Guidelines For Selecting A Concealed Carry Holster
A concealed carry holster is important for men and women who carry. Although brands are mentioned in the photos, it’s not my intent to shill for any company. By passing along this information, I aim to arm you with some basic guidelines for choosing a safe holster. What style, brand, color, etc. you choose is your choice, but please make it a safe design.
There’s a video making the rounds online lately. It’s a holster ad. In it, an attractive, sassy woman in a tight skirt and low-cut blouse shows how many guns, magazines, and a blade she can lug around in her concealment system. No less than six people have sent this video to me; asking for feedback. Since the video is garnering so much attention, I’ve written that opinion out here, in part so I can just refer people to it, but mostly because there are so many systems for carry that can prove a safety hazard or waste of money. Here, we’re focused more on the safety aspects of a concealed carry holster than comfort and practicality, though I will give those topics a mention.
On-body or off?
It’s a good idea, for your safety in terms of being able to end an unavoidable, life-endangering encounter, to carry the gun on your body and not in a purse, briefcase, or other off-body method. That being said, there are purses, satchels, and such that are purpose-made for carry, with a dedicated gun compartment and a sheath of some sort that the gun goes into.
There should never be any other objects in this compartment besides the gun. Innocent bystanders have been shot by women who threw a loaded gun into a purse along with keys, pens, and all the other stuff that goes in there.
Indexing the gun in concealment is also a reason to purchase a holster bag or purse if you’re going to carry off-body. You should be able to open the gun compartment without having to use your fingertips to fiddle with the opening. You should be able to get a firing grip on the gun simply by feel, without having to look. That means carrying the bag on the same side of your body, the same way, every time. That also usually means practicing a cross draw motion, without your finger inside the trigger guard and without muzzling your own body parts or anyone else’s as the gun is presented.
With those parameters, purse/bag carry is safe, though it’s likely to be slower. The average deadly force encounter is over in less than five seconds. How much of that do you care to spend drawing?
So you’re carrying on-body…
If you’ve decided to have your concealed carry holster on-body, there are many choices starting from just under the armpit line to the ankle. The system you select should work for your lifestyle and comfort. For example, belly bands are a great option for many people, and one that can be fitted anywhere from high on the ribcage to under the pants. But if you’re in a job where people are hugging you a lot, that’s not going to work, as the gun will be detectable by touch. If you’re a farmer or industrial worker, putting your body in twisted positions or turning sideways/upside down, you’ll likely require extra retention to ensure the gun doesn’t come out on its own. With lifestyle factors in mind, here are some basic rules for choosing a safe concealment system.
The Rules For Selecting A Concealed Carry Holster
1. The trigger guard must be absolutely inaccessible to anything and anyone in concealment.
Test this yourself, if you get a chance. Make sure the gun is unloaded first—magazine out, chamber clear, or for a revolver, no loaded chambers. If you have injured or weak fingers, ask a friend to do this test for you. Insert the gun as indicated by the manufacturer, then see if you can get a finger into the trigger guard from the side of the holster that’s not against your body. If you can, it’s probably not a safe concealed carry holster. Imagine falling, or leaning over machinery at work, and having some object activate your trigger, resulting in an immediate gunshot wound.
“I’ll get around that by not carrying one in the chamber,” is one of the many responses I saw to this point. Please consider this an unsafe option as well, as loading will eat into that five-second window you’re likely to face. The only people I’ve seen who practice the technique of loading the chamber from the concealed carry holster, then firing, sufficiently to do it under stress, are soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces.
2. The system must keep the gun securely in place, in the context of your typical day.
Some systems shift a bit during the day, and require a little adjustment. If it’s not constant, and if you can discreetly make minor adjustments and the gun is still secure, that’s alright.
Hook and loop closures are a common form of retention. Though that generally works, it’s also a source of noise when you access your life-saving equipment. Decide if that matters to you and your likely deadly force scenarios.
3. You must be comfortable and secure all day with the setup you select.
In order to get my gun out of the purse and onto my waistline for daily carry, I had to go with a much smaller gun than I prefer. That drawback is outweighed by the confidence and real security I’ve gained by having the gun on my person.
To be successful in a deadly force encounter, the gun must first be with you—not in the house or car. It’s a great idea to pack an extra magazine, a blade, a tourniquet, and multiple guns if your local laws permit it. Carry the largest amount of ammunition in the largest gun you can—backed up by a blade—but don’t be surprised when you find yourself looking for a smaller gun. The gun you can carry with you is the one that can save your life.
Expect to make compromises in your manner of dress, size of gun, or other factors that make all-day concealed carry comfortable and feasible.
More money spent on a concealed carry holster doesn’t necessarily make it better. Expect to experiment, so don’t break the bank on your first one.
A free market is a good thing. We don’t need holster regulations. There are unsafe holsters, and people are free to be as savvy or dumb as they like. This article hopefully reminds some folks that they’re responsible for any damage or death caused by a negligently discharged round.
The three factors named here aren’t all that’s required to select the perfect holster system, but they are necessary for a safe one. “Safe” means a concealed carry holster that precludes unintended discharges while in concealment, as well as one that’s ready to deploy without a fuss.
What is your preferred method of carry? Let us know in the comments below. Then, make sure you like our Facebook page to keep up to date on all we've got going on.
All photos by Team HB unless otherwise noted.