The best EDC holsters for quick access and concealment

The best EDC holsters for quick access and concealment

Written by Mark Buff, GunZee founder and CEO.

An everyday carry (EDC) holster has a tough job. It's gotta balance concealment, comfort, and accessibility so you can carry it safely and effectively all day long.

Quick links:

Vedder LightTuck

Tier 1

Black Arch

Shapeshift

Galco KingTuk

Safariland

From different positions to different body shapes, we’ll cover everything you need to know before choosing the right high-quality holster for your CCW gun.

Oh, and KYDEX IWB holsters don’t have to be uncomfortable. Apply the amazing GunZee holster padding and prepare to be amazed. 

Vedder LightTuck

Vedder LightTuck

Vedder LightTuck. Image source: https://www.vedderholsters.com/lighttuck/

The Vedder LightTuck is an inside-the-waistband holster well-suited for concealed carry of compact and subcompact pistols. It's molded from .08-inch thick KYDEX to fit popular models such as the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, Glock 43, and Springfield XD-S.

The LightTuck can be fully adjusted for ride height, cant, and retention using included hardware. Ride height ranges from above to below the waistline. Cant angles are adjustable from 5 to 15 degrees to suit one's grip and drawing style. The retention screws allow tuning how securely the holster grips the pistol.

The edges of the LightTuck holster sit flush against the body, facilitating a smooth, snag-free draw. A full-length sweat guard helps protect the slide and sights from sweat and clothing. The clips are designed to tuck tightly against the belt for stability and concealment under a shirt.

At .8 inches wide, the KYDEX construction adds minimal bulk for comfortable all-day wear. The audible "click" when holstering provides confirmation that the pistol is properly seated. The LightTuck is available for right or left-handed drawing in several color options.

Pros

Cons

Comfortable, customizable fit

Not as breathable as leather or hybrid holsters

Durable KYDEX construction

Makes noise when holstering that could reveal you're carrying

Allows smooth, fast draws


“The LightTuck makes my Glock 19 tight against my body. A couple of things I like about it is, you can easily get a full combat grip on the firearm. It’s light, takes up very little space on the belt.” —A Voice Actor, Amazon purchaser

Tier 1 Concealed Axis Elite

The Axis Elite is an inside-the-waistband holster designed for concealed carry. It will accommodate many compact and subcompact pistols including the Glock 43, SIG P365, and Smith & Wesson Shield.

This holster is molded from .08-inch Boltaron thermoplastic for maintenance of shape. It allows adjustment of ride height, cant, and retention via included hardware. The ride height can be set above or below the waistline. Cant angles range from 0-15 degrees.

The Axis Elite features a full sweat shield to protect the pistol's slide and sights. The edges sit flush against the body for a smooth, unencumbered drawstroke. The belt clips tuck tightly to the belt to prevent printing under clothing.

This is a tuckable holster with removable belt clips. It can be tucked inside the pants for additional concealment when needed. Weighing just over 2 ounces, the slim design aims for comfortable all-day carry.

Pros

Cons

Adjustable for ride height, cant, and retention

Less audible click on holstering than some KYDEX holsters

Full sweat shield protects the pistol

Belt clips could be more heavy-duty

Tuckable design with removable belt clips

Lightweight at 2 ounces

 

Black Arch Entrada

The Entrada is an inside-the-waistband, hybrid-style holster designed for concealed carry. It is molded to fit popular subcompact types of guns including the Springfield Hellcat, Ruger LC9s, Kimber Micro 9, and others.

This holster features a leather backing with a KYDEX shell for durability and shape retention. The leather wicks moisture and allows adjustment of ride height and cant angle using the pull-the-dot loops.

The Entrada has a full-length sweat guard to protect the pistol's slide and sights. It utilizes a tuckable overhook that enables tucking the holster inside the pants for deep concealment when needed.

At .08 inches thin, this holster adds minimal bulk for comfortable wear. The smooth edges allow an unimpeded draw stroke. The holster is handmade in the USA and backed by a 30-day test drive guarantee.

Pros

Cons

Adjustable ride height and cant

Leather may require more break-in

Leather is more comfortable than KYDEX

Full sweat shield and smooth edges

Tuckable design for deep concealment


“I really like the black arch entrada holster setup. It took about 10 days to get comfortable with keeping a holster and firearm on my body all day but now I’m cruising along… Overall it’s a great holster, especially for no lead times!” —Christian Osorio, Amazon purchaser

Alien Gear Shapeshift

Alien Gear ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster

Alien Gear ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster.

Image source: https://aliengearholsters.com/alien-gear-shapeshift-appendix-carry-holster.html.html

The Shapeshift is a modular, customizable inside-the-waistband holster system designed for concealed carry. It accommodates many subcompact, compact, and full-size pistol models.

This holster features a padded neoprene backer with an interchangeable KYDEX shell. The user can swap shells for different firearms. The backer is vented for breathability and uses soft loop Velcro attachments.

Ride height, cant, and retention are adjustable via the mounting hardware. The holster shells have a sight channel, smoothing out the draw stroke. A full sweat guard protects the slide and sights.

