Everyone has a thigh holster these days. You see them on soldiers and TV. Police are allowed to carry them some places too, so what’s the big secret? Are thigh holsters really better than the classic hip holsters most people have been using for years, or is this another “tacticool” bit of tomfoolery designed to sell you some junk you don’t need? I was fascinated by the debate, so I looked into it myself.
Why the Thigh
If everyone seems to be switching over, it’s usually for a good reason. There are some definite advantages to choosing a drop-leg thigh holster. When you sling your gun lower down, it puts it near where your hand falls naturally. That means a faster draw when you need it. Sometimes an extra quarter of a second can make a huge difference. Easy access is one great reason to carry lower on your leg.
Anyone who carries on their belt knows there are some downsides. Choosing a lower position for your firearm means you don’t need to worry about it pulling your belt or your pants down. In my book that’s a good thing, but you can always opt to upgrade your belt instead, so it’s negligible. However, thigh holsters also miss out on getting caught up in a seatbelt, which is a nice bonus.
Those who need to carry a lot on their belts or thin people who have less room naturally might benefit from this style of carrying. Freeing up space to have more of what you need without sacrificing your firepower is a sensible choice.
When You Need It
The most obvious advantage of a lower holster comes when you’re wearing armor or carrying a backpack that belts around your midsection. A standard hip holster can be problematic in these situations because it gets in the way. The reverse is also true. Your gear can hamper the ability to draw and fire.
The Waist is The Place
Let’s talk about what happens right before a gunfight. A classic hip holster may be a fraction of a second slower to draw, but if someone goes for your gun, it’s the better choice. The position allows you to retain your weapon better. Preventing the attacker from becoming your murderer seems like it’s worth a slightly less natural draw position.
Unless you plan to wear a pair of puffy bloomers over your gun, in which case you might as well not have one, you can’t hide a thigh holster. Though concealability doesn’t matter much to police and soldiers, anyone out of uniform might want the ability to make their weapon less noticeable.
The other distinct advantage is for uniformed personnel. Police have been under scrutiny a lot lately for looking more militant than necessary. With soldiers strapping on thigh holsters carrying a gun on your hip makes you look less militant. Even if you’re former 101st Airborne, sometimes not looking the part can be a huge boon.
The Downside of Thigh Holsters
Have you ever tried to walk down an unusually narrow corridor with a thigh holster? Sometimes just turning a corner will catch it, let alone trying to do anything active like climb over a fence. Plus, an appropriately fitted thigh holster is going to restrict the movement of your leg if you need to climb.
Crawling is its own problem with a gun on your leg. Not only do you have the snagging issue, but you also have to worry about it dragging. Dirt in your barrel or other parts of your weapon is a very bad thing.
The fact that a thigh holster moves with your leg means that the location of your gun changes when you move. Hopefully, you will never need to draw while running, but if you do, it’s a lot harder if you have to draw from a thigh in motion.
The Solution to High-Rise Hip Holsters
One problem with a belt carry that does seem to find a solution with a thigh holster is the slower draw. The good news is that there’s a compromise that lets you keep your gun a little further off your belt line without sacrificing too much retention. Go for a drop holster or at least one with a 360 swivel.
Ergo: I’m Keeping My Hip Holster & You Should Too
The choice here seems pretty obvious to me. Unless you wear body armor or have an eighteen-inch waist, carrying on your belt in the traditional style is a better choice. Thigh holsters are excellent if you need one, but wearing it just to fit in with the crowd isn’t worth losing your weapon in a struggle. Catching a holster when you need to move and chasing your gun to draw while in motion aren’t worth it for a slightly easier reach.
The Top Three Hip Holsters You Can Get
Now you know you can get the best of both worlds. All you have to do is make a choice about which holster suits you best. I rounded up my top three current favorites to help with this dilemma. They all have great features that will make life a little easier. Skip the trendy thigh holster unless you have to have it because of body armor. Pick up one of these beauties instead.
1. Blackhawk! Serpa CQC Concealment Holster
For those seeking a concealable, lightweight, belt, or paddle holster, I suggest the Serpa CQC. One of the best things about this particular holster is that it’s all-inclusive. The box comes with your holster, manual, all the hardware and three screws for the belt or paddle mounting, plus two belt mounting clips. It’s hard to complain about anything when you find such a great product.
- The Sound of Security- There’s an audible noise (loud click) when the safety engages. Resultantly, you never have to wonder if your gun is secure.
- Multitasking- The Serpa CQC will fit Glock 17, 22, and 31 models.
- Trusted Company- Blackhawk! is well known for its high-quality products.
- Sorry- Not suitable for polymer frame Taurus Judges.
- So Good- Unfortunately, when a product is this good, copycats pop up. Make sure you have a reputable dealer of Blackhawk! products.
Buy your Blackhawk! here.
2. CYTAC Ruger LC9 OWB Holster
When you need a versatile 360-degree rotating holster for easy access, this CYTAC option is top of the list. It fits easily on any 1.5-2 inch belt, and the price is right, but the best feature is the safety. A press to release button on the side won’t slow you down when you’re drawing to fire. The mechanism keeps your gun seated precisely where you put it when not in use. Plus you’ll be pleased with how fast, responsive, and easy the safety is to use.
- Fits Great- If you have LC9, LC9s, EC9, EC9s 9mm 3.12″ barrel pistols they’ll fit this exact holster. Note, this is not made to accommodate a laser sight. Other models are available from this company.
- Two Choices- You can wear this holster on your belt or directly on your waistband.
- Built To Last- The CYTAC OWB holster is designed for active use situations. The polymer is tough enough to stand up to daily wear even in harsh conditions. Additionally, it’s water and sweat resistant, wear-resistant, and lightweight.
- Lazy Error- This company gets a ton of returns. There’s nothing wrong with the product, but people don’t bother to read descriptions. Holsters don’t fit every gun. Make sure you check the model and get the correct holster for your firearm.
- Not the Most Concealable- The cant mechanism on this holster causes it to stick out a little bit from your side. The design is for open carry (OWB), so it takes more work to conceal.
Choose a CYTAC for your sidearm here.
3. Orpaz Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Drop Holster
Don’t be fooled by the word “Drop” in this Orpaz holster’s name. This is not a Drop leg holster (thigh holster). The ‘drop’ here refers to your ability to drop it down a couple of inches for a more natural draw. The level two, thumb released security retention means your gun is staying put in a fight or a fall.
- Nylon 6 Polymer- The material of this holster is combat tested. It’s resistant to both chemicals and abrasion.
- Two Screws- Having one screw to lock in your position is great, but two is better. Keep your weapon from shifting more efficiently with a second screw. (M5 Allen key included.)
- Made by a Vet- A veteran of the Israeli SWAT team makes Orpaz holsters.
- The Fit- The Orpaz Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Drop Holster might be a tight fit at first, but it should loosen up a little with use.
- Not Made in the USA- If you only buy local and national brands, then this one isn’t for you. It’s a great holster made in Israel.
Scope out a great Orpaz holster here.
Chasing perfection is always a losing venture. Sometimes you should ignore the hype and go with a classic. There’s nothing wrong with a thigh holster if you have to wear body armor. However, added mobility and retention are well worth the inconvenience of a caught seatbelt or a slightly less natural draw. You don’t want to chase your leg to draw on the move or worry about getting hung up on a fence.
There’s a good reason belt/hip holsters have been in use for so long. They work if you’re going to wear a sidearm stick to a belt holster.