Looking for the best paddle holster can be tricky. There are so many different paddle holsters on the market that it seems impossible to separate the good from the bad. Fortunately for you, we’re here to help.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about paddle holsters. We’ll start by giving you the basics on paddle holsters, including what you need to consider when choosing one. Then we’ll give you our recommendations for the top paddle holsters out there.
Now without further adieu, let’s get started.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for paddle holsters:
- Fobus Standard Paddle Holster
- Galco Gunleather Speed Paddle Holster
- Safariland Model 7378 7TS ALS Concealment Paddle Holster
- BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Holster
- Concealment Express OWB Kydex Paddle Holster
- Comp-Tac International Paddle Holster
- Galco Gunleather Paddle Lite Holster
Table of Contents
- What Is a Paddle Holster?
- What to Look for in a Paddle Holster?
- Best Paddle Holster on the Market Reviews
- Final Thoughts
What Is a Paddle Holster?
First, let’s talk about what, exactly, a paddle holster is and how it’s different from other types of holsters.
A paddle holster is a type of OWB, or outside waistband, holster. The holster shell (the part that holds the gun) sits, as you can probably guess, outside of the waistband of your pants. It’s held in place by a large panel (the paddle) that tucks inside the waistband.
That means that unlike other OWB holsters, which attach directly to your belt, paddle holsters don’t require a belt at all. The paddle helps distribute the weight of the holster and your firearm so the rig is more comfortable and pulls less at your pants. It also helps keep the assembly more secure and prevent bouncing as you move.
Paddle holsters are best for open carry, but they can be used for concealed carry. While they are not as good for concealed carry as an IWB (inside waistband) holster, they are better than traditional OWB holsters because they hold the gun closer to the body and avoid the sagging effect that other OWB holsters can have.
It can still be pretty bulky, though, so for concealed carry with a paddle holster, you’ll get better results with a subcompact like the Glock 43, SIG P365, or Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, or a compact like the Glock 19 or SIG Sauer P239.
Full sized guns like a 1911 or the Glock 17, will be trickier to conceal, even with the closer fit of a paddle holster.
What to Look for in a Paddle Holster?
When choosing a paddle holster, there are a few things you’ll want to pay particular attention to.
First is the material that the holster is made out of.
The two most popular materials are Kydex (a type of plastic) and leather. Both are incredibly durable. They’ll each do a great job resisting wear and protecting your gun. However, they also each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Kydex offers better retention than leather. Kydex holsters use friction retention (also called passive retention) and generally have screws that allow you to adjust the retention to perfectly balanced secure retention and ease of draw. Leather holsters typically rely on a backstrap for retention, which slows your draw time and doesn’t offer good retention if the strap accidentally comes undone.
Furthermore, the rigid nature of Kydex makes it easy to reholster your gun with a single hand.
Leather, on the other hand, is typically more comfortable. Kydex can rub uncomfortably on the skin and can even cause rashes and irritation with prolonged use. Leather is softer, though, so it typically won’t cause the same kind of irritation that Kydex can.
The same principle applies to the interior of the holster. Hard Kydex can scuff your firearm’s finish over time, but the softer leather won’t.
There are also hybrid holsters which combine the best of each, but they tend to be a good bit more expensive than only-leather or only-Kydex holsters.
Again, either option is great. You’ll just need to consider which works best for your needs and wants.
While the material of the holster is a decision you can make for yourself, proper trigger coverage is essential.
What that means is that it’s imperative that any holster completely cover the trigger. It also needs to be covered in a firm material. Fortunately, since most paddle holsters are made from leather or Kydex anyway, if the holster completely covers the trigger, it probably does so with a secure enough material.
Adequate trigger coverage with the proper material ensures that the trigger can’t be accidentally pressed, causing a negligent discharge.
A lot of holsters don’t provide adequate trigger coverage. Skip those. They’re not safe and they’re not responsible, two things that are of the utmost importance for anything related to firearms.
Holsters of all types can be found at a wide range of price points and paddle holsters are certainly no exception.
However, you do tend to get what you pay for. A more expensive holster will typically come with extra features that you won’t get from most holsters at lower price points. That’s not always the case, but it is a general rule to keep in mind while you think about how much you’re willing and able to shell out for a holster.
Best Paddle Holster on the Market Reviews
1 Fobus Standard Paddle Holster
Our first holster is also our most budget-friendly.
The Fobus Standard Paddle Holster is a lightweight and low profile Kydex holster that is excellent for concealed carry. The rubberized paddle helps prevent the jiggling that you can sometimes experience with waistband holsters, keeping the rig firmly in place. The steel reinforced rivets help with durability and support.
It costs only about $20, though the cost varies depending on which gun you’re buying the holster for. It’s available for all of the most popular concealed carry pistols, but revolver options are limited. For example, the Fobus Standard Paddle Holster doesn’t seem to be available for the Smith & Wesson J-Frame revolver, a popular revolver for concealed carry.
2 Galco Gunleather Speed Paddle Holster
Galco Gunleather is well known for their high quality leather holsters, so it’s no wonder that the Galco Speed Paddle Holster earned a place on our list of recommendations.
It’s technically a hybrid holster, meaning that it uses both plastic and leather. The shell of the holster is molded leather, while the paddle is made from injection molded plastic.
