If you’re planning to take your handgun with you for protection, you’ll need to get a proper holster for it. This is one step you definitely don’t want to breeze through. You need a holster that fits your gun well and allows you to draw it quickly and easily when you need it. The last thing you want is to be in a life-or-death situation and end up fumbling around with your holster.
That won’t happen if you take your time when purchasing your holster. Here’s how to find the perfect one.
1. Decide If You Plan to Open Carry or Concealed Carry Your Handgun
The first thing you’ll want to figure out is whether you’re going to open carry or concealed carry. You’ll need to check the laws in your state and city to determine the legality of each. Some areas allow both open carry and concealed carry, others only allow one of the two and some allow neither.
If you want to concealed carry a handgun, you’ll likely need to apply for a concealed carry permit. Concealed carry tends to be the better option because you’ll draw less attention that way. The challenge with concealed carry is finding a holster that you can keep hidden.
2. Consider the Different Types of Holsters
The first type of holster people usually think of is a belt holster. These holsters are a popular choice and can be very effective. For concealed carry, you’ll need to wear clothing large enough to conceal the holster. Similar to the belt holster in terms of positioning is the inside the waistband holder, which goes inside your pants, as the name suggests. This conceals the holster better, although you will need to buy your pants a size or two larger than usual.
Thigh holsters and shoulder holsters are also popular options. Neither is known for being effective as a concealed carry option, although you can conceal a shoulder holster if you wear a jacket over it. With shoulder holsters, it’s important to get one that holds the gun so it points down, not backwards. You always want your handgun pointed in a safe direction when not in use.
3. Figure Out What Material You Want
The two most common materials used for gun holsters are leather and plastic, although the plastic is typically a special, more durable brand, such as Kydex. Plastic holsters are the superior option when it comes to concealability, quick drawing and fitting the gun.
Where leather is superior is the comfort level. Plastic won’t contour to the shape of your body, and the harder edges could dig into your body. Leather naturally feels softer and doesn’t aggravate you when you wear it. The problem with leather is that as you use it, wear and tear can lead to a worse fit for your gun. It’s also much more susceptible to moisture and humidity.
4. Choose a Thumb Break or No Thumb Break
The thumb break on a holster is a small strap that holds the gun securely in place. There will usually be a snap that you can pop off with your thumb when you need to draw your gun.
Whether you get a holster with a thumb break is your call. It will add an extra layer of security, making your gun less likely to slip or get snatched by anyone. If you’re going the concealed carry route, it’s up to you. If you’ll be open carrying, it’s wise to have a holster with a thumb break.
5. Go to a Shop and Try on Holsters
The smartest thing you can do when buying a holster for your gun is trying before you buy. Check out a few different options and practice drawing your gun from them, while it’s unloaded, of course. You may find that trying a holster in person confirms that it’s the right one for you, or you may end up liking another one more.
A holster is almost as important as the gun itself. You want something that you’re comfortable with and can count on when you need it. Research your options to see what you like, and then go see what they feel like in person.