CCW...Retention top or not?

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Jan 20, 2012
Just wondering what other people have decided when carrying OWB conceal carry. I have two leather galco paddle with a snap retention strap and one open top. Both are comfortable to wear. Do I wear the open top and gain speed for faster draw or retention strap for security when moving all around. What do you preferr and why?
On all of my OWB holsters I have the retention strap. It just feels more comfortable and I've never felt that it slows my draw down enough to matter. 98% of them have the thumb snap, so it's pretty quick.
I depends on my activities for the day whether I carry OWB or IWB. OWB security snap. IWB no security strap. Good luck.
Some sort of retention strap or device is necessary if you open carry IMHO. There's too much risk of someone coming up behind you and snatching your gun.

However, concealed means concealed. If no one can see it there is no need to lock it down as long as the holster has a proper fit. I used to carry in a thumb break because I had a bad experience as a newbie with a poor fitting holster in a movie theater. Suffice it to say that I strapped that puppy down for a few years before finding some really good open top holsters that I could feel confident in again.

Now, the speed of a properly fit open top (either IWB or OWB) is an advantage that I want.
Regardless of your choice, develop muscle memory for the draw under stress. I can't remember how many times I saw a guy try to yank his gun out of a retention holster during our matches, then pull the trigger with the safety still on.
My OWB holsters are primarily for range use, and occasionally open carry in the woods (if I take a pistol hunting, for example) and all have retention devices intact. Occasionally, I will use those holsters for CC and I don't feel the retention device to be a detriment. In fact, I like having it there. I more prefer to use IWB holsters for CCW and even then I prefer to have a thumb-break to reduce movement if I need to engage in vigorous movement.
Around town I carry an XDm 3.8 Compact in a Galco Avenger OWB holster without a retention strap. It has a retention screw so I can tighten it up but I have that backed out as far as I dare and it's still quite snug. In fact, I have to jerk it pretty hard to clear the holster during a fast draw. I have considered a Crossbreed style Inside The Waistband Holster and it doesn't have any retention straps. So I guess it's safe to say I prefer no strap. If I were riding a 4wheeler or motorcycle or hiking rough country I would probably want a strap.
Not being snarky or anything but for me, I figure the likelihood of my capitalizing on a quick-draw without a retention device is less than my need to have that rascall solidly bedded the rest of my life.

Being OWB and yet still concealed - I'm moving a somethin' or two to get to it anyhow and already am behind the 8-ball in quick-drawing on some bad actor.

Keep in mind, I do get that there are pistoleros out there that will in fact benefit from not having that device there and also given varying training, build, firearm, and holster - it can not only be unnecessary and actually a hinderance.

How's that for YMMV? An answer locked in jello!:D
Have you practiced clearing the firearm from the holster with your support hand? Don't assume your strong side arm is in working order when the firearm is needed. The need to be ambidextrous with employing the firearm is an often overlooked aspect. No one is expecting a support side draw to be quick but you want to make sure you can access and clear the holster with the support hand. Clearing a thumb break with the opposite hand could be hairy under stress. I personally don't see the additional retention needed if you are concealed. My two cents.
^^^^Very interesting point, that.^^^^
Not a factor given my holsters and positions but still very valid in choosing a rig.
I've read reports of how the thumb-break retention strap on some designs can enter the trigger guard and contribute to a ND on reholstering.

I think this is especially a problem with light trigger-pull, no external safety designs (Not Glock-bashing, but I believe they are susceptible to this problem, as well as some other similar designs.)

Of course, I read a report of some LEO reholstering after reclaiming his weapon from a courthouse locker and he managed to do the ND thing with a shirttail, so you apparently don't need a retention strap to do this.

I always read of the speed of draw issue, but I rarely read about this. And, if you consider how many times you are likely to have to draw and fire, vs. how many times you unholster / reholster for administrative reasons, the concern of what that thing might do besides retain the gun might be valid.

