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There is an art to concealed carry, the art of distraction. Much like an illusionist uses this skill to draw attention away from the trick being performed, a concealed carry holster and the handgun it contains should not appear to be where they are. With so many of today’s pocket pistols being smaller, lighter and easier to handle than small- to medium-caliber handguns were just a decade ago, equally new and innovative holsters have been developed to make concealment less complicated and more secure.

RELATED: 14 New Holsters Introduced In Fall 2014

No single carry gun or carry method will be ideal 100 percent of the time, as weather conditions and clothing choices can impose limitations on some combinations. There are five primary types of concealed carry methods: pocket holsters, inside the waistband (IWB), and belt, shoulder or ankle holsters. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages, and finding the best carry rig is specific to an individual’s needs and choice of handgun. Here are the some of the best options for each category of concealed carry.

BELT HOLSTERS

The belt or paddle holster remains one of the most popular and most convenient methods for daily carry. Belt holsters allow for more support of the firearm and often feature thumb-break safety straps for added security. Paddle holsters are generally smaller, minimalist styles that are lighter in weight and more easily positioned around the waist.

RELATED: 10 New Breed Retention Holsters

3-Speed Holster
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $85
http://www.3speedholster.com

Bianchi Frontier Gunleather Auto-Quick
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $48
http://www.frontiergunleather.com

Bianchi Frontier Gunleather Speed Scabbard
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $105
http://www.frontiergunleather.com

BlackHawk Nylon Laser Holster
Material: Cordura nylon
Retention: N/A
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $24.99
http://www.blackhawk.com

BlackHawk Sportster CQC
Material: Polymer
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $21.99
http://www.blackhawk.com

Blade-Tech Classic OWB Paddle Holster
Material: Polymer
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $64.99
http://shop.blade-tech.com

CrossBreed SnapSlide
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $48.50
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

CrossBreed SuperSlide
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $52.50
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

Crossfire Elite OWB/IWB Undercover
Material: Ballistic nylon
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $36.96
http://www.crossfiregear.com

DeSantis The Maverick
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $50.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis Thumb Break Scabbard
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $72.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis Yaqui Slide
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $50.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

Fobus Evolution Roto-Paddle
Material: Polymer
Retention: Level 2 Lock
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $44.99
http://www.fobusholster.com

Galco M5X Matrix (paddle)
Material: Injection-molded
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $35.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Galco SOB (Small of the Back)
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $109.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Galco SSS (Side Snap Scabbard)
Material: Leather
Retention: Adjustable tension
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $124.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Galco Yaqui Paddle
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $76.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Gould & Goodrich 891 Belt Slide
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $31.03
http://www.gouldusa.com

Mernickle PS6
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $89.95
http://www.mernickleholsters.com

MTR Custom Leather Swan
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $70
http://www.mtrcustomleather.com

Remora OWB
Material: Rubberized synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $34.95
http://www.remoraholsterstore.com

Sneaky Pete Belt Clip Holster
Material: Leather
Retention: Carry case w/flap
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $39-$69
http://www.sneakypeteholsters.com

INSIDE THE WAISTBAND HOLSTERS

For inside the waistband (IWB) carry, you need to place a handgun in a holster that supports as well as conceals it. This type of carry is particularly well suited to the latest generation of super thin semi-autos like the Glock 42 .380, Ruger LC9s and others. IWB carry will usually require a step up in pant waist size to make the gun and holster comfortable to wear, especially when sitting.

RELATED: 8 Holsters to Conceal Your Glock 42

Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 2.0
Material: Neoprene composite
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $35.88
http://www.aliengearholsters.com

BlackHawk ISP 06 IWB/Pocket
Material: Rough-out suede
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small, medium semi-autos
MSRP: $38.99
http://www.blackhawk.com

BlackHawk Tuckable
Material: Leather
Retention: N/A
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $42.99
http://www.blackhawk.com

Blade-Tech Ultimate Concealment Holster
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $74.99
http://shop.blade-tech.com

Blue Stone Covert Comfort
Material: Leather/sheepskin
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $54.95
https://www.bluestonesafety.com

Comp-Tac Infidel Ultra
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $88
http://www.comp-tac.com

Comp-Tac Minotaur MTAC
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $90
http://www.comp-tac.com

CrossBreed Appendix Carry
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $62.50
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

CrossBreed Minituck
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $67.75
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

CrossBreed SuperTuck Deluxe
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $69.75
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

