Best 1911 Holsters [IWB and OWB] – 2020 Buyer’s Guide

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So you’ve chosen to carry one of the most iconic, capable, proven, and beloved guns in the history of firearms, the 1911. You need a holster that gives the respect that is due to such a fine choice in a firearm. You need a holster that will accentuate your firearm and give you the options that can take your excellent choice to the pinnacle of concealed carry.

With the right holster, your 1911 becomes a thing of legend and gives you an advantage that only comes from a versatile, spectacular firearm like the 1911. The first condition is an important aspect of concealed carry. You need to know that when you draw your firearm, it is ready to go and that it will be lethal. That's why you chose the 1911 in the first place.

Now, let us help you to find the perfect accessory piece that allows you to use your 1911 to the fullest in a concealed carry situation and beyond.

Comparison of the Best 1911 Holsters 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best overall shoulder holster for the 1911
  • Spider harness allows straps to pivot independently for comfortable fit
  • Modular premium leather design and also includes a double mag pouch
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  • Best 1911 leather holster on our list
  • Open top design for quick draw, double-stiched belt loops for extra safety
  • Doesn't slip or snag and stays comfortable all day long
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  • Best 1911 chest holster on our list
  • Fully adjustable straps and a modular design to attach it to a pack
  • Great holster for EDC, survival, and hunting with too much gear
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  • Best 1911 Kydex holster on our list
  • Slim profile to ensure concealment and durable Kydex design
  • Aesthetically pleasing and available in w/wo rail variants
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  • Best tactical holster for the 1911
  • Adjustable strap with easy-to-attach MOLLE webbing
  • Quick release plastic buckle on rear strap and extra mag pouch
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How to Choose the Best Holster For Your 1911

You want something that retains your firearm well because, while it’s a slim gun, it’s not necessarily a lightweight gun. Having a stiff holster, regardless of material, is the best way to do that. Safety must be a high a priority too.

When carrying your gun, you want to know that you aren’t going to get a negligent discharge. But you should always feel safe carrying (a holster can help accomplish that peace of mind) and forget about negligent discharge, as most safety concerns can be resolved with proper training and a firearm safety mindset.

But you also want to maintain concealability. Having a minimalist holster design can be quite helpful too. If you choose the right features in a holster, it will allow your gun to be the focal point and do its job best.

Beautiful 1911 (Source)

This doesn’t mean you have to skimp; it just means you should be buying a holster that allows the gun to shine as the focal point of your setup.

Brand name means something here too, but not just because the original 1911 was designed by John M. Browning, or because it has become an icon that few brands will ever be able to replicate with a single gun, let alone practically every gun made in its image. Brand matters because holsters have long been a part of the mainstream gun culture and have had winners and losers.

In the world of holsters, a winner isn’t just a company that markets well, it is a tried and true performer. Brand matters because in the commodity world of the holster market, only the best brands can survive. Some are younger than others, but quality counts for everything; customer service is very important as well.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying a 1911 Holster

Don’t buy cheap just to save a buck. Sure, we are suckers for a good deal, but we understand in this world of high commodity products, quality doesn’t exist everywhere. Be selective when you choose a holster. 

If it’s a value-driven product, great, but don’t gamble your life on a cheap holster just so you can feel good about the price point. Buy the best you can get. Avoid being cheap for the sake of being cheap.

Forget about all the bells and whistles; you don’t need them. The 1911 is a utilitarian gun, and if you’re buying for your race gun built on a 1911, sure, get something flashy and with lots of added extras, but if you want a good holster, look for utility, especially since that’s the legacy of the 1911. You’ll be better off for it.

1911 in action (Source)

Leather is the right kind of pairing for the 1911. It speaks to the class, sophistication, and the overall versatility of the gun. That isn’t a must-have option, but it does fit the gun well.

If you aren’t into leather or need more flexibility, go with a nice Kydex or polymer holster, to get the modern benefits of such a design.

