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Old May 14, 2022, 03:58 AM   #1
TruthTellers
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Entry level shoulder holsters?

I'm thinking I'd like to try carrying in a shoulder holster. Key word there is try, it's not something I'm dead set with doing 100% of the time for the rest of my life. As such I'm not looking at spending $100+ on a rig, so I'm looking at the low end of the price range just to get a feel for the feel and the draw. Anyone have experience with inexpensive shoulder holsters? Any that you recommend or to avoid?
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Old May 14, 2022, 06:55 AM   #2
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There seems to be 3 price ranges. In $75 - $120, there isn’t anything I have really been interested in buying here.

At $120 - $250, I’ve found 2 great holsters.
Ares Tactical. . . Light, carries very well, very positive retention and no straps. I have 2 of these for my Shield and 1911 CCO. https://www.arestactical.net/product/shoulder-holster/

I also really enjoy my Allessi horizontal 1911 holster. Lou RIP was an amazing holster maker. I here his wife still keeps things going, but Skip Ritchie came from that shop with no issues. I would recommend Skip for this. https://www.ritchieholsters.com/cata...ll-thru-hsh-pt

Over $250: I also bought the Tac from Skip. Wow! This is a big holster, but it works well. The draw is great….still more of a speciality rig for me. I have played the shoulder holster game for a while. I like the format, but I hate the price.
https://www.ritchieholsters.com/cata...ster-for-autos
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Old May 14, 2022, 07:15 AM   #3
BornFighting88
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Alien Gear has a shoulder holster i like at a budget.

The holster store has good website, they have a shoulder rig for less than $150 in just about any pistol you'd imagine.
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Old May 14, 2022, 03:04 PM   #4
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What gun? vertical or horizontal carry?
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Old May 14, 2022, 03:44 PM   #5
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I bought an entry-level shoulder holster a few years ago, sort of the "one size fits all" kind nylon holster with adjustable straps and velcro. Totally unimpressed with fit and usability. My advice: buy a good shoulder rig, you will like it a lot more than any cheap shoulder rig.
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Old May 14, 2022, 06:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
What gun? vertical or horizontal carry?
No gun in particular, no preference in position. Just looking to try and see what works for me.
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Old May 14, 2022, 06:58 PM   #7
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Speaking on this topic, when is shoulder carry a good or better option than waist carry?
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Old May 14, 2022, 08:20 PM   #8
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…..whenever I don’t like carrying the weight on my hips. That is most of the time. It takes a different cover garment, but they are easy to carry. The draw is the trick. You can get pretty good.at the draw with practice.
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Old May 14, 2022, 09:55 PM   #9
Doc Intrepid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorch
"My advice: buy a good shoulder rig, you will like it a lot more than any cheap shoulder rig."
This.

I own about six different shoulder holsters, but all of them are made by Galco. There are other manufacturers, and some are more expensive, but I've used shoulder rigs for more than 30 years (collectively) and have never found a rig I prefer over Galco. https://www.galcogunleather.com/shou...ort_by=popular

I predominantly use them for travel, and I travel a lot - both for my job and now as a choice. Inside a vehicle or on a motorcycle waist-mounted rigs are more difficult to access and, in the case of motorcycles, ill-suited to changes of clothing to accommodate weather and temperature changes. (Donning chaps or rain suits obstructs access to your waistline.) Additionally, using the restroom on the road can be problematic (where do you set or hang your pistol? ...or it sits on the floor at your feet), and a shoulder rig eliminates this potential problem.

Couple quick points per your requests -
  • I prefer horizontal rigs.
  • Look for shoulder straps that offer maximum adjustability. Galco's X-rig is a good example. The way the gun rides will evolve over time.
  • Shoulder rigs are generally less comfortable at first than waist rigs. They can feel confining. Expect it to take time to get used to them.
  • Tie down straps are critical. I tend to run them forward along the belt line to position pistol grips and mags where you can reach them. This involves experimentation and adjustment with shoulder straps.
  • Like anything else, proficiency with using shoulder rigs develops over time with experience and practice.
  • Be advised, most public ranges will not allow you to practice drawing or firing from a shoulder rig. (or most any other holster, for that matter.)
  • Most of your practice with the rig therefore will be dry practice, at home - with appropriate safety precautions.
  • While shoulder rigs transfer gun weight from your waistline to your shoulders, this does not mean that weight diminishes. Over a 6-9 day trip, if you carry a duty-sized steel-framed semi-auto pistol with a high-capacity magazine, you're going to feel that weight whether its on your belt or in your shoulder rig. Select your carry pistol thoughtfully.

