Gun Mann

The Best Open Carry Holsters of 2024: Complete Buyer’s Guide

Open carry holsters are generally seen on police officers, defense personnel, or shooters at a shooting range. Some people like to use them when they go hunting. Most firearm owners prefer to carry concealed to prevent themselves from offending anyone or creating panic. But there still is a large community of firearm owners who support and use open carry holsters.

Here we’ll be talking specifically about open carry. We will compare it to concealed carry and outline the pros and cons. We will also learn about the factors to consider when buying an open carry holster. Furthermore, we have handpicked and reviewed the best open carry holsters on the U.S market, to help you with your purchase.

So brace yourselves, and keep reading !

Note: Please check your local open carry laws and the laws of any state you might travel to while carrying, before purchasing an open carry holster. Some states allow open carry, while others have strict laws for it.

Comparison of the Best Open Carry Holsters 

IMAGE PRODUCT  
 
  • 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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When Would I Use an Open Carry Holster?

You should use an open carry holster if you are in a jurisdiction where open carry is allowed. Keep this in mind while looking for a holster. Furthermore, you should consider looking at your local, state, and even federal laws that pertain to open carry. Open carry and concealed carry are two different types of carrying a weapon allowed by law. However, there are some exceptions for open carry

Considerations When Buying an Open Carry Holster

There are a few aspects to consider before buying an open carry holster. Some of these aspects are applicable to every type of holster you buy, whereas some pertain solely to open carry holsters.

Retention

First and foremost, look for some sort of retention mechanism in any open carry holster.

Many open carry holsters rely on tension, size, and the elasticity of the material to provide retention. 

A quality active or passive retention system is a must for open carry holsters. Since it prevents your weapon from falling out or getting stolen.

Look for retention mechanisms like thumb straps, locks, snap buttons or velcro.

Carry Position

Consider what carry position suits you best and choose an appropriate holster for that purpose. Open carry holsters are not limited to OWB types.

A few popular carrying positions (Source)

They also include shoulder holsters, thigh holsters and ankle holsters.

Some people like to carry different kinds of holsters on different occasions. So you must carefully assess the type of holster you desire before buying one.

Covered Trigger Guard

Under no circumstances should you choose and use an open carry holster which does not fully cover the trigger guard.

Covering the trigger guard is necessary to prevent accidental discharge of the firearm. Which is essential for your safety, as well as the safety of others. Additionally, an open trigger guard can let the trigger snag onto an object when you're moving through thick bush or cramped spaces. 

Adjustments

A good open carry holster must be adjustable. Adjustable features include the retention, cant (carry angle), and mounting platform (paddle, clip, etc.). Greater room for adjustments ensures better versatility and efficacy of the holster.

Cant Explained (Source)

Once properly adjusted an open carry holster will be comfortable in nearly any circumstance. An ambidextrous open carry holster can also be a good choice, however not necessary.

Review of the Best Open Carry Holsters 

The following is a list of the best open carry holsters that are currently on the list. It’s important to take note of any of the features and characteristics that will stand out as interesting to you. You may also find your “dream holster” that will probably be something that you’ll be proud to invest in and put to good use. 

Now we're going to switch gears and take a look at some of our favorite open carry holsters. But don't worry, we'll explain why we think each model is unique and outline some pros and cons for each:

Best Nylon Open Carry Holster: 
UTG Deluxe Commando Belt Holster

Pros

  • Extra Mag Pouch
  • Lightweight and Comfortable
  • Fits Most Mid Sized Handguns
  • Strong and Secure Velcro Straps

Cons

  • Only Right Handed
  • Not Good For Large or Sub-compact frames

What Recent Buyers Report

This holster was a hit for users who were looking for a holster that was not only durable in material but also allowed for quick and easy access to their pistol if and when they needed it. They were also quite happy with the ease of attachment to most belts and it stayed in position while they were in motion.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you are in search of a holster that will provide superior retention of your pistol even if it’s out in the open, then you’re probably going to love putting this puppy to good use. It’s a highly durable holster that will handle all your open carry needs. It fits most compact and full-size pistols like a glove. This comes with a clip that is really sturdy and won’t let you down in terms of keeping hold of itself. So it’s quick and easy drawing without the fuss of searching for your pistol in a dangerous situation. 

The Commando Belt Holster from UTG deluxe is a very simple, inexpensive and comfortable holster for open carry. The holster features a polyester body which is smooth on your firearm and protects you from cuts or bruises.

The retention is secured by a premium quality quick-release buckle snap attached to an adjustable strap. It also features an adjustable hook-and-loop lock belt strap to use with a variety of gun belts.

