Why should we use shoulder holsters

The little holster guide - part 2

After this 1st part of the little holster guide - HERE on SPARTANAT- Now it goes on with the second and last part: The choice of the right holster for a purpose has a significant influence on the use of the handgun - whether sporty, hunting or official. KL STRATEGIC introduces you to the world of holsters and gives essential tips on what you have to pay attention to.

Holster shapes

After we first looked at the ways of carrying, let's now look at the holster shapes:

OWB belt holster

By this we mean all holsters that are worn openly on the belt. Here, however, a further differentiation has to be made between holsters directly on the belt and holsters on a belt bridge.

Holsters on the belt are all holsters that are attached directly to the belt at hip height. They can be attached to the belt with loops, base plates etc. and they all have in common that the weapon sits relatively high on the body, regardless of whether it is at the 2.4 or 6 o'clock position. Depending on their position on the belt, they should be mounted at a slight incline to provide an optimal pulling position. This can be found relatively simple by running the flat of the hand and straight wrist from the belt buckle along the belt. Depending on the position of the hand on the belt, the corresponding angle changes from hand to belt and thus also shows the optimal angle of the holster in this position ... the same works on the other side of the body for magazine holders / pouches.

These holsters are suitable for all types of use, as long as additional equipment does not hinder their use. They offer quick and direct access to the weapon and can be worn either close to the body or with spacers in the body shape. This is left to personal preference; some people just don't like it when the handle of the weapon rests against the body, others swear that it has to be that way. You just have to note that loose clothing may pose a risk as it can get lost in the holster.

In sporting use it is advisable if the holster is a little distance from the body in order to minimize the risk of sweeping during stress.

If the weapon sits too high with a purely belt holster, you can use extension bars. These bars are attached to the belt and set the holster a few cm deeper, which in many cases results in a much more pleasant and unconstrained work.

Often one finds such bars in official use to enable working with the handgun when using protective vests, or also in dynamic sport shooting; The speed holsters also belong to this category.

The advantage of holsters with belt bars is that they keep the upper body largely free and thus enable an unimpeded pulling process. In many cases, the webs are also made in such a way that they generate a distance between the body and the handle, which ensures easier access. In most cases, the height of the holster on the bridge can be varied and thus adapted even better to personal requirements.

When using bars, you should pay attention to the quality, because in many cases these are unstable or, in the case of cheap imitation products, are made of soft plastic. As a result, they give way in the drawing process and, if necessary, prevent a clean drawing process completely. You must also note that long bars move during the pulling process, which is why it makes sense to secure the holster with a thigh strap, as with the dropleg variant.

All variants of security level and material are possible for all OWB belt holsters. However, one should consider the intended use; For example, certain sports regulations specify an area in which the weapon must be in the holster, which, for example, restricts the possibilities for variation. For business use, an escape protection is usually required, which automatically means that at least level 2 holsters come into question.

OWB dropleg holster

The “dropleg” or thigh holsters are a special form of holsters. Here the emphasis is on THIGH HOLSTERS!

These holsters emerged from an official need to have the backup weapon at hand in an emergency and to be able to carry all the necessary equipment relevant to the order without having to move the "last security" to the 3rd line, which is put down in case of doubt.

In many cases, the thigh holster is now used more as a tacticool accessory than actually as a necessary utensil. Anyone who moves a lot will quickly feel the disadvantage of positioning on the thigh: everything is in motion.

As mentioned, this holster is a product of necessity and should also be used as such. The principle here is: as high as possible, as low as necessary!

When standing upright, the firing hand should cover the holster with arms hanging freely. If you have to stretch or bend on one side to pull the weapon out of the holster, the dropleg will hang too low! Furthermore, you have to make sure that the holster with the weapon stays in place even when moving. For this purpose, good thigh holsters are equipped with rubberized base plates and / or leg straps.

When using thigh holsters, one should also bear in mind that trouser / leg pockets may no longer be usable. Belt attachment is another point to keep in mind; One-piece fastenings should be made as wide as possible in order to distribute the pull on the belt as far as possible (e.g. Safariland, radar, etc.). Two-part fastenings, or Y brackets (e.g. Blackhawk), distribute the pull evenly over 2 points ... provided that they are also fastened wide apart in Y shape on the belt according to their design.

