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A Holster Primer for the Modern Woman - Part 3

A Holster Primer for the Modern Woman - Part 3

Your 6 Step Checklist to Finding your Holster

Here is a checklist to help you vet out a holster you’ll be happy with.  Each step is defined and goes in sequential order of 1 to 6.  Don’t jump ahead!  And don’t settle for the best 4 out of 6.  Go step by step.

Each step has a brief rubric.  If the holster fails a step, you’re done and on to the next holster.  Only if the holster passes do you move to the next step. As your discerning eye develops, this checklist will become second nature.

Step 1: Utility

 

Step 2: Security

Step 3: Comfort

 

Step 4: Durability

Step 5: Cost

Step 6: Do you love it?

Step 1: Utility

Match your gun

  1. Match your need. Do you need an OWB or IWB or both?  (Look to Part 1 of this series for a list of terms defined).  There are some holsters - to be shared tomorrow – that allows you to easily convert the clip or attachment into several different uses.
  2. Match your make & model.  The holster should be specific for your gun’s make and model.  Otherwise, it wont fit properly and there goes your retention as well as your safe gun handling.
A note on open bottom vs. closed bottom holsters:
Many pistols have a family of sizes, with compact versions available of the same style gun.  I usually call these "papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear." Or, put another way: maxi skirt, pencil skirt, and mini skirt.  Any model that comes in multiple sizes and shares the same caliber will have the same-size frame and same-size trigger guard.  The only differences will be shorter/longer grip and a shorter/longer slide.  
 
This becomes key if you're looking at open-bottom holsters vs. closed-bottom holsters.  Plastic & kydex holsters are fit to the frame and trigger guard format.  This means your mama bear and baby bear versions of your gun can fit in the same open-bottom holster, only one will have its slide sticking out the bottom... but that's no problem since the holster is fitted to your frame and trigger guard.  An open bottom holster is ideal to fit all the different models because there's no restrictions on how long your slide can be.  

 

Step 2: Security

  1. Gun stays put in your holster...until you pull it out.  Your holster's most important purpose is to fit and secure your gun.  It should not slide, jiggle loose, or fall out.  With kydex and injection-molded plastic holsters, you should hear a “click” when you gun is secure. 

2. Holster stays on you.  Not only should your gun stay put in your holster, your holsters should stay put on your body.  The last thing you need is your gun to move around on your belt, waistband, thigh, or wherever else you’re holding it.  It should stay put no matter how you move your body.

3.  Adjustment is a snap but shouldn't be frequent.  Making your holster tighter or looser is super easy on kydex and plastic holsters.  You’ll see one or two simple screw heads along the edge of the holster.  You can use any run of the mill screwdriver to turn these screws and adjust as needed. If those screws keep loosening up during normal wear, you have a problem.

You only need Level 1 . Sometimes you’ll see references to “Levels 1, 2, 3” or “duty holsters.”  There are three levels of holster retention.  For most of us, we only need Level 1.  Levels 2 and 3 and “duty holsters” deal with holster straps and retention locks that are used primarily by law enforcement who may end up fighting with their gun belt on.  As a D.A. in Compton, I had prosecuted crimes against police officers where defendants tried to unstrap a deputy’s gun in a knockdown drag out fight.  Law enforcement has added retention to their holsters for a reason. Since the rest of us don’t carry our guns like the police, or in situations where that may be needed (I hope), just stick with Level 1 types of retention.

Step 3: Comfort

1.  Access.  Can you access your gun easily in seated in a car, at a restaurant, or standing? Everyone’s body dimensions are different so the holster will fit differently from person to person. 

2.  Body Movement. Does the holster make you move unnaturally that compromises you being armed? Are you walking, bending over, standing awkwardly because your gun is in the way? Does it dig into you?  Is it comfortable?  Does it wrench your torso?  No need to develop sciatica over a holster. 

3.  Printing.  Printing is for IWB users, where your gun’s outline shows through your clothes.  Think of Han Solo's outline in that frozen carbonite from “Return of the Jedi.”  Check if the holster makes you print too much. Obviously this will also be determined by your wardrobe decisions, but if that holster isn’t going to work for most of your clothing, it’s not worth it. Does the grip stick up too high for your comfort?  If the grip is too low, it can compromise your ability to grab your gun without being clumsy.

