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A great American success story, DeSantis GunHide was launched almost 50 years ago when Gene DeSantis made his first holster by hand at his kitchen table. Today, American-made, hand-crafted and family owned and operated remain hallmarks of DeSantis GunHide.
A handgun holster is a device used to hold or restrict the undesired movement of a handgun, most commonly in a location where it can be easily withdrawn for immediate use. Holsters are often attached to a belt or waistband, but they may be attached to other locations of the body (e.g., the ankle holster). Holsters vary in the degree to which they secure or protect the firearm. Some holsters for law enforcement officers have a strap over the top of the holster to make the handgun less likely to fall out of the holster or harder for another person to grab the gun. Some holsters have a flap over the top to protect the gun from the elements.
Holsters are generally designed to offer protection to the handgun, secure its retention, and provide ready access to it. The need for ready access is often at odds with the need for security and protection, so users must consider their needs. Choosing the right balance of security and availability can be very important, especially in the case of a defensive weapon holster, where failure to access the weapon quickly or damage or loss of the weapon due to insufficient retention or protection could leave the user inadequately defended.
One of the most important functions of a holster is trigger coverage. Many choose to carry a firearm with a round in the chamber so that it is immediately available to use. Although some gun users believe this to be dangerous, practically all modern handguns are designed to be carried this way, with safety features that are designed to prevent the weapon from discharging unless the trigger is pulled. The use of a holster that blocks access to the trigger effectively mitigates this risk. Holsters specifically designed for the model of firearm tend to perform best in this respect. Likewise, those constructed of more rigid materials better prevent manipulation of the trigger when holstered.
Holsters are generally designed to be used with one hand, allowing the handgun to be removed and/or replaced with the same hand. To be able to return the handgun to its holster one-handed, the holster must be made from stiff material that holds its shape so that the holster won't collapse when the object is no longer inside to give it support.
Holsters are generally attached to a person's belt or waistband or clipped to another article of clothing. Some holsters, such as ankle holsters, have integrated support. Other holsters may fit inside a pocket, to add stability and protection to the handgun, keeping it more reliably secure and accessible than if it were in the pocket alone.
Holsters are generally worn in a location where they can be readily accessible. Common locations are: at the waist (outside (OWB) or inside (IWB) the waistband), behind the back (small of back (SOB), at the ankle, at the chest (in an elastic belly band or shoulder holster), or on the upper thigh. Holsters are sometimes contained in an external bag, such as a purse or fanny pack.
Since holsters are typically made from fairly stiff yet tough materials, there are a limited number of common choices. The traditional material, particularly for handgun holsters, is leather. It has an attractive appearance and can be dyed in many colors and/or embossed with elaborate designs for cosmetic reasons.
Holster designs for firearms cover a wide range of shapes, materials, and retention/release mechanisms, from simple leather pouches hanging from a belt to highly protective holsters with flaps that cover the entire handgun, to highly adjustable competition holsters that hold the handgun at a precise position and release instantly when activated. The wide range of types indicates the highly varied circumstances in which holsters are used, and the varying preferences of the users.
Holsters can be divided into four broad categories by use: duty holsters, worn by uniformed law enforcement and peace officers and security personnel; tactical holsters, worn by military, security, and law enforcement personnel in certain situations; concealment holsters, worn by plainclothes peace officers and private persons; and sporting holsters, worn for shooting sports and hunting.
Duty holsters are designed to be carried openly, so concealment is not an issue, but retention and appearance are. Duty holsters can be made of leather, nylon, or plastic; they are designed to be attached to a duty belt, and worn on the dominant side. Duty holsters are generally only found for service and compact size handguns as opposed to small subcompact handguns as these are generally only used for concealed carry backup guns.
The primary characteristic that often distinguishes duty holsters from all other holster designs is retention. Modern law enforcement duty holsters are available with varying levels of retention security (i.e. Level I, Level II, Level II+, Level III, etc). Some security features are passive (such as retention screws, decoy straps, or hood guards), while others are active and require deliberate manipulation by the officer during the draw (such as traditional thumbreak snaps). While a higher level of retention will make it more difficult for a suspect to take a holstered handgun from an officer, it may also reduce the speed and ease with which an officer may draw his handgun (especially if the security features are active and not passive). Therefore, when selecting a duty holster, an officer may be forced to find a compromise of speed and retention that he/she is comfortable with.
Tactical/military holsters are usually made of nylon or plastic. They may be made in a camouflage pattern to match the wearer's uniform. They are often of a drop-leg design and offer a retention device. Some military holsters still use the old flap design (also referred to as a \"suicide\" or \"widow maker\" holster, which is cumbersome and slow on the draw, but provides greater protection for the holstered firearm against the elements).
There is some overlap between duty holsters, tactical holsters, and military holsters. Weapon retention is generally not as important a consideration in military use as it is in law enforcement due to the differences in their work environments.
Concealment holsters are designed to be easily concealed, as well as lightweight and unobtrusive. They are generally designed for subcompact and compact handguns since they are easier to conceal. Concealment holsters are designed to be worn under clothing, such as on the belt under a coat, under pants in an ankle holster, or in a trouser pocket. Since the holster is held close to the body, comfort is important, and concealment holsters often have broad surfaces in contact with the user's body, to distribute the pressure across a wider area and prevent abrasion of the skin. Protecting the handgun from the user's perspiration is often an important consideration in such carry locations. Often the outside of the holster is broader, to help break up the outline of the handgun and prevent printing, where the outline of the gun can be seen through clothing. For pocket holsters, the external flat side is often the side with a nap, or rougher surface, to hold the holster in place when drawing the pistol.
Sporting holsters cover a wide spectrum of styles: maximum access for fast draw shooting, highly adjustable holsters used in IPSC and pin shooting, old-fashioned holsters used in Cowboy Action Shooting, high retention, maximum protection holsters used for handgun hunting, and simple holsters used to hold a handgun while out plinking. Like any sporting equipment, sporting holsters evolve to maximize the benefits given the rules of the game, where applicable, so the competitive sports have the most specialized holsters.
Holsters for hunting can be unique if they are designed to carry large handguns or to make allowances for telescopic sights. Large handguns are often carried in holsters that are slung across the shoulder, and removed from the body before the handgun is drawn. Slow access is acceptable in this case because the handgun is not expected to be used for defensive purposes.
Other, specialized types of holsters are designed to be mounted inside briefcases, day planners, purses and filofaxes, or even articles of clothing, including Tank top & the bra.
Custom leather workers typically focus on one area or two in leather work. Holster makers are those who usually stay put in their respective field. Any and all pistols, whether compact, mid-size or large hand-guns are sheathed in leather in a process that molds to the firearm, and hardens to a stout, strong and long lasting holster. These can be made into inside waist band, strong side, cross-over, shoulder holster, chest holster, pocket and inside the shirt. These holsters are made for competition shooters, recreational, security and law enforcement.
A newer generation of manufacturing has come to the forefront for holster manufacturing, using things like Kydex, 3D printing, and also injection molding. These newer techniques provide for longer lasting products that are more easily adapted to different handgun combinations including lights, lasers, suppressors, sights and optics that are commonly installed on more modern handguns. Leather holsters are still very popular in many circles of competition, concealed carry, and outdoor activities, but the plastic holsters are outpacing leather holsters year over year due to their increased number of mounting options as well as the aforementioned benefits of modularity.
In the past I only carried G17 in winter as the grip was too difficult to conceal on my frame without winter shirt/jacket. I could conceal the G19 in a lesser holster during hotter months, but not ideal as occasional grip print occurred. Now I can carry the G17 in summer attire. 153554b96e