by Benjamin Thomas
For anyone new to everyday carry the biggest hurdle to overcome is not so much gun selection as holster selection. Admittedly it all comes down to a very personal choice – but for someone just deciding to add a carry gun to their every day routine – help to narrow down the choice might save some money!
I have tried over a dozen different styles of holsters and I am too ashamed to admit how much money I have wasted on trying to get it right. I think I am there finally, but it was not an easy journey.
To start off, a single style holster will not work for every circumstance. I have a “business” holster that I wear under my sport coat when going to work, and I have a casual weekend holster for warm summer months when I am only wearing a light shirt and a weekend winter holster for when I am wearing more layers.
The style of clothing you normally wear will help determine the best choice for you, but there are a few holsters that I have narrowed it down to that are universally handy – and the best part – they are actually some of the more reasonable choices as far as cost. I have spent money on unique custom hand made holsters with the hope that they will work better – and believe me – they really don’t!
Let’s start with my choice for everyday carry . . . a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 with jacketed hollow-point rounds. I carry an extra clip in a small nylon knife holster I bought on eBay that fits a spare clip perfectly without drawing any undue attention. There are all kinds of arguments about the best carry gun and caliber, but my choice was based on how the gun felt in my hand, it’s accuracy and at close range a .380 will do all the damage you need it to. Many have noted the long trigger pull on the Bodyguard – but for an everyday carry you don’t want a hair trigger weapon. It all comes down to being comfortable with your weapon of choice and knowing how it handles. But I digress.
For everyday “business” carry – since I wear a sport coat to work I am afforded a little leeway, and my all time favorite holster is a Fobus Evolution Series Belt Holster. Retention is key for a small gun and this is a perfect holster, easily slides on my belt and allows for a smooth easy draw and return, and I KNOW it isn’t going anywhere even if I am running or need to hang upside down. ( the hanging upside down thing is kind of rare now that I am in my 50’s ) The disadvantage is that it is an outside the belt carry. I wear this for winter weekends as well when I can conceal it with more clothing like a sweater or pullover sweatshirt.
My heavy duty carry gun is a Sig Sauer 9mm and I only have one holster for that – an Israeli Tactical Retention Paddle Holster. Perhaps the most perfect holster ever designed – however it is a little large for everyday concealed carry.
My most recent discovery for inside the waistband carry is the VersaCarry ZeroBulk Ambidextrous Inside the Waistband Gun Holster. Wow. Can’t say enough good things about this mini wonder. Available for a variety of calibers and totally ambidextrous – it is the most well thought out design I have come across. It’s tiny footprint makes you forget it is even there, yet allows for instant draw, and it keeps your weapon securely in place. Of all the styles of holsters I have tried and hated – inside the waistband ones are the worst and most expensive. (In fact I have a whole drawer full if anyone is interested in buying?) The only drawback – and an exceptionally minor one, is that you have to take the holster off to actually reholster the weapon. Consider this tho – you won’t be drawing your weapon unless you intend to use it and then the least of your worries is putting it back in your waistband. With the Fobus under my sport coat I always have to be aware and check when I stand up that my coat hasn’t ‘bunched up’ on the holster and my weapon is showing, with the VersaCarry it is held tight against my back ( I carry at about 4:30 ) and I don’t have to worry about it accidentally showing if I stand up quick and having my coat catch on it. The best part is that it is the cheapest holster I have ever purchased. If you are only buying one holster – THIS is the one.
For weekend wear when just a light shirt is all I have on – I chose an UnderTech Undercover Mens Concealment Holster Coolux. It comes in a variety of styles, necklines and colors, but I can throw it on, slip in my pistol and throw on a light shirt and be good. It is similar to a bellyband but unlike a bellyband – it won’t slip up or down and the weight is a little more uniformly distributed making it more comfortable.
If you can only afford one holster – go with the VersaCarry. Easy to find in your caliber, ambidextrous, easily concealed and cost effective. Next add a concealment shirt to your wardrobe and when you can afford to treat yourself – pick up a nice retention holster like the Fobus.
All in all it is far too easy to spend more on your holsters than on your actual weapon, and it is something few take into consideration when making the decision to add a carry gun to your every day routine. For those of us on a budget hopefully having a little help in narrowing down the choices from the start will help.
Good luck! Stand strong.