The Best Concealed Carry Holsters in 2023
Licensed Concealed Carry Holder
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Ah, a million options for concealed carry holsters and you have to pick just one (or maybe a couple of options). The number of holster options for concealed carry have exploded over the last decade — in part due to the now almost 20 million American CCW holders, having grown 34% since 2016.
Rest assured — this guide will tackle a variety of options of high-quality holsters and help define what to look for when selecting the perfect fit for on-body carry.
If you take nothing else away from reading this article, remember this: what works for your friends and family may not be what works best for you. Read that again. Only you will be able to find out what works best for your needs. So, let’s dive in!
In This Article
Concealed Carry Holster Comparison
IWB Runner Up
Best Holster System
Best Appendix Holster
Best Shoulder Holster
Best Universal Kydex Holster
Best Ankle Holster
Best Leather Shoulder Holster
Belly Band Runner Up
Budget Ankle Holster
Budget IWB Holster
Concealed Carry Holster Reviews
1. We The People IWB Holster
The IWB holster from We The People offers a lightweight easy-to-run holster with solid retention and a secure clip that fit my .380 PPK perfectly. The adjustable tension enables you to tune it to your draw strength, which helps accommodate different hand sizes and draw preferences. It’s super easy to set up for your preferred draw position.
Plus the adjustable clip gives you lots of options for ride and cant.
TFor those who prefer to get their sweat on, the We The people IWB holster includes a protective sweat guard, so no fear hitting the gym or heading out for a run — your pistol — and hip — is protected.
2. CrossBreed DropSlide OWB Holsters
CrossBreed Holsters designed the DropSlide holster for easy access to the grip when drawing your pistol.
This holster is designed for use outside the waistband and is an option for open carry. These holsters are made from Kydex and are custom-fitted to your specific gun model. When ordering, be sure to choose the gun model and right-hand or left-hand draw.
The belt required to carry this holster needs to be a 1 ¼” or 1 ½” width.
3. CrossBreed Modular Belly Band Holster System
Most belly band holsters are little more than an elastic band with a sewed-in “holster” that’s essentially a pocket with a retaining strap. The CrossBreed Modular Belly Bandholster pairs the flexibility of the elastic band with the security of a molded Kydex holster.
The form-fitting Kydex holster insert secures to the belly band holster via Velco, then a retaining holds the holster in place.
This mix gives you the best of both worlds — comfort and security — and eliminates the retaining strap often seen with other belly band holsters, which can speed the draw. It’s also consistently atop our list of the best belly band holsters.
Also, beyond an on-body carry, CrossBreed also offers various mounts for other applications — purses, bedside mounts, backpacks, and vehicle mounts — which all use the same Velco format, taking the CrossBreed from a holster to a true system.
4. Alien Gear Shapeshift Holster
Alien Gear is known for making many concealed carry holsters. This model is for IWB concealed carry and is made specifically for the Springfield XDM Compact 9/40. This holster is designed for appendix carry with its neoprene base that lays on the body to keep the gun from chafing the skin.
The Shapeshift design was made so the carrier can easily swap out their current holster for a different carry configuration such as shoulder or a belt slide. The Alien Gear clock tuck IWB is an additional option that may be comfortable for you.
The Blackhawk! Nylon Horizontal Shoulder Holster is designed to fit any 4.5 – 5-inch large semi-automatic pistol. The setup is ambidextrous so you can adjust the gun to your right or left side depending on your dominant shooting hand. To keep your gun from flopping around, a strap was made to loop around your belt as a mounting point from your shoulder to your hip to keep the gun steady.
6. Safariland 578 OWB Paddle Holster
Safariland makes some of the sturdiest holsters around due to their work with the military and LEOs. This OWB holster is set up for right-handed shooters and for use only with the M&P Shield 9mm, .40 cal, or 45. The holster is made from a nylon blend material that tolerates extreme high or low-temperature conditions.