The Shapeshift converts between IWB and OWB carry with included belt slides and paddle mounts. It allows tuckable carry with a slide-on overhook. The holster is made in the USA and backed by a 30-day test drive guarantee.

Pros

Cons

Modular system works for multiple pistols

Bulkier

Adjustable ride height, cant, and retention

Shells may wear faster than all-KYDEX

Ventilated and padded backer

Converts from IWB to OWB holster


For this user, the Shapeshift is “by far the most comfortable holster” he has ever worn.

UGC

Galco KingTuk

KINGTUK DELUXE IWB HOLSTER

KINGTUK DELUXE IWB HOLSTER.

Image source: https://www.galcogunleather.com/kingtuk-deluxe-iwb-holster_8_7_1176.html

The KingTuk is an inside-the-waistband, hybrid holster. It accommodates many compact and full-size pistol models including Glock 19, Sig Sauer P320, and Springfield XD.

This holster combines a leather backer with a molded KYDEX shell for retention and shape. The leather wicks moisture and the contours facilitate a smooth draw stroke. Ride height is adjustable via the center slot.

The KingTuk features a combat grip cutout for a solid firing hold on the pistol. The sight channel allows unimpeded visibility while drawing. A sweat guard protects the slide and sights from moisture and clothes.

This is a tuckable holster owing to the overhook design that enables tucking the holster inside pants. The hook locks onto the belt for stability. The KingTuk is handmade in the USA.

Pros

Cons

Combat grip cutout for solid hold

Retention not user-adjustable

Adjustable ride height

Tuckable design with gun belt hook


Safariland Schema

The Schema is an inside-the-waistband holster designed for concealed carry of subcompact and compact pistols. It will accommodate 9mm handguns with 3-4 inch barrels and overall lengths around 6-7 inches.

This holster is constructed from injection-molded SafariLaminate, a proprietary polymer blend. It allows adjusting the ride height but not cant or retention. The sweat guard protects the slide and sights.

The Schema features a concealment wing that presses against the body to keep the grip tucked in. This helps prevent printing under clothing for deeper concealment.

An audible click during holstering confirms the pistol is properly seated. The SafariComfort padding wicks moisture and dampens noise. The edges are rounded to avoid dig-in discomfort.

Pros

Cons

SafariLaminate polymer construction

Cant and retention not adjustable

Allows ride height adjustment

Padding may wear faster than all-KYDEX

Concealment wing prevents printing

Audible click on holstering


We’ve developed a memory foam pad to make the most rigid KYDEX holster wear like a dream. Buy our holster pad to make your concealed carry comfortable!

How do I choose the right EDC holster?

When you choose the perfect CCW holster for everyday carrying, you should prioritize features enabling secure, comfortable daily carry. Then narrow down the options suiting your carry style and firearm.

Here are some top factors you should keep in mind. Remember, the EDC holster will become your best friend, you need to choose wisely.

Material

The holster material hugely impacts performance and feel. Leather is old-school—it molds to your body but requires maintenance. KYDEX is modern and low-maintenance but not as breathable. Hybrid holsters merge leather and KYDEX for the best of both.

Leather holsters need a break-in period as they conform to your body. The upside is a custom fit with good airflow. The downsides are potential stretching and the need for occasional cleaning and conditioning.

KYDEX is a rigid, durable plastic that retains its shape. It allows smooth, fast draws and clicks when holstering. But KYDEX can be uncomfortable in hot weather. Some dislike the plastic feel against the body. GunZee’s memory foam pad can make all the difference with your KYDEX holster.

Hybrid holsters combine a KYDEX shell with a leather or other backing. This provides stability and shape retention from the KYDEX plus comfort from the backing material. Many find hybrids strike an ideal balance.

Carry positions

There is no universally superior position. The right spot for you depends on factors like body type, usual attire, lifestyle needs, and more.

Test different spots to identify which one enables smooth access along with secure concealed carry for your individual needs.

Here are the best carry positions for concealed carry:

  • Appendix carry places the holster at the front of the waist in the 11-12 o’clock position. This allows easy access and keeps the firearm away from your strong shooting side. Although sitting with an appendix holster can be a bit awkward for some, most are able to master it with practice. 
  • Strong side hip carry refers to the 3-5 o'clock area on your dominant hip. This makes for a natural draw stroke and keeps the gun clear of the backside while seated. However, it may telegraph the firearm's location.
  • For deep concealment, a belly band holster lets you carry a compact pistol securely against your abdomen.
  • Small of back carry centers the holster along the spine around the 6 o'clock position. While comfortable sitting, this can be hard to reach and may dig into the back.
  • Pocket carry slips the gun into pants or a holster pocket for deep concealment but slow access. This carry method works best with very small pistols. When carrying in a pants pocket, a quality pocket holster keeps the firearm properly oriented for a smooth, safe draw stroke.

Retention

Secure retention refers to how securely the holster grips your firearm. Passive retention relies on friction and tension, while active retention adds a release mechanism.

Passive retention holsters have a snug fit requiring a deliberate draw stroke. This makes accidental dislodging unlikely while keeping the gun accessible. KYDEX and leather holsters often use passive retention.

