Best 1911 Holsters: IWB & OWB Concealed Carry Holster Reviews

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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 best 1911 holster can be a challenge.

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

We’ve listed 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, continue on for more education on the best 1911 holsters on the market today. We’ve provided our top two picks below, in case you don’t like to read. Below that is our detailed breakdown of the best 1911 holsters if you prefer a little more research.

OUR TOP THREE PICKS

AlienGear Shape Shift Final

Our rating

Alien Gear Shape Shift

Top IWB Pick

Galco Gunleather

Our rating

Galco Master

Top OWB Pick

Blackhawk Serpa

Our rating

BLACKHAWK! Serpa

Budget Pick

What Make the Best 1911 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.

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

How To Choose the Best 1911 Holster

Choosing a holster should depends on a user’s particular needs. The majority of people carrying the 1911 use it for self-defense and concealed carry. Concealed carry requires special needs, and so does open carry and tactical applications for security and police.

Concealed carriers want something that provides complete protection from viewers. This means carrying a low profile, easy-to-conceal holster. IWB holsters are easier to conceal than OWB holsters, though there are plenty of excellent concealed carry OWB holsters.

Best 1911 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 corrode the firearm. If the weapon is tight against your body, you want a layer between your body and your gun.

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

Open carriers often use OWB holsters instead of IWB holsters. Open carriers likely desire an active retention device to ensure no one can take their weapon.

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.

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.

Retention Devices: An Overview

The best 1911 holsters 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 also from someone trying to steal it off of you.

An active device provides an additional layer of security for someone who carries their 1911 openly. 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’s 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. 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.

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

Outside the Waistband: Basics & Top 5 Picks

OWB holsters are the more traditional and common type of holster. These holsters ride on the belt of a user, and to conceal it, 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, or 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 among the best 1911 holsters. 


1. Galco Combat Master

Product

Galco Combat Master Belt Holster for Kimber Colt 1911 5"...

  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by law enforcement, military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality
  • 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield
  • 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield

Our rating

Details

  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by law enforcement, military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality
  • 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield
  • 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield

What We Like: Galco’s reputation, history, reliability, made in the USA.
What We Don’t: Cost.

The Galco brand of holsters is well known for their leatherwork. 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 thus improves retentions, as well as 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 easily makes our list of the best 1911 holsters. A classic choice for a classic firearm.


2. The Blackhawk Serpa Sportster

Product

BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Holster, Size 03, Right-Hand,...

  • Fits Colt Government 1911 and clones (some) with or without rails
  • SERPA Auto-Lock active retention system
  • Trigger finger lock release
  • Gunmetal gray holster body with black SERPA Auto Lock release
  • Passive retention and audible click upon re-holster for security
  • Includes Paddle Platform only

Our rating

Details

  • Fits Colt Government 1911 and clones (some) with or without rails
  • SERPA Auto-Lock active retention system
  • Trigger finger lock release
  • Gunmetal gray holster body with black SERPA Auto Lock release
  • Passive retention and audible click upon re-holster for security
  • Includes Paddle Platform only

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. It also has a retention screw to increase the tension, making the weapon hard to remove.

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


3. Fobus Paddle Holster

Product

Fobus C21 Standard Holster for 1911 Style pistols without...

  • Lightweight 2oz. holster
  • Low profile design for concealability
  • Passive retention allowing rapid presentation
  • Rubberized paddle backing for extra stability and comfort
  • Attachments secured with steel rivets
  • Fobus Standard Holster 1911 Style-All Models, S&W 945

Our rating

Details

  • Lightweight 2oz. holster
  • Low profile design for concealability
  • Passive retention allowing rapid presentation
  • Rubberized paddle backing for extra stability and comfort
  • Attachments secured with steel rivets
  • Fobus Standard Holster 1911 Style-All Models, S&W 945

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. It comes as no surprise that Fobus lands on our list of the best 1911 holsters.

The Fobus paddle holsters are maintenance-free and do not need to be cleaned, oiled, or cared for very often. Drop it 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 a bare-bones, simplistic holster that works.

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


4. Outbags OWB Holster

Product

OUTBAGS USA OB-04SC (RIGHT) Nylon OWB Outside Pants Carry...

  • 600 Denier Nylon
  • Magazine Pouch
  • Fully Adjustable Thumb Break
  • Steel Belt Clip
  • Belt Loop

Our rating

Details

  • 600 Denier Nylon
  • Magazine Pouch
  • Fully Adjustable Thumb Break
  • Steel Belt Clip
  • Belt Loop

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 a steel clip. This steel clip is incredibly strong and easily supports the heavy weight of a loaded 1911.

The Outbags holster uses a button-equipped strap to keep the weapon in the holster, regardless of what you’re doing. Whether bouncing, climbing, or riding, your 1911 won’t go anywhere. As a bonus, the holster is equipped with a magazine pouch attached to the actual holster.

One of the weaknesses of this holster its low capacity, so an extra mag on hand could be a lifesaver.


5. Blade Tech Total Eclipse

Product

No products found.

No products found.

Our rating

Details

No products found.

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. Despite their novelty to the industry, Blade Tech makes our list of the best 1911 holsters—certainly an impressive feat. 

