Novice Holster Advice

Novice Holster Advice

This is a discussion on Novice Holster Advice within the Defensive Carry Holsters & Carry Options forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'd appreciate some input that could help me make a more informed first holster purchase. Even though I've read articles on the various types of ...

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Thread: Novice Holster Advice

  1. #1
    Member Array gibson3798's Avatar
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    Nov 2007

    Novice Holster Advice

    I'd appreciate some input that could help me make a more informed first holster purchase.
    Even though I've read articles on the various types of holsters, I'm still pretty confused by it all. IWB,OWB,paddle, smartcarry, fanny pack, leather or kydex, it's hard to get a clear picture of how to go. I'm especially confused on the IWB vs OWB issue and how to make that decision. And since nearly every article I read talks about how many holsters everybody ends up with, it must be a tough decision to end up with a keeper. I'll try to keep my question answerable, so I'll give up some basic information.
    I'll be carrying a H&K Compact 40. I'm 6'0, 180 lbs.. Inside the waistband seems a little tight with the clothes I generally wear but I haven't tried it. That's right, 'cause I don't have a holster.
    I'm open to any suggestions you may have. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Array kentuckycarry's Avatar
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    I have alot of holsters, but I use them all. I was carefull in my selection and have'nt been dissapointed yet. I have 3 guns I carry. A xd40sc, a revolver with a 4 inch bbl and a 642 airweight. The 642 (snubnose) I have more holsters for because I use it mostly for deep concealment. The Smartcarry is for the 642 which I use for work or other times when nothing else works. I have a shoulder holster for the 642 also that I like to use for funerals etc when I have to dress up and I may take my jacket off ( or suit coat). I have IWB and OWB for all my guns because at times IWB conceals better than OWB depending on what I'm wearing ( and summer vs winter carry ).
    Don't plan on getting just one holster. Read the info on here and select what most people are happy with. You can get holsters that are both IWB and OWB like from Fist that are two holsters in one.
    If you stick with good quality holsters, you should find that you won't end up with a drawer full of ones you dont use. You just need a variety of different types for different dress.
    Smartcarry and pocket holsters I consider deep concealment, though some on here will say they prefer pocket carry over anything else. Good luck..

  3. #3
    Member Array LVLabs's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    First and foremost ccw is a compromise and many more times than not it has to be dressed around such as slightly larger shirts and pant's. Sometimes you might need the extra inch to wear an IWB holster.

    I prefer leather holsters myself but the "hybrids" (leather and kydex) such as the Crossbreed Super tuck or other models they offer as well as Tucker "the answer" and Comp-Tac MTAC are all good choices too. If you don't have a holster now, I suggest you choose one that you can get ASAP. Many if not all the custom holster makers are 2-24months + wait time so IMO you are going to have to choose something (At least to tide you over) that you can get within a week or two or even less if possible.

    Also, you are going to have the need to have a few different holster types to adapt to what you are wearing. IWB is the best concealable holster type other than a "not so smart carry" or something like that.

    Touching on what I call a not so smart carry holster a bit. The smart carry IMO is for the need of deep concealment when there is not really another option or you might not have all the perfect holsters for every situation. The smart carry is slow, IMO hard to get to, has the potential to snag on the way out (especially under stress) and the big one is, at least for me, I carry how I train and leave it there. There are some exceptions of course but 99% of the time my gun/holster is right where it belongs, exactly where I train.

    For example, If you choose a smart carry design and then go to the range and train with an OWB at 3:00 strong side you are not doing yourself any good. If you really need your weapon someday you 9 times out of 10 are going to draw from where you have trained, your muscle memory will be set in to that position.

    But, like I said, there are situations that will arise that you could use a fanny pack even (I recommend one designed for ccw use), so the old, you will have a drawer full of holsters mostly means that we have several that adapt to the dress situation. The other issue of the holster drawer, is some really have a drawer full of junk holsters trying to get around the idea of buying a quality holster whether it is due to the wait, price or both and end up spending more and wasting even more time and discomfort in the long run.

    With that, the bottom line is none of us can tell you what the right holster is for you, you just have to dig in and find what works for you your situation and mode of dress the best. There is no way IMO to buy (1) holster for all occasions. Life just doesn't work that way and buying holsters is no different.

    I have a over a couple thousand invested into holsters just because I like buying them from the top makers and want 3-4 choices for each gun I have. I do use them but a few get used much more than others and with a change of season comes change of dress so a carry change to OWB is now an option where as it might not have been in the summer time.

    Buying and changing holsters is no different than the evolution of the gun. I started out with a high end 1911 over $2,000 still making changes with the gun to fit me or what I thought I wanted and I love to carry a 1911, due to it being so thin and easily concealed but I also found that it wasn't my best fighting weapon while training. After some time training and taking several classes, I found I didn't like the skinny mag's as much when having to quicky insert a mag and get back on target. That I didn't like how the thumb safety chewed the base of my thumb up by the end of the class racking the slide after inserting a mag quickly. found that even though a 1911 is an awesome weapon, it wasn't, at least for me the best choice. I actually went to Glock's and find they fit everything I want in a ccw, so go figure!

