Expert Insights on Using Carry Holsters: Best Practices and Techniques

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide expert insights on using carry holsters, covering best practices and techniques to help you select, wear, and draw from your holster safely and effectively. Whether you’re new to concealed carry or an experienced shooter, understanding the various types of holsters and how to use them properly is essential for responsible firearm handling. We’ll explore the different holster options available, discuss best practices for wearing and drawing from each type, and delve into important considerations such as training, everyday carry, safety, and legal aspects.

Using Carry Holsters

Key Takeaways

  • Selecting the right holster is crucial for comfort, concealment, and accessibility when carrying a firearm.
  • Understanding the different types of holsters and their unique features is essential for making an informed decision based on your individual needs and preferences.
  • Consistently practicing proper drawing and reholstering techniques, as well as maintaining your gear, is vital for safe and efficient firearm handling.
  • Developing situational awareness and mental preparedness is just as important as physical skills when it comes to concealed carry.
  • Building a well-rounded everyday carry (EDC) setup involves considering factors such as firearm size, magazine capacity, grip comfort, and holster features.
  • Balancing accessibility and concealment is key to successful concealed carry, and can be achieved through careful gear selection and practice.

Types of Holsters and Their Uses

Carrying a firearm requires careful consideration of various factors, including comfort, concealment, and ease of access. With numerous holster options available, each designed to cater to specific needs and preferences, it’s essential to understand the unique features and benefits of each type. By familiarizing yourself with the different holster styles, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your individual requirements and lifestyle.

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Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holsters

IWB holsters are a popular choice for concealed carry enthusiasts, as they offer a high degree of discretion and are worn inside the waistband of your pants. These holsters minimize the visibility of the firearm under clothing, making them ideal for everyday carry. IWB holsters are available in various configurations, such as appendix carry (AIWB), which places the gun at the front of the body, and strong-side carry, where the gun is positioned on the dominant hand side.

Constructed from materials like leather, Kydex, or a combination of the two, best IWB holsters provide a comfortable and secure carry option for those who prioritize concealment.

Outside the Waistband (OWB) Holsters

OWB holsters are designed to be worn on the exterior of the waistband, which makes them more visible compared to IWB holsters. Law enforcement officers and individuals who value quick access to their firearm often prefer OWB holsters. These holsters can be positioned on the strong side or at the small of the back, depending on personal preference.

While OWB holsters may present more challenges in terms of concealment, they offer a comfortable and secure carry option when paired with a cover garment, such as a jacket or untucked shirt. OWB holsters are crafted from various materials, including leather, Kydex, or polymer, to suit different needs and preferences.

Shoulder Holsters

Shoulder holsters are designed to be worn over the shoulders, with the firearm situated under the arm on the opposite side of the dominant hand. This holster style is particularly well-suited for individuals who spend extended periods sitting, such as drivers or office workers. By distributing the weight of the gun evenly across the shoulders, shoulder holsters help reduce fatigue during prolonged wear.

However, to ensure proper concealment, a cover garment like a jacket or suit is necessary. Shoulder holsters are commonly made from leather or nylon and can incorporate retention devices, such as thumb breaks or straps, for added security.

Ankle Holsters

Ankle holsters are worn around the ankle, typically on the inside of the leg opposite the dominant hand. These holsters are primarily designed to accommodate backup or secondary firearms and are favored by law enforcement officers and individuals seeking a discreet carry option. Ankle holsters are most suitable for small firearms and require dedicated practice to master the drawing technique.

While they can be uncomfortable for extended periods and may restrict mobility, a well-designed ankle holster with adequate padding and support can mitigate these issues. Lightweight and breathable materials are commonly used in the construction of ankle holsters to ensure comfort during prolonged wear.

Belly Band Holsters

Belly band holsters offer a versatile and comfortable carry option by wrapping around the midsection and securing the firearm against the body. Constructed from stretchy, breathable materials, these holsters can be worn discreetly under a wide range of clothing styles. Belly band holsters are particularly suitable for activities that demand flexibility, such as jogging or hiking, and can accommodate various firearm sizes. The adjustable nature of belly band holsters allows for a custom fit, ensuring a secure and stable carry.

However, it’s important to note that drawing from a belly band holster may be slower compared to other holster types, as the added layers of clothing can hinder quick access. Many belly band holsters also feature additional pockets for carrying spare magazines, cell phones, or other small essentials, enhancing their functionality.