Crossfire IWB/OWB Undercover
Material: Denier fabric
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $36.96
http://www.crossfiregear.com

DeSantis Cozy Partner
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $75.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis Intruder
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: J-Frames/semi-autos
MSRP: $65.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

Dillon Leather By Mitch Rosen Clipper-DL
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $65
http://www.mitchrosen.com

Elite Survival Systems BCH
Material: Ballistic nylon
Retention: N/A
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $27.95
http://www.elitesurvival.com

Fist Holsters #1
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $44.95
http://www.fist-inc.com

Galco KingTuk
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $71.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Galco Tuck-N-Go
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $34.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Mernickle PS2
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour or Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $79.95
http://www.mernickleholsters.com

MTR Custom Leather Sentinel
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $85
http://www.mtrcustomleather.com

N82 Tactical Professional
Material: Leather/polycarbonate
Retention: Contour-fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $69.95
https://www.n82tactical.com

Old Faithful IWB Hip Holster
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $75
http://www.oldfaithfulholsters.com

Remora Series 1
Material: Rubberized synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $24.95
http://www.remoraholsterstore.com

StealthGear IWB
Material: Multi-synthetic/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $99
http://www.stealthgearusa.com

Sticky Holsters
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $24.95
http://www.stickyholsters.com

Tuff Products Tuff iTuck
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos + smartphone
MSRP: $39.95
http://www.tuffproducts.com

X-Concealment Gen2 “C” IWB
Material: Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $54.99-$74.99
http://www.flccw.com

POCKET HOLSTERS

With a pocket holster your pistol or revolver’s barrel and working parts are almost entirely covered, and the gun is properly oriented with the grips held upright for drawing. A pocket holster also disguises the shape of the gun and prevents it from being outlined in your pocket.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Holster

Aker Pocket Protector Express
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $48
http://www.akerleather.com

Bianchi Frontier Gunleather Pocket Pal
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $28
http://www.frontiergunleather.com

BlackHawk ISP 06 Pocket/IWB
Material: Rough-out suede
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small, medium semi-autos
MSRP: $34.99
http://www.blackhawk.com

Blade-Tech Roughout Pocket Bug
Material: Leather/synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $39.99
http://shop.blade-tech.com

CrossBreed Pocket Rocket
Material: Leather/Kydex
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $32.95
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com

DeSantis Pocket Shot
Material: Leather
Retention: Clamshell
Gun Type: LCP, Small semi-autos
MSRP: $41.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis Sting
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $33.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis Super Fly
Material: Rubberized fabric
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $38.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis The Nemesis
Material: Rubberized fabric
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $24.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis The Trickster
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $28.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

Elite Survival Systems
Material: Ballistic nylon
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $22.95
http://www.elitesurvival.com

Galco Front Pocket Horsehide
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $64.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Galco Pocket Protector
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $27.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Gould & Goodrich Wallet Holster
Material: Nylon
Retention: Band
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $18
http://www.gouldusa.com

Milt Sparks Pocket Holster
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $82.50-$88
http://www.miltsparks.com

Remora Holsters No Clip Series 2
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $24.95-$29.95
http://www.remoraholsterstore.com

Safariland Pocket Piece
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $29.75
http://www.safariland.com

Sticky Holsters MD-1
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $24.95
http://www.stickyholsters.com

Tuff Products Pocket-Roo
Material: Synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $20
http://www.tuffproducts.com

Uncle Mike’s
Material: Nylon/synthetic
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $13.95
http://www.unclemikes.com

Wright Insider Pocket Holster
Material: Leather
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $59.99
http://www.wrightleatherworks.com

SHOULDER HOLSTERS

A.E. Nelson Upside Down Triple Draw, a.e. nelson concealed carry
A.E. Nelson Upside Down Triple Draw

The shoulder holster is one of the most secure and easily accessed means of concealed carry, but it comes with certain limitations. Proper outer clothing must be worn for concealment; this generally means nothing less than an outer shirt, lightweight jacket, blazer or dress jacket. Shoulder rigs provide better weight distribution, the capability to carry a slightly larger weapon and extra ammo.

