Carrying a pistol is one of the first steps to taking responsibility for your safety, but selecting a holster isn’t as easy as it first appears. Not all holsters are created equal and many of the initial options people will consider produce more liabilities than security.
Very cheap holsters have a higher risk of accidental discharges, while some middle-priced options have potentially dangerous drawbacks. A holster needs to retain your pistol, prevent accidental discharges, help keep the pistol running, and be easy to wear for hours at a time.
In this article, we will go over the types of holsters available, what to look for in a holster, different types of holsters for specific tasks, and some pointers on maintaining your holster.
Types of Glock Holsters
Inside-the-waistband (IWB) Holsters
Inside-the-waistband holsters put the holster on the strong side of the body inside the waistband. This is a very common option for people to use. It can be comfortable for long periods with the right holster and it is easier to sit with.
This can also be used with Appendix carry, but for clarity, we’ll cover that style of carry in a different section.
The disadvantage of this style of carry is that the holster is entirely on one side. This makes it harder to retain in a scuffle, but it is not impossible. You can get very smooth draws with an IWB holster, but you will have to learn more clearing techniques with your cover garments.
Outside-the-waistband (OWB) Holsters
Outside-the-waistband holsters are similar to IWB holsters but are instead on the outside of your clothing. They rely on the tension of the belt and belt loops to hold the holster to your side. However, this pressure is entirely on the belt loops instead of the entire magazine like an IWB holster.
OWB holsters lend themselves well to open carry, are convenient, and comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and work with most common belt styles. They are the most likely type of holster to be seen in areas where open carry is socially acceptable.
Since they sit on the outside of the belt and your clothing, OWB-style holsters require a little more effort to conceal. But if concealment is not your concern, this is a very good choice, especially compared to some niche designs like shoulder holsters, which we’ll cover later.
Ideally, OWB holsters are used when you are in rural locations like farms or small towns. Many places still frown upon openly carrying firearms which is a social consideration that needs to be accounted for. Just because it is legal does not mean there are no consequences.
Appendix Carry Holsters
Appendix carry is one of the best options for concealed carry. This puts the holster in front of you in between the hip bones. It places the gun in your natural area of control, uses the body’s structure to easily conceal the gun, and allows for a very smooth, natural draw stroke.
This style of carry can be your go-to option and works in almost every situation. Whether you wear traditional office wear, relaxed street clothes, or something in between.
Considerations that may limit the effectiveness of appendix carry can include body type, injury that prevents carrying or drawing from a forward position or if you need to lift or carry other items frequently.
Shoulder holsters are a classic option for concealed carry, however, they are outdated. They were originally developed during a time when full suits and suit jackets were very common. As fashion styles have changed, people have moved away from shoulder holsters.
A shoulder holster puts the pistol under one of your arms and usually features a harness suspension to distribute the weight. This style of holster often carries ammunition or something else on the opposite side to balance out the pistol.
Shoulder holsters are a good option if you spend a lot of time sitting and don’t want your pistol digging into your side or waistline all day. Additionally, if you wear jackets as part of your day-to-day outerwear, a shoulder holster can be beneficial.
However, due to the angle at which shoulder holsters carry pistols, you will constantly be pointing the muzzle at those behind you. This adds unnecessary risk when carrying a gun. It will also take more time and effort to achieve a quick draw stroke with a shoulder holster since your hand will have to cross to the opposite side of your body in addition to clearing your cover garment.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Glock Holster
Choosing the right holster for you comes down to your pistol, your lifestyle, and the environment you live in. These will change from person to person and even day to day. Some people may find that they will need one or more holsters while others will be just fine with one.
Let’s look at some of the factors worth considering.
Glock Model Compatibility
Very often holsters are specifically designed for one pistol, especially when dealing with Glocks. Some holsters can fit multiple models but this usually will make the holster expensive or sacrifice coverage.
If a holster does not match the model of the Glock that you are using, then the pistol will not fit in the holster. The pistol will not be retained and you won’t be able to carry your pistol with you safely.
Comfort and Fit
You are going to be wearing the holster and your pistol for hours a day. If it is uncomfortable, it will discourage you from carrying your pistol, which defeats the purpose of concealed carry.
A good holster can help mitigate the physical discomfort caused by carrying a gun. This is also modified by the fact that not everyone has the same body type. This means not every holster is going to be the best option for you.
