How to Wear Shoulder Holster?

A shoulder holster is a handgun holster worn on the shoulder. This article is about ‘how to wear shoulder holster?”. The holster is usually a scabbard or pouch containing the gun, which hangs from a harness on the shoulders, with the straps going over the shoulders and under an arm.

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They are used by police officers and other armed forces and by some plainclothes civilian carry (CCW) permit holders for better concealment of the weapon. In some cases, the shoulder holster is used as a form of carrying due to being more comfortable than other forms of carrying. In rare cases, some people use them as a stand-alone holster without any pants or belt worn.

Parts and Nomenclature of a Shoulder Holster

It is essential to learn about the parts and nomenclature of a shoulder holster before you wear it. Below is the list of terms used to describe the parts of the shoulder holster.


The belt-and-suspenders part of the shoulder rig. This is the bit that goes around your chest and holds everything up off your waist. It should be comfortable, adjustable, and allow movement without friction or binding.


The sheath which contains the gun. Some scabbards are open at both ends, while others have one end closed. The latter version is more concealable but can be a pain to draw from if you’re practicing your draw. Scabbards may be made of leather or Kydex/Plastic. For concealed carry, the scabbard should hold the gun close to your body without straining the fabric of your covering garment.

Parts of Shoulder Holster


The padding is what separates your gun from your skin, so it’s essential to have enough to protect you and not too much to interfere with access. Some shoulder holsters include a single pad running down the center of the harness like a typical belt holster; others feature two, one for each side. Without padding, your body will quickly mar the finish on your gun.

Harness Straps

These are usually made of nylon or leather and tend to be adjustable with snaps or buckles. Remember that these straps are useless; they must be tightened firmly enough against you to hold the holster and gun securely but without causing you discomfort. Be sure to test this arrangement before buying a shoulder holster; adjust it as well as possible, and then wear the rig for a bit to ensure that it stays in its adjusted position when you move around or put on a coat.

Thumb break/retention strap

This is a retention strap (usually leather) sewn across the opening of the holster and over the top of the gun’s grip; it keeps the gun from falling out while you draw or move around. It can be released by a finger push on a button or tab but doesn’t let go until you want it to.

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Why Use a Shoulder Holster?

Shoulder holsters are not just for use under jackets anymore. Many people now wear them with t-shirts, polo shirts, even tank tops. Each person will have to determine if a shoulder rig will work for them.

1. You will be able to conceal your firearm under a jacket quite easily and even more so if you wear the rig over-the-shoulder holster with no shirt under your coat. The draw is slow and takes practice but is very comfortable.

2. Holster is more stable than IWB carry because it’s not attached to your pants and belt. This makes it harder for someone to grab your gun while seated in a car or on some type of seat. They work well for those who don’t like or can’t carry IWB because of the bulk or size of the gun.

3. It holds your pistol in a ready position without much additional effort. So you can draw when seated, in your car, etc.

4. Many people feel more comfortable with their firearm under the arm because it is closer to your reach, allowing faster access if needed.

Use of Shoulder Holster

How to Wear a Shoulder Holster?

1. Put on a jacket or shirt that buttons up the front and is long enough to cover your firearm and holster, which you should have securely attached to your body before putting on the garment. The gun should be positioned close to either armpit, so it feels secure under your arm.

2. Open the bottom of your shirt or jacket and slide the belt of your holster through an opening made just for that purpose. The holster should rest against your body on the strong side (for right-handed shooters, this will be the left side). An excellent way to get it positioned correctly is to attach the holster to your body first, then put on a coat or shirt so you can see how the rest of your rig should hang.

3. Attach the holster to the harness with snaps or Velcro(r), then adjust it until it feels comfortable and allows you access to your gun from both standing and sitting positions. The belt strap that keeps the shoulder holster in place will also help hold up a pair of pants if they slip down your hips.

4. Button up your shirt and then put on the jacket or coat (with holster still attached to the belt). The gun should be fully covered, and you can easily reach into a pocket to get it if needed.

