Gun Holster Buyer's Guide

Gun Holster's Buyer's Guide

At TacticalGear.com, we like to think of ourselves as your holster destination. We are committed to carrying the best brands and styles so our customers can be ready in an instant for any role or requirement. Like any performance gear, the brand of your holster matters. Although many companies have mastered producing holsters for every carry type, some zero in on specific materials or jobs. We've delved into the history of our holster brands to outline where each brand excels.

5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical didn't start out in the holster game. Instead, it started out with pants. Not just any pants though. 5.11 created the very first pair of tactical pants. The innovative trouser design was quickly picked up by FBI agents and tactical enthusiasts. 5.11 began to garner respect from law enforcement and military professionals across the nation. It used that increased brand recognition to expand its scope of tactical products.

5.11 manufactures various concealment and tactical holsters all designed with the same world-class engineering for which the brand is known. The company has a reputation for excellence, and its line of holsters holds up. Temperature-tolerant polymers, retention and a fast draw are a focus for every tactical holster. To ensure a quality product, 5.11 teamed up with Blade Tech to make excellently crafted tactical designs. The brand's concealment selection includes more simplistic styles that can be worn IWB or on your back.

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Blackhawk

Dependability and durability are at the core of the Blackhawk brand. The company was founded by former Navy SEAL Mike Noell. While overseas on an operation, Noell's issued backpack failed him by breaking off and falling onto a land mine. Fortunately, the land mine did not detonate, and Noell made it through alive. This nearly fatal experience inspired him to start his own company with the ultimate mission of creating gear elite operators can rely on. He started by making backpacks and then went on to produce apparel, knives, footwear and of course, top-of-the-line holsters.

Blackhawk builds its collection of concealment, duty and tactical holsters with innovative designs and aggressive materials in order to meet the brand's high standards. Its famous line of SERPA holsters not only meet Blackhawk's high standards, but also military standards. In 2011, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the SERPA as its official holster. In 2014, the U.S. Army followed suit and awarded Blackhawk with a five-year, $24 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, multiple-source contract.

The SERPA was chosen for its innovative technology and convenient quick-disconnect system. The master grip and auto-lock technology provide superior retention without having to sacrifice a lightning-fast draw. The ability to quickly move your holster between your belt loop, leg platform and MOLLE mount is essential during combat. The SERPA quick-disconnect system allows you to move the holster from one location to another immediately with no tools.

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Condor

Internationally recognized for its nylon products, Condor has been around for more than 20 years. Although it manufactures apparel, the brand places a focus on the design and development of tactical equipment including bags, vests, pouches and holsters. Condor holsters, like the majority of the brand's gear, are engineered for a tactical application.

Simultaneously aggressive and adjustable, you can customize the fit of the holster around the weapon as well as your body. This eliminates sizing your holster specifically to your weapon. The flexible styles can accommodate various pistol sizes and styles. The wrap-around design fits medium- to large-frame handguns even with a light or laser-mount. Condor makes its holsters out of the same long-lasting nylon as its other exceptional tactical equipment to create a carrier that can withstand whatever you throw at it.

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Elite Survival Systems

Headquartered in the small riverfront town of Washington, Mo., Elite Survival Systems (ESS) designs, develops and manufactures tactical gear sold across six continents. You can spot its gear everywhere from Hollywood to real-life tactical operations.

ESS doesn't produce apparel or footwear, which allows the brand to focus more of its efforts on creating extraordinary holsters. The brand specializes in nylon holsters for every job. Almost all styles are American-made right in its Missouri warehouse. Although ESS makes tactical and duty holsters, high praise is given to its concealment styles. Well-known for being discreet and adept at not printing, its concealment line includes a wide-range of carry types including ankle, belly band and IWB.

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Galco

Galco has been in the holster game since its inception in 1969. What started as a family-owned, horsehide-holsters business is now an international holster corporation. The company first achieved worldwide fame in the 1980s when the popular TV series “Miami Vice” began featuring Calco's Jackass Shoulder System. To this day, its holsters have appeared in more films and TV shows than any other brand.

Beyond that, tactical professionals, shooting enthusiasts and firearm-carrying citizens favor the brand. Galco produces holsters in various materials, but the majority, as well as its most notable styles, are made from premium leather. The company began with rawhide holsters, and it's what Galco knows best.

In fact, some of Galco's most popular holsters styles, particularly among members of our Armed Forces, are its leather shoulder holsters. The brand started its Holsters for Heroes program in 2005 and began donating high-quality shoulder holster systems to deployed military members. The program has since raised over $85,000 dollars worth of donations, providing our troops with battle-tested carriers.

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Gould & Goodrich

If you're a tactical enthusiast, you've definitely heard of Smith & Wesson. But you probably didn't know that Gould & Goodrich's history is tied to another legendary gun manufacturer. Before Smith & Wesson decided to focus primarily on the development and manufacturing of firearms, Robert Gould worked as its marketing planning manager. Wanting to stay in the holster business, Gould along with John Goodrich purchased the holster-specific part of the company from Smith & Wesson in 1985. Thus Gould & Goodrich was born, and the brand began crafting exquisite leather holsters.

