The Best 1911 Holsters

What are the best 1911 holsters?

1911-type pistols are some of the most popular handguns in America.

While the first 1911 pistol was designed over 70 years ago as a full- size military sidearm, these days you can find 1911 handguns in a variety of makes, models, & dimensions.

Over 60 days, we sent 15 different 1911 holsters out with 5 EDC enthusiasts and law enforcement professionals across Idaho and Montana.

These experts were tasked with testing these holsters with the kinds of tasks you’ll do every day while holstering your 1911 – hitting the range, dropping into a sports bar, going out to dinner, sitting, standing, and general running around – to find the best holster for keeping your 1911 stable, safe, and secure while out and about. 

We know that not everyone wants the same kind of holster, so we selected the best across the categories that you’re most likely to be in the market for – IWB, OWB, concealed, leather, & shoulder holsters.

Quick List: The Best 1911 Holsters for Most People

  1. Best Concealed Carry: Alien Gear ShapeShift 4.0 IWB Holster
  2. Best OWB: Colt 1911 5” Holster OWB
  3. Best IWB: Relentless Tactical Defender Leather IWB Holster
  4. Best Leather CCW: 1791 Gunleather 1911 Holster
  5. Best Shoulder: XCH Shoulder Gun Holster

Best 1911 Concealed Carry Holster

Alien Gear holsters Shape Shift Inside Waist Band - 1911-5 inch - Right Hand - Standard Clips
  • Custom fit to your specific pistol to ensure for proper fitment and retention. Custom fit to: 1911 -...
  • Fully Adjustable: From the ride height, to the cant, to the retention, this holster can be adjusted...
  • Conceal in Comfort: Reduced footprint while the soft neoprene backing is flexible to move and shift...

What we liked:

What we didn't:

  • Can work for a wide variety of pistols
  • Has adjustable height and cant
  • Made with soft neoprene backing
  • Great for left or right-handed users
  • Some pistols feel a little loose

Owing to its smart design thinking, the Alien Gear Shape Shift is an ideal concealed carry holster – and not just for 1911 pistols – but for a wide variety of handguns.

It offers a custom fits for huge various pistol builds (over 30 in total), which are tailor-made for each specific pistol, ensuring a precise fit.

You also get to choose a left or right-hand orientation, so it’s a great ambidextrous holster as well.

Regardless of the variation you select, every Shape Shift holster features soft neoprene backing material for the interior waistband section. This keeps it cooler than other options, comfortable against the skin, and flexible enough to fit well with all body shapes.

The material is also fantastically breathable and wicks away sweat effectively, helping increase comfort and prevent irritation. As such, it’s easy to wear for long stretches of time without much discomfort.

The holster also offers a full cant, allowing you to set the pistol to be drawn from multiple angles, making it a great fit for a variety of drawing styles and skill levels. The ride height (or how high the pistol is relative to your hand) is adjustable as well.

Best OWB 1911 Holster

Polymer OWB Holster Fit 1911 5" NO Rail - Colt 1911 / Elite Force 1911 / Kimber 1911 / RIA 1911FS /...
  • Compatible & Incompatible: Compatible with colt 1911 .45 5" without rail, girsan 1911 mc, variants...
  • High Safety: Level II Retention. It will automatically lock on the trigger when you put the weapon...
  • Excellent Design: Made of military polymer material, easy to clean and maintain, so light to carry....

What we liked:

What we didn't:

  • Has full 360° cant angles
  • Has a special automatic locking system
  • Made with durable but lightweight material
  • Fits comfortably over the waistband
  • Work with or without a belt clip
  • No left-handed adjustments

If you would rather have an over the waistband holster, this Colt 1911 Paddle Holster is a great choice. It’s made with a durable polymer material that’s as durable as Kydex holsters and still relatively with lightweight, but it gives the holster a more nuanced fit, which adds stability.

Plus it there’s a satisfying “click” when you holster your pistol and it looks pretty boss.

