Holster Selection for Competitive Shooting Sports


I. Introduction to Competitive Shooting Sports Holster Selection

I. Introduction to Competitive Shooting Sports Holster Selection

Competitive shooting sports are exhilarating and challenging events that require a combination of skill, accuracy, and quick thinking. Whether you are participating in IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation), IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association), or any other shooting discipline, choosing the right holster is essential for success.

1. The Importance of a Proper Holster

A proper holster not only ensures your firearm remains secure but also allows for efficient drawing and reholstering during competitions. It plays a crucial role in maintaining safety while providing quick access to your weapon when needed.

2. Considerations for Competitive Shooting Sports Holsters

When selecting a holster for competitive shooting sports, several factors come into play:

  • Safety: The holster must provide adequate trigger protection to prevent accidental discharges.
  • Retention: It should hold the firearm securely in place without impeding the draw stroke.
  • Durability: Since competitive shooting involves rigorous movement and frequent drawing/reholstering, the holster needs to withstand wear and tear.
  • Ease of Access: Quick access to your firearm is vital during matches, so choose a design that allows for smooth draws without compromising safety.
  • Fits Your Firearm: Ensure that the chosen holster is specifically designed to fit your particular make and model of handgun accurately.

3. Types of Holsters Suitable for Competitive Shooting Sports

In competitive shooting sports, various types of holsters are commonly used based on individual preferences and regulations set by each discipline:

  • OWB (Outside the Waistband) Holsters: These holsters are attached to the outside of your belt and allow for easy access and a quick draw stroke.
  • Competition-Specific Holsters: Some disciplines have specific holster requirements, such as the use of race holsters or appendix carry holsters. Familiarize yourself with the rules of your chosen shooting sport.
  • Holster Attachments: Accessories like magazine pouches or attachment systems that enhance speed and efficiency can be beneficial in competitive shooting sports.

4. Proper Training and Practice

Holster selection alone is not enough; proper training and practice are crucial to mastering competitive shooting sports. Seek professional guidance to develop safe drawing techniques, improve accuracy, and enhance overall performance on the range.

II. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Holster for Competitive Shooting Sports

II. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Holster for Competitive Shooting Sports

When it comes to competitive shooting sports, having the right holster can make all the difference in your performance. The holster you choose should not only provide a secure and comfortable fit for your firearm but also meet the specific requirements of the sport you are participating in. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a holster for competitive shooting:

1. Retention Level

The retention level of a holster refers to its ability to hold the firearm securely while allowing for quick and smooth draws during competition. For most shooting sports, a high level of retention is desirable to prevent accidental dislodging of the gun during movements or falls.

2. Draw Speed

In competitive shooting, every second counts. A holster that allows for fast and efficient drawing of your firearm can give you an edge over your competitors. Look for holsters with adjustable cant angles and smooth release mechanisms that facilitate quick and consistent draw strokes.

3. Comfort and Fit

A comfortable holster is essential if you want to focus on your performance without distractions or discomforts caused by an ill-fitting or poorly designed holster. Opt for holsters made from high-quality materials that contour well to your body shape while providing sufficient padding or cushioning.

4. Adjustability

No two shooters are alike, so having a holster with adjustable features can greatly enhance its versatility and suitability for different body types, carry positions, or firearms used in various events within the sport.

5. Safety Features

Safety should always be paramount when handling firearms, even in competitive settings. Choose holsters equipped with safety mechanisms such as trigger guards or thumb breaks that provide an extra layer of protection against accidental discharges.

6. Holster Placement

The placement of your holster can impact your shooting technique and overall performance. Experiment with different carry positions, such as hip, appendix, or small of back, to find the most comfortable and efficient option for your shooting style.

7. Durability and Maintenance

Competitive shooting sports can be rigorous and demanding on equipment. Look for holsters made from durable materials that can withstand regular use without losing their shape or functionality. Additionally, consider ease of maintenance, as some holsters may require regular cleaning or lubrication to ensure smooth operation.

By carefully considering these factors when choosing a holster for competitive shooting sports, you can find one that meets your specific needs while enhancing your performance on the range. Remember to always prioritize safety and comfort above all else to make the most out of your shooting experience.

III. Different Types of Holsters Suitable for Competitive Shooting Sports

III. Different Types of Holsters Suitable for Competitive Shooting Sports

Competitive shooting sports require specialized holsters that provide fast and secure access to your firearm while offering comfort and stability during dynamic movements. Here are some popular types of holsters designed specifically for competitive shooting:

1. OWB (Outside the Waistband) Holsters

OWB holsters are worn on the outside of the waistband, typically attached to a belt or a dedicated competition rig. These holsters offer excellent accessibility and allow for quick draws with minimal interference from clothing or other gear.

2. IWB (Inside the Waistband) Holsters

IWB holsters are designed to be worn inside the waistband, providing better concealment than OWB options. While not as commonly used in competitive shooting sports, IWB holsters can still be suitable depending on personal preference and match regulations.

3. Drop-Leg Holsters

A drop-leg holster is attached to a thigh platform or harness, allowing the shooter to carry their firearm lower on their body for increased mobility during matches that involve running or obstacles. This type of holster is often favored in dynamic disciplines like 3-gun competitions.

