Any handgun enthusiast will tell you that one of the most iconic, capable and a proven gun in the history of firearms is the .45-caliber M1911A1 Colt pistol. With over seventy years in US military service, 1911 is a handgun that will forever remain part of American gun culture and history.
Designed to stop the fanatical warriors from Philippine tribes efficiently, both .45 ACP and 1911 pistol had proven themselves over and over again in combat for the last 111 years. As a powerful sidearm and an excellent asset of US troops, the .45-caliber M1911A1 was retired and replaced in 1985, by the9mm Beretta 92 pistol (official designation M9). Still, it continued to live in almost every gun safe of an ordinary American gun owner.
- Why you need a holster?
- What do you need to consider before purchase holster?
- Inside-the-Waistband (IWB)
- Outside-the-Waistband (OWB)
- Best 1911 Shoulder Holsters
Why you need a holster?
But what to do this law-abiding citizen when he decides to carry his 1911 daily for personal defense? For most of us, the first thing that comes to mind is a holster or some adequate carrying system. Of course, you can always tuck your 1911 in your pants in a gangster manner, but we usually don’t recommend this carry style because of many safety reasons.
Most of us, who own 1911-type handguns, know that a full-size, steel frame 1911 weighs about 2.75 pounds. Moreover, the 1911s are not just heavy, measuring at 8.5 inches from the muzzle to the end of the grip safety, the Governments frames are big too.
Considering that, you are aware that concealing a large-framed Government model can be tricky. Still, when you pair a quality holster and adequate clothing, it is not impossible to hide a full size 1911 pistol.
In fact, you can very easily maintain concealability, because of a 1911 own couple of features that actually make it a good carry gun.
Compared to the some large polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols or “Wondernines” with double stack magazines, venerable .45 Colt comes with a slim single stack magazine, and a svelte 0.9 inches slide, which makes a huge difference in the concealability of a handgun. Besides lesser thickness, 1911 offers a comfortable grip angle, which besides provides a very good balance, with proper weight distribution.
You have to know that a good holster is an essential accessory to the handgun, and it statistically comes immediately after the purchase of the spare magazine.
Generally, the best holster for 1911 should be reliable, supportive and well made, especially considering a heavy gun like 1911. An excellent high-quality holster should keep the handgun securely and should protect you from the arm and vice versa.
The last thing any shooter wants is a negligent discharge or dropping the gun out of its holster. A quality holster should protect your investment from most dust and debris as well as against your sweat.
What do you need to consider before purchase holster?
The goal of this guide is to provide you with a good cross-section of holsters without wasting your time. However, to make this review interactive, your first and only duty is to answer a straightforward question: "What are you planning to do with 1911?.” There are many shapes and holster styles, but when you answer that question, you'll find much easier the best holster for 1911 according to your needs, the activities you engage in and the way you dress.
The first rule is to avoid cheap, generic holsters, because the holster needs to be molded or sewn, specifically for a particular handgun model.
For more than one hundred years of existence, the M1911A1 remains one of the most produced guns in the world with tons of holsters available in multiple styles and materials. Whether you intend to use 1911 for self-protection, competition or even hunting, you'll need to find a carry method that best suits you.
Before buying a 1911 holster, you should pay attention to the quality of materials used for it. If you are looking for a budget 1911 holster, the chances are good that you will come across at generic nylon holsters. These cheap holsters are often made of soft nylon and while they tend to deform and bend, they offer less retention in most cases.
For 1911 you need a formidable holster which is up to the task, so your investment should be directed only towards quality and proven materials such as leather, Kydex, Boltaron and other hard plastics. They will hold your 1911 firmly, but these materials will also enable faster draw and more extended exploitation period.
Other aspects to consider before buying a 1911 holster are safety and carrying angle.
A well-designed gun-carrying platform comes with a safety strap that covers your trigger completely and provides protection to the trigger guard during insertion into or removal the gun from the holster.
Ideally, a holster should have adjustable carry angle (cant) to allow a clean draw. It depends on your carry position, but anywhere between 10 and 15 degrees is a good starting point.
What Is The Best 1911 Holster Types
While we didn’t take into account off-body carrying methods, with Colt 1911 there are really only three ways to carry it concealed: IWB, or inside the waistband, OWB, or outside the waistband, and with a shoulder rig. For any of these styles, there is a lot of holster types, and it's up to your preferences and body size to select the proper one.
