When it comes to choosing the right holster, it can be pretty hard when you don’t know the pros and cons of what’s available. Stuck between a paddle holster and a belt holster? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Both paddle holsters and belt holsters have a lot to offer, as well as some drawbacks depending on your style.
When it comes to choosing a holster that’s right for you, there’s a lot at stake here. You have to make sure you decide what’s most important for you whether that’s: concealment, comfort, functionality, and whether you want to open carry or concealed carry. Also, you’ll want to make considerations between an IWB holster and an OWB holster. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to move into learning about what’s out there.
What is a Paddle Holster?
A paddle holster is a waistband holster that is composed of a wide, plastic backing that sits against your body and acts like a simple belt clip. This plastic paddle is shaped almost like a clip, which can go over your belt or waistband of the pants. Commonly, your paddle holster will have a Kydex paddle attachment or a leather paddle attachment on the back, which is what you will use to secure your entire holster to your body.
A paddle holster is best known for concealed carry applications. Modern paddle holsters will secure your firearm, regardless of the gun model, easily to your belt or waistband. It also allows for simple removal since the means of contact is just a simple paddle attachment.
A paddle holster will stabilize your entire holster; a lot of modern paddle holsters come equipped with teeth or gripping devices that line the edges of the paddle attachment and provide security and grip retention to where it attaches to your belt.
Since the paddle attachment is smooth and will hold your firearm against you closely, it’s often more comfortable for when you are carrying it. Also, unlike a belt slide holster, you can easily move a paddle holster to wherever you need it on your belt. This way, you’ll always be able to adjust to retain your comfort and efficiency at the same time.
Why Should I Choose a Paddle Holster?
There’s a few advantages that a paddle holster can provide depending on what you need it for. Most of these positives will depend on your carry type, gun model, intended use, and just personal preferences. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages that you can have when carrying a paddle holster:
- It can be moved to anywhere on the waistband you need to optimize comfort and drawing efficiency.
- It’s very easy to move it.
- It’s very easy to remove it from your waistband as there is no actual clips.
- The paddle attachment is flat against your body which allows for a smoother firearm draw.
- A lot of modern paddle holsters come with a cant adjustment which allows you to adjust the grip angle of the firearm.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Paddle Holster?
Well, while a paddle holster might sound like the perfect option, there’s also some things that you should be aware of before you buy. These things might not affect your priorities much, which is why it’s very important to have your intentions and needs in mind; all firearm wearers are different. Let’s see what might change your mind about the paddle holster:
- There’s no actual clip so the holster is not very secure.
- It’s not great for open carry since it’s very easy to take off your waistband.
- It’s not very tight against the body which means it’s more visible when you concealed carry.
What is a Belt Holster?
A belt holster is another type of firearm holster that can be used for both open carry or concealed carry. It’s also known to be used as an OWB holster. A belt holster is designed with holes in the back where you thread your belt through, which essentially makes it a belt loop attachment. This way, you can slide the holster onto your belt before you put it on, providing extreme security and stability.
The belt holster is the most secure type of OWB holster out there. In order to remove the holster from your person, you have to take off your belt and physically slide it off. It’s physically impossible to remove the entire holster unless the belt is taken off first.
It’s for this reason that this OWB holster is also the most popular choice when it comes to open carry. Because it is impossible for an outsider to snatch it, it’s an easy choice for open carry. It’s also tightly fitted to your belt, which means it’s tightly fitted against your body. This holster is easier to conceal under a shirt or jacket than the paddle holster is.
Why Should I Choose a Belt Holster?
A belt holster, just like the paddle holster, provides many great benefits of its own. A lot of these features depend heavily on your intended use, so just remember your specific needs and preferences; not every gun owner is going to need a belt holster. So, let’s take a look at the possible benefits of using a belt holster:
- It fits snugly to the body and is easier to conceal.
- It’s extremely stable and secure.
- It’s impossible to remove it without removing the belt first.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Belt Holster?
Just like every product, there’s plenty of drawbacks to match the pros of a belt holster. While you might think it’s great for you, make sure you read through these to make sure that these drawbacks are not ones that are going to majorly affect you or the way you carry. Let’s take a look:
- It’s not easy to adjust because the belt loop will get in the way.
- It can be uncomfortable because it’s stuck in one spot.
- It’s less common to have a cant adjustment than a paddle holster.
- A belt is necessary to carry a belt loop holster.
Paddle Holster vs Belt Holster
When it comes to choosing waistband holsters, a majority of your choice will rely on your choice of carry position, your gun model, and where you intend to carry. However, we all should remember the main purpose of a gun holster: firearm safety. When you use a holster to carry a firearm, you want to make sure that you are keeping yourself, others around you, and your firearm safe and secure. There’s a lot of things to consider about how you plan to carry and where you intend to carry. Things like firearm accessories and your normal daily routine are things that should also be considered.
Gun Model & Accessories
This is an especially important one. When choosing a holster, when it’s a leather holster or a plastic holster, you want to know the specifics of your firearm in order to get the perfect holster fit. Make sure you are getting a holster that is made to fit your weapon, that way you can ensure proper retention and security of your firearm. Things like a trigger guard or a retention device are some of the things that can be affected by your gun model; it’s very important you get the right size and shape holster model.
If you want to also carry something else, like a magazine pouch, you’ll have to consider the size and placement of the holster as well. Firearm accessories like a scope or sight will also affect the holster choice you can make.
This is another important one. I mean, what’s the point of carrying a firearm if you can’t even reach it properly?
This is where your daily routine will come in. Just taking a trip to the grocery store is much different than going on a long hike. These kinds of tasks can vary throughout your day, so you want to make sure that the holster model you choose is something that won’t restrict your drawing or ability to reach the grip, but will also make sure the firearm is safe and secure no matter what you do during your day.
Not only that, but you’ll want to consider if other people will have reach to your weapon. If you’re going to be in a lot of crowded places, you’ll probably want something that has more of an active retention to prevent other people from snatching your gun right out of the holster (or even just the entire holster!).
Retention, I would say, is one of the most important features that a holster can have. There’s a few different types of retention that are commonly found on any given holster model, all of which will provide different levels of safety and security. You can have active retention, passive retention, and even adjustable retention.
Passive retention is when your holster is modeled to fit the exact gun model that you own. This provides pressure and friction on your weapon, which essentially holds it in place; hence the “passive” retention. There’s no active device like a strap or clip that is holding your weapon in, just purely friction.
This type of retention is typically only suited for concealed carry and IWB holsters. If your firearm is exposed on your waistband, than you’d definitely want some kind of active retention. Passive retention will not prevent an ill-intended soul from snatching your firearm.
This is the most secure type of retention. Active retention is the opposite of passive. Active retention is when the holster model possesses some sort of device, like a strap or an adjustable retention device, that will physically hold your firearm into the holster.
Most commonly, active retention is a strap, hood, retention screw, or a lever. This means that something will have to be physically moved in order to draw your weapon. Active retention is what you will need if you intend to open carry. This will keep your gun safe from others who try to steal it off you.
Now that you know what to look for and what each style of holster model has to offer, let’s leave off with some excellent brand and product recommendations to get your search started:
- Alien Gear Holster
- Galco Speed Paddle
- Fobus Paddle
Brian Belko is a freelance writer and blogger. His primary areas of focus include the outdoors and shooting sports. In addition to his freelance work, Brian also writes for Wide Open Spaces and is on the Pro Staff at Military Hunting and Fishing. When he isn’t busy writing, Brian enjoys fishing farm ponds for bass and hitting the spring woods during turkey season.