There are two key factors to look for when you seek the best shoulder holster – comfort and performance.
You’ll probably get the comfort you need with a natural leather holster or from one of the new designs using man-made materials. But with this last choice, you’ll need to make sure you get a great fit.
In addition, you’ll want liner protection for your gun and moisture protection for your body. Most of the top-line holsters use high-quality, natural leather and this is one tool you may want to follow the crowd on.
If you’re searching for your first holster of this design, you might also look for “underarm” holsters, which is the term some people use to describe them. A shoulder holster is a great choice for concealed carry, under the coat or jacket, or for open carry when you’re on an assignment.
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- Top 4 Best Shoulder Holsters (Summary)
- What Is a Shoulder Holster and The Benefits of Wearing It
- Pros and Cons of Wearing Shoulder Holsters
- Types of Shoulder Holsters
- How to Choose the Best Shoulder Holster
- 11 Best Shoulder Holsters Reviews and Guide
- 1. Under Control Tactical Shoulder Holster... – Best Price
- 2. Galco Classic Lite Shoulder Holster System...– Best Overall, Horizontal
- 3. Gould & Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster... – Best for Glock
- 4. Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster... – Best Overall, Vertical
- 5. Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder System... – Best Overall
- 6. UTG Deluxe Universal Shoulder Holster... – Best Price
- 7. Linixu...
- 8. Yeeper...
- 9. Aker Leather...
- 10. abcGoodefg...
- 11. Eilin...
- Alternatives to Shoulder Holsters
- How to Wear and Adjust a Shoulder Holster Properly
- How to Clean and Maintain a Shoulder Holster
- Does More Spending Mean More Quality
- Do’s and Don’ts to Do With a Shoulder Holster
- Quick Tips on How to Break In a New Shoulder Holster
Top 4 Best Shoulder Holsters (Summary)
For more detailed and complete product reviews on benefits and features, keep reading.
You will probably be best served by sticking with a recognized and trusted name in quality leather holsters, simply because the leading companies in this field have made adjustments and changes through the decades to offer small, light, but very functional products.
Simplicity is one of the key elements to look for, along with supple leather that doesn’t irritate your body during carrying. It is important to be able to carry your gun around safely as you do your daily activities. If you bought a gun for self-defense purposes and need to carry it around daily, you need a hostler. Although they have been made popular by the movies, they are still not used by many gun owners.
What Is a Shoulder Holster and The Benefits of Wearing It
A shoulder holster is a tool for carrying a handgun. These tools are worn over the shoulder with a pouch for the gun. They are especially known for their versatility as they are available in different shapes and sizes.
They’re also recognized for their practicality, which is why they are worn by law enforcement agents and military personnel. These tools are built to hold handguns so you can carry them around. They are thus very popular for their ability to conceal handguns.
You can wear them for long periods too. This is another feature that enhances the practicality of these tools, especially the belt and premium ankle holster. When at work, you can wear it very comfortably.
Another benefit is the ease of access they allow. The ease of access to a gun for self-defense is particularly important. People that travel long distances and carry their guns will also find these tools particularly beneficial.
While making long trips, it keeps your gun very accessible with minimal discomfort. Shoulder holsters are important for people that live in cold areas and wear jackets, too. They could also be a preferred option for women as they are the most suitable for their body shape.
If you hunt with a heavy handgun, then you will find a holster useful. Also, a thermal scope comes in handy in these situations. Pack everything into a hunting backpack and use shoulder holsters to distribute the weight of the gun between both shoulders to make carrying heavy handguns around easier.
Pros and Cons of Wearing Shoulder Holsters
- Ease of use: You can easily draw your gun if it’s kept in a shoulder holster which is carried out and always within reach.
- Comfort: Shoulder holsters especially trump the other types of holsters in terms of comfort. Although hip holsters can be comfortable, shoulder holsters are better for long term use in different positions. When sitting for long periods, they are the most comfortable options. They are available of different shapes and sizes is another indication of comfort.
- Versatility: Apart from being available in different sizes, shoulder holsters are the only option for carrying guns with long barrels on your person.
- Safety: Safety concerns have been raised regarding the use of shoulder holsters. When a gun is drawn from a holster, bystanders could be injured.
