Custom Shoulder Holsters

Custom Shoulder Holsters

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Let's start talking about the shoulder holsters. The first thing that comes to my mind is a picture of a tall figure of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, or Columbo looming over a dusty desk. He wears a smart hat and a signature long cloak. There is no question as to what interconnects them. The cold revolver in a shoulder rig concealed under the coat. But that's me, the bookworm who loves classics. 

Other people may imagine the 1920s-30s gangsters. They carry the shiny black full grain Italian leather shoulder rig matched to their belts and custom leather shoes. Looking so classy in the custom shoulder harness, everybody thought the shoulder carry originated in this era. The fact is, it only became more popular and visible then. 

shoulder gun holster leather
shoulder gun holster leather

These folks mostly went for open carry (at least in the movies). Many people believe that the rig was actually a creation of the Old West. The new underarm carry position allowed better concealment of the firearm. Also, it gave the shooter a strategic advantage. Cowboys were the first ones to prove shoulder holster for revolvers is good for concealed carry. 

Shoulder Gun Holsters For Concealed Carry

Let´s move from revolver shoulder holsters to the more contemporary pistol holster shoulder. The Western shoulder rig looked different from the D101 Ocelot. A harness of professionals from C15- Bodie, Doyle, and Cowley is a legend. Everyone remembers what actors like Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, or Bruce Willis used.

Law enforcement officers and federal detectives often wear shoulder holsters for pistols over their dress shirts. Classy right? But the truth is, most law enforcement agencies do not use shoulder carry nowadays. They moved to the safer and more practical carry options.

shoulder holsters for pistols
shoulder holsters for pistols

Tips For Shoulder Holster Concealed Carry

However, the shoulder rig holster remained in use a bit longer with undercover officers. Why? This carry style is unbelievably comfortable due to the weight distribution of the leather harness. When set up properly, your gun stays stable in one position, and you might even forget it's there. For proper concealment, you would need to cover it with an extra layer of clothing. Typically, cloaks, winter jackets, jackets, or coats work very well. Most carriers who opt for this concealed carry style choose a slightly oversized fit and heft in fabric to prevent printing. One thing you have to watch out for is suitability. 

shoulder holster fashion for concealed carry
shoulder holster fashion for concealed carry

While custom leather shoulder holster can be very well concealed, wearing another layer of clothing during warmer months might be out of place. That's why people mostly use it during winter, colder months, on the motorbike, or at the shooting range. Another crucial aspect is access to your firearm. Once your winter jacket is fully closed, you won’t have the possibility to draw fast. This means you would need to walk around with your jacket unzipped or unbuttoned everywhere you go. I've seen a bunch of coats that have the middle section V-shaped a lot lower than usual coats. If you find something like that, do not hesitate to buy it, because it offers both access to your firearm in a shoulder holster and the possibility to button up. Vertical shoulder holsters generally conceal more easily because they rest in the holster barrel down, which represents a safer design. A lot depends on your body type and handgun however, a vertical design is something I can recommend to everybody without hesitation.

For better understanding, I summarized this valuable advice in the points below.

Recommendations for shoulder holster concealed carry:

  • Comfort and Stability: Shoulder holsters offer excellent weight distribution & comfort thanks to the leather harness. Ensure you adjust it properly so your gun does not flop under the clothing.
  • Clothing: Concealment of the shoulder holster is possible only with an additional layer of clothing. Ideal options include cloaks, winter jackets, and coats, tailored for a slightly oversized fit to prevent the outline of the gun from showing ( Known as "printing").
  • Season: Since shoulder holsters need jackets for concealment it makes them preferred during colder months, motorbike riding, or range shooting. Do not concealed carry in this style during warmer weather as it might look out of place, immediately making you suspicious
  • Access to Your Handgun: If you have a handgun hidden behind a zippered jacket you might as well not have it. Unzip or unbutton your jacket to access your firearm in the shoulder holster quickly and more easily.
  • Vertical Shoulder Holsters for Easier Concealment: Vertical holsters, where the gun barrel points downwards, tend to be easier to conceal and are considered a safer design.
  • Body Type and Firearm: Your body type and the specific handgun you intend to carry should determine your choice of shoulder holster.
gun holsters for motorcycles or horseriding
gun holsters for motorcycles or horseriding

Shoulder Gun Holster Guide

There are two main types of revolver or pistol shoulder holsters - horizontal and vertical. Each of them offers unique advantages. I carried my 1911 in both of them and here are my observations.