As the name suggests, this is a holster for the thigh, not for the knee or even lower ... so if you first have to sink in to pull the weapon out of the holster, you are doing something fundamentally wrong. In addition, one must consider that running movements can cause the holster to slip; the deeper the thigh holster sits, the greater the movement and the easier it slips and then hinders more than it uses.

A common mistake that is often seen among users of thigh holsters is the rotated attachment of the holster to the leg plate. This is supposed to compensate for the leaning forward posture when attacking; As far as this myth is concerned, one can only say that this is wrong on so many, different levels that one would prefer not to start at all - starting with the shooting stance "pooping fox" to the basic misunderstanding of the use of firearms up to the perversion of the natural Biomechanics of the human body - but I don't want to go into the topic any further here. You can simply remember that thigh holsters are functionally worn parallel to the upright body axis.

IWB holster

As the name suggests, these holsters can only be found on the inside of the belt line and therefore not in bridge or drop-leg variations; apart from a few exceptions from individual manufacturers who try to establish something new.

IWB holsters are attached to the belt or waistband with appropriate clips, clamps or loops and are located on the inside of the clothing. In addition, there are various holster belts that are placed directly around the body and are intended to keep a weapon covered.

The latter are mostly made of neoprene or another flexible material that adapts to the body and is supposed to keep the weapon extremely close to the body. This group also includes the so-called holster shirts, which provide a corresponding holster pocket sewn into a shirt. These are conditionally suitable for carrying a handgun, as the positioning and fit of the holster are designed to be universal. With some models, they are more like a shoulder holster in the way they are carried and thus force cross-drawing, i.e. they are no longer part of the IWB area. On the subject of cross draw and shoulder holsters, I would like to briefly discuss this holster shape.

For reasons that have already been mentioned several times, shoulder holsters are not a real option for carrying a weapon. They are not permitted for sporting purposes and are only really suitable for drivers due to the fact that they are forced to be crossed over. A special form are the mentioned holster shirts, which are more or less a shoulder holster. These are conditionally suitable for use in the area of ​​personal protection when other forms of carrying are simply not appropriate; E.g. in mandatory evening wear, as the weapon is hidden on the body in such a way that it is not noticed and other guests do not feel threatened (yes, this happens more often than you might think). Of course this is only an option for Compact and Subcompact models.

But back to the classic IWB holsters. These are usually carried in the 3, 4 or 6 o'clock position on the body, as a special form also in the appendix carry position, which I will discuss separately.

The leading position of IWB Holster depends primarily on personal preferences and peculiarities as well as on the weapon to be wielded in this context. As already mentioned, IWB holsters should keep the weapon covered and be able to make it available if necessary; Elements protruding from the body such as large magazines are therefore rather unfavorable. In order to be able to guide them anyway, such elements must be parallel to body surfaces such as the back. This results in e.g. the 6 o'clock position to enable concealed guidance. As a rule, IWB holsters sit in such a way that their upper outer edge ends directly or just above the waistband of the clothing, so the handle of the handgun protrudes and defines the possible positioning constraints through size and shape.

As already mentioned with the concealed carry, IWB holsters carry the risk that parts of the clothing get tangled in the holster, which can lead to danger. IWB holsters must therefore be designed in such a way that they can be carried safely and comfortably and, if necessary, exposed so that they allow unhindered access to the weapon and release the weapon easily and without additional effort and pick it up again.

The last aspect in particular is sometimes a bigger problem than one might think, especially when it comes to a holster that should be kept regularly. The point of wearing comfort also plays an important role here, as uncomfortable holsters lead to movement sequences being restricted or changed, or one unconsciously reaches for the holster again and again to correct the fit. All of these points are in contradiction to the sense and purpose of a concealed weapon and take it to the point of absurdity.

In order to improve wearing comfort, one naturally tends to want to use soft materials, e.g. leather or Cordura. However, both materials have the problem that they may still be dimensionally stable when they are purchased, but become softer and flexible through wearing and the influence of body heat, sweat, movement, etc. This ultimately leads to the fact that the weapon can no longer be drawn or holstered without considerable additional effort. This leads to the next important question:

Which material for the holster?

But before we devote ourselves to the holster material, I would like to go into a more and more used IWB way of carrying:

Appendix carry

I admit that I defended myself against this method of carrying for a long time, not least because there was a time when my physical form prevented it rather than favored it. I'm talking about the way the weapon is carried in the 12 o'clock position, i.e. exactly in front of the stomach. This variant is favored by a rather slim body shape, as it can otherwise be quite painful. With the appendix carry, the holster is positioned in such a way that the weapon can be pulled straight in front of the body and padded. Depending on the size of the weapon, one can imagine that such holsters can restrict mobility.