One final comment. Of the six Galco rigs I own, I purchased two of them used from a bargain bin and one was brand new but also in a sale bin when the store was changing over their stock. You can find decent prices on used shoulder rigs if you keep your eyes out for them.

Scorch was right, however - as with many other things, and holsters in particular, you get what you pay for. If you purchase a cheap shoulder rig stand by for disappointment. Put the same level of attention into selecting and buying the rig that you put into buying the gun.

Best with it.
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Old May 16, 2022, 07:41 AM   #10
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While there can be a direct connection between quality and price,its not necessarily so.
If there IS a $75 shoulder rig that meets all requirements,I'd be happy to hear about it. And I'm not impressed by a $500 shoulder rig that relies on a 3/4 in square of cheap velcro for retention. (Thats a hypothetical. No particular rig in mind)

Many shoulder rigs carry horizontal. My Bianchi Scorpio for one. I've been able to rationalize my muzzle is pointed at whoever is behind me with the reasoning the holster covers the trigger securely. It still makes me a little uneasy. Thats for all horizontal carry.
And they typically carry in a way that has gravity in competition with retention. If not for reliable retention, the gun is hanging in a position where it wants to fall out.
The Bianchi thumb break has been 100% secure. Whatever method secures your retention, figure you life depends on it .There is no "good" scenario for the gun falling out. Yet your draw must be reliable.
And,there is re-holstering. As your muzzle end finds the mouth of the holster, you will then shove the gun in. Anything , perhaps soft holster material,that CAN snag the trigger on the way in, likely WILL snag the trigger on the way in. Unless you take off your jacket and the shoulder rig,holster,and get dressed again. A stiff ,reinforced ,fitted holster is better that way than a generic fabric gun bag.

I'm not condemning shoulder rigs. Not at all. But its a pretty tall order to have a one-size fits all black nylon cordura elastic and velcro armpit bag to stuff a gun in hanging on the rack at BigBox warehouse for $49.95.

Its been my observation that the holster maker has to use some quality,stiff ,well designed and fitted materials and workmanship to fulfill those needs.

IMO,that generally means a make/model specific fitted holster.

FWIW, with my Bianchi,I can remove the holster and magpouch and use it on a belt. And I can swap the PA-63/ Walther PPK size holster and mag carrier for a 1911 setup, without buying another shoulder harness.

But frankly, My chest size is 54 in ,I'm near 300 lbs. The one-size fits all shoulder harness is a bit small for me. I seldom use that rig.

So,what is my point? I'd suggest ,if you want to try a shoulder rig, prioritize safe,secure carry as a make or break qualification. Nothing else will do. If you find a rig that meets "safe and secure" , then look at the price tag.

My guess would be they start around $150
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Old May 16, 2022, 10:13 AM   #11
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Two considerations:

Vertical or horizontal carry? Vertical is better for longer guns (like revolvers).
Holster must fit the gun and have some means of retention.

I have both but what I really like is that when you're in the woods and have to drop your drawers, squat to relieve yourself, your fyre-arm remains in place and there's no need to unholster it or put it aside while you attend to the calls of nature. BTW, the "woods" are right outside my house and I have Yogi and Snagglepus running around out here.
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Old May 16, 2022, 11:30 AM   #12
ballardw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TruthTellers View Post
Speaking on this topic, when is shoulder carry a good or better option than waist carry?
I won't claim to be anything resembling an expert on this topic.

If you are spending lots of time in a restricted sitting position and want access, such as spending lots of time in a vehicle that might be one reason.

The US Army at one time issued "shoulder", actually more of a chest, holster for some armored vehicle crewmen with pistols due to entry/exit problems through hatches with waist belt mounted holsters.

If you have a large chest for any reason you may find that the reach for a shoulder holster is inconvenient.

Like almost anything carried on the shoulders wider straps tend to be more comfortable than narrow.
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Old May 16, 2022, 12:37 PM   #13
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I commonly wear bib overalls. I even have black for more formal wear!!

I recently bought an Alien Gear chest holster for my Shield Plus. It works out quite well under the bib. Its comfortable enough I forget its there.

Its quick and easy to slide my hand under the bib from the side. Sitting,standing,driving,etc,draw is EZ.

General layout is somewhat similar to a tanker holster for 1911. A belt around the chest, and an over shoulder strap. There is a backer panel that adds stability. I like it. I may create a "next plan" using a binocular harness and attaching it to a square of hard horse hide. A number of Kydex holster shells could be Chicago screwed to that. I think even a basic Blackhawk SERPA shell could be screwed on.
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