What Is a Paddle Holster? Concealed Carry Holster Guide

As a responsible gun owner, you know the importance of safely carrying your firearm. One popular option for concealed carry is a paddle holster. But what exactly is a paddle holster, and how do you choose the right one?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of paddle holsters, so you can make an informed decision about your concealed carry setup.

What Is a Paddle Holster?

A paddle holster is a type of concealed carry holster that attaches to your belt or waistband using a paddle-shaped piece of rigid material, typically made of plastic or polymer. The paddle slides over your belt or waistband, allowing the holster to be securely attached to your body without the need for belt loops.

Paddle holsters are designed to be worn outside the waistband (OWB), making them a popular choice for those who prefer a more accessible and comfortable concealed carry option. Unlike traditional belt holsters, paddle holsters don’t require threading a belt through the holster, making them easier to put on and take off.

Types of Paddle Holsters

Not all paddle holsters are created equal. There are several different types of paddle holsters to choose from, each with its own unique features and benefits.

  1. Open-Top Paddle Holsters

Open-top paddle holsters are one of the most common types of paddle holsters. As the name suggests, these holsters have an open top design, allowing you to quickly draw your firearm with a simple upward motion. Open-top paddle holsters are known for their ease of use and accessibility.

  1. Pancake Paddle Holsters

Pancake paddle holsters are similar to open-top holsters, but they feature a flatter, more streamlined design that helps them hug the body more closely. This design makes pancake holsters a popular choice for those who prioritize concealment and want a more discreet carry option.

  1. Hybrid Paddle Holsters

Hybrid paddle holsters combine elements of traditional leather holsters with the convenience of a paddle attachment. These holsters feature a leather or synthetic material backing that molds to the shape of your body, while the paddle attachment provides a secure and comfortable fit.

  1. Molded Paddle Holsters

Molded paddle holsters are designed to fit specific firearm models like a glove. They are typically made from a single piece of molded polymer or Kydex, ensuring a precise fit and excellent retention. While molded holsters may be less versatile than other types, they offer unparalleled security and stability for your specific firearm.

Benefits of Paddle Holsters

Paddle holsters offer several advantages over traditional belt holsters, making them a popular choice for many concealed carriers:

  1. Easy On and Off

Paddle holsters are incredibly easy to put on and take off. Unlike belt holsters, which require threading a belt through loops, paddle holsters simply slide onto your waistband, making them a convenient option for those who need to frequently remove their holster.

  1. Adjustable Ride Height

Many paddle holsters allow you to adjust the ride height, which is the vertical position of the holster on your waistband. This feature lets you customize the holster’s position for optimal comfort and concealability.

  1. Accessibility

Paddle holsters offer excellent accessibility, especially when it comes to open-top designs. The paddle attachment positions the holster slightly away from your body, allowing for a smoother and faster draw.

  1. Concealment

While paddle holsters are worn outside the waistband, many modern designs prioritize concealment. Pancake and hybrid holsters, in particular, can distribute the firearm’s weight and profile, making it easier to conceal under a cover garment.

Choosing the Right Paddle Holster

With so many options available, choosing the right paddle holster can be overwhelming. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a paddle holster:

  1. Firearm Compatibility

Ensure the holster is designed to fit your specific firearm make and model. Molded holsters offer the most precise fit, but hybrid and open-top holsters can also accommodate a range of firearms.

  1. Materials

Paddle holsters are available in various materials, including polymer, Kydex, and leather. Consider your preferences in terms of durability, comfort, and aesthetics when choosing the material.

  1. Retention

Retention refers to the holster’s ability to securely hold your firearm in place. Look for holsters with active retention features, such as tension screws or retention devices, to ensure your firearm remains safely in the holster during movement.

  1. Ride Height Adjustment

If concealment is a priority, choose a paddle holster that allows you to adjust the ride height. This feature will let you position the holster at the optimal height for your body type and clothing choices.

  1. Right or Left-Handed

Make sure to select a paddle holster designed for your dominant hand. Most holsters are available in both right-handed and left-handed configurations.

  1. Brand Reputation

Research reputable holster brands and read reviews from other concealed carriers. A well-known brand with positive feedback is more likely to produce high-quality, reliable paddle holsters.

Wearing and Drawing from a Paddle Holster

Proper use of a paddle holster is essential for safe and effective concealed carry. Here are some tips for wearing and drawing from a paddle holster:

  1. Placement

Position the paddle holster on the strong side of your body, typically behind your hip bone. This placement allows for a natural and comfortable draw while keeping the firearm concealed.

  1. Securing the Paddle

Ensure the paddle is securely attached to your waistband or belt. It should be snug against your body without excessive movement.

  1. Drawing Technique

To draw from a paddle holster, use your support hand to sweep any cover garment out of the way. Then, with your firing hand, establish a firm grip on the firearm and smoothly draw it straight up and out of the holster. Once clear of the holster, rotate the firearm towards your target while maintaining a safe grip and trigger discipline.

  1. Re-Holstering

When re-holstering your firearm, use your support hand to ensure a clear path into the holster. Slowly guide the firearm back into the holster, ensuring it is fully seated before releasing your grip.

Practicing Safe Concealed Carry

While paddle holsters offer many benefits, it’s essential to practice safe concealed carry habits at all times:

  1. Proper Firearm Handling

Follow the fundamental rules of firearm safety, including treating every firearm as if it’s loaded, never pointing the muzzle at anything you’re not willing to destroy, and keeping your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

  1. Secure Retention

Ensure your firearm is securely retained in the holster at all times. Avoid holsters with loose or excessive movement, as this can increase the risk of the firearm becoming dislodged or falling out.

  1. Concealment

While paddle holsters are designed for concealed carry, it’s essential to choose appropriate clothing and cover garments to keep your firearm out of sight. Avoid printing or imprinting, which can reveal the outline of your firearm.

  1. Situational Awareness

Maintain situational awareness at all times when carrying concealed. Be aware of your surroundings and potential threats, and avoid drawing unnecessary attention to your firearm.

  1. Training and Practice

Regularly practice drawing, shooting, and re-holstering your firearm from your paddle holster. Seek professional training to develop safe and efficient techniques for concealed carry.


Paddle holsters are a popular and convenient option for concealed carry. With their ease of use, adjustability, and accessibility, paddle holsters can be an excellent choice for many concealed carriers.

By understanding the different types of paddle holsters, their benefits, and how to choose the right one, you can make an informed decision about your concealed carry setup. Remember to always prioritize safety, practice proper firearm handling, and seek professional training to develop safe and effective concealed carry habits.

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