Don’t Agonize Over The “Right Gun” Just
To Grab The First Holster You See. It Takes
Culling To Find What’s Best For You

By Tom McHale

The 17th Law of Nature states when you decide to start carrying a handgun, you’re going to collect more holsters than caviar appetizers served in the Congressional lunchroom. You know what I mean — those nifty carry solutions that looked really great in the ad, at least until you tried them. Then you found out they stunk, but at least they were expensive, right? To add insult to injury, all those misfit holsters will accumulate in a box on your closet floor, reminding you every time you put on your shoes you could have bought a really sweet pistol with the money you spent.

Don’t panic! We’re here to help! Here’s a collection of holsters of all styles that have stood the test of time and hard use. They work. Better yet, these “carry option options” offer a wide variety of practical solutions for both men and women. Check ’em out. Then go forth and carry with confidence!

BLACKHAWK! TecGrip IWB Holster

Yes, I’m a holster snob, but at least the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? I was sure this TecGrip holster from BLACKHAWK! wouldn’t work, even though I had never tried one. It’s a soft sleeve, apparently coated with material harvested from spider feet because the exterior sticks to anything. And that’s the entirety of the technology that keeps your gun in place — no loops or hardware anywhere to be found. On a dare, I did wear one — a lot — and sure enough, I was proven wrong. This holster sticks in whatever IWB position you choose like Gorilla Glue. Heck, whatever material they use to make it sticky even sticks to glass. These come in nine different sizes and a pocket holster model. This idea actually works. www.blackhawk.com

Galco Corvus Belt And IWB Holster

If you’re one of those who can’t decide which team to play for, you might consider the Galco Corvus. It’s a convertible holster that can be worn on the belt or inside the waistband. Forward and trailing edges of the Corvus allow you to configure both overall ride height and cant angle. Just attach either the included belt loops on the inside or straps on the outside to swap the Corvus between IWB and OWB modes. Galco includes hardware for 1 ½” and 1 ¾” belt sizes. One of the nifty things about this holster — at least for the GLOCK model — is that it’s compatible with optical sights right outta the box. There’s no need to break out the Dremel tool for any “custom holster development.” It works fine with my GLOCK 19 MOS, but be sure to check before assuming other guns will fit with an optic onboard. www.galcogunleather.com


Not wanting to miss out on the appendix carry phenomenon, the BLACKHAWK! folks offer the A.R.C. IWB Holster. The “ARC” stands for Appendix Reversible Carry. That’s accomplished by removable belt clips can be installed on either side of the injection-molded polymer holster. Two clips are included for 1.5″ and 1.75″ belts, and the single mounting screw allows you to adjust the A.R.C. for both ride height and cant angle. I’ve been using one with a GLOCK 19 and find it works just peachy as a traditional hip IWB holster too. The holster also has a screw to allow you to adjust gun retention pressure — make the draw as light or heavy as you want. www.blackhawk.com

Versacarry VersaCarrier

In the super nifty department is the VersaCarrier. This little gem makes it easy to pack a spare magazine or two when you’re headed out the door for your daily adventures with humanity. What makes it cool is the minimalist design. Packing a gun — especially IWB — adds plenty of bulk already, so the less “pants space” taken up by a spare mag or two, the better. The secret is a split insert that goes into your magazine. It’s a little bit like another round except it doesn’t take up any cartridge capacity. This insert clamp expands under the feed lips of the magazine, and that’s what sticks the magazine to the carrier. Partial guides on the sides keep the magazine oriented vertically. To access, just pull up and the magazine snaps away from the split insert. You can wear IWB or OWB and the sturdy plastic clip snaps over your belt — there’s no need to partially undress to add your spare mags. www.versacarry.com

