Concealed carry is a major topic in the self-defense community and it can be very confusing for those who are just getting into the concept. Today we will be going over some of the finer points in holster selection while providing a list of recommended options for the best appendix carry holster.
The Basic Requirements
Let’s start off with the basics: Why do you need a holster for concealed carry? A holster is necessary for concealed carry because a properly made holster will greatly lessen the possibility of an accidental discharge. This is especially important for appendix carry because the pistol orientation in the holster directs the shot towards the femoral artery or inner thigh.
Generally, appendix carry is inside the waistband, this allows for the greatest amount of concealment while allowing for ideal draw times and access to the pistol. Since it is inside your waistband there are more things like clothing that could get into the trigger guard and discharge the pistol. Because of this there are a few necessary features to have on a holster for appendix carry.
First, every holster needs retention, whether concealed or not. Concealed carry requires less retention than open carry, but the pistol must be securely locked in place so it does not move around in the holster. This means certain holster materials should be avoided.
Holsters made out of nylon (generally made for airsoft, rather than concealed carry) or thin leather should be avoided. There are some leather holsters available that are quality, but the maintenance required to keep them viable makes them expensive in the long run. This means we will focus on more modern materials for holsters in order to keep the level of maintenance relatively low.
Holsters made from properly heat-treated kydex are the standard for the concealed carry industry. Other options are carbon fiber. However not all holsters are created equal, options such as Alien Gear holsters among others are extremely low quality and will fracture when put under stress. This generally means quality kydex/carbon fiber holsters cost more than $50 falling within the $60 to $120 range, although not always the case.
These materials help make a rigid holster that provides retention and durability during use. This also helps with another important factor, which is trigger guard coverage. Protecting the trigger is extremely important to avoid accidental discharges. This is achieved by completely sealing off the trigger area with the holster to prevent debris from getting in where the trigger is.
The holster rigidity also helps with this as there are examples of limp holsters, predominately thin leather holsters, curling into the path of the trigger and causing a discharge as the pistol is holstered. This can also occur if the pistol is loose in the holster and the holster depresses the trigger from movement.
Next, we have how the holster is connected to the user’s person. Generally, the holster is connected to the belt by two methods, clips and soft loops. Soft loops are generally better than clips because the loops hook under the belt and have their closures at the top, away from the pressures of the draw. This means the point of the loop pushes against the belt rather than the weak point.
An additional consideration for a concealed carry holster is adjustable cant. This allows you to moderately change the angle of the holster in relation to the belt either for comfort or better grip access.
All of these considerations remain the same across all pistols used for concealed carry. Whether they are semi-automatics, revolvers, striker-fired, or have external hammers these are the basics of a quality holster. That being said, the most common pistols recommended today are striker-fired semi-automatics chambered in 9x19mm.
Another consideration is whether or not you will have a weapon-mounted light (WML) on the pistol. This changes the overall shape of the holster and can change the method of how the pistol is retained by the holster.
Best Appendix Carry Holster on the Market Review
With that in mind, we will be looking at several holsters for some of the more popular carry options. Some are pistol specific but come in a variety of popular pistol options but the models have to be specified when ordering. Most feature adjustable cants and additional add-ons for comfort and concealment. All of them feature complete trigger guard coverage
1. Raven Concealment Eidolon
Raven Concealment is one of the leaders in the Kydex holster industry, especially for Glock brand pistols. The Eidelon is a highly modular holster that comes with everything you need to modify the holster for a variety of clothing and concealment options if you purchase the full kit. But the cost of the purchase goes down if you do not buy the full parts kit. It can accommodate almost all popular upgrades for Glocks today including rail-mounted red dot sights as long as it is a Glock 19.
This allows for a base pistol to be purchased and carried while allowing for future upgrades as the user gains more experience and customizes their carry gun. If you’re starting out and want a quality holster but are not sure how it will fit you, the Eidolon allows you to personally tailor it to your preferences.
