Carrying a firearm for self-defense is one of the most important things you can do for the security of yourself and those around you. If you’re new to the wonderful world of guns and don’t know if you should carry on your shoulder or on your hip, then you’ve come to the right place.
Truth be told, each method of carrying has its own positives and negatives, as well as common thoughts when each way is utilized.
Ultimately, there is no wrong answer. Whichever method you choose is right. You just need to understand some basics first. Let’s take a more in-depth look.
When would you use a shoulder holster?
Most folks who wear a shoulder holster do so because they’ve got a sport coat or dress jacket on. This is a common method of carrying for off-duty police officers, undercover detectives, and thugs in movies.
When you carry with a shoulder holster, you keep the gun off your hip. Because it is off your hip, you don’t need to use a leather gun belt that’s designed to hold the extra weight associated with a gun.
Another instance that some folks would utilize a shoulder holster is when they have to be in the car for an extended amount of time. I have some friends who own shoulder holsters for this reason alone because it is so comfortable.
One friend who comes to mind says that whenever he’s driving for over a few hours, he puts it in the shoulder holster because of how uncomfortable it is for him when he carries his 1911 in a hip holster for that long
Just make sure you practice drawing in the car with an empty gun so you know how to do it.
Downsides to carrying in a shoulder holster
There are some downsides to carrying like this. First up, it’s not very concealable. If your goal is to retain your tactical advantage through firearm concealment, then using a shoulder holster is not the best method.
If you undo your jacket, have to take it off, or a gust of wind pushes it open, you’re no longer concealing your gun. I don’t claim to know the laws in all 50 states, but this could cause you legal issues depending on where you live.
These are not deal breakers, however, and can easily be overcome with some practice.
When would you use a hip holster?
Most gun carriers utilize a hip concealed carry holster, and they do because it makes the most amount of sense in the greatest number of situations.
For example, if you’re just walking around in regular clothes, like jeans and a T-shirt, it doesn’t make sense to use a shoulder rig. If your goal is concealment, this is a much better option than carrying in a shoulder holster.
The reason is simple: The gun sits under a piece of clothing and isn’t visible until needed. Because of this simple fact alone, the gun stays concealed and you retain your tactical advantage. I use a hip holster most of the time for this reason.
Downsides of a hip holster
The downsides are subjective. If you’re carrying in an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, the main issue is that of comfort. It’s just not as comfortable to have a piece of metal inside your waistband. Of course, this largely depends on the size and weight of your chosen carry piece, what type of holster you’re using, etc.
Suffice it to say that there is something extra there and it isn’t as comfortable as it would be if it was absent.
A secondary issue could be getting the gun into play if you needed it because it can be difficult without practice. And, after doing this gun thing for well over a decade and training with some of the best shooters our industry offers, I can say that most people are woefully unprepared when it comes to drawing their gun from their holster.
This can be trained away, but you have to put the reps in.
Another consideration is that an OWB holster is more comfortable and easier to draw from.
The downside to carrying in an OWB, or outside the waistband holster, is that of concealment. They’re more comfortable than their IWB counterparts, but there is always a sacrifice to be made for any method of carry.
Ideally, you’d utilize both —
I personally have a shoulder holster for those times when I need one, and several hip, or waistband, holsters. In fact, I have more than I can count because I have more guns than the average gun enthusiast does.
Whatever your holster needs are, chances are excellent that we’ve got something for you.