How to Wear a Single Shoulder Holster?

A Comprehensive Guide

A shoulder holster is a gun holster that hangs under the shoulder. It can be used by itself or attached to a chest harness. They are most commonly associated with plainclothes detectives, police officers who carry long arms such as rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, instructors on shooting ranges, target shooters who use high-grade handguns for Bullseye shooting, and hunting guides. This article will guide you about “how to wear a single shoulder holster?”.

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The shoulder holster design keeps the weapon closely against the body to help prevent it from dislodging or falling and can be faster to draw from than other designs. 

Parts and Nomenclature of a Single Shoulder Holster

There are three main parts to a shoulder holster: the harness, the pack (or IWB pocket). The harness is a strip of leather, nylon, or plastic wraps around the chest and back; this distributes the handgun’s weight over the shoulders and upper body. Some holsters contain additional padding to cushion the pack from the body and provide some concealment for the bulky shape of a gun under a shirt. A strap over the midriff, if present, can provide additional stability and comfort for some wearers but tends to be unnecessary for most users. Some holsters have wide elastic bands with Velcro that goes under the midriff and is adjustable to hold tightly against the body. Holster sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it is important to try any holster before buying it.

Parts and Nomenclature of a Single Shoulder Holster

Why Use a Single Shoulder Holster?

A shoulder holster generally provides better comfort and freedom of movement than holsters tied around the waist, although they usually require more practice to draw from. Additionally, carrying a backup handgun or extra ammunition is more easily accomplished with a Single shoulder holster than any other design. Weapons carried under an untucked shirt are nearly undetectable by casual observation but are easily accessible when needed. The drawback to wearing a shoulder holster comes with having to draw the weapon itself. Because it is necessary to have both hands free for this process, training must include drawing the firearm using one hand if necessary.


Without the proper training, drawing from a shoulder holster can be difficult or even impossible with one hand, which makes this design less than ideal for some users. The single shoulder holster is simple and easy to wear under an outer shirt or jacket. It is more concealable than a belt holster because it does not utilize the waistband as a backdrop for the holstered handgun but distributes weight on both shoulders evenly. Many professional shooters prefer Single shoulder holsters since they are easier to draw from while seated in a vehicle or other confined spaces where access is necessary from different angles.

Steps to Wear a Single Shoulder Holster

When choosing the type of single shoulder holster to wear, each individual must consider their personal requirements for comfort and concealment.


1) Take off your jacket or outer shirt, leaving an undershirt on if desired. The harness should fit over this layer so that the straps are not visible through your outer shirt or jacket when worn correctly.


2) Place the pack against your body so that it rests between your bicep and ribs – similar to where you would place a waistband holster around your beltline. If necessary, adjust the width of the strap(s) using straps found under the pad at either end, then tighten both sides evenly until the carrying firearm feels secure enough without being too tight. Loosen each side gradually until the pack is comfortably in position.


3) Grasp the holster itself and slide your firearm into the muzzle end of the gun compartment, then push it down and back until you can feel that it is secure inside. Then place your support hand over the handgun and holster while keeping both arms against your body; this stabilizes everything while allowing quick access to your firearm if necessary.


4) Slide on a coat or shirt, covering the harness area beneath if necessary – do not tuck it in unless desired, as an untucked shirt will conceal well under most outer clothing.

Safety Precautions to Wear a Single Shoulder Holster

Using a holster that fits your firearm correctly is essential – not only for comfort but for safety as well. Be sure to find an adjustable, universal harness with padding on the straps so that it rests comfortably against your body without cutting into you or becoming irritating. A fitted gun pouch that does not allow the barrel of the handgun to “print” through the fabric of your clothing is strongly recommended.


1) Do not place anything between your Single shoulder holster and your body besides the weapon itself, including cell phones, keys, wallets, etc. Doing so can cause discomfort when drawing or later re-holstering due to pressure against sensitive areas.


2) Before reaching for your firearm, always be confident that it is the only thing in your hand. Having a second object in your other hand can cause fumbling or dropping of both objects when drawing.


3) Be sure that the area where you will be wearing your Single shoulder holster has adequate room for access to and re-holstering your handgun. Drawing while sitting in a vehicle, especially across the chest while strapped into a seat belt, requires extra caution and training to avoid injuring yourself or others by accidentally discharging the weapon while still seated. Vehicles vary in size, shape, and design, so it is important to practice both seated and standing access wearing your holster.


4) Never rely only on the safety strap securing your handgun – double-check to ensure that it is correctly locked into place before holstering or re-holstering by grasping it at either end of the gun compartment and pulling forward. This may also be done while wearing gloves if necessary.


5) When carrying a concealed weapon, safety should always be your primary concern – safety for you and others around you. Understanding how to use, store and carry firearms properly can go a long way toward keeping yourself safe at all times when having a gun under any circumstances.

Safety Precautions to Wear a Single Shoulder Holster


Be sure to check your firearm before holstering or re-holstering, especially when practicing quickdraws from the Single shoulder holster. If you are training yourself to carry a concealed handgun, be sure to carry with an empty chamber, double-check to ensure that the safety is on, and take your finger out of the trigger guard before holstering.

Yes – however, same-side carry is recommended for your safety and the safety of others around you.

As long as the garment being tucked in is loose enough to conceal your firearm safely, yes, it should be fine. This may require some experimenting by first tucking your shirt in and re-hanging it to be sure that everything fits appropriately underneath before wearing a gun.

Traditionally, most left-handed shooters prefer wearing their gun on the right side of their body while right-handed shooters do the opposite – however, this is not a hard and fast rule. The most important thing to consider is whether your draw stroke can be completed safely when wearing the holster on either side of your body.


If it’s the first time you are planning to carry a concealed firearm, following the steps above should help you be safe and secure. If one of these precautions is not being followed, there is always a chance for accidents, especially handling firearms. Another thing that needs to be considered is if this kind of holster works best for your body shape – at least you know what to expect from a single shoulder holster.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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