Holsters: What to Look For

In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of selecting a defensive holster specifically made for the pistol model that a person carries. We’ve also talked about the importance of having a defensive holster of the best quality possible so that it holds the handgun securely. Both of these are essential considerations whether that holster is made from cowhide, horsehide, or Kydex.

Another important consideration is selecting a belt that will hold the handgun and holster securely in one spot. The belt should be made of thick material so that it doesn’t sag under the gun’s and holster’s weight. It should be the same width as the belt loop on the holster so that it doesn’t allow the holster to slip around. One can rarely find belts like this in the big-box store at the local plaza. That’s why I buy my belts from holster makers because they understand the vital role the belt plays in concealing and securing a defensive handgun.

Something not often discussed when talking about defensive holsters is that the shooter should be able to get a shooting grip on the pistol when the hand comes in contact with it. Most current-production holsters have a space between the front strap of the gun and the top of the holster, but they often do this because it is the current style and don’t really understand what it is designed to accomplish.

When making a defensive draw in a life-threatening situation, the shooting hand should touch nothing but the gun. If, when getting a shooting grip, the hand’s knuckles impact the top of the holster, the shooter will hesitate. It may only be for a micro-second, but that is when a person’s life is at stake, and any hesitation is to be avoided. Therefore, when selecting a defensive holster, it is crucial to make sure that there is plenty of room for the shooting hand to get a proper grip without impacting any part of the holster. Shooters with big hands should pay special attention to this.

This is also why I have avoided those holsters that have a vertical piece of material – some call it a sweat guard – at the top of the holster to keep the body’s perspiration from contacting the handgun. When shooting a single-action auto, the shooting thumb should go to the top of the thumb safety as an integral part of the defensive presentation. Jamming my thumb down between this sweat barrier and the pistol slows me down, and it might slow you down, too. If I find a holster that otherwise suits me, I’ll take a pocket knife to that sweat guard and make it disappear.

Spend some time studying the contributions that a proper holster can make to your defense, and you will begin to understand why many of us buy the best rigs that we can afford. I think it was Skeeter Skelton, who said, “My holster maker is more important to me than my doctor.” After packing a fighting handgun for many years, I can’t argue with that.

This article originally appeared in Shooting Illustrated.

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