This holster is mounted to a paddle design which is easy to tuck into the inside of your pants and supported with your belt in between.
7. Galco Ankle Band Holster
This Galco Ankle Band Holster is for use with a Glock 26, Ruger LCP, or Walther PPK. When checking out, be sure to choose right or left hand. This holster features a Velcro strap that goes over the back of your grip once the gun is inside the holster.
The material is neoprene allows the holster to breathe and wick moisture away.
8. Galco Classic Shoulder Holster
The Miami Classic Shoulder Holster is designed to fit models from 1911s to full-size Glocks. This shoulder holster has two spare magazine pouches built so you can be ready for a gunfight.
This is one of the more unique shoulder holsters made completely out of leather connected with Galco’s trademark Flexalon swivel backplate.
9. Sticky Holsters
This belly band works with an actual Sticky Holster so be sure to purchase both the band and holster for your specific firearm. The band is modular so you can rotate it to mount the pistol where you want it on your waist.
This band features extra pockets to store backup magazines, folding knives, a cell phone, and more.
10. Universal Ankle Holster
This universal ankle holster is a compact gun holster that fits most small models such as a Glock 43 or 42, Smith and Wesson’s Shield model, and even the Ruger LCP handgun.
This holster is ambidextrous so lefties are in luck. The neoprene holster offers a lot of comfort because the material is moisture-wicking and dries quickly. The most important thing to note about this ankle holster is the additional support from the strap above the actual holster. This allows for the gun to stay upright and be supported from higher up on the leg. Best part? BlitzShot makes this holster in the good ole US of A.
11. Talon Tuckable IWB Holster
Talon Holsters are American made with Hermann Oak American steer hide leather. The Talon Concealed Carry Tuckable IWB Leather Holster model fits the Beretta Nano 9mm. Be sure to choose right or left hand at checkout. This IWB holster is fitted with an external clip made tight to the holster for excellent concealed carry.
Concealed Carry Positions
While most people are familiar with the concept of on-body carry — when a gun is physically attached to your person — there are actually two main types of concealed carry; on-body and off-body.
In general, on-body is the best option for most circumstances, as the firearm is always with you when out and about. An important part of on-body carry terminology is the “clock position”, which refers to a holster’s location on the body, with the belly button representing 12 o’clock.
Worth noting — clock position is only relevant to waistband (IWB/OWB) or belly band holsters.
- Strong side hip carry (3 or 9 o’clock). Very popular carry position that is the most comfortable position for many people who carry for longer periods. It also allows for a quick draw with the hand that shares the side of the body as the holster. Popular with both IWB and OWB belt holsters. For right-handed shooters, you’ll find your strong side at the 3 o’clock position (the right hip) — flip that around for lefties, and you’ll find the strong side at 9 o’clock (left hip). Gun tilt with either hand is generally forward, with a slight rear cant, and you’ll often see final carry positions on the 30s — that is 3:30 or 9:30 — which helps shift pressure to the rear of the hip bone, making carry considerably more comfortable.
- Appendix carry (1 to 2 or 10 to 11 o’clock). Popular with IWB holsters (OWB could be, uh painful), appendix carry places the firearm at the 12 o’clock position (beneath the belly button) or a few degrees offset: 1 to 2 o’clock for righties, 10 to 11 o’clock for southpaws, with a positive/negative 90° angle gun tilt. Appendix carry is excellent if you sit or drive a lot, as the placement prevents the seat belt from obstructing the draw. However, this carry position also aims the pistol at your legs and requires a mastery of safe gun control. It can be uncomfortable for bigger fellas, so YMMV.
- Kidney carry. Offering the advantage of improved concealment vs. the 3/9 o’clock positions, kidney carry is ideal for those why stand or walk a lot. Sitting while kidney carrying can be a challenge because the pistol and holster are directly behind your hip, at either the 4 or 5 o’clock position if right-handed, 7 or 8 o’clock if left-handed — essentially putting you in the position of sitting against the gun. Not comfy if you’re using a Kydex or rigid holster. With the increased concealment comes the disadvantage of a slower draw — requiring you to circumnavigate your person in a wide arc, which is why you’ll mostly find OWB holsters carried in this position.
