Holsters: The good the bad and the ugly, A Review

According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans. / All warfare is based on deception. / Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” Sun Tzu

As with everything martial, Sun Tzu applies to choosing holsters. When circumstances are favorable one should adjust ones carry to fit their lifestyle in such a way so as to seem both incapable and unable to attack. Making the enemy (regardless name given) believe we are weaker than we are is key to a decisive victory. As Sun Tzu states, All warfare is based on deception, and this is indeed true.

When choosing a carry holster my personal approach generally includes far more testing than most put into the choice of a holster. In fact, from what I have been able to gather the vast majority of individuals who use firearms INITIALLY select holsters based on one of three criteria.

  1. What they are issued, what comes with the gun.

  2. What the seller of the gun suggests, friend suggest brand name.

  3. What is easiest and least expensive at the time.

As time goes on and those carrying either begin to practice more or in some cases compete they begin too choose based on the changes that occur. Approaching their choices purely from an immediate need based selection versus one based in testing and daily wear. The result of this is that most individuals who purchase a handgun for self defense do the following almost without deviation.

  1. The handgun remains at home, being to uncomfortable in the chosen holster to carry daily.

  2. It remains in the vehicle again, because the chosen carry rig is uncomfortable.

  3. They struggle on carrying regardless how it feels though as the days pass the thought passes through their mind, “maybe just this once i’ll leave it in the car”.

A gun owned but not carried is useless and a waste of money. A gun owned and not carried properly for the conditions involved is also quite useless. I can suggest several wonderful brick manufacturers for those individuals who choose to leave their guns at home.
Now I am fully aware that many states/nations make it almost impossible to legally carry a firearm without an extensive permitting process and or registration. Being who I am, neither of these appeal to me as an individual so everything I am about to share with you is done with the understanding that if you continue to read this article and utilize some of the advice offered you are doing so of your own free will and not because I have in any way coerced, forced or involuntarily caused you to do so.

The vast majority of my holsters are based on the principle of deception over the flawed idea that somehow by flaunting ones firearm openly they are instilling fear into those who would attempt us harm. This is a principle that has no basis in fact, rather by carrying openly most of you attract attention from the largest street gangs on the planet, the police. They as with most gangs do what they are told, and in this case it is their job to harass you and cast doubt on your willingness and ability to carry a firearm for self protection. (Obviously the idiots who stage open carry demonstrations in a relatively unsafe manner such as those recently in Texas and Washington state have only given these gangsters more cause to act in an aggressive manner towards regular individuals.)

Hence my opinion that deception or the art of concealed carry of weapons (be they edged or gunpowder based in nature) tends to be the more proper approach has support, not too mention that a truly concealed firearm or blade is almost never questioned by others and in most cases if done properly is far more comfortable then one carried openly dangling from the hip, under the arm or over the shoulder. Remember, the average firearm even those bad polymer handguns weigh in between 12 and 30 ounces. Balance and proper distribution of weight is essential to carry one comfortably on a daily basis. I have a low back injury that causes increased daily pain and disallows many forms of carry simply because the weight tends to fall very sharply on the areas that are broken. This being said I can still honestly give you recommendations that will be both comfortable and easy to use. They will be moderately to well hidden and will still allow relatively easy, fast and reliable access by the carrier.

There are varying forms of concealment. Standard concealment that generally covers the firearm and reduces the possibility of being seen to be carrying and deep concealment which when done properly is only discoverable through the use of a strip search or metal detectors. There are also several positions of carrying for concealment, facing forward lets call the tip of your nose 12 o’clock and your ass is the 6 o’clock position, everything else is named to represent positions based on the standard clock.

What I would suggest is that you purchase a Fobus external carry paddle holster for the relatively inexpensive price of $20-30 and at a range or location in which you can practice drawing and shooting slowly move this holster with the handgun you have chosen from a one o’clock or “appendix” carry all the way around to the six o’clock. (Reverse this for the LEFT handed shooters) Test each position through multiple draws and reloads and of course ensure that the holster you chose for your magazines is in a location where your off or NON shooting hand can easily grasp and load from. (Magazines should always be indexed towards the front (the bullet side of the round facing front) and can be grasped in a beer can grip or index finger grip, however, this is an entirely different discussion and I will not entertain any discussion on it at this time.)

Once you have found a position that is comfortable and easy to use now its time to find a solid concealment holster. If you have a longer torso, relatively straight or are a taller individual one of my favorites is Crossbreed, however, it is necessary to understand that these holsters do not fit everyone. If you are a female or someone like myself with a shorter torso to leg/arm ratio you will want something that tucks in closer to the body without extending up into the lower ribcage or into the hips. There are a few designs I prefer and they are pictured at the end of the article. Additionally some females prefer a holster that fits inside their purse allowing them to accessorize, however, this can be quite limiting as most purses are not built to carry a handgun. There are however several brand names that build both stylish and strong purses that will fit the modern business woman’s desire for style and protection. Additionally there are rather comfortable holsters that fit between and slightly beneath the breasts as well as my personal favorite that fits directly above the crotch area and is by far the most comfortable holster I have ever used. There are pocket holsters that print like a wallet, thigh and ankle holsters that are both comfortable and relatively easy to reach. Again understanding that for instance a thigh or ankle holster will be much more difficult to reach with efficient speed than one in place around the waist or in a slung bag/purse.

