The Cornered Cat
A Better Holster, Part Four

For the past few days, we have been talking about what makes a “good” holster. To catch up, click here for the series introduction, and then click here to read Part One, and Part Two, and Part Three.

As I have already said, the first thing that might make a good holster “better” is when it performs one of the three basic requirements in a more consistent, more reliable, or more durable form. We have already discussed protecting the trigger and holding the gun securely, so now let’s take a look at the third non-negotiable:

“A good holster allows the user to access the gun when they need it.”

This one could be an entire book of its own. For now, please let me point out that many factors go into being able to access the gun when we need it. When we look for a “better” holster, we want one that will let us get to the gun faster or more reliably in a wider variety of circumstances.

Here are some questions we might ask when we’re evaluating this.

  • Will using this holster mean that gun will actually be with us when we need it, and not at home in the safe? A lot of times, we-in-the-training-community skip right past this essential first question! But it’s often vital to our students, and might sometimes be the only factor worth looking at after the non-negotiable basics are covered. Is this holster or carry product comfortable enough to wear all day? Can we wear it discreetly with the clothes we prefer to wear? More important, will we do that?
  • Can we draw the gun safely and reliably from this holster? Too often, this question gets asked — and we assume, answered — on a calm sunny day at the range when we are wearing comfortable¬† range clothes and have both hands and a lot of time to figure things out. But when we need to answer the question in real life, we’ll be wearing regular clothes and won’t have a lot of time. 1
  • Can we draw the gun safely and reliably with one hand? With either hand?
  • Can we draw the gun safely and reliably while moving? Can we draw it while moving, and also push a loved one to safety with the other hand at the same time?
  • Can we draw the gun when entangled with an attacker? Or when we have tripped and fallen?

And so on.

There are many enthusiastic people who get very excited about one of the questions above, and who therefore define a “better” holster only as one that will give a positive answer to their particular question. For example, we often see people get wrapped around the axle on speed of access (“MY carry position beats YOUR carry position!”) or on being able to draw the gun in a specific, relatively narrow and rare set of circumstances (“Can you draw while someone holds your left elbow at a 47-degree angle, with your right hand partially disabled after worming out of a thumb lock?”).

I’m not going to say none of those things matter — some of them can and do matter very much indeed, which is why they’re on this list — but I am going to again point out that we need to keep our eye on the ball as far as what we are doing, and why.

When looking for a “better” holster, keep in mind that it’s only a better holster if it does these things without taking away your ability and desire to wear the gun in the first place. The key point is that the gun will be with you when you need it. After all, the slowest and least-reliable draw of all is the one from twenty miles away when the gun is at home in the safe.

That said, slower is not better than faster. Less reliable is not better than more reliable. Access in fewer circumstances is not better than access in a wider variety of circumstances.

Look for a holster that meets the bare minimum demands of being a good holster. Then look for improvements in how it meets those needs and you’ll be well on your way to finding a better holster.

Tomorrow: more about accessing the gun when needed.


Can’t wait for the next post in this series? Want the bottom line right now? Sure, here it is:

  • A good holster protects the trigger, holds the gun securely, and allows the user to access the gun when they need it. (These are the non-negotiable, bare minimum things a holster must do. A holster or carry product that does not do these things is not a good holster, no matter how much it costs or who recommends it.)
  • A better holster does one or all of these things better than the bare minimum.

But the details matter, too. Tune in tomorrow!


  1. How much time will you have? Dunno. But since you’re only drawing the gun because someone is trying to kill you (and the attacker is probably in a hurry), it’s probably a good idea to respond as quickly as you reasonably can.

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