We always advise the new defensive shooter to get the best quality firearm that they can possibly afford when it is the gun that their life might depend on. The rest of the story is that the same advice holds true when we are considering a holster, belt and ammo carrier to go with that concealed-carry handgun. Too much is not enough to pay when a life may hang in the balance.
Too often, we see defensive shooters with a useful handgun that is coupled with holsters, belts and ammo carriers that must have been purchased at some bargain-basement sale. The holster is soft, floppy and doesn’t even begin to hold the handgun securely. The belt is so soft that it sags and adds to the potential for the gun to fall out of the holster. In addition, the ammo carriers are often so bizarre that you couldn’t get a reload out of them with a search warrant. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all holster really doesn’t fit anything.
The concealed-carry holster should be built for one particular model of the gun. Whether made of Kydex or leather, the holster should be snug enough that it aids in holding the handgun securely. In addition, any retaining device should be positive and, at the same time, simple to manipulate as an integral part of the draw stroke.
A properly made defensive holster will last for years of use but when it becomes too soft and flexible, it should be replaced. Most of us have seen the photos on social media of the soft leather holster that interacted with the trigger of a striker-fired pistol and resulted in the painful perforation of the individual’s nether region. That’s the sort of thing that will make your eyes water more than a little bit.
The belt that is chosen should be stiff enough that it holds its shape and doesn’t sag with the weight of the handgun and ammo carrier. It should also be of the same width as the holster’s belt slots. This allows for the best concealment by holding the gun snugly against the body and keeping the holstered gun from getting out of place due to sloppy fit.
A magazine pouch or ammo carrier should also fit the belt securely. In addition, it should hold the extra ammunition in such a way that spare magazines can be managed with one hand during a reload. Just as with the holster, any retention devices should be positive but easy to manipulate.
When it comes to concealed carry gear, we live in the best of worlds. A number of large companies manufacture equipment that is made of quality material and fitted to a particular firearm. It doesn’t matter if you prefer Kydex or leather, there are quite a number of companies that can meet your needs and do it with quality. In addition, there are quite a number of smaller one-person shops that build great stuff for the defensive shooter. Just as with the defensive handgun, good concealed carry gear isn’t cheap, but good gear won’t let you down when your life is at stake. Shop wisely. None of us need a lot of defensive gear, but what we buy ought to enhance our ability to survive, not detract from it.
This post originally appeared in Shooting Illustrated.