View Full Version : Belt or shoulder holster?

September 1, 2011, 03:19 AM
Here’s the problem: Removeable belt holster versus shoulder holders. And I’m new a CCV. Got the training, the background check, the mug shot and the fingerprinting. Got the permit to carry concealed. Tried an Uncle Mikes generic IWB. DID NOT FEEL GOOD after a long trial period. Try with the same holster outside waist band, inside belt. Better, but still a PITA. The problem with any belt carry is sitting in some situations, and always when driving. The gun is useless on the belt - removable or otherwise - while riding in a car. Must be removed in those sitting situations.

So I got a very, very, very inexpensive shoulder holster. Took A LOT of adjusting and some sewing by wifie. OK now. Has tie downs. One thing’s for sure - I do not need to remove it when sitting or driving and it’s always accesable - even under heavier outer clothing. Does not require more clothing for concealment than IWB or OWB.

So, the belt holster is better for everything, shooting-wise . . . but horrid for the sitting and driving of which I tend to do so much. Also not so cool in the bathroom, public or private, during siting events. Must be removed during most sitting and all in-car stuff. The shoulder holster never, ever requires removal. It’s just not as good as the belt type holsters in the draw . . . . but of course, not totally unacceptable, either.

May I have your input on this conundrum? And for shoulder holster - verticle or horizontal? You posts addressing these issues will be appreciated.

September 1, 2011, 09:28 AM
Welcome to concealed carry. May you carry it long and never need it.

But, yours is one of the most common comments about concealed carry. We go through a learning curve that extends through the rest of our lives. Folks are always making new holsters touting them as the latest and greatest and some of them pass the test, some don't. People have different concealment needs depending on gender, body size, height, and daily habits. The problem does not have a one-size-fits-all solution.

A good belt helps a lot with waistband carry and I often advise new carriers to get the best belt they can afford. It's a whole lot better to have an inexpensive holster on a great belt than an expensive holster on a bad belt. A good belt distributes the weight better and gives you a more solid platform for your draw. I prefer a pancake holster on a good belt, simply because it holds the weapon in close and tight, also a little higher than some other holsters. I don't find any problem sitting in a chair or vehicle if I'm wearing a good pancake holster.

I'm not a fan of shoulder holster, although I've bought several over the years. That's simply personal preference, but I always felt constrained. I mentioned to my wife one day that I understood why, when she got home she always took off her bra. After a full day of wearing a shoulder holster I was ready to ditch the thing. I put in in a box (we've all got a box full of holsters) and my son snatched it to try out. Whether or not he likes it, I don't want it back.

September 1, 2011, 11:12 AM
A cross-draw pancake works well for sitting / driving.

September 1, 2011, 11:52 AM
"We go through a learning curve that extends through the rest of our lives."

I figure this is the case with a majority of CCers. I've experimented with and used a variety of holsters and carry methods... Currently use strongside-IWB (one-o'clock-ish)... or... vertical-shoulder-crossdraw depending on my activities and mood. (The horizontal-shoulder ones don't work for me at all.) In cool weather I occasionally wear a 511 Tactical-Tee under a jacket for a change of pace... They're not for hot weather though.

I'm not in the one-gun-one-position-for-muscle-memory school of thought. If I was in some kind of high-risk agent or military work I might feel different but as a casual low-risk civilian CCer, I don't stress about it.

September 1, 2011, 11:44 PM
Another bit of info: Whether I am using the cheap shoulder holster or the cheap belt holster, I wear the same thing: A t-shirt. When I go out and need to conceal, I wear a Tommy Bahama type shirt over it, unbuttoned. To the bets of my knowledge, no one looking my way ever has "made" me, including the local police. And that's pretty much what I wear anyway, except in those few cases where I must wear something else.

While I'm a South Floridian by residence and citizenship, I go north or west to ski and visit old friends. Just think for a few minutes about what would be easier to deploy if you must while wearing more layers and a parka - a shoulder rig or a belt rig? Before I move to the Sunshine State, I lived in Vermont all of my adult life. I trust my imagination on this issue.

4V50 Gary
September 2, 2011, 12:08 AM
Shoulder holsters. They're slower, but when you have to go #2, your gun is in the same place.

September 2, 2011, 01:07 AM
The older I get, the more I go for ease and comfort. To me, the odds that I'm ever going to need to deploy my CC super-fast are very low. So I'm not going to suffer my ease and comfort because of a one-second difference in the remote chance that my life will ever depend on having to be lightning-quick as possible on the draw. So, if under-the-shoulder is more comfortable for you, that seems like the better option IMHO. But, as I said above, I quite enjoy some variety in my carry options so there's no "conundrum" for me. Just as I wear different clothes for various reasons, I also use different carry options on different days... and like it that way.

