Issue 54

Using A Holster, Part 1

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This is part 1 of a 2-part article on how to select and use a holster for your handgun.  In Part 1 we'll discuss what qualities you should look for in a holster.  In Part 2 we'll discuss the numerous styles (and what they're used for) as well as how to safely and quickly use your holster.

In our Practical Defensive Pistol class, holster use techniques are covered in great detail.
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Not a lot of people own a holster for their handguns.  At least not holsters that they use on a regular basis.

In practice, there's generally not a lot of reason to use a holster for most folks, as they don't have the ability to carry a handgun while in public (at least not here in California for most people).

Still, there are instances for those with a handgun to need to use a holster.  These include as a back-up while hunting (check your state, federal and local gun laws!) or while at your place of business for asset and personal protection (again, check your local gun laws).

I have three requirements of any holster I buy, regardless of the application for which it will be used:  (1) Ability to hold the gun securely; (2) the ability to draw the weapon quickly, a very importantly; (3) the ability to to re-holster the gun without using your support hand to hold open the holster.

(1) Hold securely:  There are two major ways this is accomplished:  Via a Retention Holster, or via a molded holster.  Retention holsters have two major ways of doing this:  With a Thumb Break (a piece of material that covers the hammer) or a new type called a SERPA holster. 

The SERPAs require you to run your index finger down the outside of the holster to depress a retention button which releases the gun.  Retention holsters are primarily used by law enforcement and security guards to ensure their weapon is not taken from them during a struggle.

For civilians, I prefer a molded holster.  The best (IMO) are made of a material called Kydex or polycarbonate.  They are produced specifically for each model of firearm.  The gun "clicks" in place very securely. 

You can get them made of animal hide (horse or cow), but these tend to "crush" if they are used with Inside the Waist Band holsters, and can shrink if exposed to rain or perspiration.

(2) Draw quickly:  This is as much of a factor of the gun design and the clothing being worn as it is a function of the style and placement of the holster.  For instance, an Open Carry holster on the strong side hip can be drawn much more quickly than an ankle holster concealed by a pant leg.  

A hammerless semi-automatic carried in an Inside the Waist Band holster can generally be drawn more quickly than a revolver with a knurled external hammer in the same style holster - the hammer is more likely to be caught on your clothing while drawing your gun in a stressful situation.

(3)  Re-holster with support hand only:  You need to be able to get your handgun back into your holster with one hand so that the other hand can be used to move clothing out of the way.  Having to "fight" the gun back into the holster because it has crushed or repositioned itself can lead to accidental discharges.

It is very important that your holster is made for your specific gun.  This can sometimes be difficult, as not all holster manufacturers make holsters for every model of handgun.

Some holster styles and applications are more "forgiving" with regards to getting a "custom fit" for your handgun.

Next Issue:  Holsters - Styles and Drawing Technique


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