Additionally, the holster has a pouch on its top which can be used to carry an extra magazine (or two in some cases).

The holster fits most medium sized handguns, particularly 9mm frames. The holster covers the trigger very well, thus also preventing accidental discharge.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the perfect holster for anyone in a security or law enforcement job that will rely on an open carry holster for their sidearm of choice. It will fit nicely on a wide variety of tactical belts and will stand out on your belt as one of the most important tools you need for everyday use. If you want superior durability and a reliable carry, this is the holster that might stand out the best.

Bottom Line

The UTG Deluxe Commando Belt Holster could be quite useful whenever you are able to open carry. It will keep the pistol in place without any slippage and will guarantee a comfortable fit. If you have a compact or full-size pistol to open carry, you’ll have something that will be durable and dependable no matter where you go.

The UTG Commando Belt Holster is the best holster on this list. It is lightweight, low-priced, offers great quality and a secure retention.

This holster is ideal for carrying mid-sized handguns which are useful for nearly  every purpose. Its design also offers limited levels of concealment.

Adjustable belt loop will firmly attach to your belts. Good for everyday carry and adventures.

Best Open Carry Holster Runner-up:
DTOM Premium Leather Universal IWB or OWB

Pros

  • Ambidextrous
  • Can Be Used Both IWB and OWB
  • Fits Most Large and Mid Sized Guns
  • Durable and Comfortable Leather Body

Cons

  • Gun Exposed To Wear
  • Not For Very Compact Guns
  • No Locking/Retention Mechanism

What Recent Buyers Report

New users of this holster were mostly owners of Glock pistols. They used this to fit their pistols in a holster that fits perfectly (and can also be used for concealed carry use). One user said that this was the one holster that he could depend on since he was able to conceal it if he wasn’t allowed to open carry. To add, he said that it was one of the most versatile holsters that he’s ever owned. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This holster is made for both IWB and OWB carry. Which means you can attach it on either side of your waistband. If you haven’t caught it the first time, here’s a reminder for you: it can be used for either concealed carry or open carry. So if you are in a state where concealed carry is allowed and open carry is not, then you can switch it to another position where you can carry your pistol out of plain sight but still at your side. Plus, it’s a holster that is mostly used for Glock pistols, perhaps one of the most reliable names in pistols on the market today.

The DTOM holster features a minimalist design, and can accommodate handguns of any size with ease. It features a premium leather body which will last and also easily conforms to the shape of your body.

The holster features a metal clip, as well as belt slits, meaning it can be worn both IWB and OWB. Additionally, the clip is removable, and the holster is adjustable to slide onto your belt.

The leather body is covered by a synthetic nylon lining which will wear out with time. The holster is ambidextrous and covers the trigger guard well. Its design offers an FBI cant.

The only drawback is the exposed barrel slide, which is susceptible to wear. This gun does not have a locking mechanism for retention.

Who Will Use This Most

At this point, it seems pretty obvious who this is going to be for. It will be the perfect civilian holster for those that don’t want to switch back and forth between holsters for open or concealed carry. Why do that when you can go from open to concealed in one fell swoop? This holster is designed from sheer brilliance. If you agree, this might be the go-to holster for you.

Bottom Line

If you want a holster that is excellent in quality and a stroke of a true genius when it comes to how you should carry, this DTOM Premium Leather Universal IWB or OWB holster will go above and beyond to satisfy your pistol carrying needs. Whether you choose to open carry or conceal carry, this holster will certainly rise to the challenge of being one of the most reliable holsters in the business. 

The DTOM holster has been designed from premium leather which provides comfort and will last.

It has a minimalist, lightweight design, and is also ambidextrous. It can be used both IWB and OWB, which is a plus.

The only, and most disappointing, drawback is the lack of a retention lock which is a must for open carry holsters. The slide is also always visible, which exposes it to wear. Overall, this is a good holster for range use.

Best Retention Holster for Open Carry:
BLACKHAWK! SERPA Level 3 Auto Lock Duty Holster

Pros

  • Good Quality Holster
  • Ideal for Law Officers
  • Level Three Retention
  • Modular Mounting Platform
  • Full Slide Length Cover Protects the Firearm

Cons

  • Requires a Bit Practice to Use

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the new users were either right-handed or left-handed shooters that purchased this with their respected hand-orientation. One user said that as a lefty, he no longer had to suffer from struggling with shooting right-handed and found a holster that allowed him to quickly draw his pistol in both an open and concealed carry setting. Furthermore, he added that the holster does a good job keeping the pistol in place so no one doesn’t access it without his knowledge. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you want a holster that will make open carry a lot better for you, this could be the holster to go with. A lot of times, open carry has some risks that gun owners are most aware of. This includes the possibility of those stealing the pistol from your holster and possibly using it against you. Yes, it does happen and tragic things have happened. But if you want to prevent that from happening, you can depend on a holster that will keep the pistol locked in so you and only you can access it. 

