Don’t Overlook Using A Shoulder Holster

Shoulder holsters aren't just for private eyes and secret agents.

posted on December 2, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

History is kind of murky on the subject, but it appears that the shoulder holster came into being in the mid-1870s. Originally, it was just a pouch holster, similar to a hip rig, attached to a harness. Later on, holster makers incorporated a spring clip and even later went to the upside-down and horizontal design.

Contrary to what you have grown up seeing in movie and TV westerns, people generally did not go around a frontier town with a cartridge belt and six shooter strapped on. The carrying of handguns in many of the frontier towns was outlawed not long after the Civil War. Of course, some folks (Constitutional advocates, no doubt) still felt the need to go armed. And the shoulder rig was one option that became popular for concealed carry in those days.

The concept is still around because it has value. A person who tends to stay seated while at work will find it handier than a hip holster. And a person who is belted into his vehicle’s seat belt will find it a lot handier.

I’ve never worn a shoulder holster for everyday carry because I find I am not quite as fast with it as I am a hip holster. However, when I was working narcotics or felony apprehensions I found it was an excellent way to carry an extra gun. My preference was the upside-down rig for revolvers and the horizontal rig for semi-autos. I also liked the type of rig that carried extra ammo on the opposite side from the holster. That seemed to balance the weight just a bit and make things more comfortable.

Obviously, we are not all the same size nor do we have the same arm length. For this reason, some will find the shoulder holster more accessible than others. Regardless, it is worth consideration when searching for practical rigs for concealed carry. And it is advisable, if you normally carry in another location, to safely practice a few presentations when donning the shoulder rig, just so you can remember where your gun is located today.

And, sorry “Tombstone” fans, but there is no historical documentation that Doc Holliday used the shoulder rig ... or that he ever carried two guns. 


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