Horizontal Shoulder Holster

Most firearm instructors hate horizontal shoulder rigs. There is one simple reason. Your handgun is flagging anyone behind you when holstered. We believe this should not be an issue with a well-trained experienced shooter. The horizontal shoulder holsters have their place in the world. They offer a more efficient underarm gun draw. It is important to ensure your firearm is well secured. 

Complete Custom Shoulder Holster Set
leather horizontal shoulder holster

Vertical Shoulder Holster

If you are new to gun carry and you have doubts, it is always best to go for the vertical shoulder holster. Even better. You do not need to compromise. Our ROTO shoulder holster is the perfect solution for you. The #1 selling item across all of our online stores. It gives you the benefit of the vertical carry method on one hand and the smooth and efficient horizontal draw on the other hand. Our customers simply love the design. We believe it is the most practical shoulder holster on the market. We even developed a version compatible with weapon-mounted lights and lasers. The ROTO system allows the holster to unfold. Once you release the safety strap with your forefinger, you are ready to draw.

Shoulder Gun Holster for pistol
Vertical Shoulder Gun Holster

Shoulder Holster Harness

Additionally, you can get a holster with a single shoulder harness or cross shoulder harness that includes counterbalance. If you opt for one or another depends solely on your preference regarding extra magazines or speedloaders.

Pistol Shoulder Holster

It might be obvious to you, but I have to explain this to the new gun owners. There are multiple differences between pistol & revolver shoulder holsters. If you plan to carry your pistol in a shoulder holster, the holster will accommodate the slimmer, more rectangular shape of your semi-automatic pistol. Retention on these shoulder holsters comes from safety features, but also basic retention pushing on the slide & trigger guard. People usually pair shoulder pistol holster leather with a counterbalance for extra magazines.

Reload with the shoulder holster for pistol
Reload with the shoulder holster for pistol

Revolver Shoulder Holster

Shoulder holsters for revolvers are tailored to fit the cylindrical shape of a revolver's cylinder. The profile of such shoulder holsters is very different from pistol versions. The shoulder holster revolver might seem a bit bulkier because it forms basic retention around the cylinder as well as the top and bottom parts of the revolver. The shoulder holster for a revolver usually comes with a counterbalance for speedloaders instead of magazines.

leather shoulder holster revolver
leather shoulder holster revolver

Gun Holster Shoulder Material

Underarm holsters vary in shapes and sizes, but what truly distinguishes them is the material used in their construction. Each of them includes an extensive set of pros & cons, and unique features, and even completes your clothing style differently. I summarized the whole overview of what's available for you so you dont have to.

Leather Shoulder Holster

People appreciate Shoulder holsters leather mainly for their enhanced comfort and classic, timeless look. Leather harness molds to the shape of the wearer's body over time, providing a custom fit that improves with age. Leather shoulder gun holster made of premium Italian full-grain leather will last you for decades, however, it is important to note that you have to properly & regularly maintain it. Draw from a leather gun holsters shoulder is definitely more silent which can, in some situations, give you a strategic advantage. The main con of shoulder holster leather is that it can absorb moisture which can lead to a change of fit & retention.

Review of leather shoulder holster:

Nylon Shoulder Holster

Nylon shoulder holsters are the most lightweight option on this list. These gun shoulder holsters share the comfort feature with leather shoulder gun holsters but in a different way. The holster part is typically made from sandwich nylon that absorbs shocks. If you opt for a premium variant it would also include a polymer sights channel that protects your handgun, but also massively prolongs the lifespan of the holster. The harness consists of a durable yet comfortable nylon strap that nicely follows body contours. Shoulder holsters made of nylon are less expensive & require minimal maintenance. Premium nylon shoulder holsters, while packed with pros have a few cons too. The most important one would be less appealing aesthetics.

Review of nylon shoulder holster:

Kydex Shoulder Holster

Kydex shoulder holsters are extremely durable and resistant to scratches, dents & impacts. That makes them suitable even for open carry in harsh conditions. These holsters feature perfect basic retention & are very low maintenance. The shoulder holster made of Kydex solves all the problems of the previous holsters, however, it comes with its own set of cons. The comfort of these holsters might be a little worse because of the stiffness of this material. Draw & reholstering is louder and Kydex might wear off the finish of your handgun. In my opinion, flawless retention & click sound when reholstering is worth all the above-mentioned cons and I recommend it.