There are other options, but these three types are generally best suited for the 1911, and we will show you why as we explain the importance of the design and material aspects of the holsters on this list.

Whatever you do, don’t get a material that won’t last. Forget about ALL elastic and cheaply finished cloth versions; if you go with cloth make sure it’s a robust variant (look below for a couple).

Quick Take - The Best 1911 Holsters

Review of the Best 1911 Holsters

Let's take a look at the best 1911 holsters currently on the market:

Pros

  • Looks cool and is practical
  • Made from top quality materials
  • Balanced, versatile, and comfortable
  • One of the best holsters for use while seated
  • Galco is a legitimate purveyor of top-quality holsters

Cons

  • Lack of concealability
  • Not practical for all users

What Recent Buyers Report

This holster fits very well with most users, especially those who were looking for a shoulder holster that had easy adjustments so it can fit most shooter frames. The leather was solid as it can get and it allowed for excellent retention and concealability. One user said that his pistol never bulged every time he wore it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Shoulder holsters can be used by security officers and even concealed carry users for the purpose of keeping their pistols out of sight and carried discreetly. In fact, this might just be the perfect holster for anyone who plans on carrying a 1911 pistol as a primary or even secondary pistol. Regardless, you’ll be prepared for any danger that may threaten you or those around you. If you want the element of surprise against your attacker, this holster just might be what you need.

As classic as it gets, this was made famous by Hollywood, but made timeless by the 1911. If you want the look, balance, and the benefits of a shoulder holster, this is about as good as it gets. The Galco brand is known and proven as one of the best in the industry and the design is about as versatile and capable as any on the market. Plus, it looks the part for the 1911.

With optimal positioning for seated duty, this is a perfect companion for those who can carry legally and don’t mind being seen carrying. The comfort of this holster is amazing and the weight distribution is among the best in the entire industry, which means a lot if you have to run or chase a target, or if you are carrying all day, every day. This saddle leather holster will endure through years of drawing and re-holstering.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are in professional security or just a regular gun owner who carries one or maybe two pistols at a time on a daily basis, you’d be crazy to pass up the chance to give this holster your undivided attention. It’s got the best retention, comfort, and the ability to make your pistol as concealable as possible no matter how often you wear it.

Bottom Line

The Galco International Miami Classic shoulder holster is definitely a must-have for any concealed carry practitioner or any security guard who wants assailants to think that they’re unarmed (but will ruin their day in the process if and when the opportunity presents itself). This holster is pretty sturdy in quality, so you shouldn't be surprised if it winds up being your faithful servant for a few years.

This is the holster to buy if you’re seated all day and need to feel confident that you have the most versatile holster on the market. Make sure you understand the concept of the shoulder holster, as it is not for everybody, but for shoulder carry users, it is magical.

Best 1911 Leather Holster:
Milt Sparks Holsters

Pros

  • Superior design
  • Great texture on the outside of holster for an IWB
  • Great brand name and proven customer service and legacy

Cons

  • A bit pricey for the size
  • Too gaudy for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

Many new users were really impressed with what this holster can deliver. Not only were they satisfied with how comfortable it was for every day carry, but they also found it to be the best concealability possible. One user even said that it felt like he wasn’t carrying anything at all, though he was certain that he was prepared for any threats that might cross his path. The construction was rather solid and did not rip or tear easily.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Made from high-quality leather, this blows the other leather holsters out of the water when it comes to quality and the ability to go much longer in shelf life and firmness. The leather was comfortable to a point where it didn’t trigger any skin irritation. On top of that, it was pretty firm and kept the pistol well-retained without giving it any room to move around or fall out of the holster. The inclusion of the open-top made drawing quick and easy, which is definitely needed in some applications.

