Here are the two main carry rigs I use to comfortably schlep around the Beretta M9 (42oz. loaded weight) and two spare magazines (7.5oz. each):
Bianchi #3S “Pistol Pocket”
Gould & Goodrich “Gold Line” horizontal shoulder holster
Two holsters, both alike in dign…you know what? No. The belt holster is fine as far as reputation goes, but the shoulder rig has no dignity. Let your gun-savvy friends spot you with a shoulder holster, and you’ll have to endure a lot of “Miami Vice” or “Die Hard” jokes.
Let’s go through the advantages and disadvantages of each holster:
Inside-the-waistband belt holster
–Requires only a light cover garment to conceal
–Can be removed from the belt without having to take the cover garment off
–Easy one-handed reholstering
–Clunks into chairs when seated
–Difficult to access in a sitting position
–Slow draw when wearing multiple layers of cold-weather clothes
–May print when bending over or when the cover garment rides up
–Easy access while seated
–Comfortable; distributes gun weight across both shoulders
–Keeps gun and spare ammo together in a grab & go package
–Doesn’t require a sturdy belt
–Doesn’t print to the rear when bending over
–Requires substantial cover garment (an untucked t-shirt won’t cut it)
–Muzzle safety on the draw (muzzle line crosses own arm if it’s not kept out of the way; gun points at stuff behind the wearer)
–Almost impossible to reholster with one hand
–Presents the firearm butt-forward; potential vulnerability to a gun grab by an assailant (see also: slow draw)
–Cannot be taken off without removing the covering garment first
So which one is the better holster of the two? The answer is a resounding “it depends”.
Today here in Upper Cryogenica, it’s 92 degrees outside. I would not be able to carry that shoulder rig very well. I could put on an untucked short-sleeved shirt over the t-shirt and shoulder rig, but that a.) looks goofy and b.) feels uncomfortable. The Bianchi IWB holster, on the other hand, tucks that Beretta away under an untucked t-shirt, and you won’t be able to tell it’s there unless you have super observation skills or give me a pat-down. In warm to moderate weather, doing regular everyday stuff just walking around, the IWB holster is the better holster of the two.
In January, it will be anywhere from twenty to minus twenty degrees outside, and I’ll be wearing an undershirt, a button-down shirt, a fleece shirt or vest on top, and possibly even a heavy jacket. Getting to that Beretta in the IWB holster will require unzipping the outer garment and digging through two more layers of clothing, or trying to yank everything up over the holster, full pockets and all. The shoulder rig, on the other hand, makes the gun quickly accessible merely by unzipping the jacket zipper halfway (or leaving it that way to begin with.) In cold to severe weather that requires heavier clothing, or doing stuff that requires sitting down or driving a lot, the shoulder holster is the better of the two.
The gun’s a tool, but so is the holster, and that’s why it’s smart to have a toolbox of various holsters for various circumstances. The tactical crowd will tell you that you should always wear your gun at your hip because it conceals best that way and puts it in the same position all the time, but life isn’t a shoothouse, and only the most hardcore dedicated operator types can tailor their clothing and lifestyle around just one carry method. I’m not one of those, so I tailor the carry method to my lifestyle on the fly.
(One thing I will not compromise on, however, is the color-matching. Black holster, black belt, black shoes. Brown holster, brown leather on the rest of the body as well. There’s just no excuse for being unfashionable.)