This Level 3 retention holster from Blackhawk is an exceptional choice for law enforcement officers and people in adventure sports. The holster has a full Kydex body and covers the entire slide length of your weapon.

The holster comes with a belt loop and a paddle platform which makes it perfect for open carry.

The holster also features a sleek cut-down body also suited to concealed carry. The level 3 retention is the result of the additional thumb lever making open carry even more secure.

However, it requires a bit of extra practice to use this holster with efficacy.

Who Will Use This Most?

This pistol will serve a whole lot of open and concealed carry users well. Especially those who are in law enforcement or the military. This holster can handle the heavy-duty applications and will stay in place without slipping out or somehow ending up in the wrong hands. It would be hard to resist a holster like this after hearing all the excellent features and characteristics it has. 

Bottom Line

The Blackhawk SERPA Level 3 Auto Lock Duty Holster might be the holster you’ll end up using for all your open carry applications. But you best believe that it has the best security features of any open carry holster on the market. And let’s not forget the overall durability of this bad boy. It’s tough, rough, and can last quite a long time. Don’t believe us? Try it yourself. 

The Blackhawk open carry holster has a modular design and offers level 3 retention for a secure carry. The holster protects the firearm perfectly and the material can withstand any inflicted damage. Perfect for law enforcement officers, hunting trips, and range use.

Best Kydex Open Carry Holster:
Comp-Tac International Holster

Pros

  • Durable Kydex Body
  • Adjustable Ride Height
  • Modular Mounting System
  • Adjustable Retention and Cant
  • Exceptional For Competition Use

Cons

  • Kydex Might Scratch You During Competitions

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the new buyers had nothing but good things to say about this holster. For one, the overall durability of the material. They also mentioned that the Kydex material played a major role in making it really comfortable for them to wear. On top of that, they managed to draw their pistols quickly and re-holster them without any snagging.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the major things that stood out was the holster’s material. It’s made from a high-quality synthetic material known as Kydex. And it’s been catching fire in terms of popularity in recent years. It will get the job done in terms of keeping the pistol durable, secure, and allowing for fast, consistent drawing that other holsters (and those made from different materials) may fail miserably at. And it has the potential to last you a lot longer than some other holsters on the market.

The Comp-Tac international holster is a versatile open carry holster perfect for shooting competitions, as well as everyday carry.

The holster features a modular mounting system which combines a belt holster, belt drop offset holster, paddle holster, and paddle drop offset holster into one.

The Kydex based holster also offers an adjustable retention and cant mechanism to offer different mounting positions. Each of the mounts can be adjusted according to your personal requirements.

The ride height of the the holster is adjustable when mounted with attachments, so it can be customized to fit every person.

The Comp-Tac International is USPSA legal for both genders in all configurations. However, some restrictions apply of IDPA.

Who Will Use This Most?

If you are among the legion of gun owners that want a holster that will last a long time, then you may want to consider a holster made from Kydex. It’s proven to be super tough, won’t change shape, and won’t forsake you in the situations where you need your pistol the most. Be it in an open carry or concealed carry situation, it’s the kind of material you can trust.

Bottom Line

Kydex is the material of the future. And at some point, a good number of holster manufacturers might just release their own holsters made from this awesome material. If you want to jump on that train early while it’s still gaining steam, the Comp-Tac International Holster will probably be the go-to option for you.

The Comp-Tac international holster has versatile features to suit the needs of every individual user. The holster is fully adjustable and is perfect for use in competitions like 3-guns. The price range is apt but might be of concern some people.

Best Open Carry Thigh Holster:
BLACKHAWK!! SERPA Level 3 Tactical Holster

Pros

  • Level Three Retention
  • Durable and Comfortable
  • Adjustable Retention and Fit
  • Available For Most Handguns

Cons

  • Expensive For Some Models
  • Might Snag Onto Something As You Move

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were quick to say that this holster was an EDC carrier’s dream. Not only did it provide a lot of excellent carry space for pistols, but it went well above and beyond to provide additional compartments for magazines and other EDC tools. One user said that the holster alone saved him a good amount of space on his tactical belt. Other than that, it allowed for quick and easy drawing that was fast, consistent, and snag-free. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you want a holster that is serious business when it comes to open carry, this might be the go-to option for you. There are a few good reasons why this holster is a stand out favorite in our opinion. For one, you have the hardcore durability thanks to the polymer material that goes into this holster. Second, there are the extra compartments where you can store additional magazines and some EDC tools that might just fit. No, it’s not necessarily a bug-out bag. But it will definitely be one of those things you won’t want to take for granted in a survival situation.

