The Best 1911 Holster: Concealed IWB & Open Carry OWB
The venerable 1911 is one of the most popular full-size handguns ever produced, boasting over a century of popularity and a legend made true in countless conflicts. It’s a reliable gun, to be sure, and its favored as an imposing carry weapon for the individual who wants nothing less than the best. It’s a worthy gun that’ll protect your life, no doubt. But the 1911 is one of the heaviest handguns you’ll ever pick up. In this article we'll cover the best 1911 holster options for this heavy firearm.
If you decide to carry a full-size 1911, you’ll be carrying around 2.4 pounds of steel (that’s empty, make it 3 pounds loaded) with a profile that’s over 8” long and more than 1” wide. Even compact 1911s measure over 5”, though some can be found with shorter barrels. You also must contend with a relatively long and beefed up grip, sure to print, thanks to the massive .45 ACP cartridges the standard 1911 shoots.
If you were on the fence, let’s make it simple: The 45 ACP is one of the most effective and traumatic rounds that you can use to take out a threat. It trucks along at a relatively slow 825 ft/s with an average grain count of 240. It’s the equivalent of a Mack truck in the gun cartridge world, and its popularity means there are countless options for self-defense rounds. Most 1911s that weren’t built by caveman can reliably cycle almost any .45 ACP you throw at it, making it sure to work when it counts.
The 5 Best 1911 Holsters
OWB (Open Carry)
Leather IWB (Concealed Carry)
Paddle/IWB for 1911 Commander
1911 Holster Reviews
Everything mentioned above should give you enough confidence to invest in this legend of a handgun. But carrying one reliably means getting a quality holster, one that’s rugged, compact, comfortable, and capable of distributing that weight without getting sloppy. Let’s break down our top five 1911 holsters for open carry and concealed:
*The Best Holster for OWB Open Carry of the 1911. Popular with Law Enforcement
Galco’s Combat Master Belt Holster is one of the most popular OWB 1911 holsters, hands-down. Officially made for Colt, Kimber, Para, and Springfield 1911s, the Galco Combat will fit any standard GI, mil-spec 1911 that is not fitted with a rail.
It’s often found on the duty belts of law enforcement operators and veteran carry folks alike. The Galco Combat is beautifully simple but it gets everything just right: Two thick, formed leather halves are perfectly molded by hand and sized with heat to ensure a snug, precision fit – something many other cheaper leather holsters fail to do. This is particularly important when it comes to carrying a heavy gun like the 1911, and the Galco Combat Master gets it right.
Double stitching perfectly follows the curves of the holster’s profile, looping around each belt hoop. A semi-gloss finish keeps this holster water resistant against light spray or mist and it makes for easy maintenance. The Galco Combat sports a slight forward cant that reduces the bulge of the 1911’s long grip and makes for an ergonomic, quick draw. There isn’t much else to say, and that’s a good thing: This holster is like the wheel – perfectly rounded for its purpose, not to be reinvented unnecessarily. We’ll let the hundreds of 4- and 5-star reviews do the rest of the talking.
*The Best 1911 Holster for Concealed Carry and Best Leather Option
We’re confident that the Defender is one of the best holsters for concealed carry of the 1911, for quite a few reasons: Carrying a 1911 concealed is almost impossible without just the right formula. That means you need a holster that carefully hides the 1911’s large, bulky profile while keeping things snug – all while maintaining an easy draw and comfortable positioning inside the waistband.
Against all odds, the Defender Leather Holster does just that, making it one of the best 1911 IWB holsters. The Defender is handmade in America from nice, thick bullhide leather. The Defender eschews a Kydex-like fit in favor of a more rounded, organic profile. This helps to conceal the 1911 very well under the pants, without adding any extra bulk.
The Defender’s stitch quality is second to none, and that’s the real secret to the Defender’s success – the form fitting of the holster itself is a Goldilocks, not too tight and formed, not too loose and sloppy. The holster’s open-ended design means it’ll fit any size 1911. A straight, vertical cant helps the 1911’s barrel right in parallel with your leg.
While some may favor a forward cant for smaller guns, this vertical cant provides a better gun position for a concealed carry holster when it comes to concealing such a large, long weapon inside the waistband. The holster’s open face keeps drawing quick and simple, with no retention system needed. A simple open belt clasp is made of spring steel, and everything’s backed by a lifetime warranty for this IWB holster.
*The Best 1911 OWB Kydex Holster
Bullseye Holsters is one of the leaders in OWB holsters when it comes to an affordable, quality, OWB solution for any gun, and the same applies for the 1911. Kydex holsters are all generally made using the same materials and processes, so the differentiating factors lie in the holster’s subtle dimensions, level of cant, amount of material used, configuration, and cost.
We’re happy to say Bullseye Holsters offers all those qualities with their own 1911 kydex OWB option. You can pick between railed and non-railed options, and both will provide the perfect fit. Bullseye’s 1911 holster provides a snug and perfectly formed fit that won’t snag or cause a fatal hiccup when drawing.
The raised belt loops and their position mean your belt will secure the holster on its center of gravity and across the broad profile of your gun, keeping things snug and ergonomic. The Kydex used is quality material, stiff and fitted just right without any jagged edges or unnecessary layers of bulk.
A forward cant and open face provide that naturally quick draw you’re looking for, and the whole kit is made in the USA, available in a left- or right-hand configuration. At around $40, the Bullseye OWB 1911 Holster is one of the most affordable we recommend, and it’s certainly one of the best.
