Hollywood’s treatment of guns and related gear can result in some bad raps. Shoulder holsters, for example, get a bit overly dramatized as tough-guy holster systems. In fact, a shoulder holster is an excellent concealment system for a handgun.
Generally, shoulder holsters require a cover garment such as a sport coat or jacket — a garment that cannot come off no matter how hot it gets. A shoulder holster tends to limit physical activity a bit and pretty much eliminates the ability to give anyone a hug lest they put one hand or arm directly on a gun that you are trying to hide. But those problems are fairly easy to mitigate. For the most part, a shoulder holster provides a very nice alternative to other forms of concealed carry — especially if inside the waistband carry is too uncomfortable or difficult.
Pictured below are a Diamond D Custom Leather shoulder holster and a Glock 26. They make a great combination for concealed carry. When it comes to this rig, I love the comfort, balance and retention, but I do not love where the muzzle of the gun ends up.
After long hours of inside-the-waistband and outside-the-waistband concealed carry, it is so nice to use a rig that gives my abdomen a rest. The Glock 26 is not a heavy gun, but it is chunky. Carried strong side IWB or OWB, the gun can be a drag after a while. In fact, if you carry a gun long enough on one side of your body, you will unconsciously start to stand and move in such a way that favors concealment of the gun but does not favor your spine or muscles. As such, the Diamond D brings a few levels of comfort to concealed carry, namely by getting the weight of the gun off your hip and distributing it across your shoulders. The gun and the magazines fall under your arms, freeing your waist. The increase in comfort is liberating.
Not only does the comfort of concealed carry go up with the Diamond D, but there is also a corresponding element of balance that proves helpful. The Glock 26 hanging from my left shoulder is balanced by the two spare magazines that hang from my opposite shoulder. With the weight of the gun, magazines and ammo distributed across two attachment points, there is no subconscious tendency to favor one side over another. Generally, your cover garment will also fall equally on each side (and do make sure it is doing its job of concealing your rig). The Diamond D’s 2-inch wide leather shoulder straps distribute the weight of the gun and gear across the rig. The main straps go over the shoulders and, regardless of the weight of the gun carried, put equal pressure on the shoulders. Note that some shoulder holsters are one-sided, meaning that there is only a strap or two and a single gun holster meant for one side of the body. These are fine but miss the balance component. Furthermore, a balanced shoulder carry means you will have similar reach-across movements from either side for drawing a gun or retrieving a spare magazine.
Most shoulder rigs sport some kind of retention, and the Diamond D is no exception. A steel-reinforced thumb break holds a leather strap around the back of the Glock 26. When going for the draw, my thumb naturally comes to rest on the thumb break, and it is a simple push to undo the snap and retrieve the gun. Since the magazines deploy toward the ground, you have to defeat a snap to release each magazine. These are a little more difficult to deploy. Either way, the gun and magazines are held firmly in place until you want them released. Also doing some retention work are tie-downs that buckle or snap around your gun belt. These keep the holster from flopping too much. Do not cinch them down too tight though, or you will limit your own arm movement.
The Diamond D holster, like many other shoulder holsters, holds the gun in a horizontal position. When the muzzle goes into the holster, the gun stays horizontal while you carry it. Thus, the muzzle of the gun points at anything behind you. Here’s where we get into a discussion about controlling a holstered muzzle. In a holster, the gun is as safe as safe can be. Some shoulder holsters offer the vertical carry of a handgun. This means the muzzle goes into the holster, and the gun stays vertical while you carry it. The muzzle of the gun points at the floor just like virtually every other on-body holster out there.
Diamond D Custom Leather’s shoulder holster retails for $210. Learn more at DiamondDCustomLeather.com.
Do you carry a handgun in a shoulder holster? What are your thoughts on comfort, balance, retention and muzzle direction?
Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.