Furthermore, this way of carrying requires a significantly more intensive training, since additional processes are necessary here in order to draw and holster the weapon without self-endangering behavior. These holsters are of course not approved for sporting purposes, as the risk of "sweeping" is above average, not to say that this is almost certain to be done.

Nonetheless, I also liked this type of guiding for certain purposes, as presentation of the weapon and stowing it with the right technique work very well and quickly; In addition, after the correct pull, you are automatically in position 3 and can act immediately. By using the entire width of the front of the body, you have enough leeway to vary the position of the weapon and, if necessary, the replacement magazine (s) and to adapt it to your personal characteristics.

But as with all IWB holsters, the material is also important here.

Holster material

When we talk about holster materials, we are basically talking about leather, cordula and plastic. First of all, it should be noted that whenever possible, I recommend a form holster for the respective weapon; this is the only way to ensure that the weapon is optimally and securely held in the holster.

The most stable and durable form is of course a material that does not deform plastically, i.e. plastic. For the sake of simplicity, we differentiate here between holsters made of cast material and those made of thermally formed Kydex.

Both materials have the advantage that they give the weapon a secure and dimensionally stable hold without forming corners and edges in which the weapon can get caught. Likewise, these holsters have no connections that can close. However, temperature differences and UV exposure may have an impact on durability or resistance. For this reason you should always pay attention to the high quality of the materials with plastic holsters.

The production from Kydex also has another particularly relevant advantage: the holster can be individually adapted to your own weapon and any modifications made, if necessary, without the need for expensive tools. A hair dryer may be sufficient for this.

Cast plastic holsters should definitely be checked for quality ... and here, as so often, means: quality = price. Inexpensive "plastic holsters" tend to tear, break or split at the adhesive seams under the influence of temperature. As a result, the actual function of the holster is of course no longer given. So if you buy cheap, you buy twice.

Plastic molded holsters are ideally suited as OWB holsters, regardless of the design and the security level. Kydex holsters are particularly suitable for carrying IWB, provided they are professionally and cleanly manufactured. Thanks to their dimensional stability, they offer the perfect prerequisite for safely wielding an IWB weapon. The material itself is also more comfortable to carry than molded plastic molded holsters.

Let's talk about leather and Cordura. Both materials offer the possibility of being usable both flexible and pressed into shape. Unfortunately, this shape is lost over time due to the action of factors such as temperature, humidity, and exercise. In particular, leather becomes soft over time and is therefore ruled out as a material for e.g. IWB holsters ... really? Basically, it has to be said that leather is not really suitable and contemporary for permanent use as an IWB holster, but some manufacturers take advantage of the incomparable comfort and produce holsters with a leather back and Kydex front. These holsters are comfortable to wear and at the same time have a certain dimensional stability, which favors pulling and holsters. However, it must also be said that the soft back of these holsters presses into the holster shape over time and thus changes this shape, which increases the pulling resistance.

It is similar with Cordura. This material consists of synthetic fibers that are produced in a solid fabric. This fabric can be given a shape by thermal action, which nevertheless retains a certain degree of flexibility. This is of course suitable for molded holsters, but loses its bond strength and comfort in long-term use, especially through movement and friction between the fibers.

In terms of material, plastic - especially Kydex - represents the current state of the art, unless tradition (e.g. Western shooting) or other constraints dictate another material.


So what can you learn from it all?

If you buy a holster, you should think about its application and use in advance. Depending on the intended use, different types and shapes come into consideration, or not.

The quality plays a decisive role and the following applies: "You get, what you pay for!"

Even more important, however, are the personal aspects, i.e. things like how to carry it, how it is carried, etc. Here it is best to be honest with yourself and not to copy what you have seen in others and found cool.

As a last advice from me: Form holster before universal holster! If in doubt, you need a separate holster for each of your weapons, just like myself. Then you should invest in a good belt that holds everything and a solid interchangeable platform ...

HERE is the first part of the Little Holster Guide

Most of the holsters that can be seen in the article come from the top Austrian holster manufacturer BLACK TRIDENT. Here you will find great personal advice and high quality holsters and more: www.blacktrident.com

Current courses for 2021, including the officially certified defense shooting instructor course, can be found at KL STRATEGIC at www.kl-strategic.com

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