The Blade Tech uses passive retention with an adjustable tension device right below the trigger guard. The trigger guard is where maximum retention is felt. The holster has 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 conceals easily. Blade Tech’s belt slot designs are well done and make it possible to carry the weapon comfortably for an extended period of time.


IWB Basics & Top 5 Picks

Inside the waistband holster are designed to maximize concealment. They fit between your pants and your body, and at most only expose the handle of your gun. This deep level of concealment is both a tactical strategy and a necessity in certain states, making IWB designs the best 1911 holsters for many concealed carriers.

While most states allow open carry, some do not. IWB offers an easy option to carry a gun concealed inside a baggy shirt or coat.

Deep concealment prevents anyone from spotting your gun and gives you the element of surprise when necessary. A well-made IWB holster attaches securely and carries the weapon comfortably.


1. Alien Gear Shape Shift

What We Like: Everything! Cost, great warranty, experts’ top pick.
What We Don’t: N/A – this thing is even made in the USA.

We rarely offer this level of praise, but the Cloak 3.0 sits atop our list of the best 1911 holsters. The Cloak 3.0 is an IWB holster, made by the fine folks at Alien Gear. Alien Gear makes some of the best 1911 holsters on the market, and the Cloak Tuck 3.0 is their newest IWB model. The Cloak Tuck is an incredibly comfortable hybrid holster that uses both natural materials and Kydex to carry your gun.

The soft natural material goes against your body and makes 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.


2. Galco King Tuck

Product

Galco KingTuk IWB Holster 4-5" 1911s Colt Kimber para S&W...

  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by Law Enforcement, Military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality

Our rating

Details

  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by Law Enforcement, Military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality

What We Like: Galco reputation, cost.
What We Don’t: Size.

The Galco King Tuck series has a classic IWB design. 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 prevents the holster from moving or sliding while you move during the day. The polymer holster portion is molded specifically for a 1911 so you have a rock-solid fit.


3. The Galco Waistband

Product

Galco Waistband Inside The Pant Holster for 1911 5-Inch...

  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by law enforcement, military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality
  • 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield

Our rating

Details

  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by law enforcement, military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality
  • 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield

What We Like: Hard to beat a classic.
What We Don’t: Other holsters offer more stability.

If a shooter wants a comfortable, simple way to conceal carry, the Galco waistband is the best 1911 holster 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 feels like wearing a well-used boot. It’s soft, supple, but still does the job. This simple holster can be worn strongside hip, appendix, or in a crossdraw position. The Waistband holds 1911s very well and has the perfect size for minimalist carry.

The Galco Waistband uses an optional leather thumbstrap to retain the weapon. With a good belt, the friction from your body, the holster, and the 1911’s weight guarantees solid retention.


4. The Blade Tech Phantom

Product

Blade-Tech Industries Phantom Inside The Waistband Fits 1911...

  • Black IWB (inside waistband) holster
  • Fit: 1911 government 5 inch
  • Right hand/dual IWB loops with "pull the dot" snaps
  • Thin .080 polymer construction/loops adjustable for belts...
  • Full length sweat guard/will not collapse

Our rating

Details

  • Black IWB (inside waistband) holster
  • Fit: 1911 government 5 inch
  • Right hand/dual IWB loops with "pull the dot" snaps
  • Thin .080 polymer construction/loops adjustable for belts...
  • Full length sweat guard/will not collapse

What We Like: Cost.
What We Don’t: Length of time on market.

The Blade Tech Phantom is aptly named because it makes your 1911 disappear in your waistband. One of the best 1911 holsters to make full use of polymer, the Phantom has 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 user. These loops use a simple button system to remove and attach 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 it makes rapid drawing and easy to do.


5. Ultimate Belly Band Holster for Conceal Carry

Product

Ultimate Belly Band Holster (Black, Medium and Large Pistol)

  • AVAILABLE IN LARGE AND XL - Large neoprene band is adjustable and...
  • ONE SIZE HOLSTER IS COMPATIBLE WITH MOST FIREARMS - Surgical...
  • CARRY IN ANY POSITION - Can be worn inside the waistband IWB,...
  • RIGHT OR LEFT HAND DRAW - Bellyband Holster is available in right...
  • HARD PLASTIC TRIGGER GUARD for extra safety while carrying....

Our rating

Details

  • AVAILABLE IN LARGE AND XL - Large neoprene band is adjustable and...
  • ONE SIZE HOLSTER IS COMPATIBLE WITH MOST FIREARMS - Surgical...
  • CARRY IN ANY POSITION - Can be worn inside the waistband IWB,...
  • RIGHT OR LEFT HAND DRAW - Bellyband Holster is available in right...
  • HARD PLASTIC TRIGGER GUARD for extra safety while carrying....

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 it 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, pushing it to our list of the best 1911 holsters.

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.


Choosing the Best 1911 Holster

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 amazing trigger and inherent accuracy. The big 45 ACP pill it throws has a relatively low recoil and a few wars to test its effectiveness.

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

 

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

By

Chris Frenchak has over 20 years of firearms experience between sporting and responsible concealed carry applications. Chris is a member of multiple pro-second amendment organizations including USCCA, NRA, and just as importantly, his local range. Chris is continuing a legacy of support for our rights by working with his family to increase firearms education and awareness as the lead editor of GunBacker.

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

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