Shoulder rigs: vertical Vs. Horizonal

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David S

Jan 11, 2003
Since the subject of the Walther p99 has been up recently lets say with a auto like the p99, which would be a "better" shoulder holster, a vertical one or a horizonal one? I own a horizonal Uncle Mikes one, but find it to be rather bulky because the slide length is obviosly longer than the gun is tall.....its not a great concealment rig but it does offer a fast draw. Would a vertical rig offer a slower draw? is that the downside to them? comments or suggestions would help.
Conceals better, draw is slower. Offset for me by the fact that Rule #3 is not constantly violated as with a horz holster. Many NDs happen on draw and holster. I don't like the horz. ones obviously. The only vertical I own is my Coronado jacket, love it.
for a long barreled gun they are the obvious answer, but for a short barrel like the p99 i am begining to think they are alot better............but are onl good if u wher a jacket all the time..................i am actually looking at black hills leathers' face off double holster for the small of the back
Shoulder holsters are kind of limited in their usefulness. They dont conceal all that well and restrict your clothing choices, usually requiring a heavy cover garment to hide the straps as well as the gun and holster. A good one is usually two to three times the cost of a good belt holster. About the only time I like them is when I'm driving a lot, but even then, they become uncomfortable on the shoulders after awhile, and still can be challenge to get to with the seat belt on. Of the two, the horizontal is probably the more versitile as it lets you reach up from below or down from above if necessary. Personally, for me, the most comfortable and concealable carry is a IWB at about 4 o'clock. I have a "chest holster" that is sort of a cross between a shoulder holster and cross draw holster. It hangs directly in front of you. It needs a coat to hide it, but is fast to get to and works well in the car. Its not something you would use all the time, but it does come in handy. Another alternitive is the "confidant shirt" by Kramer. It has two holsters on a net undershirt type shirt. This really works well for deep concealment and you can actually carry a full sized 1911 and a double reload under a tucked in dress shirt . It works even better with a PPK sized gun.

chest holster:

confidant shirt:
I prefer shoulder holster's in situations where I can wear them (which is most of the time other than summer).

I originally wanted vertical holsters but find that I seem to be able to obtain a firing grip and draw the gun more quickly with the horizontal style.

The only negative (and it could be a big one I suppose) is that I am constantly violating one of the rules in that my gun is usually pointing at someone standing behind me.

Of course, none of my guns have discharged while holstered ;) but I carry with safeties off (if they have one) and only carry DA/DAO defensive weapons.

- still bothers me a little a times especially when a loved one is walking behind me and I realize that the gun is pointed directly at them.

The timing of this thread is perfect. Because of lower back pain, I can't wear my IWB holster right now because it digs into my hip. (Been in a lot of pain for two weeks).

I've looked at the Galco Miami Classic, but with a four-inch 1911 and me having skinny arms, it seems like it would print easily unless it was under heavy clothing. Is there a better alternative?
Hmm....say you have to wear a jacket or something with a shoulder holster. True enough, but you have to wear one with a belt holster too, unless your guns have invisible grips, or you tuck your shirt in OVER the holster, which you can't do with all different models. Also, this makes actually getting at your sidearm that much more difficult.

How you prefer to dress has a LOT to do with what situation will work for you.