It’s resistant to water, sweat, and other forms of wear and tear; in other words, it’s an OWB holster that can withstand anything the world throws at it – and still protect your pistol.

As a paddle holster, it’s easy to set on your belt loops and slide on or off as needed plus it sits tighter against the body than other paddle holsters we tested – making for a surprisingly low profile. 

The “click” that you hear when holstering your firearm is an automatic locking system, which uses positive retention to prevent the release of the weapon until pressed. This makes it nearly impossible for an attacker to dislodge your weapon.

Furthermore, it’s fully adjustable and can rotate 360° for a variety of cant angles. You’ll be able to draw it however you like.

Best IWB 1911 Holster

Relentless Tactical The Defender Leather IWB Holster - Fits Most 1911 Style Handguns - Kimber - Colt...
  • BACKED BY RELENTLESS TACTICAL’S LIFETIME WARRANTY! Carry the best leather 1911 IWB Holster with...
  • FITS MOST 1911 STYLE HANDGUNS WITH ANY BARREL LENGTH! Kimber, S & W, Colt, Remington, Browning,...

What we liked:

What we didn't:

  • Works with any 1911 pistol
  • Made with high-quality leather
  • Is a very comfortable holster
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Trigger guard doesn’t fully cover the trigger
  • Requires break-in period
  • Strong retention requires a gun belt  

Those in the market for an IWB 1911 holster will really love the Relentless Tactical Defender. It comes in both left and right-handed orientations and it’s made with high-quality leather that will last you years if not decades.

Being leather, the holster requires a break-in period, but once it has conformed to your pistol’s shape the Relentless is one of the most comfortable 1911 holsters you can find. It also offers great durability and will fit any 1911 style handgun regardless of barrel length.

The bullhide leather is super durable and stitched with a large diameter waxed tread. The thing is really designed for last.

It also comes with a lifetime warranty so if you ever have an issue with the holster you can get it replaced at no extra cost.

The holster doesn’t quite cover your trigger fully, which can be an issue for some, and the retention is strong enough that you’ll want a proper gun belt to ensure maximize stability & draw comfort.

Best Leather CCW 1911 Holster

1791 GUNLEATHER Right Hand OWB Leather Gun Holster for Belts fits All 1911 Models with 4" and 5"...
  • COMFORT & QUALITY: Upgrade your carry to the 1911 leather gun holster. Made with 100% American...
  • CONCEALMENT & CONVENIENCE: 1791's 1911 holster is designed for concealment and convenience. Our easy...
  • PROTECTION & CRAFTSMANSHIP: 1791 Gunleather's 1911 Belt Holster is hand crafted to protect both you...

What we liked:

What we didn't:

  • Comes in several colors
  • Made with super comfortable and durable leather
  • Has a lifetime warranty
  • Made with a quick draw design for fast self-defense
  • No left-handed modifications

For those interested in a leather 1911 holster, but want something other than just an IWB orientation, this 1791 Steerhide Leather Holster is comfortable and reinforced with double stitching, which allows it to be lightweight but super long-lasting even after heavy use.

It’s a great purchase if you want a holster that’ll continue to perform for years to come.

It also sits nice and tight against the body – offering a low profile and making it relatively easy to conceal even for an over the waistband teehide holster.

It features a quick draw design, making it an ideal self-defense holster if you live in a state that allows open carry.

It’ll fit most 1911 pistols and a variety of barrel lengths.

We liked that the 1791 offers a variety of colors so you can choose the exact leather shade that goes with your personal aesthetic or style. Not everyone wants to rock a black or brown holster!

It’s also backed by a lifetime warranty; if you aren’t fully satisfied, you can take advantage of a no-hassle return.

Best 1911 Shoulder Holster

XCH Shoulder Gun Holster Sig Sauer P238 / P938, S&W 1911, Colt 1911, Colt Defender, Colt Commander
  • Fits 1911 type pistol, Colt Defender, Colt Commander, Sig Sauer P238/P938, Bersa Thunder .380 plus,...
  • Horizontal or vertical carry position. Ambidextrous, left/right handed. Removable magazine pouch can...
  • Made of high quality genuine leather, high durability . High quality workmanship.

