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I’m posting this anonymously because I want to be a help to you guys and not just seem like I’m trying to sell my products. As a firearm instructor and holster manufacturer, I wanted to share some thoughts and opinions on the topic of holsters. I hope this sparks some good dialogue and helps the people in here that are new to firearms and or carrying for protection.
I see tons of posts here in this group asking questions about holsters. I own a holster company and we manufacture them for online sales, retail, and private label for some big-name customers. I’m not here to toot my own horn but to give some advice from being in the business and what I’ve learned from trial and error along the way. Take this as advice if it helps or just keep scrolling if you have this figured out.
1. We all claim to have the “Best” holster. I have learned that there are some really good competitors out there and then there are not. My first holster was a name-brand holster that is blasted all over social media. I wore mine for 30 minutes and hated it. Fast forward just over two years and I now manufacture them full time.
2. Your body shape DOES make a big difference in concealment and comfort. Not every holster will fit you the same. That’s why most people have that drawer full of holsters. As you should, unfortunately. If you won’t wear it then you won’t have your firearm when it’s needed most. Shop around and hold the companies to their money-back guarantees.
3. Optics and lights DO affect the availability of holsters. Lights do more than optics and I’ll explain. Optics simply need an “optic or RMR cut” to work. However, the light/laser does affect how the gun is holstered. Do your research on what you want to add to your firearm BEFORE you spend hundreds of dollars on a WML. Make sure you can get a holster for your setup and stay away from the cheap Amazon and gun show lights. Stick to Surefire, Streamlight, Inforce and I hate to say it Olight. Most manufacturers, myself included only make holsters for these brands. I’ll say more about this to step on some toes later.
4. Holster Accessories. Wings or claws and wedges are a great addition for added concealment. They help push the firearm in different angles based on the application of the item added to help in comfort or concealment. The wings/claws help with keeping the grip closer to the body. These are great for appendix carry. Wedges placed strategically help as well.
5. Holsters for “Fluffy” guys like myself. If you are fluffy, appendix will most likely not be an option for you. I am a little fluffy and I found that carrying at 2-230 or inline with my thigh is the most comfortable for me. I carry the 365XL with an optic and sometimes a light when testing my holster configurations. Another option is to have the holster maker raise the belt clip slightly to allow the holster to sit lower. The pro is that the top of the slide doesn’t press against your body as much. The con is that your grip is closer to your pant line causing you to change your draw to get a better grip.
6. Clothing is something that will help with comfort. I always wear an undershirt “wife beater” so that my holster isn’t in direct contact with my skin.
7. Open-ended holsters. The pro to these is that you can run a comp or threaded barrel without having to modify the holster. The con is that your muzzle, light or barrel is subsequently put into a position to allow the firearm to be forced out of the holster if you were to hit the front of the firearm in the event of a self defense situation that goes hands on and you hit a table or something is able to push the firearm out of the holster. I recommend having the front of your holster enclosed enough to protect your firearm.
8. There are pros and cons to full Kydex, hybrids, and leather. Too much to talk about here. The search bar and google can help a lot in explaining the pros and cons.
9. Appendix rigs or holster mag combos.
These are mainly carried appendix and are most comfortable with a thinner build. I 230 carry position and separate mag carrier on the off-hand side may be more comfortable and cheaper than a full rig.
10. Belt clips/mounting hardware. What you wear and how your holster attaches are both really important. Most people don’t go about their life in their range gear and tactical drop legs etc. Either get a few holsters for different dress configurations or buy extra attachments that you can swap out based on your attire. A FOMI clip will work best with a belt not so much without.
11. GET A GOOD EDC BELT. I can’t say this enough. A good EDC belt is designed for carrying a gun in its design and use. They help spread the weight of the gun which will aid in comfort. They can also be used to rack your slide in the event your support hand goes out of commission. Your belt should be strong enough to allow you to rack your slide with the rear iron sights or optic.
12. Buy a holster made specifically for your firearm and stay away from “universal” fabric holsters. A good holster is designed to holster your gun with retention on the trigger guard. When a light is added, the holster now uses the light for retention. This is why I said earlier why it’s important to have a holster that fits your exact setup.
13. This one will step on some toes. Are your light and laser really necessary? Are you using your conceal carry defense weapon to search for the bad guys? Most states require a duty to retreat. If you have time to draw and activate a light or laser then you may have had time to avoid the situation altogether. You also need to train with those extra additions. What good are they if you mount them and never train with them? A light makes your holster larger as well. Is it worth the extra material? A light is good for home defense. You won’t be out there clearing out rooms or acting as law enforcement so if the light is just to be “Tacticool” take it off.
14. Practice, practice, practice! Don’t just go to the range and not bring your holster. Learn how to draw and shoot from a holster, not just standing but moving and from different positions so see how your holster will work in those maneuvers. You may find out that your holster doesn’t work well when drawing from a seated position. Train and find out.
15. Go to gun shows and check out the holster guys there and try them on. See how they feel when you squat, turn, twist, kneel, sit, etc. You are relying on your gun to save your life, your holster should add not take away from that capability.
16. Open carry comes with its disadvantages. IWB holsters will give you the most concealment in almost any condition and situation. When carrying OWB you are telling all the bad guys, “I’m your first target” rather than having the surprise on them and getting a good counterattack or being seen as a nonthreat.
17. I’ll end with this novel. My holsters may not work for you and that’s ok. Other brands may not work for you either. Do your homework and invest some time to see what you need out of your holster and look for a manufacturer that can meet the majority of them. I hope this helps you guys just starting out and the seasoned ones.