When shit hits the fan, every second counts. Critical movements and preparation can determine whether you survive or are carried by six. Regardless of what concealed holster you choose, always train. This cannot be expressed enough. Muscle memory in drawing will be the best way to prevent mishaps if you ever encounter a deadly force scenario. So let me repeat it: Train. Train. Train.
If you have a CCW, then you know the importance of a concealed holster. Ranging from retention level to accessible concealment to comfort, each variable should be considered. These are just some of the various elements you should consider before purchasing any concealed holster.
As a sworn detective, I utilized a shoulder and waistline holster; I never saw a need for the ankle holster. This article will focus on hip concealment, as I feel that’s the best for accessibility and security (when compared to the ankle or shoulder). This list is NOT ordered based on authorial preference (i.e. #1 does NOT mean it’s the best). Caveat: Not all holsters mentioned may fit your specific firearm.
Concealed Holster List
I have always loved Safariland holsters, they are a staple of the industry. They are rugged and essential when tactical movements matter the most. The Safariland Model 27 is an “in-the-pants holster” that has two defining attributes.
First off, the swivel J-hook, for seating the holster on a belt, allows for the carrier to adjust the angle of the handgun. This customizes the drawing and holstering motion, making the carrier more tactically comfortable if the situation ever arises. Secondly, the polymer top of the holster keeps a formed opening – thus holstering when the adrenaline is pumping becomes much easier than other pure leather holsters.
The downside? No retention outside of gravity and friction. This can be disconcerting for carriers, especially if you’re active, but as I stated in the intro: retention is something a carrier must sacrifice at times for true concealment.
A relatively newer company onto the scene, formed in 2013, Alien Gear has dramatically reinvented the holster lineup. I wish they were around when I was an officer. The Shapeshift™ Starter kit is a modular holster system that allows the carrier to modify up to 11 different configurations.
You can go from in the pants, to shoulder, to wall mount, to drop leg, all in the Starter Kit. One thing I truly love about the Shapeshit™? The adjustable retention levels, thumb release and polymer construction. I’ve been waiting for a company to do this and Alien Gear did just that.
The downsides? Cost and, to some, the DIY configuration (although to me that would be an upside). Also, it’s a little bit bulkier than other in the pants holsters. If I had $100 (yes the whole $99.88 is cliché. We get it – marketing 101) to spend on a holster, I would buy this in a heartbeat.
Urban Carry touts the G2 as being “so hidden, it’s like the footsteps of a Navy Seal.” Anyways, aside from the grandiose marketing shtick, lets get down to the holster. This holster definitely requires TRAINING. Although it is attached to the waistline, it hangs inside the pants BELOW the waistline.
Why did they do this, you ask? This was done to make the firearm comfortable and extremely concealed. Which I will say it accomplishes. It is made of 100% saddle grade leather and utilizes magnets to add retention. It is also ECR compatible so that if your firearm has an ECR laser sight, it will turn on and off each time it’s drawn and holstered.
Downsides? They are reinventing the draw method, thus a thorough retraining of muscle memory is required. You must pull upwards on the entire holster and then draw your handgun. I could see some issues with this in stressful situations when the adrenaline is pumping. I would honestly love to hear your thoughts on this one.
I personally used this holster off duty specifically for my Sig Sauer P232. It’s made of comfortable suede to hug the body in comfort. Over time (as with all non-polymer holsters) the material molds to the shape of your gun, making it even less noticeable – this is a double-edged sword as mentioned in the downsides below.
There were plenty of times non-law enforcement friends wouldn’t even notice I was carrying. I know what you’re going to say, well it was only a P232, so you could’ve used anything and it’d be inconspicuous. The upsides, beside comfort, can be found in the adjustable thumb break retention.
The downsides? It requires two hands to holster, as the suede does not maintain its consistency for reentry. Also, there is a tendency for the holster to cant unexpectedly when you move your torso.
Whether you go with any of the holsters I mentioned, or you have your own preference, I hope you take away one thing from this article. Train. Even if you feel like you’ve trained enough. Muscle memory can fade if not constantly reinforced through repetition.
Hopefully this list showed you a new holster, or two, that you may consider including in your tactical toolbox. If you’ve got a go-to, and it’s not on the list, then by all means give a shout out in the comments section below. Stay safe ‘Merica!