You don’t hear much about shoulder holsters anymore because many believe that they're outdated there's no place for them. But they are wrong.
Shoulder holsters, or “underarm” holsters, are another excellent option for convenient carry in many different scenarios.
As you may already know, an underarm holster is a type of holster rig designed to be worn with the pistol on either side, although under the non-dominant arm is preferred.
In this article, we're going to review a handful of our favorite shoulder holsters and explain why they made our list. Let's get started!
Best Shoulder Holsters Comparison Chart
UTG Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster
Best Shoulder Holster
Uncle Mike's Black Kodra Nylon Sidekick Vertical Shoulder Holster
Best Shoulder Holster Runner-up
VISM Ambidextrous Horizontal Shoulder Holster with Double Magazine Holder
Best Shoulder Holster Second Runner-up
Yeeper Deep Concealment Shoulder Holster Right Hand Draw
Best Shoulder Holster
UTG Deluxe Vertical Shoulder Holster
Best Vertical Shoulder Holster
Under Control Tactical Ultimate Double Shoulder Holster
Best Double Shoulder Holster
Gould & Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster
Best Leather Shoulder Holster
Federal Vertical Shoulder Holster for 2" Revolvers
5 & 6 Shot
Best Revolver Shoulder Holster
Benefits of Using a Shoulder Holster
Shoulder holsters are sometimes seen as gear for old-time agents and detectives as they make carrying and concealing a service size gun easier, but there are a growing number of gun enthusiasts who prefer them.
A well-designed, well-fitted shoulder holster is an excellent option for concealed carry of a long-barreled or a full-sized handgun because it offers better weight-bearing abilities required by heavier guns.
Actually, proper shoulder holsters spread the weight of your firearm and spare ammo over a larger area of the body, and distribute it evenly across your shoulders. "Underarm" holsters typically have pouches for high-capacity, double-stack magazines counter-balancing the handgun found on the other side of the harness.
A shoulder holster allows fast access to your gun while you are seat-belted in a car, or if you find yourself at a desk for most of the day due to work. Besides, since the cross draw is frequently utilized with a shoulder holster, you will be able to get your hand on your firearm in a natural-looking, an inconspicuous manner just crossing your arms.
Another hidden advantage to that design is its self-sufficiency, due to this type of holster, shoulder rig offers complete systems keeping your weapon, spare magazines, speed loaders and/or flashlight all in one convenient portable package ready for any emergency.
Considerations to Keep in Mind When Looking for New Shoulder Holster
An often-overlooked advantage of the shoulder holsters is the versatility: they accept and work with several different pistols conveniently and safely.
However, you should keep in mind that these holsters do not go well with small handguns.
Shoulder holsters are available in a variety of materials such as ballistic nylon, leather, molded plastics (like Kydex) or cotton-canvas combinations. Keep in mind, that the stronger the material, the higher the durability and the heavier the handgun it can accommodate. However, holsters made from cloth are not so durable, but they are easy to conceal and more pleasant to the wearer's body than other materials.
Designed to be customizable, shoulder holsters are probably too complicated for the average end users, and they take time to get accustomed to. Therefore, good advice is that it might be best to try the item on before buying, and check the possibility of a money back guarantee or exchange policy.
Because shoulder holsters are often mentioned in negative context, as they are relatively low-security arrangements, you should check if your potential holster has a hidden retention device to prevent anyone other than you from removing their gun.
Another problem with shoulder holsters, particularly for first-time buyers, is ensuring that your holster and gun are concealed beneath your cover garment at all times.
The shoulder holster requires you to wear your jacket at all times when in public view. For instance, this may be somewhat inconvenient when you find yourself in a relaxed social situation where you will need to take off a jacket or relax at a restaurant.
It should also be mentioned that flexible shoulder holsters would require the use of two hands to reholster so the better choice for speedy reholstering of your gun would be a rigid holster.
Are all Shoulder Holsters the Same?
