Gun Holsters Glossary

Gun Holsters Glossary

Basket weave or appliqué? IWB or OWB? Normal or cross draw? If you don't know the difference between these gun holster terms, don't fret. We're here to help you out. Use this glossary to read up on holster-related definitions, then get on your way to finding the holster that's perfect for you and your gun.

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Stands for accidental discharge when a gun goes off unintentionally.

ankle holster:
A type of holster that attaches to your ankle. Concealment is easy with this type of holster. A regular pair of pants covers an ankle holster without showing a visible outline of the firearm. Many use ankle holsters for backup weapons.

A holster that supports a right- or left-side draw. An ambidextrous holster can be worn or used on both sides of the body.

A textured finish on the outside of the holster.

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basket weave:
A finish in which the material is designed in an over-under pattern to create a textured exterior.

belly band:
Concealed holster design that uses a large elastic waistband to secure the firearm. When using a belly-band holster, you typically will place a handgun in the front or underneath the armpit.

boot holster:
This holster type is similar to an ankle holster, but it attaches to your boot.

Stands for backup gun. Many law enforcement professionals have a large service pistol and a smaller BUG that is usually concealed. Some concealed carry citizens insist on having a BUG as well.

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An acronym for a concealed carry weapon.

chest holster:
This holster type enables quick access for operators while seated. These holsters are attached to chest carriers and vests that use MOLLE attachment technology. If you're riding in a vehicle, this its the ideal carrying position. Having your sidearm on your chest is easier to draw from a seated position than a hip holster. Some military divisions even require passengers in vehicles to have a weapon mount on the chest.

A stronger, reinforced plastic used to make composite holsters.

cross draw:
This refers to reaching across your body to draw the weapon. To achieve this type of draw, purchase a holster with a draw matching your dominant side, and place it on the opposite side of your body.

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double stack:
A handgun ammunition magazine that fits in the handle of the pistol. It maximizes the number of bullets by stacking them in a offset, staggered pattern. Double stack-capable pistols can usually shoot around 14 to 18 rounds.

The act of removing the weapon from its holster.

duty holster:
A holster worn by security personnel and uniformed officers. These are usually carried openly and worn on a duty belt. In addition, duty holsters typically cover both the front and rear sights of the weapon.

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Stands for everyday carry. Can be used to reference a bag or holster that you chose to use on a daily basis.

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The appearance of the surface of a holster. Types of finishes are plain, matte, basket weave or appliqué.

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A high-capacity magazine, which usually provides more bullets than the gun was originally designed for.

A shiny finish type.

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inside-pocket carry:
A carrying type used to describe when you conceal and carry a small gun using a pocket holster.

Weapon is ready to fire.

Stands for inside the waistband. IWB is a holster type that puts the holster between you and your pants. These holsters are ideal for concealed carry.

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A tough, reinforced plastic commonly used to make holsters.

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Stiff and tough, leather is a popular material used to make holsters. Cosmetically, leather has an attractive and traditional appearance. In addition, leather holsters are known for being form-fitting to your weapon.

lower-back carry:
See SOB.

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A finish type that isn't shiny or glossy.

mouse gun:
Small handguns that are specifically designed for concealed carry. They function well for inside-pocket carry.

Stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. MOLLE is a widely recognized attachment method that features separated webbing. It can be used as a platform to attach some holsters.

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normal draw:
When the holster is designed to be accessible from your dominant side.

This fabric is commonly used to make holsters because it is water resistant, stiff and thick enough to provide protection for your weapon. Instead of sizing by the model of your gun, nylon holsters are sized by the barrel length.

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Stands for outside the waistband. OWB is a type of holster that clips or fits onto a belt. These holsters require more clothing for coverage if you intend to conceal and carry.

Refers to any time you're carrying a firearm on your body. It includes all outside-the-waistband, inside-the-waistband, shoulder, ankle, boot, chest and belly-band holsters. On-the-body carry runs the risk of being physically uncomfortable and/or having your gun be visible. It allows for quick access and maximum control of the firearm.

This term refers to any time you have the gun with you but not against you. Systems of off-the-body carry can refer to bags, pouches, backpacks, etc. Although off-the-body carry is easier to conceal and allows for more mobility, gaining access to your gun is considerably less convenient than on-the-body carry.

Weapon is not ready for use.

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paddle mount:
A method of securing an inside-the-waistband holster to the wearer that uses a flat, horseshoe-shaped piece of plastic or stiffened leather. Some are made of the same composite material used in holsters. A paddle mount is designed to use friction to secure the holster when the handgun is drawn. In addition, this allows for quick access when removing the firearm and holster from the wearer.

Picatinny rail:
A mounting platform on some firearms that allows for attachments and accessories. It must be taken in consideration when choosing a holster because aftermarket rails can be larger than the original rail. This could cause the weapon to not fit into the holster.

pocket holster:
Holster used for very small guns, such as backup guns or mouse guns.

A finish type with no texture or embossments. Can be slightly shinier than a matte finish.

When the outline of your gun can be seen through the material of your clothes.

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retention level:
Some holsters are categorized by retention: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Each level indicates the number of mechanisms in place on the holster to keep the weapon from being drawn. The level number corresponds to the number of locks.

retention strap:
A safety device that prevents the weapon from being unintentionally drawn.

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single stack:
A single stack magazine will have the cartridges loaded one on top of the other in a straight line.

shoulder holsters:
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.

sling holsters:
A holster consisting of two straps. One strap wraps around the chest while the other attaches around the shoulder. Used by the military in WWII, this holster type is a little dated; however, it's still produced by the U.S. military for M9 pistols.

Stands for small of the back. This holster type straps the gun directly to the center of your back. Because of the placement of the firearm, even large handguns can be concealed.

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taser holsters:
Made of nylon or composite material, taser holsters provide a secure way to store a taser on the body. It is designed to be mounted on duty belts or attached around the thigh, locking the taser in place until needed.

taser holsters:
Classification of holsters used by tactical, military and law enforcement professionals in the field. These holsters are typically made of nylon or plastic.

thigh rig:
Popular holster accessory for military and law enforcement. Allows you to place your firearm on the thigh and gives your hand easy access for a quick draw.

thumb break:
A type of retention strap. Straps go over the weapon and are removed by the thumb, usually by opening and removing a snap.

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