When it comes to holster selection there’s an ocean of information to sort through, followed by seas filled entirely with good and bad holsters to choose from. In this portion of the Concealed Carry Guide, we will be starting off with holster options that should be avoided, followed by information on the different common holster materials, and then we’ll finish it up with holster attachments!
It’s important to note that this entire portion, besides holster martials, is going to be tailored to IWB (Inside the Waistband) holsters specifically. Your average new concealed carriers are going to be looking into IWB holsters and not OWB holsters for a variety reasons, two being:
1. That’s what was recommended to them by a friend/shop/instructor
2. It requires less change in appearance than an OWB holster to remain concealed
If you’re someone that would like to see a stand alone article going over OWB holsters and how they fit into concealed carry (or if they do), send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This is apart of our comprehensive beginner’s guide to Concealed Carry, find the rest of it here!
Products to Avoid:
There is a lot of what’s called “snake oil” in the industry. These are products that appear to be a good idea to the unknowledgeable, but the truth is these products seek to take money from new gun owner’s before they learn better.
Fortunately, you’re doing your research, and you can avoid being gotten!
Magnetic holsters are objectively bad for several reasons. They’re typically made out of malleable materials that don’t adequately protect the trigger guard; this makes is exceptionally dangerous to carry with a round in the chamber as you should be.
These companies often, if not always, push the notion that you should be mounting a holster in your vehicle; your vehicle is not a holster. In the event of an accident the forces that be can cause the firearm to come out of a mounted holster that does not have active retention; this means a loaded firearm is floating around uncontrolled. Your firearm should remain on your body at all times, if you aren’t legally allowed to take it with you, you need to have a secured safe of some kind hidden in your vehicle to store it in.
Universal Nylon Holsters
To get started in on Nylon holsters, it’s important that I tell you that this goes for holsters with a neoprene shell as well (I believe neoprene holsters are also advertised by some companies as being made of nylon). These holsters may also be marketed for specific firearms; don’t be fooled. They make their holsters in a “this size fits all these guns” fashion.
These holsters offer nothing in terms of trigger guard protection and they offer nothing in terms of passive retention. On top of this they wear down exceptionally faster and their belt attachment options do wear through fairly fast if worn on a regular basis; so much so that I saw them sheer off a person’s belt in Meijer and the gun clattered to the floor.
When it comes to holster materials there’s only really three that you’re going to see on a regular basis with little to no deviation.
Kydex is a thicker, more durable, and less pliable plastic that’s used for holsters. Kydex holsters offer the absolute best in terms of trigger guard protection and passive retention. Kydex is arguably the best option for humid climates and summer time as the material doesn’t retain sweat in the material and it can be wiped clean.
The big turn off is that Kydex tends to not be the most comfortable option on the market, but that’s quickly alleviated with the use of a foam wedge.
Leather is probably the oldest holster material on the planet, despite that there aren’t as many good leather holster options on the market as there are Kydex. Leather holsters are going to require a diligent eye and user upkeep to keep them running strong for any length of time.
Leather holsters do tend to absorb sweat, causing them to stink if not properly cared for. They also heat up with the body in the summer making them pretty uncomfortable, but in the winter the holster heating up leads to a pleasant experience.
Absolutely avoid all leather holsters that aren’t rigidly formed specifically for your firearm of choice as they don’t offer adequate trigger protection, and they don’t offer satisfactory passive retention if there even is any. Holsters like the VersaCarry Commander or Protector S2 are extremely dangerous if you carry with a round in the chamber.
Almost everyone has bought an Uncle Mike’s nylon holster from Wal-Mart when they first got started… but since you’re here, hopefully you haven’t made that mistake yet.
Nylon holsters aren’t durable, they will fray, and eventually just break. They over no real form of protection around the trigger guard and the protection that is there is too pliable; especially if it gets wet from you sweating.
Speaking of sweat, nylon holsters absolutely will start to get a foul odor to them after they’ve been worn even for one moderately warm summer day.
While not a material in and of itself, hybrid holsters are holsters made out of two or more of the materials mentioned above. These holsters are typically designed with comfort taking priority over everything else.
While comfort is great, your average hybrid holster does not fully protect the trigger guard and closes on itself when the firearm isn’t holstered. This results in individuals angling the firearm towards their body in order to open the holster to insert the firearm.
The softer back materials also tend to wear out around the clasps, resulting in the holsters falling apart early on with regular use.
With holsters there are a plethora of belt attachments that exist, so for the sake of brevity we’re only going to be covering the ones we see on a common basis.
1. FOMI Clip
The FOMI Clip is typically the very first belt attachment that new concealed carriers have experience with if they decide their first holster is going to be a budget kydex offering or a hybrid. In fact, it’s the first belt attachment I had experience with, as well as the first bad product experience I had with a firearm related product.
The FOMI clip is typically made of plastic, it doesn’t play well with thick belts, and it honestly doesn’t do a good job at retaining the holster to a belt regardless of thickness. With several experiences with holsters equipped with the FOMI Clip, it was a constant fight of trying to make sure that the clip didn’t ride up, and to make sure that the holster would stay in my pants when I drew the gun.
2. Discreet Carry Concepts Monoblock
The abundance/standardization of the FOMI Clip paired with it’s issues actually pushed a company to create a cheap solution. As you can tell from the pictures above, that solution is Discreet Carry Concepts’ (DCC) Monoblock.
The collective opinion on the Monoblock is, is that it’s the perfect replacement for the FOMI Clip. It fixes the FOMI’s retention issues while being slimmer in profile and offering more belt compatibility.
It has been my experience that, while this clip does a fantastic job at keeping its place on the belt, it doesn’t allow for minor movement adjustments which can result in some printing if the holster is riding high enough; this is an issue that happens with the FOMI clip as well. It also doesn’t play well with thicker nylon or leather belts (expect scraping to occur with leather belts).
