Buying a Holster

I did something this morning I haven’t done for a while: I shopped for a holster. Throughout my editorial career I’ve done a lot of carrying with what came across my desk, for better or worse. Upon exit from that career, I’ve been very content carrying my G43 in my BLACKHAWK! ARC with few exceptions.

As an experienced concealed carrier, I’m already a step ahead of where many people are in their holster shopping career: I know almost exactly what I want. (If I were to look at it objectively, I would even admit that what I want is my ARC with a slightly different clip.)

It may not make the finding of a holster any easier, but a breakdown of criteria might help newer shoppers begin to understand what to look at. We’re all going to like different things, but as we move through our carry life we can learn what we like and don’t like from different products and apply that to future purchases.

Here’s what I’ve been considering as I browse:


One of the first rules I have about any holster is that it cannot, under any circumstances, collapse if the gun is not in it. This means either Kydex, or something structurally similar such as my ARC. Actually, this is one of the reasons I’m such a huge fan of the ARC holster, the polymer material is non-collapsible, but soft enough it doesn’t chafe like kydex. Which brings me to…

Location & Cant 

Wanna talk soft and non-collapsible? I wear my gun appendix under tank tops. Usually that means no undershirt and my femoral artery is down there so I’m a little squicky about how the holster goes on. In fact, my gun stays in my holster at all times and goes on and off my body holstered. Which means, another important factor is…

The Clip

I don’t always wear belts. I’m a girl, my pants are tight enough that the right clip will hold the holster in place for a draw. I need a tight, sturdy clip that will function without a belt and is low profile. Which brings me to…


Not just the clip needs to be low profile. I’m a small girl and big holsters bulk up something that is already difficult to carry. The simplicity of the ARC is one of its saving graces for me. A lot of holsters add a bunch of unnecessary leather which may make them more comfortable for some, but make them overwhelmingly large and unmanageable for me.

There are a few things you’ll notice about my approach to holster shopping that have been ironed out over the years:

First of all, I know exactly how I like to carry. I’ve screwed with a lot of different styles, but to be frank I’ve come to the conclusion that if I hit a day my regular carry rig doesn’t work it’s time to look for alternative self-defense options rather than gimmicky gun holsters. This is a very personal decision my training and my frustration with products over the years has led me to.

Next, I know what works for me and what works for other people. I’ve tried those leather/kydex hybrids everyone seems to love, and they don’t work for me. That doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. Just like there’s probably a really good chance a majority of readers don’t drive Mini Cooper JCWs, your holster is a lifestyle choice based off of your needs and no one else’s.

Finally, safety is paramount in my choice. I know the dangers of my carry choices, from what can go wrong with the draw (especially when I’m carrying without a belt) to retention and possible injury when participating in daily activities, all based around holster choice and carry location. It’s a lot to consider, and it takes time, training, and practice to realize what will and won’t work, and what is and isn’t the best for you. There are downsides to any carry style, but understanding the downsides to your choices is an important step in avoiding accidents through precautions, proper training, and proper practice.

I still haven’t found the holster I want, but hey, at least I got a blog post out of it.

1 Comment

  1. Good post, Shelley. I guess we all share the same frustration, seeking that ideal holster. I have a whole box of ’em and I’m still looking.

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