Feel Like Carrying A Revolver? Here Are The Best .38 Special Holsters For Comfortable Concealed Carry Or Other Uses
Get the right .38 Special holster and you'll discover what made compact revolvers the default choice for a concealed carry gun for most of the 20th century.
Contrary to what some people might think, carrying a revolver makes a lot of sense in some ways. They're simple, so a revolver is easy to operate. They're reliable. While the snubbie does demand the user put in the practice time to gain proficiency, it pays dividends in simplicity.
Less worrying about magazines or springs or anything; put your gun on and head out the door.
But you'll make it even easier on yourself if you have the right holster.
And what makes for the right .38 Special holster?
It should be comfortable to carry. It should make concealment easy, if that's your priority. It should carry the pistol securely, but also shouldn't impede drawing or reholstering. It should also fit in with how you like to carry a gun and what your lifestyle is like.
And what, pray tell, are the best kinds of .38 Special holster that meet those needs? Let's have a look at a few…
A .38 Special IWB For Concealed Carry
The best .38 Special holster for daily concealed carry is an IWB holster, if of course your concealed carry revolver is your primary carry gun. After all, some people keep a snubby on them as a backup instead of their standard EDC.
Why an IWB holster instead of a pocket holster or something similar?
A quality IWB holster tucks into the waistband, concealing easily. It's the default concealed carry choice for a reason. If made with the right materials, it will snug up to your side and carry comfortably.
Tucked against your side, the holster makes minimal imprint and can be quickly accessed if the need should arise. Unlike many pocket holster designs, an IWB holster can be trained with so you can put in the reps at the range that are needed for proficiency with your sidearm.
An IWB holster works with pretty much any and all styles of dress so long as you have a belt, from casual wear all the way up to formal wear if your IWB holster is tuckable.
You can even expand that to carrying without a belt, if you also pick up a belly band that will support an IWB holster. You can still carry in your gym shorts or sweatpants.
In short, a quality .38 Special IWB holster lets you carry concealed, in comfort, with uncompromised function and pretty much at all times. The most bang for the bucks.
A .38 Special OWB For Concealment Or Open Carry
However, it isn't the case that an OWB .38 Special holster doesn't have its place or isn't just as useful as an IWB. In fact, the right OWB can give you almost the same range of function as an IWB.
There are certain concessions you do have to make with an OWB holster as far as concealment is concerned, that much is true. However, they are quite moderate.
You can carry your pistol openly with an OWB as the holster is worn outside the waistband. Or, if so desired, throw on a cover garment and conceal it. With the right OWB holster, a light cover garment will perfectly conceal the gun.
Some people prefer this carry method as they find it more comfortable than tucking a holster inside the waistband. If so, an OWB .38 Special holster might be the best option for you.
However, you want to take care to select the right one.
The holster must be made specifically for the make and model pistol you're going to carry. The gun must be securely retained. The holster should allow for a smooth draw and unimpeded reholstering; the mouth of the holster can't collapse and a sight channel must allow the front sight to draw clean.
If concealment is a priority, the holster has to ride high on the belt and tight to the body, so a light cover garment can adequately conceal the gun and the holster. After all, you don't want to wear a parka year-round.
Well...unless you do. Which is just weird. That said, most people find an untucked button-up shirt or light jacket is perfectly sufficient. Some people find that a small enough gun can be concealed with an untucked t-shirt or polo in some cases.
A snubbie or other compact revolver, such as a 2-inch or 3-inch K-frame Smith and Wesson or a 3-inch Colt King Cobra, can easily be concealed and carried with an OWB holster or carried openly, and at the whim of the user.
Again, more concession has to be made in regards to how you dress for concealment. That said, a .38 Special OWB holster is an excellent choice for EDC.
For A Larger 357 Magnum or .38 Special Holster For The Woods, Try A Chest Holster
If you size up to a proper service-class revolver for woods carry, then a different type of .357 Magnum and/or .38 Special holster might be in order. A chest holster is an excellent choice in this regard, if an OWB is not perfectly suited to use.
Backcountry hikers and hunters often pack a pistol for protection against two- and four-legged predators when in the wild, and a full-size .357 Magnum or .38 Special loaded with +P hardcast or semi-wadcutter loads does make an excellent choice in this application.
The thing about backcountry hikers and hunters is that they're living out of a backpack for several days at a time, and a waist belt makes an OWB holster untenable.
What can you do about that? How can you still stay armed but make sure the gun is accessible if it needs to be?
Use a chest holster, of course!
A chest holster uses straps to suspend the holster on the body, much like a shoulder holster. However, unlike a shoulder holster, a chest holster places the gun on the front of the body rather than on the side.
This puts the gun in a perfect position for fast access if needed, but frees up the waist for the waist belt of a backpack.
A .357 Magnum or stout .38 Special +P is plenty potent for personal protection against any animal short of a grizzly bear. Grizzly bears, as it happens, only have an established population in 4 states, and rumored or transient appearances in two or three more.
Therefore, a .357 Magnum or .38 Special +P or +P+ is a good choice for woods carry, and a chest holster is a natural choice for carrying one.