Tactical Holster Definition


One of the most important pieces of equipment you can own if you intend to carry a sidearm (handgun) is a holster, and the are several good quality ones. I say several good-quality holsters because no one holster works for every situation.

What is a tactical holster, anyway?

Basically, a tactical holster is one that securely retains a handgun intended to be used as a secondary, not a primary firearm.
Tactical holsters are made in a variety of styles and materials, and they offer all sorts of different features. The term is almost too broad to define. Unlike the general terms “inside-the-waistband holster,” “shoulder rig” or “ankle-carry,” tactical holsters can not be given names or types based on where you wear them.

What things determine the type of tactical holster I need?

Here in Phoenix, a shoulder holster that requires a vest or jacket to cover it will be too conspicuous most of the year as temps in the 100+ range generally precludes wearing of jackets or even vests. An IWB (inside the waistband) holster can easily be covered by a long loose fitting shirt.
In other parts of the country when the weather gets cold, accessing a pistol in an IWB holster might be impossible due to heavy outer wear such as coats and sweaters covering the area, while a shoulder or cross draw holster would be ideal. Again, an assortment of holsters work best.

If you happen to go to the Bianchi, Galco, or DeSantis holster maker websites, you may find yourself with a bit of sticker shock. Here's the good news, your holster doesn't have to be leather, and if you prefer leather, there are ways around those high prices. Uncle Mikes, Safariland, and now Galco (as well as a number of smaller manufacturers) is making holsters out of nylon.
Blackhawk, Fobus and a number of others are making them out of Kydex (a hard heat formed plastic). The quality of these holsters varies, with prices that run from ludicrously inexpensive ($10) to rather pricey (over $50). This is one of those situations where you inspect what you're buying before plunking down your cash.
Poorly sewn holsters WILL fail at the worst possible moment, so make sure construction is of decent quality.

Consider these three things when buying holsters:

  • use
  • construction
  • fit

Let's look at those three considerations:


When you are looking at holsters, you have to decide what it is going to be used for. Concealment or Open carry, and how securely will it have to hold the pistol. Will it need to hold the pistol when you are riding a horse or a quad, or just walking or riding in a car?
For the former, you might want something with one or more tie-downs or a full flap cover, for the latter, no tie-down or a simple thumb break may be adequate. Whatever you decide on, make sure it is something that you can use in a hurry, and practice with it until you are proficient.


Construction is simple enough. Is it built of solid enough material to handle the wear and tear it is going to face or not? Now, That's the real question. Is the method of construction solid enough not to break or the stitching sturdy enough not to pull loose in use?


Does the holster fit the gun snugly enough to hold it in place or not? If the holster fits the weapon too tightly, or is too small, the pistol may be too hard to remove in a hurry. If the holster is too short, the pistol may not fit all the way in and come out from incidental movement.
Since most holsters list what firearms they fit, this shouldn't be a problem, but it is always better to try the pistol in the holster before purchasing.
Okay, so now you know what to look for in a holster.

How do you get a good deal on holsters?

Consider used or unboxed

There are some tricks to this, but the easiest way is to realize that there are MILLIONS of perfectly good USED holsters available, often for ridiculously low prices. One of my favorite gun shops keeps a box of used, or out of packaging holsters that they want to get rid of.
Often you can find dealers with similar boxes of holsters at gun shows.
Some of them come in with guns on trade. Others are ones people bought and then sold back because they didn't like them, whatever the reason they've always got these boxes of holsters. Many of them are in NEW or LIKE NEW condition.
I've gotten a $120 Bianchi X19 shoulder holster for $25, a Safariland nylon duty holster, Bianchi UM-84 Milspec nylon holster, a Smith & Wesson leather shoulder holster, two Blackhawk Serpa holsters, and a Gould and Goodrich leather shoulder holster without paying over $20 for any of them. Most were in like new condition. The Smith and Wesson one was still in the factory packaging.
At the gun shows, it isn't impossible to schmooze with the dealers and haggle a bit. On the Bianchi X19, the guy had been having such a bad day that he told me to just make him an offer on something. I didn't have much cash on me, so I offered him $20, he countered with $25 and I accepted his offer.
Don't be afraid to talk to the small dealers at the gun shows. Often, they'll cut you some slack just for the conversation. I also try to make sure I go back to ones I recognize. They appreciate the repeat business and often give me a break on prices just for coming back to them, especially if you send your friends to them as well.

