S.M.A.R.T. Holsters

Posted on June 2nd, by Michael in Advice, Gear. 2 comments

S.M.A.R.T. Holsters

There are plenty of holster options out there, unfortunately, most of the good ones aren’t typically what you find at the local gun and sporting goods stores.   They certainly carry a variety of holsters, but for critical uses like concealed carry, the holster is an integral part of your overall weapons system.

Here is my criteria for a suitable concealed carry holster:

holster1. The holster must STAY OPEN when the firearm is drawn, this implies the material must be something durable like rigid leather or Kydex.

2. The MUZZLE must be protected or covered.  Holsters that allow the muzzle to completely protrude, such as competition-style holsters, are not desirable for defensive use for a number of reasons.

3. It should ATTACH firmly to the belt.   There are some minor exceptions that are very specific in nature but IN GENERAL, for a defensive   carry holster,  it should attach firmly to the belt.   The belt, by the way, is also an integral part of the concealed-carry weapons system.

4. RETENTION mechanisms can be beneficial, particularly on OWB holsters.  IWB holsters typically don’t feature this option and it is less necessary on a good IWB holster.  CAUTION – RETENTION mechanisms (if present) should not align the finger with the trigger.  If you wonder why, watch this: Tex Grebner

5. The TRIGGER guard must be completely covered by the holster.  No matter what you are carrying,  you should carry it loaded.   Since manual safeties are maybe less than optimum on defensive carry guns, you are carrying a loaded pistol that is ready to fire.  The only way to keep from setting your pants on fire with it is to ensure that nothing can activate the bang switch until the gun has been deliberately drawn and presented (more or less) to a target potentially requiring a shooting solution.  To ensure this, the holster must completely cover the trigger guard.

Sum these up and it creates a simple acronym: SMART

S tays open

M uzzle is protected

A ttaches firmly to belt

R etention mechanism doesn’t create new hazards if present

T rigger guard is completely covered


If your holster meets these basic criteria, you are on the right track!


2 thoughts on “S.M.A.R.T. Holsters

    • Jeff,

      Very reasonable question, I will do my best to give a reasonable answer:

      There are several reasons why at least partially enclosing the muzzle is beneficial for defensive carry (as opposed to competition use, for example):

      1. Defensive use implies that we would draw the firearm to end, or escape from, a life threatening situation such as an assault that may involve close-quarters physical fighting with the assailant. With the muzzle exposed, it makes it easier for the gun to be pushed out of the holster (either unintentionally or deliberately), particularly during a ground-fight.

      2. During normal activities like getting into and out of vehicles, it is more likely for the muzzle to press against something that could cause it to be pushed out of the holster.

      3. When drawing, if the front sight or slide serrations snag on clothing (for example), it could drag that material into the holster causing it to pinch and foul the drawstroke.

      4. carry guns pick up a surprising amount of lint and debris when carried regularly, and they get smacked around a bit by contact with objects in the world around us. I would prefer to protect the muzzle from objects that could become bore obstructions, and from contact that could cause damage to the barrel crown – as unlikely as that is. I suppose it is more likely for the front sight to snag on something and get pulled off of some guns, depending on the firearm and type of front sight.

      Granted, these are all “what if?” scenarios, but that is the problem we are trying to solve by carrying a handgun in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fresh ADC Articles:

Our instructors have a wide breadth of knowledge. Tap into some great info in blog and articles section.

A Spare Parts Story

If you tinker with firearms long enough, you will accumulate spare guns and spare parts, so here’s a spare parts story:  A few years...

Thunder Ranch Countersniper With Fieldcraft AAR


Ask almost any supposedly reputable source for training on the obscure body of knowledge that includes fieldcraft, stalking, hides, camouflage, in short: “sniper skills,”...

Range Estimation Brain Teaser – Part II

Well, a few months ago when I wrote the last article, I had a few tests I decided to run at our spring Precision...