Types of Holsters | Holster HQ
"Holster HQ is an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from links on this page that you clink on and make qualifying purchases, thanks for helping support us"

Types of Holsters



Holsters are a great way of safely and comfortably carrying a weapon. But there are a lot of different types out there, with dozens of brands. How can you find the right holster for you? Here, we’ll guide you through all of the major types of holsters and help you find the perfect one for you.

Best Uses for Holsters

You may think that you should use a holster for your firearm. But which type should you choose? There are a wide variety of holsters out there, used for different purposes. Here are of the few main uses for holsters:

Holsters For Concealed Carrying

When using a holster for concealed carrying, you’ll want one that covers the weapon, is secure, and gives you easy access to your firearm. You’ll probably also want one that is comfortable so that you can wear it for prolonged periods.

Holsters For Competition

If you are looking for a holster to use for competition, you’re going to want one that gives you the quickest draw possible. That means the weapon needs to be easy to access. Depending on the type of competition, you may also want one that is comfortable and flexible, allowing you to move around quickly as you run between targets.


Some users may want a holster that openly displays their weapon as a deterrent for crime. With a holster for this type of use, you’ll want something that is easy to access, and that showcases the weapon. You’ll also want a holster that comfortably fits over your clothing.

Types of Holsters

There are a lot of different types of holsters out there. There won’t be one type of holster that will be right for everyone. Here, we’ll walk you through all of the major holster types and highlight some of their strengths and weaknesses.

Outside the Waistband Holsters, or OWB

These holsters are usually positioned around the waist, at the level of your belt. They allow for easy access to your firearm, are some of the most comfortable holsters, and highlight the firearm if you need it as a deterrent.


  • Pros


      • Positioned at your belt, they give you quick access to your firearm.
      • Since they are positioned outside your clothing, they tend to be one of the most comfortable types of holster.
      • If you need to use your firearm as a deterrent, this is a good holster, as it will be highly visible.


  • Cons


    • Although some users may like that the firearm is visible, others may not. And a visible firearm, though it can deter crime, can make some people afraid.
    • Open carry is not legal in all states, so you won’t be able to use this type of holster everywhere.
    • The holster can snag or bump on things around you.
    • Can take time to get the holster off, as it’s connected to your belt.

Inside the Waistband Holsters, or IWB

These holsters are designed to be kept under your clothing and usually inside your waistline attached to your belt. They are fairly comfortable and allow you to easily conceal your firearm.



  • Pros


      • Like OWB holsters, they provide quick access to your firearm.
      • They are some of the safest holsters out there.
      • They comfortably attach to your belt.
      • As they are under your clothes, they won’t snag on things around you.
      • Since they are also some of the most popular holsters, you’ll find a lot of quality options from a wide variety of brands.


  • Cons
  • They can’t be worn with all types of clothing.
  • May be a bit less comfortable than OWB holsters- though this will vary by the specific models.
  • Access is not quite as easy with OWB holsters, which means it could take longer to draw.
  • Can get caught on clothing.


Pocket Holsters

If you need a way to safely carry a small firearm in your pocket, then a pocket holster is your best option. The holster is the most lightweight and travel-friendly type, as well as one of the most affordable. It also allows for easy access to your firearm.



  • Pros


      • The most portable type of holster, allowing you to easily carry a small firearm.
      • The holster slides right out of your pocket, making it easier to remove than any other type.
      • The drawing position will feel natural to those who are used to IWB and OWB holsters.
      • One of the most affordable types of holster.


  • Cons


    • Will only work with small guns.
    • Takes up your entire pocket, as you shouldn’t put any other items in it while the holster is there.
    • If you use one, you’ll have to obey concealed carry laws. This can be difficult, as the firearm may be partially visible.
    • Can take some time to get used to drawing the firearm without also pulling the holster out of your pocket.
    • Can be dangerous if not used correctly.

Shoulder Holsters

These are great for those who want a holster that allows you to easily conceal a firearm. They are also a good option if you have a tight waistline and IWB and OWB aren’t comfortable.



  • Pros


      • Some of the best weight distribution of any type of holster. This makes it particularly well-suited to heavier firearms.
      • One of the best options for easy concealment.
      • Can be worn with or without a jacket, depending on if you want the firearm to be concealed.
      • A great option for those that have tighter waistbands.


  • Cons


    • Can take some time to get used to.
    • Hard to draw if you have a zipped jacket.
    • Not as comfortable if worn for prolonged periods.
    • Once you’ve taken the firearm out, reholstering can be a pain.

