Hollywood gets it wrong on holster carry

This article was originally published at Buckeye Firearms Association.

by Dean Rieck

If you were to believe what you see on TV and in the movies, the only people who carry a handgun in a holster are cops. Everyone else just shoves their gun into their pants or pocket. But like so many other things, Hollywood is more wrong than right about holsters.

Buckeye Firearms Association conducted a quick email survey recently to find out how ordinary people carry handguns. We sent the survey to our newsletter subscribers and received 7,453 responses. The survey consisted of three simple questions:

When you carry a handgun, do you carry in a holster?
If you never carry in a holster, tell us why.
If you don’t carry in a holster, how DO you carry?

When you carry a handgun, do you carry in a holster?
In response to the first question, 81% of respondents said they always carry in a holster, 17% said they sometimes carry in a holster, and only 2.7% said they never carry in a holster. Obviously a few people gave more than one answer, but we can see that the vast majority carry in a holster.

This is good news, since most experts believe that holster carry is the most secure and responsible means of carrying a handgun. If the holster is the standard belt-mounted variety, it also allows for the fastest draw.

If you never carry in a holster, tell us why.
The second question revealed some interesting reasons why a minority of people do not use holster carry. Over 58% said, “I can’t find a holster that is comfortable.” Admittedly, finding a good holster that fits well can be a challenge, especially if you prefer a full-size weapon. However, if that’s the case, you have to wonder how comfortable it is to carry a large handgun without a holster, such as in a pocket or waistband, where where you would think comfort would be even more of a challenge.

Other reasons for not using a holster included “I don’t see the need to use one” (over 22%), “I can’t find a holster that fits my gun” (over 21%), and “Holsters are too expensive” (nearly 12%). Again some people gave more than one answer.

We did not conduct this survey to find fault with people, but these answers seem to be excuses more than valid reasons.

All it takes is a cursory glance at the website of any major holster manufacturer to see that there are many holster options for the most popular handguns on the market. And the benefits of using a holster seem self-evident, including comfort, retention, and draw speed.

I suspect that cost is the primary reason some people avoid holsters. And this is not an insignificant reason. It’s not just the cost of a holster, it’s often the cost of trying a variety of holsters to find what works best for you. And if you want the option of carrying several different guns, the added cost of holster testing can add up quickly.

If you don’t carry in a holster, how DO you carry?
The third question shows how some people choose to carry when not using a holster. Over 57% said “In my pocket,” 31% said “In my waistband,” and nearly 40% said “In a fanny pack.” Other means of carry included gun-mounted belt clip, purse, clothing with built-in “holster,” belly band, and boot.

Obviously, people can find plenty of ways to carry a handgun. Pocket carry is not unusual in the summer if overall comfort is important, you wear lighter clothing, and you don’t mind sacrificing draw speed and using a smaller caliber. Purse carry is common among women because their clothing tends to be more form-fitting, providing less opportunity for concealment.

In the end, how you carry a firearm is a matter of personal preference. And despite what the media would have you believe, this survey suggests that about 98% always or sometimes carry in a proper holster the same as law enforcement. It’s yet another example of how most people are careful and responsible gun owners.