By Annette Doerr, The Shooting Channel
Holsters are my favorite firearm accessory. So many different types, endless options, all serving a slightly different purpose. Depending upon what type of firearm license you have, your concealed carry options may or may not be limited. It is up to you to know your local, state, and federal firearm laws associated with your permit. These laws can vary widely from state to state, and many times, even within each state.
The term “conceal” is defined as to place out of sight. Carrying a concealed weapon is illegal in most states, unless you apply for, and are granted a CCW permit. However, if you live in a state where you can obtain legal approval for carrying your weapon concealed, you have many choices on how and where to carry your firearm. One size does not fit all. Body types, preferences etc. can sometimes dictate where you can, and cannot, place your firearm on your person. You may find some types of carry are more comfortable than others.
Some states, like Pennsylvania, do not differentiate between conceal or open carry. They issue LTC permits, which stands for “licence to carry firearm.” Where and how you carry is your choice. Here is a brief breakdown of some of popular holster choices and terms you may not be familiar with if you are new to shooting, or just obtaining your carry permit.
The 6 o’clock carry position.
Many times when people refer to where on their body they prefer to carry, they use time coordinates, such as “2 o’clock.” If you picture yourself standing inside the center of a clock, 12 o’clock would be straight in front of you. WIth this model, your right hip would be at 3 o’clock, your back at 6 o’clock (hence the phrase “I got your six”..which means I’ve got your back) and your left hip would be 9 o’clock.
It is your responsibility to know the laws that pertain to you and your firearm. While the NRA is always a great source of information, so is your local county clerk or sheriff’s department. They will have (or can direct you to) the information that pertains to firearm ownership and carry laws in your neck of the woods.
In waistband (IWB) – IWB is a term used when the firearm is carried inside the waistband of your pants. This can range from the appendix position to the small of back. IWB holsters arevery popular.
Still the most popular form of concealed carry, the belt holster.
Belt holster – Just as the name implies, belt
holsters attach to your belt and are generally worn outside your pants. A great choice for open-carry situations, police work, etc. Since they are worn on the outside, there are many style choices including injection molded plastic or leather.
Small of back – Often abbreviated as “SOB” small of back carry is just that. The firearm is tucked into the small of your back, generally around 6 o’clock, and carried on the inside of your pants. While SOB carry can be comfortable and concealable, it is not a great option for those sitting or driving, for obvious reasons. There are some strong opinions on SOB carry; some love it, some hate it. Each side of the debate has their own reasons why, but at the end of the day, it is an opinion and a personal choice whether you carry SOB.
Appendix Carry is popular depending on what you choose to wear and your body structure.
Appendix carry – Aptly named, appendix carry means the firearm sits right about where your appendix is, in the 2 o’clock position for those of us who are right-handed. Appendix carry is a popular choice for small to medium frame firearms. The firearm is also inside the waistband of your pants.
The cross draw shoulder holster.
Shoulder holster – A shoulder holster can be a good choice if you don’t want to wear your firearm on your waist. Shoulder holsters are easily concealable with a jacket, and the firearm is readily accessible. Many brands have adjustable straps, which can customize the fit to many different body types.
Purse/off body – Some women prefer to carry their firearm inside their purse. (It is not my particular favorite as I would rather have my pistol on my person in case someone were to grab my purse, but still it is a popular choice.) Specially made purses with concealment compartments are widely available on the market today. Likewise, you do not necessarily need a special purse; one of my holsters is multipurpose and can be worn SOB, appendix, on a belt or clipped inside my purse.
Ankle holster – An ankle holster can be a great option if you have a small firearm. The holster attaches securely to your lower leg, and the firearm is covered by your pants.
Popular with women in dresses, the thigh holster.
Thigh holster – Likely more popular with the ladies, a holster made specially to secure to the thigh, for situations such as wearing a dress or a skirt. (Apparently, some men carry in thigh holsters while wearing shorts. Though, thank heavens, I have never seen this in person, however while doing research I did see a picture online showing a man in shorts wearing a thigh holster.)
Bra holster – Yes, again for the ladies! Bra holsters are made specifically for certain types of firearms and attach directly to the middle of your bra. When properly fitted the firearm is completely concealed.
The very popular ‘Flashbang’ bra holster.
As you can see, there are many, many places suitable to carry your firearm after you obtain the necessary permits to do so. Unfortunately, the county where I reside does not permit me to carry my pistol unless I am hunting, hiking or target shooting. However, besides my restricted New York license, I also have a non-resident Pennsylvania license as well as a non-resident Utah conceal carry permit. Between those two additional firearm licences, I can legally conceal carry in 32 states (just not the state I live in and pay taxes to..sigh..)
The choices for holsters are endless. Styles, types, colors etc are all personal choice. Knowing how you are going to carry can help dictate the type of holster you will need. After that, it comes down to comfort and style. Holsters are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.