Shoulder holsters are convenient ways to carry your firearm concealed in an urban environment, and they also help hunters up their handgun game by allowing for faster and easier draws.
The truth about shoulder holsters is that there will be a range of excellent choices, rather than one single best shoulder holster on the market.
Which is best for you will depend on your particular handgun, the reason you want a shoulder holster, and some factors which are specific to your life, body-type, and holstering needs.
But if there’s not one single best shoulder holster, what does the list look like? The list from which you can choose the best shoulder holster for your needs?
Chances are, you’ll need to look at both generic holsters that hold any gun on the market, and model-specific holsters that offer enhancements to comfort and ease when carrying very specific handguns.
We’ve collected some of the best shoulder holsters on the market here, to give you a spectrum to choose from. Whatever your particular shoulder holster needs, you’re sure to find the best shoulder holster to meet them on this list.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
The Aker 101 Comfort Flex Shoulder Holster tops our list both because of its pedigree and because it offers options that set it apart from the crowd.
Used by law enforcement agencies around the world, the Aker 101 has history when it comes to being the tool that can get the job done, reliably, time after time.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all holster, but it does come ready to hold a reasonably broad range of handguns, including the Beretta 92, the Glock 17/19, the Glock 20/21, the Sig Sauer P220/226/229, and the Springfield XD and XD(M), among several others.
That combination of specific holster shaping beyond the generic and the broad range of guns and gunmakers gives you the best of both worlds.
You’re not making do with a holster that’s basically a gun-pocket for every maker, but you have a wide enough range of manufacturers whose weapons will be perfectly cradled in the holster that there’s every likelihood your favorite firearms can find a home in the Aker 101.
Made of vegetable-stained cowhide in the US, it’s easily adjustable to be worn by anyone up to a size 62” chest.
That means you can find the fit that’s right for you, but can, if you have that kind of relationship, also lend it to a shooting buddy for the weekend without any stress.
The Comfort Flex holds your firearm in a rear-facing position, making it easy to grab and draw at a moment’s notice.
Also, even within its specific gun-groups, it can hold either compact models or their full-sized brothers and sisters.
Wide straps help with the distribution of weight, so even full-sized guns are no hassle and no back strain. Compacts in the same situation feel more like a natural extension of the shooter, rather than a shooting tool.
If you have a number and a variety of handguns, the Aker 101 Comfort Flex has got to be worth your time, your attention, and very probably your hard-earned cash.
Spacious, rear-pointing for an easy draw, and with a dual magazine pouch for convenient rapid reloading, it takes our top spot for its combination of useful functionality and innate style.
Stitched to last you for years, and with a style designed for concealed carry but visually striking enough to be fashionable, it has pretty much all you could want in the best shoulder holster on the market right now.
- Rear-facing weapon firearm holster for an easy draw
- Adjustable up to 62” inch chest
- Dual magazine pouch for easy reloads
- Styled for a wide range of handguns without being generic
- Strong stitching for long use
- Some people have difficulty with the back straps
While our top slot goes to a range of gun-specific holsters, it’s closely followed by a generic, universal holster which offers an incredible range of options to gun-owners.
The UTG Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster is ambidextrous and easily accessible, whether you’re left-handed or right.
As a universal handgun holster, the UTG Universal fits most popular pistols, which makes it a great option for shooters with a lot of handguns and no special preference as to which they take out on any given day.
The holster is also adjustable, so you can get what feels like a tailored holster, despite the UTC’s one-size-fits-everybody construction and price-point.
Padded shoulders – they’re not just for the 80s anymore. Bottom line, padding on the shoulders of a shoulder holster helps you wear the holster for longer without abrasion or pain (especially in a hunting scenario, where your environment might either be constantly wet or sweaty – both of which are abrasion’s friends).
That’s why the UTF Deluxe brings you the shoulder padding that makes your life easier.
Like the Aker 101, the UTG Universal also comes with two mag pouches, because you don’t live in a movie where guns keep on firing because they have magic infinite ammo supplies that never run out.
Fill up your pouches and when you need more ammo, you know where to get it, and can switch it into play quickly and efficiently.
We know your handgun can take care of itself – it can take care of you, so it’s not afraid of scratches and abrasions. But like a good dog, if you treat it well, it’ll be likely to keep its condition for longer.
