Best Paddle Holsters – 2021 Review

| Last Updated: February 13, 2021

Paddle holsters have been the favorite kind of gun carry holster for law enforcement officers and people who open carry.

These holsters offer some specific advantages over other designs and are also prone to a few drawbacks.

This article will cover all the aspects of paddle holsters and also review the best ones available today.

Our Top Picks for Best Paddle Holsters

  • Lightweight. Only two ounces
  • Tough maintenance free design
  • Works with many Glock models
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  • Index finger release design
  • Paddle rotates 360 for cant
  • Suits many Taurus 3.2” guns
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  • Low profile. Good for EDC
  • SERPA finger release lock
  • Cant & retention adjustable
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Comparison of the Best Paddle Holsters

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • High riding, low profile & protective sight channel
  • Flexible rubberized paddle and overall lightweight
  • One piece construction with reinforced steel rivets
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  • 360 degree tooth gear omnidirectional paddle
  • Level II audible retention with ALS mechanism
  • Military grade polymer with open bottom design
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  • Flexible paddle mount fits up to 2-¼ inch belts
  • SERPA style active retention with a slim profile
  • Traditional polymer construction for up to 4” barrels
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  • Unique, precision cut, lightweight & flexible paddle
  • Open bottom prevents debris from scratching finish
  • Adjustable for cant and retention. Suits red dots too
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  • Raised internal stand-offs and easy to maintain
  • Non-abrasive nylon blend material protects finish
  • Quick access holster with automatic locking system
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  • Available in a variety of models/carry options
  • Protected sight channel and reinforced rivets
  • Flexible rubber paddle and single piece holster
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What is a Paddle? How Does a Paddle Holster Work?

The design of the paddle holster was invented back in 1996 by Robert J. Beletsky and patented on behalf of Bianchi International Inc. The current patent rights are held by Safariland LLC.

A paddle is a wide piece of rubber or plastic that is mounted inside the waistband and supports the weight of the holster on the other end.

Paddle holsters do not require the user to wear a belt on the waistband. The paddle itself acts as a wide and deep clip that clings onto the clothing (trouser/skirt/etc.) and also acts as a barrier between the holster and the carrier's body.

Are All Paddle Holsters The Same?

While the basic design concept is the same in every paddle holster. There are several factors these holsters differ upon. The first difference is the material of the paddle and the holster.

Some holsters are made using leather, some using thermoplastics, and some with other non-conventional materials. Similarly, a paddle can be made using rubber, leather, or plastic. Each providing a different level of comfort and functionality.

The retention mechanism and level of adjustability is also a differentiating factor. Some holsters offer active retention whereas some offer passive. Some are adjustable for carry angle and some are not.

What to Look For When Buying a Paddle Holster

With too many options out there to choose from, there are certain factors that you must look for when choosing a paddle holster. Let’s check these out one by one:

Soft and Comfortable Paddle

If you’re using a paddle holster, chances are you’ll be carrying it all day while doing most of your chores. While hard paddles are non-obstructive when standing straight or walking. A soft paddle is necessary when you have to sit, run or drive. A rubber paddle works best, but there are a ton of options to choose from.

Retention Mechanism

Some paddle holsters rely upon passive retention (stiffness of the holster material) to keep the handgun in place. Whereas some holsters use active retention mechanisms like thumb straps, lever locks, or multi-level retention for better safety while during strenuous tasks.

Quick and Easy to Use

A paddle holster, like any other holster, should be reliable, quick, and easy to use. That does require a lot of practice. But make sure the holster offers prompt draw and retention. If you already use holsters, look for a design that you are already comfortable with.

Review of the Best Paddle Holsters

The list below includes some of the best paddle holsters being sold on the market today. These selections have been keeping in mind the ideal qualities of a paddle holster and positive customer feedback.

Best Overall:
Fobus GL2E2

Fobus Glock 17/19/22/23/31/32/ GL2E2

Pros

  • Low profile holster with rubberized paddle
  • Steel reinforced rivet attachments
  • Lightweight and maintenance-free
  • High riding, open base & protective sight channel

Cons

  • Suits some Glocks and similar sized guns

What Recent Buyers Report

This is a simple retention holster that works fabulously well with Glocks. This holster has been sold in humongous quantities and almost every buyer is happy with it. The softness of the paddle, grip, and lightweight design are the best features of this holster.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This holster has been designed exclusively for the Glock series of pistols and also suits other similar frames. The holster rides high with full grip access and has a comparative profile to most paddle holsters. The open-ended holster accepts muzzle device mounted guns. Plus, the retention is adjustable using a screw.

The reinforced design keeps the firearm in place and the rubbery paddle offers enough friction for a smooth draw.

Bottom Line

The paddle fits very snug and is comfy due to its flexible design. It works with Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 35 and is very durable along with full grip access and a protective sight channel.

