Understanding Gun Holsters: A How-To Manual

glock holsters

There are three things that a gun holster needs to do: fit snugly, retain the firearm tightly and give a smooth, fast draw. If it doesn’t do those things, it isn’t worth carrying. Modern holsters of leather, nylon or kydex (a hard polymer plastic) often incorporate mechanical devices to help with retention. These include passive and active retention, which uses a lever or snap against parts of the firearm to lock it into place.

Trigger Cover

Modern striker-fired pistols are generally very safe but only work if human hands touch the trigger. If they’re holstered with anything covering the trigger guard, a mistake could result in an accidental discharge. It is a huge reason why gun holsters are not just accessories. They’re vital safety equipment for a firearm and must be chosen wisely. The most common material for holsters is leather, although ballistic nylon and moulded plastics are also used. The most important thing to look for is a durable material that keeps the trigger guard covered and prevents anything from entering it or being manipulated through the holster itself. If the holster doesn’t do this, don’t buy it. 

Open Mouth

Glock holsters must keep your gun in it until you take it out. That includes holding it upside down, turning left, right and sideways. And it has to be easy enough for you to do.

You don’t want a holster that requires you to manipulate it, like a button, snap or lever, for the gun to come out. That’s not convenient, and it makes you more of a target.

A quality holster, custom-fitted for your specific handgun, should provide retention and trigger guard coverage, and it should have an open mouth that remains open when the gun is drawn. That will prevent you from being forced to use your offhand or muzzle to pry the holster available in an emergency.


One of the most important considerations when choosing a gun holster is its level of retention. Retention refers to how securely the weapon is held in the holster. Retention levels vary between holsters and depend on the individual’s needs and profession. Passive retention holsters hold the firearm in place by using friction and tightness of fit to retain it. These holsters are often made for a specific make and model of pistol and only require a firm tug to release the gun. Active retention holsters have a device built in that must be released to draw the gun. It can be in the form of a thumb break or trigger guard lock. This type of holster is more common for law enforcement as they open carry and have a higher risk of grabbing their gun from the side or rear.


Holsters come in various styles, including those that clip to your belt, fit on your shoulder, or are worn inside your waistband. Some are designed to allow you to carry a gun and spare ammo together, which can be especially useful when the threat of trouble presents itself in a hurry. If you’re planning on carrying concealed, you want a sleek, form-fitting design that hugs the area where it will be worn for easier concealment under clothing. You may also consider a holster that pushes the weapon away from the body with a forward cant. Of course, the most important thing is to practice good gun handling and follow safety rules. But the type of holster you choose can help you better practice those rules.

Gun Fit

It’s no secret that gun fit is essential to good shooting. It combines gun mount and posture, footwork and sound technique. And that’s a dynamic process – your posture will change as you age, and you’ll put on or lose weight, which may impact how well your gun fits. It’s also important to consider how your location and type of holster will affect your gun’s fit. For example, a holster worn on the dominant hip will allow for a quick, smooth draw while leaving your pockets free on the non-dominant side. It benefits many people, especially those who carry their guns for concealed carry. But it’s only sometimes practical for all gun users.