When you use a firearm for personal protection, having the right holster is crucial. These holsters are not universal, however. Your handgun choice and needs can dictate which type of holster will best suit you. This is particularly true for tactical gun holsters—which are designed for elite law enforcement and military use to provide maximum performance in potentially threatening situations. Having a high-quality holster is a given, but which type can best help you meet your carrying goals? Here are five of the most common types of holsters, along with their pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision on which style will work best.
OWB: The Classic Holster Style
Probably the most common type of holster people recognize is the outside-the-waistband (OWB) option. This style of holster usually places the weapon on your hip aligned with your strong hand side. Think of the cowboys from any western movie. OWBs are also a common tactical gun holster for law enforcement because they allow for quick drawing in tense situations.
However, if you plan on conceal carrying, OWB holsters are not ideal. Since these holsters are attached to the outside of your clothes they are more visible to the public, which can raise the tension in some situations. These holsters can also limit what kind of clothing you can wear. Since most OWB tactical holsters have a loop on the back, you’ll need to wear a belt to keep it secure. Any standard belt will be fine, but that doesn’t always work best for casual attire.
IWB: An Ideal Conceal Carry Option
Inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters are very similar to OWB styles and ride on your hip as well. The main difference is these holsters are situated inside of your clothing against your body. This makes them an ideal choice when concealment is a priority, as only the grip of your pistol is exposed. By having the weapon pressed against your body, it is also much easier to keep it secure so it is a great tactical gun holster if you plan on doing a lot of moving. However, some gun owners dislike IWB holsters because they tend to not be the most comfortable way to carry and can easily dig into you if you aren’t careful.
By nature, tactical holsters must make the firearms they carry easy and quick to access. This makes IWB holsters the least tactical of these other kinds, but still viable when concealment is a necessity.
Shoulder: Comfortable Carrying in Relaxed Situations
Anyone who has watched a police drama will recognize the traditional leather straps of a shoulder holster. These holsters allow you to carry your gun and spare magazines on the opposite sides of your body which can help balance you out. Shoulder holsters also permit you to easily conceal your weapon with just a coat or jacket. The design of shoulder holsters allows for very comfortable carrying from a sitting position.
The biggest drawback of tactical gun holsters is that your handgun’s muzzle is pointed directly behind you. This can cause major issues if your firearm accidentally discharges because it may strike another person or object behind you. Drawing your firearm is also be more difficult as you have to reach across your body to draw. If your gun is not properly concealed, this can telegraph your intentions and designate you as a threat before you are ready to return fire.
Ankle: One of The Best Choices for Compact Firearms
When your weapon of choice is more compact, ankle tactical gun holsters are a good choice. Ankle holsters are particularly useful for carrying a secondary or backup weapon in case your main firearm is lost or malfunctions during a struggle. Concealment and convenience are top reasons for choosing this type of holster as well since they are generally tucked inside of your pants leg and sock. Because people rarely look at your feet, any printing caused by your weapon will generally go unnoticed.
Accessing your weapon with an ankle holster is more complicated than it sounds. Instead of simply drawing your handgun, you’ll be required the extra movement of kneeling or bending to reach it. You’ll also have to use both hands—one to pull up your pant leg and one to remove your gun—in order to defend yourself. If you are surprised by an attacker, all of this extra work can prove to be a major issue.
Drop Leg: Carry for the Greatest Tactical Advantage
The beauty of drop leg tactical gun holsters is that they draw from a position where your hand naturally rests on your body, at your side and below the waist. This makes them one of the most tactically-advantageous holster types in a very general sense.
Though they have very little concealment value, you will be able to draw from a natural resting position with almost no extra or unnecessary motion.
When most people think of a tactical holster, they think of drop-leg style. Though you may not wear it everyday, a holster of this type is definitely worth adding to your collection and practicing with.
Research to Find the Best Option Today
Ultimately, the best holster for your needs accomplishes three things: it feels natural on your body, provides maximum accessibility, and keeps your weapon secure with movement. Any style of tactical gun holster can accomplish these goals so it is helpful to do your research before making a final decision. Trying out different styles can also give you a better idea of what to expect when carrying in the field when your safety depends on your choice of holster.
OUTBAGS USA offers a wide selection of holster options covering waistband, shoulder, clothing, and more. Our staff is also knowledgeable about the needs of gun owners. We can help you find the right type of holster for your carrying situation. Contact us today to discover which holster will best help you carry your firearm of choice.