If you’re looking for a perfect IWB (Inside Waistband) holster for the 1911, you don’t need to look further. This Milt Sparks piece was built to address everything you have on your wish list for a perfect IWB, and they did it with such classy material and build style. There is nothing frivolous about this holster, and yet, it has every creature comfort specification you will find on any holster at the top of the market. This one has it all, without being over the top.

The leather material and brand history are enough to sell this holster, but there is an added value in the design philosophy. The leather surface texture grips the IWB surroundings (clothing and your hip) well and the serious workmanship means you are buying a lifetime holster.

Who Will Use This Most

This might be the go-to option for any 1911 user that wants nothing but the best in comfort, concealability, and reliability. It’s a leather holster that looks good and works well. That’s pretty much all you’ll ever need if you are looking for something that will be a great fit for your 1911 pistol.

Bottom Line

The Milt Sparks holster is one of the better quality options that you can find on the market for a 1911 pistol. It’s a high-quality holster that is designed to give you a comfortable, more reliable every day carry for as long as possible. As long as the leather keeps firm, this will definitely give you the retention your pistol deserves.

You don’t buy the Milt Sparks 1911 holster from the Summer Special 2 line unless you want something truly special for your 1911 daily carry. The features and benefits read like a laundry list of perfect holster design ideas. That’s just what Milt Sparks does: they have excellent base model offerings that perform at the top of the market.

Man Gear Alaska Ultimate Chest Holster - Gen2 MTU 1911 with Two mag Pouches (Right Hand)

Pros

  • Ultimate adjustability
  • Top-tier quality for a cloth holster
  • Enables you to use your pistol anywhere and not feel bad about beating it up

Cons

  • Expensive considering the base cloth material

What Recent Buyers Report

This holster is beneficial for both right-handed and left-handed users because it is available in either hand orientation. The drawing for each hand was quick and easy. They said that their 1911 pistols remained in place and were quick to access if and when needed. Plus, new users said that the drawings produced no snags and made re-holstering less of an effort.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Chest holsters may not be so common compared to non-hip holsters like your shoulder or ankle holsters. Nevertheless, they still deliver a good amount of concealability depending on the pistol. This will be great for you if you want nothing more than a holster that will easily conceal a 1911 while making sure you are comfortable all day long.

When you aren’t sure of the situation and need the ultimate in versatility and on the fly adjustability, this is a very good choice. The construction quality is top notch for a Cordura holster and the features are very nice for the money. Yes, it’s expensive; you can’t get the whole kitchen sink for nothing.

The universal build style and the superior quality on a cloth holster make the Alaska Ultimate Chest rig a serious contender. It is not the most concealable, but it’s not really made for that. It’s a perfect item for hunting, tactical situations, or high-risk professions where a gun can be carried easily and should be carried in an optimal position.

The hardware used on this rig is top notch, and you won’t be disappointed in the build quality. You can attach the holster to a pack or other rig or carrier as well.

Who Will Use This Most

We believe that this holster can be beneficial for users who are looking for a cold-weather carrying holster or a secondary holster for when you are looking to carry two pistols at the same time. Either way you use it, you’re going to have a really fun time putting this to use while practicing at the range.

Bottom Line

The Man Gear Alaska Ultimate chest holster is the real deal if you want something that will give you discreet concealed carry for your 1911. If a hip holster can’t get the job done for you, you may want to consider an alternative like this one. Of course, you can even use it for when you are carrying two pistols at the same time so you are extra prepared for any situation. This holster does every job well and looks good doing it; if you need versatility to carry in varied situations, this is a top choice.

Green & Black USA Kydex OWB Holsters for More Than 200 Different Handguns. Left & Right Versions Plus Speed Clips Available.

Pros

  • Simple
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Durable (made from Kydex)

Cons

  • May be too simple for some enthusiasts

What Recent Buyers Report

One of the new buyers of this holster had purchased this after hearing so much about Kydex and how great of a material it was. He said that the drawing was perfect and it didn’t snag on him once. He said that in a heartbeat, he ditched his flimsy and disappointing nylon holster for this. Overall, the rest of the new users said that the concealability was discreet and top-notch.

