Beginners guide to carrying a handgun

If you are a fresh beginner in carrying a handgun, or if you are just considering the carrying - this guide can help you clarify some theoretical and practical aspects of carrying your pistol or revolver.

Only in holster

In the vast majority of carrying styles of handguns, whether for personal or professional purposes, there is a central player in addition to the weapon itself - some form of gun holster. Yes, holsters, their materials and styles of carrying come in large amounts, and each fulfills a different purpose and is suitable for a different opportunity.

Perfect fit

The most common materials from which the holsters for pistols or revolvers are manufactured are leather, nylon, kydex, carbon and other types of plastic. In Falco Holsters we manufacture holsters precisely from quality leather, durable nylon and virtually indestructible kydex. These holsters can be produced for a particular type of weapon, which ensures perfect fit and accuracy of gun in the holster. Universal holsters unlike them can enclose a number of different weapons at the expense of obviously not so perfect fit, as in the case of custom-made holsters for specific gun.  

Armed to the teeth

According to the type of carrying we divide holsters into those that are carried on the body or outside the body. The phrase "armed to the teeth" is admittedly far-fetched, but it may not be so far from the truth. When talking about holsters that we wear on the body, we can start from the bottom-up direction on the ankle, and end on the chest.

Carrying a handgun on the body

In the case of holsters worn on the body we divide them into concealed and open carry. Even in cases of concealed and open carry we talk about different functions and purposes that each type should meet. However, apart from the functions of holsters, we have to consider the laws of individual states that define very specifically whether and how to carry a weapon in public, on duty or in training.

Open carry - belt holsters

The most typical example of an open carry of handguns is a belt holster that is placed on the belt so that it is visible for everyone. The laws generally allow to carry a gun in such holsters to the members of armed forces. Belt carry is comfortable and has an important psychological function - prevention. Human behavior is yet different in the presence of a man apparently armed, as in the case of a man who isn't armed at first sight.

We further distinguish location of the holster on the belt. First of all, the angle of the holster to the belt which can be worn vertically or diagonally. Secondly, we can talk about the position of holster to the drawing hand. Here a common clock face will help us - the 12 o'clock position is a belt buckle, three o´clock represents the right side with right shooters and so on. The most common positions for open carry of belt holsters are:

  • 1 hour (appendix carry)
  • 2 hours (the right side in the front)
  • 3 hours (right side)
  • 4 hours (the right side in the back)
  • 5 hours (small of back)
  • 6 hours (small of back)
  • 11 hours (left side in the front - cross draw)

Even here, each position is a combination of certain factors (comfort, safety, drawing style) that are suitable for the different occasions.

Browse our OWB belt holsters

OWB Belt holsters

In addition to the belt holsters, in this category we know also paddle holsters that are not mounted directly on the belt, but through it on the plastic paddle that replicate rounded hip.

Leather OWB holsters with paddle

Paddle holsters

Open carry - other forms of carrying a weapon

Another type of holster of open carry is lowered holster on the leg. This case is also widely used by various armed forces. Its justification plays a role in situations where the weapon in lowered holster on leg is secondary, respectively backup gun. In this way, it eliminates the contact of the gun in the leg holster with a primary weapon, tactical or bulletproof vest. Its use, however, can be widely found in the cases of training purposes.

Check out our leg holsters

Leg holsters

In addition, except the leg holster, we can carry a weapon on the chest in the chest holster. Such holster is not considered as widely used, as it is used either for professional or tactical purposes, or when hiking or hunting.

Chest holsters

Chest holsters

Concealed carry - belt holsters

The most important category of holsters for civilians are certainly belt holsters for concealed carry. These are holsters that are placed on your belt but inside the pants. It is this way of carrying the holster that allows the complex concealment of the weapon. Most of the holster is below the belt, the visible part of the gun and the holster can be covered with shirt, sweatshirt or jacket. Such carrying is permitted by laws in various US states.

Even with concealed carry belt holsters we can apply analogous positions corresponding to the clock face, as with belt holsters designed to be open carried.

Explore our concealed carry IWB holsters

IWB holsters

Concealed carry – other styles of carrying

Under concealed carry fall many holsters, which are not worn on the belt. Let's start with ankle holster, which is a great help when we need to carry back-up weapon. Ankle holster is ideal solution for a backup weapon. The ankle holster is also a great solution if we want to carry a smaller or compact gun and wearing it on a belt is not possible.