More than 25 years later, Gould & Goodrich has widened its range of holster styles to include composite and nylon carriers along with its famous leather models. What sets this brand apart is that its holsters are not only high-quality, but also reasonably priced. The affordability paired with innovative design features make this brand a go-to for concealment, duty and tactical uses.

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Maxpedition

Perhaps most famous for its innovative bag and packs, Maxpedition also makes holsters. When the brand's customer base expanded from military operators and law enforcement officers to include civilian tactical enthusiasts, Maxpedition began to diversify its product line.

Its collection of concealment holsters reflect this change. Made from the same water- and abrasion-resistant nylon as Maxpedition's top-selling bags, these holsters mix durability with a simplistic, adjustable design. Boasting a discreet look, they were built to serve the concealed carry market as efficiently as possible. As an added bonus, every holster is compatible with Maxpedition's vast line of bags and packs.

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Uncle Mike's

When you think of holsters, Uncle Mike's is one of the top brands that comes to mind. Why? The brand is a pioneer in the industry. More than 20 years ago it shook up the holster game by introducing the first nylon carrier. Uncle Mike's discovered that tightly woven nylon provides flexibility and durability that lends itself well to any application.

It also offers composite choices for those looking for a more rigid, aggressive option. Continuing its history of innovation, a previous generation of its popular Reflex holster was the first injection-molded Kydex holster on the market. More than 15 years later, the precision-crafted Reflex Holster is still recognized in the tactical community as an exceptional carrier for tactical and duty applications.

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Each type of job requires a different holster. We get that, which is why our holsters are tailored to a specific purpose. Not sure which carry solution favors your day-to-day activities? We've mapped out the benefits and drawbacks of every major holster function and type. Read on, and get one step closer to selecting the holster that best meshes with what you need.

Concealment

Whether you're off-duty or simply a law-abiding citizen exercising your right to bear arms, you might choose to carry a concealed weapon. Our wide selection of concealment holsters are designed specifically for this purpose. Because carrying this way means you'll be wearing your firearm close to your body, potentially for long periods of time, you'll need to pick the most comfortable option in order to make carrying worthwhile. Our selection of holsters will accommodate the most popular concealment carry types.

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  • Ankle:Ankle holsters use comfortable straps to fit securely around your calf. A regular pair of pants covers this type of holster easily. Be sure the legs of the trousers don't fit too tightly to avoid printing of the firearm. These holsters typically fit smaller weapons so for that reason, they're a popular choice for backup weapons.
  • Belly Band:The belly band design uses a large elastic waistband to secure the gun. The handgun is typically placed in the front or underneath the armpit secured by a stretchy band that reaches all the way around the waist. This carry type has mixed reviews. Some claim it's the most comfortable way to CCW while others say the band acts as an irritating girdle-esque device, cinching the waist tightly throughout the day.
  • IWB:Inside the waistband (IWB) is a concealment carry type that puts the holster between you and your pants. These holsters are ideal for CCW because they allow you to easily hide your firearm without having to adjust your outfit drastically to accommodate the gun.
  • OWB:Outside Waistband (OWB) holsters clip or fit onto a belt. Carrying this way requires more clothing for coverage. You need a larger, longer untucked shirt to successfully conceal your firearm when carrying OWB.
  • Pocket Carry: Pocket holsters allow you to carry compact guns directly in your pants pocket without printing. This is ideal for smaller weapons such as backup guns or mouse guns.
  • Shoulder: A shoulder holster consists of backpack-like straps with a holster attached to either the right or left side. Shoulder holsters are known to be comfortable for the wearer, especially for larger weapons. Because of the holster design, it distributes the weight of your firearm across the shoulders instead of directly on the belt.

Tactical

Law enforcement, security personnel and public safety officials need a holster that meets the high standards that being on duty requires. You can recognize a holster built for duty by its open-carry design. It's not only likely, but also expected for professionals in the tactical industry to get caught in compromising situations. When that happens, every second counts, and it's essential to have speedy access to your firearm. Duty carriers are designed to excel in those circumstances. These holsters are usually all black, feature a high retention and fit securely on a duty belt. In addition, the holster should cover rear and front sights of the firearm.

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Duty

When your mind is on your gear, it's not on your mission. Tactical holsters are designed to be as accessible and comfortable as possible to allow elite operators to maintain precision focus. You never know what will be thrown at you out in the field. For that reason tactical holsters are made with the most durable materials on the market from injection-molded composite plastics to high-quality nylon. Because quick-access is paramount during any operation, tactical carry solutions are available in either drop-leg styles or customizable MOLLE-compatible models. When you buy a tactical holster, you're investing in the highest level of function, retention and security.

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  • Drop-leg: Drop-leg holsters allow for convenient and comfortable placement without compromising quick-access to the firearm. These carriers are typically constructed with a thigh platform that adjusts to fit any leg size securely. Many models feature additional accessory mounting for equipment such as pouches, knives and magazines.
  • MOLLE compatible: MOLLE is a widely recognized attachment method that features separated webbing. It can be used as a platform for certain tactical holsters, giving the user the ability to mount the weapon in the most practical location. This is convenient for professionals whose jobs requires them to constantly be changing position.

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