Best Holsters For Your 1911: IWB & OWB Concealed Carry Holster Reviews

The 1911 is an American legend in the handgun world. Designed over a hundred years ago by John Browning the 1911 served with the United States for 70 years and continues to serve with concealed carriers. Because of its age and popularity finding the right holster can be a challenge.

The 10 holsters in this list are the best on the market for carrying the 1911 platform. What’s important to understand is what makes a holster a good holster. There is plenty of crap out there and it good to know what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve listed out our top picks for both IWB and OWB below for those of you that don’t like lengthy reads.  If you prefer a little more detail, please continue on for more education on the best 1911 holsters on the market today.  Below we’ve provided our top two picks in case you don’t like to read, and a detailed breakdown of several models below that if you prefer a little more research.

Let’s jump in.

TOP OWB LEATHER HOLSTER: The Galco Combat Master
TOP CONCEAL CARRY IWB HOLSTER: The Cloak Tuck 3.0 by Alien Gear

What makes a good holster?

Good holsters should fit the weapon. Something too loose or too tight will provide poor retention of the weapon. Poor retention could cause the weapon to slide out of the holster and hit the deck.

The best 1911 holsters will be specifically fitted to the 1911 design. This improves retention and makes carrying the weapon more comfortable and easier to draw. A good holster will utilize quality materials that will last for years of heavy use.

A good holster will also support your weapon, and will not sag, twist, or bend when worn. The 1911 is a heavy weapon in most cases and a good holster is critical to carrying the weapon comfortably.

How To Choose a 1911 Holster:

Choosing a holster needs to be based on a user’s particular needs. The majority of people carrying the 1911 are doing so for self-defense, and likely carrying concealed. Concealed carry requires special needs, so does open carry, and tactical applications for security and police.

Concealed carries like want something that keeps the fact they are carrying a guarded secret. This means carrying a low profile holster that can be easily concealed. IWB holsters are easier to conceal than OWB holsters. Although, there are plenty excellent concealed carry OWB holsters.

 1911 OWB Holster Carry
Carrying a 1911 can pose some problems.

Concealed carriers also need to protect the weapon from their sweat. Sweat has salt and can be corrosive to a firearm. So if the weapon is tight against the body you want a layer between the body and gun.

Open carriers aren’t concerned with someone seeing their firearms. Comfort can be a main priority for the open carrier. They can carry in a variety of ways with different holsters.

Open carry commonly revolves around OWB holsters instead of IWB holsters. Open Carrier likely desire an active retention device to ensure no one can take their weapon.

Police and security teams have the ability to carry openly without hesitation or worry. Police and security often desire tactical configurations that revolve around the use of kydex and modern polymers.

These users may require their handgun to sit lower on their waist to deal with wearing body armor. Retention is a major focus for police and security who certainly need a retention device.

Retention Devices: An Overview

A holster should also have some form of retention device. This retention could be an active retention device, like a push button release, a thing with a buckle or button, or a thumb release. These devices prevent the weapon from not only falling out of the holster but from someone trying to take it from you.

An active device is an additional layer of security and is perfect for someone who carries their 1911 openly. These devices are heavily used by police and military units for that layer of extra security. The main downside is they can slow down someone drawing their weapon. Below is a solid video that explains what active retention is and why it can be important.

A passive retention device is a retention device that doesn’t require you to activate or unlatch anything to draw your weapon. Passive retention devices mainly utilize friction to keep the weapon in the holster.

A passive retention device will keep the 1911 in the holster in most situations. It’s unlikely to free itself if you trip and fall, or through any jarring movement. However, the weapon could be stripped from the user in a physical engagement.

Passive retention is the fastest way to draw a weapon and makes a holster simpler and more reliable. Most IWB holsters utilize passive retention and the body and belt retain the weapon. Other firearms utilize a retention screw that can adjust for friction based retention.

What are IWB and OWB?

Good question. IWB and OWB are acronyms that refer to the most popular types of holsters.  OWB means that the holster is carried “outside the waistband” and IWB means that the holster is carried “inside the waistband” which is the most popular method for concealed carry.

Let’s look at OWB & IWB in more detail as well as our top picks.

Outside the Waistband Basics & Top 5 Picks:

Outside the waistband holsters are the more traditional and common type of holster. These holsters ride on the belt of a user and to conceal you have to drape a shirt or jacket over the gun and holster.

OWB holsters are often more comfortable, and quicker to draw from. OWB holsters can be nylon, leather, and a polymer material known as kydex. This polymer material is ultra strong and long lasting.

OWB holsters are the hardest holsters to conceal and it is easy to accidentally expose your 1911. OWB holsters are easy to find, and often the most popular

Galco Combat Master for 19111. Galco Combat Master:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: OWB
Attachment System: Belt Loop
Material: Leather
What We Like: Galco reputation, history, reliability, made in the USA
What We Don’t: Cost, but not a major impact

The Galco brand of holsters is well known for their leather work. They make a holster that looks great and functions equally well. The Galco Combat Master upholds the Galco reputation well. The Combat Master is made from leather and utilizes a passive retention friction based system.

