The SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Tradeshow) Show is our annual industry convention. Specifically, it gives firearms industry professionals the opportunity to see what’s new from their favorite manufacturers. Held the third week of January in Las Vegas, this year’s meeting had over 52,000 attendees and over 2500 exhibitors. Among the products offered were some of the best holsters in the industry. So, I rounded up some of my favorites.
The Best Holsters of SHOT Show 2023
The show covered miles and miles of floor space. This was the second year that exhibitors expanded over to the Caesar Forum after all of the space at the Venetian Expo were full.
Las Vegas was unusually cold this year. In fact, the blowing wind and rain made the walk from my hotel to the convention center uncomfortable. But the highlight of this event is the opportunity to see old friends that I have made in 30 years as a gun writer.
I am blessed, in fact, to have so many wonderful acquaintances, and it was nearly impossible to walk from Point A to Point B without being stopped by someone I have shared a range, campfire, or event with.
In no particular order, here are some of the holster highlights that I found at the 2023 SHOT Show!
Alien Gear, a division of Tedder Industries, is really coming on strong of late. I had the opportunity to visit their factory in December of 2022 in Post Falls, Idaho. Housed in a huge building that had previously been an outlet mall, the facility has plenty of room. The space was well utilized for executive offices, a retail facility, engineering, and an elaborate research and development lab.
I had the opportunity to see first-hand forming machines for holsters as well as their injection molding machines. Alien Gear is a completely vertical company. I became a big fan when I had the chance to test their Rapid Force Level 3 Drop Leg holster.
Secure, comfortable, and well-designed the rig is drawing a lot of attention from police departments across the nation. This includes one very large, trend-setting agency in southern California. But Alien Gear is probably better known for their CCW solutions designed for the responsible concealed carrier.
Alien Gear Roswell
At the 2023 SHOT Show Alien Gear introduced their new Roswell line of Appendix Inside The Waistband (AIWB) and Outside the Waistband (OWB) holsters. Made from proprietary injection molded polymer, the new holsters claim to be 20% lighter, 40% tougher, and 80% more heat resistant than Kydex!
Alien Gear includes a claw and wedge kit, ensuring the Roswell AIWB stays close to the body for better concealment. There’s even an optional Micro red Dot hood to protect your optic. Boasting a price of under $40, the Roswell is currently available for 20 different popular CCW guns. It’s also available in right- or left-hand draw.
For more information, please visit AlienGearHolsters.com.
Alien Gear Photon
Also unveiled at SHOT 2023 was Alien Gear’s new Photon Holster, an amazingly versatile holster that is packed with features! It is completely ambidextrous and can be worn IWB as well as OWB. In addition, it is compatible with a light-equipped gun and is cut for an optic.
It has an open bottom to accommodate threaded muzzles and will work with guns equipped with suppressor height sights. The holster can be adjusted for ride height, cant, and retention, and a sidecar magazine carrier can also be attached to the Photon.
For more information, please visit AlienGearHolsters.com.
Barranti Boot Holster
Earlier this year, I had the chance to evaluate the Bond Arms Stinger. It’s a neat two-shot derringer with modern updates to make the gun safe to carry concealed. Gordon Bond sent me both .380 ACP and 9mm Stingers with the advice to practice with the .380 but carry the 9mm.
There is a substantial difference in recoil between the two calibers. The 9mm is not unbearable, but the recoil is brisk! Most folks will carry these little guns as a backup piece or backup to their backup. Their diminutive size makes them perfect for deep concealment.
Mike “Doc” Barranti is a fan of the Stingers and devised a holster for it to be worn inside the cowboy boot. The holster features a rough-out finish and an Ulti Clip to hold the holster firmly on the boot. Doc wet molds the holster to lock on the gun’s trigger guard for retention.
Called The Boot, Barranti also makes it for S&W J frame revolvers and the Ruger LCP II Max. Prices start at $75.
For more information, please visit BarrantiLeather.com.
Bravo Concealment LINKed Holster
I’ve been a fan of Bravo Concealment products for several years now. Their products are always well-finished, designed for secure and rigorous carry without sacrificing comfort. They are also economical!