- Small-of-the-back carry – SOB (6 o’clock): If concealment is the top priority, SOB may be an option, but it comes with several drawbacks. Most importantly, it creates the slowest draw while simultaneously making for the most challenging position to defend against an attacker. It requires you to reach the middle of your back to draw the gun, which is located directly above your spine. If you end up on your back during an altercation, you face both a discharge danger and make it impossible for you to reach your weapon. Worse still, it may become retrievable only by your assailant. It’s also not particularly comfortable when sitting or driving, and the draw arc is even broader than kidney carry, maximizing the time spent pointing your pistol at unintended targets.
- Cross Draw (1 to 2 or 10 to 11 o’clock). Another popular carry style with OWB holsters is cross draw, which places the gun on the front of the hip opposite the draw hand, with the gun drawn across the front of the body (hence “cross”). The draw is slower than strong side carry but considerably faster and more comfortable than kidney or SOB, making it a good alternative for those who sit or drive while carrying. Concealment is on par with appendix carry.
If you need your firearm it will be available directly, not left in a glove box or stripped off you by a thief. While on-body is preferred, it can intimidate new shooters — there’s something about a loaded gun being directly attached to their person that can stoke fear of printing or accidents.
There are certainly some clothing limitations when carrying on body. Still, once you have some time and experience carrying, you’ll learn that even the most casual clothing can be used to effectively conceal a firearm.
Off-body carry is certainly possible, and there are situations when on-body carry is simply not going to be possible. In those situations, off-body carry can be an option, but in the event of a crisis situation, you’ll be much more able to respond with your firearm within reach.
Important CCW Holster Features
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to carrying a firearm; learning how to handle a gun and shoot effectively, safe storage and proper firearm maintenance, and simply overcoming this new sensation of having a loaded gun on your person everywhere you go.
Picking a carry method is no easier, as there are thousands of holster options and an endless stream of opinions on the best carry method. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of “try before you buy” scenarios so understanding the carry options and what to look for in a high-quality, comfortable concealment holster is critical to carrying with confidence.
Rule number 1: the holster must be safe to use. This is the single most important consideration when dealing with firearms Do not buy a holster that does not cover the trigger or the trigger guard.
While exceedingly rare, accidental discharges when carrying a firearm on your body can be very dangerous. Ensuring the holster does not expose the trigger and prevents access to it is key as anything lodged between the trigger guard and trigger — with enough weight to pull the trigger rearward — can fire a round unintentionally.
The gun should also be secure enough in the holster to avoid falling out or moving out of place when carrying.
If you carry daily, the holster’s material should provide the right balance of comfort and durability.
If the material fits your comfort level but is less than reasonably durable, the holster can wear prematurely — reducing the reliability of the hold on the gun, and forcing you to purchase multiple holsters over the years. If the holster isn’t comfortable to wear, well, you won’t wear it — defeating the purpose.
Leather holsters grab firmly onto the gun, giving you a very secure fit. They can be extremely comfortable and durable for some time but eventually can be stretched beyond viability from sweat, use, and Father Time. Pairing a super durable material (like Kydex) with leather, on the other hand, gives you maximum comfort and unbeatable durability in one package.
It’s very common to research and purchase what you think is the perfect holster, only to get it home and discover that it doesn’t fit nearly as well as you’d hoped. Anyone who’s carried for a few years has a drawer full of holsters that were perfect on paper, but failed the day-to-day reality. If you purchase a holster that doesn’t work for you, just return it and buy another.
There are simply too many great holsters out there to suffer necessarily.
The goal of concealed carry is to pair effective concealment with quick access to your firearm, and new shooters in particular, when concerned with preventing printing, can forget that the need to quickly draw and defend themselves is the primary purpose of carrying a firearm.
