Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Top Five Tactical Pens
- Top Five Inside-the-Waistband Holsters
- And Top Five Unique Handguns
- Top Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Carrying a Concealed Handgun
- Top Five Pieces of Gear for an Individual First Aid Kit
Handguns are meant to be carried in holsters. And while inside the waistband (IWB) holsters excel in carry and concealment, outside the waistband (OWB) holsters excel in deployment and comfort. Concealment then, for an OWB holster, simply becomes a function of wearing the right cover garments.
Belt-mounted pouches for carrying handguns go way back and, over the years, have gone through significant transformations. Today’s OWB holsters are far superior to yesterday’s and worth a close look if you prefer to carry this way. Here are my top five and why I chose them.
1. Galco Side Snap Scabbard ($111.95)
A stalwart in the firearms industry, Galco offers a broad range of handgun holsters including their venerable Side Snap Scabbard. Made from black premium saddle leather, this holster feels luxurious while being rock solid and comfortable at the same time. But it gets my vote for being the easiest OWB holster to put on and off, thanks to the side-snap belt loops that affix it to your gun belt.
With gun-in-holster, just slide the open belt loops under your belt and bring them up and around to snap in place. After they’re attached, your gun is held close, rides with stability at a slight forward cant and offers a fine combat grip. Working in conjunction with the tightness of your gun belt, a tensioning screw adjusts the holster’s grip on your gun.
Visit GalcoGunLeather.com to learn more about the Side Snap.
2. Crossbreed SnapSlide ($48.50)
A perennial favorite in the holster category, Crossbreed continues to innovate with leather and Kydex combinations. More famous for their excellent IWB holsters, Crossbreed also offers OWB units, such as this SnapSlide. A simple construction of leather backer and Kydex carrier, this holster’s design draws your gun in very close. As such, concealment is very good with this holster — so good that it gets my vote for being the best concealing holster of this OWB lot.
Available in natural tan horsehide (when available), tan premium hard-rolled cowhide, and black cowhide, this is a durable and strong holster that is available with or without a sweat guard. I actually prefer it without the sweat guard as it offers just a bit more space to get a combat grip on the gun carried in it. If you carry a smallish gun, get it in a straight drop. If your gun is medium to large, go for the slight forward cant version.
Visit CrossbreedHolsters.com to learn more about the SnapSlide.
3. DeSantis Yaqui Paddle ($64.99)
Both DeSantis and the Yaqui style of holster have been around for a long time, and it’s no surprise DeSantis offers a version of this classic, high-ride holster. This one happens to be a paddle, so it’s relatively easy to get on and off as needed. Yaqui holsters seem to do best when paired with a 1911. The gun’s slim profile works with the holster for a stable ride, and while belt slide Yaqui holsters are minimal, this paddle mounted Yaqui offers two tensioning screws to make sure the draw is just right.
DeSantis offers this model of holster for many sizes and shapes of guns, in black and tan premium unlined saddle leather. While it’s technically possible to wear this holster without a belt, it’s simply better to wear it with one, and a real gun belt at that. This holster gets my vote for best high-ride and, if I’m really going to nitpick, best high-ride for a 1911.
Visit DeSantisHolsters.com to learn more about the Yaqui Paddle.
4. Multi Holsters Elite Quick Ship 2-in-1 ($74.95)
A relative newcomer to the holster category, Multi Holsters makes excellent gear, including this Elite Quick-Ship 2-in-1 OWB holster. This is a basic OWB holster — plastic carrier and belt loops — with zero flex. And that’s its strength. Worn with a real gun belt, the gun carried in it rides with maximum stability. Because the plastic carrier is molded perfectly to the gun it carries, drawing and reholstering occur with fantastic tactile feel.
The holster’s gun belt loops are attached via nuts and bolts so they are movable to adjust for cant, but I prefer a straight drop. The holster is also available with a sweat shield and belt loops to accommodate either a 1.5-inch or 1.75-inch-wide belt. Moreover, you can set this same holster up as an IWB using the SpeedEase Nylon Clips. As such, this holster gets my vote for being the most versatile. But it’s also one of the most solid platforms I’ve experienced.
To learn more about the Elite Quick Ship 2-in-1 visit MultiHolsters.com.
5. Diamond D Leather Pancake ($75)
Known for hunting holsters produced in Alaska, Diamond D Leather offers a pancake holster for concealed carry made from premium leather and available in black, brown or natural. Here is a good-looking, back-to-basics OWB holster that protects your gun right to the muzzle while keeping it close at your side.
Diamond D’s pancake comes with a 20-degree forward cant and as such, it’s ideal for longer or larger guns. (You’ll need a fairly lengthy covering garment to hide it.) Double D Leather holsters are nothing short of robust — thick, strong and durable. They’re made to last a lifetime or more and will likely get handed down through the generations. This holster gets my vote for the most traditional and protective. It’s also great for open carrying, whether with your “BBQ” gun or your backcountry gun.
To learn more about the Diamond D Pancake, visit DiamondDCustomLeather.com.
Admittedly, choosing just five OWB holsters is hardly fair, given the vast number available today. So let us know your thoughts on these or other holsters we should consider for OWB carry.
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