Drawing from the Combat Master is simple and can be done quite rapidly. There isn’t a retention device to beat. The Combat Master hugs the body well and is an excellent way to conceal the big 1911 handgun.

The large belt attachments support the weapon well and prevent it from sagging, or drifting over time. The holster is specifically molded to the 1911 and this improves retentions, and your ability to smoothly draw the weapon.

The Combat Master offers a butt forward cant that aids in both concealment and your ability to draw the weapon. This 100% leather holster is well crafted, functions well and is a classic choice for a classic firearm.


Blackhawk Serpa Holster For 1911 Final2. The Blackhawk Serpa Sportster:

Retention System: Active auto lock retention
Holster Type: OWB
Attachment System: Belt/Paddle interchangeable
Material: Kydex
What We Like: Cost, reliability, Blackhawk brand name and reputation
What we Don’t: Manufactured overseas

The Blackhawk Serpa series of OWB holsters are made entirely from polymer with metal screws. This polymer, kydex material is designed to be resistant to water, dust, debris, and any other element you throw at it. This holster is the chosen holster for the United States Marine Corps.

The Serpa series utilizes a revolutionary active retention system that uses a push button to release the weapon. The Serpa holster places this button right where the finger falls when drawing your weapon. The Serpa also has a retention screw to increase the tension to make the weapon hard to remove.

The Blackhawk Serpa is a modular system that can be worn on a belt loop, a paddle, a thigh rig, or even a shoulder rig. Blackhawk Serpa holsters are molded to the individual firearm. The Serpa is an extremely strong holster and is known for their durability and strength.


Fobus Paddle Holster For 19113. Fobus Paddle Holster:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: OWB
Attachment System: Paddle
Material: Kydex
What We Like: Cost, reputation, customer satisfaction guarantee
What We Don’t: Prefer belt over paddle attachment

If a 1911 owner is looking for something affordable, well made and easy to use the Fobus Paddle holster is a good place to start. The Fobus system of holsters is made from composite polymers that are durable and resistant to whatever nature can throw at it.

The Fobus paddle holsters are maintenance free and do not need to be cleaned, oiled, or cared for much. Drop in the sink with the dishes from time to time and dry it well. The paddle design makes it easy to attach to any kind of pants and can be worn without a belt.

The Fobus supports the 1911 pretty well and really holds in a manner that’s easy to draw from. The holster is surprisingly affordable. You sacrifice a few extra features for bare bones, simplistic holster that works.

The Fobus holster uses passive retention that keeps the weapon firmly in place. The steel reinforced rivet attachments keep the weapon in place. Even with the steel rivets, the entire holster weighs 2 ounces.


Outbags 1911 Nylon OWB Holster4. Outbags OWB Holster:

Retention System: Thumbstrap
Holster Type: OWB
Attachment System: Metal Clip
Material: Nylon
What We Like: Cost, reputation, comfort
What We Don’t: Stability, thumbstrap for retention

A simple and affordable method to open carry your 1911 is the Outbags OWB holster. Made from nylon this holster is perfect for roaming the ranch, exploring the woods, or walking the property. The use of nylon keeps the holster lightweight, tough, and affordable.

The Outbags holster is made entirely in the United States and is a large holster designed to carry full sized firearms like the 1911. The weapon attaches to the belt via steel clip. This steel clip is incredibly strong and supports the heavy weight of a loaded 1911 well.

The Outbags holster uses a button equipped strap to keep the weapon in the holster regardless of what you’re doing. Bouncing, climbing, riding, it doesn’t matter your 1911 isn’t going anywhere. As a bonus, the holster is equipped with a magazine pouch attached to the actual holster.

One of the weaknesses of the 1911’s weaknesses is its low capacity, so an extra mag on hand could be a lifesaver.


Blade Tech Total Eclipse5. Blade Tech Total Eclipse:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: OWB & IWB
Attachment System: Belt Loop
Material: Kydex
What We Like:Versatility, can go both OWB and IWB, made in USA
What We Don’t: Newer to holsters

Blade Tech is a newer holster company that has made huge waves in the competition circles. From there they expanded into concealment OWB and IWB holsters. The Total Eclipse is their IWB & OWB model that is aimed and made for the 1911.

The Blade Tech uses passive retention with an adjustable tension device right below the trigger guard. The trigger guard is where the maximum retention is felt. The holster is an open top design that allows a very rapid and smooth draw of your 1911.

The minimalist design keeps the weapon tight to your body and makes sure it is easy to conceal. Blade Tech’s belt slot designs are well done and make it possible to carry the weapon for an extended period of time comfortably.


IWB Basics & Top 5 Picks:

Inside the waistband, holsters are designed to maximize concealment. They fit between your pants and your body and are most only expose the handle of your gun. This deep level of concealment is both a tactical strategy and a necessity in certain states.

While most states allow open carry a wide variety do not. People in these states are forced to conceal their weapon. IWB offers an easy option to carry a gun concealed with the need for a baggy shirt or coat.

