The gun holster is a special kind of accessory used to carry firearms like handguns. It is designed in such a way that it provides maximum protection to the gun and at the same time facilitates easy withdrawal in times of emergency. Different kinds of holsters are available but it is very important to choose the correct type. Delay and difficulty in accessibility of the gun, its loss or even damage may prove to be costly in a critical situation and may even result in the loss of lives.
The gun holster is designed in such a way that the user can withdraw or replace the weapon from it using only one hand. To facilitate such single hand use one should select a holster, which is made of stiff and tough material that would allow it to retain its shape and prevent it from collapsing once the gun is removed from it. However if the material is very stiff then the holster might crack or break under pressure. Traditionally, leather is used for the manufacture of gun holsters, as leather can be made attractive by dyeing and embossing and is at the same time durable and sturdy. Another material used is ballistic nylon, which is thick, stiff and at the same time resistant to he elements. The use of kydex, a kind of molded plastic is gradually becoming popular.
There are different ways of wearing a gun holster. The user may attach it to his waistband or belt or clip it to his clothing. He may even fit it into his pocket. It is most convenient to wear a holster near the upper thigh, waist or chest, where the user can reach easily. However people do wear holsters even inside the pants, near the ankle and behind the back, if the main object is concealment.
The second world war brought in the use of the “string holster” which has a chord harnessed to the loop of the belt under the waistband behind which the gun muzzle is inserted and concealed.
There are four main categories of gun holsters, namely, duty holsters, military or tactical holsters, concealment holsters and sporting holsters.
Security personnel and police officers in uniform and soldiers don duty holsters. Since the gun is carried very openly its security is of utmost importance. So they often use something called a retention holster. These holsters have straps, which keep the gun in place it prevent the enemy from wresting it away. It is this retention property, which sets apart duty holster from all other kinds of holsters. Uniformed personnel wear duty holster on a gun belt, which is also known as Sam Brown Belt.
A duty holster worn on the thigh is known as a tactical duty holster. So it is a common practice among police and military officers to use holsters, which are compatible with “Modular Lightweight Load –carrying Equipment” Or MOLLE. Duty holsters are made of nylon, kydex and even leather having different texture or finish like plain, glossy or basketweave. Since concealment is not the main issue a lot of attention is paid to its appearance. It is the department, which decides which texture a particular officer will wear. Normally glossy finish is selected for parade and the officer wears the holster on his stronger side. An example of duty holster is the Berns- Martin.
Law and security personnel wear plastic or nylon military holsters. The main aim or focus during designing and manufacture is camouflage. Their pattern should match the uniform of the user. The old flap design is sometimes still used but it may prove to be cumbersome making drawing of weapon difficult, hence endangering lives. However this design provides greater protection to the gun. Retention in military holster is not as important as in duty holster.
Plainclothes police personnel use concealment holster, which are light and compact and designed to be inconspicuous as its chief object is concealment. The most common types of concealment holsters are the belt and paddle holsters. Other types are pocket holster, the bellyband and fanny pack. As the holster is carried unobtrusively either in the pocket or behind the coat or near the ankle it is very important to protect the firearm from perspiration. The comfort of the user is also taken into consideration. As the gun is carried in close proximity to the body it may cause abrasion. Ankle holsters are likely to cause discomfort, as the user has to bear the weight on one of his legs. Small caliber guns are best suited for this type and the weapon is carried on the inner part of the leg of the weaker side. It however spares the user from wearing a belt and carrying load on his hips. The holster is kept in position by a calf strap and is made of molded plastic nylon or leather.
Pancake holster is the most popular kind of concealment holster. It is tethered to the belt with holster loops. It is carried on the stronger side around the hip.
Small of the back holster is another type, which too is harnessed to the posterior side of the belt. However though very stylish the user finds it difficult to sit comfortably and a fall on the back may result in serious spinal injury and even paralysis.
Cross draw holster belts tare worn on the weaker side. The user has to extend his strong hand across the body to pull out the gun. In doing so he brings many people in the line of fire.
Paddle holsters do not require the belt. It is slid between the body and trousers. However being unattached the gun is not so secure.
Hunting or sporting holster is used in hunting and sporting activities. A wide range of this kind of holster is available in the market, like old-fashioned ones used for cowboy activities or those with maximum accessibility and even ones, which provide utmost protection. Shoulder holsters eliminate the discomfort of having to wear cumbersome belts and also ensure withdrawal of gun in an unobtrusive manner.
The users safety and security in intrinsically connected with the gun holster. When purchasing one, he needs to focus on its durability, accessibility and even comfort. Any flaw may cost the user his life.