Holster Accessibility and Retention
Holster Accessibility and Retention are two sides to the same coin, and they are always intertwined.
The best concealment rig in the world is totally useless if you can’t present the weapon when you need to. Because of this, you should always consider how easy and fast it is to get your weapon into play from a given concealment rig. Before making a holster purchase, put it on, stick your gun (or an acceptable substitute such as an aluminum dummy gun) into it, and see how easily it is to draw. Keep in mind that some holsters need a “break in period” before they draw really easily.
Holster Retention breaks down into a couple of issues. One is keeping the weapon from dislodging from your own efforts. The other is keeping it out of the hands of others.
Let me address the “keeping it from others’ issue first. Police officers use specialty retention holsters all the time, as well they should. Their weapons are “front and center” and on the minds of every criminal looking to get an advantage. Without a good retention system, more bad guys would get their hands on more police weapons, which is NOT a pretty sight. Retention holsters are very much an excellent idea for anyone with an exposed weapon, because it helps to keep the criminals from arming themselves with someone else’s weapon.
Exposed versus Concealed
Do you see the caveat there? Exposed weapon. If a weapon is properly concealed in the first place, no one knows that they should be grabbing it, let alone knowing where to grab it from.
Retention against others is probably an overblown issue for the average concealed carrier. I’m sure that there are those out there that will disagree with me on that. If no one knows you have a weapon, it’s kind of hard for them to decide to take it from you. Still, even with that, it’s a decision that you, yourself, have to make in regards to your situation. Perhaps everyone in the universe knows that you carry, and you don’t want people pawing your piece. If you feel you need it, you probably do, so go for it.
Your own actions affect this
Another piece of the holster retention issue is “retention against your own actions”. If you jog, run regularly, dogsled, or whatever, you should take into account your physical exertions and how likely they are to affect your carry. There is nothing quite so embarrassing as having your gun fall out in front of some random people. Having to scurry not only to get it back away. Explaining to the more nervous ones that they shouldn’t be alarmed by this. Only you know your physical activity level, and how likely you are to perform a sudden back flip, so that’s another piece of the puzzle that you need to work on.
Even if you are the proverbial couch (or mouse) potato, there are situations that might bear watching. The meme of losing a gun in the restroom stall is repeated often, because it happens far too often. Most everyone has read accounts of people leaving guns in places they shouldn’t have. If you have a concealment rig that’s vulnerable to having your pants down, think ahead.
An ounce of prevention, and all that, really beats a pound of pistol skittering into the next stall.
The higher the holster retention level, the lower the holster accessibility is going to be.
The more secure the weapon is, the slower / harder it’s going to be to put it into action. When you need the weapon, you are NOT going to have plenty of time. Adrenaline is gonna be pumping. Your friends and family are depending on you to do the right thing, and do it NOW! The simpler this is to accomplish, the more likely you will accomplish it.
“When you need your gun, you needed it five seconds ago. Not Five seconds from now.”
You should practice with your chosen rig just for this reason. That includes holsters both with and without retention systems. If they have holster retention systems, all the more reason you should practice with them until drawing through the retention is second nature for you. Holster Accessibility is something that you should NOT have to think about. Something that you can accomplish when the only thing you can see is the aggressor.