So the UTG Universal gives you a soft inner lining, to stop the gun from getting scratched and dull while it rides in your holster.
What’s at least as important, there are Velcro straps in the UTG Deluxe that keep your gun secure in the holster, so you never have to deal with accidental fall-out.
Sure, you can question the wisdom of Velcro in hunting scenarios, because it sounds like nothing in the wild when you pull it apart, but safety always has to come first when you’re dealing with firearms.
The UTC Deluxe is a great, reliable shoulder holster that gives you if not all, then most of the things you need.
- You can use it whether you’re left or right-handed
- Suitable for most handguns
- Adjustable straps mean you can get a comfortable fit
- Padded shoulders cut down the pain and abrasion of holstering
- Two mag pouches for easy reloading
- Soft lining protects your weapon in transit
- Velcro straps keep the gun reliably in place
- Velcro straps can slow down your draw
- Also, in a hunting situation, they can be a noise-alert for prey
If you have big guns…move it right along people, there’s nothing for you to see here.
Here, we’re talking to – and meeting the needs of – shooters with lighter guns. You know the ones we mean – your PPKs, your Glock 26s, all the subcompact weapons that have taken the market by storm.
You can carry those smaller, lighter guns in a traditional shoulder holster, by all means, but there’s every chance they’ll feel like a frog in the Grand Canyon lost, isolated, and not especially easy to get hold of when the need arises - especially in some of the bigger multi-purpose holsters.
That’s why Galco – no slouch in meeting the needs of all kinds of gun-owners, and with 50 years of service in the game – has developed the Classic Lite.
Aimed specifically at owners of smaller, lighter guns, it’s made of center cut steerhide, and is available in either left- or right-handed versions.
That means it’s not an ambidextrous shoulder holster as such, but that you can get the version that’s right (or easiest) for you.
There’s a thumb-strap retention device and a single extra mag carrier, so you don’t feel like being a lightweight holster means you have to go feature-lite too.
And because of its lightness and relative simplicity, it’s out there for a very reasonable price point, in line with the other running expenses of smaller, lighter firearms.
- Available in either left- or right-handed versions
- Shaped and fitted specifically for smaller guns
- Still has versatility though – many smaller Glocks would fit this holster
- Naturally lightweight, in keeping with smaller guns
- Center cut steerhide construction for that sense of wearable luxury
- Impressive warranty
- No really, if you have full-sized or heavier guns, this is not your holster
The NcStar VISM is another ambidextrous holster, so immediately, any concern that you’ve bought the ‘wrong’ version disappears the moment you put it on.
More than any other holster on our list so far, the NcStar VISM is all about security. Here you have tie-down straps, which tether the holster to your belt.
Add in a thumb strap that lets you carry a range of different-sized guns, and you’re starting to have yourself a holster party. The thumb strap is particularly useful for giving you a clean, quick draw when you most need one.
If it has a downside, it’s that the NcStar VISM has a fixed cant. The rigidity of the angle of hold feels like an oddly retrograde step in a holster that otherwise adjusts six ways from Sunday, but the NcStar VISM still gives you a great shoulder holster.
It’s just that, with all or most of the same features available in the UTG Deluxe, and that holster coming with an adjustable cant, the rigidity in the VISM could be more of a deal-breaker than you might otherwise find it.
That’s why for our money, the NcStar VISM trails the UTG in the ratings – while still of course being a good enough shoulder holster to make it onto the list in the first place.
Plenty of gun-owners love the NcStar VISM, and for the most part, it’s easy to see why.
- Ambidextrous holster, so suitable for left- or right-handed shooters
- Adjustable at almost every point that matters
- Extra security through tie-down tethers which attach to your belt
- Thumb snaps help deliver a smooth and easy draw
- Rigid cant means you have to learn a draw that works with the holster
Versatility is the key to the Barsony shoulder holster.
Left-handed? Right-handed? Couldn’t possibly matter less – it takes the click of a button to get you the version you need.
It’s also available in a range of handgun-specifications that makes it simplicity itself to choose the model or models you need.
While that can get more expensive than picking up a one-size-fits-all model, with the New Barsony, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your holster was designed with your gun in mind.