- Accessibility: Accessibility is a disadvantage in that it could be easily accessed by an attacker. Additionally drawing from a shoulder holster may also be slower than other forms of holsters.
- Concealment: Because they are worn over everyday clothes, you need to wear a jacket over your everyday clothes to conceal a shoulder holster. If you live in an area where it gets very hot, you may struggle with wearing a garment over your clothes to conceal your shoulder holster.
Types of Shoulder Holsters
There are three types of shoulder holsters that are differentiated according to the direction that the gun is pointed — vertical, horizontal and 45° degrees.
The differences between the types of holsters depend on the direction they face. Their features are highlighted below:
Vertical Shoulder Holster
This holster lies vertically against the body. Guns can be placed-in an upside-down direction or be directed downwards. When the gun is in the upside-down direction, the muzzle faces up.
Vertical shoulder holsters are preferred for reasons such as the ease of draws — when the muzzle is facing downwards — and the enhanced concealment when the muzzle faces upwards.
Horizontal Shoulder Holster
Guns lie horizontally in these holsters, making it quick to draw a gun from it. However, this isn’t the best option when it comes to concealment since you can’t properly hide a gun with a horizontal shoulder holster, except for a small one. Therefore, it’s most suitable for small handguns.
When drawing a gun from this holster, bystanders are particularly at risk. Thus, this type is also suited for persons that would be very careful when drawing their gun.
45° Shoulder Holster
With this type of shoulder holster, guns are placed pointing upwards at an angle of 45°. It allows for proper concealment of revolvers and you can also easily draw your gun when it is in this type of holster.
How to Choose the Best Shoulder Holster
The best shoulder holster will also have a magazine pouch and will work with a range of handguns. Look for X straps in the back for comfort and make sure you get a holster that allows size adjustment. Many manufacturers of the top-of-the-line holsters have also accommodated for right-hand use or left-hand use, but make sure your choice takes this into account.
The need for adequate adjustment can’t be over-emphasized. Your holster should provide for changes in weight, clothing and so on. In fact, the best holster will have several adjustment points for maximum versatility. Your choice should also have a thumb break (retaining strap) as a safety device, so the weapon can’t be drawn unintentionally. This keeps the weapon more secure as you engage in physical activity.
In most cases, this retaining strap uses the same material (leather or nylon) as the sheath. Some holsters have a removable thumb break, held by a metal snap. Look closely at holsters as you shop so you know exactly which features you’re buying.
An adjustable thumb break can be a distinct advantage because the holster can accommodate different firearms. This might be a way to save some money on firearm accessories since it means you don’t have to buy a different holster for each handgun.
If you’re a policeman or military personnel, you may want to take a bit of extra care when choosing your holster, so it works well under your jacket or blazer. It’s essential to find the most comfortable design and fit so you can use it on a daily basis. As mentioned earlier, the choice of material is up to the individual. Allow time to break in a new, leather product.
Experts say you should consider certain factors before buying a shoulder holster. These factors have been confirmed by experts to determine their functionality.
Safety is the number one concern, like when you’re getting the best biometric gun safe. How safe a holster is will be determined by how easy it is to draw. The level of concealment is another indication of its safety. Furthermore, the safety level may differ according to one’s experience with handguns in general.
One of the key considerations of a shoulder holster is the comfort it provides. Since you will be wearing it for extended periods, you should confirm that it will be comfortable for you. Think about the different activities you’ll do while wearing it, such as driving, and make sure it will work.
Be sure to also consider the type of guns you own. The comfort of shoulder holsters varies with the gun, especially as regards barrel length.
To ensure that shoulder holsters deliver the maximum level of comfort, manufacturers include features such as the use of softer materials in the design. Paddings may also be included to ensure maximum comfort.
If you buy an uncomfortable shoulder holster, you will find yourself adjusting it in different situations. Adjusting a shoulder holster when you change positions, for example, will notify people around you that you’re wearing one. The comfort of a shoulder holster will also determine its level of concealment.
Since you would be carrying your gun around, you should be concerned about the adjustments. A good shoulder holster should allow adjustments to accommodate changes in positions.
Adjustments are also necessary for accommodating different body sizes. Persons with body sizes in both extremes should also be particularly interested in confirming the adjustment.
