When it comes to carrying your firearm, the type of holster you choose can make all the difference.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the history of shoulder holsters, discuss their practicality, and compare various models.

From the classic horizontal design to the sleek vertical options, we will delve into the pros and cons of each style.

Whether you prefer the Viper Holsters Shoulder Rig or the Galco Jackass, we will help you determine which is the better option for you.

Shoulder Holsters Compared

In terms of choosing the right shoulder holster, the options can be overwhelming. To make an informed decision, it’s essential to compare different shoulder holsters based on various factors.

One crucial aspect to consider is the material used in the holster construction. Leather shoulder holsters offer classic style and durability, while nylon holsters are lightweight and offer great value for money. Looking at brands like Galco and Uncle Mike’s, each brings its unique design features.

The adjustable straps and retention systems play a key role in ensuring a comfortable fit and securing your firearm properly.

  • Vertical shoulder holsters are popular for their vertical carry orientation, which aids in concealing larger weapons.
  • In contrast, horizontal shoulder holsters provide quick access but may not conceal as effectively.


The history of shoulder holsters dates back to the American Civil War era when cowboys and peace officers used rudimentary shoulder rigs to carry their sidearms in the Old West. Over time, advancements in holster technology led to the creation of modern shoulder holsters by renowned manufacturers such as Black Hills Leather.

As firearms evolved, so did the designs of shoulder holsters. The early 20th century saw a surge in popularity of shoulder carry due to its practicality and comfort. Notable figures like Wild Bill Hickok and John Wayne popularized this method of gun carrying in movies, influencing its adoption by law enforcement officers and civilians alike.

During the mid-20th century, innovative materials such as ballistic nylon and Kydex revolutionized holster construction, offering durability and lightweight properties. This era marked a significant shift towards more ergonomic and customizable shoulder holster designs with adjustable straps and retention mechanisms.

Is the Shoulder Holster a Practical Option?

Many gun enthusiasts wonder whether the shoulder holster is a practical choice for everyday carry. To address this concern, it’s crucial to consider factors like comfort, accessibility, and concealment. Consulting with an orthopedic doctor can also provide insights into the ergonomic aspects of carrying a shoulder holster.

Comfort plays a significant role in determining the feasibility of a shoulder holster. The design of the holster, including padding and adjustability, influences how comfortable it is to wear throughout the day. Accessibility is another critical aspect to evaluate. The ease of drawing the firearm from a shoulder rig can vary based on the positioning and retention mechanisms.

Concealment is key for everyday carry. The way the holster sits on the body and its capacity to be concealed under various types of clothing are crucial factors to weigh. It’s important to balance functionality and discretion when selecting a shoulder holster for daily use.

Types of Shoulder Holsters

Shoulder holsters come in various designs, with two primary types being the vertical and horizontal holster configurations. Each type offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, catering to different preferences and carry styles.

Vertical shoulder holsters are characterized by the gun’s barrel pointing downwards towards the ground. This design allows for quick and easy access to the firearm, making it a favorite among law enforcement officers and professionals requiring a quick draw.

On the other hand, horizontal shoulder holsters have the firearm positioned parallel to the ground, offering a more discreet and comfortable carry option. This orientation distributes the weight of the gun more evenly, reducing strain on the shoulders during prolonged wear.

Horizontal Shoulder Holsters

Horizontal shoulder holsters are favored by experienced raters and trainers for their ease of draw and comfort.

One of the main advantages of horizontal shoulder holsters is their quick and easy access to the firearm. This can be particularly beneficial in situations where speed is crucial, such as in law enforcement or security roles. The horizontal orientation distributes the weight of the weapon across the shoulders, reducing strain on the back and hips during extended wear periods.

On the flip side, the main disadvantage of these holsters lies in concealment. The horizontal positioning may not be as conducive to hiding the firearm under a jacket or coat compared to vertical shoulder holsters.

Vertical Shoulder Holsters

Vertical shoulder holsters receive acclaim from various holster brands for their superior weapon retention and concealment capabilities.

Many leading holster manufacturers such as Galco, Bianchi, and Uncle Mike’s have incorporated vertical shoulder holsters into their product lines, highlighting the benefits of this carrying method.

One of the main advantages of vertical holsters is the natural way they distribute weight across the shoulders and back, making them comfortable for extended wear.

Some users find that the vertical orientation can hinder quick access to their weapon compared to horizontal holsters.

Comparison of Viper Holsters Shoulder Rig

Viper Holsters Shoulder Rig is known for its durability and innovative design. This holster brand offers a range of shoulder rigs that provide secure gun retention and comfortable wear for extended periods.