Dene Adams Corset Holster

Guys, while this may look plenty comfortable, keep in mind it’s for the ladies. Founder Anna Henry explained to me she designed this model because she had to tote around small kids and hated keeping her gun in her purse where it could be accessed by the young ’uns and other passersby. She went on to explain women are naturally protective of the area where the corset positions the handgun. So the gun is out of the way even when toting a little one on the hip. The material provides great trigger protection on its own, but if you want more, the company offers a Kydex insert. You can order the corset with a decorative lace front. That’s not just for flair, but an aid to concealment too. The corset is its own support system. No clunky gun belts required! www.deneadams.com

Galco Royal Guard Generation 2 IWB Holster

I promise you won’t have to wear one of those tall fuzzy hats if you choose the Royal Guard Holster. However, as its name implies, it oozes class and refinement. Like those guys outside Buckingham Palace that you can’t get to smile, the Royal Guard holster is impeccably put together. Its rough-side-out, smooth-side-in horsehide construction makes for a super slick draw. And the textured exterior sticks to your clothes to spread the weight. The mouth is reinforced with steel so even with cinched-in pants you can re-holster with one hand. I’ve been using one with a SIG SAUER P225, and that’s been a marriage made in Westminster Abbey. www.galcogunleather.com

N82 Tactical Pro Tandem Holster

The holster duo of Nate Squared has a brand new and very comfy product on the market. I’ve used a couple of their original models for years with a Springfield Armory XD-S and SIG SAUER P229 and, if pressed, I’d admit it’s the most comfortable holster I’ve tried. The new Pro Tandem model takes a play from the N82 Tactical Professional playbook with its polycarbonate shell that provides “sorta active, sorta passive” retention — just twist the butt of the handgun towards your body as you draw to unlock the gun from the holster shell. There are no moving parts but your gun isn’t going anywhere until you want it to. As the name implies, the Pro Tandem sports two belt clips, spaced far apart for stability. Mount them in different positions to customize ride height and cant angle. The generous backing is made from the Nates’ trademark three-layer design: suede on the inside for comfort and friction support, neoprene in the middle to prevent sweat from going out and gun oil from coming in, and a leather exterior that plays nice with the finish of your gun. I’ve been using one for a Springfield Armory 1911 TRP (no lightweight!), and it carries beautifully. The large suede surface does an amazing job of distributing weight. www.n82tactical.com

MTR Custom Leather Swan Belt Holster

Here’s one designed specifically for the ladies. In case you hadn’t noticed, men and women have different torso positions, so a holster designed for a “male” draw usually won’t work as well for a woman. The Swan positions the gun lower relative to the belt line, allowing shorter-torso women to reach the gun more naturally. The MTR folks designed the Swan to allow women to carry a medium- to full-sized handgun while maintaining a smooth and natural draw and re-holstering motion. The leather holster is molded to your specific firearm and features a single belt channel loop on the back. www.mtrcustomleather.com

DeSantis Holsters Die Hard Ankle Rig

While ankle carry usually isn’t the most desirable option for your primary self-defense gun, it’s a great option for a backup or those occasions where no other carry method is feasible. If you’re carrying on the ankle, you need a rig that’s stable and durable because your gun and holster are going to be moving around — a lot. The DeSantis Die Hard Ankle Rig was designed for Federal law enforcement use, so it’s rugged and designed to last. The wide neoprene band provides comfort and molds to the contours of your leg, making it ideal for all-day use. The leather holster pocket features a thumb-break snap for retention and a smooth interior to facilitate the draw. The Die Hard is available for a wide variety of compact autos and revolvers. www.desantisholster.com

Undertech Undercover Original Concealment Leggings

I met Undertech Undercover’s CEO Tammy Magill at a Concealed Carry Expo earlier this year. She gave me the rundown on one of the handiest concealed carry options for women ever. If you’re still on the right side of the dirt and can manage to fog a mirror, you might have noticed women’s yoga pants (sometimes called leggings) are all the rage. Ladies have integrated these into all sort of dress scenarios (often underneath other clothing layers), so Tammy figured why not use leggings as a holster platform? The Concealment Leggings have holster pockets sewn in at the traditional hip and appendix carry positions. Simply adjust as needed to your carry location preference or wardrobe style.