Active retention holsters have a release button or lever that must be disengaged to draw the weapon. This provides an extra layer of security from grabs or disarm attempts. Active retention works best for open carry duties.

Adjustable retention allows the user to fine-tune the gun holster's grip on the gun by tightening or loosening screws. This lets you customize the desired draw stroke smoothness and security.

Use passive retention for everyday concealed carry. Active retention adds unnecessary complexity for discreet carry. Seek adjustable retention if you need to tweak the precise draw stroke effort and security.

Comfort and concealability in EDC

Your EDC holster’s shape needs to complement your natural physique. Curved, contoured designs tend to best fit larger body types with more generous proportions. More compact, streamlined shapes are often better suited for slender builds.

Also, examine the holster's width and thickness. Slimmer profiles typically disappear against the body more easily, reducing printing through clothing. Bulkier models can be harder to disguise and may announce themselves unintentionally when carrying concealed.

Adjustability is important—seek holsters that allow customizing the ride height, cant angles, and retention tension settings to match your exact anatomy. This flexibility in fit caters to your body's contours for stability and comfort during daily wear.

When you find a gun holster that blends proper shaping, a slim footprint, and tunable adjustments harmoniously, you've found your concealed carry soulmate. Carry comfortably and confidently knowing your gear moves fluidly with your body.

Features

Beyond fit and comfort, your EDC holster should incorporate some key features to optimize functionality:

  • A claw attachment extends from the holster to push it flush against your body, minimizing printing. This small add-on makes a big difference in concealment.
  • Look for a sweat guard to protect your firearm's slide and sights from moisture and clothing. This preserves the integrity of the weapon during all-day carry.
  • An open bottom allows debris and dust to fall out while a closed bottom offers more protection. Weigh personal preference here based on your environment.
  • Belt clips offer more durability and stability versus belt loops for securing your holster. Clips also enable easier on/off without removing a belt.
  • Opt for adjustable retention so you can fine-tune the precise draw stroke effort to suit your needs. This customizes the balance of security and quick access.
  • Seek edge smoothing and beveling to avoid sharp corners digging into the skin. Rounded, buffed edges increase comfort.
  • Consider magazine holsters to expand your ammunition capacity without adding bulk to the firearm.

EDC holsters FAQ

What is the best concealed holster?

The "best" concealed carry holster depends on your unique needs and body type. But top-rated everyday carry (EDC) holsters balance comfort, concealability, and accessibility in a durable, streamlined package. KYDEX and hybrid models like the Vedder LightTuck, Tier 1 Concealment Axis Elite, and Alien Gear Shapeshift earn high marks for customization and smart design features. 

What holster do Navy Seals use?

Navy SEALs employ a variety of gun holsters and gear depending on their specialized mission and needs. They carefully test equipment for extreme operations. Popular holsters include the Safariland 6004, G-Code soft shells, and customized KYDEX models from companies like JM Custom KYDEX. These offer active retention for security in demanding environments. 

What holster does the police use?

Many police officers use Level II or Level III retention duty holsters from trusted brands like Safariland, Blackhawk, and Bianchi. They feature an active hood or button release system to help secure guns from grabs during altercations. This added active retention provides security when openly carrying firearms during patrols.

Are shoulder holsters good for CCW?

Shoulder holsters can effectively conceal full-sized pistols under jackets. However, they aren't ideal for everyday concealed carry. Shoulder rigs are difficult to draw from while seated in vehicles. They can also overheat during the summer months.

What type of holster is most comfortable?

Hybrid holsters combining leather and KYDEX offer exceptional comfort for all-day wear. The molded KYDEX shell retains its shape for smooth draws. The leather backing molds to your body over time, increasing comfort. 


Materials like horsehide naturally wick moisture and allow airflow. Look for minimal bulk, curved shaping matching your physique, and adjustable retention for a personalized fit. 

What is the most comfortable material for CCW holsters?

Premium leather from tried-and-true tanneries is the most comfortable holster material. Options like horsehide and American steer hide soften over time, wick moisture and breathe well. Quality leather forms your body for a personalized fit. With proper care, it develops a secure grip on your firearm. Leather's main downside is slower reholstering compared to slick polymers.

Are ankle holsters good for concealed carry?

Ankle holsters can be good concealed carry options, but have tradeoffs. The ankle position is very discreet and accessible when seated, but slower to draw from. Ankle carry is less comfortable for some people during long periods of standing or walking. The low position also makes drawing while driving difficult.

About the Author

Mark Buff is the founder and CEO of GunZee. He is an ardent firearms enthusiast and has been carrying concealed for more than 15 years. He created GunZee to solve his own problem: that of uncomfortable KYDEX holsters. His patented GunZee memory foam holster pad makes inside-the-waistband carry super comfortable.

Further reading

What are the best CCW guns for big guys?

How do I wear an inside-the-waistband holster?

What is the best IWB KYDEX holster?

What is the best compact handgun for IWB carry?

What is the best undershirt for IWB carry?

What are the best AIWB holsters for women?

How to make seated appendix carry more comfortable?

What are the best CCW handguns for new shooters?

What are the best concealed handguns for seniors?

What is concealed carry reciprocity?