    So, in a nut shell, you have to crawl before you walk kinda deal. Meaning, you have to do some exploring with holsters testing what will work for you the best. With IWB, look for the wide separation between the loops for stability such as a VM-II or similar. OWB, look for how close it fits or wraps the body for concealment, etc.

    The main thing I want to convey though, is really consider wearing your holster where you train and/or train where ever you wear your holster. Don't train strong side @ the 3:00 position and then stuff your HK in your pants to ride in a smart carry, I have seen this untold amount of times when a class is over, the training holster goes in the range bag and a smart carry or another type holster comes out in a total different position then where they were training from. If things get ugly and you need your ccw, you are going to need it fast and if it is in your pants in a flimsy holster thing called a smart carry, is that really giving yourself the best opportunity to win? Buy holsters around how you want to train and carry, not what others think you should buy just because they hove one. Everybody thinks that there VM-II or MTAC or Crossbreed is the best thing ever cause they have them, this might not be the case for you.

    Good luck in your holster exploring, just try and choose the highest quality holsters you can that are likely to work for you the best.

    Didn't mean to be so winded about the subject but I apparently had a lot to say about holser buying.

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  5. #4
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    I'll jump in here and give you a wee bit o' advice son:

    Buy your pants 1'-2" larger in the waist and the pants won't feel so tight.

    I've been carrying IWB for over twenty years, and it's my preferred method of carry. No matter what gun I'm packing I use a good holster and belt. That really makes a difference. As far as the definition of good, custom maker with a backlog is a good starting point.


  6. #5
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    Array RETSUPT99's Avatar
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    Don't buy bigger pants...lose weight!

    I have only been CCW for 7 years...I've tried most every way, and I still prefer IWB at either 3:30 or SOB (kind of...) at 5:00 ) 'palm out'.

    I have 10 handguns (bought and sold many others) and 2 dozen+ holsters...still use them all...once in a while.

    Stay armed...stay safe!
    Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

    Certified Glock Armorer
    NRA Life Member

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array semperfi.45's Avatar
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    Over here now!
    Everybody has their own opinions from experience. What works for one may not work for it's trial and error for you. Try to borrow, ask for a test and evaluation from the manufacturer or go to a gun show/dealer and try them on.


    IWB = less comfortable, but there is really not a better way to have great concealment for a larger gun and still have quick access. A good starting point here are Milt Sparks VMII, K&D's IWB Defenders, AKJ Concealco and the Comp-Tac MTAC.

    OWB = more comfortable than IWB, but you sacrifice a little in the concealment department by possibly printing more and having the possibility of your shirt riding up and exposing your rig. There are too many OWB holsters too mention, I like Kramer, Galco, K&D (again), FIST (a great first holster).

    There is one true keeper in the holster world and that's a Delfatti. Since you wait so long, pay so much and it's so darn nice you can't offload it or throw it in a drawer.

    Get one of each (OWB and IWB), most of us do. Take comfort in the fact that if you buy a custom and don't like it, someone here will probably take it off your hands for what you paid.

    Paddle holsters have a larger profile and don't conceal well.

    Ankle carry is my choice a lot of times, but I train extensively to be proficient at it. The best ankle holster is a Galco Ankle Glove.

    Smaller guns can be pocket carried in a pocket holster. Many of us have a J Frame riding this way. I use a Kramer.

    Never tried it but SmartCarry seems to be the best for deep concealment.

    Friends don't let friends wear fanny packs. Just say no!

    Off body carry is also a no-no. That's not a responsible way to carry a deadly weapon.

    If you buy a concealment vest realize that you probably think it looks more stylish than it really is.

    Since you're a novice, I'll echo past sentiments of many here by saying - by all means, get a good belt to carry your rig. It makes the world of difference. You can negatively effect a great holster with a crappy belt. I personally like wilderness belts for their adjustability and stability.

    Good luck with your adventure.
    Training means learning the rules. Experience means learning the exceptions.

  8. #7
    Member Array Jaystekan's Avatar
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    I was confused as well. I went ahead and purchased a cheap IWB and a cheap OWB so that i could wear them both and get a feel for what I preferred before I went ahead and invested in a good quality one. There is a huge difference in the way it feels when carrying between a cheap holster and a quality one, but I was able to at least get a feel for the different ways to carry. I am in my 30's and my wife would kill me if I ever wore a fanny pack when we went out, so I never even tried that route, same with a concealement vest, they simply aren't in style and in my opinion, they SCREAM OUT that you are armed. I ended up with IWb simply because the waY I dress, I found it was easier to conceal that way. Look on ebay, auctionarms, gun broker for cheap used holsters of different varieties and try them out. If you don't like them you can always resell them. Once you decide to go a certain way, then be sure to invest in a quality holster, it makes a world of difference.

  9. #8
    VIP Member Array sass20485's Avatar
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    It is a very personable choice based on what suits your lifestyle, style of dress and body type. I found IWB to be the best for me,as it most easily conceals the gun, without a bulky cover garment. I also pocket carry my Keltec most times or in addition to my IWB gun. I have a few OWB holsters, but rarely use them. They most often get used at the range. I've got a bellyband, smart carry, and fanny pack, but rarely use them. The IWB I've found best for me it the M Tac by Comp Tac, you'll have it a less than a week. UBG also makes great holsters in a reasonable time.

