Unless you’re a law enforcement officer on duty or a hunter on the range, carrying your firearm in a concealed carry holster is not only necessary—it’s ethical.
The whole point of concealed carry is the element of surprise and the idea of absolute security when strolling around town.
You don’t want to be seen in public with a handgun that prints. It’s unnerving and beyond the confines of public decency, so to speak.
If you own a concealed carry permit and you meet the legal requirements of your state, you should get yourself a suitable holster for your Glock or Smith & Wesson that caters to your carry style, be it appendix carry, 5 o’clock, small of your back, or outside the waistband.
Comfort and convenience are crucial, so that’s why I rounded up a few of the most efficient IWB holsters, pocket holsters, belly band holsters, ankle holsters, appendix carry, shoulder holsters, and OWB holsters to suit everyone’s style and preference.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the many types of concealed carry holsters, and I’ll highlight their features, what they excel at, who they’re for, and help you decide which one is the best holster for you.
Best Concealed Carry Holsters
- Easily adjustable cant, ride, height, and angle
- One of the most comfortable holsters on this list
- Fits up to 160 different pistols
- Sweatshield neoprene backing pad
- Perfect for concealed carry
- Lifetime warranty
- Might be bulky for some
Alien Gear are well-known for their Kydex holsters, and they focus their design on comfort and retention.
Expect perfect retention and quick draws every time with the Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster.
It’s a hybrid holster made of three-layered laminate leather with a sweat-proof neoprene backing for comfort and durability. They dubbed the laminate “alien skin,” which is a thermoplastic, scratch-proof polymer that’s great for those sweaty, sweltering summer days.
The three different materials and the Kydex work together to make this a viable IWB holster that anyone can use.
It’s heavier than most holsters but not too heavy to cause you discomfort. The retention and ease of use are what sell it, and the retention is fully adjustable via the screws. Not only that, but the ride, height, angle, and cant are also fully adjustable.
This specific model can fit up to 160 handguns, so you can bet you’ll find one for your .38-caliber Smith & Wesson or your Glock 19. Speaking of which, check out our best Glock G19 holsters while we’re here.
If you want something that offers a fully covered trigger, check out the Alien Gear ShapeShift 4.0 IWB Holster. It’s bulkier, but the trigger is covered, and that’s what matters the most.
Best Leather IWB Holster – Bianchi 100 IWB Holster
- High-quality leather holster
- Lightweight design (0.3 lbs)
- Non-slip exterior
- Can be adjusted for a 90-degrees vertical cant
- Heavy-duty steel spring belt clip that stays put
- Compatible with 1.7-inch belts
- Needs some breaking in
Safariland is another great holster manufacturer that works tirelessly to enhance comfort and efficiency in its products.
If you’re looking for a good leather holster, the Bianchi Model 100 IWB Holster is one of their best-sellers that’s tuckable, adjustable, and once you break it in after a while, it fits like a glove.
The C-Clip patented design by Bianchi works like a charm. It’s sturdy, envelops the belt, reduces printing, and allows you to adjust it for a 90-degrees vertical cant. It’s one of the best IWB leather holsters on the market for this reason.
It covers all kinds of handguns, but I strongly recommend this holster if you’re a Glock or Smith & Wesson carrier.
Additionally, Bianchi offers you a replacement if, by any chance, Amazon messes up your order. Not all holster manufacturers do this, and they should definitely rip a page from Bianchi’s book.
The holster is high up and feels very comfortable, so it won’t irritate your skin. More importantly, it covers the trigger fully, and it won’t let the pistol hang on the end of the holster.
Overall, it’s a fantastic leather holster that might need a little stretching, but it offers perfect retention. I strongly recommend you go to their website to find the proper fit for your handgun.
- Great value
- Audible ‘click’
- Perfect retention
- Adjustable angle and cant
- Comfortable while driving
- Available up to 192 handgun models
- Lifetime warranty
- Can loosen up after a year
You’ve seen this one everywhere.
The We The People IWB holster is a very straightforward, well-balanced, no-nonsense type of Kydex holster that might be one of the best appendix carry holsters on the market, hands down.
It relies on a straightforward and well-built design that focuses on having a lightweight feel, practical use, and being an overall cost-effective conceal carry solution.
With up to 192 handgun models, it’s one of the most popular holsters that guarantees you’ll find a perfect fit for your handgun model.
You can attach the holster on your belt with the wide belt clips, which are perhaps one of the best I’ve ever used. It’s also compatible with pistols with red dot sights.
The holster is perfectly cut to expose the trigger guard for a better grip and fast drawing speed. It rides higher on the side of your body, and the sweat guard protects the surface of your body and feels very comfortable.
