Why A Holster?


I was sorta’ stunned the other day when someone said to me, “Why do I need to buy a holster, I’ll just shove the pistol in my belt.” This is quite a question after all the pulp expended on the reasons to carry a proper holster. In reality I guess there are always those who don’t get it. But, why then, do we have holsters?

We could start out with the simple fact holsters protect the handgun. This protection is not so much for guarding finishes but for retention and security. The retention issue may seem odd, but if you’ve ever had to police your handgun off the ground after a fight, you get the drift.

The holster should provide a stable platform to position the handgun for the draw. The holster should not be affected by body position because confrontations may start from awkward, unpracticed drawing positions. And by the way, why are your awkward positions unpracticed?

The holster should be in place to return the handgun after-action. The re-holster doesn’t need to be done fast, just smoothly, so you can show empty hands to responding officers if needed.

Avoid the trick holster stuff. The absolute hands down best way to carry a handgun is the strong-side carry. And I believe the “best of the best” in the breed are the inside-the-waistband holsters. Although copied by many, the Bruce Nelson design, as built by Milt Sparks in the form of the Summer Special, is the best of the breed. Mitch Rosen Extraordinary Gunleather and John Ralston of 5-Shot Leather, make their excellent variations on this style of holster. Double straps attached to the belt assure security and consistent placement. The draw is smooth and the re-holster is just as smooth due to the use of a metal band to maintain the open top of the holster.

Any deviation off of this strong side placement should require some strong rationalization. A back-up gun for someone who spends a good deal of time in vehicles could be an ankle holster, for instance. Also, a pocket holster for a second gun might be appropriate.

Other Methods

Big guns are better than small ones for personal defense. Much ado — or as I prefer to call it whining — is made about how uncomfortable it is to carry. We need to get over it and move forward. The guns are not going to be easy or always comfortable, nor will they often match your choice of togs for going to the opera. Carrying a handgun for personal defense will require a behavior and dress code modification on your part. Accept it, work with it and get on with it. The fact is, being armed is far more important and comforting than any issues about clothing and personal comfort. Here’s some other ideas, but remember, if you ever need a handgun for personal defense you’ll wish for a big one. Trust me.

Ankle Rigs

This is a smart location if the holster being used provides a secure platform. This position also provides decent access in case of injury or if ground-fighting conditions exist. Ideally the holster should be worn on the inside of the ankle to reduce “clunking” it on everything as you move around. Practice should include drawing the gun with either hand, along with shooting with either hand. I strongly prefer a retention strap in case the problem includes movement or a fight before the draw. Renegade and Mitch Rosen are two good choices for this type of holster.

Pocket Carry

This method restricts the size of the gun — or at least that’s often the perception. I regularly carry a 4″ N-Frame S&W .44 in my front pocket without showing the gun. Pocket guns are most often considered to be small wheelguns as well as some of the smaller autopistols — which, by the way, are not personal favorites of mine as they are generally skittish when it comes to working reliably. Reliability is not an issue with revolvers, although power and cartridge capacity might be.

The lack-of-power thing is often cured by ammunition selection. I opt to not shoot .357 Magnums in my 2″ guns even though they might be rated for it. My truck speedometer reads up to 120 mph but it’s often not wise to drive that fast. A good .38 Special on-target, followed by four more is much better than a Magnum miss. Both Milt Sparks and Mitch Rosen make excellent pocket holsters, as well as David Bullard of Azle, Texas, who makes his version an affordable, quality holster.

Eventually we will all die, but it should never be for the lack of shooting back. Which to me means — the gun in your hand in a fight is better than any other gun. 

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