The First Rule of a Gunfight is to Have A Gun.   You can own a great gun… best gun of it’s type.  You can have the best ammunition for it.  It can be customized to fit you and suit you and how you shoot.  You can be skilled with it’s use and be deadly accurate with it.   But all of that does you no good if you don’t have it on you when you need it.  If you just made a Rule 1 Violation.

In order to have that gun on you when you need it, you need to have it on you at all times.  Unless you are Precognitive regarding what you are going to encounter at any given time in the future, you need to keep that gun on your person.  This is why we get the habit of putting on a seatbelt.  Because we don’t know when a collision might happen.   In order to have that gun on you at all times – and carry that gun in a manner that allows you to access that gun in a time of need, we need a good holster.

Most Gun Guys and Gals all agree, you are going to end up with a lot of different holsters.  A drawer or box full of them.  Most of them are cheap nylon made holsters, or holsters that came about as a fad must have holster.   One of the reasons for this is that we either don’t think about what we really need, and just go about buying holsters based on what a “Buddy” says, or by what some Clerk at a store says who doesn’t know you and what you really need.   So to avoid buying holsters unnecessarily, we have to take some time to inventory our Needs.

Needs are based on a few factors.  Where you are going.  What you are doing.  And how long are you going to be doing it.  These factors can change your holster requirement dramatically.
The Where Factor:  You need to take in account the Environment.  Both Physically, and Politically.  Going along with the Where Factor is Wear… how you are dressing for where you are going.  If you are in a permissive environment, maybe that drop leg rig will work, or maybe you have to keep that low profile and need to stay incognito.
The What Factor:  Is this a Business Day or a Range Day?  Business vs Repeated draws and reholstering may both be done with the same rig, but is it a good rig for what you want to do, considering the Where Factor.
And then the Time Factor.  I can pack a Beretta 92FS concealed, but if I want to carry that gun all day long, from 8AM to 10PM, maybe that IWB rig might not be the most comfortable, and something of a Belt Slide might be better for me.
There are lots of considerations and variables to consider that may have you changing your holster as often as changing your wardrobe.

To give yourself a head start on picking out a good holster is to make sure you are picking out a good holster.  Quality and materials can make all the difference.  Let’s just throw this out there; if you are looking at a holster that costs less than a box of ammo, you are probably not looking at a very high quality rig, and off the cuff I’d say to pass it up.

Nylon is just not a material I would ever want to put a gun in.  Nylon rigs tend to cheap and poorly designed and they are made to fit a wide range of pistols and not your gun specifically.  The fit of the holster is important.  It means the gun is not going to move around in the rig, making it more likely to cause wear on the gun’s finish or could damage and reduce the life of the holster… and make the holster less able to retain the gun in place.   Also Nylon can hold on to dirt, dust, and grit this increasing the abrasion the gun gets when you pull the gun out and put it back in.  It can retain moisture, thus acceleration corrosion.   Let me put it this way… I am not going to spend good money on a fine gun and then put it in a 20 dollar nylon holster.  I’m just not going to do it.  Nylon sucks for holsters.  It just does.  Don’t use it.

Your holster should be made for your gun.  Specifically.  Either fine hand boned leather, or carefully engineered Kydex allow for very specific fitment.  This protects the gun, and holds the gun better.   If you can carry a Revolver, a Ruger P95 and a 1911 in the same holster – this isn’t a holster you want.  I’ve had one like that… and while it carried everything, it carried none of them very well and the holster could allow the gun to fall out or be very awkward to draw.  The gun needs to be in the same place all the time.  Held where you remember where to put your hand when you draw. It needs to let you get a good grip on the gun before you pull the gun out of the holster.  And while you are packing it, it needs to protect that gun.  And then when you go to reholster, it needs to accept that gun readily and without anything that could impede reholstering.  Nylon straps for a thumb-break are a horrible idea.  Holsters that collapse and close so you can’t put that gun back safely, one handed, is useless.  These holsters could even be dangerous.  The moment of reholstering is the moment of your greatest danger in handling your gun.  Poisonous Snakes don’t want to go back in the cage and must be handled with the utmost care.  Pistols are the same way.  If that nylon strap flops into the trigger guard as you reholster, it could pull that trigger unintentionally.    Or a draw string on your jacket.   (Cut those off, they are useless anyway)
I saw a guy trying to auger the muzzle of his SIG into his holster that had collapsed. Trying to force the holster open so he could reholster the weapon.  I yelled at him to stop.  He froze and then looked at what he was doing.  His weapon was aimed directly into his pelvis.  His finger was also on the trigger.  He quickly corrected both of these conditions.  He realized that he had violated two out of the four gun safety rules.
First rule he broke was never point the gun at anything he didn’t want to destroy.  And the Second was to keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.  I asked him “What would that bullet do to you if the weapon discharged?”  He took a moment to imagine the terminal ballistics of a .40 Cal 155 grain JHP bullet at point blank into his pelvic girdle.  He went pale for a few minutes. Survival would have been difficult and his comfort of life for about 6 months would have been such that maybe he wouldn’t have wanted to survive.