Accessories accompanying a shoulder holster are another important factor to consider before buying one. The accessories that could accompany a shoulder holster include cuff pouches, magazine pouches and knife sheaths. When considering accessories, think about where you’ll be using the shoulder holster. Will you bring it hunting? Don’t forget to bring a quality AA flashlight or to recharge batteries of your flashlight as well.
You should pay attention to the availability of accessories based on your preference. If you don’t want accessories, then the extra additions may be a burden.
The durability of a shoulder holster is a factor that determines its overall worth. Shoulder holsters are items that should be made for long-term use.
You shouldn’t intend to change them regularly. Thus, you should find ones made with durable materials, like leather, PVC and cotton canvas. When searching for durable shoulder holsters, you should also check out the comments of users regarding their durability.
One of the main reasons the average person gets a shoulder holster is to conceal their handgun. Therefore, you want a tool that will be able to serve its purpose well. You should ensure that your preferred shoulder holster will conceal your gun properly in a variety of positions.
Horizontal shoulder holsters provide a high level of concealment but mostly for smaller guns. Vertical ones provide concealment as well as comfort. 45° shoulder holsters are also known for concealment as well as comfort. Be sure to confirm how well the holster you’re looking at will hide your type of gun.
When you begin shopping for a shoulder holster, you will find the market saturated. Consider the design when shopping.
Shoulder holster designs include those that are most suitable for left-handed people as well as those suitable for right-handed persons. You should consider your hand strength when choosing a product for your needs. If you’re not sure of the handedness of the holster, you can always ask.
11 Best Shoulder Holsters Reviews and Guide
1. Under Control Tactical Shoulder Holster... – Best Price
This highly rated, popular shoulder holster will probably be your best option if the price is the key factor. It’s marketed as having “universal fit” for most handguns and is made from rugged nylon for long-term use.
It’s waterproof and lightweight, and the company gives you a 100% satisfaction guarantee. With this Under Control Tactical holster, you get such “military” features as adjustable shoulder straps, two additional pouches, and universal fit for handguns and revolvers of various sizes.
If you’re looking for a holster using man-made nylon, this one gets high marks for body comfort and for working with most guns.
2. Galco Classic Lite Shoulder Holster System...– Best Overall, Horizontal
In the world of high-quality leather holsters, this is a well-known name. The manufacturer has been around for a few decades. If any company has perfected the shoulder holster, it might be Galco.
The Classic Lite is indeed light and small, yet it holds your weapon securely in a horizontal position. Made from top-shelf, soft leather, you’ll find this a perfect choice for everyday carry and for concealed carry when the situation dictates.
This holster provides a single magazine pouch and works with a variety of handguns. But, when you shop for Galco leather, make sure you get the model that’s ideal for your guns. The Classic Lite has the necessary X straps for comfort and adjustment. It’s certainly one of the finest natural-leather products available, but you should be prepared to pay for the leather and the quality.
3. Gould & Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster... – Best for Glock
This outstanding shoulder holster from Gould & Goodrich holds your gun horizontally, providing for a fast draw. It’s completely adjustable to provide great comfort and comes with a back swivel for best positioning. The Gold Line gives you two magazine pouches or holders for your speed loaders on the opposite side.
You can depend on getting world-class quality, as the company has been producing excellent, natural-leather holsters for quite some time. This particular model is intended for Glock series, but the company also makes Gold Line products for other handgun models.
As with other top-shelf holsters, you should plan to pay a bit extra for the leather and the outstanding design. This product gets high marks for weapon fit, for comfort, and for an exceptional look, just like most of the top-rated crossbows reviewed.
4. Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster... – Best Overall, Vertical
If you’re personal tastes or habits call for a quality, vertical-position holster, you might want to give serious consideration to the Galco Vertical.
As is the case with the horizontal design, this product uses many of the features of their Classic line and combines them with the vertical design. It’s been used successfully in a number of military settings and accommodates almost any body shape or size.
This one is ideal for 1911, 5-inch Colt, Springfield, Kimber, and offers swivel connectors and clover shape. Because it’s made by Galco, you can add a number of accessories produced to work with their holsters. Available in black or tan leather.
5. Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder System... – Best Overall
A review of the best shoulder holster wouldn’t be complete without including the Miami Classic. Though this specific model is made for Glock series, you can get this same line for other handgun models.
