The 6+ Essential Types of Gun Holsters

If you’re using a gun, you know that you need to consider all sorts of pieces of equipment too. Some of the accessories you need for your weapon protect both you and the gun, and the gun holster is one of them to mention.

What is a gun holster? What does it do?

No gun is something to play with, and you should holster it correctly so that it keeps you and people around you at all times. The gun holster should also ensure you easy access to the gun.

There are three main things that a gun holster is supposed to do:

  • It has to secure your gun so that it remains in your possession at all times
  • It has to present the weapon in a consistent position and safe orientation, helping you draw the gun efficiently when in danger
  • It needs to protect the trigger, reducing the risk of inadvertent trigger contact from objects or hands

Apart from the first jobs that a gun holder has to do, some other features make the difference between good and inferior models. Here’s what abilities a good gun holster may provide:

  • Re-holstering with just one hand
  • Easy access to the gun
  • Ability to draw with any of your hand

You should know the best which features count for you the most. When absolute concealment is fundamental, go with a holster that provides more difficult access than the regular belt holster, but doesn’t show at all. It’s the tradeoffs you need to consider just like with everything else in life.

There are many types of gun holders, and you should go over the details for each of them. The more you know about it, the easier it’s going to be to decide which kind of gun holsters fits your needs the best way.

   1. Belt holsters

   Outside the waistband (OWB)

belt holster

Do you remember cowboys in the movies? Well, the OWB holster is a model that you attach to your belt, with the entire system of gun and holster riding outside the pants (typically on the dominant hand side).

When the shooter likes to draw across the body, the OWB holster may ride on the opposite side.

There are various ways to attach the OWB holster to the pants, belt, or skirt, with most featuring loops through which you thread the belt.

However, most OWB holsters come with tiny “nubs” that catch on the bottom side of the belt, keeping the holster in place when you’re drawing.

Let’s see the benefits of the OWB holsters:

  • They provide the easiest and fastest draw (it’s why they’re so common in movies as well)
  • You may wear regular pants with them as long as the belt loops are big enough for the gun belt
  • You don’t need chaps

The downsides aren’t significant:

  • You may have to wear a large jacket/shirt to cover the holster
  • The muzzle may hang five-six inches below the top of the pants
  • You also need to remove the garment while drawing, without tangling…

   Inside the waistband (IWB)

The name is a tail teller, so the IWB holsters go between the pants and the body. It can be behind, in front of the hip bone, or right on the bone. The appendix-carry holsters are also within the category since they ride upfront and not on the side.

Kydex and leather are the most common materials used for IWB holsters. The hybrid-style holsters feature a great leather back panel for stability and comfort, whereas the gun pocket is made of Kydex so that the gun stays in place.

Here’s why people choose the IWB holsters:

  • They’re easier to hide than the OWB type, with the fabric of the pants/skirt protecting a big part of the gun
  • You attach the holster to the belt and pants, but the pressure of pants keeps it in place
  • The weapon stays where you put it, next to your dominant hand

There are some pet peeves related to the IWB holsters as well:

  • You need bigger pants so that you may be able to fit the gun and the holster
  • You don’t have easy access to the weapon since you need to get rid of all the garment between you and your weapon
  • Even if comfortable isn’t fundamental in holsters, the IWB holster isn’t the most convenient to carry

   2. Ankle holsters


When you have a small weapon (compact semi-automatic pistols, for instance), an ankle holster is a great option to have in mind. It typically comes with a neoprene/padded elastic strap and an attached holster pocket.

You wrap the band around the ankle, carrying the gun inside the support side leg.

We like ankle holsters for a couple of reasons:

  • They provide excellent concealment and comfortable wear. People don’t necessarily stud on each other’s ankles, and the possible bulges go unnoticed.
  • They’re easy to carry, especially if the gun is light or medium weight.
  • You may not even have to use wardrobe adjustments for hiding the ankle holsters
  • They’re a wise option when you want to carry a backup gun or if you’re on the ground, with the ankle gun being your best option to save yourself.

There’s no such thing as the perfect gun holster, and the ankle holster doesn’t make an exception. The shortcomings aren’t many, though:

  • Even if in theory doesn’t sound difficult to access your ankle gun, we beg to differ. It’s going to take a right knee and bending down to get your gun. Once you’re there, you need both hands from drawing (one to remove the pants and the other one for grabbing the firearm).
  • Fast access to the gun is almost out of the question when using an ankle holster
  • Avoid the natural body poses (crossing the legs is one), since the pants may ride up, showing the ankle gun.

