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Your Complete Guide to Concealed Carry Holsters

by keith cannone 12 min read

Your Complete Guide to Concealed Carry Holsters

You have plenty of options when choosing concealed carry holsters. Don’t get confused. This guide will help you select a holster that fits your gun and body.

You might feel a little intimidated when you buy your first concealed carry holster. You have a lot of options. How can you focus on choosing the right deep concealment holster that matches your unique needs?

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time to learn about your basic options. If you already own a gun that you plan to carry daily, choosing a model becomes even easier. If you haven’t purchased a gun, then you may want to go a little deeper so you can fully understand your options.

The following guide will put you on the right track to buying a concealed carry holster that makes you feel secure and comfortable. Take your time and weigh the pros and cons of a holster’s features. More likely than not, you will find a holster that stands out to you.

Popular Holster Styles for Concealed Carry

Let’s start by exploring some of the most popular holster styles for concealed carry. Four things stand out as extremely important features when buying a holster:

  • Deep concealment that prevents people from noticing your gun.
  • Comfort that makes it easy for you to carry every day.
  • Access that lets you pull and holster your weapon quickly.
  • Durability that gives you a great return on your investment.

You may have additional concerns, but these four should always come first. If a holster doesn’t check all four of these boxes, then it will let you down eventually.

IWB Holster (Inside the Waistband)

IWB holsters are very popular because they slip right inside the waistband of your pants. You just untuck your shirt to hide your gun from view. Only a highly trained person can spot a firearm carried in an IWB holster.

Many people find IWB holsters comfortable because the material presses against your body. Since the holster stays in place, you won’t get chaffed. It might take a few days for you to get used to having the holster on your body, but most people adapt quickly.

Since you can feel the holster pressed into your skin, you always know your gun’s location. In a tense moment, you unholster your pistol to protect yourself and others. You never get delayed fumbling for a gun that has moved.

The durability of an IWB holster depends on its material. This is true of most holsters, so we’ll discuss it in a section below.

Tuckable IWB Holsters

Some IWB holsters rely on your belt to stay in place. You may enjoy the secure feeling of attaching your IWB holster to a belt. If you want more flexibility, though, you can get a tuckable IWB holster that does not require a belt.

Tuckable holsters have a clip that latches onto your waistband. You can wear them with practically any pants. Make sure that your pants fit well enough to stay on your waist, though. A pair of loose pants with an elastic waistband could slip under a gun’s weight.

You get the same benefits from this waistband holster as a standard IWB holster. With this option, you don’t have to wear a belt. That’s the only real difference.

OWB Holsters (Outside the Waistband)

OWB holsters are usually belt holsters that keep your gun on the outside of your pants. You can get OWB paddle holsters, though, that don’t require a gun belt.

You lose some concealment when you choose an OWB holster. You don’t get the advantage of hiding the gun inside the cloth of your pants. You can stay stealthy, though, by wearing a jacket or shirt that covers the gun.

Some people prefer OWB holsters because they don’t want to feel the gun pressed against them. It’s a personal choice.

Some also think that they have quicker access to guns in OWB holsters than guns in IWB holsters. Really, quick access has more to do with training than the holster’s style.

To summarize, an OWB holster can give you good concealment, comfort, and access, so plenty of carriers will consider them terrific options.

Hybrid Tuckable Holsters

The type of holster that you use may depend on the pants that you plan to wear. In some situations, you may also decide that you prefer keeping your gun visible. Hybrid tuckable holsters let you choose between keeping your weapon inside or outside of your waistband.

Some people also like hybrid tuckable holsters because they distribute a gun’s weight over more area. Since they’re larger holsters, you may find that you can carry a full size weapon more easily.

Shoulder Holsters

Shoulder holsters can work well when you plan to wear a jacket throughout the day. Some people like shoulder holsters because they have easy access to their weapons. Again, how quickly you can draw your weapon usually depends more on how often you practice than the style of holster you choose.

