There is a lot of talk about holster types for concealed carry intended for varying activities that mainly take place in urban areas. Similar to other makes and types, holsters for .45 1911 handguns come in many styles for many different situations, but one type is more specialized than others.
While the market is virtually flooded with CCW holsters of minimalist design and questionable comfort, there is the most comfortable type designed for general open carry called a drop-leg or a thigh carry holster.
In this guide, we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of drop leg holsters, along with providing recommendations for the top available choices.
Advantages And Disadvantages
While some believe the thigh holsters are a dying breed, others argue that “thigh carry,” gains a bit more traction in the past few years as the most comfortable OWB carry method. Unlike OWB or outside-the-waistband holsters, carried on the hip, thigh carry enables you to access your 1911 from virtually any position.
When we mentioned 1911-style guns, wearing a drop leg holster with a larger firearm is quite practical and comfortable. It drops the full-size pistol below the beltline onto the upper thigh area keeping the butt of the gun closer to the natural resting position of your hand.
Besides strenuous activities like target shooting practice at the range or hunting, the thigh holster is also useful when driving as it does not dig into your waistline while remaining in an easily accessible place to draw from.
Using a thigh rig will reduce the weight on your belt and offer a quick draw in case of an emergency. In fact, the primary difference between a drop leg holster and a concealment holster is that you have easy access and very fast draw as opposed to the concealed holsters.
Of course, we should not forget that the thigh rig holsters are designed as tactical equipment for people engaged in the military and tactical security field.
A Drop Leg Holster (DLH) is used by the military, where a soldier is wearing armor vests, but these kinds of holsters don’t meddle with armor, a long-barreled gun, or any other gear, allowing for a cleaner draw stroke.
As a benefit, a lot of thigh holsters have an extra magazine carry pocket (or two) attached directly to the holster but keep in mind that each magazine pouch adds some heft making your rig more cumbersome and clumsy.
Is This Thigh Holster Okay For Concealed Carry?
Since the DLHs are developed to get your firearm clear of obstructions for smooth action, concealment is undesirable and almost impossible unless you are wearing an overcoat.
The drop leg holster is designed for modern warfare operators and-or wherever open carry is allowed or called.
What To Look For When Buying A Drop-Leg Holster
If you are looking for the best drop leg holster, you need to consider some aspects before purchasing it.
A lot of people wear a thigh holster during outdoor adventures or tactical activities and these holsters are susceptible to strenuous movements and maneuvers. Therefore, a proper DLH holster must have a retention device like thumb breaks or Auto Locking Systems, as you most probably will carry your 1911 cocked and locked-in Condition One.
Compared to the CCW holsters, the thigh rig, as an open carry holster needs to have a higher level of retention, at least level two and preferably level three retention.
The best drop-down leg holster hardware and material must be durable, and we highly recommend a Kydex or similar material matched by metal clips and screws. However, if you are a casual shooter, a nylon holster should do the job, but it should not be too thin and should have a rigidness in order to protect the trigger.
A good tip for carrying a drop leg holster is purchasing a stiff gun belt strong enough to hold your thigh holster as well as reinforced belt loops with metal or polymer hardware.
1. Safariland 6004 Earth Brown Colt 1911 SLS Hood
Safariland is a big name in the tactical accessory industry and Safariland drop leg holsters are very popular with tactical community members. The Safariland 6004 leg holster has been specifically designed to carry your Colt 1911 and similar service sidearm just below hip height.
In a vast offer of nylon holsters, this drop leg holster made out of high-impact polymer and molded to your 1911 is one of the few quality options. Actually, Safariland called this thermoformed material a SafariLaminate while the shroud interior is lined with soft SafariSuede to protect the gun’s sights and finish.
Unlike some other tactical models with unnecessarily complicated designs, the Safariland 6004 SLS holster is renowned for its simplicity, comfort as well as functionality. A model with manufacturing number 6004-536-121 features the SLS (Self Locking System) rotating hood retention while protecting the Condition One (“Cocked and locked”) style of carrying the 1911 and similar style full-sized 1911s with the 5-inch barrel design.
