Types Of Holsters

There are many types of holsters available on the market today. Types can be categorized by different features, such as wearing style, carrying type, how the gun is stored within the holster and so much more. The first thing you will need to do is figure out what kind of holster you want for your handgun.

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Choosing the best holster for concealed carry is not an easy decision. There are so many different kinds to choose from. The biggest question is whether or not to go with inside or outside the waistband (IWB vs OWB). Both have their pros and cons. Here’s a list of some common types of holsters along with what they are good at and where they fall short. Hopefully, this will help you make an informed choice when it comes time to buy your next holster!
Let’s have a look at the different types of holsters!

Shoulder Holsters

A shoulder holster wraps around your shoulders and the gun pocket hangs off the harness bands and rests on the side of your rib cage. People who carry heavy guns or like to use a lot of accessories with their firearms will find this holster very comfortable and can easily access the gun at any time. Other than that, shoulder holsters are not as convenient as other types because they tend to be bulky and may shift position based on how you’re moving.

OWB Holsters

OWB holsters are also commonly known as revolver holsters which are worn outside of one’s pants or skirt with the gun handle protruding from one’s waistband. An OWB holster is worn on the outside of your waistband or belt and allows you to carry your gun in any position, although it’s not very convenient when seated because it can be uncomfortable. This holster will be the bulkiest of all types and can also print a lot, depending on what you wear.

Inside The Waistband (IWB) Holsters

An IWB holster is worn inside your pants or skirt with just the gun handle sticking out from one’s waistline. These are very convenient because you can find a proper position and carry your gun in any place you like without anyone noticing. On the downside, they tend to be bulky and even uncomfortable when sitting down.

Pocket Holsters

A pocket holster is designed specifically for carrying small handguns that fit into pants or skirts with pockets large enough to accommodate them securely. The idea behind this holster is that you can carry your gun in a place where it’s not going to get caught on anything and be easily accessible if needed at a moment’s notice. Pocket holsters are convenient because they don’t add bulk, but the downside is that they only work with specific types of guns and won’t fit all firearms.

Pocket Holsters

Shirt Tuck Holsters

This is a small piece of material with an opening around the trigger guard that you tuck between your pants and belt. The teeth on the inside will hold onto your shirt to keep it in place, leaving just enough room for you to access your gun quickly without anyone noticing or catching their hand on it. Shirt Tucks are convenient, but they may also come undone depending on what you wear.

Ankle Holsters

Ankle holsters are designed to be worn on the inside of your pants with the gun handle sticking out from one’s ankle. These are not very comfortable for sitting down and might get in the way of one’s feet. Ankle holsters are often bulky but maybe better than nothing if you forget to wear your regular holster or don’t want to carry it at all.

Belt Holsters

Belt holsters are one of the most popular and versatile types of holster designs. These holsters work well for people who carry large firearms and need a lot of storage space, but they may be uncomfortable to sit down with or dislodge when running. The smaller size can be attributed to the belt holster being linked by loops to the waist. This also protects them in close-action confrontations. To remove a belt holster, you must first unzip it all the way. If cant is important to you, be sure to buy one with adjustable cant or select the correct “fixed” cant when ordering.

FAIRWIN Tactical Belt, Military Style Webbing Riggers Web Belt with Heavy-Duty Quick-Release Metal Buckle (S 30″-36″, Black)
  • Size Information – The tactical belt Length 45”(115cm), Width:1.5”(3.8cm), fits waist 30″~ 36″.Buckle Size: 2″ in width and 5/16″ in thickness.
  • CCW Gun Belt – The military belts were popular use for any IWB or OWB holster without rolling over. It’s perfect for police, firefighters, CCW, security guards, electricians and utility workers in need of a great duty belt to carry tools or weapons.

Thigh Holsters

Thigh holsters are a good choice for people who carry a lot of accessories with their guns and need quick access when running or sitting down. Thigh holsters are usually made from a breathable material and worn on the outside of one’s pants or skirt. These types of holsters can be uncomfortable when sitting down, but do an excellent job at concealing larger firearms as well as protecting them in close-action confrontations.

Belly Band Holsters

A belly band is a band that goes around your waist or hips that holds your pistol securely in place. They are often made from a stretchable spandex material and designed to fit all types of size guns. The belly band works well for people who carry smaller firearms or prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing, but it also comes with its own set of issues such as being unable to protect the gun from sweat or being uncomfortable to sit down with.

Bra Holsters

Bra holsters are a relatively new category of holster designed to be worn on the inside of your shirt with the handle sticking out from one’s stomach. These holsters may not provide protection for larger guns in close-action confrontations or be comfortable when sitting down, but they are convenient and work well with women’s clothing.

