For reasons I’ve never understood, I often see a student arriving for a class or a competitor for a match with an acceptable pistol they plan to carry in a cheap holster, on a flimsy belt. I once had a student show up with a high-end, $2000+ Wilson 1911 and proceed to put in it a cheap generic nylon holster on an old dress belt less than an inch wide.
The video link below (click on the picture title) shows a competitor in a Short Range Match demonstrating the proper draw with a cheap holster. Clearing the holster attached to the muzzle of his pistol cost Mike 1.28 seconds. A long time in a match and perhaps a lifetime in a violent encounter. We occasionally beat our competitors in the Short Range Match to provide a little distraction which probably did not help.
|Mike Demonstrating the proper draw with a cheap holster|
Many who are new to the shooting sports or concealed carry want to go cheap when buying a holster; however, a solid holster and semi-rigid belt are just as important as the pistol. Although an acceptable pistol can provide you the ability to defend yourself or compete, the holster enables you to have the pistol when and where you need it.
Without a good holster, you either will not carry the pistol or you won’t be able to draw it effectively. Further, cheap holsters can cause more problems than they solve. A generic holster may not properly retain the pistol creating the possibility that it will fall out at the most inopportune moment. An improperly fitting holster can pose another challenge if the user attempts to force the pistol into it and thereby causes an accidental discharge. Stray straps and accouterments can find their way into the trigger guard and create the same outcome if the user is not careful.
In addition to the holster, a proper, purpose-designed gun belt is absolutely essential for carrying a holstered handgun effectively. A proper belt must be stiff enough to support the pistol’s weight and provide the rigidity necessary to keep it from flopping and shifting about while at the same time being comfortable enough to actually wear all day. You must mate your holster and belt carefully. A proper pistol belt should fit the width of the slots or loops on your holster. Blade Tech, Comp-Tac and other brands often have adjustable belt loops depending upon the holster design that make this easier.
A holster is not a fashion accessory, it is a critical piece of life saving equipment. The traditional strong-side hip holster (either outside or inside the waistband) is most often the holster of choice for a reason. It’s comfortable, can be easily concealed, and provides a natural draw stroke. Specialized holsters such as shoulder and ankle holsters and other esoteric designs have their place for well-trained people who know what they’re doing; however, they are not suitable for normal concealed carry.
Choose your holster based on its safety, usefulness, and comfort. The strong-side hip holster is a good choice for those new to the shooting sports or concealed carry. As you gain experience and competence you can try another style as appropriate. Regardless of the style you chose, always train with the holster you carry. Chest rigs, drop-down leg holsters, etc. look cool to some; however, it provides no benefit to train with a holster if the only time you use it is on the range.
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