One standout feature of the Viper Holsters Shoulder Rig is its adjustable straps, allowing users to customize the fit for optimal comfort and functionality. The materials used in these rigs are top-notch, ensuring longevity and reliability in various conditions.

Users have praised the Viper Holsters brand for their attention to detail in the design, with strategically placed padding for added comfort during wear. The rig’s weight distribution helps prevent strain and discomfort, making it ideal for all-day use.

Comparison of Wright Leather Works Maverick

Wright Leather Works Maverick shoulder holster stands out for its craftsmanship and premium leather materials. This renowned brand offers shoulder rigs that blend style with functionality, making them a popular choice among firearm enthusiasts.

When considering the design of Wright Leather Works Maverick shoulder holster, it’s hard to miss the attention to detail that goes into each piece. The stitching is precise and durable, ensuring longevity even with daily use. The premium leather used not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also enhances the durability of the holster, making it a reliable option for gun owners.

User feedback on Wright Leather Works products consistently highlights the comfort and ease of use of their shoulder rigs. The adjustable straps and custom fit options ensure that users can find the perfect fit for their needs, enhancing both comfort and accessibility.

Comparison of Galco Jackass

Galco Jackass shoulder holster is recognized for its versatility and comfort. This esteemed brand provides shoulder rigs that prioritize ease of draw, adjustability, and reliable firearm retention, catering to diverse user needs.

Galco understands that the needs of gun owners vary greatly, so their Jackass shoulder holster boasts adjustable straps for a personalized fit. The ballistic nylon construction ensures durability without compromising on weight, making it ideal for extended wear. Users appreciate the natural feel of the holster against their body, with a smooth draw that doesn’t sacrifice security. The thumb break retention system adds an extra layer of safety, giving peace of mind during movement.

Comparison of Sam Andrews Monarch

Sam Andrews Monarch shoulder holster is renowned for its customizability and precision fit. This holster brand offers shoulder rigs tailored to individual gun models, ensuring a secure and personalized carry experience.

In terms of customization options, the Sam Andrews Monarch shoulder holster stands out for its meticulous attention to detail. From selecting the type of leather and color to customizing the cant and retention level, customers have the freedom to create a holster that perfectly suits their preferences and needs. The fit accuracy of these holsters is unmatched, with each piece crafted to fit the specific make and model of the firearm snugly and securely.

Comparison of DM Bullard Shoulder Holster

DM Bullard Shoulder Holster is known for its ruggedness and reliability. This trusted brand offers shoulder rigs built to withstand tough conditions and provide consistent performance, making them a favorite among gun owners.

One standout quality of DM Bullard Shoulder Holsters is their meticulous attention to detail in crafting each rig with premium materials. The combination of high-quality leather and sturdy hardware ensures longevity and resilience, even in demanding environments.

Many users praise the comfort and practicality of these holsters, highlighting the balanced weight distribution and ease of drawing their firearm when needed. The adjustable straps and customizable fit options further enhance the user experience, catering to individual preferences.

Comparison of Lobo Gunleather Deputy

Lobo Gunleather Deputy shoulder holster is revered for its craftsmanship and attention to detail. This brand offers shoulder rigs that combine traditional leatherwork with modern functionality, ensuring a blend of style and utility.

Quality craftsmanship is evident in the Deputy shoulder holster’s durable leather construction, providing a reliable and long-lasting accessory for firearm owners. The meticulous stitching and finishing touches showcase the brand’s commitment to excellence. In terms of aesthetics, the holster’s classic design exudes a timeless appeal, making it a stylish choice for those who appreciate both tradition and functionality. The user experience is enhanced by features such as adjustable straps and a secure retention system, ensuring a comfortable fit and easy access to your weapon.

Comparison of Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster

Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster is lauded for its vertical orientation and quick draw capability. This reputable brand offers shoulder rigs that prioritize accessibility and weapon retention, enhancing the user’s carrying experience.

The vertical design of the Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster not only adds a stylish element but also aids in a quick and efficient draw when needed, making it a popular choice among law enforcement professionals and shooting enthusiasts alike. Galco’s focus on accessibility means that wearers can easily reach their weapon without compromising on comfort or safety.

The high-quality materials and sturdy construction employed by Galco ensure that the holster provides reliable weapon retention, giving users peace of mind knowing their firearm is securely held in place. The brand’s reputation for durability and functionality further solidifies its position as a trusted provider in the holster market.

Comparison of Nightingale Sandpiper

Nightingale Sandpiper shoulder holster is known for its sleek design and comfort. This brand offers shoulder rigs that prioritize minimalistic aesthetics and all-day wearability, making them a popular choice among those seeking discreet carry options.