The retention is adjustable with the screw located at the bottom of the holster, and the ride height and cant are adaptable with the clip, making it suitable for most IWB carry positions.
Check out our WTP holster review here for more details about its features.
- Perfect retention
- Lightweight and durable design
- Beveled edges for comfort
- Adjustable retention and tension screw
- Audible ‘click’
- Lifetime warranty
- Some users report a loose fit
Concealment Express isn’t exactly known for its OWB holsters, but what they have to offer with the Concealment Express OWB paddle holster is all we’ll need.
The Concealment Express OWB holster, similarly to the We The People holster, is a very minimalist paddle holster that focuses on having a lightweight feel and absolutely fine retention with a satisfying, audible click that lets you know the gun is holstered.
It has nice passive retention that can accommodate red dot sight pistols along with threaded barrels as well. The cant is fully adjustable with an angle of -5 to +20 degrees. The adjustable posi-click retention system is satisfying, to say the least.
The trigger guard is fully covered, which prevents unintentional discharge, and the open-cut design accommodates suppressors.
You can surely find your handgun model with their 150 holster models, from the Glock 19 to the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.
Overall, it’s a holster with a precision-crafted Kydex construction that offers unmatched durability and longevity. The high-ride design feels very lightweight, and the muzzle isn’t exposed, which makes it a great concealed carry OWB option that’s committed to comfort and convenience.
I recommend using wide belts if you don’t want your pistol to wiggle when walking.
Best Leather OWB Holster – Galco Fletch High Ride OWB Leather Holster
- Great for 1911-style handguns
- Hand-stitched, high-quality leather
- Adjustable cant angle
- Concealed muzzle
- Slow draw speed because of active retention thumb break
- Some users report a loose fit, other than that, no downsides
Galco is known for their hand-crafted holsters. Here’s a good one for all you 1911-style users.
The Galco OWB Leather Holster is a very stylish OWB holster with an adjustable cant angle position, hand-stitched belt loops for comfort, and an active retention thumb break for maximum safety.
It rides high on the hip and out of the way of your pockets, and it feels good when you’re sitting down or driving. The muzzle is concealed, made to keep the handgun above the beltline.
It takes a while to break in the leather, but the surface is made of high-quality cowhide, so you won’t have to worry about scratching your gun.
As for concealability, it might seem bulky, but it’s a very comfortable and accessible holster that won’t print at all.
Overall, the Galco is a high-end OWB leather holster that’s made for handguns and holsters with active retention that might not be for most, but best believe it’s a flexible holster for a 45-degree angle carry.
While we’re here, feel free to check out our best 1911-style holsters.
- High-quality leather holster
- 3-slot pancake design for cross draw carry at different angles
- Open-ended that suits long-barreled pistols
- Curved for maximum comfort
- Breaks in easily
- Ambidextrous, perfect for left-handed shooters
- Easy to clip on
- Suitable for Glocks and SIG Sauer pistols
- Small belt holes (can only fit ¾-inch belt holes)
The cross draw technique is where you reach for your pistol with your dominant hand across your body towards your non-dominant side, just like in the old Western movies. This is an unusual draw technique, but it’s convenient and fast once mastered.
I immediately thought of the Relentless Tactical Leather Holster.
The Relentless Tactical holster is made of high-quality grade leather that will serve you for a long time. It’s suitable for both cowboys and beginners looking to learn the cross draw, and it offers excellent comfort and versatility when drawing.
It has a triple belt slot design which allows a straight drop carry or a butt-forward cant. These holstering and drawing methods are very effective and offer a faster draw rate than most holsters built for cross draw.
It fits most regular-sized pistol models like Smith & Wessons, but the open-end design is suitable for pistols with longer barrel lengths. However, it fits only ¾-inch belt holes, which might be a problem for some.
Besides that, the ambidextrous design makes it suitable for lefties, and it’s pretty intuitive to use.
If you’re not a fan of this carrying style, you can still use it for strong-side hip carry, or the small of the back, while the pancake build makes it a suitable concealed carry option.
- Trigger guard is fully covered
- Double-sided slide guard
- Strong Kydex surface with sweat resistance
- Excellent retention for Ruger and SIG Sauer pistols
- Fits pistols with front sights and loaded chamber indicators
- Kydex edges might be uncomfortable for some
- Retention can be too tight
You can find lots of great pocket holsters on the market today that fit in your pocket and comfortably hold your pistol. Most of them do their job just fine, but there’s nothing quite like the Vedder Pocket Locker.
Made by Vedder Holsters, a family-owned holster company, the Pocket Locker holster has a very well-made Kydex pocket holster with a hook that snags on the inside of your pocket. It covers the entire barrel of your firearm and makes sure no dust or debris gets in.
