What Is a Paddle Holster?

A paddle holster is a type of holster that is used to carry a firearm on the waistband, outside of the clothing. It is called a “paddle” holster because of the flat, paddle-shaped attachment that allows the holster to be easily and securely attached to the waistband without the need for a belt.

Paddle holsters are a popular choice among gun owners, as they offer several benefits, including convenience, comfort, and versatility. They are commonly used for everyday carry, as well as for range training, competitions, and other shooting activities.

In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of what a paddle holster is, its design and features, advantages and disadvantages, how to use and maintain it, and some final considerations for choosing the right paddle holster for your needs.

Design and Features

Description of the paddle attachment: The attachment of a paddle holster is most often made of plastic, leather, or Kydex — a thermoplastic material that is molded into shape and hardened. It has two slots on either side that are designed to fit securely onto the waistband without slipping off. Most paddle attachments have adjustable tension screws that allow you to adjust the retention level of the holster.

Types of materials used in construction: Paddle holsters are usually made from a variety of materials, including leather, nylon, Kydex, and polymer. They may also be constructed with combination materials such as leather-polymer or Kydex-leather hybrids for maximum durability and comfort.

Retention mechanism: The retention mechanism of most paddle holsters is a combination of friction and tension. This creates a secure fit that prevents the gun from slipping or shifting while in use. Some paddle holsters also feature adjustable tension screws that allow you to customize your draw resistance.

Adjustability options: Most paddle holsters are adjustable in terms of cant angle, ride height, and retention. This allows you to customize the holster for your specific needs, whether it be for concealed carry or open carry. Some paddle holsters may also have additional features such as adjustable belt loops or swappable shells that allow you to change the size and shape of the holster for a more comfortable fit.

Compatibility with different firearms: Most paddle holsters are designed to fit a range of firearms, however, they can vary in compatibility depending on the model and make. Be sure to check with the manufacturer and/or retailer before purchasing a paddle holster to ensure that it is compatible with your particular firearm.

Advantages of a Paddle Holster

Easy and quick attachment and detachment: The major advantage of paddle holsters is their easy and quick attachment and detachment to the waistband. This makes them ideal for those who prefer not to carry a belt or need to swap holsters quickly in between activities.

Concealment options: Paddle holsters typically offer several concealment options, depending on the model. Some models can be worn high on the waistband for maximum comfort and concealment, while others may feature adjustable ride heights that allow you to customize your draw position and concealability.

Versatility: Another great benefit of paddle holsters is their versatility — they are suitable for use with various types of firearms such as handguns, shotguns, or rifles. Many models also feature interchangeable shells that make it possible to switch between different firearms without having to buy a new holster.

Disadvantages of a Paddle Holster

Limited retention: The biggest disadvantage of paddle holsters is their limited level of retention, which can make them less secure than other types of holsters such as IWB or OWB holsters. This makes them better suited for range training or casual use rather than for more serious applications such as self-defense or competitive shooting.

Comfort: Depending on the model and construction materials used, some paddle holsters can be quite uncomfortable due to their rigid design and lack of padding. Leather models tend to be more comfortable but may also require regular maintenance depending on the environment in which they are used.

How to Use a Paddle Holster?

Proper attachment and adjustment: The first step in using a paddle holster is to properly attach and adjust it. This includes ensuring that the paddle has been securely fastened onto the waistband and that the retention screw is tightened or loosened as necessary to obtain a snug fit.

Drawing with a paddle holster: When drawing with a paddle holster, it’s important to remember to use your off-hand to control the gun while your dominant hand performs the draw. It’s also important not to grip the pistol too tightly, as this can cause it to stick and slow down your draw time. Make sure you practice proper trigger finger discipline at all times!

Re-holstering: Re-holstering with a paddle holster requires extra caution, as improper technique can cause the firearm to snag on the holster and potentially discharge. To ensure safe re-holstering, always keep your finger off the trigger and use both hands to guide the pistol into position. It’s also important to check that the firearm is properly retained before releasing it from your hands.

Maintenance and Care

Cleaning and lubrication of the holster and firearm: To ensure proper performance and longevity of the holster and firearm, it is important to clean and lubricate them regularly. This includes wiping away dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the pistol or inside the holster, as well as applying a light oil to moving parts such as the paddle or trigger mechanism.

Storing your paddle holster: It’s important to store your paddle holster in a safe location when not in use. A dedicated gun safe is ideal for this purpose, but other security options such as locked drawers can also work well. Additionally, avoid storing your paddle holster with the firearm still inside — this could cause damage over time due to friction from movement within the holster.


Paddle holsters offer several advantages, including easy attachment and concealment options as well as versatility with different firearms. However, they do have some drawbacks such as limited retention and potential comfort issues.

In order to get the most out of your paddle holster, it’s important to practice proper drawing and re-holstering techniques and to regularly clean and lubricate both the holster and firearm. With these tips in mind, you can safely enjoy the convenience that a paddle holster has to offer!

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