A holster is an essential accessory that will allow you to comfortably and safely carry a pistol on your person's. But with so many different holsters available for sale, how do you know which one to choose?
Holsters are available in a wide variety of materials, including leather, fake/faux leather, nylon, plastic, Kydex, or a combination thereof. Leather holsters are often preferred when carrying a concealed firearm, as they are more discreet and easier to hide. Kydex and plastic, however, are waterproof and resistant to wear and tear. Regardless of which holster you choose, make sure the material is stiff enough so that pressing against the trigger guard won't result in an accidental discharge.
Where do you want your pistol to be located on your body? Some holsters are designed for use outside the waistband, whereas others are designed for use inside the waistband (great for concealed carrying). You can even chest holsters, ankle holsters, small of the back (SOB) holsters, and purse holsters. Outside the waistband holsters are arguably the safest, as the gun presses against your body to keep the barrel pointed dowards.
Aside from the main area in which the pistol is placed, many holsters feature additional side compartments. You might be wondering why you would need extra storage space in a holster. Well, these compartments are typically designed for extra magazines or accessories like a rail-mounted tactical flashlight or laser sight. Even if your holster doesn't have extra compartments such as this, however, you can always purchase a belt-looped magazine holder to wear in conjunction with it.
A good holster should allow you to draw your pistol safely and efficiently without snagging any fabric. Whether it's a waistband, chest, ankle, or even a purse holster, drawing from it should come as natural, fluid motion with no hiccups. With that said, it's important to remember that some holsters will affect the direction and way in which you draw. A chest holster, for instance, will likely require a cross draw in which a right-handed shooter pulls the gun from the left side of his or her chest.
Check the Manufacturer's Website
When in doubt, check the website of your gun's manufacturer to see if it contains recommendations for holsters. Ruger, for instance, has a convenience “holster chart” published online, revealing a list of its pistols along with compatible holsters. Not all gun manufacturers have this information listed on their website, but you can usually find at least some guidance in regards to their recommended holsters.
Choosing a holster is a big decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. It's an extension of your pistol, and should be treated as such. Refer to the tips listed here to find the perfect holster for your needs.
* Image used by creative commons license, credited to Ibro Palic.