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CCW: Holster Selection

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

When students show up for our CCW 1 classes, we often have issues due to the poor quality and design of their holsters. As a CCW carrier, you must spend some time and money to obtain the right holster for your pistol.

First, there are two main categories:

1) Outside-the-waist-band (OWB) holsters

2) Inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters.

For concealed carry, you will most likely want to choose an IWB because they better conceal the pistol. The IWB holds the gun closer to your body and will allow your pants to cover most of the holster. The OWB, on the other hand, is less concealable because it lies on the outside of your pants. During the colder months, an OWB may work fine if you wear longer jackets.

That said, we want you to come to CCW 1 with an OWB, not an IWB!

Compared to IWBs, OWBs are safer to use, especially for new shooters. There is less of a chance of your garments interfering with the drawing and holstering process. If there is a negligent discharge, it is less likely to injure you since the holster is further from your body.

For the Contra Costa County permit applicants, you must use an OWB holster during your official live-fire qualification on the Sheriff's range. At CCW 1, we give you the opportunity to practice this qualification. Therefore, to get the most realistic training, you should have an OWB in our class.

Regardless of the jurisdiction for which you are applying, if you show up to CCW 1 with an IWB, you will shoot the qualifications from a compressed ready position instead of from the holster. You will not be allowed to holster a loaded pistol into an IWB at our CCW 1 training (during intermediate and advanced Paladin classes, we will allow you to practice shooting from an IWB holster). Get a good OWB first, and then select a suitable IWB later. Become thoroughly familiar with that IWB before actually using it to carry your pistol.

During CCW 1, we have a detailed presentation about holster and belt selection. However, we'd like you to you to consider purchasing a quality OWB holster before you come to class. You must order early, because it can take 3 or more weeks to receive these custom holsters. Here are some recommendations:

First, don't buy a holster on Amazon; it may a poor quality knock-off. Don't buy a Blackhawk SERPA or anything that resembles its index finger retention system. Don't buy any holster made of nylon or leather.


For Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, CZ, Springfield, and Walther pistols, check to see if L.A.G. Tactical can support your model. The Defender and Warrior(for weapon-mounted lights) holsters can be converted between OWB and IWB. Order with the OWB variant as the "Primary Use."

Use Paladin10 for a 10% discount at checkout at LAG Tactical:


If you can't find your holster at LAG Tactical, then try Safariland. Choose a holster with the ALS retention system and belt loops (don't order the paddle). Here is the Safariland holster finder:

See you in class.

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