If you decide for an IWB concealed carry holster, then it should keep your 1911 tight to the body, but it will compromise a quick draw of the gun. As you will wear a big pistol tucked inside your pants, it won't be the most comfortable way to carry 1911. On the other side, since this is the most concealable way to carry 1911 because all you need is an un-tucked shirt for complete concealment.
Unlike previous ultra-low-profile way to carry your 1911, belt holsters or outside the waistband carry method (OWB) is a more convenient way to carry large pistols like 1911. OWB holsters come in a variety of flavors, both strong side or cross draw, and can include paddle, belt-slot or pancake type holster. While OWB holsters are very popular for large-frame, all-steel guns like 1911, they are more difficult to conceal and will require the wearing of an excessively long cover garment.
There are two tips for better OWB concealment. One is to invest in a good wide belt and others to choose a high-ride model that keeps the gun tight to the body.
The shoulder holster has remained a popular choice for 1911 as it properly secures your gun, allowing it to be as well as easily accessible. The shoulder rig may be your choice if you wear a suit and never take your jacket off. The best shoulder holster designs come with double magazine pouch on the off-side to help balance the load.
In the next part of this guide, we'll present the best 1911 holsters mainly designed for concealed carry, meaning you won’t find here duty or competition or any other open style holsters.
Relentless Tactical The Defender Leather IWB Holster - Fits Most 1911 Style Handguns
Although 1911 IWB leather holsters are little rarer at the market, your classic .45 caliber M1911A1 deserves a classic and stylish look even in an inside the waistband holster.
Relentless Tactical is a renowned American manufacturer of leather holsters for over 80 handgun models. Among several models offered for both OWB and IWB carrying styles, their most popular holster for IWB is The Defender.
By Relentless specification, the Defender is hand made from hard bullhide leather which is super tough and thick enough so it will not change shape in time and will remain as durable as it is.
Like all holsters made of premium quality leather material, the Defender will need some broken into before it will fit your Colt 1911 perfectly. While the broke-in period isn't short after that Relentless Tactical IWB holster will keep a firm hold on your 1911 and will also hold its form/shape when the gun is drawn, aiding in reholstering.
Defender holster is equipped with a belt clip made out of sturdy steel, and when you paired this clip with a good quality gun belt, you will get optimum concealment and an easy draw.
Though Defender is molded to a specific handgun, with an open-muzzle feature, it will fit most 1911 firearm models with any barrel length.
This comfortable, form-fitting concealed carry holster is not ambidextrous, but you may select right- or left-hand models. Noteworthy, the relentless Tactical offers a Lifetime Warranty what is almost unheard of with leather holsters.
Blade-Tech Klipt Holster - IWB Concealed Carry Holster
Resembling earlier BLADE-TEC H's very popular model Nano, the new Klipt IWB (inside the waistband) holster is superior for a better combination of lightweight material, minimalist design and high security for compact guns like 3.3" Barrel 1911 style pistols.
Klipt Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster is an injection-molded holster, made of rubberized thermoplastic similar to Kydex but with better durability and gun finish-friendly material.
Built of a proprietary blend of super-tough polymers this Blade-Tech holster provides noticeably thinner and low-profile which reduces printing of your .45 Colt and helps the gun and holster virtually disappear when worn.
Whereas the thinner .080 Kydex-like material is lightweight, it stays open when you draw your 1911, and after that, it allows for easy reholstering and will not collapse.
The Blade-Tech Klipt inside the waistband holster is affordable, but unlike most other counterparts from this price class, it comes with two retention screws at the bottom of the holster to better distribute friction. The precision molded Klipt holster has an excellent positive "click" when inserting your firearm
The full-length sweat guard is well shaped and well-sized, allowing you for a full combat grip. Though this sweat guard is thin and seems a little flimsy, it won't poke into the wearer's side when carried over long periods.
The Klipt package includes the reversible clip that makes this holster perfect for left- and right-handed shooters. While the unique Klipt attachment offers low profile, it allows easy on and off without removing belt. By using different holes you can change the height for a custom fit.
Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster
One of the more interesting concealed carry holsters on the market is Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB holster with everything on it being adjustable. The Cloak Tuck 3.5 is an upgraded version of the Cloak Tuck 3.0, and besides similar design, it features significantly smaller backer and different screws and rubber washers.
Like previous models, The Cloak Tuck 3.5 is a hybrid IWB holster made of a flexible steel base, a form-fitting neoprene and thermoelastic polymer as a top surface.