3. Pul-Dot-Loops (Soft Loops)
Pul-Dot-Loops are considered one of if not the most secure IWB holster attachment that allows the user to easily remove the firearm from their body should they need to; it’s also my favorite.
Soft Loops are my absolute favorite belt attachment for when I’m not tucking a shirt in (which is never). While they appear to be easily taken off, the buttons are directional and you have to push down from the top to get them to come loose. With several hundred hours using these, I’ve never had one open up.
4. Letter Clips
There is a plethora of what will be called the “Letter Clips” such as C-Clips, J-Clips, etc. The capabilities of these clips depend on a handful of variables. How wide is the opening? How large is the lip on the backside of the clip that hooks onto the belt? Is it brittle plastic? Does it have some flex to it? Is it somewhere in-between?
For the most part, these clips will perform the job of keeping the holster on the belt during your draw, however, you will want to replace them once a year or as you see them beginning to loosen; they may go longer if you’re a weekend warrior that literally only carries 8 hours a week.
5. The UltiClip
The UltiClip is the very definition of a niche belt attachment option. It was designed to be worn without a belt, or under belts for discreetness. Due to this, it’s better not to get a holster for a compact (or larger) sized firearm with this attachment on it.
The primary issues with this attachment are:
- The clasp breaking off; sometimes caused by the firearm’s weight
- The lip not clinging to pants good enough
- Inability to support the weight of larger pistols
6. Discreet Carry Concepts Standard Clips
DCC makes a handful of holster attachments which means we have to bring more of their products up. Discreet Carry Concepts has brought to market options that are superior to both Letter Clips and the UltiClip. While the UltiClip can perform it’s job well and letter clips aren’t necessarily the devil, the DCC clips offer better retention; even without a belt.
These attachments can be worn above or below a belt and some of them are also tuckable; it all depends on what you need and which clips you purchase. It is worth noting that these clips can be fairly stiff & stubborn to get on and off of your belt.
Retention wise, it’s argued that Discreet Carry Concepts’ clips offer the same level of retention to clothing/a belt as Pul-Dot-Loops do.
You’ll see on holster company websites to specify which width your belt is for attachments. As a general rule of thumb the following belt sizes are used with the following pants type:
Dress pants & Dress belts are typically 1.25″
Jeans, Cargo Pants, etc. & Regular Belts are typically 1.5″
Tactical Pants & Tactical Belts are either 1.5″ or 1.75″.
When it comes to holster attachments there’s two, but there’s a variety to be had in the two… again for the sake of brevity this part will only be going over the general categories,.
The purpose of the claw is to apply pressure against the belt, which then pushes the holster tighter against the body to aid in decreasing the amount of printing you might encounter when carrying a firearm.
Wedges are an add-on that can be integral to the holster (like this-look at the back of the holster), or they’re something that you add yourself. The purpose of the wedge is two-fold. The first is to increase comfort as it keeps the edge of the holster from digging into you, the second is to push the grip of the gun into your belly/side more to decrease the amount of printing.
What Are Sidecar Holsters? Are They Bad?
By now you may have heard about sidecar holsters, you may have also seen people bickering about whether or not they’re good. So, what’s the truth?
The solid sidecar holsters are problematic. They don’t form to the body at all for larger people and they do tend to fracture down the center due to centrifugal forces being applied by the belt and body as you move around. While many people may never experience a fracture (due to lack of use) it is a known issue with this type of holster.
Sidecar holsters that have a flex point in the center like LAS Concealment’s Ronin line and Tier 1 Concealed’s Axis Slim alleviate that stress point entirely. Without the potential to fracture, it comes down to personal preference, as well as your body style. These holsters are either not going to carry well for you, or you’re going to love them.
My personal experience with them has been real well. I carried a CZ P-07 in a Tier 1 Concealed Axis Slim for 4-5 months while working at a distribution warehouse; management and cameras were everywhere. During this time I was never made, I was never called out, and left the company on my own accord. Had the holster itself been objectively bad for concealment, I wouldn’t have lasted so long without being caught.
Hybrid sized guns such as the Glock 19x, Glock G45, Sig P320 Carry, or the Glock 43x need to have a counterweight or keel to prevent flipping while being carried. This is known as the “Keel Effect”, meaning you have more firearm & weight above the belt line than you do below the beltline.
Due to this effect, it’s strongly recommended that you purchase a holster that has the additional length added to it (Ex: A G48 holster for the G43x) or have the holster made with a full sized weapon light.
If you’re dead set on getting a hybrid holster, which is not recommended, make sure that the holster offers rigid support on both sides of the trigger. You do not want to have to re-open the holster in order to place the gun back into it after drawing; this can result in some fairly dangerous practices such as fishing for the opening with the muzzle of your firearm.
There is a lot of personal preference when it comes to holster selection but there’s key things that you need to look for while shopping around so before I provide you our recommendation, let’s go over a quick shopping checklist:
- Is the FOMI Clip standard? (Pass – or order a DCC Monoblock with it)
- Is the trigger guard adequately protected with rigid protection?
- Does the holster create retention via magnets? (Hard Pass)
- Urban Carry Holsters are bad.
- Is there a belt attachment? (If no, Hard Pass)
Our recommendation here at JustPews is a total kydex holster with your attachment of choice excluding the FOMI Clip. Kydex holsters require the least amount of maintenance while offering better longevity, passive retention, and safety.
Recommended Holsters/Holster Companies:
JM Custom Kydex
Dark Star Gear
Tier 1 Concealed
Black Arch Protos-M | One of the only hybrids that offers full protection for the trigger guard
(These were placed in no particular order)