For gun owners who regularly wear jackets, blazers, and vests, shoulder holsters are a favorite, but they are a bit more polarizing than standard holsters.
Typically, shoulder holsters are not tied to one specific make and model gun, but they are compatible with several similar size handguns.
Besides classic shoulder holsters designed for concealed carry, there are shoulder holsters adapted for military personnel (pilots or drivers) as well as for hunters.
Hunting with a handgun is a fast-growing sport and it requires a field-type shoulder holster, which has a strap running across the chest to help stabilize the scoped handgun.
Generally, the concealed carry shoulder holsters can accommodate weapons with the barrel pointed in three main angles - vertical, horizontal, or 45- degree.
The horizontal shoulder holsters are the most commonly available but also the most problematic for concealment, so they are most suitable for weapons with shorter barrels and smaller frames.
The more serious concern is the barrel muzzle that pokes out at the rear horizontally and points at someone behind the shooter making it a target in case of unintended gun discharge.
Types of Shoulder Holsters
There are two types of vertical shoulder holsters, known as upside-down holsters, and another form where you can put the gun barrel in the opposite direction, with the muzzle pointed down.
The first is easy to conceal, preventing a proper firing grip and limiting the barrel length that can be comfortably accommodated.
The second type holsters are excellent choices for larger framed guns especially those with the longer barrels, but the muzzle is angled up toward the wearer's armpit and the brachial artery.
Between those two styles, a mid-solution is to carry the gun at a 45-degree angle with the barrel muzzle pointing up. As a compromise, the 45-degree kind of holster offers more comfortable grip than an upside-down model, while it works with slightly longer barrels than the horizontal holster types.
Regardless of styles and types, your choice of the most comfortable and workable shoulder holster should be based only on your decision made upon through research and testing. Your safety and of those around you should be the top priority.
Review of the Best Shoulder Holsters
In the next chapter, we have prepared a mix of top-sellers and a buyer's guide of the best shoulder holsters.
Best Shoulder Holster: UTG Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster
Leapers UTG Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster is the comfortable and affordable solution for a beginner and anyone who wants to experiment with a shoulder rig.
This black, "underarm" holster features a modular design to justify the "Universal" word from its designation. It means that the UTG holster is fully adjustable to fit most body types matched with hook-and-loop strap system for different pistol slide lengths.
Also, using the quick release latches this completely adjustable horizontal shoulder holster and will enable you to swap the holster and the two magazine pouches from the left to the right arm, making it suitable for both left- and right-handed users.
It is also possible to change the cant of the holster that allows you to carry in a more vertical position.
The black, padded Deluxe Horizontal Shoulder Holster is constructed out of PVC material with a soft lining which ensures that your firearm finish will not be damaged.
Although the UTG claims its Deluxe Universal Horizontal shoulder holster is compatible with most handguns sizes, it is not the easiest to conceal full-size pistols, but it works the best with mid-size pistols or as a winter carry rig.
It is a great carrying system for the price featuring padded shoulders to absorb the weight of heavier handguns. As one of the most basic shoulder holsters, this easily adjusted model will keep your handgun securely in place.
Best Shoulder Holster Runner-up: Uncle Mike's Black Kodra Nylon Sidekick Vertical Shoulder Holster
The Uncle Mike's line of Sidekick holsters consists of several carrying platforms types made to meet the needs of all kinds of firearm owners.
This Uncle Mike's shoulder holster is vertically oriented with muzzle down pointed, meaning it can accommodate very substantial guns with longer barrels.
Actually, the rig is comfortable to wear even with 6 - 7 1/2" barrel single action revolvers. The Sidekick is not a concealed carry holster by any means, but it is a good choice for hunters and sportsmen since its 2 1/2"- wide nylon web shoulders straps distribute the weight of your full-size handgun.
The holster holds good retention with the help of a strap, with a combination adjustment buckle, and snaps, that keep your gun in place.