It makes sure the gun stays put inside the holster while the holster itself stays inside your pocket! Expect consistent, snag-free pulls every time while the sweat guard protects your skin.
Additionally, the special attachment point allows you to strap it inside a backpack or purse.
The Vedder pocket holster can accommodate off-the-body carrying.
It’s ambidextrous, has a retention hook, a convenient thumb release for quick draws, and works for deep concealment as well.
If you’re interested in pocket carry, check out our list of the best pocket pistols that work harmoniously with pocket holsters for the stealthiest self-defense techniques.
- High-quality sheepskin
- Neoprene strap
- Secure fit and sturdy
- Inspired by Federal law enforcement designs
- Customers report issues with the sitting angle not fitting
- Can print on thin clothing
- Not ambidextrous (for dominant right-hand hands only)
Inspired by the movie Die Hard and Federal law enforcement agencies, among other things, the DeSantis Ankle Holster comes from a manufacturer that’s known for their innovation and versatility in holster types.
It’s a strong and fitting ankle holster that can serve you for a long time. Made from high-quality sheepskin leather and backed with a neoprene strap, the DeSantis ankle holster makes sure it sits tight around your ankle, while the foam padding feels super comfy.
Aside from strapping it around your calf, it sits tight around your boot as well. The retention is good enough for a Glock G43 or a Glock G26 for a perfect fit and quick draws, but other pistol models are also available.
Though it’s a very comfortable ankle holster, some users complained that the sitting angle doesn’t fit. Moreover, they still don’t have an ambidextrous design for left-handed users.
The solid leather doesn’t need much breaking in, and you can get used to it very quickly with a bit of draw practice. The interior has a smooth leather surface that protects your pistol, while the retention strap has a snap closure that holds the pistol tightly in place.
- Classy and iconic
- High-quality, genuine leather
- Snap closure offers excellent retention
- Natural feel and comfort
- Pouches are easy to swap and customize
- The most expensive holster on this list
- Requires serious draw practice
- Non-adjustable cant
- Tie-downs not included
As for shoulder holsters, if you can treat yourself with the ultimate Miami Vice look and feel for your concealed carry, would you settle for less? I think not.
Known as “The Famous Jackass Leather Company” in the 70s, Galco has been in the premium holster business for a long time, single-handedly revitalizing the leather holster movement and giving us innovative and comfortable designs for almost 50 years.
I give you the Galco Miami Shoulder System, one of the most premium, most expensive holsters you can find on the market today. It’s suitable for those with a 60-inch chest.
The Galco Miami has a clover-shaped Flexalon swivel backplate, a magazine pouch, high-quality connectors for unmatched retention, wide straps, and a premium saddle leather that’ll last you for two lifetimes.
This could have been the ultimate shoulder holster if only the cant were adjustable. Galco could’ve thrown in some tie-downs for convenience, but after a little pistol draw practice and getting used to the feel, you’ll see what the big deal is.
- Made for athletes and runners
- Includes two magazine pouches and a phone slot
- Velcro for a tight fit
- Reliable snap retention
- Money-back guarantee by BravoBelt
- Ambidextrous and modular
- Bulky for a belly band holster
- Only fits up to 44-inch waists
- Slots have no retention system
For the best belly band holsters, I must say that I’m very impressed by the BravoBelt Belly Band Holster.
It boasts high-quality, perforated neoprene fabric called CoolVent with ventilation holes that offer superior comfort and convenience. That explains why it’s extensively advertised for the athletic types and those of us who run a lot.
For this purpose, I think that it makes it one of the most superb and tight-fitting belly band holsters that anyone can use, not just joggers.
It’s 42 inches in length and 5 inches wide, and it can fit up to a 44-inch waist. It’s ambidextrous, and it works fine with any clothing, but you can also strap it directly onto your skin thanks to its anti-moisture properties.
You can fit a small revolver or a mid-size semi-automatic. Even a 1911 pistol will work in the slots with a snap closure retention system that keeps the gun tight.
It also comes with two magazine pouches, which are great for the ranges and competitive shooting.
I only wish the magazine pouches had straps like any other regular mag pouch, and it stumps me why BravoBelt didn’t think it through with this obvious design flaw.
Other than that, it’s a very comfortable and convenient belly band holster suitable for concealed carry on the go.
Before you do anything, remember the golden rule – try it before you buy it.
Depending on the seller and model, you should always check the holster out at your local gun shop and see if they offer a free test drive before you make the decision.
A pistol holster can be disambiguated into three categories:
- Holster type (IWB, OWB, shoulder holster, ankle holster, etc.)
- Carry style (appendix carry, 5 o’clock carry, strong-side hip carry, etc.)
- What it’s made of (Kydex, leather, hybrid, nylon, etc.)