   3. Shoulder holsters


You may have seen it in the movies too (Miami Vice is one to name), and the shoulder holster consists of a set of leather straps, crossing over the shoulders and back. The gun holster and the spare magazine are going to hand on the opposite side of your body.

With the straps over the shoulders meeting in the back, this type of holster lets you hide the gun with your jacket or a sports coat.

What are the positive aspects of shoulder holsters? Here’s our list:

  • They’re highly comfortable, especially if you’re always riding the car or spend the day at the desk. Nothing digs into the waist when you get in/out of the vehicle, or you’re sitting down
  • They provide fast and easy access to the gun when you’re sitting
  • Most models with magazine carriers on the opposite side ensure balance, so you don’t lean on the side from the weight of the gun.

The cons aren’t significant, but you may want to check them as well:

  • In the case of a horizontal holster rig, the gun will point to what is right behind you. When you’re drawing, even if the muzzle is down, the muzzle may quickly point at people and objects to the side, while you’re bringing the gun to target. You always need to be careful at the muzzle when using the IWB holster
  • You need to get across the opposite side of your body when drawing, which may be tricky when you’re not in the best shape
  • You have to wear your jacket all the time

   4. Pocket holsters

Pocket holsters

Ultra-compact revolvers and pistols are very common nowadays, so pocket holsters are a popular choice too. Pocket means mostly the front pocket, but some models can work with a jacket pocket as well.

No matter your job, you should never have a gun in the pocket unless you’re using a holster. The holster secures and protects the trigger, and it’s not pleasant to handle the gun and have you finger caught up in the trigger. It’s why you should never have anything else but the gun holster in the pocket.

We like the pocket holster for several reasons:

  • As long as you have the right combination of gun and holster, the pocket holster is an excellent option. You need to use one that looks like a phone or wallet so that it’s not obvious
  • Front pockets are the best choice since they ensure good security against losing the gun or removing the weapon by anyone attacking you.

The nitpicks are essential to check too:

  • The pocket always has to be large enough so that you may quickly draw the gun when in a hurry. You may not be able to have a good grip on the gun while you’re fighting.
  • It’s challenging to sit down with a pocket holder, especially when driving.
  • The pocket of a jacket isn’t going to make much difference. Besides, you don’t always have the gun on yourself.

   5. Clothing holsters

Clothing holsters

More and more Americans are arming themselves, which is why holster companies developed the clothing holsters. You can now shop for compression shorts and undershirts that come with holster pockets.

There are also vests and jackets with concealed-carry gun and magazine pockets ready out of the box. Women can go with holsters attaching to brassieres, whereas some can buy pants that break away holster pockets.

Here are the functional aspects of this type of holsters:

  • They hide the gun pretty efficiently, especially of perfect concealment is the fundamental need.
  • Vests and jackets are both comfortable and dependable on concealing the gun.

Don’t forget to take a look at the cons:

  • You lose control over the gun if you’re removing the piece of garment. When you go with undershirt holster, you need to begin with opening the shirt first and only afterward reach for the gun.
  • The price isn’t low so make sure it’s the type of holster you need

   6. Purse&bag holsters (off-the-body)

Purse&bag holsters

It’s not unusual for women to use the purse holsters. With their wardrobe being so diverse, it’s difficult for them to have an IWB holster that isn’t versatile. They always carry purses, though, which is why the purse holsters are winning more fans as we speak.

However, you should get a model with a designated holster pocket. You don’t want to carry the gun in the main compartment when it’s almost impossible to find (yes, it happens).

The most significant benefit when using a purse/bag holster is the functionality, with one carrying the bag/purse all the time. You no longer worry about putting on a special brassier or undershirt.

As for the drawbacks, here are some:

  • You don’t have control over the gun the whole time. it’s only a matter of time until you put the bag/purse on a chair or something
  • When you’re worried about the mugging, the bag/purse is going to be the very first thing to go, and along with your gun with it. How is that going to help you?

What’s the conclusion?

Now that you know a thing or two about the most critical types of holsters, it’s easier for you to decide which works the best. However, we’ve only scratched the surface of the gun holster world, so stay put for more information.