on pistols and holsters

Post ressurection from 2008


After the flame wars over caliber effectiveness and autos vs. revolvers, the next most discussed pistol issue would have to be holster choice. The options for discussion are numerous; inside the waistband our outside? Ankle carry, shoulder rig or waist? Retention or scabbard? Leather or Kydex? and on and on.

IMO many people get too far into the weeds when talking about holster choice. As I see things, the primary concerns for civilian carry should be finding a holster that safely retains the weapon and prevents accidental discharges.  It should present the weapon consistently and be comfortable and convenient enough that you will wear it. The “top of the line” holster you never wear is a waste. Having the weapon on you when needed is first and foremost.

Many people confuse law enforcement retention requirements with what a “civilian” CCW carrier is likely to face. Uniform cops or detectives that “open carry” have to be concerned with gun grab attempts because the bad guys know that you have a gun on you somewhere. Undercover cops and civilians don’t typically have the same concerns. Decent retention and ease of access from under clothing are larger issues. I own a number of holsters; from pricey leather to cheap polymer. My pistol pictured above is in a Fobus, polymer holster. A few years ago an “issue” with these holsters came up:

This caused a big stir in the gun nut community. People were afraid that while walking through the grocery store some tweaker or terrorist was going to attack and break their weapon off of their hip. My problem with this whole hullabaloo is that the holster wasnt designed for external, level III style carry. It’s a beautiful holster for when I’m carrying under a sweater and my Buffalo winter overcoat. It’s fast on the draw with no straps or levers to deal with. It has a positive “click” retention that wont let the weapon bounce out on its own. But Id never carry it exposed on duty or working a plain clothes detail simply because it’s a paddle holster, nevermind the possibility of it breaking off in a struggle.

You must choose your equipment with the purpose you intend to use it for in mind. If you want a holster for range carry or casual low-risk concealed carry, you can use these less expensive holsters. If you are in a  job where a real possibility of a struggle over your weapon exists, you should get a high-end holster and belt rig with added security features.

Keep in mind however that even a level IV holster can be defeated given enough time and intellect on the part of the BG. Safety features only buy you time to try to prevent the disarm.


12 thoughts on “on pistols and holsters”

  1. It seems like a universal thing that the ‘gadget fanatics’ focus more on the ‘toys’ that the ‘tool’ approach. No one tool is perfect for every job, this holster issue is a good example of that.

    The video does make a person consider, but, just like any other situation, tactics (like this press down/retention maneuver) would obviously have to be adapted by the tool (as in the holster) just like the tool (holster) will affect the tactics.

  2. Nobody seems too worried about IWB scabbard holsters and all you have to do there is just pull the weapon out. The Fobus obviously has a weakness that makes it not the best choice for external carry. So only use it for concealed carry.

  3. Great post as always tgace. I think a holster needs to fit what you are trying to accomplish. Obviously if you are on duty as an LEO then your firearm is generally visible and hence a holster needs to meet certain requirements.

  4. Great post. My two favor holsters are the Galco Royal Guard IWB and the Milt Sparks Executives Companion. I have carried the Milt Sparks EX to 25 different countries and it has always been very comfortable and concealable. Best wishes. Steven

  5. …Keep in mind however that even a level IV holster can be defeated given enough time and intellect on the part of the BG.

    Because of this, I always carry a light-weight, easy access, small knife on the off-hand side. This gives the ability to enhance free-hand efforts to discourage the BG while the firing hand is busy with retention. Don’t know if that’s an option for LE guys, though.

  6. “If you want a holster for range carry or casual low-risk concealed carry, you can use these less expensive holsters”

    I can’t envision myself ever carrying a gun in something as flimsy as that. I’m in Illinois so concealed carry isn’t even an option yet. But when that option becomes available, I’d still choose something sturdier. The holster I use when travelling out of state (with a permint, of course) is leather with belt loops. Even my range holsters are Blade Techs with belt loops.
    Carrying more continuously than a week or two a year might change my opinion, but I think even then, I’d choose a smaller gun (than a G19) in a pocket holster over a holster I’d worry about snagging on my seatbelt and ripping off.

    1. You seriously think I would carry a “flimsy” holster???

      The point I am making here is…yes a full sized man grabbing your pistol in a Fobus may be able to break it off as shown (not “getting caught in a seat-belt…). But gun grabs don’t get made on guns that you cant see. Some “high end” leather scabbard holster with no retention device can leave you open to someone simply snatching your gun out of it. Nobody seems panicked about that.

  7. Saw that video when the noise first happened and thought “So?” As you say, for CCW not exactly a common concern. I’ve got a Fobus and it’s done well for me.

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