Tactically being able to carry in deep concealment prevents anyone from spotting your gun and gives you the element of surprise when necessary. A well made IWB holster is a comfortable holster that attaches securely and carries the weapon comfortably.

Alien Gear IWB Cloak Tuck 3.0 for 19111. Alien Gear IWB Cloak Tuck 3.0:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: OWB
Attachment System: Belt Loop
Material: Hybrid
What We Like: Everything! Cost, great warranty, experts top pick
What We Don’t: N/A – this thing is even made in the USA

The Cloak 3.0 is an IWB holster by the fine folks at Alien Gear. Alien Gear makes some of the best IWB holsters on the market and the Cloak Tuck 3.0 is their newest model. The Cloak Tuck is an incredibly comfortably hybrid holster that uses both natural materials and kydex to carry your gun.

The soft natural material goes against your body and make it so the gun doesn’t rub or chafe during daily carry. The extended clips on the holster keep your 1911 from rubbing you raw as you go about your business.

The Cloak Tuck 3.0 is comfortable, carries a full sized 1911 well, and keeps it under the radar.


Galco King Tuck for 19112. Galco King Tuck:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: IWB
Attachment System: Belt Loop
Material: Hybrid
What We Like: Galco reputation, cost
What We Don’t: Size

The Galco King Tuck series is a classic IWB design that Galco has nearly perfected. The King Tuck is a hybrid unit that mixes leather, metal, and polymer. The polymer portion holds the holster, the leather rests against the body and the metal holds it all together and keeps it clipped to your pants.

The King Tuck’s metal clips support your full sized 1911 with ease and prevent the holster from moving or sliding while you move during the day. The polymer holster portion of the holster is molded specifically for a 1911 so you have a rock solid fit.


Galco IWB Holster3. The Galco Waistband:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: IWB
Attachment System: Metal belt clip
Material: Leather
What We Like: Hard to beat a classic
What We Don’t: Other holsters offer more stability

If a shooter is looking for a comfortable, but very simple way to conceal carry the Galco waistband is likely for them. The Galco Waistband is made almost entirely from leather, except for the metal belt clip. This leather holster is rugged and simple.

Carrying the Galco Waistband is like wearing a well used boot. It’s soft, supple, but still, does the job. The simple holster can be worn strongside hip, appendix, or in a crossdraw position. The Waistband retains 1911s very well and is the perfect size for minimalist carry.

The Galco Waistband uses a leather thumb strap to retain the weapon, but using it is optional. With a good belt, the friction from your body and the holster and the 1911’s weights guarantees solid retention.


Blade Tech Phantom4. The Blade Tech Phantom:

Retention System: Passive
Holster Type: IWB
Attachment System: Belt Loops
Material: Kydex
What We Like: Cost
What We Don’t: Length of time on market

The Blade Tech Phantom is an aptly named because it makes your 1911 disappear in your waistband. One of the few IWB holsters to make full use of polymer the Phantom is an overall excellent design. The Phantom is molded specifically for the 1911 platform and is a perfect way to carry appendix.

The Blade Tech Phantom uses two leather belt loops to hold the weapon on the belt and secure it to the users. These loops use a simple button system to remove and attach them to a belt. This system gives the user the ability to easily don and remove the weapon when necessary.

The Phantom’s kydex design makes re holstering a snap and drawing rapid and easy to do.


Belly Band Holster for 19115. Ultimate Belly Band Holster for Conceal Carry:

Retention System: Nylon Strap
Holster Type: IWB
Attachment System: Comfort Band
Material: Hybrid
What We Like: Cost, comfort, closeness to body, room for ammunition
What We Don’t: Newer concept

The Ultimate Belly Band holster for conceal carry is a newer addition to the holster market.  It brings an awesome idea/perspective to conceal carry and is a preferred choice by many shooters for concealing with minimal imprint.

The belly band hugs your firearm closer to your body than traditional IWB holsters and has room for an ammunition pouch.  Having the right amount of ammunition with a 1911 is a common complaint among many shooters due to the limited capacity of the magazine.  Adding the pouch for additional ammunition is a huge benefit for the belly band.

The belly band also crosses into other firearms as well.  One belly band can handle a wide variety of firearms, from a .22LR Pistol to a .357 or a 1911 and Glock 17 9mm.  It basically fits everything making it extremely versatile.  The only downside is the pressure around your entire torso.  If you are comfortable with that portion, the Ultimate Belly band may be the last holster you ever need to buy.


Wrapping up the 1911 Holster Choice:

The 1911 has and continues to be a trusted self-defense firearm. Although it’s over a century old the classic design is known for it’s maazing trigger and inherent accuracy. The big 45 ACP pill it throws has a relatively low recoil and a few wars to test it’s effectiveness.

Carrying a 1911 can be a challenge, though. It’s a big and heavy gun. However, with the right holster, it’s more than possible. Holster selection means more than anything when carrying big guns. Choose wisely.

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