Best Open Carry Holsters – 2021 Complete Guide

| Last Updated: March 21, 2021

A reliable holster is a must-have accessory for any responsible firearm owner who decides to open carry.

An open carry holster should be easy to use while making your handgun visible to meet legal requirements.

Here is what you need to know about selecting a safe and convenient open carry holster and some product recommendations.

Our Top Picks for Open Carry Holsters

  • Available for many handguns
  • Wide and comfortable paddle
  • Fully adjustable & made in USA
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  • 360° adjustable carry angle
  • Quick release auto-lock
  • Wide paddle for 2” belts
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  • Fits belts up to 2 inches wide
  • 60 degree cant angle setting
  • Automatic lock w/fast release
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Comparison of the Best Open Carry Holsters

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Custom fit OWB paddle holster with neoprene backing
  • Adjustable cant & retention w/covered trigger guard
  • Slim low-profile design and fits 1.5” wide belts
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  • 360 degree adjustable paddle fits 2” inch belts
  • Tough & lightweight polymer holster for 5” barrels
  • Automatic locking system with quick finger release
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  • Lightweight polymer holster molded for M&P Shield
  • Auto lock retention with quick finger release
  • Quick detach paddle adjustable up to 60 degrees
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  • OWB holster fits Glock 19/19x/23/32/45 all models
  • Auto locking retention with textured finger release
  • 60 degrees adjustable cant & solid polymer holster
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  • Custom fit genuine leather with adjustable straps
  • Shapeshift modular holster with level II retention
  • Two spare mag carriers and belt hooks on both sides
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  • Drop leg tactical holster with easy-replace shell
  • Adjustable straps, retention & cant without tools
  • Rides stable and close with easy detach straps
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  • Polymer holster w/unique slide retention adjustment
  • Three 1.5” belt loop options & works with optics
  • Modular design and cut for quick grip access
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  • Soft paddle for 2” belts and 60 degree cant setting
  • Automatic locking system with index finger release
  • Low profile OWB holster suits many Taurus models
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Pros and Cons of Open Carry Holsters

Is an open carry holster right for you? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

Pro: Easy Access

One of the main advantages of an open carry holster is that it gives you easy access to your firearm and allows you to draw it quickly. You can also draw your handgun from a seated position with this type of holster.

Pro: Visibility

An open carry holster will make your handgun easy to see, which is crucial for meeting legal requirements if you decide to open carry. Making your firearm visible can also be a strong deterrent if you carry a handgun for protection purposes.

Pro: Comfort

Concealing a pistol with a long barrel can be uncomfortable. An open carry holster will keep your firearm close to your body and help you bear the weight of your firearm without any discomfort.

Pro: Safety

An open carry holster allows you to draw and insert your pistol back into the holster safely. There is a higher risk of the firearm getting caught on clothes or other items and discharging accidentally with a concealed carry holster.

Con: Visibility

An open carry holster can attract unwanted attention and even intimidate others.

Con: Open Carry Laws

It’s essential to be aware of open carry laws in different states and jurisdictions. Six states don’t allow open carry, and some states like California only allow it in some jurisdictions. Some states require you to obtain a license, which may or may not exempt you from local ordinances.

How to Choose an Open Carry Holster

You need to select a reliable holster to open carry your firearm safely. Here are some features to take into consideration.

Fit

A quality holster should provide a tight but comfortable fit. It should be compatible with your firearm, and there shouldn’t be any play when you holster your gun.

Retention

Holsters keep your handgun in place through active and passive retention systems. Passive retention refers to the holster’s ability to hold your gun in place thanks to a proper fit.

Some holsters provide additional retention thanks to an active system like a thumb strap. An active retention feature makes the holster safer and protects you from disarming attempts, but it might take longer to draw your pistol.

Auto-Locking and Quick-Release

Some open carry holsters have an auto-locking feature that secures your pistol in place. Some products have an audible click feature that lets you know you have holstered your gun properly.

We highly recommend choosing a holster with a quick-release feature. You can activate the quick-release button to release the auto-locking feature, and engaging the button causes your index finger to align with the trigger for a fast draw.

Review of the Best Open Carry Holsters

The following holsters are safe and reliable products you can use to open carry your firearm.

Alien Gear holsters Cloak Mod OWB Paddle Holster S&W Bodyguard .380 Auto (Right Handed)

Pros

  • Trigger guard
  • Fits 1.5” belts
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Adjustable retention and cant
  • Custom-molded to fit your pistol

Cons

  • Need to wear a 1.5” belt
  • Some buyers don’t like the belt attachment

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers like the fact that his holster fits tightly on the hip. They describe it as a compact and lightweight holster and think the custom-molded shell delivers a great fit. Reviewers often mention the value and quality of this OWB holster.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Alien Gear specializes in making custom-molded retention shells that fit a wide range of makes and models. You can get a precise fit for your handgun and benefit from the lightweight and durable design of this polymer holster.