Galco CarrySafe Gen 2 Holster Support System

According to The Well Armed Woman, 13 percent of women who carry do so in a purse. If you choose purse carry, it’s important to use a pocketbook designed with a dedicated gun holster. This means your purse holster manufacturer has to be in the fashion business. Or you can take a different approach. Using the Galco CarrySafe Gen 2 system, you can safely use your existing purse collection. The CarrySafe is a plate to which you mount a holster and magazine carrier, thereby keeping your gun positioned correctly and protected from the clutter in your bag. Guys, it also works for packs, briefcases and messenger bags. www.galcogunleather.com

Gum Creek Customs Vehicle Handgun Mount

Carrying inside the waistband while driving is about as much fun as Crazy Glue-ing your eyelids shut. Trying to quickly draw your gun from a seated position isn’t so hot either. One option for longer drives is to use an easy-to-access vehicle mount. The Gum Creek system is a two-part affair. The mount attaches under the steering column of your vehicle. To this, you attach the standard Gum Creek Holster. The holster has an adjustable thumb break, so it’s easy to size for a wide variety of handguns. The system is not a gun security solution, so don’t leave your firearm unattended in the car. Also be sure to check your local laws regarding vehicle carry. Regulations are all over the map depending on your state’s carry laws. www.gumcreekcustoms.com

MTR Custom Leather Deluxe Thoroughbred Holster

I’m a big fan of putting a light and laser on carry guns. Bad stuff happens in the dark more often than in broad daylight, so why not have every possible advantage? The challenge is it’s difficult to find a holster to fit your handgun with your particular choice of light and laser. The folks at MTR Custom Leather are making it their business to fabricate holsters that fit a broad array of light/laser configurations. Check out the Deluxe Thoroughbred model. It looks like a hybrid design but is all leather. The large back panel is lined with foam-backed suede on the inside for comfort and friction support against your body. The holster pocket is also made of leather and shaped for your specific combination of gun and light/laser unit. It also sports a reinforced mouth for one-handed reholstering. www.mtrcustomleather.com

BLACKHAWK! Omnivore Holster

Apparently the BLACKHAWK! engineers got tired of making a million different holster configurations to accommodate guns with mounted weaponlights. The Omnivore takes an entirely different approach. The holster clamps onto the light itself, so the exact shape of the gun and light really doesn’t matter. Initially, the Omnivore is available for guns equipped with Surefire X-series and Streamlight TLR lights. So far, the company has tested over 400 guns using those two models and they all fit the standard holster without modification. There’s also a light-less option. Just add the rail adapter to any rail-equipped gun and the holster attaches to that. What a concept! One holster for all your guns. As you might have guessed from the “clamping” description, the Omnivore is a retention holster activated by a thumb button. While working with a pre-release model, I found it didn’t slow down my draw at all once I got the hang of it. It’s also tough as nails. www.blackhawk.com

Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB Holster

When I tested the new Cloak Tuck 3.0, I asked for a model to carry the biggest of handguns. I figured if the Cloak Tuck 3.0 could tote around a few pounds of gun and cartridge, then it would be good to go for anything rational people would carry. I’ve been using it to carry an FN FNX .45 Tactical — inside the waistband. The beautiful beast carries 15+1 rounds of .45 ACP — enough firepower to level a city block if you ask big and slow bullet aficionados. The generous backing is ballistic nylon and a flexible steel plate backed by neoprene on the body side. That keeps your gun dry, adds a level of comfort, and distributes the weight of your gun via friction. The “alien skin” outer surface provides a slick draw and protects your gun’s finish. The holster shell is swappable — just order a new one if you change handguns. Oh, and the widely spaced belt clips adjust for ride height and cant. It’s now available for both semi-autos and revolvers. www.aliengearholsters.com