When selecting a holster, it’s crucial to assess your individual needs, taking into account factors such as daily activities, wardrobe preferences, firearm size, and personal comfort. The ideal holster should strike a balance between comfort, security, and accessibility, allowing you to carry your firearm confidently in various situations. By investing time in researching and evaluating different holster options, you can find the perfect holster that complements your lifestyle and provides the level of protection and readiness you require.

Best Practices for Wearing Holsters and Drawing Techniques

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Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holsters

Proper Positioning and Cant Angle:

  • Try various positions, such as appendix carry or strong-side carry, to determine the most comfortable and efficient setup for your body type and individual preferences.
  • Experiment with different cant angles (forward, vertical, or rearward) to find the optimal balance between comfort and easy drawing.
  • Explore adjustable cant holsters that allow for fine-tuning the angle to suit your specific needs.

Ensuring Holster Security and Stability:

  • Opt for holsters featuring robust belt clips or loops that provide a secure connection to your belt.
  • Consider holsters with multiple attachment points to enhance overall stability and minimize shifting during movement.
  • Look for holsters equipped with adjustable retention mechanisms, such as tension screws or friction-fit designs, to achieve a reliable fit while maintaining a smooth draw.

Clothing Compatibility and Considerations:

  • Choose pants or shorts with a sturdy belt designed to support the combined weight of the holster and firearm.
  • Opt for clothing that drapes well and minimizes printing or revealing the outline of your concealed firearm.
  • Consider wearing pants with a slightly relaxed fit or going up one size to comfortably accommodate the added bulk of the holster and firearm.
  • Steer clear of clothing with overly tight waistbands or thin, flimsy materials that may compromise concealment and comfort.

Regular Practice and Maintenance:

  • Dedicate time to regular dry fire practice sessions to build muscle memory and perfect a smooth, efficient draw stroke.
  • Concentrate on executing a clean, straight draw without snagging on clothing or other obstacles.
  • Routinely inspect your holster for signs of wear and tear, such as loose stitching, cracks, or excessive stretching.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and maintaining your holster, using appropriate products suitable for the specific holster material.

Proper Drawing Technique:

  • Utilize your support hand to lift your cover garment, revealing the grip of your firearm.
  • Obtain a firm, high grip on the gun with your dominant hand, keeping your trigger finger straight and outside the trigger guard.
  • Draw the firearm straight up and out of the holster, bringing it forward and extending it towards the target in a smooth, deliberate motion.

Reholstering:

  • Verify that your finger is off the trigger and positioned outside the trigger guard before reholstering.
  • Employ your support hand to lift your cover garment, providing clear access to the holster.
  • Carefully guide the firearm back into the holster, ensuring the holster mouth is free from obstructions or potential snag points.
  • Resist the urge to rush the reholstering process, as hasty actions can lead to unintentional discharges or unsafe handling.

By adhering to these best practices for wearing and drawing from an IWB holster, you can foster a safe, comfortable, and efficient concealed carry experience while prioritizing responsible firearms handling.

Outside the Waistband (OWB) Holsters

Proper Positioning and Ride Height:

  • Wear OWB holsters on the strong side, either directly beside the hip or slightly behind it, for a natural and efficient draw.
  • Adjust ride height (how high or low the holster sits on your belt) to find the right balance between concealment and accessibility.
  • Higher ride height positions the firearm’s grip closer to your waist, making it easier to conceal but slightly slower to draw.
  • Lower ride height makes the firearm more accessible but may be more challenging to conceal.

Ensuring Holster Security and Stability:

  • Choose holsters with durable belt attachments (loops or slots) that fit snugly on your belt to prevent shifting or sagging.
  • Consider holsters with additional retention devices (thumb breaks or adjustable retention screws) for added security.
  • Ensure you can still access your firearm quickly and easily when using retention devices.

Clothing Compatibility and Considerations:

  • Opt for garments that provide adequate coverage and drape well over the holster (jackets, blazers, untucked button-up shirts).
  • Ensure the chosen garment is long enough to cover the holster and firearm completely, even when moving or bending.
  • Consider heavier fabrics (denim or canvas) to minimize printing and provide a secure foundation for your holster.
  • Avoid tight or clingy materials that may reveal the shape of your firearm.