Why it Stands Out to Us

While it may not be red, white, and blue, this holster really brings out the best in America. Indeed, it is American made so you can expect nothing but the best when it comes to quality. It’s not like regular-sized holsters, but it covers enough to where you can conceal carry safely and securely. To top it off, it also allows you easy and quick drawing for your pistol without dragging or snagging.

The patriotism that comes in the form of an American flag overlay is just a small part of what makes this holster a great choice for the 1911. With standard 1.5” belt clips and customizable add-ons that allow you a ton of options for mounting both positionally and stylistically, this is a great core unit for a holster system.

It is a minimalist build with a very good footprint that allows you to have just enough coverage to keep your 1911 safe from dents and dings but also keep it in a safe position. The rigid Kydex is both gentle on the finish of your firearm and features a no-sag profile to keep you in a static position at all times. It’s lightweight and drama free, with a slim profile to match the 1911.

Kydex is all the rage because it is awesome. It is form-fitting to your firearm, able to hold shapes and be reshaped to meet your needs, and built durably to last forever. If you prefer the “Spartan” design aesthetic and want legitimate results, go with this holster.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for a holster that will last you a long time while providing consistently fast draws and discreet concealability, your search may very well end here. It’s the perfect holster for anyone who is also looking for a bit of a minimalistic design as opposed to something that might cause a bit of grief when it comes to keeping your pistol on the down-low. Sometimes, minimal is better than more material.

Bottom Line

The Outlaw Holsters Kydex OWB holster will cover your bases when it comes to giving you a concealable carry, a fast draw, and an all-around reliable holster that won’t fall apart on you like some others. Yes, the design is minimal but it’s worth it once you put it to good use on a regular basis.

Best 1911 Tactical Holster:
Onetigris Molle Belt Holster For 1911

OneTigris Molle Belt Holster for 1911 45 92 96 Glock (Gray)

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Superior features
  • Well made for the price point

Cons

  • Too big for some users
  • Not well designed for concealment

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, a lot of new users say that this holster was just what they needed for every day carry or just keeping it at their side while not using it at the range. Most new users had owned nylon holsters that were not the best in quality. After using this holster, they concluded that this one in particular was better in quality and didn’t snag at all with every draw.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s true that nylon holsters do get a bad rap at times, but we can say for certain that this one in particular is one of the few that gets high praise. The nylon of this holster is better in quality as opposed to the cheap nylon holsters that are low in price and have awful durability. What makes this holster stand out, apart from its inability to snag on every draw, is the magazine pouch included. If you are serious about everyday carrying, then you want a holster that will make you more prepared than ever. Here’s a hint on how you can find one -- take a look at a holster that provides ample space for additional magazines. This holster is Exhibit A.

This is a bargain holster that doesn’t fall prey to that commodity rule that in order to be cheap, something has to be made cheaply. This is made with some legitimate integrity, both from the maker’s perspective and the design perspective.

This is a versatile, heavy-duty holster that works well if you decide to go with a cloth design. Cloth may not be the first choice for a lot of users but the Molle inclusion here makes the cloth holster a legitimate option. Admittedly, it is not the most concealable holster, but it is very good for those that need extra add-ons, very good adjustability, and a very small price point. The Velcro and elastic additions make this a serious contender for the add-ons that can be put together with it.

Take note that this product retails at about half the price of competitor options for the functionality and robust build quality.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the best holster for any user who plans on using their 1911 for self-defense or competitive shooting applications. Either way, the inclusion of an additional magazine pouch will dramatically increase your preparedness, another reason why we always recommend that you should purchase multiple magazines if and when the time comes to purchase them.