The holster also features a flexible spring steel plate that provides more passive retention. You can adjust the amount of passive retention easily thanks to the screws that hold the shell together. You can also adjust the cant by tilting the holster forward or backward.

There is a trigger guard that prevents your gun from firing accidentally and a comfortable neoprene backing for all-day carrying.

This holster is compatible with different Alien Gear accessories, including a dock you can use to attach the holster to different surfaces.

Bottom Line 

This holster features a simple and lightweight design, but it provides an optimal amount of passive retention. It’s a durable option, and we like the fact that you can adjust the cant and passive retention easily.

Gun Holster for 5'' Barrel Springfield Armory XD 9MM/357/40/45 Tactical Models, OWB Paddle Holster, Outside Waistband Polymer Pistol Holster, 360° Adjustable Open Carry Holster - Right Handed

Pros

  • Auto-locking feature
  • Quick-release button
  • Adjust the carry angle
  • Attach to pants or belt
  • Lightweight polymer construction

Cons

  • Won’t work with thin belts
  • Fits a limited range of handguns

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyers think this holster is a great buy because of its price point and excellent quality. They like the quick-draw feature and say that the quick-release button is large and easy to engage.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This holster fits handguns with a 5” barrel from the Springfield Armory XD Series. We recommend double-checking that it will fit your handgun before ordering it.

This holster comes with an auto-locking feature that keeps your firearm in place. There is an audible click that lets you know you have secured your handgun into the holster.

You can adjust the carry angle easily, and the holster delivers a 360° range, so you can find the cant that feels comfortable for you.

The quick-release button is a feature that will help you draw your firearm quickly. By engaging this button, your index finger is in position to wrap around the trigger.

The durable polymer construction of this holster makes it a great investment.

Bottom Line 

This holster is an excellent choice because of its durable polymer construction, quick-release button, and adjustable carry angle. We only regret that it fits a limited selection of handguns.

M&P Shield 9mm OWB Paddle Holster fit Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm/.40(3.1' Barrel) Outside Waistband Holsters, Open Carry Tactical Holster for Shield M2.0-9mm/.40(3.1' Barrel) Trigger Release - RH

Pros

  • Affordable option
  • Auto-locking feature
  • Quick-release button
  • Adjustable belt paddle
  • Wide paddle for secure fit

Cons

  • Carry angle is limited
  • Only fits M&P Shield 9mm / .40 series with 3.1” barrel

What Recent Buyers Report 

People love the fit this holster provides. They say it’s easy to attach quickly to a belt or pair of pants and love the reliable locking mechanism. The quality construction is another positive point that reviewers often mention.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This holster fits M&P Shield 9mm / .40 series handguns. If you own one of these firearms, we recommend this holster from Bedone because of its sturdy and comfortable design.

You will find a quick-release button on the holster. Engaging this button with your index finger will help you get your trigger finger in position faster when you draw.

The auto-locking feature will keep your handgun secured into the holster, and you can adjust the carry angle by rotating the paddle up to a 60° angle.

The wide paddle is a noteworthy feature. It helps keep the holster stable and provides a consistent draw angle. It also makes it easy to attach the holster to your belt or pants when you’re in a hurry.

Bottom Line 

We like this affordable holster because of the quality of its construction and safety features. The wide paddle is a standout feature since it allows you to attach the holster to your belt or pants quickly while providing more stability.

Best Glock 19 Open Carry Holster:
OWB Paddle Holster by Bedone

Glock 19 Holster, OWB Paddle Holster for Glock 19 19X 23 32, Outside Waistband Polymer Holster, Adjustable Gun Holster, Open Carry Belt G19 Holster, Fast Release - Right Handed

Pros

  • Excellent fit
  • Inexpensive option
  • Adjust the carry angle
  • Quick-release button for fast draw
  • Lightweight and durable polymer design

Cons

  • Only fits Glock 19, 23, 32, and 45
  • Some buyers say the holster isn’t very comfortable

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyers say they use this holster for open and concealed carry. They like the quick-release button and the comfortable feel of this holster. Many reviewers also mention the good quality of the price.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This right-handed holster fits different Glock models and provides an unparalleled fit for these firearms.

