Finding that "perfect" concealed carry holster is almost a never ending quest for individuals who carry concealed. Most people go through a series of holsters in a trial and error process trying to find the perfect combination of comfort and concealment.

In most cases, handgun owners end up with the proverbial "box of holsters" that end up sitting around without being used.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shoulder Holster Basics

Few gun holsters have been as widely glamorized by various movies and TV shows as shoulder holsters. Shoulder holsters can be traced all the way back to the days of the old west as gunslingers and lawmen used them as a means of carrying a smaller or secondary handgun on their person. Historians that specialize in old west history have found evidence that a number of famous wild west personalities like Don Holiday and Bat Masterson were known to carry a shoulder holster at some point. Any information on shoulder holsters would be doing an injustice if no mention of Miami Vice was made. This 1980's television series brought a resurging popularity of shoulder holsters as a shoulder holster was worn by one of the main characters.

Shoulder holsters are designed to carry a handgun in a holster that is generally suspended under the armpit. Some of the newer generation shoulder holsters that are made for long barreled or scoped revolvers across the chest, although the harness itself is still worn over the shoulder. The harness itself is usually made of a single or double loop that rides over one or both shoulders. The harnesses come in several different configurations including a full harness, half harness, or executive harness. The full harness has dual harness loops so one loops over each shoulder. The half harness has a single harness that loops over one shoulder. The executive harness is really only designed to support smaller handguns. It features a single loop that doesn't fully go over the shoulder and connects to the belt.

For the most part, shoulder holsters come in three different variations:

Vertical carry - In this style, the holster itself rides vertically on the body. The muzzle of the handgun rides either straight up or straight down. In most cases, the muzzle rides in the downward position, but there are a select few models where the muzzle actually rides up towards the armpit. The models where the muzzle rides upward are generally restricted to small, short barrel revolvers like the S&W J frame series.

Horizontal carry - In horizontal carry, the pistol rides horizontally under the arm in a manner where the muzzle points backwards. This style will accept most semi-autos, but doesn't work well for a revolver with a barrel over 4" long. Out of all the shoulder holster models that are on the market today, this is the most popular.

Chest Holster - The chest holster is a variation of the traditional shoulder holster except that the holster is carried across the chest instead of under the arm. By moving the holster to the chest area, this model will fit large pistols with very long barrels or handguns that are equipped with optics.

Like any gun holster, shoulder holsters have good and bad points. While they are fairly comfortable and allow the wearer to comfortably carry a large frame handgun, shoulder holsters almost always require some type of cover garment to be concealed. Shoulder holsters rely on somewhat of a cross draw method so they aren't the fastest drawing holster.

If you are considering a shoulder holster, make your decision based on your actual needs and not the "cool" factor. I suspect that a great many people purchase shoulder holsters, only to find that they don't really work for their particular carrying situation.


The Bull said...

I have only found one really comfortable shoulder holster out there and it is out of production.
For the J frame Smith and Wesson which rides muzzel up with a spring clam shell design.
I think it is a Bianchi, i would confirm this if I knew where it was.
The Galco or Jackass Miami Classic is a nice rig,weight can be a problem for long periods of time.I get a pinched nerve after about six hours of a 1911 riding under the arm.Everyone is different and if you can borrow a rig before you buy one it could be interesting.
It will protect the weapon from all the bumps and knocks which OWB carriers will confirm.
Dont forget to check Andrews for shoulder rigs. I havent worn one yet, but they look nice.
Pay attention to the big bucles on the nylon rigs, they are not for concealment to any serious user.
Good luck finding something which works for you.

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