In a recent Concealed Carry Tactics Class we had a discussion on holster positioning. The discussion centered on optimal placement for both concealment and access.


It’s kind of funny because a week or so prior I had a conversation with a friend where he was discussing how “everyone” carrying strong side did so at 4:00 and I was like what??? In all the years we have doing concealed carry we have yet to see 4:00 as a primary location (insert sarcastic emoji if there was one). Apparently life is not without a sense of humor as I had a few students in this last class carrying in this manner.

Defining positions

There are a lot of locations to place a holster for conceal carry so let’s define some of them for clarity sake. Strong side, whether on or inside the waistband is optimized for carry at the 3:00. From about 2:30 to 3:30 is the left and right limits, but ideally you want it right on and not behind your hip. In this position you get the best balance of concealment and access. A lot of folks will choose one over the other, they will choose concealability and sacrifice access. Or the flip side, easy access with poor concealability. Ideally you want the best of both worlds and for most people the 3:00 will give it to you and more.

The old ostrich syndrome

Why do some choose to place it behind their hip at the 4:00? I have wondered so I had to ask and one of the answers I got was because they thought it concealed better. The idea it concealed better was largely based on a frontal view. Because the holster is slightly behind the hip it gives the impression it is better concealed from the front. The only problem is how it usually prints from the rear an area we have a difficult time seeing. This is why peer review is so important when selecting holsters for concealment. We may all think we are doing a good job of concealing, many times we are, but to get validation from some of our peers is key to comfort and confidence. Once you realize you are acting more like an ostrich and covering versus concealing it makes it easier to see how poorly in comparison it really does at concealing.

Economy of motion

The next issue had to do with access. Watching one of the students during the time drills barely miss the par times I mentioned the fractions of a second he was over might be made up by not having to reach so far back. It’s nothing more than economy of motion, the further back you have to reach the longer the movement the more time it takes. Another point to consider is clearing the cover garment behind you requires more movement as well to ensure a positive clear and grip. The extra motion I saw the student using to clear the cover garment added a few fractions of a second on top of the extra reach. As soon as he relocated the holster to 3:00 his drawstroke improved big time and looked smoother overall.

It’s all in the details

The subtle issues may seem insignificant, but they add up. During our timed drills the added stress really breaks it down for us to observe. Extraneous movement or imprecise movements cost you in the long run. If you can focus on those two; reduce the amount of overall movement and then be precise with the movement you must make, you will see times improve. Not necessarily because you are faster, more because you are more efficient.

There are points of diminishing returns on everything. Moving your holster to an optimized location provides better return when stress is high and the margin for error is virtually nil.

2 thoughts on “Around the Clock for Holsters

  1. Ron says:

    Jeff I found your blog interesting – I am currently looking into getting a new holster for a new pistol I am evaluating. After reading your blog I may also be looking to get another holster for my G19. I understand that holsters fit people differently in general so just looking for your thoughts and experience.

    I have seen articles and attended multiple classes where we discuss positions, but I don’t think anyone has stated where on the pistol we are using as the origin (for some reason I haven’t asked). Is the origin considering the center of the pistol’s trigger? So 3:00 position locates the pistols trigger center on the hip bone/pant seam?

    As you stated my understanding is OWB holster at 3:00 is the fastest and that is why cops tend to carry in that position (no concealment).

    I have noticed that most IWB holsters have a ~10+ cant associated with them? My understanding is the cant is needed as the holster is position farther back towards 6:00. Do you like zero cant IWB holster for 2:30-3:30 area that you recommend? What location do you believe a cant is required and how must angle does the cant change as it is located more towards 6:00 (4:00, 4:30, 5:00, 5:30)?

    My current IWB is a Super Tuck hybrid holster which is comfortable and has cant. It seems to be designed to have the top of the Glock 19 slide angle just behind the hip bone. The rear sights seem to be aligned at ~3:00 (pant seam line).

    While hunting for my new holster I ran across your Tricon Pro Carry Package. I noticed that your holster has a 10 degree cant. Is it designed with the cant so that the slide drops behind the hip bone? Where is the trigger center (or origin) located on your body? I am guessing you like the split clip version over soft loop because they are on your specific version? Would a zero cant option of the same holster be used for 3:00?

    Thank for sharing your insights. I liked your tip on clearing multiple layers of concealment in your newest video.


    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Thanks Ron, for us we use the barrel or front sight as the point of reference. Regarding the cant, they are personal choices depending on your comfort level with the cover garments. All they do is bring the butt of the pistol slightly more forward producing less of rearward print…in theory. Hope this helps.

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