Many lesser-known companies imitate the design details of this holster, for good reason. It’s proven to be a favorite with professionals in many locations around the world.
Features include a spider harness connected by a clover-shaped swivel, for a great fit and best comfort. Galco uses saddle-grade leather for this model available in tan or black. You get two magazine pouches with the Classic II.
6. UTG Deluxe Universal Shoulder Holster... – Best Price
As is the situation with the Under Control holster mentioned earlier, this would be a great choice if you’re looking for decent quality at a low price. These two factors (quality, price) have made the UTG Deluxe one of the most popular should holsters available. You’ll give it high marks for function, especially because of the price.
It’s probably not going to stand up to long-term, hard use like a top-quality leather product, but it will be just fine for someone who wants to get started with a solid shoulder holster.
Features include universal fit for many handgun types, magazine pouch, padded harness. It can be configured for right-hand or left-hand use.
Linixu Shoulder Holster is designed for deep concealment. It keeps your weapon flat to your body and barely visible. This way, you do not need to wear heavy clothing such as a suit or a jacket. This holster can be worn under regular clothes and still be concealed.
This product is suitable for long-term wear as it distributes the weight of your weapon on your shoulders and across your back. You can wear it all day without feeling any side effects.
It is made of elastic material and this means it can be adjusted to fit any body type and size. It also has extra padding that helps to protect your gun from moisture and also increases comfort.
This product has handles and a handgun retention snap. With this item, you can be assured of quick access to your gun at any time.
- Makes weapons barely visible under regular clothes
- Adjustable and comfortable
- Protects weapon from perspiration
- Material might bunch up when it is worn
Yeeper Shoulder Holster combines comfort and functionality to give you a product that safely conceals your weapon while being comfortable. It has a universal design that can fit most guns.
All the parts of this holster are adjustable and they can be made to fit any type of body structure. This product can be worn for a long time without causing any adverse effects.
It features soft internal lining that protects your gun from sweat and other moisture that can alter the finish. It is easily concealed under regular clothes.
Velcro straps are affixed to the holster and they allow it to be attached to a belt or vest for optimal hold.
- Universal design
- Suitable for long-term wear
- Can be attached to a belt with in-built Velcro straps
- Stitching o might come apart after some time
Aker Leather Shoulder Holster is made with high-quality and durable vegetable-tanned cowhide material. It is strong but flexible enough to be comfortable for the wearer.
It has a special harness design that fits against the contours of the upper body. This feature makes your weapon flat and concealed when worn under normal clothes.
This holster has tension screws on its shoulder strap that can be adjusted according to the preference of the wearer. It can fit a variety of chest sizes, up to 62 inches.
It is made specifically for the right-hand draw and can be used with a large number of gun types.
- Made of high-quality materials
- Harness design makes it concealable
- Can be adjusted to fit different chest sizes
- Might not fit well on wide shoulders
AbcGoodefg Holster is specially designed to hold dual two-way radios. It has two radio pouches and hangs under both arms with adjustable straps that make it comfortable for both men and women.
This product can be worn both over and under clothing. An antenna keeper and a microphone keeper are attached to the Velcro lapel, which prevents bulging when it is worn under clothing.
It has four pouches located on the rear that can hold other necessary equipment like pens, flashlights and batteries. It has a simple design with a lot of functional features.
Its special suspension system will ensure that your holster will not bounce or swing with your body movements. It can be used during covert and high-pressure situations.
- Hold two radios in addition to other essentials
- Adjustable straps
- Suspension system ensures that the holster stays put
- Might be too bulky
Eilin Shoulder Holster is made specifically for professional use. It is heavy and sturdy for optimal performance in any kind of situation.
This holster can carry two handguns and it is suitable for both left and right-hand use. The gun pouches have snap button closures that provide extra security.
It is made of high-grade polyester with PVC coating. It is strong and lightweight for a sturdy and comfortable feel. It has straps with which it can be affixed to tactical utility belts.
This shoulder harness is well padded and waterproof. It has a design that can fit the most commonly used weapons.