4. Race/Competition Holsters

Race or competition holsters are specifically built for speed and ease of draw in competitive settings. They often feature adjustable retention systems, enhanced trigger guard coverage, and smooth release mechanisms that minimize friction during the draw stroke.

5. Shoulder Holste

IV. Best Holster Brands for Competitive Shooting Sports

IV. Best Holster Brands for Competitive Shooting Sports

When it comes to competitive shooting sports, having a reliable and high-quality holster is essential. The right holster can make a significant difference in your performance, allowing for quick and secure draw strokes while ensuring proper retention of your firearm. Here are some of the best holster brands that cater specifically to competitive shooting sports:


G-Code is a renowned brand known for its innovative designs and durable holsters. Their products are favored by professional shooters due to their exceptional retention systems, adjustable cant angles, and customizable features. Whether you prefer an outside-the-waistband (OWB) or inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, G-Code provides options that meet the specific requirements of different competitive shooting disciplines.


Safariland has been a trusted name in the industry for decades, consistently delivering top-notch holsters designed with precision and reliability in mind. Their holsters offer excellent weapon security while maintaining ease of draw under pressure situations. With various models designed explicitly for competition use, such as the ALS series or GLS Pro-Fit line, Safariland ensures shooters have options tailored to their specific needs.


Blade-Tech is another popular choice among competitive shooters due to their commitment to quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Their holsters are made from durable materials such as Kydex or injection-molded polymers, providing optimal retention without sacrificing speed or comfort during draws. Blade-Tech offers a wide range of customizable options suitable for different shooting styles and preferences.


If you’re looking for holsters designed explicitly with practical shooting competitions in mind, Comp-Tac is a brand worth considering. Their holsters are engineered to provide fast and smooth draws, allowing shooters to shave off precious seconds from their overall time. With adjustable retention, multiple mounting options, and reliable construction, Comp-Tac holsters offer the versatility needed for various competitive shooting sports.


Blackhawk has earned a reputation for producing rugged and dependable gear favored by law enforcement and military personnel. Their holsters combine durability with functionality, ensuring secure weapon retention while enabling quick access when it matters most. Blackhawk offers a wide range of holster styles suitable for competitive shooting sports, including both OWB and IWB options.

When selecting a holster for competitive shooting sports, it’s crucial to consider factors such as comfort, retention system effectiveness, adjustability, and compatibility with your firearm model. The brands mentioned above have consistently proven themselves in meeting these criteria while providing shooters with reliable equipment that enhances their performance on the range.

V. How to Properly Fit and Adjust a Holster for Competitive Shooting Sports

V. How to Properly Fit and Adjust a Holster for Competitive Shooting Sports

Fitting and adjusting your holster correctly is crucial when participating in competitive shooting sports. A well-fitted holster ensures quick and smooth draws, enhances weapon retention, and minimizes the risk of accidental discharges. Here are some essential steps to follow for proper fitting and adjustment:

1. Choose the Right Holster Type

Before you can fit and adjust your holster, it’s important to select the right type that suits your needs. There are various options available, including OWB (outside-the-waistband), IWB (inside-the-waistband), shoulder holsters, and competition-specific holsters.

2. Determine Your Preferred Position

Decide where you want to carry your firearm on your body. The most common positions are strong-side hip carry or appendix carry, but preferences may vary depending on individual comfort.

3. Adjust Retention Level

The retention level refers to how securely your firearm is held in the holster without impeding a smooth draw. Most holsters come with adjustable retention screws or straps that allow you to customize it according to your preference.

4. Achieve Proper Ride Height

Ride height determines how high or low the holster sits on your beltline or waistband area. Experiment with different ride height adjustments until you find a position that allows for easy access while providing stability during movement.

5. Ensure Angled Cant if Desired

Cant refers to the angle at which the grip of the gun tilts forward or backward when holstered. Some shooters prefer a slight forward cant as it aids in drawing quickly from concealment while maintaining a natural grip angle.

6. Test Draw and Reholstering

After making initial adjustments, it’s crucial to test the draw and reholstering process. Practice drawing your firearm from various positions, ensuring a smooth and consistent motion without any obstructions or discomfort.

7. Fine-Tune for Comfort

Pay attention to any areas of discomfort or irritation caused by the holster. Minor adjustments may be necessary to alleviate pressure points or improve overall comfort during prolonged use.

8. Regularly Reassess Fit and Adjustment

Holsters may require readjustments over time due to changes in body shape, clothing choices, or personal preferences. It’s important to periodically reassess the fit and make necessary modifications as needed.

By following these steps, you can properly fit and adjust your holster for competitive shooting sports, ensuring optimal performance while maintaining safety throughout your training sessions and competitions.

VI. Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Holster for Competitive Shooting Sports

When it comes to competitive shooting sports, selecting the right holster is crucial for success and safety. However, many shooters make common mistakes that can hinder their performance on the range. To ensure you choose the best holster for your needs, here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Mistake 1: Neglecting Comfort

One of the biggest mistakes shooters make is overlooking comfort when selecting a holster. Remember that you’ll be wearing it for extended periods during competitions, so it’s essential to choose one that feels comfortable against your body and doesn’t cause any discomfort or irritation.

