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No matter what type of handgun you carry, whether you go old school and choose a five-shot (or six-shot) revolver; a subcompact 1911 (.45 ACP); any of the dozens of superb 9mm and .40 S&W subcompact semi-autos available; defer to one of the most commonly carried defensive sidearms in America, a .380 semi-auto; or opt to pack a simple two-shot derringer-style pistol; you have to decide on the best way to conceal it. Ultimately, the determining factors are the needs of the individual, and no one solution works for everyone or for every circumstance. Concealed carry is a little like military spec ops—what you carry (and how) can be mission specific. Consider your options.

Gun size used to dictate holster carry, but today’s modern designs and ultra-compact handguns can make it as easy to conceal a .45 as a .22. The following is a consideration of some of the top holster options available today. Each of these designs are intended to keep your pistol out of sight and close at hand, but remember that finding the one that works best for you is as personal as your choice of handgun. Here are some of the best options for 2014.

 

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POCKET HOLSTERS:

 

The most obvious place to conceal a pocket pistol is in your pocket. This is also one of the most comfortable means of carry, and allows relatively quick retrieval. However, it is not advisable to simply drop a handgun directly into your pocket without the benefit of a holster. Pocket holsters come in a variety of types, from all-leather pouches and clamshell configurations (some custom made for specific guns) to open-top styles constructed of ballistic nylon or combined with a rubberized exterior to keep the holster firmly locked in the pocket. Any of these designs will provide covert cover for your sidearm while keeping it as close as your wallet.

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INSIDE THE WAISTBAND HOLSTERS:

Inside the waistband (IWB) is another good option for carrying concealed, in this instance behind the waistband of your pants. This type of holster is preferable to simply jamming a loaded gun into the back of your slacks (like they do on TV and in the movies). In reality you need to place it in a quality holster that offers all-day comfort, along with secure and safe orientation and retention. These systems are particularly well suited to the new generation of thin semi-auto pistols, although a motivated wheelgun enthusiast could reasonably carry his favorite revolver in an IWB rig as well. If inside-the-waistband carry is right for you, then read on for a solid roundup of today’s top options in this category.

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BELT HOLSTERS:

Today, the belt holster is still the most commonly used means of carry, and there are many options. Positioning the handgun outside of the waistband allows multiple positions for carry, most commonly at the 3 o’clock (hip) and 4 o’clock (behind the hip) positions, which allow for ease of cover by clothing and quick retrieval of the firearm. Belt rigs are available in a variety of materials, cants (angle of the holster) and attachment options. Also, there are a wide variety of retention systems available, from concealed release levers and buttons to simple press-fit retention to thumb-break systems. There are also options that hide in plain sight through the use of unique covering systems that look like smartphone carrying cases. Following is a solid roundup of the myriad belt-carry holsters available from today’s top manufacturers.

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SHOULDER HOLSTERS

This is a less common civilian option for concealed carry, as it requires wearing an outer garment, but it does offer some advantages. These include better weight distribution for the gun, ease of draw and the capability to carry a slightly larger weapon, as well as extra magazines or cartridges on the off-side of the rig. For those interested in this highly capable means of carry, the following list of top choices should help.

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ANKLE HOLSTERS

While it may not offer the fastest access to your firearm, the ankle holster system offers several unique advantages that may fit your particular carry needs, offering the benefits of extremely low-profile carry as well as the ability to draw in unique positions such as sitting in a chair or in the seat of a car. If the ankle holster is right for you, then take a look at the following roundup of today’s top options.

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For more information on the Holsters, visit:

3-Speed Holsters
3speedholster.com or call 954-561-2042

Aker International
akerleather.com or call 800-645-2537

Alien Gear Holsters
aliengearholsters.com or call 479-650-6103

Beretta USA
berettausa.com or call 800-929-2901

Bianchi
bianchi-intl.com or call 800-347-1200

Bianchi Frontier Gunleather
frontiergunleather.com or call 877-877-4704

BlackHawk
blackhawk.com or call 800-694-5263

Blue Stone Safety Products
bluestonesafety.com or call 888-776-6220

Comp-Tac
comp-tac.com or call 866-441-9157

CrossBreed Holsters
crossbreedholsters.com or call 888-732-5011

Deep Conceal
deepconceal.com or call 877-443-3486

DeSantis
desantisholster.com or call 631-841-6300

Elite Survival Systems
elitesurvival.com or call 866-340-2778

ETW Holsters
etwholsters.com or call 828-358-0001

Fist Holsters
fist-holsters.com or call 800-443-3478

Fobus Holsters
fobusholster.com or call 267-803-1517

Galco
galcogunleather.com or call 800-874-2526

Gould & Goodrich
gouldusa.com or call 800-277-0732

Milt Sparks Holsters
miltsparks.com or call 208-377-5577

MTR Custom Leather
mtrcustomleather.net or call 336-879-2166

N82 Tactical
n82tactical.com or call 336-237-1943

Recluse Holsters
recluseholster.com or call 866-960-1264

Remora Holsters
remoraholsters.com or call 239-434-7200

Safariland
safariland.com or call 800-347-1200

Sneaky Pete Holsters
sneakypete.com

StealthGear Holsters
stealthgearusa.com

Sticky Holsters
stickyholsters.com or call 239-434-1844

Tuff Products
tuffproducts.com or call 877-883-3776

Wright Leather Works
wrightleatherworks.com or call 419-307-6191

X-Concealment
x-concealement.com

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