What To Look For In A Good Pocket Holster.

I wrote a brief overview of some of the more-common pocket holsters out there for Shooting Illustrated last year, and I was kinda surprised by what I was sent by the holster makers out there. Some of them were very good, and some of them, quite frankly, sucked.

I didn’t add it to the article, but I did a quick test of all ten holsters to see how effective they were at three things:

  1. Retaining the gun in the holster.
  2. Allowing me to grab the gun on the draw
  3. Releasing the pistol from the holster when drawing the gun

I set up a two-part test to test the holsters I wrote about.

  1. I put my unloaded pocket pistol (in this case, my Ruger LCP2) in the holster, and turned it upside down, applying as little pressure to the holster as possible. This tested the grippiness of the holster itself, and if the gun dropped out of the holster, it failed.
  2. I placed the unloaded gun in the holster, put in the pocket of my cargo shorts, set up a target three yards away and set my shot timer for three seconds. I know from a previous test that this was more than enough time to draw the gun and get a shot off, so that determined the test criteria.
    I ran this test five times for each holster, and if the holster prevented me from drawing the gun in that amount of time, or worst still, came out of my pocket with the holster still attached to the gun on any one of the five draws, it failed.

Out of the ten holsters I wrote about, only six passed this test. They were:

The ones that failed this test and the reasons they failed were:

  • The Crossbreed Pocket Holster (Couldn’t grab gun).
  • Uncle Mike’s Inside The Pocket Holster (Didn’t retain gun).
  • Blackhawk Tecgrip (Didn’t retain the gun AND came out with gun on the draw).
  • Bianchi Pocket Piece (Came out with gun on the draw)

I’m almost willing to give the Bianchi holster a pass, because as a leather holster, it can mold itself into a shape that’s a little amiable to releasing the gun when needed. However, the Kramer Leather* holster released the gun when needed from the very start, so let’s leave the Bianchi on the “fail” list for now.

To demonstrate what makes a good pocket holster, let’s look at two of the holsters that didn’t make the cut.

The Crossbreed Pocket Holster is kydex/leather hybrid, just like almost everything that Crossbreed makes, and while that big leather backer completely disguises the shape of your gun in your pocket, it also makes it almost impossible to get a good grip on your pistol during the draw. Considering that the whole point of carrying a gun is knowing that you’ll have to use it at some (unfortunate) moment in your life and you’ll also need to use it rightthisverysecond, having a holster that by design doesn’t allow you draw quickly is not a good idea.

That Blackhawk! pocket holster… where to begin. First off, it’s way too deep: The muzzle of my LCP2 doesn’t come close to the bottom of the holster, and there’s no molding on it whatsoever, so there is no retention whatsoever. In addition to this, the only thing that’s keeping your gun in your pants pocket is the grippiness of the material on the outside of the holster, and if that doesn’t do it’s job, your holster is coming out of your pocket with the gun wrapped inside of it.

This has a negative effect on your draw speed.

What happens with this holster is that because it’s not fitted to your gun, your gun flops around in your pocket, and if you need to draw your gun it’s either someplace other than inside the holster, leading to longer draw times as you play a very, very dangerous game of pocket pool fishing around for your heater, or it comes out of your pocket along with the gun, leaving you pointing something at looks like a small coin purse at your assailant.

In short, a good pocket holster keeps your gun securely inside your pocket, allows you to get a good grip on your gun before the draw, and stays inside your pocket when you draw your gun. Anything less is unacceptable.


* HOLY COW do the Kramer and Bianchi holsters look good. It’s almost a shame to hide them away in a pocket.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I’ve never had a pocket holster that would hold a gun when held out in the air upside down, including some of the holsters that passed here. But of course I don’t use pocket holsters that way. I’m only concerned that they retain the gun while in the pocket, which most do.

  2. Another concern: does the pocket holster retain the gun position in the pocket? With one of your “passing” holsters I found a Ruger LCP would rotate forward in the pocket, and would have to be rotated upright before the pistol could be drawn. At least one of your “failing” holsters didn’t have that problem.

  3. I agree with Jeff regarding upside down retention, unless I am missing the point of that test. A holster you might consider is the Mika. Made by retired policeman, Bob Mika, his pocket holsters are well-crafted and have set a standard for excellence for many years. Easy to find on the web and a nice guy to do business with.

  4. I bought the Nemesis in large part based on your article. Very happy with bit for my late 80s vintage S&W model 649 Bodyguard. I have one pair of pants with a shallow pocket that made me think twice about it, but most pairs it sits nicely, I barely notice its there and it is as fast as all get out to draw. Thanks for your articles.

  5. Don’t know if you tested it, but one of the long standard and widely used pocket holsters in the LE community is the El Paso Saddlery Pocket Max. I have used this model for many years with various off-duty and concealed carry pieces, including, but not limited to the Beretta M1934, Walther PP and SIG P230 as well as the Colt Detective Special and S&W Model 36. The horsehide providers a long-lasting rough out surface and the “grip tip” at the top of the holster grabs the top edge of the pocket, which allows for easy pistol separation. https://epsaddlery.com/product/pocket-max-horsehide-holster/

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