If any aspect of the holster prevents you from grabbing your gun with a proper grip, that is a sign of poor fit.
This requires you to think through how you will clear a coat or open-front shirt and retrieve the gun should you need to, which requires practice.
You can simply toss your garment aside and go for the grip, but you’ll be working against gravity and if you’re not fast enough — or something disrupts your movement — the garment will drop back into place you’ll have a handful of fabric.
A slightly better option is to use the first 3 fingers — pinky, ring, and middle — while disarticulating (pointing) the trigger finger for safety — and track back against the abdomen to control the fabric & give yourself enough time for a controlled draw.
Muscle memory paired with a holster that makes it easy to get the right grip on the gun is critical to effective self-defense.
Retention is what keeps the gun in the holster. Without proper holster retention your gun will jostle around when on the move — at a minimum causing the firearm to be out of position should you reach for it and at worst causing the gun to fall out.
One easy test of holster retention is to holster an empty gun and tip the holster upside down. With a few shakes, you’ll quickly see if there’s enough retention to keep your gun in place.
The point legally carrying a concealed weapon is to conceal that fact. There’s a reason CCW pistols are small — you don’t want to advertise that you’re carrying. For many people, the idea that the person standing next to them is carrying a loaded pistol may induce fear or panic, and causing a scene is certainly counterproductive. Much like strong fences make good neighbors, a well concealed pistol keeps everyone quiet.
Concealability has a lot to do with body shape and clothing choice. If your state doesn’t permit open carry, your concealed carry holster has to enable concealment. The concealability of a gun can change from standing to sitting, or when bending down to pick something up.
One of the best ways to explore a new concealed carry holster’s concealability is to spend some time trying to get them to fail. Jump around, sit down, bend over, and perform everyday functions to see if your gun prints or juts out of the holster. Ultimately, you want to ensure it stays concealed with the variety of movements you’ll make every day.
If you don’t wear rigid pants or a belt regularly, appendix carry may not be for you, but deep pant pockets work well for pocket holster carry. If you wear a kilt regularly, IWB holsters will most likely not be your concealed carry holster of choice.
For some, this may be a wake-up call. Your clothing has to support your concealed carry needs and if nothing in your current wardrobe will work it may be time to consider the kinds of clothing options that will provide appropriate support.
Types of CCW Holsters
Inside the waistband holsters are the most common style of holster as they can be worn with the widest variety of carry positions provided it’s on your waist, making them both comfortable and highly concealable. IWB holsters eliminate a lot of the angles and bulging of OWB carry, especially when it comes to the muzzle and lower portion of the holster, which can become exposed when carrying OWB and raising your arms.
One note, due to the fact there’s less clothing between your holster and body, IWB can initially be uncomfortable for many people and requires special attention to the holster & carry position. You may want to consider upsizing your pants 2-inches, as you’ll now be touting around not just your person, but a big ass gun in your waistband. The alternative is to lose weight & associated inches from your waist. Not impossible, but this is America.
IWB holsters are most effective when supported by sturdy pants and a thick, rigid gun belt to keep the gun in position. The belt will both compress the firearm & holster into the body, increasing concealment, and ensure the holster will stay put with when the draw occurs.
When considering IWB options, a hybrid holster that pairs a tough, preferably gun-specific molded material such as Kydex on the outside with leather or neoprene on the inside will give you the best mix of comfort and control.
OWB & Paddle Holsters
Outside the waistband holsters are popular for open carry but work well in colder climates when paired with a jacket or overcoat. OWB hosters may be challenging to conceal without exterior layers but provide fantastic access, especially when paired with strong side carry positions. Given the need for a concealment garment of some kind, OWB carry also requires familiarity with clearing that garment for the draw, which is a skill in and of itself.
OWB holsters are commonly threaded through a belt at the waistline or use a paddle design that tucks inside the pants. A sturdy belt will be needed to bear the weight of the gun.
