The 4 Best Open Carry Holsters
There are few topics in the gun culture that are more divisive than open carry. Whenever open carry comes up, people immediately think of activists carrying AR 15’s into a police station or on the steps of City Hall.
Politics aside, open carry gets a bad rap. Many people think that open carry is a death wish or a disservice to people who carry guns. While it’s no secret that concealed carry is tactically superior to open carry, that doesn’t mean that no one should open carry.
If you have a physical handicap that prevents most concealed carry, or open carry is the only legal means that permits you to be armed, then you should open carry! Do so with tact and respect for the people around you but don’t think that just because you can conceal carry, you cannot take personal responsibility for your security.
From a traditional strong side hip holster to new age urban carry holsters, there’s a ton of different models on the market. Here are five of the best open carry holsters as well as a few tips to help you get started.
Open Carry Holster Requirements
The level of security you’re going to feel comfortable open carrying with is going to be dependent on your personal needs. Many people are very concerned with a gun grab while open carrying. This is when a person runs up, and snatch your gun and other takes off or use it against you.
While this is a real concern among law enforcement and security officials, there is scant data on whether or not gun grabs are a problem for people open carrying. However, what is a problem is being knocked unconscious and a person using your gun against you after they have found it.
This is a problem whether you are open or concealed carrying, but is exponentially more dangerous if the gun is in plain view and easier to get to while open carrying. The more retention devices you have between your gun and a bad guy, the better. As long as you can still activate firearm!
You need to train to make sure that you can use the retention devices equipped with your holsters like they're second nature. Otherwise, it's more dangerous having your gun tied up in a holster you don’t know how to actuate.
The 4 Best Open Carry Holsters
Retention Holster for Open Carry
Safariland is the largest manufacturer of firearms accessories in the world. Primarily catering to professional agency and military orders, they also supply the majority of competition oriented holsters on the market. When it comes to open carrying firearms on a duty belt, or even in plainclothes, no one knows more than Safariland!
This is a culmination of many of their best technologies all rolled into one holster. A level III retention holster, that incorporates three different locking mechanisms that can all be overcome in less than a second with training, that protects you from a gun grab.
The hard injection molded plastic is exceptionally rugged and stands up to just about everything you can throw at it. This material has been proven for years on duty belts and on battlefields with special operations forces.
The mechanisms that make up the holster are complex but easily overcome. Once you get the hang of using this holster you can quickly disengage the retention mechanisms and draw your gun. However, it is very difficult for another person to try to disengage these mechanisms from their angle while it is on your belt.
This is the ultimate retention holster for people looking for open carry. You get a ruggedized, battle proven holster ready for day in and day out carrying that gives you the best chances of retaining your firearm. If there are any downsides in this holster it’s cost and bulk.
This holster is certainly designed to be worn a duty rig. It protrudes far out from your side and is going to be very noticeable and catch on things in your environment as you move around. Expect to slam it on door frames and furniture as you walk around. Other than that, this is an excellent holster for anyone looking for a retention holster for open carry.
Open Carry Shoulder Holster
No one makes leather holsters like Galco. When it comes to shoulder holster systems many of the cheap nylon versions on the market can act more like medieval torture devices than a means to carry your gun!
This extremely comfortable shoulder holster is made from genuine steer leather and relocates your gun from the typical armpit position to being vertically oriented next to your kidney. This provides an ideal location for concealing large guns for inch revolvers or full-size 1911’s without having a barrel sticking out from behind your armpit.
While it may sound simple in theory, this is a deceivingly excellent way to carry a gun. It relocates much of the weight and puts it directly underneath the shoulder harness, which prevents chafing and movement while you are walking.
The exceptional quality and materials that Galco is known for are certainly present in this holster. It's going to last a lifetime provided you keep it clean and dry, and making sure it is well conditioned from time to time.
Available in black or tan this holster is excellent for professional duty use, or everyday concealed carry. When you wear it it looks more like suspenders than a gun, perfect for open carry, and there simply not a higher quality shoulder holster on the market.
The only downside to this holster is the maintenance and cost. The genuine steer hide distributes weight well and last a long time, but does require upkeep and is expensive. There’s no substitute for quality and this holster has it in spades. If it’s in your budget strongly consider this open carry shoulder holster.
Best Kydex OWB Holster for Open Carry
When it comes to Kydex holsters for open carry, there are a ton of options. From custom shops that make you show up cash several weeks in advance, to large corporations importing mass-produced products in China it can be hard to find a middle ground in price and quality.
Outlaw holsters have you covered! This is a pancake style holster that incorporates a high-quality Kydex into a well-designed holster with a twist. Available with dozens of different designs this is a perfect holster to open carry because not only is it a well-designed Kydex holster but it can be customized with your favorite image.
From subdued American flag designs to Gadsden flags and Second Amendment pride this holster is available with a ton of different options. Many are available off the rack for immediate shipment, meaning you can have a brand-new open carry holster for your brand-new gun in a matter of days, not weeks!
This holster is designed plenty wide enough to distribute the weight of your gun evenly and comfortably and all the materials and workmanship for this holster are well reflected in the price. You get a good all-around holster, with your favorite design for just about any gun on the market, all for a great price. Strongly consider this holster as it is one of the best Kydex OWB holsters for open carry.
Best Crossdraw Holster for Open Carry
Crossdraw holsters are a niche item. For most people, they are either a really good or really bad idea. For open carry, they present an interesting option. Many of the classic problems with Crossdraw carry are not relevant when open carrying.
As a result, the only problem with Crossdraw carry is finding a good holster and making sure you train for a proper draw. Galco has you covered with a holster part!
No one does leather holsters like Galco and this is one of their most famous holsters. The cop three slot holster is used by both military and law-enforcement units for professional looking snap retention holster that is able to be adapted to the job at hand, and the person using it.
With this holster, you can use it anywhere along your belt line. The three different belt loop slides allow you to different cant angles. Either a 0° cant for traditional strong side hip, or Crossdraw in a slight can’t forward if you have impaired mobility or want a faster draw.
This holster is going to last you forever provided you take care of it. Few holsters are used by this many departments and military units as this holster and no other holster has been copied as much as this one. Do yourself a favor and by the original, because this holster is excellent and is one of the best crossdraw holsters for open carry on the market.
When it comes to open carry, pretty much any holster can get the job done by definition. It doesn’t matter whether or not your gun is concealed and just about any outside the waistband holster is going to be comfortable provided you have the correct belt.
That doesn’t mean that every holster on the market will perform equally. Read as many open carry holster reviews as possible before you make your purchase. While you can’t go wrong with any of the five listed here, there are certainly many excellent holsters on the market from many different manufacturers.
Just make sure that you get a holster that you can live with, and train with it like your life is on the line. It just might be!