- Suitable for both left and right-hand use
- Made of sturdy and durable materials
- Well-padded for comfort
- Might bounce with body movements
Alternatives to Shoulder Holsters
Holsters differ according to where they can be placed. If you’re not sure if you want a shoulder holster, consider alternatives highlighted below. Here are some of the alternatives:
You can attach an IWB holster to your belt with a clip. You can also place it along your waist. When you wear an IWB holster around your waist, you need to wear bigger clothes to achieve proper concealment.
OWB holsters are worn on the waist, outside your pants. This type is known for the level of comfort it provides.
This type of holster got its name from the fact that the gun is placed between pieces of materials. Pancake holsters also have loops.
Paddle holsters are worn on the inside of pants. They are attached to the pants with a duckbill or paddle. Paddle holsters are especially known for their ease of use.
The small-of-back holsters are also worn inside your clothing. They are worn underneath pants in the small of the back. Note that there is safety concern with this type of holster — you can injure your back if you fall on it.
Appendix holsters are known for concealment and ease of draw. It is particularly easy to draw from an appendix holster because the gun is located between the hip and belly button. Guns are also well concealed when they are placed in these holsters.
Pocket holsters fit into front or rear pockets. They are also most suitable for small guns and conceal such guns well. These holsters are very popular.
Ankle holsters are worn on the ankle. You should note that they are suitable for small guns which serve as backup options. Guns placed in an ankle holster may be exposed when you sit down. Walking may also be uncomfortable with an ankle holster.
How to Wear and Adjust a Shoulder Holster Properly
You might be surprised how often a law-enforcement, military professional, or a hobby shooter use a shoulder holster incorrectly. The same can be true for some other tools. Always check reviews of military flashlights before purchasing one.
For example, some veterans of these agencies have reported seeing a handgun in a holster pointed straight toward the person standing in line behind them. Even with a horizontal holster, there is a way to make sure the gun is in a safe position. If you can’t adjust the pouch angle, you might want to look at a vertical-position holster.
You might also see a new user with an incorrectly adjusted holster, which allows the weapon pouch to bounce around near the hip or waist, instead of being secure somewhere under the arm. The best holsters provide plenty of adjustment options so you can avoid this. Make sure your holster fits snugly but comfortably, and use the tie downs on the sides if you have them.
When you first put your holster on and make adjustments, make sure it’s perfectly centered on your back. This is the way the product is designed, so it will work best when the initial position is correct.
It’s natural to experience a bit of difficulty wearing a shoulder holster after buying it initially. If you practice wearing and adjusting it, over time, you will become excellent at it. Do follow the steps highlighted below when wearing and adjusting your shoulder holster:
Step 1 – Put in the gun
The first step to wearing a shoulder holster is putting the magazine and gun in the right place. That way, other steps will involve wearing the holster and adjusting it.
Step 2 – Wear the holster
You should then proceed to put on the holster. When wearing the holster, the Glock compartment should be placed on the opposite side of your dominant side. For example, if you are right-handed, as you wear the holster, ensure that the Glock compartment is on the left side. If you keep more than one gun in the holster, both should be on the opposite side to your dominant side.
Step 3 – Adjust the straps
The proper placement of the straps determines the level of comfort. The proper placement of a shoulder holster includes the crossing of the straps placed high where the straps cross should be located just below the collar and a bit above the shoulder blades.
Step 4 – Adjust the holster
You can now adjust the holster. Adjusting a holster should be aimed at the most minimal level of concealment. You can achieve the necessary level of concealment by ensuring that it is placed at an appropriate distance away from your armpit and that the weight on both sides is properly balanced.
When the Glock is 2 cm under your armpit, it is typically very comfortable. As regards achieving a weight balance, you can balance the weight of the Glock with the weight of magazines. Concealment and comfort should be the focus while adjusting the holster. The adjustment tool of shoulder holsters differs. For some, it is a belt-like too. Holsters also have snaps as adjustment tools.
You should also note the position of the magazine compartment when adjusting a shoulder holster. It is most suitable for the magazine carrier to be under the shooting arm for ease of access. Tilting the magazine carrier also improves its accessibility.
Step 5 – Tie-down the holster
The step is completely optional. However, it helps to stabilize the holster on its sides and enhances comfort. Tie-down the holster by attaching the tie-downs to a belt. The tie-down step is the final step in wearing and adjusting a shoulder holster.