The Sidekick Vertical Shoulder Holster is built of Kodra Nylon, a material very similar to Cordura Nylon, but it is made in Korea. Like Cordura, you will need extra work to make it waterproof.
The Kodra Nylon Sidekick features the fully adjustable shoulder harness with a self-centering back piece that fits everyone. While the onside, self-adjusting belt loop keeps holster close to your side, the offside tie-down anchors harness to your belt and let you carry a magazine pouch or speed loader vertically or horizontally.
The holster body has a smooth nylon lining and a high front to protect your gun, yet making it easy to draw and reholster. This fully adjustable shoulder harness from Uncle Mike's Sidekick series is also available in a version for Scoped handguns in several patterns and colors.
Best Shoulder Holster Second Runner-up: VISM Ambidextrous Horizontal Shoulder Holster with Double Magazine Holder
A budget-oriented ambidextrous shoulder holster from VISM by NcStar is designed with the price-conscious buyer in mind to use as a training holster.
The NcSTAR Vism carry rig is a horizontal shoulder holster constructed of lightweight, but tough PVC material (less than 9 ounces), and intended for a concealed carry alongside jacket or a heavy coat.
Also, the ambidextrous horizontal shoulder holster comes with double magazine pouches connected to the shoulder harness.
Featuring multiple adjustment and attachment points, this VISM shoulder holster is adjustable for right- or left-handed draw and will ensure a secure and balanced fit to a lot of size pistols.
For added security, it is fitted with adjustable double thumb break snaps and tie-down straps for securing the rig on your belt or belt loop.
However, this cheap holster has some design flaws, such as lack of adjustable cant or a small amount of Velcro stripping for proper adjustment.
The VISM ambidextrous shoulder holster is undoubtedly great value for the cost offering better quality than you would expect from such a low-cost holster. However, buyers need to be aware of its limitations and suitability size of handguns.
Best Shoulder Holster Third Runner-up: Yeeper Deep Concealment Shoulder Holster Right Hand Draw
Unlike other shoulder holster rigs, Yeeper Deep Concealment shoulder holster is designed to conceal the gun even without having to wear layers of clothes or jacket.
This holster type is the epitome of concealment without much layering as it will conceal your weapon properly without any prints. Because this shoulder holster is made almost entirely of elastic, it is an excellent option for someone looking to carry a handgun while jogging, or to the gym.
While its universal design fits most popular pistols, Yeeper Deep Concealment holster is primarily designed as a means to carry a small, single stack gun.
As an ingenious carry method, Yeeper features a fully adjustable strap to wrap around the chest to position the holster as per your comfort without attaching it to the belt. This deep concealment holster has compatible and flexible retention strap to hold the gun in place while it distributes the weight of your weapon to your shoulders and across your back for a comfortable, all day carry.
The idea of this holster type is to position the handgun as it would be in a shoulder rig. However, the maximum concealment has the other side of the coin, an issue with a draw-ability. It is apparently not the quickest access for concealed carry, as it takes more than twice as long to draw from this rig as it would from any other holster.
Best Vertical Shoulder Holster: UTG Deluxe Vertical Shoulder Holster
Leapers, Inc. /UTG, a trusted gear company, have released the whole line of holsters including horizontal and vertical lightweight shoulder holsters as two of the most purchased models on the market today.
Like horizontal, the vertical model is universal and modular, meaning its design will fit most popular large frame pistols, revolvers and even sub machine guns such as MP5 or UZI. The reversible thumb break system will allow for both left and right-handed use too.
The UTG Deluxe Universal Vertical Shoulder Holsters is made of an extremely rugged synthetic material and features a soft lining and adjustable straps for a custom fit.
All Leapers UTG Series Shoulder Holsters consists of a padded shoulder harness, a holster, and two mag pouches. Each rig is fully adjustable and includes Velcro straps attached to web belt for holster/pouch tension.
Keep in mind that this is a tactical holster, meaning besides a thumb break, it has some Velcro safety to make a very secure holster hold.