5. Once you have attached the holster to the harness, thread the belt through an armhole and then buckle or snap it into place. Adjust the straps for a comfortable fit, then add your coat or shirt over everything so that only the gun is visible.

6. You can wear a shoulder holster on either hand, but most people find it easiest to draw with the right hand. This will allow you to reach out quickly or even place your hand on support or wall for added stability if needed.

Safety Precautions to Wear a Shoulder Holster

1. It is essential to ensure that your body can support the weight of a loaded firearm and holster hanging from your shoulder; you’ll want to make sure you eat well and exercise regularly to keep strong.

2. Be aware of where the muzzle is pointing at all times, whether it’s pointed at someone or not, because once you place your hand on the gun, it will be pointed in that direction.

3. When drawing from a shoulder holster, try to avoid “yanking” or quickly pulling up your shirt and gun because this could cause your firearm to become dislodged from its’ secured position, especially if you’re going to draw against a solid exterior pressure or resistance.

4. Avoid covering anyone else with the gun while drawing because the muzzle will be facing in your direction of fire, right at them! Also, avoid over-reaching with your arm to get a full range of motion when pulling up on the grip. If you are seated, remember that your knees will often get in the way of your arm as you lift it.

5. Don’t keep the draw tight against your body, especially if you are trying to make a quick draw; this will make it harder to reach around and grab your gun. Keep your arm bent at about 45 degrees with your elbow pointing out toward the target area.

6. Remember that the safety of any firearm is “on” until you have chambered a round or clicked the hammer back into place. This will prevent any unintentional discharge from occurring.

7. If your firearm is fitted with a removable butt strap, it can be worn on either side and can be adjusted for height and angle to fit your body type and comfort level. The gun should be positioned flush against the strong side of your body, but keep in mind that there is more recoil on a shoulder holster because it’s not as close to your body as other carry options.

8. A high-quality tactical shoulder holster is adjustable so that you can adjust the height and angle of the gun for both comfort and concealability. Constantly adjust your straps to fit tightly for a secure grip on your weapon.

9. A shoulder holster should allow you to draw without having to lift or raise the garment away from your body, especially if there is any pressure or resistance involved that might hinder the draw. If it’s too tight, try practicing with an unloaded firearm so you can get used to all the positioning and fittings before adding bullets.

10. A good holster will protect the trigger guard area of your firearm from any unnecessary rubbing or chafing that might prevent proper function, so it’s best to avoid one that isn’t made with this in mind.

11. Keep an extra magazine carrier handy if you will be carrying a semi-automatic gun. If you are taking different bullets for a revolver, keep them in the center of your back to prevent any discomfort caused by having to reach around your gun.

12. When wearing a shoulder holster, it is recommended that you always use an undershirt beneath the garment because body oils and perspiration can cause damage or corrosion to a firearm. Also, if you use a shoulder holster for hunting, make sure to wash the garment after each time it is worn to prevent any residue from harming your gun.


No, you must have a concealed carry permit if you wear one, even if the gun is legal for open carry.

The muzzle should always face away from you to prevent any accidents from occurring. 

Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and always make sure the safety is on if it has one. If it doesn’t, keep the hammer or other striking mechanism down between live rounds, so it’s not cocked back at all times. This will ensure that there is no pressure or resistance on the gun when drawing it.

Shoulder holsters are usually made from synthetic materials to allow the holster to be flexible enough for easy drawing but sturdy sufficient to hold up under varying weather conditions. 


The shoulder holster is a great way to carry your firearm easily and comfortably. It’s perfect for when you don’t want the bulk of a holstered gun on your belt or when you have other gear that makes wearing one difficult. A good shoulder holster will be built from quality materials with tight stitching to avoid slipping off while carrying heavy loads.

The best decision you can make for your conceal carry needs. We talked about the parts of a shoulder holster, why to use one, how to wear it safely, and then provided safety precautions just in case something goes wrong.

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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