holster should always fully cover the trigger area to avoid accidental firing. This feature is non-negotiable and should be present in every high-quality holster.

Moreover, good holsters are designed to keep the firearm securely in place to prevent it from being accidentally pulled out or taken by someone else. They achieve this through either built-in friction or special features like straps or buttons that need to be released to draw the firearm.

Finally, a good holster should make it easy and safe to draw and put back your firearm. It should allow you to get a strong grip on your gun and provide a clear way to draw and holster it without accidentally firing.


By understanding the different types and features of holsters, you are equipped to make a choice that prioritizes safety, accessibility, and comfort.
It’s advisable to try different holsters to find the one that feels most natural and suits your carrying needs. And don’t forget to give it a good test run. After all, the best way to know if a holster is right for you is to live with it for a bit.
Regular practice and getting familiar with your holster are as important as your skill with the firearm itself. So, choose wisely, practice regularly, and carry confidently.