Ankle holsters

Ankle holsters

Another interesting holster is a hidden holster worn on the inside of the thighs. This solution, for example, is particularly suitable for women who wear skirts.

For  the carrying of weapons in the belly area we know one unconventional solution - it is a pocket holster that can enclose a smaller or compact weapon. Such a case can be inserted easily into the front or rear pants pocket. When using a pocket holster we need to be cautious for steeper or unusual movements, in which case the gun might fall out of your pocket, as it is not tightly strapped to the pants. In addition, the pocket holster can also be used in a variety of handbags, bags or suitcases. The point of this holster is to stabilize the gun and restrict unwanted movement, that could be a problem when drawing the gun.

A very comfortable way of concealed carrying in the belly is a rubber belly band worn on the stomach or waist. Belly band, due to its simple structure is capable of carrying not only a gun but also the back-up magazines and thanks to the flexible material it offers the perfect solution to carry gun in situations, which requires a lot of movement. Belly bands represent an unique possibility of carrying a gun during sport activities - they don´t need a belt or solid pants, they can be worn easily with sport clothes.

Flexible belly band holsters

Belly band holsters

Chest area offers a solution for concealed carry for ladies as well as gentlemen. In the case of ladies we mean the bra holster that is simply pinned between the cups of the bra. For ladies such a holster is appropriate when the weapon can not be carried on your belt or inside of the thighs, because of the specific clothing such as dresses or tight trousers.

The best known way to carry a gun in the chest area is the shoulder holster system. We have seen such holsters in countless action and detective movies. Shoulder holster system can carry gun, and in addition also a backup ammo magazines or other weapon. The choice to wear such holster can be justified when a belt holster is inappropriate with a certain type of clothing such as suits or short jackets. You can choose from many combinations of shoulder holsters and harnesses, which carry the whole weight of the gun so they make it very comfortable to wear a shoulder rig.

Discover our shoulder rig holsters

Shoulder holsters

Carrying weapon outside the body

A separate chapter in the world of gun holsters are holsters that we do not wear on the body, but are part of some bags, fanny pack, briefcases and handbags. Such carry of weapon has its reasoning in certain situations and occasions.

Purses and bags are appropriate form of concealed carry of weapon, because a combination of their closeness to the body and its design allows you to have a weapon with you on various occasions - from sports activities to formal meetings with exclusive design. During sports activities already mentioned fanny pack is a common way of carrying weapon. Concealed carry bags offer the right option, practicality and security with the right practice. FALCO also has a special platform to place weapons into any bag that stabilizes the gun and holds it in a ready-to-draw position.

Choose your concealed carry bag

Concealed carry bags

In addition to bags and handbags designed for everyday use in professional work or sport shooters we meet with bags specially designed for the transport of weapons. Such bags are suitable for the transport of weapons when the gun does not need to be used - for example on the shooting training.

Gun cases and holders

Gun cases

An intriguing option of storing weapons outside the body for everyday activities are also a car or under-the-table holsters. The car holster is a functional solution for carrying a gun when driving when drawing a weapon from belt holster is not possible due to a sitting position, a safety belt on or the clothes covering the holster. The sitting position with the belt holster is also very rigid and uncomfortable.

A holster under the table is also an effective solution for carrying a gun if you have a sedentary job and all day long wearing of belt holster is not an option to be considered. The under the table holster is suitable and practical for a backup weapon for example in office or under the bar.

Mexicans and gangsters - carrying a gun without the holster

To indicate the ways to carry a weapon in all its complexity we must mention also the carrying of gun without holster. We talk about this way of carrying guns when gun is just tucked under the belt and trousers or put into the pocket. However, we do not recommend such carry of gun under any circumstances. Actually we deter from it. Security risks of carrying a weapon without holster outweigh without discussion any benefits of such carry. The fact that the weapon is not protected in holster may result in better cases in injuries and in worst cases in death, because of inadvertent activation of the trigger lock.

Carrying guns without holsters could be found for example in Mexico during the Revolution, when revolutionaries and rebels were carrying the guns behind the belts only because the visible holster automatically evoked the presence of weapon, which was then a criminal offense. The phrase "Mexican carry" was created right here.

Ján Marko

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