Regular Practice and Maintenance:

  • Set aside time for regular dry fire practice sessions, focusing on smooth, fluid motions and proper trigger discipline.
  • Practice drawing from various positions (standing, sitting, walking) to build muscle memory and adaptability.
  • Perform regular maintenance as recommended by the holster manufacturer.
  • Clean the holster with a soft cloth or brush.
  • Apply leather conditioner to leather holsters.
  • Check for signs of wear and tear, replacing worn or damaged components promptly.

Proper Drawing Technique:

  • Establish a firm, master grip on the firearm, keeping your trigger finger straight and outside the trigger guard.
  • In one smooth, upward motion, draw the firearm from the holster, bringing it up to your chest.
  • Extend the firearm towards the target, maintaining a proper sight picture and stance.

Reholstering:

  • Ensure your finger is off the trigger and outside the trigger guard.
  • Using your support hand, lift any covering garments to expose the holster.
  • Slowly and deliberately guide the firearm back into the holster, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Resist the temptation to rush the reholstering process to avoid unsafe habits or accidents.

By following these best practices for wearing and drawing from an OWB holster, you can enjoy a comfortable, secure, and accessible carry experience while maintaining a high level of safety and proficiency.

Shoulder Holsters

Proper Positioning and Adjustment:

  • Position the shoulder holster so that the firearm is located under the arm opposite your dominant hand.
  • Adjust the holster’s straps to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.
  • The holster should be snug against your body, preventing excessive movement or shifting.
  • The firearm’s grip should be easily accessible, allowing for a smooth and efficient draw.

Ensuring Holster Security and Stability:

  • Choose a shoulder holster with a sturdy harness system that distributes the weight of the firearm evenly across your shoulders.
  • Look for holsters with reinforced stitching and durable materials to withstand regular use and wear.
  • Some shoulder holsters feature additional retention straps or thumb breaks for added security.
  • Ensure that the holster keeps the firearm in a stable position, minimizing movement during physical activity.

Clothing Compatibility and Considerations:

  • Shoulder holsters are best suited for use with jackets, blazers, or suits.
  • Choose a jacket or coat that drapes well and is not too tight, allowing room for the holster and firearm.
  • Consider the fabric weight and texture of your clothing to minimize printing and ensure a smooth draw.
  • Be mindful of the length of your jacket or coat, ensuring that it adequately covers the holster and firearm when standing or sitting.

Regular Practice and Maintenance:

  • Practice drawing from your shoulder holster regularly to develop muscle memory and improve your speed and efficiency.
  • Focus on maintaining a proper grip and keeping your trigger finger straight and off the trigger during the draw.
  • Regularly inspect your shoulder holster for signs of wear, such as fraying straps or loose stitching.
  • Clean your holster according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the appropriate products for the holster’s material.

Proper Drawing Technique:

  • Using your support hand, sweep your jacket or coat back to expose the holster and firearm grip.
  • Establish a firm grip on the firearm with your dominant hand, keeping your trigger finger straight and outside the trigger guard.
  • Draw the firearm straight out of the holster, bringing it forward and extending it towards the target.

Reholstering:

  • Ensure your finger is off the trigger and outside the trigger guard.
  • Using your support hand, lift your jacket or coat to expose the holster.
  • Carefully guide the firearm back into the holster, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Avoid rushing the reholstering process, and ensure that the firearm is securely seated in the holster before releasing your grip.

By following these best practices for wearing and drawing from a shoulder holster, you can efficiently and safely carry your firearm while maintaining a high level of comfort and concealment. Remember to always prioritize safety and regularly practice your draw to build confidence and proficiency.

Ankle Holsters

Proper Positioning and Securing Methods:

  • Wear the ankle holster on the inside of your leg opposite your dominant hand.
  • Position the holster just above your ankle bone, ensuring that it is comfortable and secure.
  • Most ankle holsters feature adjustable straps that wrap around your calf and ankle for a custom fit.
  • Ensure that the holster is snug against your leg to prevent slipping or rotation during movement.

Ensuring Holster Security and Stability:

  • Choose an ankle holster made from durable, breathable materials that will withstand regular use and wear.
  • Look for holsters with reinforced stitching and sturdy fasteners to ensure long-lasting security.
  • Some ankle holsters incorporate additional retention features, such as thumb breaks or tension screws, to keep the firearm securely in place.
  • Opt for holsters with padded backs or neoprene lining to improve comfort and reduce chafing during extended wear.