New for 2023 is their LINKed Holster, which combines an IWB Torsion holster with an easily accessible magazine pouch. The angling of the mag carrier and flexible attachment to the Torsion holster make this a very comfortable rig. Bravo also adds a detachable wing to press the gun’s grip into the wearer’s body to prevent printing.
Priced at a very sensible $63.39, the LINKed holster has a 30-day money-back guarantee and an unlimited lifetime warranty.
For more information, please visit BravoConcealment.com.
Comp-Tac QD Holster
For SHOT 2023, Comp-Tac introduced the QD holster, which comes in 4 sizes and accommodates approximately 90% of the most popular CCW guns on the market. The QD features an aircraft-grade Kydex construction for a smooth and unimpeded presentation. Additionally, the QD comes equipped with both an OWB paddle and an IWB waistband clip.
The versatile holster is also completely ambidextrous and available in black, coyote brown, and OD green! Suggested retail price is just $49.
For more information, please visit Comp-Tac.com.
Gene DeSantis is an old and valued friend of mine. It was a great pleasure to visit with him and his booth. We spent time showing each other pics on our phones of grandchildren, but when it came time to “talk business,” I was handed off to his son Chad who now handles the lion’s share of running DeSantis Holsters.
New for 2023 is the DeSantis Persuader™, a thermoformed polymer IWB with a carbon fiber finish. It’s available with a multi-cant center clip or with tuckable C-Clips. The holster uses DeSantis’ ARW™ (Anti-Rotation Wedge) to pull the gun butt close to the body. Additionally, you can attach the available Persuader mag pouch to the holster body for a quick and accessible reload.
DeSantis offers the Persuader for multiple popular carry guns, from Sig’s P365 and Springfield Armory’s Hellcat up to Glock G19 and S&W M&P9 size guns. Priced at $64.99, the DeSantis Persuader offers concealed carriers and law enforcement officials an affordable and comfortable concealed carry solution!
For more information, please visit DeSantisHolster.com.
Galco Big Iron
Revolvers are coming back in a huge way, and one Great American Leather Company is ready to meet the needs of round-gun shooters. Mike Barham, Galco’s Media Relations person, showed me their newest holster called the Big Iron.
Designed for S&W’s “N” frame revolvers, the belt holster features premium steer hide construction. Likewise, a smooth leather lining offers super-slick presentations. There is a snapping flap that protects and secures the gun. However, you can easily release it with a polymer tab—even while wearing gloves.
You can wear the Big Iron on the beltline or with an optional belt drop. Correspondingly, Galco includes a leather thong tie down for use when the gun is worn in the lower position. With a suggested retail price of just $220 and $89 for the belt drop, Galco’s Big Iron is going to be very popular with those who frequent bear country!
For more information, please visit GalcoGunLeather.com.
In a very short time, Versacarry has developed a reputation for building quality American-made holsters at an affordable price. Using tough buffalo leather for their holsters, the Versacarry line of holsters has a distinctive look. New for 2023 is the hybrid Decree.
The Decree is an OWB holster featuring an optics cut for those using a micro red dot sight. Furthermore, it comes in 4 sizes to accommodate a multitude of popular carry guns. It uses premium water buffalo construction with an inlaid polymer front. As a result, this prevents the holster mouth from collapsing and allows easy re-holstering. Likewise, an adjustable retention screw lets you dial in the perfect fit.
The Decree’s belt loop placement gives the gun a butt forward, FBI style, cant. Versacarry also includes a sweat guard to keep firing residue and oil off your clothes. New for 2023 is the Gun Metal Gray color with khaki thread.
It’s a strikingly good-looking holster and retails for $69.99 in this color or $64.99 in distressed brown or black colors.
For more information, please visit Versacarry.com.
Falco Multifit Holsters
2023 SHOT was the first year I ran into Falco Holsters. Made in Slovakia, the brand features premium, pre-tanned full-grain leather. Holsters are hand-cut, stitched, and lacquered by the company’s leather artisans. With over 100 employees, Falco is working hard to supply American shooters with quality leather holsters.