What we liked:

What we didn't:

  • Can easily adjust for left or right-handed users
  • Is made with genuine leather
  • Very comfortable thanks to its adjustability
  • Comes with a magazine pouch
  • Not ideal for quickdraw scenarios

Here’s a great 1911 shoulder holster that’ll fit most typical 1911 type pistols, included several Colt and Sig Sauer types.

It features a left side holster for your main pistol and a right-side magazine pouch, so you can always have a spare magazine handy if you need it.

Even better, you’ll be able to swap the position of both of these pouches, so it’s great for ambidextrous or left-handed users along with right-handed users.

The XCH holster’s straps have a wide range of adjustability, which makes for a comfortable fit on a variety of body types.

In addition, you can carry your 1911 pistol in either a horizontal or vertical position with a quick strap adjustment, adding flexibility.

Perhaps most importantly of all, this shoulder holster is made with high-quality and genuine leather, which gives it both durability and comfort that will only increase with use. It also fits well under most suits or jackets.

All in all, it’s a solid 1911 shoulder holster that should serve most people for years once they dial in the fit.

Things to Consider Before Buying a 1911 Holster

Not all 1911 holsters are created equal; in fact, some are certainly better than others. Here are the main aspects you should keep in mind as you shop.

Is it Concealed Carry-Compatible?

If concealed carry s top of mind a holster that works with concealed carry pistols is invaluable – but not all holsters are viable CCW candidates.

Concealed carry holsters have to be designed with a low profile in mind so you can wear them beneath your shirt or waistband. They also need to be comfortable.  No one is going to feel confident with a holster irritating their skin all day.

Concealed carry holsters are usually compact and can be worn in a variety of configurations to accommodate different body sizes and types. Ultimately, you only need to worry about this if you plan on using a concealed carry license with your 1911 pistol.

Where is it worn?

Naturally, 1911 holsters can be worn in a variety of places. Some are designed for the shoulder, while the majority are designed for your waist (either outside or inside the waistband, called OWB or IWB, respectively).

There’s no right or wrong answer, but keep in mind that your holster’s location can impact how quickly you can draw your 1911 in a self-defense situation or where you can carry the pistol.

Holster location also impacts comfort. Some people think shoulder holsters are a lot more comfortable and make their pistol easier to conceal. Others prefer classic waistband holsters due to their ease of quick access.

What materials are used?

1911 and other pistol holsters can be made from a variety of materials, most commonly mesh, leather, and polymer (a harder substance and sometimes a little more uncomfortable). Leather is also incredibly popular – and for good reason. It’s comfortable, durable, and gets better with use – eventually working into a near-perfect fit between pistol and person.

However, keep in mind that many leather or otherwise high-quality holsters may be more expensive than simple mesh ones.

Is it comfortable?

While your holster’s primary job is to carry your 1911 pistol securely and discretely, you should absolutely consider comfort.

After all, you’re likely planning on wearing this holster for extended periods (up to a full day in some cases). This means your holster and its retention system needs to be comfortable or you’re likely to avoid wearing it in the first place, which defeats the purpose.

Is it adjustable?

Adjustable holsters will let you draw your weapon from a variety of angles – outside of just vertical (also known as “straight drop”).

This helps ease draw for people who prefer a specific holster cant and may benefit you if you’re ever in a self-defense situation and need to draw your weapon in a close-quarters environment. 

It also helps ensure ease-of-use for a wider array of body types.  Taller folks will generally prefer a very different draw angle from shorter folks due things like arm length, hip position, and waist size.


All in all, the best 1911 holster for your needs will be the right material, be comfortable, and be designed for wearing in an ideal spot. Remember to consider whether you’ll ever want to conceal carry your gun before making a purchase, and always prioritize comfort and durability! 

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MICHAEL CRITES is el jefe around here. He writes about guns and gear.

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