For as long as people have carried firearms, holsters have sparked controversy within the firearm community. However, as people continue to learn safe and effective carrying practices, the holster discussion remains more important than ever. Holsters serve three purposes: security, safety, and accessibility. A quality holster enables you to protect the trigger, maintain control of your firearm, and safely draw it when needed. The following points are thoughts to consider as you think about the right holster for you.
Why You Need A Holster
Holsters contribute to community safety. The person carrying has a responsibility to themselves and others to handle their firearm properly. The wrong holster could put you or someone else in danger. For example, improper retention or accidentally catching the trigger upon re-holstering can result in serious injury and even death. In fact, to maximize safety, many firearm owners have adopted similar holster designs used by law enforcement and military personnel. You should look for a holster that carries and supports your firearm in a comfortable, safe, and accessible way.
Holsters come in different types. The five main ones being:
- Outside the waistband (OWB)
- Inside the waistband (IWB)
Each type has a different level of accessibility, security, and comfort. OWB, IWB, and pocket holsters may work best for those who conceal carry, while law enforcement and other professionals might prefer shoulder or ankle holsters for their backup option, but rarely their primary weapon. You can also wear a combination if you plan to carry more than one firearm. Regardless of your situation, get a holster that is built specifically for your firearm and its accessories.
Manufacturers produce holsters in different materials. While the right material comes down to your specific preference, you have a few options. Holsters come in leather, polymer (Kydex), nylon or a combination of all the above. Prices for these materials differ, as well as their purpose, pros, and cons. Kydex is highly recommended for security, durability, and easy maintenance. For those taking lessons from professionals, law enforcement primarily uses Kydex holsters for maximum comfort and retention.
Though a timeless choice, leather holsters tend to soften and degrade, raising a safety concern. However, leather has its time and purpose, working perfectly for revolvers worn OWB. Nylon represents your cheapest option, but it lacks the durability and security that Kydex and leather offer. As long as you understand the advantages of each material, you can decide on the one that works for you.
The three levels of retention refer to how easily you can pull your firearm from its holster. Polymer holsters will use advanced retention techniques such as friction, molding, or tension screws to secure the firearm in place, while leather holsters have a thumb strap. The third level of retention refers to holsters that require a manual release to draw the firearm.
The required level of holster retention depends on your comfort level and how you want to carry it. OWB holsters need an extra level of retention, while Level 1 retention suffices for most IWB holsters. For reference, most concealed carry weapons have one level of retention, though for consistent safety, the modern retention design of Kydex is still your best bet.
Reason For Use
The type of holster you pick depends on how you use your firearm. This factor alone could sway you toward one type, material, or retention over another. Training and competitions continue to grow more common, with a 28% increase in overall participation at national shooting ranges over the past two decades. Your holster choice will depend upon your firearm usage: training, competing, concealed carry, hunting and collecting may all have unique holster requirements. This makes the decision an individual one, so trust your research and instinct.
Your Ideal Holster
As you consider the type of holster you want to buy, keep in mind that no definite answer exists. Kydex OWB and IWB holsters offer you several advantages. However, depending on your firearm, budget and reasons for carrying, you might choose something different. As always, the main goal is safety. You want to protect yourself and the people around you, which means a quality holster is one of the best investments you can make as a firearm owner. A thoroughly researched and safe decision is the primary goal.