September 2, 2011, 02:52 AM
Might the problem or conundrum lie in purchasing the cheapest of both styles? I tried that but only for a short period of time. I don't know what firearm you're carrying- and that likely makes a difference. Personally, over the years I've carried a Sig 220, P6, full sized 1911, 4" Model 13, 2" Model 19, and am 90% sure I'm going to transition over to a Sig 239. Like you, I always wear a t-shirt, with an untucked sporty or western type outter shirt and concealing isn't an issue. For my S&W Model 19- I have a Galco paddle holster that holds the revolver high on the belt and close to the body. For my 1911's and 239, I have the Safariland 586 series. It too carries high and close. And I always carry at the 3 o'clock position.

So, in my mind, the best advice I can offer is simply= stop being cheap. Somebody on here said "Go ahead and buy a $20 helmet if you think you have a $20 head." Honestly, a little better quality and a little different design just might make a world of difference to you.

Good luck, and stay safe.

September 2, 2011, 04:42 AM
I have tried the various positions for carry and learned which allows the fastest draw. I’ll not get into that here because I don’t want to try to influence you.

Try all carry positions and see which works best for you. Buy the various holsters if you cannot borrow these; holsters are cheap when compared to the need to quickly draw your gun.

If you try the positions without bias you might be surprised at the one which works best.

September 2, 2011, 08:23 AM
I am not a large guy in stature, only 5'6" and 190#. I have tried both and the thing I bumped into with shoulder holsters is that you always have to wear and outer garment to conceal your weapon. If not, then you are open carry, which depending on your situation may not work for you. Also, I found that carrying a Sig P229 fully loaded with another magazine under the other arm, while semi practical, does get cumbersome and fatiguing after a period of time. I suppose you would adjust, but I never could and I hate wearing a sports coat to work all the time.

I then went to IWB for two different pistols. I tried with just a dress belt, then a heavy dress belt and finally broke down and bought a dedicated gun belt. What a difference! It still looks like a dress belt, but it is a little wider, thicker and supported and does it make a difference. I have to wear dress shirts for work every day and I must tuck them in. I carry a Walther PPK/s or a Beretts 92FS Compact every day and no one notices. It took me a while to figure out how to tuck my shirt in "around" my pistol, but after I do and then a slight "untuck" every where else, viola- ready for the day. I have a Bianchi 100 for the Walther, which virtually disappears and a Cross Breed Super Tuck Deluxe for the Beretta. While I have only been carrying the Beretta now for two weeks, I don't even feel it with the gun belt and proper holster.

As for deployment, grabbing the shirt with your week hand and yanking it out while you go for the gun with your strong hand is virtually simultaneous. I carry in the appendix position, which is about 4 o'oclock on your body, and I never take it off. Driving and sitting are comfortable because the proper holster and belt hold the gun high enough that I don't get it in the sciatic nerve.

Yes, deploying a belt holstered gun in a vehicle would be difficult, but if you have situational awareness, you should be able to lean forward and ready yourself for the situation. Yes, bathroom sessions can be interesting but if you spread your legs a little further than normal, it will hold the gun off the floor while you do your duty.

And yes, I have a box of holsters as well, but I am going more and more towards belt holsters and specifically the Fobus pancake for all of my guns. Last week I was carrying my Smith Model 66-1 revolver in 357 under just an untucked t-shirt and my buddy didn't know I was carrying until I lifted my arms and the shirt went up.

September 2, 2011, 08:28 AM
I take in consideration the Weather/Climate conditions.

For the Fall and Winter months I sometimes wear a Sholder Holster. Due to the fact I am wearing a Sportsman Style Vest, Jacket or Coat.

Spring and Summer months I wear a side Pancake Style Holster on a belt. With a button-down, very loose fitting shirt.

September 2, 2011, 11:21 AM
"I carry in the appendix position, which is about 4 o'oclock on your body."

Ummmmm... I'm not trying to be a wise guy or anything but... How about... appendix position is around 1-2 o'clock...

September 21, 2011, 06:28 AM
In the concealed carry video I have, they called the 4 o'clock position the "appendix" position. I guess I never really questioned it because they showed where to position the gun and it is comfortable for me there. Right above my back pocket, strong side.

Oh well, it is at about 4 o'clock, so whatever you call it, that's where my gun is.

September 21, 2011, 09:07 AM
I have a couple of shoulder holders. Great for carry in the fall or winter months here in the South. During the heat of the Summer it's a clam shell OWB or IWB holster, at 4 O'Clock, with a BUG in a pocket holster (Cargo shorts or pants, vest or jacket pocket).

Don't go cheap on the holsters. Like Most of us I have a holster drawer full of discarded ones that just wouldn't do the job.