You can repeat these steps as many times as possible until you completely get it.
How to Clean and Maintain a Shoulder Holster
Certain factors will determine the most appropriate method for cleaning a shoulder holster. These factors include the material with which it was made. Thus, apart from the general advice given here, you should refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manuals for more details.
Materials for making shoulder holster may allow machine washing. If it does not allow machine washing, you can develop an appropriate cleaning routine. The most important thing is to seek a manufacturer’s advice before applying chemicals in cleaning a shoulder holster.
Irrespective of the material with which a hostler was made, cleaning and maintenance are necessary to extend its lifespan.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
If you carry your gun around, you need a high-quality shoulder holster that will serve its core purposes of concealment and safety. A high-quality shoulder holster will cost good money. However, there are budget-friendly options with impressive features. Although shoulder holster could come at a notable price, you should focus on the cost to value ratio while making a choice.
Do’s and Don’ts to Do With a Shoulder Holster
- Ensure proper placement and concealment and maintaining safety while drawing your Glock.
- Ensure you place the gun in the right location for ease of access.
- Don’t wear a shoulder holster that is not your size because of concealment issues that will arise.
Quick Tips on How to Break In a New Shoulder Holster
A new shoulder holster is designed to be very fitting. Thus, the only way to break into a new product is to wear it continuously. As you wear the holster continuously, the fibers will slacken and it will be less fitting and more comfortable.
As often as you get a chance, wear your shoulder holster and you will break it in no time.
How do you know a shoulder holster will fit?
The size of shoulder holsters plays a major role in determining the overall user experience. You should pay attention to whether it will be a proper fit.
The sizing chart gives an idea of the fit. You should also seek firsthand information from people that have used the shoulder holster. The guide provided by the manufacturer may not provide all the information you need.
What types of guns can a shoulder holster fit?
Shoulder holsters are designed to suit certain guns better than others. The design determines the types of guns that will fit. Manufacturers typically add information about the kind of guns that will be suitable.
You could also seek the counsel of users of your preferred holster on the suitability for your gun. Otherwise, you could ask other persons that own your gun type and use shoulder holsters.
What is the best shoulder holster for 1911?
One can choose from any of the three types of shoulder holsters for 1911. The overall choice is to be dependent on factors that include those that have been mentioned above. These features will determine the cost-to-value ratio.
When was the shoulder holster invented?
The history of shoulder holsters has been traced to the 1870s. Shoulder holsters became quite popular because of the concealment achieved. During World War II, shoulder holsters were particularly used for military personnel in action.
Are shoulder holsters safe?
Yes, shoulder holsters are safe. The concealment of guns particularly makes them safe. However, attention should be paid to bystanders while drawing a gun from a shoulder holster. To improve the safety of a shoulder holster, you could also use a retention device.
To summarize: You can save a lot of money when you buy a nylon shoulder holster, but you may be buying one again in a couple of years, simply because the material may not stand up to hard use as long as natural leather. But to get the look and feel of great leather, you’re going to spend quite a bit more. That said, any of the products reviewed will deliver great performance. But, you must make sure you’re getting the right holster for your gun model (unless it’s a universal design).
Many individuals prefer a shoulder holster over a belt holster, for personal reasons. It’s obviously best for concealed carry and works well for professionals who wear night-vision goggles to see better, a blazer, suit or other jackets during work hours. This keeps the weapon and magazines safely out of sight and out of the way until you need to access them to protect yourself with a survival knife.
If you spend a lot of time sitting, you need a shoulder holster to conceal your gun and keep it safe. You will find a lot of options as you begin shopping. Do consider the important factors, such as those highlighted above, in determining the cost-to-value ratio of the options you consider. Shoulder holsters are aimed at concealment and comfort. Ensure that you choose the option that is most comfortable to use and conceals your gun properly.
You can get an outstanding product without having to compromise on something designed decades ago. Look closely for the features you need and give plenty of thought to your personal comfort when making this investment. Buy a product that’s well-made, comfortable to wear and adjustable. You’ll be glad you did.
Photos from: VadimDem / depositphotos.com, membio / depositphotos.com, AllaSerebrina / depositphotos.com and michaklootwijk / depositphotos.com.