The holster features an adjustable paddle that rotates up to 60° to give you the exact cant you want. You can use this paddle to carry the holster on your pants or on a belt that is up to two-inches wide.

The auto-locking mechanism will keep your Glock in place, and there is an audible click you can rely on to know you have secured your gun.

The quicker-release feature will help you draw your Glock quickly. There is a large button with a textured surface that is easy to find, and that feels intuitive.

Bottom Line 

This comfortable holster provides an excellent fit for different Glock models. We like the textured quick-release button and the adjustable paddle of this holster.

Best 1911 Open Carry Holster:
Alien Gear ShapeShift Shoulder Holster

Alien Gear holsters ShapeShift Shoulder Holster (Brown Leather) 1911-5 Inch (Left Handed)(.45 ACP/10mm Single Stack)

Pros

  • Mag carriers
  • Comfortable leather harness
  • Adjustable height and cant angle
  • Custom fit for a wide range of handguns
  • Compatible with other Alien Gear accessories

Cons

  • Less discreet than OWB holsters
  • Some buyers had to modify the thumb release

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyers like that you can use this holster along with other Alien Gear accessories to customize it. They say it provides a great fit for their pistol and like the quality of the harness and belt hook attachments. The main drawback is the thumb release that some buyers end up modifying.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

A shoulder holster is a great alternative to carrying your handgun on your belt. This shoulder holster from Alien Gear provides an excellent fit and comes with additional storage for two magazines.

You can adjust the fit of the harness to find the right carry height and keep your firearm close to your body. You can also adjust the passive retention and cant angle of the holster for a customized fit.

The leather harness feels comfortable thanks to the extra padding, and the holster uses a durable polymer material. There is an optional thumb retention strap if you need active retention.

We recommend this shoulder holster for 1911 pistols, but Alien Gear offers custom-molded holsters that fit a wide range of makes and models.

Bottom Line 

We like this shoulder holster because it’s a comfortable alternative to using an OWB holster. It keeps your pistol close to your body and provides you with additional storage for two magazines. It’s also easy to adjust, and you can get a customized fit.

Alien Gear holsters S&W M&P Shield 40 Caliber - Left Hand - Large

Pros

  • Three sizes available
  • Fits a wide range of guns
  • Adjust the ride height easily
  • Straps make the weight of your firearm easier to bear
  • Versatile holster compatible with other Alien Gear products

Cons

  • No quick-release button
  • Some buyers don’t like the thumb release feature

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers like this drop leg harness because it’s comfortable and easy to adjust. A majority of reviewers say it provided a good fit for their firearm, and the people who had to contact customer service had a positive experience.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Alien Gear specializes in custom-molded holsters that provide an exact fit for different handguns. This holster combines a custom-molded shell with a drop leg harness.

A drop leg harness is an interesting alternative to an OWB holster because it can make your handgun easier to access. Drawing from your thigh might feel more natural to you and allow you to draw faster.

This harness uses comfortable elastic straps that you can adjust easily. You can adjust the carrying height of your firearm, among the passive retention in the holster, and the carry angle.

The holster has a trigger guard feature that prevents your weapon from discharging accidentally, and there is a thumb release you can use if you need active retention. The holster has an attachment point that allows you to add a magazine carrier.

Bottom Line 

This drop leg holster makes your handgun easy to access and can help you draw faster. We like this holster because of the custom-molded shell that provides a great fit and the comfortable straps that are easy to adjust.

Best Glock 43 Open Carry Holster:
Raven Concealment Systems Perun OWB Holster

Raven Concealment Systems Perun OWB Holster fits Glock 43

Pros

  • Adjustable retention slider
  • Suitable for open or concealed carry
  • Comes with three pairs of belt loops
  • Compatible with different optic mounts
  • Passive retention remains consistent over time

Cons

  • Only fits a Glock 43
  • Other holsters are more flexible for cant adjustment

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyers like this comfortable holster because it allows them to carry their gun high and close to the body. Reviewers often mention the excellent retention of this holster and the fact that retention is easy to adjust.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

We like the fit of this holster. The Glock 43 is a popular option for all-day carry because of its compact design, and this holster is a comfortable and discreet way to carry this pistol.

Passive retention is where this holster stands out. You can adjust the amount of passive retention without any tools to get a precise fit.

Some holsters tend to provide less passive retention as you pull your handgun in and out and require frequent adjustments. You won’t see any fluctuations in the amount of passive retention this holster provides.

The holster comes with three sets of belt loops you can use to get different carry angles.

Bottom Line 

This durable holster is a great option if you own a Glock 43. We recommend it because of the precise passive retention adjustment and because the amount of retention will remain consistent as you use the holster.