Falco’s Multifit Optics Ready Holsters are available in 5 different sizes, which will fit the most popular CCW guns. Its holsters feature optics-ready cuts, open muzzles for threaded barrels, and covered trigger guards and barrels for safe carry.
Prices start at $59.95 and vary depending on the carry mode.
For more information, please visit FalcoHolsters.com.
Hogue Carry ARS Stage 1 Holster
Most people know the Hogue company for its excellent aftermarket handgun grips. But the company also makes a great line of knives and holsters. I had a chance to inspect its line of holsters featuring the patented Automatic Retention System (ARS). The system provides an extra level of security over open-top, friction-fitted holsters.
Hogue makes the ARS line for duty and sport use but also has a line of Carry holsters using the thumb-activated locking mechanism. In use, it is extremely fast and sacrifices nothing for the extra protection and retention it provides. Hogue offers the Carry ARS Stage 1 holsters for many popular CCW guns, and it comes with a paddle and OWB belt loop attachment.
Prices start at just $59.95!
For more information, please visit HogueInc.com.
Elite Survival Systems Advanced Belt Slide Holster
Elite Survival Systems introduced the Advanced Belt Slide Holster at this year’s SHOT Show. Constructed from leather and padded ballistic nylon, the holster features a truncated muzzle for maximum concealability. Likewise, a proprietary PowerBand provides tension adjustment as well as hook and loop adjustable, reversible, thumb-break retention straps.
Elite Survival’s proprietary SightStrip protects the gun’s sights during draws and re-holstering. The Advanced Belt Slide Holster is available in 8 different sizes to fit most pistols, and the holster will accommodate belts up to 1.75” in width. Prices start at $54.95.
For more information, please visit EliteSurvival.com.
Mission First Tactical Hybrid Holsters
Mission First Tactical (MFT) introduced a new and interesting line of leather Hybrid holsters designed for AIWB, IWB and OWB carry. The holsters feature full-grain American leather fused to Kydex.
Users can enjoy the precision of laser-cut Kydex with the warmth and comfort of a leather exterior. Unlike complete leather holsters, there is no break in time with this new MFT hybrid, and there is still an audible click when the gun locks into the holster.
Available for AIWB, IWB and OWB carry in both right- and left-hand carry, each holster comes with a 1.5” belt clip. All MFT Hybrid holsters are cut for optics carry, are suppressor sight compatible, and are ambidextrous. The American-made holsters are hand molded, trimmer, and buffed by hand for user comfort. Prices start at $69.99.
For more information, please visit MissionFirstTactical.com.
Safariland, one of the oldest and most trusted names in police duty holsters, had some exciting new products to show at SHOT 2023.
Schema is an optics-ready minimalist holster designed for subcompact firearms. Its skeletonized design has a smaller footprint to optimize concealability. It has a reinforced mouth for one-handed re-holstering and uses passive trigger guard retention. Safariland currently offers the Schema for popular micro-compacts like the Sig P365, P365XL, Taurus G2C, and G3C, Glock 43 and 43X, as well as the Springfield Armory Hellcat!
The new Safariland Species is a thermoformed IWB holster with a suede-lined interior designed for everyday carry. It possesses an adjustable retention screw to individualize the holster for a personalized draw.
Safariland also announced a collaboration with Haley Strategic Partners to produce a refined IWB holster for compacts and subcompacts equipped with lights and optics. The Incog X holster will also be available with an optional direct-mount magazine sidecar.
For more information, please visit Safariland.com.
Tagua Gunleather Hybrid Holsters
I had the chance to stop by Tagua Gunleather’s booth at SHOT 2023 and came away very impressed with the craftsmanship of their leather and hybrid holsters. Manufactured in Paraguay and imported through Miami, Florida, their vegetable-tanned leather is absolutely beautiful! Tagua offers a number of concealed carry solutions in a variety of IWB and OWB designs. They are tough, comfortable, handsome, and affordable.
For more information, please visit TaguaGunLeather.com.