Can You Use A Paddle Holster For Concealed Carry?
The obvious convenience aside, can you use a paddle holster for concealed carry? Does a paddle holster make a good concealed carry holster?
One can, but you need to be aware of some of the limitations inherent to paddle holsters as a class of products, what the intended use of one is, as well as being able to recognize if YOUR paddle holster is going to work well for you.
That wasn't really the answer you wanted, was it?
Look, it's the case that some paddle holsters are great for concealed carry and others aren't as a class of products. It's also the case that some individual models of paddle holster by various manufacturers are going to conceal pretty easily and others aren't, and that can really depend on you and how you dress around the gun.
So it kind of depends on the paddle holster that you buy.
Why Get A Paddle Holster?
Why would you get a paddle holster?
For convenience, but of course this isn't new. That's been the reason for using one for decades. Historically, they've been used by detectives as well as civilians who may have to or want to take their gun off for a certain period of time.
The idea is the detective or lawyer with a permit can take their gun off to go into the courthouse, or Jane or John Q. Public can place the gun in a desk drawer or safe or holster mount when at work, home or what have you.
Okay, so we get why a person might want a paddle holster, but are they good for concealed carry?
A Paddle Holster Can Work...But What Makes A Holster Good For Concealed Carry?
You definitely can use a paddle holster for concealed carry, but the thing is almost any holster works for concealed carry IF, that is, it ticks certain boxes. If the holster can do the right things in terms of function, it works for concealed carry. If it doesn't, it doesn't.
What are those things?
First, the holster has to be comfortable enough for you to wear it for extended periods without thinking about when you can take the darn thing off.
Second, the holster has to securely retain the pistol in the holster.
Third, the holster has to allow you to cleanly draw the pistol and reinsert it without issues. The holster has to be a solid platform on the waist in order to do this.
Lastly, you have to be able to actually conceal it. This might mean with a jacket or other light outer layer, or it may require as little as an untucked shirt. The bottom line is that you have to be able to throw some clothing over the gun and holster and not have it be totally obvious as to what's under there.
That much is not negotiable; if a holster can't do those things, it has no business being used. It doesn't matter what kind of holster it is; appendix holster, IWB, paddle...whatever.
Can a paddle holster do those things?
It definitely can!
Mostly, the elements of what makes a holster worth carrying has to do with its design and construction. A holster that's made for the make and model pistol the owner is going to carry in the holster, made with the appropriate materials, often enough is going to function correctly.
Comfort, of course, is subjective. What one person finds comfortable might not be very comfortable to another or may be less comfortable. However, most people find that sharp angled plastic digging into their side does not feel very good, and so on and so forth.
Whether or not a holster is concealable depends a lot on how it rides on you when you wear it. This becomes even more important when using an OWB holster. It has to ride high enough to be concealable without wearing a knee-length coat, but ride close enough to the body to not be wildly obvious to observers, which of course is the entire point of concealment.
Picking A Paddle Holster For Concealed Carry
So how can you pick a paddle holster for concealed carry?
Start by selecting one that's made for a specific make and model of pistol. A holster made for a specific make and model gun is going to retain the pistol more securely, as well as ensure a clean draw from the holster and easier reinsertion.
While you can "get away with" not doing so, it's a best practice to train with the gear you carry with, and carry with the gear you train with. You don't want to have to figure things out in the heat of the moment.
The common failing with paddle holsters is a poor connection to the belt and/or waistline. Therefore, look for a paddle holster that has a solid paddle, ideally one with a retention lip that ensures the most secure connection possible.
A paddle holster that you use for concealed carry should ride high enough to conceal easily, and stay close enough to the body so that the least amount of clothing as possible is needed for effective concealment.
You should also be able to carry it for hours at a time without issue. If you can't stand to wear it, you're going to find reasons not to.
As far as concealment itself, that's something you're going to have to figure out for yourself. Only you can know if a holster and gun are going to be easily concealed with your current wardrobe, so you'll have to get one, try it on and see if it works. It's a good idea, therefore, to make sure you buy a paddle holster from a holster company that offers you a 30 day trial period, so you can those kinds of things out...