“So, what makes my holster bad?” asked my Internet friend.
He had me there. I mean, he had bounced into the discussion thread and mentioned his new holster, a Sausage Sack Custom IV from GunHolderCorp and we’d all told him that his purchase was bad and he should feel bad for making it, and then he asked “But why?”
And, you know, he had a point. In the circles of my shooting buddies, Holster maker X or model Y is just kind of known by cultural osmosis to be bad and wrong, but what makes a bad holster? Or, more to the point, what makes a good holster?
In my book, a holster has to do several discrete things to be considered “good.” Some are mandatory, all are desirable and the more of these tasks the holster does well, the better it is.
Starting with the most important, a holster needs to safely hold a handgun in such a way that it cannot be inadvertently fired when in the holster. An object that won’t do this is not a holster as far as I’m concerned. It might be a very nice, tooled-leather gun-holder thingie you put on your belt, but a holster it ain’t. “But, Tam,” you say, “A lot of classic revolver holsters back in the day had cutaway trigger guards! For speed!” I think we can safely say we did a lot of things in those days that weren’t very safe in retrospect, like chain-smoke while pregnant or dump raw sewage in rivers. Let’s not do those things anymore.
Another thing it should do is present the gun to your hand at the same angle, in the same orientation, every time you reach for it. This is why holsters in pockets should have tacky material on the outside and why holsters in purses (yeah, yeah, that’s a topic for a whole later column) need to be attached by hook-and-loop fasteners or something to the inside of the gun compartment in the purse. When you reach for the gun in a hurry, it needs to be in the place your hand expects to find it. Which brings us to the next point…
The holster needs to have positive enough retention that the gun won’t come out unless you mean it. This means that you should be able to run and jump and play Ultimate Frisbee and do cartwheels across the front lawn without having to run back and get your gun where it fell out 5 yards prior. Every so often there’s a story about a concealed carrier whose suddenly unconcealed gun went clattering to the ground in a food court or at a graduation ceremony (to name two examples I remember) and be all noisily not-drop-safe. Those loud noises could have been prevented with a good-quality holster.
Oh, and the holster should allow your hand to achieve a full firing grip on the gun. A lot of holsters incorporate a sweat shield or shirt guard or whatever they call it—a raised area of material between the rear of the gun and your body. You can tell the holster makers who know what time it is by the fact their sweat guards are cutaway in such a fashion that they don’t interfere with your achieving a full, secure grip.
After all those considerations, the holster should be durable and well-built. You don’t want to have to go buying a new one every 6 months to a year. I know that when I switched from the M&P to the Glock early this year, I’d been carrying in the same Dark Star Gear holster inside-the-waistband for nearly 5 years straight, all day, every day. Good holsters last.
That, in a nutshell, is what separates the good from the bad in holsters.