Positioning.  There are three main positions in which holsters are made.  You’ll find which one(s) suits your body type.
 
"Straight drop" is an OWB style when the holster below the belt line by 1-2 inches.  This is a popular for range and competitive shooting because its location on your body allows a rapid and natural draw.
 
"Dropped and offset" (D/OS) is for both IWB and OWB.  Not only is it "dropped” from your belt line 1-2 inches but it’s also “offset” away from your body at a 15-20 degree angle.  It was originally designed for women. Traditional holsters are high up and close to your waist. A woman with curvy hips found her holster couldn’t lie flat against your hip. It would flare out atop the hip's curve, and the pistol butt pressed into your ribs or slammed into your rib cage as you pulled it out of the holster.  The D/OS design solved that.  Not only did it make the holster placement more comfortable for women's body types but it was also found to allow for a more rapid and natural draw. Now both genders enjoy this setup for both range use and competitive shooting.
 
 The “FBI cant” is for also both IWB and OWB and is great for minimizing printing and pointing the grip at an easier angle to access.  You wear it typically on the side of your body, or at the 3 o'clock position/behind the hip.  The cant or angle of the pistol butt is tips forward at about 30-45 degrees.  Kind of like how your seat belt buckle receptacle tips forward from your drivers seat.  I saw this style often with the detectives I used to work with.  They had to wear suits and had to sit down often at a desk, in the car, on the witness stand, or at counsel’s table during trial.  It kept their gun out of the way but within easy reach. You can also use this in your appendix carry, but thrust no more than a 10 degree angle, which is what I do.  That angle minimizes the printing for me.

Step 4: Quality

1.  Durability.  Part 2 of the holster series covers holster materials in more detail, but otherwise, consider what places this holster will go.  Is this holster for training at an outdoor range with all the dirt and natural elements?  Is this going to be part of your go-to everyday EDC (every day carry) where it needs to be as versatile and reliable as your favorite pair of jeans?  

Or is this for those special occasions where you only need to wear it and something dressy for a few hours?

I have a number of different black pumps.  Some are for work, with conservative lines, thicker heels, and more durable soles and leather.  Others are for "play" with thinner heels, but more attention to detail and daintier craftsmanship.  Some are built for walking around on tiled hallways and others are built for soft tufted hotel foyers. Like holsters, it all depends on what you're using it for.

Kydex and plastic have their different grades of quality.  Specialty holsters, which are tomorrow’s post, are a hybrid of materials.  They tend to be more specific to the task or activity you have to perform.

Step 5: Cost

Everyone has their threshold when it comes to cost.  I compare it to shoes.  I have my cheap-I-don’t-care-what-happens-to-these-shoes for painting or yard work.  I also have my shoes that have lasted me season after season because I paid that much more for quality.  You get what you pay for. 

Step 6: Do you love it?

Don’t buy it if you don’t love it.  A simple but important final determinant. It's like any other article of clothing or accessory.  If you don't love it, it's going to sit and collect dust before you get rid of it or sell it.  There could be a whole host of reasons why you love it or don't love it, and they don't have to make sense.  Steps 1-5 factor in the common sense that you need.  Step 6 is ultimately what YOU want.

 


Here's the list again in shorthand.

Step 1: Utility

  1. Match your need 
  2. Match your make and model

Step 2: Security

  1. Gun stays put in your holster
  2. Holster stays put on you
  3. Adjustment is a snap but shouldn't be frequent

Step 3: Comfort

  1. Access to your gun
  2. Your body movement
  3. Printing

Step 4: Durability

Step 5: Cost

Step 6: Do you love it?


 

What's a "must" for you when you're picking out your holster?

 
A Holster Primer for the Modern Woman - Part 4

A Holster Primer for the Modern Woman - Part 4

A Holster Primer for the Modern Woman - Part 2

A Holster Primer for the Modern Woman - Part 2

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