2. Raven Concealment Vanguard VG2
One of Raven Concealment’s minimalist holsters is ideal if you don’t want to spend a lot of money but want a quality holster for a Gen 3 or Gen 4 Glock 19 the VG2 is a good choice.
Although it doesn’t allow for a light to be added to your pistol it does allow for a variety of other upgrades to be added to the pistol without being too expensive. This is an economical option for those concerned with price while allowing for a high-end holster to be purchased for your carry needs.
3. Raven Concealment Vanguard VG3
The Vanguard VG3 is the accompanying holster to the VG2. As affordable as the VG2, the VG3 has the added benefit of being able to accept a WML on the pistol. Since it attaches to the light itself, specifically a Surefire X300U A/B model, the holster can be used with a variety of other pistols than just a Glock.
This allows for you to have a quality holster that fits a number of pistols as long as you have the light if you don’t prefer to have a Glock model pistol.
4. PHLster Classic Holster Tuck Strut
Phlster is another leader in the Kydex holster market. This model is designed for comfort and has smoothed out all the rough edges and angles that lower-end holsters leave in. They are pistol specific and you have to specify which pistol or pistol set you would prefer.
This model allows for all types of sights and barrel extensions and even has a sweat guard that helps keep the sights from digging into the user’s body. The Tuck Strut helps tuck the pistol’s grip in toward the body allowing for better concealment. If you’re looking for a quality holster but want something that is Raven Concealment, then Phlster is another good option.
5. NSR C-1
NSR Tactical is a semi-custom holster maker. They have standardised several of their holster models. This particular model is one of their most popular. It features ambidextrous configurations through the use of a single loop and strut that can fit on either side of the holster body.
Each is pistol specific and comes in a variety of models such as M&P Shields and Sig Saur P320s. This holster also allows the user to tuck in their shirt if needed.
6. NSR C-8
The C-8 model of NSR holsters fit several Glock pistol models, it also is their counterpoint holster to the C-1 line. This holster is still ambidextrous and features two loops instead of one but it also features a waistband claw that aids in tucking the grip of the pistol into the body, similar to the Eidolon and Tuck Strut.
If you don’t prefer having two loops for your holster one loop can easily be removed to suit your tastes. This holster also only partially covers the magazine release of the pistol unlike some of their other models.
7. NSR Yeager C-2
The Yeager C-2 is the halfway point between the C-1 and C-8 models. While it lacks the ambidextrous features of the other two holsters, it does feature a full body shield and a lower side cut on the side of the holster that goes toward the belt.
This is done to assist in reholstering the pistol. It also features two loops to attach the pistol to the belt and does not feature the claw attachment but does completely cover the magazine release.
8. CYA IWB holster
CYA is a veteran-owned holster manufacturer. They use boltaron and other construction materials in addition to some Kydex models. These holsters are pistol specific and feature a single wide retention clip that can fit up to a 1.5” wide belt. This holster is on the more economic side if you are not interested in a minimalist design like the Vanguard series.
Their holsters also feature the removal of wear points within the holster. This means that the fit and finish of your pistol will last longer compared to other holsters.
9. Fierce Defender “The Paladin” series
The Paladin series from Fierce Defender sits right in the middle of cost and function. It features a flared opening to assist in reholstering and features a claw-like many other holsters.
While it is hand and pistol specific the company does feature a 100% lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. If you don’t want to scrape the bargain bin but don’t want a minimalist holster the “Paladin” series fits the bill.
10. Tulster Glock Holster
Tulster is the lowest you should go in terms of quality in a holster. Available in a variety of finishes and for a variety of pistols, Tulster offers a fully encapsulating design that is still minimalistic.
A retention clip and a positive audible “click” help make sure your pistol is secured to your belt in its holster. The holster is undercut to the trigger guard and open-ended to allow for a good grip and any barrel extensions you might have.
Keep in mind using search terms like “9mm awib holster”, “awib holster”, “aiwb holster”, and similar terms will bring up mostly CYA and Tulster products among several other brands that are more questionable. Additionally specifically knowing what brand you’re looking for helps.
Hopefully, you have found this article helpful in selecting the next best appendix carry holster.