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Exposed versus Discreet Carry

Belt Holsters

Inside or Outside the Waistband?

With an IWB holster, the pouch rides inside the waistband of the pants or skirt while the belt loops ride outside, where they are held in place by the belt. Note that the belt loops on this particular holster allow adjustment for the width of the belt. Also note that this holster lacks any retention device, making it unsuitable for exposed carry. (This Kramer holster is for wear on the left side, behind the hip.) With an OWB holster, everything rides outside the waistband. Normally, the belt goes between the holster and the garment. On this particular holster, there are two belt slots, each outboard of the pouch, an arrangement that typically makes the holster more stable on the belt and also furnishes the option of wearing the belt over the holster. The DeSantis holster's thumb-break strap provides a basic level of security.

What If You Don't Wear a Belt?

Some holsters - typically IWB holsters originally intended for going on and off the belt during the day - use clips. The better clip systems either incorporate some sort of hook at the bottom of the clip or provide a recess, such as the one on the left, for a more secure mounting on the belt. Depending on the seam at the waist of the garment and the clip, some clip holsters may be acceptable for IWB use with pants or skirts worn without belts. The Ulticlip places an enhanced version of the type of clip used on inexpensive suspenders on a spring-steel mounting strip. Different versions are available, according to how they may attach to the holster. (Because the device is made of spring steel, periodic inspection is recommended to ensure that clamping pressure is retained.)

Paddle Holsters

Belt Holsters for Women (but men should read this too)

Other Types of Holsters

  • Many holsters made of rigid polymers - Kydex or injection-molded - use screws as part of the design. In some cases screws are used to mount the "pouch" to some sort of belt loops or paddle. In some cases they are used to adjust the tension of the pouch on the gun, by means of compressing a rubber washer or grommet.
  • In either case, the screws can loosen, with the potential for the holstered gun to fall from the point of carry or for the gun to fall from the holster, if no other retention feature is present. Such screws, on a holster that is worn regularly, need to be checked at least once a week. Further, once the adjustment is established, it may be wise to secure them with the appropriate grade of Loctite adhesive or a dab of nail polish. Either one is applied to the threads once they have been degreased with an appropriate solvent, such as acetone.
  • Some leather gear also makes use of screws, typically for tension adjustment. Many years ago I had an embarrassing incident when a loaded magazine clattered to the tiled floor of a public restroom from a double magazine pouch fitted with tension-adjustment screws. I had failed to check the tension when I switched the pouch from carrying .45-caliber magazines to 9mm magazines.
  • The male portions of snaps, typically used for belt loops on IWB holsters, are often held in place with Allen-head screws. If the snap does not seem to be working properly, check that the screw securing the male side has not worked loose.

The Frustrations of Finding the Right Holster

Five Cautions:

  1. Make sure that you can acquire a full firing grip on the handgun while it is still in the holster. You most likely will not have the time to shift your grip after you have drawn the gun, meaning that if you haven't drawn with a full firing grip you may be forced to shoot without the gun in its proper position in your hand. This is generally a more crucial concern with a relatively flat pistol as the rounder surfaces of a revolver may provide a channel for the thumb, allowing it to hook the gun up into the palm.
  2. Make sure that the mouth of your holster will remain open when it is empty, under a variety of conditions of use. You and your holster both contribute to the ability to reholster your gun one-handed with your eyes on the threat. This is a crucial gun handling skill which could be impeded by the wrong equipment.
  3. Be very cautious about varying your mode of carry. If, for example, you alternate between a belt holster and a shoulder holster or even vary placement on the belt, you may find yourself reaching for a gun that is not where you're reaching, at the time that you can least afford to lose precious seconds.
  4. As with your handgun, you need to evaluate your holster under the worst conditions, not the best conditions. For example, if you have a holster such as a Fobus, which only allows the pistol to be drawn at a specific angle, you may be able to use it with no trouble while standing upright. However, you may not be able to attain the correct angle and leverage if you are curled up on the ground or backed into a corner. I have similar concerns about "Yaqui slide" holsters, which consist of an open-bottom pouch, about as deep as the width of the belt. Seemingly offering the advantage of being able to hold different versions of the same model gun, with different barrel lengths, I worry about the front sight snagging the lower edge under the most adverse conditions of drawing.
  5. If you opt for a holster that accepts your handgun with a light or laser mounted on it, make sure that the holster will still retain the gun properly and not allow objects such as retention lugs to press against the trigger if you choose to holster the gun with that accessory mounted.

From Other Sources...

The Defensive Firearms Tripod

The Defensive Equipment Tripod

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