You may prefer a shoulder holster if you plan to carry a full size gun that weighs quite a bit. Some designs also have holsters for more than one pistol, which you may find useful in tense situations against multiple aggressors.

Belly Band Holsters

Belly band holsters have material that stretches around your entire waist or midsection. Most of them conceal small weapons very well. The bands squeeze around your lower belly, so they can keep your gun in place even when you run as quickly as possible.

Ankle Holsters

Ankle holsters strap to the bottom of your leg, right above the ankle. They’re remarkable for concealing very small revolvers. Keep in mind, though, that it will take some time to get used to carrying the weight of a gun above your ankle. You may find that the ankle holster makes it difficult to run, jump, or even walk naturally. Still, it’s a strong option, especially for security professionals who want to carry backup weapons.

Appendix Holsters

Appendix holsters are tuckable holsters that fit inside your waistband, right by your appendix. You don't need an anatomy lesson to know where the tuckable IWB holsters sit. Most of them have designs that make them comfortable about halfway between your pants' button and front pocket.

Pocket Holsters

Pay close attention to pocket holster designs before you purchase one. Make sure the holster covers the gun’s trigger. Without material covering the trigger, you might as well carry the gun free in your pocket. There is even some danger that an aggressor could pull the trigger while the gun is in your pocket. Suddenly, your self-defense weapon becomes a liability.

Best Materials for Concealed Carry Holsters

Most companies make their concealed carry holsters from Kydex, leather, or nylon. Any of the materials can meet the needs of concealed carriers, but you may find that you prefer one over the others.

Kydex Holsters

Kydex is the most durable material for concealed carry holsters. Kydex has such durable properties that some manufacturers use it to make aircraft. You can expect a Kydex holster to last a lifetime. The scratch-resistant material should work as well decades from now as it does on the day you get your holster.

Other reasons daily carriers choose Kydex include the material’s:

  • Waterproof properties that protect guns from all types of moisture, such as rain, sweat, and humidity.
  • Low friction, which makes it easier for them to draw and holster firearms quickly.
  • Thin construction that helps keep guns concealed.
  • Heat resistance that lets them holster recently fired guns without getting burned.
  • Attractive, sleek appearance.

With Kydex, you get an affordable holster that will last a generation.

Leather Holsters

Traditionally, people have made gun holsters from leather. Until Sekisui SPI started manufacturing Kydex, leather was the best material for holsters. It withstands wear and tear well, offers some moisture protection, and protects the user from heat.

Some people still like the appearance of leather holsters. That makes sense for open carry, but a holster’s appearance matters much less when you want to keep your weapon concealed. Unless you want to show off your holster, it usually makes more sense to get a Kydex model that costs less, lasts longer, and offers more protection.

Nylon Holsters

Nylon is a lightweight, inexpensive material that can work well for concealed carriers in some environments. When buying nylon holsters, look for ballistic nylon that will protect you from a gun’s heat. Normal nylon could lead to burns.

There are some noteworthy disadvantages to choosing nylon holsters. The material isn’t nearly as durable as Kydex or nylon. Nylon is also a breathable material that cannot protect your weapon from moisture. You may also have problems keeping guns secure in nylon holsters. If you like nylon, get a holster that lets you adjust the tension easily. Otherwise, you could find that your gun moves freely in the holster when you walk or run.

Accessories for Deep Concealment Holsters

Adding accessories to your holster can improve security and comfort. Many people like to add accessories to their daily carry holsters. You should always make sure that you choose a great holster before you start looking at accessories, though. No amount of accessories can make a poor holster work well.

Leather Gun Belts

You don’t need to wear a belt to use most tuckable OWB, IWB, and hybrid holsters. As long as your pants have a snug fit, you can use practically any holster for back, side, front, and appendix carry. A leather gun belt, however, can help keep your holster in the position you prefer.