Shifting from waistbands, let’s focus on other types of open carry holsters. This open carry thigh rig is comprised of a Kydex holster and a polymer base, which attaches to four straps with lock buckles. Two straps wrap around your thighs, whereas the other two attach to your belt. The holster has an adjustable level 3 retention, with an audible click locking system.

Thigh holsters are generally used by defense personnel in the field. However, you can also use it at the range, or when hunting. The holster fits most 9mm frames perfectly. You can refer to the chart to find your ideal fit.

Who Will Use This Most?

If you’re someone who wants to prep for any danger and also stays ahead of the disaster curve, this holster might be exactly what you are looking for. It’s a nice addition to tactical belts and will make sure that it will work perfectly in any given open carry or even concealed carry application. It’s versatile, has the ability to keep you well-prepped, and easy to take with you no matter where you go. 

Bottom Line

The Blackhawk Serpa Level 3 Tactical Holster is probably going to be one of the best holsters for an EDC user. How can you resist a holster that is durable and allows you to carry some more EDC tools than you know what to do with? It’s always good to be prepared no matter where you are. But you can certainly stay ahead of the curve when danger strike (especially with a holster like this). Open carry or concealed carry, it’s your call. 

Thigh holsters are not very popular among common citizens and firearm enthusiasts, and are generally used only by defense personnel.

This thigh holster offers an adjustable fit and a reliable retention. Works out to be a good carry option while you’re out in the woods camping, hiking, or hunting. However, it might catch on things as you move, so be careful.

Best Everyday Open Carry Holster:
CYA Supply Co. IWB Left Handed Holster

Pros

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Full Length Sweat Guard
  • Adjustable For Retention and Cant
  • Can Be Concealed Easily When Necessary

Cons

  • Left Handed Users Only

What Recent Buyers Report

The new buyers as expected were left-handed shooters that were in search of a holster that benefited them the most. And sure enough, it was perfect for their ability to handle pistols with the use of their left hand. Most of them had it placed in a cross-body position for the purpose of making drawing quick and easy in a self-defense situation. One user said he no longer felt the need to use a right-handed holster after giving this one a try. So far, he’s not complaining or struggling any longer. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is the only left-hand exclusive holster on our list. Some of the others are either available in either or hand orientation or ambidextrous (however you want to call it). Let’s face it, a good number of lefties get a bad rap these days. Some say that they should suck it up and learn to use their right hands. Come on, you think that’s going to be the best course of action? No. And if you are a left-handed shooter, you’re probably agreeing with this 100 percent. If you want a holster that will make open carry a lot easier for you the lefty, this is the holster you want to go with. 

You’re probably thinking, what’s an IWB holster doing on this list? An IWB holster can also be used for open carry. Especially when worn over a tucked-in shirt or T-shirt. This IWB holster from CYA Supply Co. is intended for left handed shooters only. The holster is made from Bolatron (similar to Kydex) and features an adjustable retention and cant mechanism.

It has a full length sweat guard to protect your clothes and skin. The holster uses a metal clip to attach to your waistband or belt, and can also be concealed when necessary.

Who Will Use This Most?

If you are a left-handed shooter that no longer wants to suffer from the struggle and frustration of using everything with your right hand, you’d be a fool to pass up the opportunity to give this holster a closer look. This will definitely give your open carry experience a lot more enjoyable rather than having to suck it up and shoot with a hand that will make controlling it dang near impossible. 

Bottom Line

The CYA Supply Co. IWB Left Handed Holster is the one kind of holster you can expect left-handed shooters like yourself to flock to if you plan on open carrying. Forget having to rely on ambidextrous holsters, this is made for lefties and probably by lefties. This might be the holster you never get tired of using once you get the feel of it.

This IWB holster from CYA offers an easy switch between concealed and open carry. These kind of holsters are good when moving around in very crowded places, or while working at the office.