However, like any other shoulder holster, this UTG features significantly slower draw than a hip carry, and it takes a lot of trial and error to adjust everything for the wearer to feel comfortable.
Considering the UTG Vertical shoulder holster price and practicality, combined with an innovative design, we get a professional low-cost solution and a good spare holster that can successfully be used in your everyday and outdoor activities without hesitation.
Best Double Shoulder Holster: Under Control Tactical Ultimate Double Shoulder Holster
For real gun lovers, when one pistol is just not enough, the Under Control Tactical offers their Ultimate Double shoulder holster that accommodates 2 guns and 2 magazines.
It is perfect to fit all popular models including different style 1911 handguns, service pistols, and revolvers.
As one of the best double shoulder holsters, this impressive black holster is made from rugged, lightweight polyester with PVC coating, that's both durable and resilient to even the toughest of jobs.
This vertical carry (muzzle down) double holster shoulder rig features the double configuration attachments that distribute weight evenly compared to single holster systems. This unique holster includes two vertical Velcro straps that easily attach to a belt too.
With this Under Control Tactical holster, you get adjustable shoulder harness with a quick release buckle, two additional pouches, and universal fit for pistols and revolvers of various sizes. The manufacturer states it is a waterproof holster, but users would say this is rather a water-resistant one.
Without a doubt, leather holsters are much more durable. This highly rated shoulder holster will probably be your best option if the price tag is the critical factor.
Best Leather Shoulder Holster: Gould & Goodrich B804-G17 Gold Line Shoulder Holster
Gould & Goodrich is a well-known brand known for making a full line of the finest holsters, belts, and accessories.
Made from beautiful genuine leather, the Gould & Goodrich B804- G17 series is intended for Glock series; but the company also makes Gold Line holsters for other handgun models.
While this shoulder holster is entirely adjustable to enable great comfort, it holds your gun horizontally, providing for a fast draw.
Designed with plastic screws, clasps and keepers, the B804 holster is equipped with a back swivel to help straps lay flat for even better concealment, allowing you comfortably CCW while you are driving or sitting.
With storage space for a pistol and two extra magazine pouches, the Gold Line gives you the best combination of functionality and value for a shoulder holster.
The overall look of the Gould & Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster is conventional and very receptive for the law enforcement officers because its functionality defines comfort, even w. As a higher-grade leather holster with an outstanding design, G&G Gold Line still comes at a reasonable price.
Best Revolver Shoulder Holster: Federal Vertical Shoulder Holster for 2" Revolvers 5 & 6 Shot
This traditional styled Federal shoulder holster is intended for right-handed cross draws with vertical muzzle orientation since it has a compartment for 2” revolver on its left side.
It is constructed of nylon, that is more precise, and the offside straps are made of a soft-lined Cordura for all-day comfort. The holster itself is padded with closed cell foam moisture barrier.
Constructed of two layers of Cordura, the wide shoulder straps are very similar in width to backpack straps, so these shoulder pads will stay flat and won’t slide around.
The Federal shoulder holster for 2" revolvers features a four-way adjustment system, so the entire rig stays completely secure allowing for all-day comfort without feeling heavy, itchy or painful.
The holster includes a reinforced stop for your thumb, a poly slide sight channel that protects sights, and a tie-down strap to attach to the belt.
The Federal holster offers plenty of value in one small package but you should keep in mind this option is made explicitly for the revolvers with traditional hammer and 2" barrels, so the hammerless models or 6" or 4" barrels won't work here.
Choosing the right holster for your activities and body contour is a daunting task and a holster with cool features, but without comfort, is not worth the buy.
Every carrying style platform has advantages and disadvantages, and the shoulder holster has pros and cons, just like any other holster mode of carrying.
However, regarding comfort, it's hard to argue against the underarm holster so you shouldn’t be surprised when you find on the market, shoulder holsters made specifically for smartphones, single or double one. Like in sidearms, in holsters there is no best, the best will be the one you're going to use for an extended period of time.