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Belt or shoulder holster?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Holsters and Accessories' started by oboe, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. oboe

    oboe Well-Known Member

    Here’s the problem: Removeable belt holster versus shoulder holders. And I’m new a CCV. Got the training, the background check, the mug shot and the fingerprinting. Got the permit to carry concealed. Tried an Uncle Mikes generic IWB. DID NOT FEEL GOOD after a long trial period. Try with the same holster outside waist band, inside belt. Better, but still a PITA. The problem with any belt carry is sitting in some situations, and always when driving. The gun is useless on the belt - removable or otherwise - while riding in a car. Must be removed in those sitting situations.

    So I got a very, very, very inexpensive shoulder holster. Took A LOT of adjusting and some sewing by wifie. OK now. Has tie downs. One thing’s for sure - I do not need to remove it when sitting or driving and it’s always accesable - even under heavier outer clothing. Does not require more clothing for concealment than IWB or OWB.

    So, the belt holster is better for everything, shooting-wise . . . but horrid for the sitting and driving of which I tend to do so much. Also not so cool in the bathroom, public or private, during siting events. Must be removed during most sitting and all in-car stuff. The shoulder holster never, ever requires removal. It’s just not as good as the belt type holsters in the draw . . . . but of course, not totally unacceptable, either.

    May I have your input on this conundrum? And for shoulder holster - verticle or horizontal? You posts addressing these issues will be appreciated.
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    One of the big problems you're struggling with is the curse of the cheap, generic holster. Once you move up to a well-designed, structurally sound holster that fits the gun and supports it well, you'll be a lot happier with whichever carry method you choose.

    If your daily life requires the majority of the time being strapped into a car, and your area and driving habits make attack while actually in the car a real concern, then a strong-side belt holster is not going to be optimal. It will still be best for speed and security of draw and weapon retention in standing or most other situations, but it can be harder to access in a vehicle.

    The two options I'd suggest for a delivery/taxi driver or anyone who spends more than 50% of their day in a car would be either a vertical shoulder holster or a cross-draw belt holster. Either of those options gives up a lot to a strong-side belt holster for "normal" use, in concealment, comfort, and security and speed of draw, but they do unquestionably beat the car-seat problem.

    The two biggest downsides I can see are that it is very easy to have your draw blocked or pinned completely by an adversary who manages to grapple with you or back you against a wall -- and that it is very difficult to get the kind of regular practice in that is so vital to self-defense. Most ranges will prohibit that kind of a holster as you're inherently sweeping bystanders, the line, and even yourself on the draw (without some pretty gymnastic contortions). If you can find a range with 360 degree pits/berms so you can get the practice you need on a regular basis, go for it!
  3. ForumSurfer

    ForumSurfer Well-Known Member

    That can't be repeated enough. I was reluctant to buy a quality holster (read: I'm a cheapskate) when I started carrying. I was shocked to learn that everyone was onto something...a high quality gun belt (that you won't find at the mall, walmart or any of the wife's regular shops...has to be designed to be a gunbelt) and a quality holster make all the difference. This is especially true for IWB carry.

    Sam gave great advice for belt vs shoulder carry in regard to vehicles. That is a decision you have to make.
  4. oboe

    oboe Well-Known Member

    Belt or shoulder carry?

    I'm using cheap stuff, like Uncle Mike's and other, to try out IWB, OWB and shoulder carry.

    In no way is the cheap stuff I’m using now my final choice. The only reason I got a cheap IWB and a cheap shoulder holster was to experience the various modes of carry. When I buy “for real”, it will be good stuff.

    I’m 5’8” tall, weigh 155 pounds on a fat day after a heavy meal, and pants waist size is from 33” to 34”. I'll be 70 yo in late October and don't have quit the spring and flexibility that I had years ago.

    Although I have a .357 snubby and a 9mm S&W 3913 with manual safety and mag safety, I carry my S&W M&P full size 9mm with no manual, mag or internal safety. That’s what I plan to do. The 3913 is a BUG. Yes, I know that I’d be more comfy carrying the 3913, but for now I still want to focus on the M&P fs.

    My pelvic structure is not optimal. The iliac crest is just too boney to allow comfort at any acceptable level at 3 o’clock. My poorly designed bones dictate that any IWB or OWB must be carried from 3 to 4 or 4:30. Seated behind the steering wheel, especially with the seatbelt on, is seriously uncomfortable and allows only the very most difficult draw. That goes for IWB and OWB, both.

    I’m well aware of the restrictions on shoulder holsters at ranges, and they absolutely preclude any worthwhile dynamic official competition. However, I do not accept that “serious gunners don’t use shoulder holsters”, because I consider certain of my friends in, or retired from law enforcement or the military to be very serious gunners. I’m certain there are times, places and circumstances where a shoulder holster is a better choice than belt carry. For example, a person confined to a wheel chair or a person who sits behind the steering wheel of a car almost all day.

    Frankly, I’d be WAAAAAAAY happier for IWB strong side to work out for me - but it feels horrid, and I’m not ready to spend real money on something I just can’t tolerate.

    OWB feels fine - except when sitting on a couch or sitting in a car. I spend a fair amount of my time in those situations. With either an IWB or OWB, I’d need to remove it in those situations and then put it back on. If I could find ANY belt holster, IWB or OWB, that allowed me to keep it on in the car and sitting in certain chairs, then I’d buy a good one and put up with the chore of dealing with what happens to belt carried weapons while on the water throne.

    I do accept that there will be trial and error no matter what route I pursue. I’m just trying to keep the cash drain to a minimum. If I had won the lottery, I would buy several really good holsters of each type and try them out one at a time. Alas, money is an important consideration. I’d like to have enough left to buy really good holster in whatever type I eventually find most practical.

    Your comments will be appreciated.
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    [Multiple threads on same topic merged.]
  6. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Well-Known Member

    IMO, a shoulder holster for CCW is simply too much. 20 years ago, I did a bit of plain clothes time and was assigned a Miami Classics shoulder rig. It was exciting the first few days. Not so much after a week.

    Sam1911 is correct. A good holster makes all the difference in the world. I have a quality leather pancake that I can carry a full size 4" revolver in without too much bother. Of course, the smaller the gun gets, the more the comfort leave tends to rise.
  7. lebowski

    lebowski Well-Known Member

    1) you need a good belt. This is as important if not more important than the holster. Wilderness instructor is good, and reasonably priced. Thebeltman.com pretty good too for leather.

    2) You get what you pay for when it comes to holsters, IMO. Also, holsters are very specific to the individual and body type so what works for me may not work for you. I would not write off iwb carry altogether based on limited experience with a cheap belt and generic uncle mikes holster. Check out something like the comp tac mtac.

    3) what gun are you carrying? A thinner or lighter gun may help.
  8. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

    I carry IWB. I found one thing very quickly: one cannot easily r-holster a firearm with one hand with most holsters, and it is essential that one be able to do so.

    The second thing I learned was that the grip size, and not necessarily the slide length, is the major issue in concealability.

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