Now, of course, you wouldn’t be able to carry an ankle holster as a 5 o’clock carry, and there are paddle holsters that are strictly OWB, or sub-types like AIWB (appendix inside the waistband), but this is a relatively practical way to differentiate them either way.
Price consideration goes without saying, and there are loads of budget holsters with great value like We The People holsters, so I’ll leave the budget handling entirely to you.
Let’s check out the main holster material types.
The most popular are leather, nylon, and kydex, or a hybrid combination of these materials.
Kydex holsters are one of the most popular materials for holsters. They use an interesting material called acrylic-polyvinyl chloride.
It’s a thermoplastic material made up of polymer resins that soften up when heated and harden when cooled.
This means that they’re durable, comfortable, and flexible enough to be custom-molded for any handgun model, as well as accommodating pistols with red dot sights and lights.
Kydex holsters are easy to clean, waterproof, and anti-debris. Just be careful—some Kydex holsters can damage the finish of your weapon.
Leather holsters are a classic holster type. They’re comfortable, break in with ease, and look good on you. Additionally, they’re less noisy than Kydex when drawing.
They require constant care and maintenance, or else they deteriorate given time. It’s advised to wash them with water and soap for leather surfaces once every two months.
Additionally, they can be sticky and annoying in warm climates, so keep that in mind.
Besides the material, whether you’re looking for an IWB, OWB, leather, or an ankle holster, there are four important criteria that constitute a good holster.
What to Look For in Concealed Carry Holsters?
Most of these holsters are up and above concealed carry standards, but everyone has different preferences.
Some of us drive a lot, while others prefer an OWB over an IWB, so it’s important to first figure out which carry style and holster type suits you best.
Firearm Safety and Trigger Coverage
A good holster should protect you and your gun with its many features. This depends on its design and material.
The outer material should be sweat-proof with a sweat guard and shouldn’t cause any annoyances during the summer, while the interior should have a scratch-free material that protects your handgun.
Most importantly, holsters that have suitable belt loops, claws, and offer full trigger concealment are usually ideal. A fully covered trigger means absolute safety and prevents accidental discharge.
The main point of a concealed carry holster is not to draw attention to yourself via a print-free holster while retaining a decent draw speed for self-defense.
It’s all about printing and drawing, and I’m not talking about graphic design lessons.
Make sure you select a holster that won’t print under your clothes. This depends entirely on you and your clothing style, and that’s why it’s important to try a holster out first.
I recommend IWB holsters carried in the 5 o’clock position, which reduces printing and allows you to walk freely and with confidence. If absolute concealment is your thing, go for pocket holsters!
Fit and Comfort
It goes without saying, but the holster you choose for your firearm should be in harmony like bread and butter.
There’s no universal formula here, but you should try out a couple of holsters with combinations of your clothing that’s comfortable for you. This includes when you’re driving.
If you value safety over draw speed, look for holsters with deep concealment.
Be careful when you’re ordering your holster and triple-check the handgun model the holster is designed for. It should stay put in your waistband while the pistol stays put inside the holster.
Look for “Goldilocks” holsters that are not too tight and not too loose.
Retention is another thing.
Retention and Draw Speed
Retention refers to the way how the holster holds the gun to stay in place. If you move or shake the holster and the gun doesn’t fall off, that’s retention. A good holster makes sure the gun stays put, and at the same time, it allows you to pull and draw easily.
There are active and passive retention holsters:
- Active retention means the holster uses straps or thumb breaks that go over your pistol to keep it in place.
Active retention holsters are much more secure than leather holsters, but it takes a while to unstrap and draw your handgun.
- In passive retention, the holster (usually made of Kydex) is custom-molded for your handgun and relies on friction to retain it. Holsters like this usually have an audible click when you holster the weapon.
Most passive retention holsters have adjustable retention screws for your convenience. You should try to find your own retention preference.
To sum up, concealed carry is the only way to go when it comes to everyday carry. Stealth and self-defense go hand in hand, and one should always be prepared to act when the time comes.
There are many holster systems and methods for concealed carrying.
Whether it’s a 5 o’clock carry, appendix carry when you’re driving, strong-side hip carry, or the small of your back, you should always know the etiquette of concealed carry. So, carry a concealed carry permit and check your state laws as well.
A good concealed carry holster should be practical and should retain your firearm securely.
I recommend Kydex, leather, or any hybrid combination that works with you, but it should have the Goldilocks retention of not too loose and not too tight and should always have the trigger guard covered.
Sweat guards and other features for belt loops, clips, claws, and active retention mechanisms are pretty optional.
Truth be told, there’s no universal formula for choosing a suitable concealed carry holster. Once again, I advise you to try various holster models before you consider purchasing.
Stay safe and shoot straight.