There are four things that a holster must be. Comfortable, concealable, secure and fast; if a holster you are considering is not all the above then it should be skipped. Now, everybody that carries a firearm daily will end up with a drawer full of holsters that met the above requirements, but we retired for various reasons. As you grow as a shooter this will happen, as you age this will happen. Injury, weight gain/loss, strength, and daily lifestyle all will influence the holster you choose.
A holster must be comfortable. If it isn’t you’re not going to want to carry your gun. What the first rule of a gun fight? Have a gun. Take into account your daily routine, size of your gun and clothing style. Don’t discount kydex style holsters because they look hard. A quality kydex holster can be very comfortable and I actually prefer them over most leather holsters. Kydex also (when properly made) wears less on the finish of the firearm, is easier to perform one-handed drills, and can be easier to replace components. Some guns just need to be held in leather, it seems sacrilegious not to. A leather holster must have a reinforced opening that stays open while its empty, to aid in holstering. Leather will wear your guns’ finish faster and retain moisture more. When you combine those two cons on the same gun it equals rust, the only thing worse for a gun than Liberals. Hybrid holster, combo of kydex and leather/neoprene etc…, may be comfortable but generally do not hold up well at all. Put another way they are significantly more prone to breakage than their single material counterparts.
Concealability depends on your body style and your manner of dress. Two styles you need to know, IWB (in waistband) and OWB (on/outside waistband). I prefer IWB over OWB because of its ease of concealment. However, OWB can be more comfortable. An individual’s body style (endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph) will play a role in determining where and how you carry your firearm on your body. The only way to figure this out is to play with it. Use a blue gun to determine where on your body is the most comfortable for your body type. Put your pants and belt on than stick the blue gun in various locations on your body and walk around your house, occasionally mimicking your draw stroke. This will give you a good place to start. What and how you carry in athletic attire can differ from what you use with a suit and tie, or jeans and a t-shirt. The season also plays a role, as well as region. There are some clothing styles that scream “I have a gun!”, one version of that is the tactical tuxedo. The whole point of concealed carry is to not let people around you know you have a gun until that gun is needed. So avoid dress that gives you away.
The holster you select must secure the firearm, in all circumstances. If it doesn’t, skip it. Your holster should be mounted to your belt by way of fixed loops or pull the dot soft loops. Besides keeping the gun/holster on your belt, these styles keep the combo close and tight against your body; aiding in concealment. Clips, hooks and magnets will fail you and end with your gun being unsecured. It is not an if but a when. Those clips can be very appealing, so if you must use them make sure they are of the highest quality, the few that I partially recommend come from Discreet Carry Concepts, Raven Concealment and G-code. If a holster relies solely on the tightness of your belt to secure it, what happens when you belt shifts or you go to the bathroom in public. A gun falling on the floor and sliding out of my stall is something I like to avoid.
A holster needs to be fast. Why? If the day comes, and you need your gun, you need it right NOW!!! Holsters that require weird body contortions or special positions to gain access to the gun should be avoided. Pocket carry for example is only accessible 50% of the time. Don’t get me wrong I have been known to holster a snubbie in my pocket…but, never as my primary firearm. Yes, you need a holster for pocket carry. Not only does it protect the gun from pocket lint and other debris, it keeps the gun oriented in the exact same position. That way when you need it you aren’t fumbling around trying to grasp the grip and get the muzzle. Very few people actually need active retention holsters. The average person would be well served with a standard style, quality manufactured, leather or kydex holster. Besides having one less thing to worry about under stress, they conceal better and are faster. Yes, I know, “it’s a training issue”. Why train for if it if you don’t need it? When you are fighting for your life, the only thing that’s runs out faster than bullets, is time. A holster that keeps your firearm in the exact same location with minimal shifting throughout the day allows for a very fast draw that can be recreated over and over under stress.
Continued in part 2.