Combatives Holsters

Combatives Holsters:

We have conducted numerous classes on concealed carry utilizing everything from single-sided half shell holsters to outside the waistband leather models. While some look for functionally, others appearance, we look for the usability and practicality of the platform itself and whether it is a viable option to both train in on a regular basis and wear in everyday use. This article highlights some of the traits and characteristics I look for in a holster. To date I have not found one that meets all the requirements. Because this article is about characteristics, I am not going to be mentioning brand names but rather design traits to look for in a good design so you can make an educated decision and benefit from the dozens of models and hundreds of dollars we gone through in our training classes.


The feel of the holster needs to allow for the user to operate in whatever conditions he/she needs, without becoming an impediment to them. For this reason, the ideal holster should be comfortable enough for the user to not just wear everyday but also allow for him/her to fight and train in under force on force conditions. If the holster is only comfortable standing at the range filming Instagram clips, then you won’t actually train in it (real training). If you don’t train in it, you’ll never achieve proficiency with the weapon it holds under real life conditions. So, although comfort is largely considered “unimportant” by the tacticool community of instaninjas it has a direct effect on your ability to achieve mastery with your weapon under realistic stresses.

When we talk about feel though, we’re talking about more than just comfort. Although comfort is an important factor, what I am referring to here is the ability to feel your weapon “on you” and “in place”. Weapons brought into a combatives scenario are free to be used by whomever can obtain them. This means that even if I don’t have a weapon on me, if I can obtain yours in a fight, its free for me to use.

Because of the dynamic stresses placed upon the weapon and holster during close-in combatives and grappling scenarios the user often losses feel for his weapon with various types of concealment holsters. This can happen for a variety of reasons that are simply too numerous to list. But one common reason is the holster has no retention ability on the weapon other than friction. Friction is often enough to hold a weapon in place as we run, climb and generally move about. However, when the body goes into unconventional positions trained on the ground or in close entanglement type scenarios, we sometimes lose some of that feel.

Actual Force on Force Training at 2018 Redbeard Combatives EDC class. Student in green is wearing a half shell design holster in appendix position.

A moment later the weapon has been removed without the student’s knowledge. 2018 Redbeard Combatives EDC class.

One way this can be mitigated is to simply have a holster design that allows for a solid “snap” when the weapon is inserted or drawn. Under stress this “pull” of the weapon followed by a sudden release is often enough to transmit feel to the user that his weapon has been removed. This snap also helps add an additional degree of retention to prevent the weapon from simply being released during high intensity combatives scenarios. Furthermore, it should allow for some degree of tension adjustment to allow the user to increase or decrease tension accordingly based on their build and carry position. Unfortunately, this design requirement tends to rule out single-side/half-shell holsters because of their lack of ability to provide this feature. Although among some of the most comfortable I’ve used they are less than desirable when it comes to feel and retention.

Holster Retention:

Now above we covered the ability of the holster itself to retain the weapon, and this is critical, but there is also another element of retention that is often overlooked except by those who actually put their equipment through the paces of full contact force on force training. Namely, that of the holster itself to remain on the user’s body and in position. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the holster drawn right out of the students pants when he executes his draw.

Student attempts to draw and removes entire holster with weapon. 2018 Redbeard Combatives EDC class.

The holsters ability to remain in position is vitally important as the controls for the weapon are often covered by the holster itself and thus it cannot be utilized or easily rectified in this state. The solution I look for when looking for a holster is two solid retention clips (front and back). The placement of the clips is crucial specifically because it keeps the holster from “rocking”. One problem you have with a single clip design is the holster has the ability to rock (front to back). When this happens, the weapon can become difficult to retain. Without the ability to control the angle of the holster, the weapon can be removed fairly easily without the end user knowing it. Thus, it becomes important that the holster retain it’s designed access angle in relation to the users body to facilitate the weapon being drawn by its intended user and not his/her opponent.

Holster being pulled out of alignment (rocked) and accessed by opponent. 2018 Redbeard Combatives EDC class.

The holster’s the ability to remain in place is also dir