Polymer OWB Holster for Taurus G2C G3C G2S G3 TX22 Millennium G2 PT111 PT138 PT140 PT145 - Index Finger Released | Adjustable Cant | Autolock | Outside Waistband | Right Handed

Pros

  • Level II retention with audible ‘click’ sound
  • High-grade polymer is tough & easy to maintain
  • 360-degree rotating paddle attachment
  • Compact low profile design. Suits Taurus G2C series

Cons

  • Needs practice to use properly
  • May feel riding too high for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

The holster is a well-engineered and very user-friendly design with an ergonomically placed lock release. The rotation helps with attaining the perfect carry position. It’s fast and with little practice, you’ll master that button. Highly recommended for the Taurus G2C series.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This holster is as compact and low profile it can get for a paddle holster. The entire setup has been made using a high-grade polymer that’s easy to maintain and protective for the firearm. The paddle has a couple of protruded fins facing the holster that keep the paddle in place and prevent it from sliding out.

The rotational design is great to get a cant. Plus, the level II audible retention ensures the stability of the firearm and also a quick draw. A little practice will help with that.

Bottom Line

This paddle holster has been designed to suit the Taurus G2 and G3 series and offers level II retention. The holster is very tough and also compact. It offers a full grip and can also be adjusted for cant.

Pros

  • Tough injection molded polymer construction
  • SERPA lock with index finger release
  • Low profile design rides close to the body
  • Available in 24 models to suit different handguns
  • Combat-ready holster. Good for duty

Cons

  • Needs some practice getting used to

What Recent Buyers Report

The holster is very well made and is great for OWB duty use. The assembly and handling are very easy. It is a great EDC holster that can easily release the weapon if your finger discipline is right. Made from Kydex, this holster is an affordable and good quality option.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Blackhawk holster offers a SERPA lock that greatly improves the security and retention of the firearm. The holster is Kydex and offers a quick no-sag platform to re-holster your handgun. The top has been cut to allow holstering handguns with RMR sights. Plus, the retention adjustment screw will cater to your specific draw needs.

The paddle is flexible, extra-wide, and also rounded on the periphery to offer a more comfortable fit. The entire setup is almost indestructible even under extreme conditions. Plus, the SERPA release eliminates the chances of someone snatching your gun out of your holster.

Bottom Line

A paddle holster that is perfect for everyday carry and duty use. It retains the firearm very well and ensures only the carrier can pull the gun out. The quality, durability, and features are mind-boggling for the low price it’s available for.

Best Kydex Paddle Holster:
Uncle Mikes's Tactical 54122

Uncle Mike's Kydex Off-Duty and Concealment OT Hip Holster with PBA (Black, Size 12, Left Hand)

Pros

  • Comes with paddle and belt loop accessories
  • Minimalistic design with fully adjustable paddle
  • Soft and pliable paddle with air vents
  • Raised sight channel accommodates high sights
  • Available in a variety of sizes

Cons

  • Not for guns with rails
  • Not for rigorous use

What Recent Buyers Report

The holster is tough thermoplastic and is open-ended so any contaminants don’t scratch your gun’s finish. Most users liked the paddle more than the belt attachment. The low ejection port cutaway offers a quicker draw. Many call it the best Kydex ‘open holster’, and the value for the price is unbeatable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Uncle Mike’s holster comes with two attachment options at a relatively low price. So it will cater to a wider audience. The paddle is simple and minimalist with air vents. But it is also tough at the same time to prevent the holster from sagging. The retention adjustment is good, but since the holster has passive retention. It works better for simple concealed EDC without any jiggly activities.

The setup is adjustable for rake and height to offer the perfect fit. Full grip access is quick and easy. Plus, the open bottom design doesn’t limit barrel length.

Bottom Line

As far as overall performance and usability are concerned, you cannot beat this holster for the price. The shredded paddle promotes ventilation and also reduces the overall weight. Good for non-adventurous carry uses.

Best Safariland Paddle Holster:
Safariland 7378 7TS

Pros

  • Fast access open top & auto-lock retention
  • Comes with paddle and belt loop
  • Non-abrasive holster material
  • Raised internal stand-offs allow clearing of dirt
  • Very durable construction and easy to maintain
  • Loop is user-adjustable for cant

Cons

  • Falls back too much on concealment

What Recent Buyers Report

The fit, color, ergonomics, and finish of this holster are great. The material is very durable and also protective towards the firearm, which is a considerable benefit. One mixed pro and con is that the holster sits a bit far from the body due to the lever mechanism. Which may or may not suit you.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With Safariland being the current patent holder of the paddle holster designs. There’s nothing much that can go wrong with choosing their product offering. This holster features an ALS retention system that goes naturally with a normal draw. However, you have to be a bit careful not to depress the lever when walking out of the car or leaning against something.

There’s no wiggle inside the holster and the protective material works great. The retention is perfect and secure for quick-deploy situations.

Bottom Line

Overall the 7TS holster from Safariland offers great value for money with an automatic locking system and a protective material design. The customer support from the company is great and this holster is very suitable for duty and EDC uses.

