These two features are essential for safe carry.
There are a ton of great holsters out there, from stand-alone Kydex or Boltaron to all-leather to hybrids with a mix of materials. Each one has its place and can work well as a safe way to keep your gun handy while you’re carrying. While style of holster is a personal choice based on comfort and how you're carrying, no matter what your holster is made of, there are two absolute must-haves in a holster. Whether IWB or OWB, off-body carry, or a belly band, all holsters must do these two things.
Chances are you are carrying the gun while going about your daily life, including sitting, standing, driving, walking through doors, etc. Everywhere you go, you risk catching the holster on or against something, such as the seatbelt buckle or other ordinary item that you wouldn’t normally think much about. But those things matter when you’re carrying a gun. So the holster needs to protect the gun and prevent the trigger from getting accidentally bumped or snagged, resulting in an accidental discharge right down your leg – or worse if you appendix carry.
Modern firearms have a trigger guard for a reason: to reduce the chances of someone or something accidentally hitting the trigger and making the gun go bang when it isn’t supposed to. You are taught in basic pistol class to always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Good advice. When you holster a gun, you no longer have control over the trigger. Instead, the gun is tucked into your pants or hanging from your belt with no hand control over it, so the holster has to do the job for you.
So the first essential element of any holster is to be sure the trigger and trigger guard are completely covered, preferably with a hard substance, not cloth, so that nothing can accidentally rub against the trigger and set it off.
Putting a loaded gun into a holster is one of the most dangerous parts of gun ownership. Think about this: you’re pointing your loaded gun down toward your body and then inserting that loaded gun into a holster, where the edge comes within millimeters of the trigger, with your finger away, no longer guarding it. What could possibly go wrong, right? A lot if you do it wrong or have a poorly designed holster!
Holstering a gun needs to be a one-handed operation for two reasons. First, if you get into a gunfight, there is a chance your support hand will be wounded, occupied, or otherwise out of the picture when you need to reholster, so you need to be able to put the gun away with your strong hand only. Why does this matter? After all, the shooting is over, so why do you need to worry about holstering your gun? Let’s think this through.
You’ve just fired your gun to stop a deadly threat and someone – maybe you – has called 911. The cops are about to arrive on the scene, amped up because they are responding to a "shots fired" call. They roll up, hop out, and the first thing they see is you holding a gun. Who do they think is the bad guy? You. Who is likely to get shot by the well-intentioned police? You. And it’s not their fault. They just got there and have to make an immediate threat assessment. There is a good chance you might end up getting shot by law enforcement because you look like the bad guy with the gun. So before they arrive, secure the gun in your holster so you won't get shot and the officers can do their job.
Why not just set the gun down after the shooting? You've heard this before, right? The problem with this is now you have lost control of the gun. Anyone else on the scene can reach over and take it. You’re much better off reholstering the gun and telling the responding officers you have it so they can remove it as part of their investigation.
The second reason for one-handed holstering is the risk to your support hand. Remember the rule of gun safety that says to never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot? If you must use two hands to put the gun away, you will likely muzzle your support hand in the process. Do you want to shoot your other hand? Probably not. So take away the danger by using a holster that works without it.
While there are a ton of great holsters on the market, no matter which one you choose, be sure it has these two essential characteristics.
David Workman is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. “Real life shootouts don’t happen at a box range.”
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