Mistake 2: Ignoring Retention Mechanisms

A secure retention system is vital in competitive shooting sports to prevent accidental firearm dislodgement while on the move. Some holsters offer adjustable retention mechanisms or tension screws that allow you to customize the level of security. Don’t overlook this feature as it can greatly impact your performance.

Mistake 3: Failing to Consider Draw Speed

In fast-paced shooting competitions, every fraction of a second counts. Failing to consider draw speed when selecting a holster can be detrimental to your overall performance. Look for holsters that allow quick and smooth access to your firearm without compromising safety.

Mistake 4: Disregarding Holster Positioning Options

The positioning of your holster plays a significant role in comfort and ease of draw during competitions. Different positions may work better depending on your body type and shooting style. Experiment with different options like appendix carry, strong-side hip carry, or cross-draw until you find what works best for you.

Mistake 5: Overlooking Holster Material and Durability

Competitive shooting sports can be physically demanding, so it’s important to choose a holster made from durable materials that can withstand rigorous use. Look for holsters constructed from high-quality materials like Kydex or reinforced leather to ensure longevity.

Mistake 6: Neglecting Holster Adjustability

No two shooters are the same, which is why adjustability is a crucial factor when selecting a holster. Ensure your chosen holster offers adjustable cant, ride height, or retention options so that you can customize it to your specific needs and preferences.

Mistake 7: Not Considering Holster Compatibility

If you already have a firearm for competitive shooting sports, make sure the holster you select is compatible with it. Different firearms have varying shapes and sizes, so finding a holster specifically designed for your model will provide the best fit and security.

Mistake 8: Disregarding Proper Training

Even with the best holster in hand, proper training is essential for safe and effective use during competitive shooting sports. Invest time in learning how to draw smoothly from your chosen holster and practice regularly to build muscle memory.

Avoiding these common mistakes when selecting a holster will enhance your overall experience in competitive shooting sports. Remember to prioritize comfort, retention mechanisms, draw speed, positioning options, material durability, adjustability features, compatibility with your firearm of choice, and ongoing training for optimal performance on the range.

VII. Frequently Asked Questions about Holster Selection for Competitive Shooting Sports

1. What factors should I consider when selecting a holster for competitive shooting sports?

When choosing a holster for competitive shooting sports, there are several important factors to consider. These include the type of shooting sport you participate in, your preferred carry position, the firearm you will be using, retention level requirements, and any specific rules or regulations set by the competition organizers.

2. Which types of holsters are commonly used in competitive shooting sports?

The most commonly used holsters in competitive shooting sports include OWB (outside the waistband) holsters, IWB (inside the waistband) holsters, and competition-specific holsters such as race or speed holsters. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on your preferences and needs.

3. Are there any specific rules regarding holster selection in different shooting competitions?

Yes, different competitive shooting sports may have specific rules regarding holster selection to ensure safety and fair play. It is essential to familiarize yourself with these rules before selecting a holster to avoid disqualification or penalties during competitions.

4. How important is retention level in a competition holster?

The retention level of a competition holster is crucial as it determines how securely your firearm will be held during dynamic movements involved in various stages of the sport. While some competitions may require higher retention levels than others for safety reasons, it ultimately depends on personal preference and comfort while maintaining quick access to your firearm.

5. Can I use my everyday carry (EDC) holster for competitive shooting sports?

In some cases, you may be able to use your EDC holster for recreational-level competitions; however certain modifications or adjustments may be necessary to meet the specific requirements of the sport. It is recommended to consult with experienced shooters or competition officials for guidance on whether your EDC holster is suitable for the particular sport you are participating in.

6. Are there any special considerations for appendix carry holsters in competitive shooting sports?

Appendix carry holsters can be used in competitive shooting sports; however, it is important to ensure that the holster allows for a safe and efficient draw without compromising safety or violating any competition rules. The comfort and stability of the holster should also be taken into account, as prolonged use during competitions can impact performance.

7. What are some popular brands known for producing high-quality holsters for competitive shooting sports?

There are several reputable brands that produce high-quality holsters specifically designed for competitive shooting sports. Some popular options include Safariland, Blade-Tech, Comp-Tac, Blackhawk!, and Double Alpha Academy. It is essential to research and read reviews to find a brand that suits your needs and preferences.

8. Can I use a universal-fit holster in competitive shooting sports?

In most cases, universal-fit holsters may not be suitable for competitive shooting sports due to their generic design and lack of specific features required by different shooting disciplines. It is recommended to invest in a purpose-built competition holster tailored to your firearm model and chosen sport.

9. How often should I practice drawing from my competition holster?

To become proficient with your chosen competition holster, regular practice drawing from it is essential. Consistent training sessions will help develop muscle memory and improve speed while maintaining accuracy during competitions.

10. Can I modify my competition holster according to my preferences?

In general, minor modifications such as adjusting retention levels or adding accessories like magazine pouches are acceptable. However, it is important to ensure that any modifications made do not compromise safety, violate competition rules, or give you an unfair advantage over other competitors.

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