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Old November 25, 2014, 02:51 PM   #1
AA040371
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Holster Selection Advice

Hello. I recently received my CCL and I am trying to select a holster at this point. PLEASE NOTE: I realize it is a very personal decision based on many factors, so that does not need to be pointed out.

I have searched through threads here on TFL containing the words "holster advice" but there are so many hits and they all go off topic so quickly I didn't find much help. If there IS a thread that is considered a goods one, please feel free to point me toward it.

What I am asking about in this post is if there is a good and efficient way to go about the selection process. In a perfect world I'd stroll into Holster World Or Holsters-R-Us and my personal holster shopping assistant would help me try on and test out various holsters all day long until I found one that met whatever criteria I have. But I have described an alternate universe. Are there any good approaches for trying/testing out various makes and models of holsters that don't involve a long series of purchases and returns?

Any/all thoughts & suggestions are much appreciated...
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Old November 25, 2014, 03:02 PM   #2
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Welcome to TFL, AA040371!

I don't really have a "holster selection process," other than "read about it, buy it, try it," which is probably not what you're looking for. That said, not to brag on our membership (well, maybe a little), but we've got a lot of very knowledgeable members around here, and I'm sure that they'll be happy to help out. In this case, I'd suggest that you can help us help you by providing a little more information. There are some common questions that will come up in threads like this, so I'll just ask them on the front end:
  1. What do you want to carry? If you don't want to tell us the exact model, just give us an idea of the size and type. Do you want to carry a full-sized 1911, something smaller like an LC9? Snubnose revolver?
  2. What's your usual wardrobe like? Dress pants and a jacket? Or cargo shorts and a T-shirt? If you're looking for a good belt holster, do you own a "real" gunbelt? (IMHO, the gunbelt is both very important and often overlooked by new CCers.)
  3. When and where are you going to carry? For example, if you do a lot of driving and are in and out of a car, or in and out of gun-free areas all day, that might make a difference in what we might recommend.
  4. Body type? Are you broader at the shoulders than the waist? Or (like me), erm, "well-rounded?"

Again, welcome aboard, and good luck in your hunt.
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Old November 25, 2014, 03:24 PM   #3
AA040371
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Spats,

Thanks...your questions are helpful:

1. What do you want to carry? If you don't want to tell us the exact model, just give us an idea of the size and type. Do you want to carry a full-sized 1911, something smaller like an LC9? Snubnose revolver?
A: My current weapon is an XDM 9mm 4.5". I am thinking of adding, or exchanging for, an XDM 9mm 3.8" (mainly for carry purposes, as 4.5" model seems a trifle big for that purpose).

2. What's your usual wardrobe like? Dress pants and a jacket? Or cargo shorts and a T-shirt? If you're looking for a good belt holster, do you own a "real" gunbelt? (IMHO, the gunbelt is both very important and often overlooked by new CCers.)
A: I mostly wear jeans/slacks and various combinations of t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, and sweatshirts. Generally not a jacket or coat. I probably do not have a real gun belt, i.e. one that is truly supportive with respect to holding the weight of a gun comfortable and securely.

3. When and where are you going to carry? For example, if you do a lot of driving and are in and out of a car, or in and out of gun-free areas all day, that might make a difference in what we might recommend.
A: I would like to relatively easily take holster and gun off several times a day. Typically for me, I envision scenario like: put on holster/gun, leave house and get into car and drive somewhere, take care of whatever errand I needed to do (e.g. get food or get something at Home Depot), come home, and take off holster/gun.

4. Body type? Are you broader at the shoulders than the waist? Or (like me), erm, "well-rounded?"
A: My usual answer to this is that I am in good shape, because round is a shape, isn't it? But more informatively, I am about ~5'8", ~200 lbs, waist is ~43", and shoulders about the same.

Just for the record, I am already sorta leaning toward an IWB style holster, but would not be averse to an OWB style solution. I'd still need to consider/try out different positions, sides, and cants, hence my confusion as to how best to do this as there are so many combinations, as well as makes/models.

I hope this clarifies some...thanks for the response/help.