Look for sturdy leather gun belts that won’t sag or stretch under the weight of your weapon. Generally, you should avoid nylon belts because they tend to stretch more easily than leather. A nylon belt might work well for a while, but it won’t retain its shape for years like leather will.

Holster Claw Kits

Holster claw kits are designed to orient your holster and gun inward, toward your body. Most IWB, OWB, and hybrid holsters conceal guns to some extent. Someone trained to spot the signs of a concealed weapon, however, will probably know that you have a gun. A holster claw kit makes it much more difficult for even trained security teams to see concealed guns.

A well made holster claw kit will keep your gun’s grip accessible. It shouldn’t slow your draw speed. In fact, some people find that they can draw their guns more easily when they pair their holsters with claws. As long as you get used to the grip’s orientation, you can secure situations within a moment’s notice.

Holster and Firearm Lubricant

Kydex holsters don’t create much friction, so you can pull out your weapon quickly. A little lubricant makes the process even faster and easier. The best holster and firearm lubricants:

  • Prevents dust buildup that can increase friction between your gun and holster.
  • Protects your gun and holster from micro-abrasions (small scratches) that can slow your draw speed.
  • Will not damage popular holster materials, including Kydex, leather, nylon, and plastic.

You shouldn’t need much lubricant to reduce friction and protect your gear. A quick spray of pure silicon and lanolin lubricant will give you the results you want.

Magazine Holsters

How many shots do you need to secure a dangerous situation? Some revolvers only carry a few bullets, so you don’t get many chances to protect yourself and others. Even some full size guns have 10-shot capacities that can limit your security options.

If you worry that you might run into a situation that needs more shots than your gun can carry, you should consider keeping an extra holster on your body. A magazine holster will protect your bullets and magazine from moisture. The holster also makes it easy for you to reload your weapon quickly. You never need to fumble around in a bag or pocket to find your additional magazine. Instead, you know precisely where to reach when you need to reload.

Matching a Gun With a Concealed Carry Holster

Keep your gun secure by choosing a holster designed specifically for the weapon’s dimensions. Pairing your gun with the right holster will prevent the weapon from moving even when you run at a full sprint. By holding the gun in position, you can draw it confidently without hesitation.

If you aren’t familiar with guns popularly used by concealed carriers, then you may want to learn about why people choose them. Then, you can find a holster that matches it.

Glock 43 and Concealed Carry Holsters

The Glock 43 is a nice middle-ground for carriers who want the force of a full size gun but also prefer the concealability of compact guns. It has an overall length of 6.26 inches, which should fit most body sizes. It weighs about 18 ounces (1.125 pounds). It will take some time to get used to the weight, but most people adapt within less than a week.

The Glock 43 has a 6-round capacity and a Safe Action system. You don’t get many shots, but you have the features you need to secure areas safely without putting bystanders in danger.

At Concealment Express, we make an IWB Kydex holster designed to hold the Glock 43. We have versions for left-handed and right-handed carriers.

Our Glock 43 holster can also hold the Glock 43X. If you want to carry up to 10 bullets and you don’t mind a slightly larger size and heavier weight, consider choosing the 43X over the 43. Or get one of each. Regardless, you can use the same holster for the gun you need on any particular day.

Ruger LCP II and Concealed Carry Holsters

Ruger makes a few versions of its LCP II handgun. You can choose between models designed for 22 caliber and 380 Auto bullets. All versions have small sizes and low weights that make them excellent everyday carriers.

The 22 caliber version has a 5.2-inch overall length and weighs 11.2 ounces. Many people like it because the gun has a 10+1 capacity.

If you don’t mind carrying fewer bullets, then you may prefer a 380 Auto model. The largest version has a 7+1 capacity. It has an overall length of 5.17 inches and only weighs 11 ounces.

Since the LCP II models have such similar dimensions, you only need our Ruger LCP 2 Kydex holster for them. You don’t have to worry about which version of the gun you own.