While the 6004 SLS tactical holster requires the user to push the hood down and rotate the hood forward to draw your 1911, it also has greater protection against attempted weapon takeaways.
The Safariland Self-Locking System (SLS) is a single step locking and retention system which is well suited for tactical situations encountered today.
This thigh rig holster comes with a standard double-leg strap providing a stable and secure position on the leg.
2. SafariLand Model 6304 ALS/SLS
Level III Retention Drop-Rig Tactical Holster, 1911 Style
Another leg holster from Safariland designed for a number of 1911 firearms is an advanced version of the Safariland SLS Tactical Holster. It uses a more complex retention and release system that might be better suited to some shooters.
The primary security system is the SLS (Self Locking System) with the rotating hood system. It allows a smoother single-motion draw ensuring no loss of precious seconds during an encounter.
Along with SLS (Self Locking System) found on the 6004 model, the 6304 holster series is additionally secured with ALS technology. As a Safariland’s internal locking device, an Automatic Locking System (ALS) secures the firearm upon holstering providing Level III retention and assuring your weapon stays in position at all times – no matter what.
The SafariLand Model 6304 ALS/SLS Level III Retention Tactical Holster comes with a hood guard, and a double leg strap and accepts ELS, QLS, and MLS accessory attachments for the wearer’s comfort.
Like Safariland’s popular 6004 Tactical holsters, the model 6304 features thermal molded SafariLaminate crafted explicitly for your weapon, and a soft SafariSuede interior which helps to protect the sight and the finish.
This two-stage ALS leg holster is completely operable with the thumb, making it ideal for the tactical situations encountered today.
3. BLACKHAWK SERPA Level 3 Tactical Holster
Blackhawk is one of the most favorite brands in tactical equipment, but it is also one of the most expensive holsters on the market.
Due to their reliability and durability, the Blackhawk drop leg holsters are in high demand by many law enforcement agencies and militaries throughout the planet. However, the Blackhawk Serpa Level 3 holster is also a perfect rig for experienced enthusiasts who are looking for a high-end tactical thigh holster.
While the Level II Serpa holster uses a SERPA Auto Lock release to secure the trigger guard, the new upgraded Level III model boasts a thumb-activated Pivot Guard to lock the gun in at a second point, for additional security. Though it might look too complicated, a trained officer can disengage both safeties and draw the duty gun very quickly.
Additionally, the Level III SERPA holster provides immediate retention and audible click upon re-holstering, making it ideal for high-threat environments and tactical operations.
Blackhawk has developed the multi-point “Y-Harness” strap system, which improved weight distribution and paired with quick-disconnect swivel buckles allowing the holster to be removed quickly.
Besides rubberized leg straps, the Blackhawk Serpa’s rig consists of a belt loop holder and a paddle platform. The paddle will keep your holster closer to your body, whereas the full-length holster body will protect your front and rear sights.
For Serpa’s durability, the most responsible is a blend of carbon fiber and impact-modified nylon available in plain or basketweave finish.
4. Condor Tornado Tactical
Along with top-rated expensive Kydex drop leg holsters, there are quality thigh rigs at pretty affordable price points mostly designed for casual shooters, hunters, or backpackers. Condor Tornado Tactical Holster is the best drop leg holster for the money.
This tactical gear is usually made of a combination of heavy-duty ballistic nylon, Velcro, and padding and it will fit almost any handgun except the smaller-sized pistols. It means that Condor Tactical Leg Holster will not fit only your 1911 pistol, but it will accommodate most medium to full-size semi-automatic pistols (SIG P320 to Desert Eagle) with ease. This best nylon drop leg holster features an internal Velcro strap for adjusting the depth of your sidearm.
The wrap-around design of this holster covers the trigger guard, while the leg straps have rubberized strips to prevent slipping. Besides double nylon straps with plastic polymer thumb buckles, the holster sports a single magazine pouch attached to its front side.
Though basic, this Condor leg holster is also practical with an infinitely adjustable hook and loop system and a decent retention system with a Velcro snap overtop for extra security.
