The Tactical Holster – Part 2 – How to Choose One


How to Choose the Best Tactical Holster

  1. ACCESS: Depending on what you find comfortable, you may want your gun either on your hip or on your thigh. It’s all about accessibility.
  2. RETENTION: Make sure your chosen holster can hold your weapon extremely well despite rapid movement or outside forces acting on it. Similarly, it should be able to release your weapon just as quick when you need it to.
  3. BEEFY RIG: The ideal holster must have a very strong method of attaching to a belt.

Unless your game plan for an armed conflict is to carry your handgun in your hand, you should probably look into a good tactical holster.

During the gunfight itself, you’ll clearly be using the weapon, but you’ll need somewhere to store it where it can be easily accessed when not in use. At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I don’t plan on being in an armed conflict,” or perhaps “I’m not a police officer or soldier.”

While these statements may be true, you still need a valid tactical holster for your weapon. There are several excellent reasons for this, so read on!

What A Tactical Holster Is – And What It Is Not

As a prepper, survivalist, or tactical aficionado, there will be times when you favor concealment over function. Realize that anytime you endeavor to hide something on your person, be it a knife or gun, you instantly make it harder to access that weapon.

It doesn’t matter how slick that concealment holster is, it’s never going to draw as fast as a good hip or thigh holster, and that is the start of the differences between a tactical holster and a concealment holster.

A tactical holster is:

• A retention holster with a beefy method to keep the pistol attached to your body unless you need to use it.

• Secure, with strong attachment points so that the entire rig will stay mounted to your body. There’s no point in retaining the weapon when it’s easy to make off with the whole holster.

A tactical holster is not:

• Is not about concealment; it’s about easy access.


Let’s look at the points individually –

How to Choose A Tactical Holster:



You want it mounted right there on your hip or thigh. This serves several purposes. First, you can easily grab the weapon with a firm master grip while it is still in the holster, so you can be ready to go.

Second, the whole world can see that you are armed. This is an intentional choice for very specific situations. In a grid-down societal collapse, cocked, locked, and ready to rock is the only way to go. Concealment is for the current society, where it’s unpalatable to let people know you are carrying.



Retention, after access, is the second most important feature in a holster. Forget lanyards, straps, or Velcro hold-downs. You need a proper synthetic molded holster that requires the push of a button or some other similar action to access the weapon.

Actual discussion of individual retention systems is outside the scope of my article, but there are dozens of proprietary retention methods that allow one to obtain a proper grip on the butt of the weapon and then flick or push a button to release the gun.

Many of these retention systems also are rated to several hundred pounds of pull strength, meaning that even in a benign situation where your weapon gets snagged on a tree branch, for example, you still won’t lose it. If you expect a violent situation in which you anticipate someone trying to go for your gun (very common), retention is for you!


Beefy Rig:

Ideally, your tactical holster will have a super-strong method of attaching to a belt. This means polymer belt loops with metal hardware or something equally tough. Resist the urge to go with a holster that does not have belt loops that are as durable as the holster itself.

This, incidentally, excludes paddle type holsters, which are simply friction based systems fine for concealment, not fine for duty or firefight use.

In addition, the supposition here is that you will mount the holster to a strong and sturdy belt. As stated before, there is no use for an uber-retention holster that can be ripped off your body easily.


Drop Leg or Hip Holster?

This discussion may border on religious doctrine for some, but there are good reasons to get both as they each have a very specific feature set.

Drop Leg Holster:

Sometimes called a thigh rig, this one puts the holster on the side of your thigh. Access to this holster is lightning fast, and this holster is a superior choice when you are wearing heavy body armor that will preclude you from wearing a hip holster. It is also an outstanding rig for use in a vehicle. On the downside, this type of holster tends to snag more on objects because it’s out there on your thigh. Additionally, it is easier for someone to grab the gun and harder to retain your gun, because the weapon, hanging down low, is so accessible.


Hip Holster:

An excellent holster for duty use, a hip holster puts your weapon in a spot that makes it hard for someone to grab it, in the hollow of your waist, where it sits nice and high. Access is also very fast, and retention is good. On the downside, a hip holster is not an effective rig in a vehicle or while wearing heavy, external armor.


Remember this:

The mission always dictates the equipment. A good tactical holster will keep your weapon at your fingertips, while simultaneously keeping it out of someone else’s.

We hope these tips helped you learn how to choose a tactical holster.

7 Responses to :
The Tactical Holster – Part 2 – How to Choose One

  1. Dean says:

    What about an X-draw molle vest?

  2. gundog says:

    This article is of little value in real life. Who is going to walk down the street wearing a drop holster? Even in open-carry states a drop or tactical holster would draw far too much attention! It’s about as practical as wearing a Samurai Sward!

    1. MtnM4n20 says:

      Second, the whole world can see that you are armed. This is an intentional choice for very specific situations. In a grid-down societal collapse, cocked, locked, and ready to rock is the only way to go. Concealment is for the current society, where it’s unpalatable to let people know you are carrying.

      Taken straight from the article, bud. This is post SHTF society advice.

  3. Mark says:

    I find a cross draw holster to be a better all around choice than either of the two mentioned.
    My personal carry is a horizontal shoulder holster with a double mag pouch under my strong arm. I can carry either concealed or openly, with or without a belt tie down. Bianchi, Aker, Safariland, and Galco all make good quality leather models.
    They have good retention, can be accessed easier with the weak hand, and can be easily concealed with something as simple as a shirt (when you don’t want to draw attention to yourself). A cross draw also has better accessibility when operating a vehicle or heavy equipment .
    I’m not a fan of the softside shoulder holsters and nylon strap harness rigs. They are not a stable platform to me.
    I know any shoulder holster is not practical when wearing a plate carrier or tactical vest. There are cross draw style holsters and even conventional holsters made to fit on the vest/carrier in a cross draw position.
    Just my humble opinion

  4. Esteban Cafe says:

    Seems like the best advice is to get what you like then train, train, train. And train some more.

    A lot of dry fire practice makes a difference in clearing leather (or plastic) and getting first shot on target. In a grid down scenario, it might make all the difference.

    And the wannabe in the photo is interesting–what’s with the crazy grip on the gun?. And dressed the way his is, in a grid down scenario, he’d likely be shot or sniped without a word…certainly by bad guys as he’ll likely have some choice gear. But he could be targeted by good guys too, looking the way he does. And he should get some pants that don’t hang down so far. Easier to run.

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