Review of Kydex shoulder holster:

Hybrid Shoulder Holster

Shoulder holsters made of a combination of leather & Kydex offer good features of both of these popular materials. I particularly enjoyed the comfort & silence of the leather with the retention & durability of the Kydex. The leather and Kydex shoulder holster is a wonderful compromise & definitely a worthy option on this list, however, it also shares the cons of both materials. Because they are made of different materials, each of them requires a different maintenance routine. Kydex might still wear off the finish of your firearm at least a bit & this complex construction might come with a higher price tag.

Review of hybrid shoulder holster:

Custom Shoulder Holster

I believe that once you decide on carrying in shoulder holster you should go for a custom design. Here is why. You already know that custom shoulder holsters provide the perfect blend of comfort & concealment, however, unlike multi-fitting or generic versions, custom leather shoulder holsters are tailored to fit the exact dimensions of a specific pistol or revolver even in combination with a tactical light or laser. This will ensure that your firearm remains securely in place. If this isn’t enough, custom holsters are hand-made based on your preferences. Personalization of your gear plays a crucial role so you can carry it effectively, reliably & in your own shoulder holster built from scratch based on your requirements. In essence, custom shoulder holsters represent a superior choice for all gun owners who want to carry handguns in the most discreet, comfortable, and accessible manner possible.

Light bearing women's shoulder holster
Light bearing women's shoulder holster

What To Expect With Falco Custom Leather Shoulder Holster

If you love the style, be aware that we are custom shoulder holster makers. We can make the highest quality holsters for pretty much anything. Some of our custom leather products include shoulder carry systems for iPhones or knives. We even crafted a hand-made double whiskey bottle holster for partners!

The complete shoulder system comes in a package of 4 components. The gun-specific holster, and counterbalance- speedloader pouch or a magazine pouch. Fully adjustable shoulder strap plus the tie-down adjustable straps. You will never run out of extra ammunition again. The counterbalance sits under your shooting hand. The gun holster under the opposite arm. This makes the firearm accessible to your strong hand.

Custom shoulder holster for 1911
Custom shoulder holster for 1911

You can play around with the attachment. Create a double holster shoulder harness with one right-handed and one left-handed holster attached on each side. Last but not least, each shoulder set includes tie-down straps. These secure both, the holster and the counterbalance to your belt. This is a very important part. The strap truly does the trick when adjusted. 

All of our counterbalances, holsters, and harnesses use the same attachments. It makes them completely interchangeable. This way you can get an extra compatible part if needed. No need to invest in a complete rig again. Imagine. You recently bought a laser/light for your firearm. You do not need to buy the whole set. Just get a light-bearing holster and attach it to the harness and magazine pouch you already have. 

The quality of Falco shoulder holsters is indisputable, however, if you would like to see real customer reviews, you can find them here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does anyone use gun shoulder holsters anymore?

Yes! A considerable number of gun enthusiasts still use their favorite leather shoulder holster system for everyday carry. The holsters offer reliable stability of the firearm, outstanding comfort, and versatility. Most of all, this carry style will make you feel like a hero. It's your childhood memories and we believe it is worth it!

Are Shoulder Holster Good For Full-Size Handguns?

Everyone who carries a 1911 pistol every day can tell one thing. The extra weight compared to the polymer frames can wear you down. The best thing about the shoulder holsters for 1911 is the weight. They distribute the weight of the firearm, and the extra magazines on your harness evenly. This simply makes your life more enjoyable, and your posture better. Bonus? Your back pain will decrease. 

Suit holster for full-size handgun
Suit holster for full-size handgun

How To Wear a Shoulder Holster?

You will find the rigs perfect for special occasions. Imagine pairing anything else than your shoulder holster with suit. Well, it is convenient for the formal men-wear. But can you pair a harness with a ladies' dress? Certainly not. It does not mean that there are no women shoulder rigs. These simply match other occasions. Ladies can use it for bike riding. As a woman, I love shoulder carry while hiking. Just admit it. There is nothing more epic and adventurous than a woman shoulder holster. Take a look at Lara Croft rocking her double pistol shoulder harness holster! Find out more on how to wear a shoulder holster in our guide.

Is a Shoulder Holster Good For Concealed Carry?

Yes, they are. Mainly during the colder months. In fact, this may be the only option to carry and conceal full size firearms. All handguns such as Desert Eagle, or large-frame revolvers such as Taurus Judge. Custom 1911 shoulder holsters are the best way to conceal your Colt or Kimber.

Draw from concealed shoulder holster
Draw from concealed shoulder holster

Author: Katarina Zacharova, Martin Lukacko

Date: April 4th, 2024