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Different Types of Handgun Holsters and the Purpose They Serve

Different Types of Handgun Holsters and the Purpose They Serve

It is easy to underestimate how important a handgun holster can be. After all, you can just slip your pistol into your waist, right? Wrong. Instead, that's how handgun accidents happen. 

Holsters don't just protect you from accidentally misfiring your sidearm. It also makes it so much easier to go about your regular activities without feeling uncomfortable. Not to mention how cool they make you look.

But there is even more to the purpose a handgun serves, depending on its type. Here’s a rundown of the most popular types of handgun holsters and the purpose they serve:

4 Popular Types of Handgun Holsters and the Purpose They Serve

Waistband Holsters

Band holsters are easily the most popular holsters there are. Both cowboys and city cops are fans of them. They have long straps worn around the waist with pouches for your handgun and extra clips.

They can be further grouped into inside-the-waistband (IWB) and outside-the-waistband (OWB) holsters. 

  • OWB holsters are the more popular variants of belt holsters, and they come in several forms and styles. They all have in common the ease and speed of draw they afford you. They are also very comfortable and get out of the way while you go about doing your thing. Unfortunately, they are quite difficult to conceal. 
  • IWB holsters are so-called because they are designed to be worn on the inner side of your pants. IWB holsters are notably inconvenient for large handguns. They are also more difficult to draw, as you have to pull them from under your shirt or jacket. They are also better for concealment, especially when another layer of attire like a coat is worn over them.

Shoulder Holsters

Think of your favorite TV detective and his brown leather shoulder holsters. Shoulder holsters have straps that are worn over the arm, with the handgun hanging in a secure pocket under the arm and by the sides. 

Shoulder holsters are very comfortable with minimal discomforts to your gait and movements. The handgun's weight is evenly distributed over several muscle groups that you barely notice.

They can also be very obvious if additional effort is not taken to conceal them. On the other hand, wearing a jacket over shoulder holsters immediately conceals them.

You often get a pocket on the other side of the handgun where you can keep extra rounds of ammunition. Or another piece of handgun. Doing this also helps to keep the weight balanced.

Although shoulder holsters don’t provide the fastest draw speed, they give you enough room to draw out your piece with ease. Not to mention they are stylish and modern.

Ankle Holsters

Ankle holsters offer what is probably the best concealment of the holsters available. They are designed to be worn on your ankle and stay there subtly without attracting any attention. They often have minimal designs since there is less chance of an accidental discharge.

These holsters suffer from a size limitation. They only work with small handguns, and they don’t fit tightly cut pants.

Even worse is the issue of accessibility. They are located so far away from your arm that reaching for them will give you away in a tight spot. They can also be uncomfortable to carry and force you to be conscious of your strides.

Regardless, they work magnificently for carrying backup guns, in addition to a waist or a shoulder strap.

Pocket Holsters

Pocket holsters let you carry your handgun in any pocket. They have a simple design that protects the trigger. These holsters offer the best of features. If your pants pocket is large enough, you can easily conceal your weapon in the most easy-to-reach place possible — your pocket. They often have a secure strap that keeps it in place while you are in motion.

The only downside is that the size of the firearm you can carry depends on the depth and looseness of your pants.


There are more unique handgun holsters available, but there are so many that it is impossible to cover all. On the bright side, the abundance of varieties and designs means everyone will find one that works conveniently for his situation and preferences.

Research says that your draw speed may not necessarily be linked to the type of holster you use and instead depend more on your familiarity with it. So practice your draw technique with your handgun holster regularly.

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