The purpose of this article is for the everyday urban civilian concealed carry. Not for duty police, open carry, military of any sorts. This is a specific topic for those who are new to concealed carry, looking to start carrying and those who’ve been carry on the hip but being eying AIWB for some time now.
Holsters, in almost every town there is someone making holsters. It doesn’t mean they are good quality, safe and efficient. What are the main key items to look for when purchasing your holster?
1) It should have a good trigger guard. Kydex holsters are phenomenal, where no matter how hard you press on the trigger guard it would not flex inward. That’s why the sloppy dangerous nylon holsters are the worse of the holster lineup, follow by leather and hybrid holstes. Leather holsters are marginally acceptable as long as they are not worn out.
2) It must hold the gun securely. The right amount of tightness where if you perform a somersault the gun won’t come flying out, or if you get thrown to the ground the gun won’t come out. It should not be too tight or too loose. I good nice audible click when reholstering.
3 Enough space to get a good grip, when you go to draw your gun, you should get a full draw grip. I see many holsters where the grip of the gun touches or rest on top of the pants and belt, there is no space to get your fingers to get a good draw stroke. The holsters listed below in this article all have a perfect ride height where you can get a good grip for a fast and nice draw stroke.
Hybrid holsters such as the Alien Gear holsters are dangerous and here is why https://defensivepopulace.net/why-your-hybrid-holster-is-dangerous/
The infamous OWB (outside the waistband) holster Blackhawk Serpa retention holsters are extremely dangerous and has been proven over and over in real life and in Craig Douglas ECQC class , multiple discussion and articles on that already which I’m not going to go over here. Many quality defensive pistol classes throughout the country do not allow this holster or strong advise against using it in their classes. For OWB retention holsters the Safariland ALS line is the way go to!
Why carry AIWB? This type of carry are for those wanting to carry around the front of their waistband, the A standing for appendix. AKA the appendix carry. This style of carry wasn’t popular, and was even deemed unsafe back in the days. However, its popularity has grown, especially over the past decade. It has also been found to be a perfectly safe way to carry. With quality holsters along with modern striker fire pistols such as the Smith & Wesson M&Ps line and Glocks have several safeties built in to them. Examples are, the trigger safety. In the M&P line, the trigger safety prevents movement until the pivoting trigger is pulled while a spring loaded plunger prevents firing pin movement until the rearward movement of the trigger bar deactivates it.
Then we have the drop safe. You can read more about the Glock Safe Action System. In addtion to the 3 major safeties in these modern pistols, a good AIWB holster will have the trigger guard. Then you have your trigger finger discipline when reholstering.
AIWB has been comfortable seeing as you may be wearing it for hours at a time. Luckily, you don’t have to choose between effectiveness and comfort. Here the three of the top AIWB holsters on the market today based on our personal real experience and other professionals in the field.
Dark Star Gear
Dark Star Gear and their engineering team was created in 2009 when a group of shooters wanted a quality holster with a lower profile than what was currently available. Dark Star Gear designed their holsters mainly for AIWB carry but can also be worn on your hip IWB. There holsters are made from Kydex, which is considered to be the premium material for synthetic holsters. While their holsters have a small profile, they still protect the slide. A thin guard lines the slide protecting it while staying slim. This holster also allows you to easily concealed a full size gun and comfortable too. As time goes by compacts and subcompacts will become less popular. There is also a trigger guard that covers the trigger completely, remember this is one of the main feature in a holster you must have? Gun safety is incredibly important with holsters. Obviously to prevent harm, but also for the wearer’s confidence that no part of their holster will fail them. When selecting their holsters for your particular gun on their website, you have two options to choose from, a clip or belt loops. I highly recommend the belt loop option. It’s hard for the holster to come out, especially when you’re in a fight. Take a good professional 8 hour defensive pistol class and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Other holster makers with heap clips have known to fail their users, sometimes at the worst of times. Dark Star’s clips are strong enough to erase this fear if you want to go the clips route as opposed to the belt loops option.
Their holsters also feature a “claw”. This is essentially an additional piece of plastic that pushes the grip end against the body. This helps with establishing its low profile to prevent printing. Along the the claw you can attach a wedge to push the lower part of the gun, the barrel area away from you which forces the upper part of the gun to rest flat against your belly further concealing the gun. Photo of the wedge. Some people don’t like a wedge. For me, I barley notice it there.
Today, Dark Star Gear offers a dark wing. This is a next level engineering to further conceal your gun in the AIWB position with a boost of comfort. The dark wing not only pushes the grip of the gun towards you, it gets pressed inward by the belt. This rotates the grip inward and reduces printing for increased concealment acting like a wedge too!
They offer holsters for the most popular pistols out there. For the few popular Glock models, Smith & Wesson M&Ps, Sig Sauer, Beretta and H&K. They also make couple of revolver holsters. You can chose from black, coyote, grey OD green and ton of more colors. They are known for being well constructed. They fit tightly to the handguns they are designed for.
They make one of the best mag pouches for AIWB in my opinion, it’s long enough to where it won’t sickout after you sit or bend forward like many other mage pouches when carrying AIWB. The their mage pouch is call the Koala AIWB Mag Pouch.
See photos of how concealable their holsters and the Koala mag pouches are.
Founded by Spencer Keepers. I’ve found out about his holster because I attended his AIWB class back in 2016. Back then I was still carrying at my 4 – 5 o’clock. John Murphy from FPF Training hosted Spencer’s class in Culper, Virginia. Spencer spent time experimenting with the AIWB position until he perfected it. Before PHlster and Dark Gear became well known, he started making his own AIWB holsters. They were the most comfortable holsters, most concealable holster and could concealed full size guns! Spencer conceals his full size Beretta 92 A1 nicely. His holster would also use a wedge. The The Keeper’s holster is 100% quality keydex. He makes holsters to fit a variety of pistols and purposes like the flagship model knows as The Keeper, he then has the The Keeper Lite, The Errand and the new Cornerstone (Tuckable) line up. Read the full review of the Keeper holster by Grege Ellifrtiz https://www.activeresponsetraining.net/the-keeper-appendix-carry-holster
His holster’s are a bit pricey but it will be the only holster you will ever need so it is worth it. Beats going through 4 – 6 holsters over the course of 5 years until you found the right holster.
PHLster was actually founded with appendix carry in mind. They started as an informative YouTube channel (founder Jon Hauptman) dedicated to the world of holsters, and it evolved into a leader in the holster field.
Their holsters feature their patented TuckStrut clips and today the dual belt loops. They are designed as to shift in place with the everyday movements of a carrier’s body. This both holds handguns in place and makes it more comfortable as one goes about their day. Their holsters take a minimalist approach, whereas others attempt to add more little attachments and features as they go. Those additional features can be nice, but so can simplicity. It is sleek, and slides into the waistband leaving a low profile. It is also designed to be easy to withdraw. It is angled so that it is easy to get to and comfortable to wear.
Most of their holsters are made for Glocks and M&Ps, but they offer holsters for other brands. They have expanded to non-appendix carry holsters over years. However, the fact that they started with AIWB in mind is reflected in the way they stand out in the market. PHlster also makes holster for guns with mounted lights. They also make mag pouches, medkits and other great accessories.
Author Walid Boonprasit and co-author Jay Chambers