Belly Band Holsters
Belly band holsters wrap around the midsection of the body with a wide nylon strap and Velcro closure. Most belly bands will have a built-in nylon holster — many times as simple as a pocket in the band itself.
When it comes to concealability, belly band holsters are pretty hard to beat, especially when carrying smaller, compact pistols. Generally, belly band holsters are not built for specific firearms. The holster is often made from the same elastic material as the waistband, meaning you get less retention than other holster types. Still, they’re very comfortable and exceptionally approachable for new CCW permit holders.
Belly bands also often have smaller peripheral pockets for spare magazines, knives, and other concealable items, such as money and other valuables when traveling.
These holsters are self-supporting, so there’s no need to wear a specific pair of pants or belt, and you can get the fit exactly right with a bit of trial and error.
Shoulder holsters use an over-shoulder harness to support the holster and are familiar to anyone who’s seen a detective flick or two.
These offer a lot of adjustability, so you can get the fit just right. The most common configuration has the barrel pointing to the rear and positioned just under the arm. However, large-frame revolver shoulder holsters position the gun barrel down towards the ground to better distribute the gun’s weight and prevent the gun from printing by protruding out the back.
A shoulder holster is a decent option for both open and concealed carry, especially for those that prefer to support the weight of the gun using their torso.
If carrying concealed, a jacket that zips in the front will be necessary for quick access while also providing concealment.
Ankle holsters are very popular for smaller primary pistols and backup firearms such as a revolver, which fit easily at the ankle and are light enough to be worn all day without discomfort.
While they can limit wardrobe options (you have to have long pants to cover and roomy enough not to print), most bystanders won’t expect a firearm at the ankle, so they’re very effective for concealment. We compiled a list of our top ankle holsters if you want to go deep on them.
An ankle holster can easily offer sufficient concealment and ready access when paired with boots, long pants, or a long dress.
One note on ankle holsters: carrying that low on the body requires you to reach down and possibly bend over to draw the gun. In a dangerous situation it’s critical to keep your eyes on the threat, so bending at the knee (rather than hip) will allow you to keep your head up while lifting the pant leg and drawing without breaking eye contact.
This, of course, requires practice to build the muscle memory to draw safely and quickly, but ankle holsters are a completely viable and effective carry option.
Concealed Carry Holster Prices
- Less than $50: Entry-level holsters may not offer tons of bells and whistles or custom fitments but they get the job done. You’ll also tend to find less leather, but more synthetic materials and universal fit which can be practical and functional without breaking the bank.
- Between $50 and $150: The sweet spot for holsters, these mid-range options will start to include more premium materials while offering model-specific fitments.
- More than $150: High-end CCW holsters that may be handmade, feature premium hardware, leatherwork, and custom-fit to specific handguns and magazines configurations.
How we selected these products
When reviewing guns or gear, we get our hands on as many products as possible, but there are times when certain products or categories are a real challenge — be it availability, cost, or simply a lack of resources — we can get stymied going hands-on with all the potential candidates. Plus, the holster category is freaking gigantic, so rather than present a never-ending list of all the holsters that work for concealed carry we selected those which we felt best represent the price points laid out above — giving you a solid representational list to serve as a jumping-off point for your own research (you are going to do you own research, right?)
To avoid disappointment or steering you in the wrong direction, we bolster our own experience with conversations with experts, comb through reviews on retailer sites & sales data, review industry publications, other blogs, and otherwise surface the best information available.
We aim for all thriller, no filler, as they say.
Carrying a firearm is an inherently personal decision, and when it comes to the right holster, the choice is yours and yours alone. If given the opportunity to try before you buy or demo other’s holsters, say yes!
You may find different options work better for specific wardrobes, seasons, or guns you own, so variety and practice will ensure you get the most of our every carry option.
- SSRN, John R. Lott, Rujun Wang, Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States, September 21, 2020
- Google Books, Brad Fitzpatrick, Shooter’s Bible Guide to Concealed Carry, 2nd Edition, January 15, 2019