As for where the muzzle is pointing while in a holster...true enough, but there aren't many holsters that point the muzzle in a direction that I'd feel comfortable with it firing in. The thought of a bullet digging a nice little ravine ditch down my thigh and exiting out of my knee is kind of unpleasant.
I think its much harder to conceal a pistol in a shoulder holster than it is in a IWB holster. While its true you do need to wear a cover garment with both, the shoulder holster is more prone to being spotted, either visually or printing. With a IWB, you can wear a light, untucked shirt and get away without any trouble, you really cant do this with a shoulder holster. With the IWB you can also take the cover garment off and still get away with it without to much attention. With the shoulder holster, you need to worry about the straps/harness printing as much as the gun, especially if what your wearing is drawn across your back and shoulders when you bend forward. You also have to worry about the coat swinging open as your reach down or forward. A big downside to the shoulder holster is, it presents the pistol, butt first, to anyone in front of you, just something else you need to watch out for. For serious everyday carry, I dont think they are a good choice. For special uses, they have merit, as do a lot of other holsters that wouldnt be practical for everyday carry either.
well where i work, i wear a dress shirt tucked in and tie, and this makes it really hard to conceal. during the winter time, i wear just a paddle holster under my suit jacket, but during summer, i have yet to find a resonable alternative........the problem i find with IWB holsters is , depending on the size of the weapon, you have to buy pants a size larger ............there is some IWB holster i remember seeing recently that allowed a shirt to be tucked in over had a S shaped belt attachment.......anyone know the one i mean?
David S---I can't think of the brand name yet. Keep using the SEARCH function and you will find it. If not, go to TFL and search there.
you could buy a fobus roto paddle holster ($19) and a fobus shoulder rig. that gives you the ability to mount the holster at any angle you wish. it is a cheaper solution to your problem. if you like the set up you can use it if not at least you can experiment w/ different angles to find whats right for you then sell the whole set up or just use the paddle when you eant to carry on the hip.
i have them in stock if your interested.
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I used to think a shoulder holster would be the best way to carry a gun, concealed or open. So I tried both vertical and horizontal by a few different manufacturers. I found none of them to be particularly comfortable for extended periods and reaching across my chest to draw was not always easy to accomplish. The butt of the gun does face forward and makes snatching a little easier. Vertical draw requires a motion that I find a little un-natural. Horizontal carry is easier to draw and a lot easier to snatch. I tried concealed carry with shoulder rigs and found that it was way too easy to spot the gun.

After much experimentation, I settled on strong side carry, just behind the hip. I have yet to have anyone notice me carrying in this position and it is just about snatch proof. It is easy for me to access, even if I were involved in a scuffle. I also find that I can carry in this position for very long periods of time without feeling undue stress on my back or shoulders.

Just my two cents.
Nightcrawler- I can wear an untucked short sleeve buttonup from Express as the cover garment for my 1911 IWB. This would be impossible with a shoulder rig.

I don't like shoulder rigs for many reasons. But I would go vertical just for Rule #3's sake.
I have yet to have anyone notice me carrying in this position and it is just about snatch proof.
I am certainly in favor of strong-side carry and agree that it is more easily defended than shoulder carry. But it is not snatch proof -- nothing is. Plenty of police officers have had their guns taken from their holsters. That's why there is handgun retention training.
David S,

If you don't mind spending a little money, you might just try out an uncle Mike's shoulder rig for your gun.

They are fairly inexpensive. Buy either a horizontal of vertical. If you are not satisfied (or unsure) buy both types. Eventually they will wear our. If you ended up prefering the vertical, I believe that you could remove the "horizontal" holster and attach your "vertical one" using that harness. (Or the other way around.)

If you want my honest opinion though, TRY EVERYTHING you can. I have tried IWB, Front Pocket, Shoulder, Paddle... (I HAVE a lot of holsters here!) When all was said and done, *I* prefer a horizontal shoulder to them all.

I WOULD like a nice leather shoulder rig (not that I am all that unhappy with my "Uncle Mike's" nylon really) and so I went shopping for one. All the sales guys try to talk me out of it!

"Well, I was a police officer for XX years... you may THINK you want a shoulder rig but I can tell you... you won't like it."

Well, I have worn mine for a year and a half. I LIKE it. Moral of this story is: Get opinions from everyone but this REALLY is a personal choice. Only you can make the final call on this one. Good luck!


BTW - AK103K, my close friends tell me that they have never "made" me while wearing a shoulder rig. I have carried a small Taurus and even a full sized Beretta FS92 in a shoulder rig. I would say that your body's "build" and the type of clothes you wear will make a difference. I am aware that MOST people do not prefer shoulder rigs, but how do you know unless you try them out. -YMMV
I have yet to have anyone notice me carrying in this position and it is just about snatch proof.

I am certainly in favor of strong-side carry and agree that it is more easily defended than shoulder carry. But it is not snatch proof -- nothing is. Plenty of police officers have had their guns taken from their holsters. That's why there is handgun retention training.

I said it is just about snatch proof, not completely. No method is completely snatch proof. But someone would have to get their hand under my coat or jacket, release the thumb break and pull the gun upward and forward. I think by the time they get under my coat I would have pinned their arm and be clocking them in the face with my weak hand or elbow. Many officers do get their guns snatched and I think it is easier to get your gun grabbed when carrying openly. With concealed carry, done properly, a gun grabber is going to have to guess exactly where the gun is located and what type of holster is being used.
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