Best Open Carry Shoulder Holster:
Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster

Pros

  • Adjustable Cant
  • Padded Shoulders
  • Room for Double Carry
  • Modular Holster Design
  • Fits Most Pistols and Revolvers
  • Smooth Lining Protects the Firearm

Cons

  • Not For Sub-compact Pistols
  • Can be uncomfortable in Hot Weather

What Recent Buyers Report

This holster was a perfect fit for most users, who were either security personnel or carrying a secondary pistol. They reported the holster is easy to adjust so it could fit their size. The holster itself was also able to fit a good number of compact and full-sized pistols, with one user saying that it eliminated all the guesswork of whether or not his pistol would fit on a holster like this. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Typically, a holster like a shoulder holster is normally for concealed carry. And yes, this holster can be used for that. But since we are on the topic of open carry, we can confirm that this holster too can be useful in an open carry setting. This has not only the holster itself but additional pouches that is able to hold additional magazines. If you want something that will make sure that you are prepared for any target shooting or self-defense application, this shoulder holster might be something to consider if you are planning to carry at the range or open carry while you are out and about. 

Who Would Use This Most?

This will be perfect for security forces, law enforcement, and even regular pistol owners who tend to open carry. It will also be great to use for concealed carry purposes when the weather gets colder or if you want to use it for secondary carrying. Of course, there are people who carry two pistols at the same time (which is never a bad thing).

Bottom Line

The UTG LE Grade Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster is the best option if you want to open carry without the use of a regular hip holster. It’s got the right kind of adjustments to fit almost any shooter. Plus, it will take any pistol you use no matter what the size. A universal holster will always be a great option if you are unsure of which another holster on the market can handle your favorite pistol of choice. 

Finally comes the much loved and classy horizontal shoulder holster. This shoulder holster from UTG is probably the most unique and the best on the market. Firstly, it has a modular holster that is interchangeable on either side using buckle locks. Thus making this holster universal for lefties and righties. All the straps in this shoulder holster are adjustable for length too.

The retention is guarded by a Velcro-reinforced snap lock to keep the weapon secure. The cant of the holster can also be adjusted by changing the position of buckle locks. The holster has a couple of mag pouches on one side with inverted heads, so your magazine drops itself without you having to pull it out. The mag pouch can also be replaced with a second holster for double carry. The holster has shoulder pads, making it even more comfortable to use.

This shoulder holster is extremely comfortable in normal to cold weather due to its padded design. The holster can switch sides and has an adjustable cant.

Extra mag pouches and the capability to add a second holster is also unique. The extremely low price makes it an exceptional deal.

Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry - Which is Best? 

The community that supports and uses firearms, along with the general public, and the government often express strong opinions on this topic. A large part of the community supports concealed carry, whereas others favor open carry. However, open carry holsters are still an extremely important part of shooting competitions and law enforcement.

Both carry options have their pros and cons. Back in the day, when gun laws were less stringent, whether to carry open or concealed was more of a personal choice, rather than a topic of debate.

But with growing security threats, and the current socio-political scenario, the topic has become extremely debatable.

To compare the two, we will analyze their pros and cons based upon certain basic and important factors:

Draw Times

A holster’s ability to facilitate a quick draw, can mean the difference between life and death in certain scenarios. It is a known fact that open carry holsters have quicker draw times compared to concealed carry holsters.

This difference can be a fraction of time in the case of AIWB (Appendix Inside Waistband) holsters, but there is still a difference.

Open carry holsters are also a necessity for shooting competitions, where draw times really matter.

Concealment

Certain situations require you to conceal your firearm. Concealment also offers an element of surprise to shock your attacker in a self-defense situation.

Open carry holsters offer limited concealment as they require you to put on a jacket or coat to be concealed.

Thus, open carry is not always an option when it comes to concealment, though a quick draw is still obtainable from under a jacket.

Man wearing IWB holster while driving (Source)

Comfort

It is said that open carry holsters have an upper hand in the comfort area. This is subjective due to the variety of holsters and body types.  

Concealed carry holsters can be uncomfortable while sitting, driving, playing or running. Guns with larger barrels may dig into your pelvis.

Open carry holsters, on the other hand stay put with a modicum of space between your body and the holster.

However, when using an open carry holster, you may have problems reaching into your pockets or carrying a large backpack or purse over your shoulder.  

Firearm Security

Open carry holsters keep the firearm open and at a small distance from your body. This puts them in a position to be stolen, or in worst cases, it can be pulled out by someone intending to turn the weapon on you.

Open carry holsters with good locking mechanisms can still be a good choice. Concealed carry holsters eliminate this problem almost completely.

Modularity/Customization

Open carry holsters offer modular features like interchangeable padding, holsters, and other adjustments options to enhance your experience and usage.

Concealed carry holsters, however offer limited space for customization due to the tightness of their carry position.

Conclusion

Open carry holsters are a good choice for law enforcement officers, defense personnel and competitive shooters, due to their quick draw times.

Some models of open carry holsters can be partially concealed, while some cannot. A good open carry holster must be comfortable, have a good lock/retention mechanism, and should not interfere with daily tasks. 

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