Clothing Compatibility and Considerations:

  • Ankle holsters are best suited for use with long pants or jeans that can conceal the holster and firearm.
  • Choose pants with a slightly looser fit around the ankle and calf to accommodate the holster comfortably.
  • Consider the fabric weight and drape of your pants to minimize printing and ensure easy access to the holster.
  • Be mindful of your pant length, ensuring that it adequately covers the holster and firearm when standing, walking, or sitting.

Regular Practice and Maintenance:

  • Practice drawing from your ankle holster regularly to develop muscle memory and improve your speed and efficiency.
  • Focus on maintaining a proper grip and keeping your trigger finger straight and off the trigger during the draw.
  • Regularly inspect your ankle holster for signs of wear, such as fraying straps or loose stitching.
  • Clean your holster according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the appropriate products for the holster’s material.

Proper Drawing Technique:

  • Reach down with your dominant hand, grasping your pant leg near the holster.
  • Pull your pant leg up to expose the holster and firearm grip.
  • Establish a firm grip on the firearm, keeping your trigger finger straight and outside the trigger guard.
  • Draw the firearm straight up and out of the holster, bringing it forward and extending it towards the target.

Reholstering:

  • Ensure your finger is off the trigger and outside the trigger guard.
  • Reach down with your support hand and pull your pant leg up to expose the holster.
  • Carefully guide the firearm back into the holster, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Avoid rushing the reholstering process, and ensure that the firearm is securely seated in the holster before releasing your grip.

By following these best practices for wearing and drawing from an ankle holster, you can discreetly and safely carry a backup or secondary firearm. Remember that ankle holsters require more practice and patience to master compared to other holster types, so dedicate time to training and familiarizing yourself with the drawing and reholstering process.

Belly Band Holsters

Proper Positioning and Adjustment:

  • Position the belly band holster around your midsection, ensuring that it sits comfortably against your skin or clothing.
  • Adjust the belly band to fit snugly around your waist, using the elastic properties and any closures (e.g., Velcro or snaps) to secure it in place.
  • The holster should be positioned in a location that allows for a natural and efficient draw, such as on your strong side or in the appendix position.
  • Ensure that the holster is not too tight, as this may cause discomfort or restrict your movement.

Ensuring Holster Security and Stability:

  • Choose a belly band holster made from durable, breathable materials that will provide comfort and stability during extended wear.
  • Look for holsters with reinforced stitching around the holster pocket to ensure the firearm remains securely in place.
  • Some belly band holsters feature adjustable retention straps or elastic bands that provide additional security and prevent the firearm from shifting.
  • Opt for belly band holsters with non-slip materials or textured surfaces that help keep the holster in place during movement.

Clothing Compatibility and Considerations:

  • Belly band holsters can be worn with a wide variety of clothing, from casual attire to activewear.
  • Choose clothing that is not too tight or form-fitting to prevent printing and ensure a smooth draw.
  • Consider the fabric weight and texture of your clothing to minimize any visible outlines of the holster or firearm.
  • Be mindful of the length and fit of your tops, ensuring that they adequately cover the belly band holster when standing, sitting, or bending.

Regular Practice and Maintenance:

  • Practice drawing from your belly band holster regularly to develop muscle memory and improve your speed and efficiency.
  • Focus on maintaining a proper grip and keeping your trigger finger straight and off the trigger during the draw.
  • Regularly inspect your belly band holster for signs of wear, such as fraying edges or worn elastic.
  • Clean your holster according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using mild detergents and allowing it to air dry completely before use.

Proper Drawing Technique:

  • Using your support hand, lift your outer garment to expose the belly band holster and firearm grip.
  • Establish a firm grip on the firearm with your dominant hand, keeping your trigger finger straight and outside the trigger guard.
  • Draw the firearm straight out of the holster, bringing it up to your chest and extending it towards the target.

Reholstering:

  • Ensure your finger is off the trigger and outside the trigger guard.
  • Using your support hand, lift your outer garment to expose the belly band holster.
  • Carefully guide the firearm back into the holster, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Avoid rushing the reholstering process, and ensure that the firearm is securely seated in the holster before releasing your grip.