Ankle Holsters

These are a great option if you are wearing clothing that won’t work well with more traditional holster types. It won’t allow you to carry a large firearm, but if you need to carry a backup firearm, an ankle holster can be very useful. And they are one of the most concealable holster types.


  • Pros


      • Makes it very easy to conceal a small firearm, without most people noticing.
      • Great if you need to carry a backup weapon.
      • Since they don’t require any specific clothing, they are a very versatile type of holster.


  • Cons


    • You won’t be able to carry anything besides a small weapon.
    • One of the hardest holsters to draw from.
    • Not the most secure holster out there, so there’s a risk you could drop your firearm.
    • Depending on the holster and the size of your ankle, they aren’t always comfortable.

Belly Band Holsters

These are a great choice for those that want to carry a weapon around or near their waist but don’t have belt loops. They are comfortable, secure, and allow you to draw quickly. They also come with a lot of extra features, such as trigger guards.



  • Pros


      • One of the most comfortable holster types.
      • Easy to adjust the holster to find a position that is comfortable.
      • You can do just about anything that you can do with IWB holsters.
      • Often come with additional pockets, as well as trigger guards.
      • Great if you are moving around a lot, such as on a jog.


  • Cons


    • If you wear it directly on your skin, it can cause irritation.
    • You have to keep it pretty tight if you want it to be safe, which can be irritating to some users.
    • Can get caught on your clothing.

Appendix Holsters

Appendix holsters are a type of IWB holster. However, instead of carrying the weapon on your hip, it is positioned in front of it, on the front side of your body. For some users, this may make it easier to reach, leading to quicker drawing. It also puts less strain on your hip, so it may be more comfortable for some, especially if you are wearing the holster for prolonged periods.



  • Pros


      • One of the best holsters if you need to draw quickly.
      • Since it’s on the front of your body, it makes concealing your weapon a little bit easier.
      • Your weapon won’t stick out from your hip, so you’re less likely to bump into things.
      • A comfortable holster type.


  • Cons


    • Since the muzzle is pointed down your front, it’s not the safest holster type.
    • It can be uncomfortable for some while sitting.
    • Doesn’t work well with tight pants.
    • Although drawing is relatively easy, you have to move aside clothing to reach your firearm.

Small of Back Holsters

Since these holsters hide the weapon behind your back, they offer some of the best concealment of any type of holster. They are also fairly comfortable and distribute weight well, so they can be worn for prolonged periods. You can choose to wear them IWB or OWB, depending on if you want your firearm concealed.



  • Pros


      • One of the best ways to conceal a weapon.
      • Since the weapon is on your back and not your side, it doesn’t stick out as much and won’t snag or bump on the things around you.
      • A fairly comfortable holster type.
      • Can be worn IWB or OWB, making it a versatile holster.


  • Cons


    • Not the easiest position to draw from, as you have to reach around your back to get your weapon.

Drop-Leg (Thigh) Holsters

These holsters are a great choice if you don’t want to have your weapon around your waist. They usually strap the weapon to the outside of your thigh, although some holsters hold the weapon against the inside of your leg.



  • Pros


    • An excellent way of carrying larger weapons, as it more evenly distributes weight.
    • Great way of carrying extra weapons.
    • Allows you to carry long guns.
    • Many types can be used without a belt.



  • Cons


    • Drawing can be difficult, especially if you are not used to the holster.
    • Easy to fit your firearm against things around you.
    • The weapon is not well concealed.

How to Choose a Holster

As this guide should show you, there are a lot of different holster types out there. That means it can be hard to decide which type you need. Here are some factors to consider when you are deciding which holster type

Ease of Access

Do you need to be able to reach your weapon on a moment’s notice? Then you’ll want a holster that makes it easy for you to draw. Consider a holster that is on your waistline, such as an OWB holster, if you need to quickly get to your firearm.


Holsters vary widely in how much concealment they offer. You’ll want to pick a holster that will give you the appropriate level of coverage. And remember, just because a weapon is covered doesn’t mean that people won’t notice it. If you want a truly concealed weapon, choose an ankle, small of the back, or shoulder holster so that the weapon won’t make an outline.


Holster types vary a lot in terms of comfort. You may have to try on various different types before you find the one that is most comfortable.

Size of Firearm

Certain holster types, such as ankle and pocket, won’t be able to carry anything but smaller weapons. Make sure you know what size weapon you plan on carrying before deciding on a type of holster.


A holster is one of the best ways to safely and comfortably carry a weapon. But there are a lot of different types out there. With our guide, you’ll be able to find the type of holster that is right for your weapon.