Last edited by AA040371; November 25, 2014 at 03:35 PM.
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Old November 25, 2014, 10:00 PM   #4
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My experience was that it didnt do me any good to buy cheap holsters to try out and/or get by with, what you end up with on that is a box full of 30-40-50 dollar pieces of junk that you never use (or at least that's what happened to me and most likely many others here and elsewhere). Pick one out made for your gun that carries in a style that fits your body type and clothing. I got and ARG from Mitch Rosen Gunleather and with it my full size 1911 carries on me more cumfy than anything I got so it was worth what it cost rather than trying 2-3 pieces of junk trying to see what fits. That's mho anyway.
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Old November 25, 2014, 10:52 PM   #5
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I suggest the first step should be learning about the materials holsters are made of, i.e, leather, nylon, and Kydex. Then compare holster models from various makers that are designed expressly (or generally) for your specific handgun. Then seek opinions on TFL about the makes and models that you think may satisfy your needs. At some point you also need to decide what you are willing to spend. Leather holsters from the best makers are designed and made for specific brands, models and barrel lengths, and, therefore, tend to be the most expensive. Nylon holsters tend to be the cheapest and are generally made for different size revolvers and semi-autos, and are made to fit multiple brands of handguns with similar dimensions. Finally, you will need a proper gun belt, i.e., a belt specifically designed and made to carry the weight of a holster and loaded hand gun in the proper position without feeling like it is cutting into your waist on the opposite side. Some holster makers also make belts specifically made for carrying holstered handguns. Some belt makers also make such belts. Researching these products should improve your chances of making purchases that will satisfy your needs without wasting money buying products that end up in the lousy holster box that many of us have. One more thing, Milt Sparks and Mitch Rosen are two of the best leather holster makers.
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Old November 26, 2014, 12:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
My experience was that it didn't do me any good to buy cheap holsters to try out and/or get by with, what you end up with on that is a box full of 30-40-50 dollar pieces of junk that you never use (or at least that's what happened to me and most likely many others here and elsewhere).
This is true! This happens a lot! So don't buy cheap but spending a lot of money doesn't mean you'll automatically get something you'll like.

Sigh.

In your original post #1 where you talk about a 'perfect world with Holster World' --- well that's exactly what's needed, it's what I want! It sure was a good description of what we need to solve the problem. Good post!

A little bit of information I can maybe add is that a small, or minor discomfort with a holster gets to be a bigger and more annoying problem as time goes by. That seems strange to me, I've gotten 'used' to guns and boots and other stuff but problems with holsters, to me, just seem to get more and more irritating.
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Old November 26, 2014, 10:55 AM   #7
Spats McGee
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Now we're cooking with fire . . . .

I mentioned a gunbelt earlier, and now that I know that you probably don't have one, let me add a few comments. I started carrying about 4 years ago, and didn't have a proper gunbelt when I started. IMHO, a proper gunbelt is a huge improvement. The belt is the "platform" on which the rest of carry rests, quite literally, so having one that doesn't sag or roll under the weight of the gun is important.

I'm in slacks and a jacket or a suit at least 5 days/week, so I need belts that don't scream "gunbelt" to the world. I use an Aker B21 when I need a brown belt and a DeSantis Econobelt when I need a black one. That means no heavy black leather with a basketweave pattern (like LEOs wear). No nylon instructor belts for me, either. Most of the big gunleather manufacturers (Aker, Galco, DeSantis, Bianchi, etc.) make belts, so that's a good starting place. However, depending on your budget, there are also plenty of smaller companies that are reputed to make an outstanding gunbelt. In particular, "The Beltman" comes to mind. I've never used one of his belts, but I've also never seen anybody complain about them, either.

IWB vs. OWB -- Over the last 4 years, I've carried guns ranging from a snubnose revolver to a full-sized steel semiauto. What and how I carry depends on the weather, wardrobe, where I expect to be and go, etc. These days, I carry a G19 in a Crossbreed Supertuck most of the time. While your XDM is slightly larger than my G19, the XDM is certainly a manageable size, ..... if you're willing to dress around the gun a little. The XDM 3.8 compact (which I've also been eyeballin') is very comparable in size to the G19 and I have to dress around my G19, too. So expect that if you change guns. At any rate, the CBST is exceptionally comfortable, as is my Theis holster. Tommy Theis makes kind of a CBST clone, being a leather or horsehide back, kydex shell, IWB tuckable. I also have a Galco OWB leather holster. A few years back, I was pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool OWB leather guy. Now? Not so much. While I do still carry the Galco once in a while I find myself more and more using the CBST. I like the "click" when the gun seats in the kydex, which (obviously) leather doesn't do. I also like the fact that, with the CBST, I'm not necessarily committed to wearing a jacket. For example, if I wear a jacket to work, but my wife and I go out to dinner after work, I can slip into the bathroom, tuck my shirt in over the CBST, and I'm good to go. With the Galco, I have to wear my jacket through dinner.

I'm in and out of "gun-free" locations all the time. City Hall, courthouses, etc. That means that there are lots of places I can't carry, and I don't really want the metal clips on the CBST to set off the metal detectors. That means that I'm also in and out of my holster pretty often. With the CBST, that's easy. With the Galco, I have to actually undo my belt to get it off. Not a huge headache, but slightly more trouble than the CBST. OTOH, the Galco wouldn't set off the metal detectors to begin with....