On the other hand, if your lifestyle requires you to do the equivalent of cartwheels across a parking lot, you might need a retention strap. :)
There is no excuse for an ND while reholstering. We all practice drawing as quickly as possible while retaining safe control. We want to clear the firearm and put it on target. The reverse is not true.

There is no merit in being the world's fastest reholsterer. Check to make sure your shirt is out of the way and gently ease the gun home into the holster until it is retained. If you feel RESISTANCE, don't just ram the gun into the holster harder. It means something is in the way. You were born with eyes; take a peek. There is no merit in reholstering as fast as you unholster. A wad of shirt getting caught inside the trigger guard is not the first time I've heard of a reholstering ND. It happens, and it can be avoided.

Most modern holsters have the ability to adjust tension. Most modern holsters made of molded kydex (or similar material) can also be remolded with a hair dryer or heat gun and some elbow grease if it isn't "quite perfect" or isn't retaining well enough. The possibility exists that you'll be knocked on your ass in a confrontation with a violent attacker which might dislodge a firearm in an poorly-adjusted holster. I know some folks like to run a loosey goosey holster so they can draw a split second faster but an extra ounce of retention is worth a pound of missing gun. A properly functioning and properly adjusted holster shouldn't dump the gun out under reasonable conditions one would encounter, even if you are doing cartwheels. It should also allow you to draw with reasonable ease.
I think it boils down to personal preference & comfort level. I don't like retention "devices" on any of my holsters IWB or OWB. I make most of my own - and a "pancake style" with proper stitching and wet-molding can be tight enough to retain the weapon - even when held upside down. I use kydex holsters for tactical pistol competition, and again, a full-size Glock can be held in - upside down yet still drawn crisply where fractions of a second matter. If I was canoeing or kayaking I would add a coiled belt lanyard for additional security. Too me, thumb snaps & thumb safeties require additional manipulation during times of duress & provide no value added.
How often do people have their guns snatched when OC' this a common thing??

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I don't think my gun would come out of my holster under normal circumstances, but I do have a thumb-snap to make certain that it doesn't. It does not slow my draw or hinder my re-holster.
<take a spill on a atv>
<ride a horse to the ground>
<slip and fall into a mtn stream>
<roll around in the mud looking for a place to hook a tow strap on a car>
<bury a jeep deep enough to have water up in the floorboard>
.....been there, done that.

Losing your ccw doing something you hadn't planned on.....<<Priceless>>
I have them with both and if I am out in the back country and don't have a strap I use a lanyard.
For every day around town open top with tension screw works fine.
Some straps are ill-conceived, e.g., the ones that pass over the back of the trigger guard on concealed-hammer revolvers. :rolleyes: This is just begging to get entrapped or entangled during the draw. :uhoh:
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If you have a nylon holster, you need a retention strap. If you have a well made leather or kydex holster you most likely don't need a retention strap on a concealed carry holster. I have a handful of holsters in both leather and kydex. Of the entire group only one holster will let the pistol fall out if you held it upside down and shook the holster. That is a $35 belt slide that leaves the muzzle uncovered.

You may like to have one for a field holster as some of the folks have mentioned times when they may be handy.

Here is holster maker High Noon's take on the issue.
If I was to OC, I think I would definetly use a retention holster of some kind (whether thumb-break or something more sophisiticated). For CC, IWB or OWB, I just don't feel the need for it. Now, I use well fitted holsters that are snug enough to hold onto a gun even when held inverted (none of those cheap one-size-fits-all nylon pouch style "holsters"), so normal "retention" isn't a problem. Now, it doesn't protect me from a gun grab, but I feel the nature of CC is enough protection for that, without introducing the potential handicap of a true retention holster.
I conceal carry daily. I carry in a Lobo Model 1 Pancake, or a Lobo Enhanced Pancake. All 8 of my Lobo Pancake holsters have Inner Hammer Shield only.

When I am bumming around in the woods on my UTV, etc I normally carry in one of my old Bianchi Thumb Break holsters for added security.

My wife rides horses all the time. I have her a new holster on order from Lobo for a Ruger LCR. Ray recommended his Flap Holster with Neutral Cant for her to carry the LCR in.

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