Owning a firearm for self-defense or sport shooting comes with great responsibility. One of the most important accessories to have is a proper holster to safely and securely carry your gun.
There are many different types of holsters, but two of the most popular styles are inside-the-waistband (IWB) and shoulder holsters. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of properly putting on an IWB and shoulder holster.
Overview of IWB Holsters
An IWB holster is designed to be worn inside the waistband of your pants or shorts. It sits close to your body and conceals the firearm effectively. IWB holsters offer a high level of concealment, comfort, and security when worn properly.
Step 1: Choose the Right Holster
Selecting the appropriate IWB holster is crucial for both safety and comfort. Consider factors such as the make and model of your firearm, your body type, and your dominant hand. Look for a holster made from high-quality materials like Kydex or leather, with good retention and a reinforced mouth for smooth draws.
Step 2: Adjust the Cant and Ride Height
The cant is the angle at which the holster sits on your body, and the ride height is how high or low the holster sits on your waistline. Both factors affect concealment and draw comfort. Experiment with different cant and ride height settings to find the most comfortable and concealable combination for your body.
Step 3: Attach the Holster to Your Belt
Thread your belt through the holster’s belt loops or attachment points. Make sure the holster is securely fastened to your belt before proceeding. For optimal concealment, consider a sturdy gun belt designed to support the weight of your firearm.
Step 4: Holster Your Firearm
With the holster attached to your belt, carefully insert your unloaded firearm into the holster. Follow the four rules of firearm safety at all times. Ensure the firearm is properly seated in the holster, with the trigger guard fully enclosed.
Step 5: Adjust for Comfort and Concealment
Once the firearm is holstered, make any final adjustments to the cant, ride height, or tension to achieve the desired level of comfort and concealment. The holster should hold the firearm snugly against your body without printing (creating an obvious outline) under your clothing.
Step 6: Practice Drawing and Re-holstering
With the unloaded firearm holstered, practice drawing and re-holstering smoothly and safely. Get comfortable with the motions and ensure the holster provides a secure fit and consistent draw stroke. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
Overview of Shoulder Holsters
A shoulder holster is a carry system that positions the firearm under the armpit, with the holster supported by straps that cross over the chest and shoulder. Shoulder holsters offer a high level of concealment, especially when wearing a jacket or vest, and provide a comfortable carry option for larger firearms.
Step 1: Choose the Right Shoulder Holster
As with IWB holsters, selecting the appropriate shoulder holster is crucial. Consider the make and model of your firearm, your body type, and your dominant hand. Look for a holster made from high-quality materials like leather or nylon, with good retention and a reinforced mouth for smooth draws.
Step 2: Adjust the Straps
Before putting on the shoulder holster, adjust the straps to fit your body size and preference. The straps should be snug but not restrictive, allowing for a full range of motion. Ensure the holster sits comfortably under your arm, close to your body.
Step 3: Put on the Shoulder Holster
Slip your dominant arm through the shoulder strap, ensuring the holster sits under your armpit. Then, feed the cross-strap over your head and across your chest, securing it to the holster. Make any necessary adjustments to the straps for a comfortable and secure fit.
Step 4: Holster Your Firearm
With the shoulder holster in place, carefully insert your unloaded firearm into the holster. Follow the four rules of firearm safety at all times. Ensure the firearm is properly seated in the holster, with the trigger guard fully enclosed.
Step 5: Practice Drawing and Re-holstering
With the unloaded firearm holstered, practice drawing and re-holstering smoothly and safely. Get comfortable with the motions and ensure the holster provides a secure fit and consistent drawstroke. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
Step 6: Conceal with a Jacket or Vest
For optimal concealment, wear a jacket or vest over your shoulder holster. This will help conceal the outline of the firearm and straps, making it less noticeable to others.
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Regardless of the holster type, always prioritize safety when handling firearms. Follow the four fundamental rules of firearm safety:
1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you’re ready to fire.
4. Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
Additionally, practice safe gun handling techniques, such as keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction during the holstering and un-holstering processes.
Properly putting on a gun holster, whether IWB or shoulder style, is a crucial skill for any responsible firearm owner. By following the step-by-step instructions in this guide and practicing regularly, you’ll become proficient in safely and securely carrying your firearm. Remember to prioritize safety, comfort, and concealment when selecting and wearing a holster. With the right holster and proper technique, you can confidently carry your firearm for self-defense or sport shooting.