Holsters for other guns may fit

Here's another valuable piece of advice. If you buy a CZ-75B, you'll find that there aren't many holsters listed as fitting it. The thing is, there are LOTS of holsters to fit the Beretta 92F. If a manufacturer doesn't list a holster for the CZ-75, but does one for the Beretta 92F, try the CZ in the Beretta holster. Frequently they'll fit well.

Look online for the best prices

If you are patient, and do not need your holster immediately, online is usually the best way to go. Research what you are looking for, and check several sites to find the best price. Often, especially with bigger retailers like Amazon, the prices change very frequently. If you watch the prices on the site for awhile, you will quickly learn what the low average is, and that is the price at which you should buy your holster.

Bulldog Fusion Belt Holster Compact Semi Autos 2.5″ to 3.75″ Barrels Size 3 Right Hand Nylon Black

$13.01 Dollars

Specifications and Features:

Bulldog Case Fusion belt holster
Fits compact semi-autos with 2-1/2″ to 3-3/4″ barrels
Size 3
Right hand
1200-denier nylon
Water- & scratch-resistant
Interior vinyl vapor barrier
Deluxe padded inside
Ambidextrous belt clip & loop


AMT Backup .45 3″
Beretta 81, 82, 82B, 84, 84B, 84F, 85, 85B, 85F, 86, 87, 90
Browning BDA .380 3-3/4″
Colt Mustang, Mustang Plus II, Mustang Pocketlite, .380 Government & Government
EAA European .22, .380, 32 3.2″
EAA Witness Sub-compact & FAB92 3.66″
Glock 29 & 30 3-3/4″
Glock 26, 27, 33 & 28 3-1/4″
Kimber Ultra Carry, Stainless Steel Ultra Carry & Ultra CDP 3-1/2″
Taurus PT-111 & PT-138 3-1/4″
Walther P22 3.4″

Consider making your own:

We cut leather for a custom holster we just made. You can easily find patterns online to do this or even design your own.
We are thinking about putting together a kit for one. Let us know what you think.

Have a favorite tactical holster or tips to help people find the best ones? Please share them.

5 Responses to :
Tactical Holster Definition

  1. Nanook says:

    Holsters I like are the leather “Miami Vice” shoulder rig by Galco and the Serpa by Blackhawk. The ones I don’t like are any ankle holster, any drop leg holster and especially those tee shirt holsters by .50 and marketed by NRA for one. Any ankle holster is uncomfortable and an easy fail. Drop leg holsters are constantly getting in the way when in the bush, trying to drive, etc. but it is a good position for a quick draw. I prefer accuracy over speed – every time! If you don’t have chest hair and you “harden your nipples with sandpaper, the tee shirt holster is the way to go, but it don’t work for me. I saw some guy on one of these sites pull his weapon from behind the belt buckle, just over his “gun”, well accidents happen and I don’t want to shoot off my prized possession, and don’t think it can’t happen! What ever holster you decide on, make sure it is one that will keep your weapon securely and safely in place until YOU decide to pull it. It isn’t made of chocolate, and you don’t want to eat it, or mar it, or worse get shot by it.

  2. Amos says:

    Sounds great to have a kit for a sertain firearm. I refinish leather, and or change color
    Bought a brown one I likes now it is beautiful black. Keep me posted on what you are planning
    Thanks AmosC.

  3. Rooster3/75 says:

    They refuse to sell/ship to troops who live on post. What kind of retarded ass stance is that? It’s not banned, it’s not dangerous goods, it’s just a holster. Yet you’ll deny those putting their lives on the line for YOU, just because of them living on post?
    I’m going to see what I can do about reducing your profit margin in a bit.

  4. ken says:

    So where can you get the patterns so I can make my own?

    1. Stephanie says:

      We are working on a kit and will let you know. Thanks!

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