Every class we see some brand of holsters new to us and in general there is a reason why they are new. Because if it was a quality holster we probably would have seen it before.
What works best for you
Most of the holsters we see in classes do a decent job, some will do better than others. Before folks ask for me to give you my recommendation for “best” holster you need to realize it is not what is perceived as the best seller, but what works best for you. In our Concealed Carry classes students have to cycle through a variety of holsters for one simple reason; there is no single holster at this time capable of handling the variety of clothing requirements and body compositions. Given the opportunity to play with a variety of holsters and clothing options students learn what works for them and what doesn’t; which is critical to being able to conceal successfully.
Don’t be a cover fool
There is this notion that covering the pistol is “concealing”; that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes more than throwing a loose fitting shirt or an unzipped vest to truly conceal. The problem begins when not enough emphasis is placed on a good strong side on the waistband holster. I am continuously surprised by how many students show up with sub optimal equipment, especially this holster. A quality belt holster will be an incredibly valuable option for the true practitioner of the concealment art. It is not the end all be all for holsters, but it does provide several options and is capable of benefiting the beginner as well as the veteran.
Crawl, walk then run
The biggest advantage is it allows progressions before shoving something into your pants. It allows you to perfect your drawstroke and master your marksmanship fundamentals while still concealing. Some will complain it doesn’t do as good a job as an inside the waistband style holster. What an inside the waistband holster does is apply classic camouflage techniques by breaking up the silhouette of the pistol’s frame and slide. It takes the mass of the pistol and allows the pants or jeans to diminish the profile somewhat. The IWB is not a cloaking device nor does it make the pistol shrink, it applies basic camouflage and that is all.
The goal of any concealment holster should be to break up the silhouette of the pistol as best as possible in conjunction with body type and cover garment. The best on the waistband at this job are going to be two piece type; two pieces are mated together placing a belt slot in front and behind the pistol often references as the pancake style holster. The optimal material for this holster is leather since it will better conform to your body over time. The design pulls the pistol closer to the body and when combined with a modest forward cant does an excellent job of breaking up the silhouette of the gun. Friction is the most common security feature to retain the gun during normal activity, but the higher end holsters will have a positive retention feature usually designed around the trigger guard.
Pancakes, not for breakfast only
Many folks are quick to dismiss the hip holster, pass judgement it is not as good at concealing. An interesting observation in our classes is by day three the student is free to choose their preferred holster for the rest of the class. We process through the on the waistband to inside the waistband so the law of possession would seem to say keep the IWB holster. However, we see a large number of students go back to their hip holsters of day one. Many cite comfort, while others feel more confident; either case it is an interesting observation.
There is nothing wrong with a good old fashion hip holster. The difference is do you know how to choose one optimized for concealing