The Cornered Cat
A Better Holster, Part Three

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

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 ways to improve the first non-negotiable, protecting the trigger.

Now let’s take a look at the second non-negotiable:

“A good holster holds the gun securely.”

In daily life, we trust the holster to keep the gun’s trigger covered while we move around and do things. We expect it to hold the gun in the same orientation no matter how we move. We rely on it to keep the gun from falling out even if it gets inadvertently tipped upside down and shaken gently during a visit to the rest room (we can check that using the tip test). Because these basics are really yes/no — the holster either does them or it does not — we can’t expect any given holster to truly improve on these basic requirements.

Or can we?

Many users find it comforting when the holster includes a retention strap or some other user-operated way to keep the gun in place. A “better” holster may or may not include these features, but if it does, the added features will not create new problems for the user.

For example, I have seen some thumb break retention straps that can easily get into the trigger guard when the user goes to holster the gun. Can I just say, right here, that that’s a bad thing? We have enough to do keeping our clothing (and its buttons, toggles, and strings) clear of the holster. Adding one more item to clear before holstering seems to me like a step in the wrong direction. That doesn’t make the holster better, but worse.

In a similar way, some holsters designed to hold the gun more securely might also make it difficult to draw the gun in certain circumstances. Or they might make the holster bulkier or harder to conceal.

Worse, some “improvements” to a basic holster design actually make the holster less safe, because they disable safeties on the gun. If you’ve ever seen a retention strap that goes right across the grip safety and holds it down, you know what I’m talking about.

When looking for a better holster, always look to make sure that any added features do not create added problems for yourself. A holster that disables one of the safeties on the gun is a non-starter. That’s a failure of “holding the gun securely” at a pretty basic level.

But other issues might sometimes be acceptable, in some circumstances. So if you choose a holster that does seem to create added problems, be sure that those problems are ones you 1) are aware of, and 2) are willing to work around. 1 Denial does not make a good holster out of a bad one.

Also, take it seriously when you hear experienced instructors warning their students about problems they have seen with a specific holster design. Although it’s tempting to feel as though the instructors are just being “holster snobs” when you hear these warnings, that may not be the case. When several instructors have sounded the alarm about a specific design, it is often because they have each seen many different students working with that gear — and have observed first hand the problems that some students have run into. Because firearms trainers get a front row seat to watch many different people using holsters, they often spot issues that might not be obvious to those who have not had the opportunity to see many different people working with different types of gear.

One more point, and this is a big one: holding the gun securely with the trigger completely protected is a non-negotiable because otherwise the gun is a danger to others. We do not get to endanger others simply because we want to keep ourselves safe.

Tomorrow we will look at ways to improve upon the third non-negotiable: accessing the gun when you need it.


Can’t wait for tomorrow’s post? 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. I bolded the word “work” because many design features require extra training and practice on the part of the user. Passively accepting that there is an added challenge, without doing the work to soften the effects of that challenge, is not wise. Do the work!

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