Concealment and Accessibility
Carrying a handgun concealed means that the gun and holster need to be concealed. But they can’t be so concealed that you can’t access the pistol. Very often IWB and OWB holsters are underneath one or more cover garments.
Holsters that are better at concealment are more complicated than they look. Many designs have adjustment wedges, claws, and other attachments that help keep the holster up against your body. This makes the holster appear more natural while keeping it in place for consistent draws.
Retention Method and Level of Security
Retention is an important aspect of holsters that many people overlook. A holster needs to be able to retain a pistol for safety. While many modern designs are drop-safe, there is always a possibility that a part wears out and those safety measures don’t work. To mitigate this, your pistol should not easily drop out of your holster.
Most concealed carry options will use friction and holster pressure to secure the pistol. Older designs use some form of flap with a snap stud, but these styles of retention can break over time.
Other complicated holsters will have multiple retaining measures, like those found on most modern police holsters. This is to help prevent someone from taking the pistol from the holster.
If you are concerned about not having enough security with your holster, you can add additional security devices like the GOSAFE Mobile Mag to ensure your pistol is completely under your control.
Holster Material and Durability
Holsters are made out of a variety of materials but not all of them are useful. This is because of the different speeds of wear and the different levels of maintenance each has.
Starting with the best material option, Kydex or polymer holsters are the industry standard. They are very easy to maintain, resistant to water, sweat, and impact, and are available in several different patterns.
Leather is another good holster material but it is more nuanced than Kydex. Leather shrinks and warps over time. This can cause issues especially if the leather’s rigidity is relied on to retain the pistol. If a leather holster warps around the trigger guard, it can create a safety issue if the material catches the trigger.
Holsters made of synthetic fabric should be avoided. This is because they usually do not secure the pistol very well and will rot over time. Unfortunately, these styles of holsters are very affordable and easily accessible for most. If you are serious about concealed carry, you should avoid these types of holsters.
Hybrid holsters combine two different materials into one holster. This is usually done to improve comfort with the holster, but it weakens the holster. This is from the tendency for different materials to shear at their joining points.
Single-material holsters are more durable in the long run and are easier to maintain. Having only one material to worry about along with one care routine saves time and effort.
Available Accessories for Glock Holsters
Glock holsters can have a number of accessories with them. The primary accessory that goes with Glock holsters is magazine carriers/holsters. Some holsters will have the magazine holster attached to it, these are usually referred to as sidecar holsters. Having extra ammunition can be beneficial and is something you should think about for your carry situations.
A newer consideration is a lockable magazine or a magazine well-safe like the GOSAFE Mobile product line. These allow you to secure your pistol in more locations than a normal safe or chamber lock could.
Best Glock Holsters for Different Purposes
There are many quality holster manufacturers out there and they all make good holsters. Here are some of the best options for various tasks. If one of these does not suit your needs, they are at least good examples of what you should be considering.
Glock Holsters for Everyday Carry
Your everyday carry holster needs to be comfortable and be able to work with you every day. This may mean you will have to spend more to have all the features you need or want. However, if you’re using the holster every day, the cost will work itself out in time.
PHLster is one of the leaders in everyday carry holsters. Many of its innovations have been copied by other manufacturers but without the understanding of why those innovations came into being.
The Pro Holster is designed to be carried comfortably for long periods of time. It is compatible with multiple firearm accessories (red dots and compensators) with the goal of being highly concealable. It features soft loop attachments and holster claws for the most comfort and concealability. It does not accept a weapon-mounted light.
The only major drawback to the Pro is the cost. This is an expensive holster. Some people may not be able to afford it or can hardly justify the added expense when more affordable options exist.
Glock Holsters for Concealed Carry
Concealed carry and everyday carry are closely related, however, if you want to try and maximize your concealed carry at less cost, a minimalist holster might be the option you’re looking for.
Raven Concealment VanGuard 2 is a minimalist holster that fits a wide variety of Glock pistols. It does this by only fitting over the trigger guard of the gun. This makes it a very affordable holster that does not take up a lot of space.
However, this means a large portion of the gun is exposed to outside forces. Since it is designed as an IWB holster, it is going to be exposed to things like sweat, link, and grease. This can take a toll on your pistol. Additionally, if you train with it, you run the risk of accidental burns if the barrel heats up enough since the slide and barrel are not shielded by the holster.
This holster is great if you just need a quick and easy holster while you try out other options.
