Best .38 Special Revolver Holsters 2024 (Bought & Tested)

As an experienced firearms user with a military background, I’ve tested my fair share of holsters for .38 special revolvers over the years. A good holster can make all the difference in comfort, concealability, and ease of drawing your weapon. After years of first-hand testing, I feel qualified to review and rank the top holster options on the market for .38 snubnose revolvers.

In this in-depth article, I’ll share my hands-on experiences with 9 top-rated best holsters for 38 special revolvers and provide pros, cons, and recommendations to help you choose the right holster for your needs. I’ll also draw from customer reviews to provide additional perspectives beyond just my own. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge to select the ideal holster for secure and convenient carry of your .38 special.

Overview of Top 8 Holsters for .38 Special Revolvers

Here’s a quick overview of the holsters I’ll be reviewing in-depth:

  1. Cardini Leather USA IWB Ultra Soft Leather Holster
  2. Suede Leather IWB 38 Special Holster by COOSNY
  3. 1791 Gunleather .38 Special IWB Leather Holster
  4. Kosibate IWB Leather Holster
  5. Depring IWB Tuckable Gun Holster
  6. Maxx Carry IWB Leather Revolver Holster
  7. Cardini Leather OWB Leather Holster
  8. Barsony Outside Waistband Leather Holster
  9. Sunsmith Holster Kydex IWB Holster

I chose these specific models based on their popularity, high ratings, diverse materials and carry styles, and compatibility with most snubnose .38s from Smith & Wesson, Taurus, Ruger, and other top brands. Between leather, suede, and Kydex materials, combined with IWB and OWB carry options, this selection provides a representative sample of holster styles, allowing you to determine your preferences.

Now let’s get into the details of each holster!

Reviews of the Best .38 Special Revolver Holsters

Cardini Leather USA IWB Ultra Soft Leather Holster

Cardini Leather USA IWB Ultra Soft Leather Holster

The Cardini Leather IWB holster is my top pick for its extremely comfortable leather design combined with sturdy construction. As a break-in leather holster, it starts a bit stiff but forms perfectly to your revolver with use. I’ve used mine nearly daily for over a year now and it still holds my S&W Bodyguard .38 firmly in place while concealed.

The soft suede interior protects the gun’s finish and wicks away moisture. Meanwhile, the thick premium Italian leather exterior stands up to daily carry. The metal belt clip is heavy-duty and puts the holster in a perfect draw position at my 4 o’clock. I sometimes forget I’m wearing it thanks to the lightweight and even weight distribution. For a premium leather IWB holster, Cardini delivers on all fronts.

Pros

  • Super soft leather molds to your body and gun
  • Good retention with precise molding
  • Metal clip for sturdy IWB carry
  • Smooth and comfortable all-day wear

Cons

  • On the pricier side

COOSNY Suede Leather IWB Holster for .38 Snub Nose Revolvers

COOSNY Suede Leather IWB Holster for .38 Snub Nose Revolvers

For a more budget-friendly leather option, the COOSNY IWB holster has proven a great choice for my Taurus 85. The suede lining creates a soft, non-abrasive surface against your body while providing solid friction retention. With a break-in period, the exterior leather shapes to the revolver for a custom fit.

I’ve found draw to be quick and smooth from this holster, aided by the molded sight track. The metal clip is quite sturdy and helps distribute the weight well. For an entry-level leather IWB holster, the quality of COOSNY’s model surpasses expectations. If you don’t want to spend over $50 for leather, this provides great functionality without breaking the bank.

Pros

  • Quality leather construction at a budget price
  • Effective retention with suede lining
  • Metal clip for durability
  • Comfortable for all-day wear

Cons

  • Can take longer to break in and mold fully

1791 Gunleather .38 Special Swing Pack Leather OWB Holster

1791 Gunleather .38 Special Swing Pack Leather OWB Holster

If you prefer open carry or want a versatile range holster, 1791 Gunleather’s swing pack model is an excellent leather OWB choice. The thick American steerhide leather retains its shape nicely while providing a smooth draw. The pack style distributes weight evenly for comfort.

The precisely molded polymer insert ensures solid retention while protecting the revolver’s finish. The pack can swing freely or lock in place at various angles depending on your preference. For open carry, the stylish design adds a classic rugged flair. I’ve also found it handy when wearing heavier outerwear in winter that would obscure an IWB holster. Overall an extremely versatile leather OWB model made to last.

Pros

  • Premium American leather construction
  • Swiveling, locking pack design
  • Polymer-lined for protection and retention
  • Works for open carry or with heavy clothing

Cons

  • Bulkier than IWB holsters

Kosibate Leather IWB Holster

Kosibate Leather IWB Holster

The Kosibate leather IWB holster offers another quality option at a lower price point. It’s designed to fit most J-frame .38 revolvers. I tested it with my Ruger LCR and found the molding provides a snug, custom fit. The holster retains its shape well while the suede interior protects the gun’s finish.

The clip fits securely on my belt and keeps the holster locked in place for all-day comfort. While basic in design, the materials and construction are top-notch, especially given the affordable price tag. For concealed carry on a budget, Kosibate’s holster delivers reliable performance and retention. The smooth leather requires minimal break-in for a comfortable fit.

Pros

  • Well-molded for a custom fit
  • Quality materials and construction
  • Effective retention and concealment
  • Great value under $30

Cons

  • The basic design lacks some features

Depring IWB Kydex Holster for .38 Snub Nose Revolvers

Depring IWB Kydex Holster for .38 Snub Nose Revolvers

Switching to Kydex holsters, Depring makes an excellent IWB model molded precisely for .38 revolvers like the S&W Bodyguard. The .08″ Bolton material retains its shape for consistent retention and allows for an easy, smooth draw. I’ve practiced quick draws extensively with this holster and it never fails.

