1911 Holsters: Options for Every 1911 Enthusiast

— Jason MosherCADRE Dispatch

The infamous 1911 handgun is getting older, but the iconic single-action gun doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. To many, the 1911 handgun has so much history that it’s a must-have for any gun owner’s collection.

Invented by John Moses Browning, the 1911 has been involved in every major war or conflict since its creation. Even though it’s a single stack, single action, large, heavy handgun, it holds its own in the modern world of firearms.

Like the AR-15 rifle, people enjoy customizing their 1911 handgun and making it unique. With the modern twist of today’s innovations applied to the classic model 1911, it has evolved in some ways. We now have Picatinny rails, slides cut for optics, different calibers, and more.

Modern 1911s offer a wide range of options.

Holsters were not left out of this modern innovative growth either. Many of us appreciate the genius behind the 1911 handgun and the holsters that carried it for years. But modern holsters offer more security and adaptability for those who want to continue carrying a 1911.

There are tons of 1911 holster options out there for belt carry to IWB, shoulder rigs, and more. Let’s look at some modern options for 1911 holsters and see which one is right for you.    

Concealed Carry 1911 Holsters

The most popular way to carry a firearm in today’s world is concealed carry, but finding a 1911 concealed carry holster is somewhat challenging.

As mentioned above, a full-size 1911 handgun is among the largest on the market. The Government model has a 5-inch barrel, a long magazine well (pistol grip), and it is heavy. Even so, there are some options out there for concealing a 1911 handgun. These options include shoulder holsters, chest rigs, IWB holsters, and more.

The type of concealed carry holster you choose may depend on the weather and what you will be doing while wearing a 1911 handgun. Here are some options for concealing a 1911.

IWB 1911 Holsters

One of the easiest ways to conceal a 1911 handgun is with a 1911 IWB holster.

When the concept was first introduced, putting a holster inside your waistband was not popular. Traditional belt holsters are what people knew and trusted.

However, the use of Kydex, polymers, and other materials allows a holster to be much thinner than traditional leather ones. This makes keeping a holster inside the waistband more comfortable and practical.

The Incog X IWB holster provides enhanced concealed carry features. This is an Incog X for a Staccato P, but it fits a railed 1911 well.

There are multiple carry options for this type of holster which makes it adaptable for different positions. Because an IWB holster keeps the gun inside the waistband of your pants, it’s extremely easy to conceal with just a shirt.

Shoulder Holster for 1911

Another popular way to carry Browning’s classic gun is with a 1911 shoulder holster. Because of the size and weight of most full-size 1911 handguns, a shoulder holster is ideal. It distributes the weight across your shoulders instead of your waist.

Most 1911 shoulder holsters are made from leather and continue that “classic” look from decades-old craftsmanship. But as much as we all love a well-made leather holster, they do not provide as much security as new designs.

Man in a suit revealing the Safariland 7053 shoulder holster
The 7053 7TS ALS Shoulder Holster is constructed of the innovative SafariSeven material making this holster highly durable and practically impervious to the elements. 

A horizontal shoulder holster like the 7053 7TS ALS is great for concealing a full-size 1911 handgun and keeping it within easy reach. Just remember something must be worn over the shoulder to conceal it. This works great in winter months but may be harder to do in warm weather.

Another benefit of a shoulder holster is the comfort of wearing and drawing the gun while seated. For those who drive a lot or sit at a desk for extended periods of time, a shoulder holster is a perfect option for 1911 handguns.

Chest Holster for 1911

A 1911 chest holster, also known as a “chest rig,” is somewhat like a shoulder holster but the gun does not ride under the arm. Instead, the three-strap rig allows the holster to ride on the front of your chest.

People often prefer a chest holster when they are outdoors and want a full range of motion. A belt holster, or even a standard shoulder holster can limit your movement some. With a chest holster, nothing interferes with your arms or sticks out on your sides. A chest holster is perfect on occasions when you’re wearing a backpack, fishing, hiking, and other such activities.

One unique thing about the Safariland chest rig is that it will accommodate Safariland holsters that use the three-hole mounting pattern. This allows you to have a duty or combat holster mounted to a belt and move it to the chest rig when needed.

When it’s combined with the QLS (quick locking system) you can switch the holster between platforms within seconds. These platforms include:

  • Paddle Holsters
  • Belt Attachment Holsters
  • Chest Rigs
This Safariland 5354 RDSO is for a Staccato XC, but it fits a 1911 with an X300 well. This is not a Duty Rated Fit.

Outside the Waistband 1911 Holsters

Outside-the-waistband (OWB) holsters are not as concealable as IWB holsters but provide the most options. For those wanting a tactical 1911 holster or a Military 1911 holster, there are lots of options to choose from.

Safariland’s popular 7TS ALS holsters will fit railed and non-railed 1911s, and are available in all three 1911 lengths: Government, Commander, and Officer.

Most OWB 1911 holsters will use some type of belt attachment for either duty, combat, or standard-size belts.

Besides standard belt attachment holsters you can also find other types of holsters for carrying on your waistband. One of these is the paddle holster which uses a plastic “paddle” to secure the holster to your side. To help maintain position and ensure better securement for a solid draw with the paddle holster, consider using a Belt Hook.

But for those wanting a holster that attaches quickly without taking a belt on and off, a paddle holster is beneficial.

When using Safariland’s QLS system mentioned above, the same holster can be used on both mounting types. As long as the holster uses the standard 3 Hole or T-mount pattern, any Safariland holster will mount on a belt, paddle, or drop-leg attachment.   

1911 with light

If you have a modernized 1911 with a light, Safariland has plenty of options. These options are broken down into three categories of holsters:

  • Duty
  • Tactical/Military
  • Everyday Carry

Duty holsters attach directly to a belt for optimal holster retention. This is the most secure way to carry a firearm and the only way for a holster to receive a retention rating.

There are multiple retention levels to choose from and 1911 duty holsters will fit a variety of configurations.

1911 holsters - Safariland 6390 holster that accomodates a SureFire X300
This Safariland 6390 holster accommodates a SureFire X300 weapon light.

Tactical/Military holsters are frequently paired with leg harnesses or thigh rigs. This type of holster has a strap that connects to your belt with one or two leg straps that go around your thigh.

If you wear a vest or something else that will get in the way of a belt holster, 1911 tactical holsters are a good choice.

Everyday carry 1911 holsters include paddle holsters with the ALS (automatic locking system) and the concealment belt holster with ALS and SLS (self-locking system).  The self-locking system is a hood or strap that goes over the top of the gun and locks in place. To draw the gun, press down and forward to move it out of the way as you draw the gun.

If you want more traditional, a 1911 military holster is available from Safariland in black or OD green. This universal holster has a trigger guard to protect the trigger and uses a flap cover like the old military holsters used. This type of holster would go great with a 1911 A1.  

Modern Holster for a Classic Gun

Whether you like the traditional, old-school 1911 handgun or a modern version with a Picatinny rail, optic, or even a double stack version, the century-old gun has a proven track record.

Deciding which style of holster to use is not easy with so many options out there. But options are good to have and with some of Safariland’s designs, one holster will work with multiple platforms.

The quality of the holster is just as important as the quality of the gun. Some are designed specifically for concealing and everyday carry. Others are made for duty or combat use and focus on retention and ease of draw.

Whatever style you decide is right for you, any of these 1911 holsters will serve their purpose and exceed your expectations.  

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