I also have a Fobus paddle holster that I rarely use. In theory, that should also be a pretty easy on-&-off. Unfortunately, it can be a little too easy. By that I mean that if I'm wearing my Aker belt, the holster comes off when I try to draw my gun. With my DeSantis belt, no such problem. I guess my point is that whatever you go with, be sure to try the holster with your belt for both carry and drawing. You'd really, really hate to discover at an inopportune moment that the holster came off of your belt, all the while keeping the trigger safely covered . . . .

If you're going to belt carry, I'd also suggest avoiding any holster that is designed to fit a "class" of pistols. IOW if it says "fits large semiautomatics," don't. You want a holster that is made for your gun, not guns in some generic range of sizes. It needs to say "Fits XDM 4.5-inch." I wouldn't necessarily say this about finding a pocket holster, but for belt carry, I do. The ones that fit a class of pistols tend to be cheap ones. Many folks who have the proverbial "Drawer of Unused Holsters" tried to save a few bucks by getting something like this. Those holsters wind up in the DUH (Drawer of Unused Holsters). Spend enough to get something actually made to fit your gun, and you're more likely to get years of wear out of it.

Good luck in your search and let us know what you find and how you like it.
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Old November 26, 2014, 02:36 PM   #8
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I keep a hard plastic holster in my car for when I need to unholster. Something cheap like uncle mikes. I don't take my holster off. Not the best way safety wise, but practical.

I would be surprised if I ever IWB carry anything but a hybrid holster in the future.
Various kydex+leather options with very little differences.
There is brand called alien holster or something that is neoprene and Kydex. If I didn't already own a crossbreed leather/kydex model I would probably try the neoprene.
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Old November 26, 2014, 04:26 PM   #9
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Holster?

Have a look at Wright Leather Works. Pictures and narratives are excellent.
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Old November 26, 2014, 04:58 PM   #10
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I will second the Crossbreed Super Tuck and its clones. I have settled on this for EDC for my G19. Conceals well and is very comfortable. Also don't need a specific gun belt for it (though that may help), but I am cheap. A loose untucked shirt will conceal that no matter the other attire. I have heard of guys using a tucked shirt with this holster as well. I do buy my pants an inch large for that holster though. The few pants that actually fit me I go OWB in a simple leather paddle holster. Doesn't conceal as well, but is a little more comfortable, but not sure that applies when sitting in my truck. Trial and error is the name of the game here.

When I first started carrying I felt naked and like everyone knew it. I now realize with the proper holster I can easily conceal any full sized duty weapon. Good luck.
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Old November 26, 2014, 07:10 PM   #11
jad0110
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Spats offers excellent advice.

For a small, lightweight gun, a gun belt isn't mandatory. Once you get up in size and/or weight, it becomes more critical. I'd say the belt is probably even more important than the holster for medium and large handguns, if anything.

Quote:
However, depending on your budget, there are also plenty of smaller companies that are reputed to make an outstanding gunbelt. In particular, "The Beltman" comes to mind. I've never used one of his belts, but I've also never seen anybody complain about them, either.
I've been using a 1.5" bullhide belt from The Beltman for 7 or 8 years to carry 2" to 4" S&W K Frames, a 5" 1911, a 4" Ruger Police Service Six and even a 4" N Frame S&W Model 28. It's lost a little of its rigidity, but I'd say it still has another 3 years of life in it. 10 years for a belt that is worn almost every day isn't bad at all!

Quote:
My current weapon is an XDM 9mm 4.5". I am thinking of adding, or exchanging for, an XDM 9mm 3.8" (mainly for carry purposes, as 4.5" model seems a trifle big for that purpose)
I'm not familiar with the XDM series, does the 3.8 have a shorter and/or thinner grip frame than the 4.5? If not, you probably won't notice much difference between the two. The difference in barrel length is fairly trivial IMO for IWB carry, but it becomes more important for OWB (length of cover garment).

And in the end, sometimes it is penny wise and pound foolish to buy a cheap, low end holster, especially for larger handguns (you can get away with a cheapie if carrying something like a Ruger LCP. The cheapest IWB holster that I have personal experience with and would buy again runs about $90 shipped.
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Old November 26, 2014, 07:21 PM   #12
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One thing that it took me a long time to figure out is that those stupid looking "hybrid" holsters -kydex bolted to an oversized leather back - are amazing.