The Alien Gear holsters are easily identifiable as modular, two-part holsters that offer maximum adjustability and versatility to both professionals and amateurs.
With the flexible holster base made of spring still coated with a perforated breathable neoprene layer and edges covered with fabric, this hybrid holster is very comfortable. At the same time, it provides a higher comfort if worn against the skin.
The other half of the Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB is a custom-molded retention shell made of .093 Kydex that perfectly fit your 1911 right outside the box without the break-in period of other holsters.
This IWBhybrid holster sports a unique adjustable system for retention and the ride height and grip cant of your choice. The nylon belt clips are another adjustable component since they are designed for 1.25- to 1.5-inch belts.
While the Alien Gear Holsters is providing a free shell trades for life, they also are offering an Iron-Clad Guarantee and a 30-Day Test Drive trial period.
1791 GunLeather 4-Way 1911 Leather Holster
Stylish brown or black leather holster was always the faithful companion of classic handguns and 1791 Gunleather products only confirm that.
The 4-Way Concealment & Belt Leather Holster by 1791 Gunleather is built out of American high-quality steer hide leather which is reinforced with double stitched making it more durable in the long run.
This 1791 Gunleather like all pure leather holsters needs some broken, but it will keep a very tight fit, making it difficult to reholster.
One of the most versatile 1911 holsters provides maximum flexibility with one IWB and three OWB carry positions. Using a sturdy steel clip that won't let you down, you'll get a reliable IWB carry holster, whereas the holes on the opposite side allow for an OWB carry in 3 different positions.
For 1911 owners, the most useful position is a Vertical carry position, which provides the same 1911 cant that has been popular since 1970. This popular OWB carry style is especially appropriate for full-size duty guns due to the most natural feeling draw and because it makes getting the longer barrel out of the holster quicker.
Other two possible OWB carry positions are Horizontal and Cross-Draw, but they are more appropriate for smaller handguns.
While the gun imprint is most visible OWB carry style, the 4WH provides maximum concealment with IWB carry style with only the metal clip on the belt visible.
The model with manufacturing number 4WH-1-CBR-R has Size 1, which means it's custom made for a perfect fit to 1911 models with both 4" and 5" barrels. Though there are no retention features such as a strap, this handmade holster provides great retention due to the hand-molded exterior and snug fit.
The 1791 Gunleather 1911 4 Way premium leather holster comes with a lifetime warranty.
Fobus 1911 Holster Paddle – BS3
Developed in Israel, the Fobus products are combat-proven and can be seen in many military, police and special tactics units. Unlike traditional leather holsters, injection molding and space age high-density polymers create the Fobus holster
Fobus BS3 1911-paddle holster is indented for use with Colt .45 semi-auto and similar 1911-style handguns in a concealed carry way. The BS3 model sports a rubberized paddle design, which provides excellent comfort and more stability for active duty. The paddle is bonded with holster using a steel-reinforced rivet attachment system that provides adds not only durability but also a low profile design for efficient concealed carrying capability.
This particular holster from Fobus comes under only 2 oz. and it does not require any extra maintenance except a small touch of silicone spray in the trigger guard area of the holster.
As one of the most inexpensive holster on our list, the Fobus BS3 Paddle Holster for Colt .45 features a passive retention system around the trigger guard that allows rapid presentation with a deliberate and fast upward motion.
If you select this type of OWB holster, you need to place the paddle inside your pants leaving the holster on the outside of your pants. As an added benefit, it means you don't need a belt for carrying the holster with you.
Bravo Concealment 1911 5" Pistols OWB Gun Holster
If you are looking for a minimalistic concealed carry holster that will acclimate a full size 1911 style pistol, then a Bravo Concealment BCA 3.0 OWB holster is the solution for you.
Unlike the previous the BCA 2.0 model built from Kydex, a Bravo Concealment BCA 3.0 holster is an improved version made by using injection molding. While this process makes great cost savings for the company, the applied polymer is superior to the Kydex material for several reasons. For example, it is more resistant to heat and more impact resistant than that of the Kydex of their BCA 2.0.
The Bravo Concealment minimalist design and a small footprint combined with its pancake-style make the ease of concealment by keeping the gun and holster close to your body.
Designed for outside the waistband carry the BCA 3.0 holster features the rounded edges making it more comfortable to wear over an extended period without irritating your skin.
