By LAPG Staff
Sep 4th 2020

Source: Slipper Prince/

Choosing the right holster for your handgun is incredibly important; almost as critical as selecting the gun. There are many factors to consider when researching holsters, such as comfort, durability, security, lifestyle, and more. Also, you should take into account whether you’re open carrying or carrying your weapon concealed.

There is no one-size-fits-all holster for every gun, so it’s imperative that you choose one for your particular brand and model. Holsters come in a variety of styles, such as the ankle holster, holsters that clip to the inside of the waistband of your pants, shoulder holsters, and some that even fit in your pocket. Here are factors to consider when purchasing a holster for your handgun.

Your Purpose for Carrying Concealed

It’s essential to identify your purpose for carrying a weapon. Are you carrying it concealed for self-defense or are you carrying it on your farm? The holster for each of these people will be different. These holsters also differ from the ones that security guards and law enforcement officers carry. What is critical is that it works for you.


Your lifestyle has a significant effect on the process of choosing the right holster for your gun. Typically, most people purchase a holster for concealment when they have concealed weapons permits. A word of advice: Make sure you check your state and local laws on carrying a concealed weapon. Most states require permits to carry guns concealed.

For many people, an open-top weapon holster with simple friction retention is enough. However, if you lead an active lifestyle or carry in unusual situations, a holster that includes some type of retention device may be the best option to secure your weapon.

western cowboy carrying a gun

Source: Tanison Pachtanom/


Comfort and functionality are vital factors to consider when trying different holsters, especially for concealed carrying. If it doesn’t feel right, then you won’t wear it regularly, and that defeats the whole purpose. Keep these factors in mind:

  • Waist holsters tend to be the most efficient because you can draw from them quickly. Your weapon is easily within reach of your dominant hand.
  • Choose a holster you wear on your body versus one you carry in your purse or in a jacket made explicitly for concealed carry. It’s easier to reach, safer, and harder for someone to take away from you.
  • You may need more than one holster if you wear a variety of clothing. Think of it as an accessory, and you don’t wear the same belt or shoes with your gym clothes, business suit, dress, or khaki pants.
  • Make sure to try the holster out. Don’t just pick up the first thing off the rack that says it’s a concealed holster. Walk around the store, jump up and down with it on, bend down like you are picking something up off the floor, and perform other repetitive activities that you frequently do. Is it comfortable and does the holster stay in place, or does it poke you in the ribs?
  • Also, purchase one designed specifically for your weapon. There are universal holsters available on the market, but the best holster is the one made specifically for the make and model of your gun. When your firearm fits your holster well, it will be more comfortable to carry.

What Kind of Material Is the Holster Made From?

Holsters come in a variety of materials. Some are more durable while others provide more comfort. Here are some of the common materials used to construct holsters:

  • Nylon – Nylon holsters are easy to clean, as well as weather resistant. These holsters are affordable and come in many universal sizes. However, you usually need both hands to holster your weapon, which is not convenient. They also stretch and wear out over time, meaning they leave your weapon less secure.
  • Leather – Leather is a common material used for concealed weapons holsters because of its lower profile and its streamlined shape. When you choose one specifically for your gun, it fits like a glove and is easier to conceal. Some drawbacks of these holsters include their need to be broken-in and their expense. Those crafted from quality leather last a long time and don’t stretch as they age.


Another critical element of a holster is its retention system. Retention describes how well the holster retains the firearm, and there are a variety of retention methods.

One such system is the SERPA lock, and this retention is commonly used by law enforcement. It’s often referred to as “triple retention” or level three. These holsters include a hood that rotates up over the gun to keep it in the holster. There is also a locked trigger guard for additional protection. SERPA holsters utilize a button to release the hood, allowing you to draw your weapon quicker.

Friction retention is another standard method used in many leather holsters. Quite simply, friction holds the firearm tightly in place and works best when the manufacturers mold the holster for a specific gun. The holster touches more of the surface of the weapon and conforms to it, keeping it in place.

Another common retention is the thumb break. Many open carry holsters use this type of retention because it’s harder to conceal. It’s a lever that straps over the back of the gun and keeps it in place. It’s definitely an effective way to prevent others from getting your firearm, but it requires an extra step.

gun in holster

Source: Arina P Habich/

These are just a few aspects of choosing a holster that you should consider when buying one for your firearm. Remember that the weight of the gun contributes to the comfort of the holster and that firearms come in a variety of weights and sizes. The holster you choose will also affect how quickly you draw your weapon. When seconds matter, getting your gun out of your holster and on your target is critical. Think of these factors when you buy your next holster.


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