  10. #9
    Member Array rj112275's Avatar
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    Some really good advice here. Here's my $0.02. I primarily carry two guns; either a j-frame or a Glock 19. I can conceal the Glock very well with about any untucked shirt, or jacket. If I cannot carry the Glock, then the j-frame goes with me. It can carry on the waist, on the ankle or in the pocket. Three holsters for the j-frame. Only one OWB for the Glock. I found that IWB and OWB concealed both equally for me, but I think OWB is a bit more comfortable. I think a tuckable IWB would be nice, but until then, I dress around my gun.

    I only have one holster for the Glock, because I like it. For the j-frame, there are multiple holsters, each with a difference use.

    Get a good belt and good luck.

  11. #10
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    Array Bark'n's Avatar
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    I can't understate the importance of a good gunbelt and what it does for carrying a gun all day long!

    It provides support for the weight of the gun, doesn't stretch out over time from the weight of the gun and will hold the gun and holster snug against your body providing better concealment. It will also increase the comfort level!

    Cheap leather belts like you get at a department store or walmart may do for a while or may only work for a few months before they start to break down and sag.

    Start to think of your ccw as a multi-component system that needs to work together in harmony if you expect it to be there doing it's job to give you the edge it takes to win and survive at "The Moment of Truth!"

    One belt I would recommend is the one from The Belt Man which you can get here.

    What I like about this manufacturer in particular is not only the quality of the craftsmanship, but also the variety of choices that should fit every need or personal taste. The one I have is the 1.5 inch dual layer bullhide, and it is an exquisite belt. The best I have ever owned not only as a gunbelt, but also as a belt for everyday use as well.

    The dual layer bullhide does not stretch or sag at all and while I've only had mine for about 6 or 7 months it's already outlasted those of lesser quality I've used in the past.

    Some of the options you can have is to add a "plastic stiffener" in the belt to add even more support without stretching as well as getting a "velcro" lined belt for use with special custom IWB holsters that attach to the belt with the velcro so there are no visible signs of belt loops or holster attachment .

    You can also get the belt tapered in front to give it a more dressier look with dress or semi-casual slacks without giving that "gun-belt" appearance and even have a choice of buckles.

    Here is something I've never seen before that I thought was unique about his belts and a sign of quality craftsmanship is that he offers a choice of "hole spacing" and the number of holes in the end of the belt.

    Lastly, he also offers some exotic skins like shark and elephant hide.

    I hope this helps some in your quest for a good concealment rig!

    Welcome to the forum and hope you stay and join us for lively debate and gun information!

    Stay Safe & Stay Armed!
    Semper Fi

    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

  12. #11
    Member Array gibson3798's Avatar
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    These replys are appreciated and you've cleared things up quite a bit. I really appreciate the time you all took to advise me. It really helps!

  13. #12
    Member Array Joe70's Avatar
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    Concealed carry holsters

    I have (among others) an XD .40 compact w/3" bbl. I find that a IWB holster doesn't work well for me. Gun feels unstable like trying to stabalize a ball. Gun is too short for that type of carry. (For me).
    I'm looking for an OWB , preferably the pancake type to caryy this type auto. Any suggestions?
    Last edited by Joe70; December 4th, 2007 at 10:06 AM. Reason: spelling

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Suggested holster for USP 40c

    I have a USP 40c and when I carry this gun I use a Kramer horsehide belt scabbard holster. This is an OWB holster which holds the gun high and tight. I would recommend it very highly.

    Kramer Leather website

    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

  15. #14
    Member Array S3ymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe70 View Post
    I have (among others) an XD .40 compact w/3" bbl. I find that a IWB holster doesn't work well for me. Gun feels unstable like trying to stabalize a ball. Gun is too short for that type of carry. (For me).
    I'm looking for an OWB , preferably the pancake type to caryy this type auto. Any suggestions?
    There are a ton of options for this gun, if you are looking for a decent but inexpensive holster look for a don hume open top. If you want to spend a bit more, I would look at UBG holster, KDleather, or any of the other aforementioned holster makers. If you take a look at the stickies in this forum, there is a "Mega Holsters list" that you can really get some great stuff from. The best way is to email the makers and see what they offer for your gun, what the wait time is and what their pricing is like, then make a choice.
    "All war is deception" --Sun Tzu

  16. #15
    Member Array SailorWatson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by semperfi.45 View Post

    Friends don't let friends wear fanny packs. Just say no!

    Although I agree with most of your post here, I do disagree with your comment on fanny packs. IMHO, here in Michigan in the summer, I find a fanny pack an ideal way to carry, especially since I do not have a desire to deep conceal in the front of my pants. I do believe that the fanny pack type of carry is a regional thing. In areas where there are a lot of tourists, a fanny pack is not as noticable, and does not scream "GUN".
    Again, just MHO.
    PM Doric 342

    "Heres to you and heres to me, and in case we ever disagree, the h___ with you, heres to me"

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