*The Best 1911 Paddle Holster
If you’re the guy or gal who loves a good, tactical railed 1911, then the BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Paddle Holster is the perfect solution for your 1911. The paddle holster provides perhaps the easiest and simplest wear and removal of any holster – a nice feature for a heavy gun. But the Serpa Sportster provides so much more, functioning as many holsters in one. Before we get to that, though, let’s look at the Sportster’s quality configuration and unique features.
In this holster you’re getting a helluva lot of features for a very good price. At around $25 you’ll enjoy a positive retention system – SERPA’s Auto-Lock, featuring a simple and intuitive trigger finger lock release that’s pre-tuned for your standard 1911. You’re also getting a quality hard plastic that’s tough as Hell and will resist direct impacts without feeling bulky or heavy – qualities already found in the 1911. Qualities you don’t want more of.
The wide, curved paddle is very comfortable, even against bare skin. It’s highly flexible and won’t poke, prod or pinch. The three set screws attaching the holster’s bucket to the paddle provide tons of customization so you enjoy the perfect positioning.
Back to those “many holsters in one” topic: You can switch out the paddle on the Serpa Sportsters and attach the holster itself to any of BLACKHAWK!’s compatible holster platforms.
Switching out the carry method is simple: Just remove the three set screws on the bucket and transfer the unit to the BLACKHAWK! Kit of your choice. They sell a standard belt loop holster, a level 3 tactical holster system, a STRIKE combo kit that provides under-the-shoulder retention, and a MOLLE attachment with quick release system for plate carriers and the like.
This makes the Serpa Sportster a perfect solution for those who carry across many duty needs and personal preference that change. Pair the Serpa Sportster with any 1911 government profile or any other standard-size 1911. The only model it doesn’t fit is the Taurus 1911 with rail. Hundreds of reviews call in favor of the Sportster, making it a top pick.
*The Best IWB Holster for 1911 Commander
For the 1911 Commander owners out there looking for the perfect IWB holster, look no further. Safariland maintains a reputation of top-tier quality, and their 5198 Open Top Holster is no exception.
Featuring an IDPA approved configuration, the 5198 is made from Safariland’s patented SafariLaminate material, a synthetic makeup that provides all the major benefits of leather and Kydex while getting rid of both materials’ fallbacks. This material provides the perfect amount of flex, retention, rigidity and comfort with very little weight and without the need for extra material to keep the holster balanced and snug. In short, its proprietary and it’s the perfect holster material.
Compact and lightweight, the 5198 provides those same qualities you wanted in your 1911 Commander, providing a simple, no-frills way to carry in one of the highest quality kits you can find. A straight cant keeps things tight and parallel for all-day comfort. Low cut sides provide an easy draw, while a detent in the trigger guard provides a little added security. The nylon paddle is one of the most comfortable you’ll wear, while an optional, fully adjustable belt slide helps ensure the 5198 is fitted just for you.
*Bonus Concealed Carry Option for Rails
Although not making the top 5, the Fobus R1911 Evo Paddle deserves notable mention. Designed to be used with or with out rail. A very comfortable holster with retention screws to tighten and loosen up. The inside backing is made of rubber which adds to its durability and comfort.
This is especially a great choice for the railed 1911 (full or partial rail) and it does a great job of holding even the heaviest versions of this firearm. It may need some wearing in, especially for those thicker style 1911's such as the double stacked Rock Island Armory.
The Alien Gear inside the waistband ShapeShift 4.0, is another great option for upgrading a 1911 5 inch. This holster is an improvement from Alien Gear's Cloak Tuck 3.0. It has one mounting point, allowing the base of the holster to contour and flex nicely to the waist. In addition, skin is protected from being exposed to any hardware, thanks to the trademarked layer of CoolVent neoprene. These 2 combined already deliver a great amount of comfort.
Drawing and holstering feels extremely secure with the textured 4.0 Alien Skin, which covers the surface of the holster.
The ergonomical quick draw cut on the side has been specifically engineered to give the best full firing grip possible.
One of the stand outs for the ShapeShift 4.0 is the quality of their shift shell which is made out of a very durable feeling polymer. This allows for a unique form of adjustable retention locking the 1911 in place with a click. The retention can be easily customised for a looser or tighter draw. Ride height and cant is also easy to change without the need of any tools. All that's needed is a set of the clips provided and they work hassle free.
Another strong point to mention is the safety of this holster and its 100% trigger coverage. It has been designed so that the trigger is covered at every angle including all the way up to the grip of the firearm. It's reassuring to know that the trigger will only be touched when and where you want.
And of course, what's not to love about the compatibility! The ability to effortlessly shift to any of Alien Gear's tactical, owb, and iwb holsters in the ShapeShift system is a huge plus.
Whatever 1911 holster you elect to carry, know that quality matters more here, than with other guns. The 1911 is a reliable, legendary gun that’s also very heavy, bulky, long, and easy to spot. A quality holster will work to mitigate all of those not-so-good properties. This will allow you to comfortably and confidently carry one of the most effective and powerful handguns without suffering any of the drawbacks that normally accompany such a piece.
We provided some of the best 1911 holster options based on hundreds of positive customer reviews and particular holster features. Buy with confidence.
Featured Image by Zorin Denu