Bottom Line

The OneTigris Molle Belt holster might just be the one nylon holster that will rise among the pack of holsters made from this specific material. It will be reliable for just about any 1911 owner looking for comfort, maximum concealability, and a no-snag draw that will be fast every time. You won’t be disappointed with this holster in the slightest, even if you are just carrying it around every day or all day when you are at the range.

You may be considering this holster because you don’t need a concealed carry holster and you want some added utility. This is a great option for all-purpose open carry, range, or similar. Not for the most technical of users, but a great design for those who want something they can use for a ton of different things.

Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB Holster (1911 - 5', Right)

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Robust build quality
  • Incredible company support
  • Form-fitting and great retention
  • Value for money that is hard to match

Cons

  • Too bulky and overbuilt for some carry situations

What Recent Buyers Report

Comfortable, super concealable, and really quick on the draw: these are just a few things that people were saying when trying out this new holster. Most of all, the concealability is what made this holster stand out among the rest. One user said that his last pistol bulged so badly that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to conceal carry his pistol in public without the odd looks he was getting. But that all changed when he got this holster and finally he was able to carry with a sense of knowing that he was prepared for any danger against himself and those around him. So far, he had no complaints at all regarding the overall functionality of the holster.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The concealability really stood out with this holster. But what made it the perfect addition to our list was its ability to make users comfortable with the polymer material. Easy on the skin without any sharp edges, this is perfect for all-day carry. Carrying your pistol around the clock is key when you want to stay ahead of the curve when the SHTF (if you don’t know what that means, look it up and you’ll know right away).

Alien Gear, more often than not, makes the most superior products on the market for the money. You would be hard pressed to find a better value exchange than with this company. You’re getting top-tier construction, customer service, and performance out of a bargain-priced holster.

Two belt clip points on a wide platform offer you rock-solid holster placement. Safer, more easily concealed, and rigid enough to guarantee your handhold, this is the premium option for those who want a guaranteed IWB hip placement so they know exactly what to expect with every draw.

The thousands of satisfied customers of Alien Gear Holsters are telling you something: the build quality, customer service, and extended value of the platform put it at the top-tier of gun holsters.

Who Will Use This Most

If you want a holster that holds true in terms of integrity and won’t weigh you down in the process, then you may want to give this holster a try. Yes, it’s got the concealability and comfort angles all covered. So, it would make sense to put this holster to good use if and when you need something to carry your 1911 on a regular basis. You won’t find a holster this durable or this concealable anywhere else on the market for this type of pistol.

Bottom Line

If you want an IWB holster that will definitely give you a submarine-like carry that will eliminate any bulges or the like, the Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB holster could just be exactly what you’re looking for. The high quality is obviously credited for its ability to stay reliable and allow for quick drawing, but it takes the cake (icing and all) for being able to fly under the radar wherever you go.

For the money, it’s hard to beat, but that’s not the entire story with holsters, as you are likely well aware. You need something that will do the job day-in and day-out for many years. With the Alien Gear line, and this 1911 holster in particular, you’re getting something AMAZING.

​Conclusion

It’s simple: buy what makes sense for your needs, but trust the content you read here; it’s spot-on. We know a thing or two about holsters, we know a thing or two about the 1911, and we feel confident that our choices make the most sense for the use cases we outlined in our reviews.

Our favorite is the Miami Classic; not because of Tubbs and Crockett, but because it has the perfect balance of all the redeeming qualities that a 1911 holster needs, and it does it with grace and stature. It’s also so cool looking, even if it does have its specific use cases.

That’s the thing about holsters: how you use them determines their true value. For some, the shoulder rig we like best just won’t make sense. So look at another of these fine options for inspiration instead if that’s you. Don’t be afraid to consider multiple holsters too. You never know you need a different holster until you try a different holster.

Of course, we think that once you’ve put all this time into selecting a perfect holster for your needs, you should be confident in your choice. We also think you should be able to squeeze the most versatility possible out of your firearm, because that’s part of its DNA, which is why you chose the 1911 in the first place. 

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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