Bravo Concealment equipped their OWB holster with an efficacy adjustable retention system consisting of a “screw and slot” setup.
The BCA 3.0 OWB holster comes with robust 1.5” injection molded belt loops and has a 10° cant to enhance concealment.
While this lightweight polymer BC holster purchased people who want to use it as an OWB concealed carry holster, with optional IWB belt clips you might convert the BCA 3.0 OWB holster into an inside the waistband holster.
Best 1911 Shoulder Holsters
Galco Miami Classic Shoulder System for 1911
Shoulder rigs are an often-overlooked option because many ranges and trainers prohibit owners from using shoulder holsters due to the muzzle orientation when carried or drawn. But the street life is something different, and these prohibitions shouldn't deter you from quality shoulder holster harness.
Galco and their Miami Classic Shoulder System with its patented spider harness is a direct descendant of the original shoulder system introduced in 1970. Designed for semiautomatic pistols and some revolvers, the Galco Miami Classic holster carries gun horizontally with a slight cant upwards for a faster draw. There is also available Galco's rig with a traditional vertical shoulder holster which is particularly appropriate for the large frame handguns that need excellent concealment.
Miami Classic's holster, harness and double magazine pouch are made of premium saddle leather and combined with unique clover-shaped Flexalon swivel back plate it offers a perfect fit and lasting comfort.
Along with harness, the dual ammo carrier completes this holster system making perfect balance at the opposite side of the holster.
Whereas thin leather straps measure 1 1/2" at their widest point, they are adjustable and can fit up to 52" chest. The Galco MC212 model is purpose-built for heavy firearm like .45 caliber Colt M1911 to create fine concealment rig which is the go-to carry option for many people.
Desantis New York Undercover For 1911 Colt Commander Gun, Right Hand, Black
The classic gun goes together with traditional material, and for the holster it is leather. DeSantis makes leather holsters for more than 40 years and their New York Undercover shoulder holster evolved through several changes to these days, making it one of the best 1911 shoulder holster leather made.
Every DeSantis New York Undercover holster is molded to fit the exact firearm, and this model 11DBA21L0 is designed as 1911 Commander Holster, but it can accommodate full-sized 5" Government Model.
DeSantis is a classic shoulder rig with a holster attached to the harness with heavy-duty one-way snaps and the double mag pouches on the opposite side. The double ammo carriers are offsetting the weight of the pistol and help to give the holster balance. The orientation of the handgun is horizontal and like with any holster, drawing the gun requires a bit of thought and practice.
The holster sports a thumb break and a tensioning screw under the trigger guard area used for adjusting retention of the gun.
The 11D New York Undercover Shoulder Holster Rig is made from a single piece of high-quality cowhide with the grain side out and tanned for a classic appearance that never goes out of style. The harness system consists of four, one-inch wide straps that attach to a plastic connector at the back.
Shoulder holsters are the most efficient form for concealed carry of large frame handguns. This carry style is perfect for dress carry or drivers because it is much easier to access a shoulder rig than a holster worn anywhere on the waist.
Under Control Tactical Shoulder Holster
Another proposition for the armpit holster comes from the brand Under Control Tactical and belongs to the universal holsters convenient for handguns of different sizes. That said the Under Control Tactical shoulder rig is perfect to fit all popular large frame guns, including various style 1911 pistols and revolvers.
The leather holsters are much more durable, but this one is made of sturdy man-made nylon making carrying even the heaviest of guns comfortable on a daily basis. This Under Control model vertically carry holster that will not provide very quick action, particularly in a stressful situation.
This simple shoulder rig consists of universal handgun holster and convenient double magazine pouch which sits on your non-dominant side. The UCT concealed carry shoulder holster also includes adjustable shoulder straps to hold the holster in position securely. The shoulder pads are thickly padded, for easy tension on the back of the neck
Though it is the least expensive at our list, the Under Control Tactical shoulder holster is superior to similarly priced equipment due to the rugged nylon material and adjustable shoulder harness with a quick-release buckle.
Like many similar holster buying guides, you should know that the thickness of your handgun is the most important dimension to consider here. Your 1911 is thinner than most modern polymer guns, which mean it is more convenient for concealed carry in a multitude of positions on your body. However, there are a few carry styles that are more popular and overall better for 1911 style semiautomatics.
We have offered three carry methods with several mainstream brand holsters and it is up to you as a responsible citizen to decide on the right one.