chose your gun holster

Shawn with Concealed Carry Training Videos (CCTV) introduces some very important concepts when discussing choosing the right concealed carry holster to fit your style. And there are a lot of important considerations – namely, the type of holster you want to use, the way you draw, and the comfort and safety of that holster method.

Basic Categories of Holsters

Traditionally, there's four basic parts of the human body where a holster is commonly attached: ankle, torso, waistline, and thigh. Each one has its particular advantages and disadvantages and we'll briefly go over each.

Ankle Holsters

ankle holsters

Ankle holsters first saw common service with off-duty police officers looking to keep a low-profile and keep a small revolver or pistol on them at all times. It has since been adopted by a lot of concealed carriers who have trouble putting a holster in either their waistline or cannot conceal it in a shoulder rig.

Advantages: Very concealable.


Shoulder Holsters

shoulder holster being worn

Shoulder holsters come in far more variety than the ones traditionally seen in the movies. The gun typically rests on or about the ribcage of the off-dominant hand-side. Typically, these holsters are more ideal for those who are in the car for long periods of time because traditionally, other methods have been far less comfortable.

Advantages: Very accessible for drivers.


  • Unintentional flagging and safety issues with some designs.
  • Concealed accessibility can be difficult.
  • Complications with drawing and reholstering.

Thigh Holsters

man wearing a thigh holster unconcealed

Thigh holsters can also be known as “drop” holsters because they are connected to the belt and rest on the thigh of the gun carrier. These holsters come in many variations – from law enforcement tactical to traditional “Old West” style. They can be extremely effective and comfortable for both vehicle and land. Because they usually feature a retention strap over the top, the gun carrier can run and maneuver easily. However, because of the position, there's almost no way to effectively conceal it without wearing a long coat.


  • Easy maneuverability
  • Good retention
  • No issues drawing or reholstering safely.


  • Little chance of effective concealment of the firearm.

Focus: Waistline Holsters

Shawn from CCTV spent a lot of time discussing waistline-based holsters. And there's a pretty good reason – it's arguably one of the best methods of carrying. The biggest complaints for both inside the waistband and outside the waistband concealed carry holsters usually revolve around two basic factors: comfort and safety.

The third is longevity.

Waistline holsters tend to take more of a beating because the waistline isn't a straight line. It's constantly moving, has curvature, and adjusts. That means the right inside the waistband concealed carry holster has to be able to move with you.

Two major factors for addressing this is finding the right gun belt that keeps your waistline and lower back supported and the second is finding one with a comfortable neoprene liner and backpad that distributes the weight of the gun. This makes inside the waistband concealed carry a lot more viable for most concealed carriers.

Advantages: With the right inside the waistband concealed carry holster, you get:

  • All day comfort – whether driving, sitting, standing, or running.
  • Adjustable high retention
  • Absolute concealability
  • Lifetime guarantee. With the right manufacturer, you can find an IWB holster that promises to last as long as you do.
  • Shell trading – a high retention concealed carry holster will likely have a plastic shell that keeps pressure on the gun. If you switch guns or somehow manage to break the shell (good luck), there are companies that will offer a free exchange program.

Every concealed carrier has to determine which style is ultimately best for him or her.

It's always best to keep your gun within the domain of your physical control -- not in a purse or bag. Even if you have a tight budget, you can generally pick up a great inside the waistband holster for a great price. Comfort, reliability, and a lifetime warrantee are all excellent reasons to consider an inside the waistline concealed carry holster.

James England  

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.