Concealment Bag Holsters

Concealment Bag Holsters are designed to be worn on the inside of your shirt with the handle sticking out from one’s stomach. These holsters may not provide protection for larger guns in close-action confrontations or be comfortable when sitting down, but they are convenient and work well with women’s clothing.

Small Of Back Holsters

A small of the back holster allows you to keep a gun close at hand, but it’s not easy to draw quickly or to conceal. It’s uncomfortable for most people, but if you’re wearing a long shirt it can work okay because the gun is carried directly against your back. However, an accidental bump could cause someone to know that you are carrying concealed! The SOB holster does not conceal easily and isn’t easy to draw quickly.

Small of Back Holster

What Should I Look For in a Holster?

Holster Fit

A holster must be a perfect fit for your firearm. If it is not, you may experience slippage or the gun may fall from the holster. This is especially true for an OWB which does not have a weapon retention strap to secure it into place. It is important that your firearm and holster fit snugly and securely together, and that there is no room for the gun to move around inside of the holster.

Level Of Concealment

One of the main factors when looking for a holster is deciding on what level of concealment you want. This can range from an invisible IWB like in-the-waistband (IWB), to an OWB such as outside-the-waistband, ankle holster, belly band, or shoulder holster.

Comfort and Stability

Not only should your firearm be securely attached to the holster itself but also be comfortable for you. If the gun is too bulky and heavy it may cause discomfort when sitting down or moving around during activities such as walking or running. It is especially important to find a holster that is comfortable for you when sitting as it may cause pressure on your back and hip if not properly fitted.


Your holster must be made of sturdy material, such as leather or kydex, which will last over time with heavy use. The quality of the materials used in creating the holster will also affect the retention and stability of your gun in its holster.


Having an added level of retention is beneficial for many people. Retention levels can range from no retention to fully adjustable depending on the holster you choose. A quality holster will have a tension screw where one can adjust how tight or loose they would like their firearm in its holster. This allows someone to customize their carry so that they know their firearm is securely in place but not too tight where it makes drawing difficult.


It is important that you can keep your finger off the trigger at all times when holstering or unholstering a weapon, so it’s ideal for any holster to have some sort of positive retention device which holds the gun in place while holstered so you don’t have to rely on your strength.

Gun Type

There are a variety of guns out there, some more concealable than others depending on what activity you may be doing and where you plan to carry it. The size of the firearm is an important factor when deciding on which holster to use.


A retention device refers to how you can keep your firearm securely in place while holstered and prevent it from falling out. This includes positive retention devices such as button releases which help hold the gun in its holster but keep someone from drawing their weapon easily if they don’t know how to properly use it. This can be problematic because you want to know how your gun is going to work for you and not against you, which is why we recommend testing out different types of holsters and retention devices before making a final purchase.

Retention levels can vary on a holster depending on what someone prefers for their concealed carry. Some people prefer less retention because it’s easier to draw their firearm, but others will go for more retention so that they can be confident in its stability. Retention levels vary depending on the activity one may be doing and are often customized with a tension screw where someone can tighten or loosen how much pressure is applied to keep your gun in place while holstered.

Retention refers to how securely or loosely that gun stays in its holster while moving around or sitting down which makes a difference depending on the activity you may be doing. The more active you are, the tighter retention is preferred by many people to ensure it doesn’t come out of its holster while moving around or falling out completely.

It is important to make sure there is some type of positive retention device on your holster such as a button release which keeps your firearm securely in place while holstered and prevents it from falling out. This way you can draw your firearm without having to rely on strength alone, but be able to keep your finger off the trigger at all times until ready for use.

Material is the first factor when looking for a holster because some fabrics are less durable than others, especially with heavy use. Durability is important because you want to last over time without being prone to slippage or that gun falling out of the holster while moving around or sitting down. We also considered ease of use when choosing a holster so that the gun can be drawn in an efficient & effective manner.

The purpose of the cant varies from holster to holster. For some people, it’s more comfortable whereas others prefer no cant. The most common level of desire is 10 degrees which correspond with what is referred to as FBI Cant. The angle can be measured by putting your fingers on either side of the barrel and pointing them at your belt buckle or belly button (10 o’clock). This is an added level of retention that can help stabilize the gun in its holster if you’re moving around.

There are a variety of materials that can be used in a holster, but most people prefer leather or Kydex as they are considered to be more durable, especially with heavy use.


This blog post has been a brief overview of the different types of holsters. It is not intended to be an exhaustive study on all aspects and features of each holster type, but rather just enough information for you to start your own research or find what suits your needs best. If there was one point we hope you took away from this article it is that gun owners should do their homework before purchasing a holster and they need to take into account factors such as concealability, comfort level, ease-of-drawing, and retention strength when making decisions about which style will work best for them.

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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