By following these best practices for wearing and drawing from a belly band holster, you can enjoy a versatile and comfortable concealed carry option that works well with various clothing types and physical activities. As with any holster, consistent practice and attention to safety are essential for developing proficiency and confidence in your carry setup.

Training and Skill Development

Consistently training with your holster and firearm is essential for developing proficiency, muscle memory, and confidence in your ability to handle your gun safely and effectively. Investing time and effort into regular practice sessions will help you refine your skills and be better prepared for real-world situations where you may need to defend yourself or others.

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Importance of Regular Practice and Training

Regular practice and training are crucial for maintaining and improving your firearms handling skills. Through consistent practice, you can develop muscle memory, which allows you to perform essential tasks, such as drawing and reholstering your firearm, more efficiently and with less conscious thought. This is particularly important in high-stress situations where fine motor skills can deteriorate, and you may need to rely on ingrained habits and reflexes.

Moreover, regular training helps you identify areas where you need improvement and allows you to work on specific skills or techniques. By setting aside time for focused practice sessions, you can address any weaknesses in your form, accuracy, or speed, ultimately becoming a more proficient and confident shooter.

Dry Fire Training Techniques

Dry fire training involves practicing with an unloaded firearm in a safe environment, focusing on trigger control, sight alignment, and other fundamental skills. This type of training is cost-effective, convenient, and can be done in the comfort of your own home, provided you follow strict safety protocols and ensure your firearm is unloaded.

Some key aspects of dry fire training include:

  • Trigger control: Practice smooth, consistent trigger pulls without disturbing your sight alignment.
  • Sight alignment and sight picture: Work on maintaining proper sight alignment and sight picture throughout the trigger pull.
  • Drawing and reholstering: Practice drawing your firearm from your holster and reholstering it safely, focusing on efficiency and consistency.
  • Target transitions: Work on transitioning between multiple targets or engaging targets from different angles.
  • Malfunction drills: Practice clearing simulated malfunctions to build familiarity with the process and improve your response time.

When engaging in dry fire training, always follow the fundamental rules of gun safety and ensure that your training area is free from live ammunition.

Live-Fire Training and Courses

While dry fire training is valuable, it’s equally important to participate in live-fire training to apply your skills in a more realistic setting. Live-fire training allows you to experience recoil, muzzle rise, and other factors that can affect your shooting performance. It also helps you build confidence in your ability to handle your firearm safely and effectively.

Consider taking courses from qualified firearms instructors who can provide guidance, feedback, and structured training programs. These courses can range from basic firearms safety and marksmanship to more advanced topics like defensive shooting techniques, low-light shooting, and scenario-based training.

When participating in live-fire training, always adhere to range safety rules and follow the instructions of your training provider.

Developing Situational Awareness and Mental Preparedness

In addition to physical skills, it’s crucial to develop situational awareness and mental preparedness. Situational awareness involves being alert to your surroundings, identifying potential threats, and being ready to respond appropriately. Mental preparedness means having the mindset and emotional resilience to handle high-stress situations and make quick, sound decisions under pressure.

To improve your situational awareness and mental preparedness, consider the following:

  • Observe your surroundings: Make a habit of scanning your environment and being aware of potential threats or unusual behavior.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels “off” or makes you uncomfortable, trust your gut and take appropriate action.
  • Develop a personal protection plan: Think through various scenarios and plan how you would respond, considering factors like escape routes, cover, and concealment.
  • Engage in stress-inducing training: Participate in training that incorporates stress-inducing elements, such as time pressure or physical exertion, to help you perform better under pressure.
  • Visualize success: Mentally rehearse successful outcomes to various scenarios, which can help you respond more effectively in real-life situations.

Remember, the goal of training and skill development is to be better prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones. By investing time and effort into regular practice, live-fire training, and mental preparation, you can become a more proficient, confident, and responsible gun owner.

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Conclusion

Selecting the right carry holster, developing essential skills, and prioritizing safety are key to responsible concealed carry. By understanding holster types, practicing proper techniques, maintaining gear, and considering factors like firearm size, magazine capacity, and comfort when building your EDC setup, you can strike the perfect balance between accessibility and concealment. Investing time in training, gear selection, and mental preparation will help you become a proficient, responsible, and confident concealed carry practitioner.

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