A lot of Instructors spend a great deal of time on the draw stroke.  For that gun to come out of the holster cleanly, the holster needs to be in position and holding your gun in position.  A floppy Nylon rig isn’t going to do this.  A holster that comes out of the pants or off the belt when you draw isn’t going to do this.  Straight up, in a critical situation that could get you killed.  It would be like a Bugs Bunny Cartoon when the Animated Character jumps of the plane with his parachute only to open it and find it was a backpack.  Funny in animation… Not funny when you are trying to defend the life of your loved one.

I like my holsters to be made of two things.  Either nice exotic leather, or exactly fitted Kydex.   When it comes to leather, I want that animal to have been something as deadly or as strong or as fast as I want to be should I need to draw my weapon in a threat situation.  I really like Shark Hide.  Shark is just about as tough as any natural material can be.  Adams Holsters makes a wicked Shark holster.  When it comes to Kydex, I want it to be thicker and stronger and more importantly engineered to fit my gun exactly.  I want there to be some adjustment when it comes to tension… so I can set up that holster based on how I want that draw to feel like.  A Kydex rig should not collapse on you, and it should not allow the gun to rattle around.  Kydex is great for holsters because they can easily be rinsed out, thus removing any grit that could have accumulated.  Perfect for when you are fighting or operating in a dirty environment.
I think G-Code makes the best Kydex holsters in the world.

Let’s talk about Looks for a moment.  How that holster looks on you, combined with what you are wearing… that says a lot about how professional you are even more than what gun you are packing.   You can be an Elite Warfighter and pack a Glock, but if you are on the range with a sad-sack nylon rig with a floppy strap thumb break, you look like an amateur.  You just do.  Pack that same Glock in a nice rig that’s made for it, much better.   Wearing a casual or semi casual attire with my Glock in my Shark Hide rig… I’ve had women throw themselves at me and some guys too.  I looked sharp.  ZZ Top starting singing about me.  Billy Crystal called to tell me that I looked marvelous.  Shark Hide never goes out of style.  However I’d not want to wear that rig in a tactical situation in a hostile environment.   G-Code is using some awesome coatings over their Kydex and found it does some good things for them.  Their Tactical Fuzz coating over their INCOG IWB rig is a fantastic option.  It’s a synthetic suede material that feels soft, cushions what could be uncomfortable, and it doesn’t absorb moisture.    Their new Kryptek camouflage is an awesome option as well, as it quiets the holster and it subdues the kydex in both the visual and IR spectrums.  Naked Kydex can be loud and just about glows in IR.  That and Kryptek just looks boss.

Don’t buy cheap holsters.  Buy good gear and it wont let you down.  Don’t violate the First Rule.

8 thoughts on “Holsters”

  1. I agree. Too often, I have seen gun-owners go super cheap on holsters. I have never understood this.
    I am a fan of Kramer horsehide, and Raven Concealment kydex. G-Code is outstanding, as well. I own all three.
    I agree about the environment/situation dictating, at times, how you carry. I always carry strong side, OWB. If, for some reason, I’m not wearing a coat, and I am in slacks/shirt/tie, it’s a J-frame on the ankle.
    The important part is, carry a quality firearm, that you are trained and proficient with, in a quality holster, and be discreet. Don’t do anything stupid.

  2. Spot on George.
    I have a GREAT carry pistol that I finally know that I can hit the broad side of a barn with… it still rides in my man bag because I have not gotten a proper holster for it yet.
    So, my stumpy 1911 still rides daily in its Adams Texas home.


  3. You spend $600+ on a pistol.

    Within just the next couple of months, you’re probably going to spend at least $200 on ammo for it.

    …….but you won’t invest more than $12.95 on a holster? Really?

    Oh, and while you’re at it, buy a decent belt, too. Because that woven fabric $10 discount store special ain’t gonna cut it. You need something rigid.

      1. Similar to the people who say the want to carry a gun, but don’t want a holster with belt loops because they “don’t wear a belt.” Some priorities need to be re-evaluated.

  4. In preparation for the Louis Awerbuck Defensive Pistol 1 class, I bought a Galco belt (1.75″) and FLETCH holster. After hearing about the floppy holster that got a guy shot in the leg I think I want something better or more stiff than the Galco, so all these direct observations are extremely helpful. One guy in class had a Garrett Industries holster that I admired for the leather lining…

    1. You should be fine with the fletch, they’re good holsters. The guy that got shot in the leg (if we’re thinking of the same person) was using a cheap IWB “stow-n-go” which is only marginally stiffer than a nylon Uncle Mike’s.

      1. Thanks for the reassurance! Still the idea of an aged leather holster becoming floppy is a real one – just need to stay current, and nothing says that like Kydex!
        The Galco “sport belt” is heavier than the holster!

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