I didn't buy one for the longest time because I thought they like dumb.
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Old November 26, 2014, 10:46 PM   #13
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Easy removable holster would make me lean IWB. Remember though, you will probably have to buy a larger waist size wardrobe of pants going this route. I carry a Makarov OWB in a pancake holster made by Tucker & Bird. It is not easy to remove and re-don though. There are a few companies that make an holster style that rides in between the pants and belt. Also, many companies make a OWB pancake holster that has button snaps making it easy to remove (See link below).

http://www.safariland.com/inside-wai...0.html#start=1

The belt is important if you plan to go OWB pancake. It needs to be strong (1/4" thick). Otherwise the gun and holster will start to sag away from the body in time, causing printing issues. IWB doesn't have the belt requirements. Just make sure it is of good quality leather.
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Old November 27, 2014, 09:13 AM   #14
lee n. field
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Quote:
What I am asking about in this post is if there is a good and efficient way to go about the selection process. ...Are there any good approaches for trying/testing out various makes and models of holsters that don't involve a long series of purchases and returns?
Not really, to both.

Everyone seems to have a box or drawer full of things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Quote:
A: My current weapon is an XDM 9mm 4.5". I am thinking of adding, or exchanging for, an XDM 9mm 3.8" (mainly for carry purposes, as 4.5" model seems a trifle big for that purpose).
Might be. But, one thing you'll hear over and over, and I have found to be true in beginning my journey, is "no one notices".

I have carried, might again, my XD Service in a Blade Tech IWB holster. No One Noticed.

Quote:
A: I mostly wear jeans/slacks and various combinations of t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, and sweatshirts. Generally not a jacket or coat. I probably do not have a real gun belt, i.e. one that is truly supportive with respect to holding the weight of a gun comfortable and securely.
Get one. Unless you're going to pocket carry, you will need it. Everything hangs from that.

Nothing from a "Stuff Mart" is near to good enough.

The whole thing, belt, holster and gun, is a system. It bothers me when I see "what gun for $X" threads, because you know that they working on a strict budget but just thinking about the gun, and not everythng else they need to make it work (belt, holster, extra magazines, etc.).

Quote:
A: I would like to relatively easily take holster and gun off several times a day. Typically for me, I envision scenario like: put on holster/gun, leave house and get into car and drive somewhere, take care of whatever errand I needed to do (e.g. get food or get something at Home Depot), come home, and take off holster/gun.
<shrug>. Carry full time.
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Last edited by lee n. field; November 27, 2014 at 09:26 AM.
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Old November 27, 2014, 09:33 AM   #15
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What are the pro's and con's on shoulder holsters?
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Old November 29, 2014, 12:56 PM   #16
DaleA
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I am no expert on holsters. I think they are very frustrating things to buy.

That said, I'll toss out a few things.

Shoulder holsters are usually more comfortable if you're driving or sitting.
Shoulder holsters generally can carry larger guns concealed.

Shoulder holsters need you to have a jacket or a coat over them.
I *think* there is general agreement that shoulder holsters are slower than waistband holsters-but I'll certainly bow to any experts about this one.
I haven't had this happen to me but I've read from a lot of people that a shoulder holster can cause back pain.
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Old November 29, 2014, 07:08 PM   #17
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No real opinion on a process. I too am a fan of the hybrid holsters. I'm currently searching for the "best" one. They ride so much better by distributing the weight etc.
OWB holster is more comfy but less concealable. Pocket holstering is great in many situations but I do get tired of it day in and day out. It only works for me for Ruger LCP size firearms. Yes you CAN do larger, but I don't care for it.
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Old November 30, 2014, 05:34 PM   #18
BillG174
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Holster Selection Advice

This is a very good thread with lots of good comments and information.



I second what many have already said about a good gunbelt - it's very important to support the holster and gun. I carry a Glock 17 Gen 4 which weighs 3 pounds with a full mag.



A holster is a very personal thing as you have to find one that is comfortable for you personally regardless of what others say or the reviews say. If your holster is not comfortable you will tend not to wear it as often has you would like to.



Several posters have given very good words about the Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe IWB hybrid holster (crossbreed holsters.com) and how comfortable it is for them. This is a very good holster by a very good company. I have been carrying for a year and I have used a Crossbreed Supertuck. It is relatively comfortable for me but after wearing it for several hours a pressure point from the gun on the back of the leather would press into my hip. I have always wondered if there was something I would like better without starting to add to my "drawer of holsters" which I haven't started yet!!



I have read many many threads on several gun forums and viewed several YouTube reviews about the Nate Squared professional holster (n82tactical.com) and how comfortable it is. This holster is also a hybrid rig with a polycarbonate holster attached to a very comfortable piece of leather. I purchased one a few weeks ago and have been wearing it daily before the 30 day "try it to see if you like it" time period runs out. I must say that although the Crossbreed is a very good holster the N82 professional holster is better for me personally and is extremely comfortable with no issues. This is a perfect example of what others have said "you have to find the holster that works for you" sometimes by trial and error.



Both the Crossbreed Supertuck and the N82 Professional are the same price at $69.95 and both have a lifetime guarantee which is great. The customer service from both companies is excellent.



Good luck on your holster search.

Last edited by BillG174; December 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM.
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