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What does IDPA stand for

Want to check out a competitive action shooting competition? Then the IDPA may be right for you. IDPA stands for International Defensive Pistol Association. The IDPA was founded in 1996 in Bogata, Texas. This form of competitive shooting revolves around “real life” defensive scenarios. The competitor uses only handguns. No matter the category of IDPA you compete in, you must use an IDPA holster. 

Intro to Competition Holsters

To standardize the competition and make it fair for everyone, the IDPA has certain standards for the holsters used. You cannot just employ any holster in this sport. Instead, the following holster rules are key. 


  • You have to wear your holster on your strong side. 
  • There must be no risk of the handgun falling out of the holster. 
  • Should, ankle, appendix, and cross-draw holsters are not allowed in IDPA competitions. 
  • You have to wear a concealable holster unless you are a law enforcement officer using your duty equipment. 


The rules are general enough that many holsters can be used. But, what are the best products for the sport? Below that question is answered in full. Also for reference on different types and styles of holsters see https://www.holsterhq.com/types-of-holsters/

competition shooting

Best Holsters for IDPA Review in 2020

How to pick the best IDPA Holster

The most important factor that should go into your choice of the holster is that it conforms to IDPA rules. It does you no good to find a “perfect” holster if it disqualifies you from the competition. Once you have found a group of holsters that fit into the IDPA standard, consider the following factors. 


  1. The holster should be comfortable. You will be wearing the holster for most of the day. It needs to be comfortable and not distract you from the competition. 
  2. The holster should perform well. It should allow you to quickly draw your pistol. It should not impede your movement in any way. Also, look for safety features and a snug fit for your specific handgun. 
  3. The holster should be durable. You will be putting this holster through its paces. You also probably spent a while finding the right product for your pistol and body. This means that you need your holster to last a long time. Kydex holsters are the most popular because they are extremely durable.

Below the Recommend Holsters, we have listed more information about IDPA and USPSA


Best holsters for competition shooting

Uncle Mike’s Tactical Reflex Competition Holster is designed for IDPA shooting. It comes in either left or right-handed draw. There are four different sizes to choose from as well. The size you use depends on the type of handgun you use to complete. Other pros of the product include


  • Two height settings for maximum customization. 
  • Strong injection-molded and impact-modified polymer body. 
  • You can draw at lightning-fast speeds

Uncle Mike’s Tactical Reflex Competition Holster

The Integrated Retention Technology (I.R.T.) may be a little hard to get used to at first. You will likely need to practice a bit before you can perform those lightning-fast draws. 


COMP-TAC.COM International Holster IDPA

Anything by COMP-TAC will be a great holster to use in IDPA competitions. The company is based in Houston, Texas. There is a wide variety of holsters created by COMP-TAC. Some are specifically designed for IDPA competitions. Those holsters all have similarly great features. These include


  • Multiple mounting options—paddle, drop offset, or belt. 
  • The retention adjustment keeps your pistol secure. 
  • Multiple sizes to choose from.
  • Will fit most optic sights. 

There is not much to dislike about COMP-TAC’s holsters. They may be on the high side of the cost spectrum, but you will get a lot for your money. 

Safariland, 7378

The Safariland 7378 is a combo holster that can be attached via paddle or belt loop. It has an automatic locking system (ALS), which ensures your pistol stays secure. The ALS system on the 7378 ensures a fast draw. Other pros of the product include. 


  • Nylon-blend materials, which are non-abrasive. 
  • Many options available for different pistol makes and models. 
  • It can be fully submerged in water.
  • Will withstand temperatures from -50-300 degrees Fahrenheit.


If you don’t like your holster to ride close to your body, you may have a problem with the Safariland 7378. Also, if you don’t have one of the pistols on the list, it can be hard to find the correct size.  

Black Scorpion Gear USPSA & IPSC Professional Competition Holster

For a quite expensive holster, you should try the Black Scorpion Outdoor Gear Professional Competition, Holster. It is an OWB holster and fits either the Glock 34 or Glock 35. There are many other advantages to this product. 


  • Made in the USA. 
  • The .080-inch of Kydex and stainless steel hardware is high-quality and durable.
  • Completely adjustable angle and retention. 
  • Also legal for USPSA competitions. 


Some pistols besides Glocks will work with this holster. However, if you don’t own a Glock, you won’t know that it will fit unless you try it first. The cost is high enough that just purchasing it to try may be less appealing to some people. 

Quick draw competition holster

No matter what type of shooting competition you prefer, draw time will be an important factor. The faster you can draw your weapon, the better you will place. Yes, accuracy is important as well. But, choosing a good quick draw competition holster can set you apart from the competition. 


Quickdraw competition holsters are often OWB. They are easier to reach and draw your pistol than other types of holsters. You want the holster and pistol to remain close to your hand. Additionally, the retention clip or lock should break away immediately as you draw your pistol. You should not have to fit with the holster to remove your handgun. Finally, the top quick draw competition holsters will be comfortable and not get caught in your clothing. 


What is IDPA Shooting

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, IDPA is an organization that governs a specific type of competition shooting. IDPA shooting is meant to simulate a “real-life” defensive scenario. You will not just be running to a target, pointing, and shooting. 


There is no special equipment in IDPA shooting. You must use handguns and wear holsters that conform to the organization’s specifications. Unlike many other types of competition shooting, though, you can use your duty/CCW equipment. 


There are two types of courses in an IDPA shooting competition. These are the self-defense scenarios and standard exercises. In self-defense scenario courses you will be required to shoot from uncomfortable positions at ranges of 3-20 yards. Standard exercise courses do not simulate a real-life defensive scenario. Instead, these courses test your accuracy and speed. You can learn more about the two types of IDPA shooting here


Why You Need IDPA Holster?

If you are planning on competing in IDPA competitions, you need the right holster. Even if IDPA is not for you, the holster for those competitions would be a great option. Competition holsters are extremely durable and have great performance. 


There is another important reason that you need an IDPA holster no matter your preferred type of shooting. Because IDPA shooting aims to match a real-world defensive scenario, you can use the holster outside of the competition. IDPA matches allow you to use your CCW equipment. Make your holster for IDPA competitions a part of your daily defense strategy. 



IDPA and USPSA are both types of shooting competitions. Where IDPA competitions focus on real-world scenarios, USPSA shooting is competition oriented. The courses in USPSA matches do not represent a real-world situation. They instead focus on your technique and endurance. 


Some types of USPSA competitions do allow you to use your home equipment. That means that any pistol or holster you use for IDPA, you can use for these USPSA divisions. Some USPSA divisions, such as the “Limited” or “Limited 10,” have strict rules about the allowed equipment. 


Other than ensuring you follow the rules of your division, USPSA and IDPA holsters will be very similar. They should both allow fast draws, be comfortable, and securely hold your handgun. 


Final Notes

IDPA competitions allow you to experience competitive shooting that mimics a possible real-life occurrence. That you can use your own CCW or duty equipment in this sport makes it very accessible to every gun owner. Ironically, IDPA has stricter rules about their holster than they do their pistols. 


To ensure a positive IDPA shooting experience, you need the right holster. Choose one of the four reviewed above. They will work well for any IDPA competition and your everyday carry too.