The claw helps push the grip in tighter to the body for better concealment, with adjustable cant for your desired angle. It’s also comfortable for all-day wear thanks to the thin, lightweight build and breathable design. For an affordable Kydex option with great retention and concealability, Depring’s holster works extremely well for my everyday carry needs.

Pros

  • Precision-molded snub nose revolvers
  • Durable, shape-retaining Kydex material
  • Built-in claw for better concealment
  • Allows smooth, consistent draw

Cons

  • Not as comfortable as leather with extended wear

Maxx Carry Leather IWB Revolver Holster

Maxx Carry Leather IWB Revolver Holster

Maxx Carry makes a fine leather IWB holster contoured specifically for snub nose .38 revolvers. The premium American leather breaks in nicely to mold tightly to the shape of my Taurus 85. It keeps the hammer securely contained to avoid snagging. The steel metal clip allows easy on/off without removing my belt.

For all-day comfort, the wide molding distributes weight evenly and prevents pressure points. While pricier than other leather options, the quality shines through in Maxx Carry’s construction and precise retention. The smooth leather draw along with solid clip positioning make it a great choice for concealed carry.

Pros

  • Snug custom fit for snub nose revolvers
  • Quality American leather
  • Sturdy metal clip for easy on/off
  • Comfortable for extended wear

Cons

  • Higher price tag

Cardini Leather OWB Leather Holster

Cardini Leather OWB Leather Holster

Moving back to OWB models, Cardini Leather produces another excellent holster. Made of premium saddle leather, this open-carry holster retains its shape impeccably. The precise molding creates a custom-fit feel for a snug hold on the revolver. For security, the hammer strap adds Level 2 retention.

The open muzzle design allows for easy draw and reholstering. I’ve found this model extremely durable and comfortable for all-day OWB carry. The high-quality leather and craftsmanship justify the investment for a holster built to last. Paired with Cardini’s double magazine pouch, it makes a great open-carry rig.

Pros

  • Rigid saddle leather construction
  • Custom-molded for a snug fit
  • Level 2 retention with hammer strap
  • Open muzzle for easy draw/reholster
  • Excellent quality for OWB carry

Cons

  • Expensive but built to last

Barsony Leather OWB Revolver Holster

Barsony Leather OWB Revolver Holster

As a quality budget option for OWB carry, Barsony’s leather holster fits my Ruger SP101 perfectly. The molded design holds the revolver securely while allowing a smooth, fast draw. The open top allows easy access without unsnapping any straps.

While not as rigid as thicker leather, it retains its shape well over time. I appreciate the affordable price combined with solid performance for everyday open-carry use. With adjustable cant and ride height, it’s simple to get the ideal positioning for your body type too.

Pros

  • Inexpensive but decent quality
  • Precisely molded for retention
  • Open the top for a quick draw
  • Adjustable ride/cant

Cons

  • Thinner leather lacks the rigidity of premium brands

Sunsmith Holster Kydex IWB Holster

 

Sunsmith Holster Kydex IWB Holster

For another quality Kydex option, Sunsmith Holster produces an IWB holster perfect for my Charter Arms .38 Special. It has a thick .093″ Bolton material that retains its shape impeccably. This creates excellent retention while easily allowing a fast, smooth draw when needed.

The minimal design helps keep it concealable and lightweight for a comfy all-day carry. Adjustable cant and ride height allow configuring the perfect carry angle. The claw helps push the grip tight to the body. For an affordable no-frills Kydex holster, Sunsmith delivers on retention, durability, and concealment.

Pros

  • Durable .093″ Kydex
  • Precisely molded for retention
  • Minimalist, lightweight design
  • Claw aids concealment
  • Great value under $35

Cons

  • Doesn’t mold like leather over time

Factors to Consider When Choosing a .38 Special Revolver Holster

Here are some key factors to evaluate when shopping for a holster for your .38 snub nose:

Carry Position – Inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB)? IWB holsters conceal better under clothing but OWB models are easier to draw from.

Material – Leather and kydex are most common. Leather molds to your body over time but kydex retains its shape. Kydex is more affordable too.

Retention – The holster should keep the gun securely in place during rigorous activity but allow a smooth draw when needed. Level 1 retention uses friction while Level 2 adds a hood/strap.

Comfort – Look for good weight distribution and smooth, non-abrasive materials against your body.

Concealability – The holster should keep the grip and shape of the gun hidden for concealed carry purposes.

Durability – Leather and kydex can last for years. Look for solid construction.

Fit – Precise molding to the specific gun model ensures proper retention and draw.

Keeping these factors in mind, let’s look at the top holster options for .38 special revolvers.

Read More:

Final Thoughts

Selecting a holster comes down to your intended carry methods and personal preferences. Quality leather models like Cardini Leather and 1791 Gunleather offer unbeatable comfort for IWB and OWB carry respectively. Or for a maintenance-free Kydex alternative, Depring and Sunsmith provide durable precision molding on a budget.

The most important factor is the solid retention of your revolver during everyday carry while allowing an unimpeded draw when needed. An ideal holster shouldn’t be noticeable until you need to pull your weapon. Keeping these aspects in mind while reviewing your options, you’re sure to find the perfect holster for a secure, concealed .38 special carry.

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