Next if possible test a variety of approaches, sometimes local gun stores will allow you to test these holsters, however, this is not always the case. So, do your best with what you have available. I am going to give you pictures and manufacturers of holsters that work extremely well for me. I am also going to be very clear as to why some of the supposed “higher end” designs are worthless in the long term. Please understand, I test everything over and over again. As with ammunition and firearms I have tested slings, holsters and come up with the variety I believe to be the best for the money available. Some of the higher end rely on brand name recognition and occasionally will become quite relaxed on quality. Additionally there is a belief that thicker is better in kydex, I would disagree, for ccw or concealed carry (however your particular state names it) thinner is better in holsters. Because carrying a double stack firearm is preferable to all other concealed firearm types for a variety of reasons a well made thin kydex or leather holster is going to be better in the long term.

Here are a list of manufacturers that I believe are worth every penny of the money spent for holsters.

  1. S.C.holsters found at https://instagram.com/scholsters/ or on Facebar or you can email them at scholsters@hotmail.com with the design YOU want, I have half a dozen and love them all! Tell Chris Lambert (one of the pair of makers) that Jesse Mathewson recommended you!

  2. Falco Holsters, when you cannot find a custom rig that fits what you need exactly, these guys will have it or can build it! I have three of their rigs and they are all quality well made and well worth the money, leather is a great choice for OWB carry! (Outside the Waist Band) http://www.falcoholsters.com

  3. Fobus Holsters are another great inexpensive approach for carrying a firearm, they make a holster that will fit every gun you own. Or be close enough that a little sandpaper will make the difference. I use them for range and camping trips regularly and they can and are found for between 20 and 30 dollars- they will last a life time. I have dozens because like Morakniv Companions and Opinel folding knives they are too inexpensive too not have plenty of. I end up giving them away to people because I hate seeing a firearm in a nylon holster- (bad juju) You can find them here, Fobus Holsters.

  4. Galco Holsters are also worth the money spent, and can be found here, Galco Holsters.

  5. Dont Tread on Me Deep Concealment Crotch Carry– these are so comfortable I can wear them all day and sleep in them if need be! Plus they are perfect for when you are working out, wearing loose summer clothing or going swimming! (Yes I carry even in the pool, dont you?) its called a good cleaning and oil to ensure no rust!

  6. Roma Leather purses, these are preferred by my wife and work VERY well, she carries a Glock 19 plus 2 mags all day and these purses distributes the weight nicely and has NEVER broken or given cause for issue. They carry many different kinds but you want to go with Roma Leather!

  7. Lastly, your local Kydex or Leather guy may have a great deal for you.

Make sure that the holster does at least three things perfectly! This is essential – First a good holster MUST retain the firearm when you turn it upside down- just a simple turn upside down, shaking and dropping or violently moving it around does not count and that is what lanyard cords are for. Second a good holster MUST cover the trigger, period, safety or no safety that is irrelevant as the trigger is the ultimate safety and coverage of that is essential. Third (for the three BASIC and most necessary things in my opinion) a good holster must remain capable of re-holstering without having to look at the holster and without having to hold the holster open! There are other things I look at in a good holster, like how does it feel, (I wear mine all day every day so comfort is essential) how does it look, (it cannot print in a highly obvious way) how does it FIT, (it has to fit so that it doesnt drag my belt down or make me need to hook my pants up regularly as these are OBVIOUS signs of carrying to others)

So there is my little review on holsters, I will be following this up with a several pictures of holsters I use regularly. Remember, if you cannot carry it safely or regularly why own one?

Free the mind and the body will follow.

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About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, jessetalksback.com and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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2 Responses to Holsters: The good the bad and the ugly, A Review

  1. wunhunglo2 says:

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Rule #1 is “Have it on you”.
    I absolutely never want to say the words (possibly as last words) “If I only had my gun”.
    I also emphasize consistency of carry placement and type. Same type of holster, in the same position, every time. Ankle carry (which I hate for anything other than a BUG), one day, and small of the back the next, removes the “muscle memory” from the equation. Going for the gun should be as natural as scratching your nose. Similarly, going from no retention to a manual release retention on different holsters is just asking for an epic fail. This is no different than switching carry guns from a Glock to a 1911, to a Beretta 92, to H&K USP- the manual of arms is different for each. When things go sideways the brain has enough to do without thinking about where the gun is, which kind of safety it has, and how the retention works. I have successfully concealed carried a Glock 21 for years, always on the right hip, and always in a Kydex holster. This allows me to use the same gun, in the same holster, for training classes as well as everyday carry. This has given me tens of thousands of draw-presentation repetitions.

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