Simply Rugged Holsters DEFCON 3 Leather Concealed Carry Holster

If you dig the elegant, supple and classic feel of leather, but want all the newfangled features like convertible configuration between strong-side, IWB, cross draw, or classic OWB carry, check out the Simply Rugged DEFCON 3. At first glance it looks like a regular pancake leather holster. On closer inspection you’ll notice a lower belt cut on the leading edge for cross-draw mounting. On an even closer look you’ll see you can attach flexible leather snap loops to the top. These fold up and over the front of the holster, instantly turning it into an IWB rig. The best part? You can leave the loops on all the time so there’s no conversion required to change carry modes. An open, reinforced top allows one-handed reholstering. One more thing — many of the cool-kid instructors at Gunsite Academy wear Simply Rugged daily. How can you go wrong? www.simplyrugged.com

HTC Evo Holster

One way to reduce your risk of accumulating a pile of unused holsters is to find good ones that serve multiple roles. The Evo by High Threat Concealment is a multitasker. It includes parts to configure it as a two-loop OWB or wide-clip IWB rig. It’s not made of Kydex or injection-molded plastic, but rather Boltaron. Suspicious that “Boltaron” was a gimmicky marketing name, I Googled it. Sure enough, Boltaron is a company making advanced thermoplastics that give Kydex a run for its money. The Evo comes with asymmetric belt loops and plenty of mounting holes to allow you to configure holster height and cant angle to your heart’s content. You can order the Evo with 1.5 or 1.75″ belt clips, or better yet, as a complete kit that includes both. www.highthreatconcealment.com

Galco SMC Magazine Carrier

I have really good intentions about always carrying a spare magazine, but it’s such a pain. Most magazine carriers require threading your belt through them. Since they mount on the left side for us right-handed folk, you have to plan several belt loops ahead to attach the magazine carrier when getting dressed (I know. It’s a First World problem). Anyway, here’s why the Galco SMC (Single Magazine Carrier) earns a lifetime membership in my happy club. It snaps over the belt so you can easily add it anytime you’re headed out the door without undressing in front of the dog. But the real benefit is the snap attaches under the belt rather than on top. I’ve had all sorts of trouble with high snaps getting knocked open when exiting cars and such. This one stays in place and the single-mag configuration isn’t bulky. www.galcogunleather.com

uKoala Bag

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I met Mayan — engineer, world traveler and designer of the uKoala — and she told me about the inspiration for this innovative carry system. Wanting a way to carry gear, but hating the idea of her bag not being attached to her body, she came up with the uKoala after tying her pack to herself with shoelaces while catching a few winks in an airport. uKoala offers configurations for men and women that strap to the leg or hang like a more typical pack. A carry compartment is complemented by storage for all of your daily necessities. www.ukoalabag.com

Packin’ Neat Purse Carry Insert

Packin’ Neat founder Kristen got tired of holster companies trying to make fashionable purses. She figured designers are far better at purse-making. Besides, most women already have a closet full of pocketbooks. That’s why she invented the Packin’ Neat system. It’s a cleverly designed insert that holds all of your daily gear — gun, magazine, light, and whatever else you might want to include. Just lift the whole mess out of one purse and drop it into another and you’re ready to go. The dedicated holster pocket keeps your gun secure and random stuff away from the trigger. Different inserts allow most handguns to fit nice and snug. www.packinneat.com

Vanquest Trident-20 and Javelin VSlinger Packs

If you need to carry more gear than fits in your pockets — and still want to pack a concealed handgun — check out the packs from Vanquest. Whether you prefer a single-strap or traditional backpack, these bags are designed to “sling” to your front, exposing a perfectly positioned concealed carry pocket. Both packs are second to none in terms of overall functionality. Interiors are bright orange, helping you spot whatever you’re looking for easily. Well thought-out pockets, elastic loops, Velcro patches and MOLLE straps allow a near-infinite number of configuration options. www.vanquest.com 

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