Concealed Carry: Using a Multi-Layered Approach to Find the Perfect Holster - ITS Tactical
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Concealed Carry: Using a Multi-Layered Approach to Find the Perfect Holster

By Jeff Gonzales

Concealed Carry

The great thing about carrying concealed for as long as I have, is having a pretty good idea on what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, consumers are bombarded by so many choices that even the best intentions can come up short.

Quick Sale

Selecting a concealed carry holster is no different than say, selecting a flat screen TV. However, it’s funny how many people are suckered into buying something they don’t need. To avoid being a sucker, you first have to identify what you need versus what you want. You may want some super cool holster that does everything, but do you really need it? I can remember when the MOLLE system was all the rage. I hated it and it was easy to see how much extra weight it added to my gear.

The major argument in favor of MOLLE was it would make customizing to the mission really easy. Ha! Good one. Very few folks actually took the time to customize it to the mission because it was such a pain in the ass to correctly setup in the first place. It was just easier to have two different setups, which brought us back to the original intention of having gear specially for the mission at hand.

Crystal Ball Screen

While there are many holsters out there, the majority of which are fine pieces of equipment, it’s difficult to know which is good to go and which is not. Most folks will turn to the internet as if it was some crystal ball of knowledge. Granted, there’s lots of information out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s good information. You’ll no doubt be able to streamline down to a few good choices, but that’s where the real work begins.

Define Your Needs, Not Your Wants

Think of your selection as a multilayered testing protocol, where each layer gets more and more realistic to the mission.

Layer 1 – Trigger Protection

On the first layer of holsters, I am looking for a holster that protects the trigger at all times. This ensures that no foreign object or debris can gain access while the gun is secure in the holster. Believe it or not, this first layer should eliminate a few holsters.

Layer 2 – Firing Grip

With the next layer, I should be able to obtain a firing grip with the pistol still holstered. Not a partial grip that I try to improve as I’m drawing, but a solid firing grip. Again, this narrows the field somewhat.

Layer 3 – Secure to Body

With the third layer, I want the holster secure to my body. The term “secure” seems to be misunderstood these days; you don’t want to replace convenience for security. We generally see at least one holster separate from the body during the drawstroke in our classes, so read up on a previous article for more information on this.

Layer 4 – Work Under Stress

Does it work under stress? The last layer is the big one for me, I’m looking for a holster that will retain the pistol under light physical exertion. This is probably the final layer for most of us, but the one we see fail more often than not. Light physical exertion is tricky because one man’s poison is another man’s gold. For our purposes you should be able to get down and up quickly without losing your pistol in the process.

Obviously you need to use your best judgement if you have physical limitations, but in a fight those physical limitations mean absolutely nothing so don’t hang on to them too tightly.

Use What Works for You

The proverbial light bulb moment happens many times during this process and at first what might have seemed okay, is now a no go. Don’t hold on to something just because you purchased it or because it has a big following. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work; move on to a better choice.

“Search well and be wise, nor believe that self-willed pride will ever be better than good counsel.”

~ Aeschylus, Ancient Greek Tragedian


Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Jeff Gonzales was a decorated and respected US Navy SEAL, serving as an operator and trainer who participated in numerous combat operations throughout the world. He now uses his modern warfare expertise as President of Trident Concepts, LLC., a battle proven company specializing in weapons, tactics and techniques to meet the evolving threat. Bringing the same high-intensity mindset, operational success and lessons learned from NSW to their training programs, TRICON has been recognized as an industry leader by various federal, state and local units. Organizations interested in training with TRICON can call 928-925-7038 or visit for more information.

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