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1911 shoulder holster

Using A 1911 Shoulder Holster

A 1911 shoulder holster might seem like a no-brainer...but you'll find out fairly quickly that it's not quite as simple as throwing it on and heading out the door. Shoulder holsters require a bit of adjusting and a bit of know-how to get the best results.

Of course, the 1911 pistol is a great fit for use with a shoulder holster. Since the slide and frame are slim compared to modern service pistols, it would seem like a slam-dunk...except it's not, and especially if you don't get the right 1911 shoulder holster, or don't use it correctly.

How do you use a shoulder holster correctly if carrying Ol' Slabsides?


First, Invest In A Quality 1911 Shoulder Holster

1911 shoulder holster

The first thing to do is to invest in a quality 1911 shoulder holster, or else the entire enterprise is going to be for naught. It's one thing to get a cheap shoulder rig for a micro pistol that's barely any bigger than a deck of cards and weighs about as much.

However, for a pistol that's 8.5 inches long, almost 6 inches tall and weighs around 4 lbs loaded...that floppy "universal" shoulder holster isn't going to cut the mustard.

The harness itself has to be capable of suspending the pistol without stretching or sagging, and shouldn't have to be tightened to the point that wearing your shoulder holster turns you into The Hunchback of Concealed Carry.

A Vertical Shoulder Holster Orientation Will Make Concealment Easier

shoulder holster

Concealment is much easier if you're using a 1911 vertical shoulder holster, or at least one that can be oriented vertically.

The hitch with a horizontal orientation is that a Government frame pistol is 8.5 inches long with the standard spur grip safety, and upwards of 8.75 inches long with a beavertail grip safety. That's a lot of gun from front to back, which - if your gun is carried closer to the armpit than the belt - is going to be pretty darn obvious.

Granted, a more horizontal orientation can be a little more tenable if you drop the gun closer to the waist and cant the muzzle down, but still isn't the easiest way to conceal a 1911 with a shoulder holster.

With the slim slide and frame, a 1911 is a lot easier to cover up if it's straight up and down.

Get A 1911 Shoulder Holster With Belt Hooks

belt hooks

Another tip is to get a 1911 shoulder holster that has belt hooks. Not all shoulder holsters have them; some companies offer them as an option you can order, others include them as a matter of course and you can choose whether to use them or not. With a 1911, you want them.

No matter what gun you're carrying, the pistol is going to flap around a bit as you walk around. There's nothing you can do about it; a shoulder holster suspends the pistol from the shoulder, unlike a belt holster that anchors it to your body with a belt.

Belt hooks mitigate the motion, reducing it to a bit of back and forth and not much else.

Another benefit is that the pistol is drawn closer to the body, which makes it easier to conceal and - perhaps most importantly - anchors the pistol in place so you can get a clean draw from the holster.

A 1911 Shoulder Holster Should Be Adjustable

shoulder holster

Unless you get a 1911 shoulder holster tailor-made - there are some holster makers out there that will tailor one for you - having some adjustability is definitely a plus, if not outright necessary.

The problem with a lot of things that are "one size fits all" is they don't really fit anyone well.

And here's why:

If the harness places the holster too high, the gun is basically in your armpit, and that's uncomfortable. If you want to walk around like one of the bad guys from "Space Invaders" then it might be okay, but not everyone does. Too low, and it can dangle below the bottom of your shirt or jacket or what have you.

Having some adjustability will let you get it dialed in, so you can wear the holster and not be miserable. Unless a holster fits you perfectly right out of the box...being able to adjust it is the difference between a shoulder holster that gets used and one that gathers dust in a drawer somewhere.

Tips For Dressing Around Your 1911 Shoulder Holster


Unlike other types of carry holster, a 1911 shoulder holster is going to require you to dress around it. The degree to which you'll have to depends on you for the most part, and how the gun and holster sits on you and so on.

Adjusting the holster and the carry position of the gun - how low the holster itself rides, what angle the gun sits at - can make things a bit easier, or a lot easier depending, again, on just how the holster itself sits on you when you put the harness and (if using them) the belt clips on.

Some people find that a roomy button-up shirt can effectively conceal a pistol and shoulder holster, others find something like a light jacket is necessary, others still need something more like a roomy sport coat. Some folks find shoulder holsters are an open carry only proposition no matter what clothes they wear.

Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Therefore, take some time to experiment with your shoulder holster to figure out what's going to work for you.


About The Author

Writer sam hoober