Best Taurus PT111 G2 Open Carry Holster:
TEGE Tactical OWB Paddle Holster

OWB Holster for Taurus PT111 G2 G2C G3 G3C, Tactical Polymer Paddle Open Carry Holster for Taurus Millennium G2 PT111 PT132 PT138 PT140 PT145 PT745(Not Pro) with Trigger Release Adjustable Cant, RH

Pros

  • Excellent fit
  • Affordable option
  • 60° cant adjustment
  • Auto-locking feature
  • Durable polymer holster

Cons

  • Only fits some Taurus models
  • Some buyers say there is play in the holster

What Recent Buyers Report 

People are generally happy with this purchase because of the price and quality of the holster. They like the quick-release button and say the holster delivers a good fit. They also like that the holster stays in place securely.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This holster provides a reliable retention system for your Taurus handgun. There is an auto-locking feature that secures your pistol, and you will have to activate the quick-release button to draw.

You can adjust the carry angle by 60° for a comfortable fit. The classic paddle design is ideal because the wide paddle keeps the holster in place securely. It also helps you carry your Taurus close to your body.

The holster uses a durable polymer material, and the custom-molded shell provides an optimal fit for your firearm. There are rounded edges for comfort, and the holster completely covers the trigger for safety.

Bottom Line 

This holster fits a limited number of Taurus handguns, but it’s an affordable and durable option to consider. We like the polymer construction, the precise fit, and the wide paddle that keeps the holster in place. You will also get excellent retention thanks to the auto-locking system.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?

There are a few important considerations before purchasing an open carry holster.

Assess Your Needs and Preferences

The best holster depends on why you are open carrying and what kind of situations you might find yourself in. Think about how you usually dress, what feels comfortable, and what kind of features would help you draw your firearm quickly.

An obvious thing to consider is going to be whether you need a right or left-hand holster, but you should also ask yourself whether you want to attach your holster to your pants or belt and whether you need a quick-release feature.

Preferred Cant Angle

Adjusting the cant or carry angle will make your firearm easier to access. Your ideal cant angle is a matter of personal preference, but you should also consider your height, the design of the grip of your handgun, and the posture you usually adopt when you draw.

If you aren’t sure what your ideal cant angle is, look for a holster that provides plenty of flexibility for adjusting the carry angle.

Active and Passive Retention

Picking a holster designed for the firearm you own is essential because you will get sufficient passive retention from the shell of the holster. Manufacturers that use custom-molded holsters typically deliver better passive retention. If possible, choose a holster that allows you to adjust the amount of passive retention.

Not every gun owner needs a passive retention feature, but it’s something that can secure your gun into the holster and prevent disarming attempts.

Types of Open Carry Holsters

Here are the main types of open carry holsters

OWB Holsters

Over the Waistband or OWB holsters are popular because they’re affordable and easy to use. An OWB holster allows you to keep your firearm close to your body and easy to access. Carrying your handgun on your hip creates a comfortable position for drawing.

There is a wide selection of OWB holsters, and this type of holster is easy to attach to your belt or pants and remove when you want to take your gun off.

Shoulder Holsters

Shoulder holsters include a harness and a holster that fits under your arm. You can use one of these holsters for open carry as long as you don’t wear clothes over the holster.

This type of holster is comfortable and makes your weapon easy to access. It also allows you to carry additional magazines. The main downside is that you will need an active retention system because of the cant angle.

Drop Leg Holsters

A leg drop holster allows you to carry your firearm on the outer side of your thigh. It’s a popular option for tactical applications because adopting a natural posture with your arms by your sides means that your hand is never far away from your gun.

A leg drop holster also allows you to draw more easily in a seated position compared to an OWB holster.

Conclusion

You need a reliable holster if you decide to open carry a firearm. We recommend the Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Paddle Holster because of its custom-molded shell and adjustable cant and retention. Alien Gear makes this holster for a large selection of handguns, which makes it easy to find a holster with optimal passive retention for your firearm.

Recap - Best Open Carry Holsters

People Also Ask

Here are some common questions about open carry.

What is an Open Carry Holster?

An open carry holster is a holster that allows you to keep your firearm on you at all times while making it clearly visible to meet legal requirements.

Is it Illegal to Carry Without a Holster?

Carrying without a holster is illegal in some states. Regardless of state legislation, using a holster allows you to carry a firearm safely and comfortably.

Is it Better to Conceal Carry or Open Carry?

Both options have their pros and cons. While open carrying can be a strong deterrent, it can attract unwanted attention and puts you at risk for disarming attempts.

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!