Best Fobus Paddle Holster:
Fobus Evolution Holster

Pros

  • Low profile design for good concealment
  • Flexible rubberized paddle insert
  • Passive retention with adjustment screw
  • Open bottom and a protected sight channel
  • Can be adjusted for carry angle

Cons

  • Retention not great for strenuous activities
  • Holster doesn’t have a protective finish

What Recent Buyers Report

The holster is lightweight, simple, and adjustable. Works great for civilian uses. Not so good for duty. The protective sight channel is a good feature and overall the holster offers good value for the price. The easy adjustment for obtaining the perfect fit is a good feature.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Fobus holsters carry a good reputation for their good quality and simple design. The evolution is one of their most successful designs and for some very basic but good reasons. This holster features a soft rubberized paddle that securely attaches to the holster and also offers slight adjustment for the cant angle.

The retention is passive and the adjustment screw makes it fit snug to your specifications. The sight channel is a helpful feature and the design sheds some weight for easy handling.

Bottom Line

The Fobus Evolution is a great holster for EDC, range use, and also home defense. It relies upon passive retention and offers quick full grip access with cant adjustability. Low profile for optimal concealment.

Pros and Cons of Paddle Holsters

Paddle holsters have some very useful benefits and at the same time are prone to a few drawbacks. Let’s check them out in detail.

Pros

Easy on/off and flexible carry

Donning a paddle holster and removing is a matter of a simple tuck or pull. This can come in handy when you need to quickly remove the holster from your waistband when you’re not carrying the firearm for the entire day. Apart from that, you can slide the holster across your waist or even keep it aside easily when you want.

Swapping rigs

The paddle works as an attachment to the holster. This means you have the option to swap the holsters while keeping the same paddle. This can be useful if you are used to carrying different holsters at different places.

Quick unhindered access

The holster rides a bit forward from your body and offers quick full grip access to the firearm. You don’t have to dig inside your waistband to get a full grip. Like with IWB holsters. Which is the reason why on-duty law enforcement officers widely use OWB paddle holsters.

Doesn’t require a belt

These holsters can be tucked in your trousers without the need for donning a belt. This can be useful when going out for a casual walk in your tracksuit or staying comfy in loose clothing.

Cons

Stability is questionable

Paddle holsters rely upon the friction of the paddle to stay put. If that’s not right, you risk pulling the entire setup out of your waistband. Especially if there’s an active retention mechanism you fail to activate.

Limited concealment

OWB holsters are not known for good concealment. You’ll mostly see a print with loose clothing. But things like a long jacket or overcoat will work.

Can get sweaty

There are sweat-resistant breathable material paddle’s out there. But you can face a sweat problem upon carrying these holsters for longer durations. Especially in the summer. 

Paddle vs Belt Holster - Comparison Overview

Buyers often seem confused when choosing between a paddle and a belt holster. So we decided to dedicate an entire section to this debate. Let’s see the areas when either of these excels or falters.

Ease of Donning

A belt holster, well as the name suggests, requires you to wear a belt. It has loops through which you pass the belt and don it. This requires you to have a belt and trousers that can accommodate a belt.

Paddle holsters on the other hand can be tucked on and off instantly. No extra hardware is required. Just a lower garment with a perfect fit to hold it on.

Stability

Belt holsters are unquestionably more reliable than paddle holsters. Since the entire paddle holster assembly can be swept out with a jerk if it’s not seated well. Belt holsters don’t have this problem as they are already studded with the belt.

Overall, a lot depends upon the circumstances and each of these is good or bad for something.

How to Wear a Paddle Holster

Wearing a paddle holster is no tough task. So let’s divide it into a step-by-step approach:

  • A paddle holster doesn’t require you to wear a belt. But a lower garment with a good waist-fit will do the trick. Also, make sure to wear underpants. You don’t want that paddle digging into the wrong places!

  • Make sure to attach the holster rig to the paddle before you wear the setup. Ensure the attachment is secure.

  • Pre-decide the position where you’ll be wearing the holster. You’ll need to get a reverse alignment model if you want to carry SOB.

  • Make sure the paddle doesn’t come in contact with your skin. So always have underpants behind the garment.

  • Never slide the paddle over the belt so it's dangling outside your trousers. These holsters have to be worn inside the waistband.

Photo credit: wikihow.com

Conclusion

A paddle holster is an OWB carry gear that relies upon a large flexible paddle to cantilever the holster & firearm’s weight. These holsters lack a bit of concealment but offer a quick draw. Making them suitable for duty, open carry, and range uses. A good paddle holster must offer a quick draw, have good retention, and should be easy to use.

Recap - The Best Paddle Holsters

People Also Ask

Can You Wear a Paddle Holster Without a Belt?

Yes. A paddle holster can be worn without a belt if the waistband is tight enough for a stable fit. Loose trousers can sag under the weight of the setup and will also not offer good friction for a prompt draw.

Are Paddle Holsters Secure?

Paddle holsters are secure enough if carried the right way. A good tip is to choose holsters with an active retention mechanism. Plus, wearing a belt strengthens the waistband fit to reduce the chances of failure.

Does a Paddle Holster Go Inside the Pants?

Yes. A paddle holster goes inside the pants. Don’t mount it over the belt. Since the paddle works on the principle of friction. The more surface area is in contact with the paddle, the more stable it will stay.

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!