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CCW Holster Selection by the “Silent Professional”

Selecting the proper holster for concealed carry.

Selecting the proper holster can be an overwhelming task. There are so many variations, materials and opinions that you can become dizzy with options! I’ll add to your confusion by trying to make this simple. 

The first thing you have to do is take a realistic approach to things like; your body type, how you usually dress, when and where you might carry.

Secondly, think about how you may carry. Will it be Outside the Waistband (OWB) or Inside the Waistband (IWB)? Or could it be in a pocket or on the ankle?

Now, to add more to your dilemma, are you going to carry appendix style, on the hip or behind the hip? Let’s take a look at each.

On the Hip: for a right handed shooter, this is called the 3 o’clock position.

  • Pros- this position puts the pistol directly under the natural hang of your arm. There is very little effort or flexibility needed to draw the firearm.
  • Cons- the pistol and holster will add 1-2 inches to the profile of your hip, maybe compromising your carry.

Behind the Hip: this puts the handgun in that hollow right behind your hip bone on the carry side.

  • Pros- this is a fairly comfortable location to conceal a medium to large pistol especially for open garment just as a sport coat (FBI rake). Less profile than the hip carry.
  • Cons- it requires some shoulder flex ability to draw the weapon. It can be uncomfortable when seated, especially in a vehicle.

Appendix Carry: (The weapon is carried just in front of the hip.)

  • Pros- for a lot of people, this is an excellent way to conceal a handgun. Being slightly non-traditional, most observers fail to look for a telltale sign in this area (concealability) and they don’t recognize the draw as a weapon presentation. Plus, it’s easy to draw the gun when seated.
  • Cons- barrel length can be a factor in seated comfort. Some users are skeptical of the muzzle coverage when your pistol is drawn or re-holstered.

Carry angle. Termed the weapon cant, it describes the orientation of the handgun in the holster on your waist.

It can be Muzzle Neutral (muzzle pointed straight down). Muzzle Forward, muzzle pointed down and slightly forward, and Muzzle Rearward, where the muzzle is pointed down and slightly back.

The handguns orientation can affect concealment, comfort and presentation. But a big part of it is your preference. This is where you just have to try some holsters on to see what works for you. Some simple (and flexible) rules are; appendix carry is usually Muzzle Neutral, behind the hip is generally Muzzle Rearward to assist in the draw and on the hip is wide open. As a note, you don’t see many Muzzle Forward concealment holsters (but there are some experiments with the appendix carry).

Now that you have selected the location where you want to wear your concealed firearm, the next question is OWB or IWB.

OWB is usually attached to the outer side of the belt by one or two belt loops located on the holster. You will thread your belt through your pants belt loops and the holsters belt loops to secure it to your body. A little trial and error will result in the perfect location. I will say that the holster with two loops seems to be more adjustable than a holster with one large one. Trust me, one pants belt loop in the wrong place can change everything!


An IWB can attach in many ways. Clips, loops and snaps or a combination of these can be your attaching choices.  Here is a basic rule, a holster that goes on easy will come off easy! And with Mr. Murphy always lurking about, you know when that will be!  I try to stick with a full loop on the holster if possible. I’ve seen that guy Murphy in action.  On your IWB you must also consider how deep you want the handgun to sit. Unless I want the gun as deeply concealed as possible, I like it to ride high enough above the belt line to be able to get a full firing grip on the firearm while it’s holstered.


  • PJ Holsters – For protection duty, deep holster, appendix carry


Well, we are almost done. One last question:  Will it be leather? Kydex? Or the combo platter?

This can also be personal preference. Make no mistake, a nice leather holster looks fabulous. But there’s more than just good looks. Does your holster help conceal your pistol, or add to it’s bulk? Will your holster retain your weapon during physical activity such as running, jumping, climbing and fighting?

Getting the gun out is only half of it, does your holster allow you to re-holster under stress?

Kydex has become very popular the last few years, and it does a good job at the above demands. On a downside, kydex can scratch and wear your gun’s finish, especially if dirt or sand gets in it – rapidly gives your pistol that “been there” look!

So, now that you are armed with all this information, can I guarantee that you will fall in love with the first holster you buy? I’m afraid not. Holster selection is far from an exact science. It’s probably going to be a case of “buy and try” for a few examples. Eventually you will find your perfect holster. Just hope it doesn’t take too many “maybes” to do so!

Good luck!”

Your TAC-1 staff


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