What Do Professionals Look For in a Concealed Carry Holster?

We are all probably aware that professionals, like law enforcement and military personnel, carry guns while on duty. Have you ever wondered if they carry while they are off duty too? If they do, what do they look for in a concealed carry holster?

While you may think they have very specific things they look for in an off duty holster that the typical everyday carrier wouldn’t, they actually look for many of the same things. Officer.com completed a survey of 100 responses that gathered information about officers who carry while off duty.

We are going to reference their research a few times throughout the article but overall the majority of officers carry while they are off duty. The most common caliber carried is 9mm and an overwhelming majority of people said they don’t carry with an optic or light on their off duty gun.

So, let’s get into the stuff you really want to know. What do law enforcement professionals look for in an off duty holster?


Most states only allow open carry in certain locations or under certain conditions. So, the majority of carrying is going to be done concealed. Whether you choose to do that with an inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB) holster is up to you. But we are focusing on the professionals for this article so what kind of holster do they prefer IWB or OWB?

Officer.com says while the results were fairly close IWB was clearly the winner. Inside the waistband holsters are extremely easy to conceal so it comes as no surprise that they took the lead over outside the waistband holsters.

Unless they are undercover or are required to conceal their weapon many law enforcement and military professionals open carry while they are on duty. When they are off duty however different rules apply and they must conceal carry their weapons like other permit holders. That is why concealability is important to them in an off duty holster.


If you are going to wear something or have it on your body for a long period of time you probably want it to be comfortable. That being said it makes sense that comfort would be on our list of what professionals look for in a concealed carry holster. There are a few different materials holsters are typically made of depending on what you prefer you may find one material more comfortable than others.

Let’s go back to what professionals prefer though. Officer.com asked the people surveyed what material they prefer for their off-duty holster material, the majority of people choose Kydex. While many everyday carriers prefer hybrid holsters, Kydex holsters, if made properly, can be just as comfortable. Many times this comfort is not just physical but also mental knowing that your gun is safe and secure in your holster.

There are a few other factors that can play into comfort beyond holster material. Pant size and what type of belt you are using are two things that can make a big difference. You can read more about them in our article here.


What good is a holster if it doesn’t have retention? A quality holster will have enough retention to keep your gun on your person as long as you are carrying it. Typically while on duty officers are required to carry with a holster that has multiple retention methods. But when they are off duty the level of retention their holster has is up to them.

Retention is an important part of any holster, it ultimately helps keep your gun on your person throughout the day. Because on duty officers use an active retention holster you may think they use one off duty as well, but according to Officer.com the overwhelming majority of people surveyed stated they use a passive retention holster while off duty.

This means they prefer a holster where the only method of retention is the inherent design of the holster and potentially a retention screw to keep their gun in place. All of our all Kydex holsters use this level of retention and are very effective at keeping your gun in your holster throughout the day. For more information on holster retention and the different levels of retention, you can check out our article here.


Adjustability can be very important in helping make your holster fit your gun and your needs. We just mentioned that for off duty concealed carry holsters officers prefer a passive retention holster over an active retention holster. Some passive retention holsters offer adjustable retention through the use of a retention screw. About half of those who selected passive retention prefer their holster include a retention screw that can be adjusted.

In addition to adjustable retention, some holsters have adjustable ride height and cant.The ride height and cant that works best for you can depend on the position you carry in as well as your personal preferences. Ride height is how high or low your holster sits on your waistband and cant is the angle your holster sits at which can affect your draw.

We know adjustability can be an important part of the holster selection process for professionals or everyday carriers and that’s why we wrote a whole article on the importance of adjustability. Many of our holsters are adjustable to help fit your needs and preferences. You can check out all of our holsters here.


Overall, one of the most important things the law enforcement professionals we talked with look for in a holster, whether on duty or off duty, is trigger protection. You don’t want to risk anything getting in the trigger and pulling it unintentionally.

But let’s review the other things professionals look for in a concealed carry holster. First off, is the holster concealable? Most professionals select an IWB holster because they are more easily concealed than an OWB holster. Concealed carry holsters are typically worn all day so it’s important that it is also comfortable.

One of the main purposes of a holster is to keep your gun on your person, retention plays a big part in this. The majority of law enforcement officers choose a passive retention holster for concealed carry over an active retention holster. And last but certainly not least, adjustability. Being able to adjust your holster to meet your preferences can play a role in comfort, concealability, and retention.

Knowing what a professional looks for in a concealed carry holster can help an everyday carrier find a holster that is right for them. Ultimately, it comes down to what you prefer and what meets your needs. We recommend visiting our Holsters by Gun Model page if you are looking for holsters that are custom made for your weapon of choice. For all of our belt and holster options and for more information to help you choose the carry system that works best for you, visit our Vedder Holsters website.

Looking for items beyond holsters and belts, check out our Resources Page for popular product links like lights, laser, first aid, maintenance, and more.