Model Tornado Tactical from a well-established Condor manufacturer is built from 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon fabric. Compared to its counterparts, the Condor leg holster is a little on the bulkier side due to the thick and very stiff material, but it also means this drop leg holster will be able to withstand rigorous use in the field.
Opposite to similarly priced leg holsters, the Condor Tactical has a lot of room for lights or attachments so that it will fit pistols with sights or flashlight mount.
5. UTG Elite Tactical Leg Holster
If you need a universal and very affordable holster with barebones and basic features, this UTG Elite Tactical leg holster will satisfy all your requirements. It is constructed of a super-strong coated PVC outer shell matched by a soft interior lining to protect your classic 1911A1.
This UTG Elite Tactical leg holster features a fully adjustable belt hanger for height and tension to get the kind of height you’re after. Besides the removable belt hanger, the Elite holster sports a non-slip holster pad made of nylon mesh, double straps, and a buckle system, providing this holster will not lose its grip or slip under duress.
As one of the most basic carry thigh rigs, this UTG leg holster has some cons. Though it will fit most medium to large-range pistols, some people find that smaller sub-compacts do not sit well in this holster. It will also not fit handguns properly with lasers and scopes.
However, the biggest drawback refers to lacking a retention system. However, though it makes it unsuitable for duty use, UTG Elite is still an excellent leg holster for informal use on the range or even for hunting and competition use.
While the UTG leg holster sits tight against your body, it has an extra integrated compartment for a spare magazine, and it is suitable for the right and left-hand sides, and yet it comes for a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay.
Finally, Leaper UTG manufactures tactical nylon equipment for hard use that’s not fancy. Still, it’s dependable and affordable, and one that will not disappoint you even when put under harsh circumstances.
6. CISNO Tactical Drop Leg Holster
CISNO Tactical Drop Leg Holster is one of the best budget thigh holsters that mimic the Condor Tornado with the same “burrito” style holster setup. It comes with a fully adjustable wrap-around design and adjustable non-slip leg straps with rubber lining to minimize movement.
On the one hand, by using an internal depth strap with Velcro you can customize how deep your handgun sits in the saddle, but on the other hand, this thigh holster is limited only for right-handed use.
Since it is size fits all holster, Cisno drops leg holster will accommodate compact, medium, and full-frame pistols with ease.
The Cisno Drop Leg holster is made out of lightweight, 1000D ballistic nylon, a quick-release buckle system, and Velcro straps.
While the nylon construction makes this leg holster ideal for outdoor operations, adjustable rubberized straps with Velcro enable a perfect fit, and non-slip design, and provide additional security.
Though of modular design, the Cisno Drop Leg Adjustable Tactical holster doesn’t feature a super reliable method of retention, so it is not the top choice for any serious use. Still, it is recommended for the amateur enthusiast.
Common drop leg holster mistakes
A quality DLH should come with entirely adjustable straps because a properly worn drop-leg holster should sit around the thigh and should not dig or feel uneasy as you move over an extended distance.
Drop thigh straps support leg holsters and they should be worn as high on the leg as possible to prevent movement and to rotate of the holster around the thigh during intensive movement.
In the world of Thigh Rig/Drop Leg holsters, there is not so vast choice of options like in CCW area, but still, there are a respectable amount of picks. If you figured out your needs and activities, then using our guide may greatly facilitate your search for the best drop leg holster for 1911.
Thigh holsters come in handy in a variety of scenarios; let remind you of Angelina Jolie, as adventurer Lara Croft using pair of H&K USPs from her thigh leather holsters. But all joking aside this carry style is the best way to open carry your 1911, as opposed to a hip holster.
On the flip side, open-carry thigh rig holsters are not made to conceal any type of weapon, because there will be times you prefer function over concealment.
Depending on your budget and whether you are a professional, hunter, or armed citizen, the above list might contain an adequate choice for you. In case you didn’t find anything suitable, we suggest using our advice and recommendations about the essential aspects of purchasing the best drop leg pistol holster.