Another thing that makes the Galco Speed Paddle Holster a little different from other leather holsters is that it uses passive retention rather than a retention strap. Tension is adjustable. This holster also positions your gun at a slight cant, with the butt slightly forward for faster, easier draw.
This is the most expensive holster on our list, but that’s an indicator of the quality of the holster’s craftsmanship. It’s available with black or tan premium steerhide.
3 Safariland Model 7378 7TS ALS Concealment Paddle Holster
The Safariland Model 7378 7TS ALS Concealment Paddle Holster is an incredibly versatile option.
It can be worn as a paddle holster but also comes with a belt loop attachment so it can also be worn like a traditional OWB holster. In addition, it allows the user to adjust the cant so the holster can be used for same side draw or cross draw.
The holster is made from SafariSeven, Safarilands proprietary nylon that is supposed to be less abrasive than Kydex. It’s still very durable, as well as moisture resistant and temperature resistant.
Another unique feature is Safariland’s ALS (Automatic Locking System) for retention. It uses active retention without a backstrap. A thumb release, positioned for easy access, allows you to draw the weapon quickly and naturally.
This holster is available in black and flat dark earth (FDE), and in plain and basket weave finishes to fit your preferences or concealment needs.
4 BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Holster
The BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Holster is another polymer option. It costs only a few bucks more than the Fobus Standard Paddle Holster, making it one of the more affordable options on our list.
However, the modular design allows you to detach the holster shell from the paddle and use the shell with BLACKHAWK’s Shoulder, Quick Disconnect, S.T.R.I.K.E., and Tactical holster platforms.
Because of that versatility, you could argue that the BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Holster actually provides a better value than the Fobus Standard Paddle Holster since you only have to buy attachment accessories rather than entire separate holsters for other uses.
Like most polymer holsters, The BLACKHAWK Serpa Sportster Holster features adjustable passive retention. The retention system makes an audible click when the gun is correctly holstered so that you know it’s secured without looking.
5 Concealment Express OWB Kydex Paddle Holster
The Concealment Express OWB Kydex Paddle Holster is on the pricier end for a Kydex holster, but you get what you pay for. It has all kinds of features that you don’t necessarily find in other, cheaper holsters.
For one, it has a user adjustable cant that can be set between -5 degrees and +20 degrees. The Posi-Click adjustable retention system allows you to set the retention level to just the right amount.
The Kydex is shaped to avoid rubbing your skin or scuffing your firearm. It has an undercut trigger guard that makes it easier to draw your weapon and an over-cut, open-face that allows for threaded barrels. It also allows for suppressor height sights, allowing you to customize your sight setup and still use the holster.
The Concealment Express OWB Kydex Paddle Holster is available in plain or carbon fiber black. It’s made in the United States and comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s designed for strong side hip carry.
6 Comp-Tac International Paddle Holster
Are you tired of holster companies that consider brown to be the “fun” alternative to black? Do you want a more colorful paddle holster option? Then the Comp-Tac International Paddle Holster just might be perfect for you.
In addition to the basic Black and FDE, this holster is available in other understated options like Wolf Grey, LE Blue, and OD Green. For those that want brighter options, Coyote Brown, Blue, Purple, or Red will be more up your alley.
Of course, the colorful options aren’t the only reason to choose the Comp-Tac International Paddle Holster.
One really great feature is the lower cut front paired with the half inch tall sight rail. This allows the holster to be used with virtually any sights, even tall ones like red dots and holo sights. The cant is adjustable and can be set to eight different positions.
This holster is also modular and can be combined with Comp-Tac’s other mounting systems. Three mounting options are included: belt, paddle, and drop offset, but Comp-Tac makes 13 more that you can use.
All in all, it’s hard to find a better holster for competitive shooters than the Comp-Tac International Paddle Holster.
7 Galco Gunleather Paddle Lite Holster
Last up is another leather paddle holster from Galco Gunleather.
At a lower price point, however, the Galco Paddle Lite Holster is a more budget friendly alternative to the Galco Speed Paddle.
The two holsters have many features in common, like the butt forward cant, premium steerhide leather, and injection molded paddle. The main difference between the two is the retention style.
The Galco Paddle Lite Holster has a retention strap. A snap secures the snap closed, but you can pop it open relatively quickly and easily, but it will be slower than the Speed Paddle Holster.
If time is of the essence when you draw, such as for everyday carry or competition, it’s probably worth it to shell out the money for the Speed Paddle Holster if you can. If you just want a holster for more casual use, you can get away with saving your money.
Paddle holsters generally are lower profile, more comfortable, and don’t require a belt like other types of OWB holsters. While they’re not as discreet as an IWB holster, a paddle holster is an excellent alternative to a traditional OWB holster for either open or concealed carry. After all, the best holster is the one you use.
Whether you need a holster for everyday carry, competition, or just for casual plinking, a paddle holster can be a great option. All of the holsters that we recommend here are great options and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
And most of them are available for all of the most popular handguns, so you’re bound to have plenty of options whether you carry a Glock 23, a SIG P320, a Springfield Armory Hellcat, or something else entirely.
The best paddle holster for you simply depends on your preferences and budget.