The sleek design of Nightingale Sandpiper shoulder holsters is complemented by their exceptional comfort, ensuring that users can carry their firearms with ease and confidence. The attention to detail in the design process results in a shoulder rig that not only looks stylish but also feels comfortable during extended wear. Users appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into creating a product that balances aesthetics and functionality seamlessly.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Horizontal and Vertical Shoulder Holsters

When deciding between horizontal and vertical shoulder holsters, factors such as firearm size, weight, and personal preference play a crucial role. The compatibility of your 32, 38 revolver, 357 Magnum, 44 Magnum, or 45 Colt revolver with the holster type is essential for optimal comfort and functionality.

Horizontal shoulder holsters are favored by individuals seeking quick and discreet access to their weapon, making them popular among law enforcement officers and security personnel. These holsters can distribute the weight of larger, heavier revolvers more evenly across the body, reducing strain on the shoulders and back during extended wear.

On the other hand, vertical shoulder holsters are often preferred by those looking for a sleeker, more traditional style. They offer easy concealment under a jacket or coat, making them a solid choice for everyday carry. When selecting between these options, it’s crucial to consider the revolver’s barrel length, grip shape, and overall size to ensure a snug and secure fit.

Pros and Cons of Horizontal Shoulder Holsters

Horizontal shoulder holsters offer advantages in terms of ease of draw and comfort, as noted by experienced raters and trainers in the field. They may pose challenges in terms of concealment and weapon retention, requiring users to weigh the pros and cons based on their specific needs.

One of the benefits of horizontal shoulder holsters is that they allow for a quick and easy draw, especially in situations where traditional belt holsters might be less accessible. This can be crucial in high-stress scenarios where fractions of seconds matter.

The horizontal orientation can distribute the weight of the firearm more evenly, enhancing comfort during extended wear, which is a significant factor in long training sessions or all-day activities.

Pros and Cons of Vertical Shoulder Holsters

Vertical shoulder holsters offer distinct benefits in terms of weapon retention and concealment, as endorsed by various holster brands. They may have limitations in terms of draw speed and comfort, prompting users to evaluate the pros and cons based on their unique requirements.

One of the key advantages of vertical shoulder holsters is their ability to provide excellent retention, keeping the weapon securely in place even during vigorous movements. Holster brands often emphasize the additional layer of concealment that these holsters offer, making them a popular choice among those who prioritize discreet carry. On the flip side, some users find that drawing from a vertical shoulder holster can be slower compared to other carry methods, which could be a crucial factor in high-stress situations.

Conclusion: Which Is the Better Option for You?

The choice between horizontal and vertical shoulder holsters boils down to personal preferences and intended use. Consider factors such as ease of carrying and draw, comfort, and concealment requirements to determine the best holster option that aligns with your individual needs.

Horizontal shoulder holsters are favored for their comfort due to the weight distribution evenly on both shoulders, providing stability during movement. On the other hand, vertical holsters offer quicker draw speeds as the gun is positioned vertically for easy access.

When deciding between the two, assess your daily activities and whether ease of access or comfort is a higher priority. The holster’s concealment capabilities should be considered, especially if you need to wear it under clothing without it being noticeable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a horizontal and vertical shoulder holster?

A horizontal shoulder holster is worn with the gun positioned horizontally across the chest, while a vertical shoulder holster has the gun positioned vertically under the arm.

Which type of shoulder holster is more comfortable to wear?

Comfort is subjective, but many people find that a vertical shoulder holster is more comfortable because it distributes the weight of the gun more evenly across the shoulder.

Which shoulder holster allows for quicker access to the gun?

This depends on personal preference and practice, but some people find that a horizontal shoulder holster allows for quicker access due to the gun’s position on the chest.

Can both horizontal and vertical shoulder holsters accommodate different types of guns?

Yes, both types of shoulder holsters can accommodate a variety of gun sizes and models. It is important to check the compatibility of your gun with the specific holster before purchasing.

Are there any safety considerations when using a horizontal or vertical shoulder holster?

Both types of shoulder holsters should be worn with the gun pointing towards the ground to prevent accidental discharge. Additionally, proper gun handling and training are necessary for safe use of any type of holster.

What are some benefits of using a horizontal or vertical shoulder holster?

Some benefits of using a shoulder holster include comfort, accessibility, and the ability to conceal a larger gun. It also frees up space on your belt for other gear. However, it’s important to properly practice drawing from a shoulder holster for effective use in a self-defense situation.

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