Holster Magic

By David Freeman

You may have just one gun you wear all the time. If that’s the case, I’ll help you pick just what you need for that one gun. Or you may have multiple guns that will work in the carry role, and you like to alternate them from time to time. Something else that factors into your holster choice is clothing style. I’m lucky in that I get to wear polo-style shirts all the time. I’m partial to a particular brand—Propper®— that has long enough shirttails that wearing an OWB holster works for me. More on that later. Your clothing choices may necessitate a good IWB holster.

Whenever gun toting individuals get together, it seems inevitable that a discussion will come up about drawers full of holsters. There are numerous manufacturers and most of them make holsters for all of the popular make and model handguns. It’s a big industry and I appreciate all those choices, but I need my life to be simple. You might think the business I’m in would complicate my holster choices. I review and write about firearms, I train people in the use of firearms, and I may be carrying a different gun every week, sometimes every day. I also write about and have tested holsters from CrossBreed, DeSantis, 1791, Alien Gear, Bianchi, Milt Sparks, Bullard Leather and dozens of other makers. And, yep, I’ve got them all. But a recommendation from my editor a few years ago, when I was working on a holster article, was life-changing. He told me to be sure I included the Bianchi 101 Foldaway Belt Slide holster in my review. That’s a lot of words for a simple piece of leather with two slots cut in it. I ordered one and when it arrived, I laughed. Carry a gun with this? I’m not laughing anymore. When ordering, you can select a size by make and model, but chances are the recommendation is going to be a Size 16. The Size 16 packaging lists 25 different models it fits and that’s just listing guns made by Springfield, H&K, Sig Sauer, S&W, Beretta and Walther. There’s no way they could list all the guns this holster will accommodate on the small label that’s on the package. Earlier I mentioned I wear polos with my shirttail out. The Bianchi 101 Foldaway is an OWB holster that is so easy to use and so universal, it’s an amazing product. It really doesn’t matter where around your waist you wear it. I put it on my belt at the 3:00 o’clock position every day, and I don’t even have to think about what gun I may or may not be carrying that day. They all fit. Mine is a right-handed version, but they also come in left-hand.

The Bianchi 101 Foldaway is an OWB holster that is so easy to use
and so universal, it’s an amazing product.
David uses it for almost every gun he carries.

That’s a lot of words for a simple piece of leather with two slots cut in it. I ordered one and when it arrived, I laughed. Carry a gun with this? I’m not laughing anymore. When ordering, you can select a size by make and model, but chances are the recommendation is going to be a Size 16. The Size 16 packaging lists 25 different models it fits and that’s just listing guns made by Springfield, H&K, Sig Sauer, S&W, Beretta and Walther.

This is a Springfield XDm with 4.5″ barrel in a
Bianchi 101 Foldaway holster.

There’s no way they could list all the guns this holster will accommodate on the small label that’s on the package. Earlier I mentioned I wear polos with my shirttail out. The Bianchi 101 Foldaway is an OWB holster that is so easy to use and so universal, it’s an amazing product. It really doesn’t matter where around your waist you wear it. I put it on my belt at the 3:00 o’clock position every day, and I don’t even have to think about what gun I may or may not be carrying that day. They all fit. Mine is a right-handed version, but they also come in left-hand.

The Bianchi 101 Foldaway holster easily accommodates small guns such as the S&W CSX.

The biggest gun I’ve carried in my belt slide holster would be a Springfield XDm with 4.5″ barrel. The smallest would be a S&W CSX. Among other full-size and mid-size guns I’ve carried in it are the Beretta M9, Beretta PX4, Sig P226, Sig P229, Glock 19, Taurus G3, CZ-P07, S&W M&P and a few Turkish imports. I’ve carried 1911s, both Commander and Government size. I’ve carried several single-stack nines such as the Shield and XDs and all the current round of double-stack mini-nines such as the Glock 43X, Springfield Hellcat Pro, Shield Plus, Ruger Max-9 and Sig P365XL. Let me pay it forward. If you can wear OWB, get this holster; it’s unlikely you’ll need another. And it works with guns that have optics mounted.

This is a rather large 357 Magnum in a belt slide Bianchi Foldaway holster.
The Bianchi 101 Foldaway holster accommodates 1911s,
Government or Commander-sized.

Maybe you need an IWB holster. I carried my gun that way for years. There are two choices in holster material—Kydex or Leather. I’m not going to try to convince you one is better than the other. I’ve worn both types. But I do have a suggestion here that can save you money if you’re prone to using different guns. If you carry a 1911, get a 1911 holster. But for other types, I’ve found that ordering a holster for a Sig P226 or a Springfield XD with 4″ barrel will get you a holster that will work for almost any mid-size to large semi-automatic pistol. My Kydex holster came from CrossBreed, and it was actually ordered for a Taurus Millennium Pro, but it fits the P226 and countless other handguns as well.

Here’s a Ruger American in a Crossbreed SuperTuck holster that David has owned since long before the Ruger American was made. The holster was originally ordered for a Sig Sauer P226.

My leather holster is a Bullard Leather Company holster that is stamped P226 on the back. That’s the mold they used to make it, and it has carried my P226 plus a plethora of other guns.

Bullard Leather Company made this IWB holster for a Sig P226.
It is currently carrying an FNX 40.

You’re going to get the argument that your holster should be molded for your particular gun, and I get that. If I only carried an H&K VP9, I’d order a holster custom made for my VP9. But I don’t and chances are you will try different guns from time to time. I’m telling you the shape and dimensions of the P226 are so universal, holsters designed for it will accommodate most of the similar-sized guns on the market.

You don’t have to go with my Crossbreed or Bullard to make this work. Get an Alien Gear Holster, a Bianchi or DeSantis or any well-made holster that says it’s for the P226, and you’ll have a holster that will work for most of the common gun choices for a carry gun.

Alien Gear Cloak Tuck holsters are a great buy.
This one was made specifically for a 1911.

If you go IWB, where do you wear it? I wear mine at the 3 o’clock position, but you can wear it in front, appendix style, or further back on your strong side or even reversed on your non-strong side. Just determine what’s comfortable and go for it.

Pocket carry may be relevant to you. More and more we’re being offered guns of an acceptable caliber and enough ammo to do the job that will fit in a man’s pocket or in a pouch in a lady’s purse. If you carry that way, your gun needs to be in a holster that will cover the trigger and keep the gun oriented for easy access. Most makers have a pocket holster in their product line, and some have multiple ones designed for specific makes and model. I like the Nemesis from DeSantis because it does a good job of keeping the gun upright in your pocket and the holster remaining in your pocket when you draw. But a generic holster from Blackhawk or Uncle Mike’s that will fit any small semi-automatic is a good choice. That same holster will work with small revolvers such as the Taurus Ultra-Lite 856UL or a S&W K-Frame.

The Nemesis from DeSantis does a good job of keeping the gun upright in your pocket and the holster remaining in your pocket when you draw. Shown here with a S&W CSX.

You may say, “All of this is well and good, but I wear scrubs all day at work.” Or, “I wear leotards pretty much all the time.” In that case, get a belly band holster. Several companies make them and they’re pretty generic. You don’t have to worry about gun fit within reason.

I hope you carry every day. If you make a holster choice along my recommendations, carrying should not be a burden. Put on your holster just like you put on your pants or skirt and add your gun, loaded with one in the chamber. Unless you’re using a belly band holster, you will need a good gun belt. These belts are thicker and wider than a normal belt, so they offer a secure attachment for your holster, be it IWB or OWB. Any questions?

Author: David Freeman

Professional dedicated to training and equipping people to live safely in a dangerous world.

One thought on “Holster Magic”

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