When to Use a Shoulder Holster?
Admittedly I am a big fan of shoulder gun harness systems. However, I know when they have faults and what those faults are. Shoulder holsters systems are quite viable, but you need to recognize their faults to appreciate and utilize one fully. Let’s look at the pros and cons of a shoulder holster.
- Easy to wear and use when driving or seated
- Can be very comfortable
- Makes it possible to conceal and carry a full-sized gun
- Easy to attach extra ammo to
- Easy to wear when wearing layers of clothes
- You’ll need a garment to conceal it
- Not as fast to draw from as other holsters
The biggest con is the need for a jacket or an open button shirt to conceal these holsters. In warm environments, this becomes very difficult. A shoulder holster is, however, excellent in the winter.
I think they are most handy when driving long distances. When you’re seated in a vehicle, they are easy to reach and very comfortable to wear.
Additionally, when wearing tons of layers, clearing them to grab your gun from your hip can be a slow process. A shoulder holster is easier to get to when wearing coats, sweaters, long johns, etc.
How to Choose a Shoulder Holster?
The first thing you need to do is picture yourself buying a shoulder holster for less than 50 bucks. Heck, even at 50 bucks you’ll only have a few worthwhile options.
Take it from my experience: a cheap holster is a garbage one. They tend to be extremely uncomfortable over long periods of time and tend to hurt when worn for hours and hours. “Buy once, cry once” is my motto. Spend a little money.
Molded to your gun
Look for a holster that is molded to your gun. When it comes to shoulder holster carry, you want that extra retention. If your gun is too small, it will move, rattle, and likely not activate the active retention device as it needs to. If it’s too big, the trigger might not be fully covered.
The bigger the gun you intend to carry, the wider the straps should be. This helps you support the weight of the gun, and this allows you to carry comfortably. Material-wise, there is a wide variety of options, but most quality holsters come in leather. Leather is a soft material that’s well proven for shoulder holsters.
Some companies have made excellent use of nylon and polymer for tactical rigs, but make sure you do a lot of research on these companies. There tends to be a lot of poorly constructed shoulder holsters on the block.
Another major factor to consider is the number of adjustments that can be made to the design. Can you adjust the holster to make carrying comfortable? Smaller and bigger people will especially have to take note of the adjustment range of a shoulder holster.
The more adjustable a rig is, the better it is. You should be able to loosen and tighten the rig to your body type. This will maximize both concealment and comfort.
Shoulder holsters come in either vertical or horizontal configurations. Some can be adjusted slightly for cant in the horizontal realm too. Horizontal carrying seems to be the best means to conceal a gun. Vertical carrying is often the more secure method of carrying. Vertical carrying also allows carrying larger and more powerful guns, like Magnum hunting revolvers.
Most shoulder rigs come with the ability to add some accessories, like magazines pouches, cuff pouches, and even some cool knife sheaths. This isn’t a major factor, but it’s one to consider.
As a civilian, I only have a need for an extra magazine or two. This extra weight will often help balance the load and keep things from being too heavy.
There seems to be an overabundance of crap shoulder holsters on the market. It can be a pain to get through them to the gold-standard models. However, if you follow the advice above, you’ll have no issues.
Should Holster Brands to Watch
When it comes to leather perfection, it’s almost impossible to beat Galco. They know how leather works and do leatherwork at a level that’s unbeaten by most.
Galco holsters have simply become better. In terms of shoulder holsters, the Galco Miami Classic and Classic 2 are easily the flag bearers of the shoulder holster market.
Their initial popularity from the television show Miami Vice pulled them into the mainstream, and the Miami Classic followed. This pressure without a doubt made them ensure the holster was more than fashionable.
Galco may use old-school leather for the majority of their holsters, but they have introduced modernized components to their shoulder rigs too.
This includes the ability to add a ton of different spare pouches to a shoulder rig to make it handier overall. Galco also introduced the more affordable Lite Classic to support smaller guns, allowing for a lower overall weight and price.
Galco also stands behind their products with an amazing warranty that will even accept the excuse that you just didn’t like it. They are an outstanding company and worth looking at even beyond their shoulder holsters. If you have doubts about shoulder rigs, I’d suggest giving Galco a look.
Barsony is a bit of a new company, but they do produce a number of different shoulder holsters in a number of configurations at a wide variety of price points. Their products are all made in the USA, and they offer one of the widest selections of shoulder holsters.
They also tend to have a variety of different designs. This includes a very lightweight minimalist design, designs that incorporate traditional magazines, pouches, and even two holsters for carrying two guns.
Barsony is a US-made firm that is family owned, but they can still produce at a level that keeps prices low. Their company is growing fast, but their quality remains the same.
They make over 120 different styles in a wide variety of colors. They produce both leather and nylon options and holsters that integrate both into their construction.
The Barsony Holsters are available for both guns and guns equipped with lasers. Their custom-molded holsters will accommodate a variety of guns based on size, so you will need to make sure yours is compatible.
Barsony may be a smaller company, but they have strived to become one that sticks out, and they do.
Safariland owns Bianchi, and they both produce a number of shoulder holsters, including the listed X15. Safariland also uses the famed 7053 holsters on a shoulder rig. Whichever route you go, you can be confident with your shoulder rig.
Safariland prides themselves on building excellent duty and concealed-carry holsters. Their designs often incorporate the latest technology and the most proven methods of production.
Their wide variety allows you to have nearly any style of holster you’d like. Safariland makes outstanding holsters, and their reputation precedes them.
Safariland is the go-to company you’ll see mentioned over and over when people ask about the “best holster for X purpose.” They got this reputation by never accepting anything less than amazing.
The Bianchi Brand is more or less focused on providing affordable but high-quality holsters for civilian use. These include the famed X15 shoulder holster. Some users are going on over 30 years of use with the X15. Their never-die attitude is why Safariland has been so immensely successful.
When it comes to holsters, Safariland and Bianchi are powerhouse brands sitting under one roof. They make way more than holsters these days, but their other products are built just as well. Safariland has currently produced bulletproof vests that have saved the lives of 2,035 public safety personnel.
Q: How do you break in a leather holster?
A: Unfortunately, the only way to break in a holster is to get out and wear it. Wear it a lot. Wear it around the house. Wear while you check the mail. Just keep wearing it.
Q: How do you adjust a shoulder holster?
A: First you need to look at your individual holster—some use snaps, while others use a belt-like device—and adjust according to the holster. To get it to fit you, you need to wear it and adjust with a loaded gun and magazine present.
You need that real weight to make sure the holster is properly adjusted. Loosen or tighten as needed. You should be able to reach the gun in the holster with ease. It should have a minimal swing when moving. The straps shouldn’t rub as you walk either.
Q: Are shoulder holsters safe?
A: Very much so, as long as the trigger is covered and a retention device is used.
Wearing It On Your Shoulder.
Shoulder carry is an outstanding way to carry a gun. It’s very comfortable, and it’s an easy way to conceal a large gun. On top of that, it can be incredibly comfortable when it comes to daily carry.
It has a few downsides, but ultimately choosing the right holster is the key to solving most of these problems. Do your research, read reviews, and use our guide to help you pick the right holster.
If you are not looking for a shoulder holster, take a look our other guides: