Shoulder holsters are great. A favorite of 80’s cop shows, British super villains, and professional drivers everywhere the best shoulder holster has advantages almost no other method of carry can offer.
However, they aren’t for everyone and 99% of people who carry will find shoulder holsters offer significant disadvantages compares to holsters carried at the waist. If you think you’ll need a shoulder holster you must absolutely buy a high-quality holster.
What is a Shoulder Holster?
A shoulder holster is one of the best ways to move your gun off your belt but keep it very accessible. It is great for people who sit a lot, wear formal attire,or at least a jacket all the time or will be very active while wearing their gun.
Jobs that suit carrying a pistol in a shoulder holster include; professional drivers for limo services or Uber, professional bodyguards, undercover security or officers, and executives who carry concealed.
You can find cheap shoulder holsters, but don’t buy anything that isn’t very high quality. It needs to be durable, it needs to be comfortable and it must hold the gun securely, retain any adjustments you make and ride in a comfortable position.
The cheap nylon monstrosities amount to something between a horse halter and medieval torture device, expect to spend over $100 for a quality shoulder holster. Cheaper offerings exist but they’re rarely worth even considering.
The last thing you want is blisters on your underarms, the adjustments sliding around and your gun sagging or falling out of place because you bought a cheap strip of webbing with a buckle and thumb snap to hold the gun in.
Best Guns for Shoulder Holsters
The shoulder holster is one of the most forgiving holsters you can use. Spreading the weight of a gun over your shoulders makes carrying full sized automaticas and revolvers very easy and doesn’t weigh down your pants. Spreading the weight across your shoulders also means that you can carry spare ammunition and magazines quite easily.
Even full sized pistols such as the colt 1911, beretta 92 or Smith and Wesson Police Special, guns that you might not normally carry concealed inside the waistband, can be securely and comfortably carried in a shoulder holster.
Here are our five suggestions for the five best shoulder holsters on the market.
Best Shoulder Holster on the Market Reviews
1.) Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder System - for Sig-Sauer P229, P228, P226
This is by far the best shoulder holster for concealed carry. It is the perfect balance of bulk, durability, retention, and ammo carrying ability that will last a long time with a little care here and there.
You can count on this holster to carry your gun no matter what. The holster has enough retention to hold the gun without the thumb break but you should always use it anyway to be sure. The retention is adjustable for both the holster and double magazine carrier that comes with the system.
The whole system is held together with clover shaped swivels that move with your body and as you move your arms. Those connections also make the entire system fully modular.
You can buy different holsters, different magazine carriers, hand cuff carriers, knife sheaths, speed strip or speed loader pouches, anything you could want to carry on this system.
This very comfortable shoulder holster is excellent and is used by military personnel, law enforcement, and professional security guards for concealed carry and is an excellent holster and by far the best blend of features you could hope for in a shoulder holster.
2.) Galco Jackass Rig Shoulder System for 1911
Galco made a throwback to the original company, The Jackass Leather Company, and this is one of their old designs brought back because of how excellent it is.
This is a shoulder holster for a handgun and two spare magazines. If you’d rather carry a knife, hand cuffs or more magazines, the entire system is modular and you can switch out the holster and magazine carriers at will with the excellent swivel hardware that moves as you use your arm.
This is an excellent compromise between durability and price. The center cut genuine leather for the straps makes the system more concealable, cheaper and light but the full thickness leather that makes up the holster and magazine carrier keeps the system durable where it really counts.
The hardware, the leather, the stitching is all excellent and there no reason you shouldn’t use this 1911 military shoulder holster.
3.) Galco Classic Lite Shoulder Holster System - for Glock 17, 19, 23
This is one of the cheapest and best shoulder holsters on the market. Perfect for people who need a shoulder holster to wear underneath a lighter jacket, or only once or twice a week, this is perfect. The lighter weight construction and thin straps make the holster cheaper, but also more concealable.
The straps and holster material is very thin. It’s part of the reason this holster is cheap and while this causes a durability problem it makes the holster excellent for easy concealment because there’s less of a chance that the straps will print through your shirt and make it look like you’re wearing a bra.
The only two problems with this rig are the holster itself, and the durability of the straps. The thin genuine leather doesn’t hold the gun without the thumb snap. There’s almost no retention without it.
