The Box O' Holsters


We all have one — or at least should have one. It’s that pesky box full of cast-off holsters. Your lost hopes, unheralded pleadings and hand-wringing attempts searching for the enlightened moment of bliss when you finally attain a zenith of concealed carry perfection. But alas, it simply contains documentation of your lost hopes and dreams. Right?

Wrong. And you need to get over it.

I like to think of it more as an investment in your future. You save money in a 401K. The money grows, sometimes disappears, then you hope for better and it delivers, then it fools you and you’re depressed yet again. The holster box is like this. You have high hopes, invest, cross your fingers, then those hopes come crashing down, a train wreck smelling of burnt leather and melted plastic.

But sometimes it works, just like your 401K. Sometimes the holster from the unknown maker, the guy at the gun show maybe, or the one you read about in — dare I say it — American Handgunner, actually delivers the goods.

It can happen. It takes hands-on experience to learn. In my 45+ years of gun-carrying as a cop, regular-Joe, retired person and even editor of Handgunner, I’ve found some consistencies. And some things making no sense at all when it comes to carrying.

Diamond D Leather in Alaska makes this “EDC” holster. It’s light, minimalist, made of good materials and comfy.
Keep these points in mind as you shop.

The Stupid Idea Syndrome

In spite of everything we learn, in the face of common sense, warnings by our friends, our wives and workmates — we’ll continue to be wooed by stupid carry ideas. “Oh, this is going to revolutionize concealed carry. We promise, carrying your gun so it points at your chin while you draw is not only a good idea, but ‘More social media influencers like it than ever before!’ — so you will too!”

But you won’t, even if you live through it. You’ll regret it. And not only that, it’s likely a stupid idea — a really stupid idea — and you just might shoot your chin off or worse. But we can’t help it; we’ll buy it anyway. Then learn, hopefully before we shoot our chins off — then toss it into “The Box.”

After buying or testing literally thousands of holsters and other do-dads, I’m only just now getting to where I can look at something and think (on my inside voice, if the maker is there), “Um, that’s stupid.”

So I don’t buy one. We also don’t write about it.

If you do buy one, it’s okay, because you have to. You need to feed the muse. You won’t listen to those who have the experience. You’ll “know better” and it “might work for you” and it’s “such a great deal” and “it’s got cutting edge technology.” But many are imprudent — and many simply don’t work. But you won’t know unless you give it a try, right?

Look back 100 years, though. Most holsters were pouches carrying your gun. Look forward 100 years and guess what, most holsters are pouches carrying your gun. Look at wrenches 100 years ago and they look a lot like wrenches look today. People 100 years ago had hands and feet and waists like we have today, so the same sorts of rules still apply. Materials change, design specifics change too, but in the long run:

“A pouchy-looking thing holding your gun securely still works.” Feel free to quote me if you like.

Magic Isn’t Real

My job isn’t to be nice to you, it’s to be truthful. I’m too old to care about worrying about how you “feel” about me. I’m much more concerned about giving you the tools you need to be safe. A call saying, “Hey Roy, I had my gun in a good holster and it saved my life,” will make me happy.

Don’t be distracted by magic bullets — or magic holsters. Never, not once, have I seen a “magic holster” make it in the marketplace. Ditto for magic bullets. They surge in popularity for a while, then disappear in a cloud of nothingness, simply vanishing. There’s no magic bullet — or magic holster. I’m sorry — but it’s true.

When I wrote the Handgun Leather column here more than 20 years ago, when asked how to spot a “good” holster, I said something along the lines of: “Quality of design and materials is important. Lightweight is paramount, a minimalist nature necessary — and comfort vital.” Did I generalize? Possibly. But today, when I look at my favorite carry rigs, all the rules apply. My “most-favorite” rig I carry virtually daily (along with a pocket-holstered gun) is an amazingly simple leather rig with two belt loops. Minimalist, light, elegantly designed and comfortable. There are hundreds of options that might work for you. Just believe the tenants.

There are other ideas and you need to explore them. Some might meet your particular needs. But prepare to buy holsters and products and prepare to assemble your own box.

One nice thing about “the box?” You can offer your mistakes to others who are still searching. “Here, try this …” as you smile knowingly.

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