There are hundreds of holster companies to choose from online. So how do you narrow down your options? First, decide if the holster is for CCW, open carry, general range use, or competition. Most holster companies will focus their products on one of these carry styles. We suggest avoiding the conversion options allowing one holster shell to work across several carry platforms.
Think of your holster like shoes. Your dress shoes are not going to be suitable for hiking. With holsters typically costing $50-$125, having the right holster for your purpose is worth the investment, even if that means having 2, 3, or 4 holsters for the same gun. See our top holster pics for each of the categories below.
The holster must fully cover the trigger guard on both sides with a solid material to be a safe holster.
Holsters should fit your gun securely so it does not move around in the holster. We call this retention and suggest choosing a Kydex (or similar material) designed and molded to fit your gun.
Hybrid leather & kydex holsters are good as well. However, some hybrid holsters will add bulk, so if you plan to carry IWB, this may be a reason to avoid them.
Avoid holsters that are all leather construction, soft material, and universal holsters. The holster needs to keep its shape and have good retention for your gun.
Your holster must allow for a quick, efficient draw and easy reholstering. The holster design for overcoming retention and the mounting system will greatly impact how it performs these tasks.
Holsters need a solid mounting system for your belt. Our favorite CCW belt clip is the DCC Monoblock kit.
Belly bands sound great but are not designed to allow an efficient draw. Check out the enigma system by PHLster holsters for quality a belly band alternative.
IWB is Inside the Waistband and OWB is Outside the Waistband. When you see AIWB that means Appendix Inside the Waistband, which is our preferred way to carry concealed. Pancake-style holsters are the best option if you carry concealed OWB on your strong side.
If you’re looking for a CCW gun, we suggest choosing a pistol that most holster companies stock. You’ll see a pattern of the top CCW guns because they’re available from most holster companies for a reason.
If you’re purchasing a CCW gun, we suggest 9mm for the caliber, which should hold at least 12 rounds. We also prefer you don’t add a light. This will help with holster selection, carry comfort, and even help you avoid legal trouble in nighttime CCW situations.
Holster Retention Options
Passive (Level 1) – these holsters are the most common and have pressure from being molded to fit that specific gun. When looking for a concealed carry holster, this is the best option. They are also common for range and competition holsters.
Locking Device (Level 2) – these holsters will have a device that needs to be disabled to allow removal. Many level 2 holsters will also have the passive level 1 retention pressure.
Hood or Strap (Level 3+) – these holsters will have an additional safety measure that covers the top of the gun.
When purchasing a duty holster or open carrying should be a level 2 or 3 holster.
CCW-Focused Holster Companies
Brands We Stock and Custom Order
KSG – our preferred holster company, and the Lexington version is the best CCW choice.
PHLster – 2nd best for holsters but limited gun options. We prefer the Pro series holsters, and the skeleton series are best when used only with their enigma system and not as a stand alone holster. They make the enigma system to use without a belt for CCW.
Other Brands Options – Order Direct with the Company
JM Custom Kydex – a wide range of holster options.
Black Arch Holsters – several holster styles.
Tenicor – small gun selection & higher priced but excellent quality
Vedder Holsters – large selection, reasonable prices & average quality. They have an OWB pancake holster that is popular.
C&G Holsters – huge selection, reasonable prices & average quality
LAG Tactical – decent selection
Hybrid Holsters for CCW
Hidden Hybrid Holsters
Black Arch Holsters – they are in the above section but have a material hybrid option vs. leather
Level 2 & 3 Open Carry & Duty Holsters
Do not get a Blackhawk Serpa style holster that the retention is released with your trigger finger. Instead, you want a nub or button that releases the retention with your thumb.
Safariland – multiple options
Alien Gear – Rapid Force Duty Holster
Range or Competition Holsters
Double Alpha PDR Pro-II – geared towards competition with many styles of holsters
GX Vice Holster – they have an innovative Vice holster option
Red Hill Tactical (avoid their level 2 or higher holsters) – Best if using a light or need a custom holster