The shoulder straps are a problem because they’re so thin and they’re made of genuine leather, they won’t last more than a year with daily use. If you need a shoulder holster for light duty use or as a backup carrying option this is an excellent option. It carries just your gun and one spare magazine and you can get it in just about every pistol and double action revolver you’re likely to conceal carry.
4.) Bianchi X16 Agent X Shoulder Holster System
Bianchi makes all types of holsters, and their leather is very good. Exceptional for the price, especially given their only real competitor for their products in the shoulder holster market is Galco, which will cost almost double for a similar product.
This is their standard unlined leather shoulder holster for concealed carry. This model is for Glock 9mm pistols but they also make these for Sig Sauer pistols, 1911’s, Taurus, S&W and just about any gun you’re likely to conceal carry.
The benefit to this holster is you get a high-quality leather holster, genuine leather straps, and metal hardware for a cheap price. The downside is the genuine leather strapping will wear faster than other types and will begin to fray after a year or so, keep the leather well cared for and you’ll extend the life of the holster. That includes keeping it dry as possible. Otherwise, it’ll absorb water and stretch and may begin to smell to.
It is still much more expensive than other types of holsters but less than you’ll pay for the competition. If you’re on a budget and dead set on a shoulder holster for concealed carry, this is your best option.
5.) Bianchi 4101 Black Shoulder Holster for Hunting with Hush System Scoped
With handgun hunting growing in popularity companies are beginning to respond with purpose designed products and accessories. This is an excellent and inexpensive option for hunting with a large scoped revolver.
Available in left handed and right-handed versions for scoped handguns. A version is also available for hunters without optics, but most hunters use scoped guns in the field. This holster is also available in 6” 8” 10” and an extra-long 12” model.
The padded strap that comes across the chest is great for carrying a heavy revolver all day and is long enough to fit around just about everyone. If you’d rather put this on a backpack hip strap or belt, it has a loop that will fit up to a 2.5” belt.
An extra flap can be purchased for extra weather protection if you’re worried about your optic or will be going into harsh weather. Overall this nylon shoulder holster is a very good holster for chest carrying a hunting handgun for long period of time and is much more comfortable than putting it on your belt.
Things to Consider When Buying a Shoulder Holster for Concealed Carry
You need to be careful with the weight of a shoulder holster. As they are often made from heavy leather and metal hardware you’ll be surprised by just how heavy they are even before you put a loaded weapon in them.
As shoulder holsters will always be worn under clothing when you are out and about they are unlikely to get soaked by rain but the leather straps and holster components will soak up sweat. It’s not as simple as treating the leather with dubbin or wax though as you won’t want it to rub off and stain a formal shirt. Just be aware that they can soak up sweat and wipe them clean regularly so they don’t smell.
A natural leather holster that rides around near your armpit all day is going to stink y then end of the summer. Avoid spraying the holster with deodorant and don’t use a hard freshener to try and mask the odor. Use a leather conditioner and keep the holster clean and scent free in the first place.
Don’t buy a shoulder holster that tries and does everything in the world. A holster and a spare mag are plenty! You don’t need four magazines, a handcuff case, belt attachments, a knife sheath or any of the other gimmicky accessories you can find.
Some guys wear these holsters much too low. They wear them low enough on their belt that they use keepers to attach them. Those keeps are sold to allow officers to carry multiple magazines or handcuffs underneath their handgun. Ideally the gun would be as close to your arm pit as possible. That allows for a more natural draw and more secure grip on it when you grab the handle.
Who Needs a Shoulder Holster?
In short, a shoulder holster is a bad idea for anyone who isn’t wearing fairly formal clothing, they don’t fit over bulky outer clothing for open carry and won’t be comfortable if you have to wear anything on your back so can really only be worn over a shirt and under a jacket. Many people consider it to be ideal for people who don’t like inside the waistband because it relocates the gun off the belt, but allows you to hide it well.
Shoulder holsters are great if you spend a lot of the day driving or sitting and if you are wearing the right clothes. Even if you can fit them under a t-shirt or sweater don’t bother as your draw will be far too slow and obstructed if you really needed your firearm.
Shoulder holsters aren’t for everyone. They are an effective means of carrying that is deeply concealable and if worn with the correct clothing can be extremely effective. Odds are if you’re looking for a high-quality shoulder holster you wear suits and open clothing that’ll allow you to take advantage of the benefits this means of carrying offers.
Make sure you train with your shoulder holster, the last thing you want is to forget the snap or have the best shoulder holster misadjusted when you go to draw your weapon!