I have a love-love relationship with paddle holsters. Simply put, paddle holsters make it easy to carry and deploy a handgun. You can install a paddle holster easily, carry with stability and comfort, and draw and reholster with virtually no fuss. Granted, those attributes come at the cost of concealability, but that’s a pretty good trade-off.
The paddle holster you see here is made by Exodus Gunleather — it’s hand-made and, in this configuration, runs around $250. It’s beautiful piece of craftsmanship with outstanding functionality. While I’m reviewing the Exodus Gunleather specifically, my comments apply to most paddle holsters.
Hate: Not as concealable as other holster systems, but…
Let’s start off with the main drawback of most paddle holsters: by design, they hold a gun more off-body than on and therefore are more difficult to conceal. They’re not impossible to conceal; it’s just more difficult. Sometimes significantly more difficult, depending on factors such as body size and type, covering garments, and so forth.
I’m 5’10”, weigh 175 pounds and have a 34-inch waist — pretty much average all around. I can wear this paddle holster at 4 o’clock and hide it with a thick jacket or a large, heavier-fabric overshirt. But I don’t wear those clothes unless it is cold out, so I’m limited to using a paddle holster for just a few months out of the year here in Michigan. Those living in warmer climates may face additional challenges.
Here’s where this hate actually turns into a love: Drawing from a concealed paddle holster under a jacket or shirt is a very efficient movement. Clear the jacket/shirt — grip the conveniently cradled stocks — and draw. Other holster systems, even OWB holsters which ride much closer to the body, take just a bit longer to deploy.
Love: Stability and comfort
Most paddle holsters excel at providing a stable and comfortable ride for whatever handgun they’re carrying. The key to this is the size/shape of the paddle (as well as its flex) and how it attaches to the carrier. Most paddle holsters excel in stability because there’s a wide paddle made from thick, firm leather or slightly flexible plastic. The Exodus paddle gets wider toward the bottom, providing a significant area for hip/thigh contact, increasing friction and therefore stability. The Exodus also attaches the carrier to the paddle at a location that maximizes balance and provides just a slight forward cant. A leather tab on the panel increases stability as it sits below your gun belt, preventing the holster from moving too much or being removed unless you loosen your belt.
Because the gun is not being pressed into your body, the result is a very comfortable means of carry. The main factor for potential discomfort comes from bearing the weight of a gun on one side of your body during all-day carry. The paddle holster is barely noticeable unless you frequently transition between sitting and standing. In which case you’ll notice the holster occasionally bumping into a chair or seat belt receiver.
Love: Ease of installation, drawing and reholstering
Stability and comfort are characteristics of any great holster system, but they’re even better when combined with ease of installation, drawing and reholstering. With a paddle holster, you just slip the paddle inside your waistband (under a gun belt, of course), adjust your belt tightness as necessary, and you’re good to go. Once installed, drawing is similarly as easy: grasp stocks and draw. The holster stays put, the gun comes out. Reholstering is just the reverse, of course, and since most paddle holsters (including this Exodus) are made from materials with very little flex, you can easily re-holster with one hand.
A final note:
Aesthetically, the Exodus Gunleather paddle holster is stunning. It’s a pity that it’s most often hidden from view as a concealment holster. So, while I love the look, it’s too bad that very few viewers get to enjoy it. When it does make an appearance, most marvel at the craftsmanship and attention to detail. When they try the holster for themselves, most immediately comment on the ease of installation, the stability and comfort and the ease of drawing and reholstering. They then take a mental inventory of their covering garment wardrobe to determine if they can work a paddle holster into their daily carry.
For more information on this paddle holster visit ExodusGunleather.com.
Do you use a paddle holster? From what materials is it made? What are your loves and hates of it as a carry and concealment rig?
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