Glock Holsters for Competition Shooting
Depending on the competition almost any holster can be used. However, if you are chasing speed and performance, holsters will be expensive. Competition holsters are very niche items. They are entirely meant for open carry and are optimized for competitions.
Alpha-X Holster RH is geared toward a fast and natural draw. That means it has the bare minimum needed to securely retain the pistol, while not impeding your draw. It won’t protect your gun from the environment but since it’s meant to be used in 3-gun or similar competitions, this isn’t a problem.
High-end competition holsters can be very expensive, but if you are high enough in the circuit, it's part of the cost of competition. These styles of holsters are not for the casual end user.
Glock Holsters for Tactical/Service Use
Due to the dynamic environment law enforcement and military personnel have to operate in, their pistol holsters need to be durable and highly retentive.
Safariland is known for its very durable holsters with high levels of retention. They are geared towards law enforcement’s needs and are used by both normal street cops and S.W.A.T. They feature the Automatic Locking System (ALS) and the Self Locking System (SLS) hood.
These holsters can be selected to have no mounted weapon light, a mounted weapon light, and/or a red dot sight. They are one of the industry’s best retention systems that will allow you to carry your pistol securely on duty.
The drawbacks of the Safariland hostlers are their confusing item naming system, their expense, and how specific you need to be when selecting a holster. If you do not have a weapon light, your pistol won’t work with a holster designed for a weapon light, etc.
Glock Holsters for Open Carry
Open carry is legal in some locations and can be the only option for some if they don’t want to get a concealed carry license. This usually means an OWB-style holster. But for the average citizen, you may not need the same level of retention as a police officer.
Raven’s pancake-style holster has an ambidextrous design. This means no matter which hand is your dominant hand, this holster can be set up to work with you. It has an adjustable cant for your preferred draw angle and it works with a variety of sights and red dots.
It is one of the more affordable options when it comes to a quality Glock holster and it works with Gen 3 to Gen 5 Glocks.
If you want to carry a weapon-mounted light with your pistol, the Perun is not the choice for you. It is slightly modular and affordable but it cannot meet every need.
Maintenance and Care Tips for Glock Holsters
Taking care of your holster can help ensure that it lasts a long time and allows you to carry your pistol safely. Kydex doesn’t require as much maintenance as a leather holster. This is one of the reasons why Kydex holsters are recommended.
For a Kydex holster make sure things like link or dirt do not get into the holster. Check your holster regularly and clean out any visible debris. Avoid sharp impacts on the holster when the pistol is not in it. The pistol provides a strong backing for the Kydex and if that backing isn’t there, an increased risk of the Kydex fracturing is present.
Some people like to over-torque screws to make sure they are in place. Kydex holsters often use screws to control the retention of the holster. If you torque the screw too tight you may not be able to get your pistol out of the holster and fracture the holster from excess pressure.
If you opt for a leather holster, be sure to check the leather to see that it is not becoming too limp. The leather needs to be rigged to protect the trigger and the gun. If some part of the holster begins to droop or curl, it is probably time to retire the holster.
Leather naturally starts to dry out over time, this can compromise the leather and the holster design. Be sure to apply your preferred leather cleaners, protectors, and moisturizers to the leather for long-term use.
When not using your holster, be sure to store it in a safe place that won’t allow any heavy weight, moisture, or sunlight to hit the holster. These factors can degrade both Kydex and leather holsters over time.
Selecting the Right Holster for Your Glock
There are a lot of factors that go into selecting a holster for your Glock. The bare minimum you should have is a holster that covers the trigger guard and retains the pistol. This will come down to the pistol, any accessories it has, and your preferred carry method.
As each of these factors layers on to one another, you should layer safety measures as well. Whether it’s a higher-end holster or a more affordable option, the GOSAFE Mobile Mag will provide additional security and safety to your pistol. Check to see if it’s what you need for your lifestyle.
What is the best Glock holster?
There are many good Glock holsters on the market. As long as the holster protects the trigger and retains the pistol during heavy movement it is the best option.
What holster does law enforcement use?
Law enforcement usually uses the Safariland ALS and/or SLS holster line.
Can a Glock fire once it's in the holster?
Yes!. If something is caught in the holster and pushing the trigger back, a Glock can fire in its holster
What is the best IWB holster for a Glock 19?
The best balance of affordability and features in a holster is the PHLster Pro for pistols without lights or the Floodlight1 for those with a light.