Walther PK380 and Concealed Carry Holsters

The Walther PK380 is a popular concealed carry gun because it holds 8 rounds of 380 ACP bullets and has a relatively small size. At 6.1 inches long, it isn’t tiny. But it isn’t too large to make most people uncomfortable.

We prefer to match the Walther PK380 with our OWB Kydex paddle holster. You may feel more comfortable carrying this gun outside of your clothing. The paddle-style holster means that you can carry the PK380 with practically any outfit. If you want to conceal your weapon, make sure you have a shirt or jacket that can cover it, though.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield and Concealed Carry Holsters

Smith & Wesson makes a variety of M&P Shield handguns. The long list of options makes it possible for you to choose a weapon that matches your precise needs. No matter which one you like most, we have a holster that matches its dimensions.

The M&P9 Shield is a 9mm weapon that can carry 7+1 or 8+1 bullets. The gun has an overall length of 6.1 inches, which makes it reasonable for concealed carrying. The 20.8-ounce weight might feel a little heavy at first, but most people adjust to it quickly.

For a larger capacity, you can choose the M&P9 M2.0 Subcompact. It carries up to 10+1 bullets. It does have a larger size and heavier weight that some people will not like. If you have a large frame, though, you probably won’t mind the 25.2-ounce weight and 6.6-inch overall length.

Reasons to Conceal Carry

Do you need a concealed carry weapon? Plenty of people decide that they want to take advantage of the personal protection that concealed weapons offer. The world can become dangerous quickly. Carrying a weapon gives you a chance to eliminate threats and secure areas for everyone.

Other popular reasons that people choose to conceal carry include:

  • Protecting their family from unknown threats.
  • The large number of outstanding warrants in the United States.
  • Personal protection that doesn’t rely on the police to arrive quickly.
  • Feeling more confident as they move through the world.

You have a constitutional right to carry a weapon. The laws that regulate carrying guns vary from state to state, though. California and Massachusetts have the most rigorous laws. If you live in one of those states, make sure you choose a gun that matches their requirements.

Some states, like Kentucky, do not require any licensing to conceal carry. As long as you don’t have a legal issue that prevents you from owning a gun, you can carry a weapon.

Most states, however, have a licensing process that you need to follow to stay within the law. If you don’t know your state’s licensing requirements, reach out to your state attorney general, local law enforcement, or county sheriff. In many cases, getting a license requires a background check and a few hours of training. They are small hurdles to carrying a weapon that protects you from criminals.

Concealed Carry Laws Vary by State

Concealed carry laws vary by state, so it's important to know your state's rules before you purchase a gun and holster. You should also learn about a state's laws before you travel there. Some states will accept concealed carry permits from other places, but you need to know for sure before you visit.

Laws regulating concealed carry vary significantly across the country. In Kentucky, you can carry a concealed firearm without a permit as long as you don't have a felony or fall into a handful of categories that may make you a risk to yourself or others.

By comparison, California all concealed carriers must have permits. The state tends to issue permits only to people who can show that they need a concealed weapon for personal protection. Before you can get a permit, you must also complete training sessions that teach you how to carry a weapon safely.

You can find more information about state concealed carry laws US Concealed Carry.

Choosing a Concealed Carry Holster Company

When buying a concealed carry holster for your weapon, you should think beyond the features that the holster offers. You should also think about the reputation of the company that makes and sells the holster.

Many people choose our Concealment Express holsters and accessories because we:

  • Make all of our products in the United States.
  • Always use Kydex material that’s durable, comfortable, protective.
  • Offer free shipping.
  • Give you a lifetime warranty on every product.
  • Have accessories that will make your holster and gun even more effective.
  • Sell a huge range of holsters uniquely designed for concealed carry weapons.

Not sure whether we carry a holster for a gun you already own? Search our shop to see if we have an option for you. More often than not, our customers find holsters that match their needs. That way, they can get secure, affordable holsters that come with lifetime warranties.

keith cannone
keith cannone


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