There are a few unusual things about the Barsony holster. The strap that holds the gun in place, for instance, is larger, wider, and longer than the rest of the holster.
Why is that cool? Because it makes for a much easier gun-carrier, that’s why. The wider the strap, the more distributed the weight is.
Thinner straps elsewhere help cut the weight you’re hauling in the first place. That’s evidence of some impressive engineering nous behind the Barsony that makes it worth a place on our list.
The holster in total weighs less than 6 ounces, but adjusts to fit any shooter with a chest size up to 52”.
It also comes with a cunning range of alterations – four-way height adjustment and two-way height adjustment means you can adjust it for comfort and, also, that you can fit heavier guns in it if you need or want to.
The Barwsony looks like little else out there and performs extremely well in terms of weight ratios. If you don’t want to be overweighted, but still need your gun in concealed carry, it could well have a place in your outfit.
What’s at least as important, it’s priced to sell, singularly or in multiples for as many qualifying guns as you have. That means you can have several superlight gun-specific shoulder holders to serve your whole collection, without breaking the bank.
Features and Specs:
- Weighs only 6 ounces
- Adjustable up to a 52-inch chest
- Fully adjustable straps for easy adjustment
- Super-lightweight holster, at just 6 ounces
- Adjusts up to a 52” chest
- Impressive gun support in so light a holster
- Highly affordable
- Could feel loose, with only a single holster connector
Best Shoulder Holsters Buying Guide
When buying your shoulder holster, it’s worth keeping a handful of things in mind before you click the ‘Buy’ button.
Party For One Or Party For All?
One of the most fundamental things to take into account when buying a shoulder holster is whether you want one that will take any gun you put in it or one that’s more tailored towards particular guns.
Either way, the range available to you will still be broad, but you might as well decide whether you have a particular feeling on the One Vs. Many argument going in – it can save you finding and results which are almost right, but which are never going to quite do enough for you.
Cut to the chase and decide your stance on this question – cut your unproductive browsing time in half.
Spread The Weight
When you’re wearing a shoulder, especially if you’re wearing it all day or in difficult environments, the comfort factor is crucial.
Find one that distributes both the weight of the holster and the handgun it’s holding, along with any ammo mags you need.
Chances are, you’ll be looking for a very adjustable holster, so you can alter the weight distribution around your body.
Cant is surprisingly important to a smooth, rapid draw from the holster. When someone asks “How’s it hangin’?” what they’re really asking about is your angle of cant. The angle at which the gun hands and presents its handle to you is its cant.
If your angle of presentation is unnatural to your hand, you’re going to struggle to pull the gun anytime you need it because the angle or cant will feel unnatural. There are fixed-cant and adjustable-cant holsters out there. Understand what each will mean to your draw, and choose accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are shoulder holsters only suitable for concealed carry situations?
No. They’re great if you’re in concealed carry situations – they don’t spoil the line of clothes and don’t give your carrying away, which means they can avoid escalating situations into twitchy-fingered panic.
But you can also use shoulder holsters in rural situations when you have the same requirements of wanting a hands-free, uncluttered holstering option with the potential for a quick, smooth draw.
Shoulder holsters are just for small guns, right?
While it’s true that if you have smaller handguns, a shoulder holster is probably ideal for you, you might be surprised how big and broad the market for shoulder holsters is.
You can get shoulder holsters for all sorts of guns, large, small, and scoped. So no, shoulder holsters are for every gun-owner that wants one.
How much should I pay for a shoulder holster?
What’s it worth to you?
Sounds flippant, but it’s the nub of the answer. What do you want a shoulder holster for? What does it need to do? What does it need to be able to withstand? Long hours under a jacket in the city, or long days on a hunting trip? Do you need it with weight balancing and adjustable straps? How about shoulder padding?
The answers to all these questions will have an impact on the price you should expect to pay for the best shoulder holster for your needs. Roughly speaking, as in all things, be prepared to pay more for higher quality materials, more technology, more versatility, and more longevity.
If you’re going to buy a shoulder holster, get one that meets as many of your needs as possible, designed to last you as long as possible. And be prepared to pay for those extra elements – the extra outlay translates to a more enjoyable, and possibly a more productive, holstering experience for years to come.