RELATED: Top 16 Women’s Concealed Carry Items

A.E. Nelson Upside Down
Material: Leather
Retention: Integral spring clip
Gun Type: S&W J-Frame
MSRP: $180
http://www.nelsonleather.com

Bianchi Frontier Gunleather Magnum X-10
Material: Leather
Retention: Integral spring clip
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $225
http://www.frontiergunleather.com

Deep Conceal Ultra
Material: Fabric/elastic
Retention: Hook and loop
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $43.95
http://www.deepconceal.com

DeSantis C.E.O.
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $124.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis New York Undercover
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $172.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

DeSantis Patriot
Material: Ballistic nylon
Retention: Contour fit
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $79.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

Galco Classic Lite
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $94.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Galco Executive
Material: Italian calfskin
Retention: Tension
Gun Type: Small semi-autos
MSRP: $199.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Gould & Goodrich 804
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $175.47
http://www.gouldusa.com

Mernickle SH5
Material: Leather
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos
MSRP: $179.95
http://www.mernickleholsters.com

ANKLE HOLSTERS

Aker Comfort Flex PRO, aker, aker concealed carry
Aker Comfort Flex PRO

The ankle holster truly defines the term “backup gun,” as this is the least rapidly accessible means of concealed carry, but also one of the most secure and unobtrusive. An ankle holster offers one notable benefit, the ability to be accessed naturally when sitting in a chair or car seat, or if kneeling or on the ground.

RELATED: 10 Deep-Cover Holster Designs for 24/7 Concealed Carry Protection

Aker Comfort-Flex PRO
Material: Leather/elastic
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $62.50
https://www.akerleather.com

Blue Stone Deluxe
Material: Nylon/elastic/sheepskin
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $42
https://www.bluestonesafety.com

DeSantis Leather Ankle Holster
Material: Leather/elastic
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $78.99
http://www.desantisholster.com

Elite Survival Systems Ankle Holster
Material: Ballistic nylon
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $46.95
http://www.elitesurvival.com

Galco Ankle Glove
Material: Leather/elastic
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $98.95
http://www.galcogunleather.com

Gould & Goodrich B516
Material: Sheepskin-lined
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $52.48
http://www.gouldusa.com

Remora 3 in 1
Material: Rubberized synthetic
Retention: Thumb break
Gun Type: Small semi-autos/revolvers
MSRP: $35.95
http://www.remoraholsterstore.com

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

3-Speed Holsters
http://www.3speedholster.com; 954-561-2042

A.E. Nelson
http://www.nelsonleather.com; 503-394-3412

Alien Gear Holsters
http://www.aliengearholsters.com; 208-215-2046

Aker International
http://www.akerleather.com; 800-645-2537

Bianchi Frontier Gunleather
http://www.frontiergunleather.com; 877-877-4704

Blackhawk
http://www.blackhawk.com; 800-379-1732

Blade-Tech
http://www.blade-tech.com; 877-331-5793

Blue Stone Safety Products
http://www.bluestonesafety.com; 888-776-6220

Comp-Tac
http://www.comp-tac.com; 866-441-9157

CrossBreed Holsters
http://www.crossbreedholsters.com; 888-732-5011

Crossfire Elite
http://www.crossfiregear.com; 208-461-8888

Deep Conceal
http://www.deepconceal.com; 877-443-3486

DeSantis
http://www.desantisholster.com; 800-424-1236

Dillon Precision
http://www.dillonprecision.com; 800-762-3845

Elite Survival Systems
http://www.elitesurvival.com; 866-340-2778

Fist Holsters
http://www.fist-holsters.com; 800-443-3478

Fobus Holsters
http://www.fobusholster.com; 267-803-1517

Galco
http://www.galcogunleather.com; 800-874-2526

Gould & Goodrich
http://www.gouldusa.com; 800-277-0732

Mernickle
http://www.mernickleholsters.com; 800-497-3166

Milt Sparks
http://www.miltsparks.com; 208-377-5577

MTR Custom Leather
http://www.mtrcustomleather.com; 336-879-2166

N82 Tactical
http://www.n82tactical.com; 336-237-1943

Old Faithful Holsters
http://www.oldfaithfulholsters.com; 208-215-2145

Remora Holsters
http://www.remoraholsters.com; 239-434-7200

Safariland
http://www.safariland.com; 800-347-1200

Sneaky Pete Holsters
http://www.sneakypete.com

StealthGear Holsters
http://www.stealthgearusa.com; 801-407-4239

Sticky Holsters
http://www.stickyholsters.com; 239-434-1844

TUFF Products
http://www.tuffproducts.com; 877-883-3776

Wright Leather Works
http://www.wrightleatherworks.com; 419-559-9417

X-Concealment
http://www.x-concealment.com

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