Level 2 Vs Level 3 Holster

A holster is a device that holsters the gun, i.e., holds it in place while it can be drawn quickly. Most commonly handguns are concealed carried by hiding them in an individual’s waistband, but shoulder and ankle holsters exist as well. In addition to simply holding the gun from falling out of reach, holsters also protect the trigger from being accidentally pulled.

Table of Contents

In this blog post, we will discuss level 2 vs level 3 holsters.

Retention of a Holster

A holster that provides the most protection from being able to snatch a concealed gun away from its carrier uses some combination of friction and a strap. The friction comes from leather, Kydex plastic, or some other stiff material pressing against the outside of the holster where it meets the belt.

A strap goes over the top of this friction and prevents the holster from pivoting away from the belt. A secondary dual retention system, such as a strap and optional button, exists to stop the gun from being drawn if something is hooked onto the trigger guard area.

The strap can be attached without causing much inconvenience to the carrier, but it also cannot be easily removed by someone attempting to take the gun. The holster will usually have holes through which a belt goes to secure it in place. Many holsters come with clips that are adjusted for height or cant so they are comfortable, easy to attach/detach, and will keep the gun in place.

Retention of a Holster

What Does Level Mean?

A holster can come in different levels, which generally means how much the wearer’s gun is protected from being snatched away. A level 1 holster simply consists of a friction fit with or without some type of strap that might or might not keep the gun secure while it is not holstered.

Some will have Kydex sheaths that go over the firearm. They are more secure than a level 1 holster, however, if someone were to have enough time to yank on it they could still rip the gun out of the sheath.

A level 2 holster has some type of secondary locking mechanism that applies pressure on either side of the trigger guard to keep it from coming out.

Read below to learn about Retention level 2 and Level 2:

Level 2 Holster

When drawing a handgun, the trigger guard is covered by two levers that must be pressed before the gun comes loose. The main level of security here results from inserting either a plunger or hook into the trigger guard of the gun and pressing on both levers simultaneously. This causes all sorts of pressure to be applied to surrounding areas if brute strength is used to remove the gun from the holster.

Some of these pressure points include the grip of the gun, trigger guard area, and trigger itself. This may also require some effort to pull up on the belt at the same time, but anything that is holding onto a level 2 holster will need to be able to support forces in multiple directions simultaneously.

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Level 3 Holster

A level 3 holster is the most secure and generally applicable to everyday carry. It uses the same locking mechanism as a level 2 but has other features that make it more difficult to remove from its carrier. For example, some type of hood must be pressed to get access to where you can press the levers. The levers themselves could also be covered by a hood, and the shaft of the holster is often made wider than usual so taking it off at home or work without assistance is more difficult.

The outside material for this type of holster will usually be reinforced to prevent someone from slashing their way through it to get your gun. Some holsters will also have tab loops for your belt which can be locked down so the carrier cannot detach the holster without undoing the lock.

The holster could also utilize some type of locking mechanism to prevent it from being taken away even if someone manages to get through all of the reinforced areas. This will require a key or some type of code that is entered by someone on the inside of the holster.

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Level 2 Vs Level 3 Holster

A level 2 holster still has a trigger guard area which is not covered by any other part of the holster. A level 3 holster will have some type of hood over the trigger guard so it cannot be removed unless a key or code is entered.

With a level 2, there’s a chance that if someone were to get their arm through the loop on your holster that they could pull it out of your pants. It depends on the material used, but if someone were to yank hard enough they might be able to get their hand inside and yank it out.

The difference between a level 2 and level 3 holster will be how much effort is required to remove it from your belt without assistance, as well as how secure it is once you’ve holstered your firearm.

If someone does manage to unholster your gun via one of these methods then they are still able to shoot you with it no matter how quickly they got their arm through your loop. This is why all types of holsters should be chosen with security in mind, but having an extra level of protection will make your holster one hundred times more secure.

Now that you know the difference between levels 2 and 3, it’s most likely best to choose a level 3 holster from now on.

Retention Devices

A retention device is an additional safety measure that will prevent your gun from being removed from the holster without permission. Here are some examples:

Thumb Break

A strap that goes over your gun and allows you to tighten it around the grip of your firearm before you holster it then uses a mechanism that is released with the use of either a button or thumb break on the outside of the holster so you can maintain proper retention while drawing your gun. This is an older type of retention device that many people still use.

Thumb Break

Friction Fit

It uses a tab on the end of your holster to keep it in place and an adjustable or screw-type mechanism that increases or decreases how much the tab can move around when pressure is applied by pushing down on it with your thumb. This can also be a good way to secure your gun in the holster, but you need to use a little more caution when reholstering.

Passive Retention 

It uses pressure from within the holster or from adjustable tension between screws to keep your gun inside the holster until someone releases it with their fingers. These types of devices generally do not require any additional buttons to be pressed or levers to be depressed to release the gun.

Choosing between a level 2 and level 3 holster will also determine which type of retention device is needed for your situation. For example, a passive retention device would be suitable for a level 3 holster but not necessary if you have a lock on your loop. On the other hand, a level 2 holster would likely need a thumb break retention device.

There will be some holsters on the market that won’t require any type of retention device since they already provide their features to prevent removals, such as locks or dual buckles. Each one of these types has its benefits and drawbacks which should be examined carefully before purchasing.


A level 3 retention holster should have passive retention that is made out of quality material to ensure that it doesn’t break or loosen its grip on your gun. A great example would be the Fobus Standard Holster. If you’re looking to upgrade your current level 2 holster, this may be a good choice for you to look into.

It depends on your environment and your situation. If you work in an office, there’s no need for a Level 2 holster. On the other hand, if you carry daily somewhere that is crowded or you know someone might be able to get their arm through your loop then it should be considered.

There are three levels: Level 1, 2, and 3.

Yes, however, the police use different guns than civilian concealed carriers so you might not see them using a Glock 27.


There are three levels of gun holsters: level 1, 2, and 3 holsters. Level 1 is the lowest security and isn’t intended to protect your gun from being taken away by someone else. Level 2 has a strap that goes over the top of your gun when it’s in place, which makes it more secure than a level 1 holster. Level 2 and 3 holsters should have some kind of retention device.

You also need to consider your environment before selecting which type of retention holster will work best for you. All in all, the type of holster you choose depends on your preference and what you already own. A new level 2 holster will cost more than a level 1, which is why it’s important to know your options before buying anything.

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 Ballachy.com .

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