The 1911 is an American classic, an institution really. The John Browning design served our country for 70 years as the standard American sidearm and to this day remains one of the most produced guns in the world.
The 1911 has been there and done that. As a popular pistol, it has its fair share of the aftermarket. This includes holsters—lots and lots of holsters.
When you are over a hundred years old, you’ll have a large holster market. Simply searching “1911 holsters” will take you for a ride, and today we are here to help you navigate the holster phenomenon that is the 1911.
10 Best 1911 Holsters of 2019: Outdoor Empire Reviews
Here is a list of the best 1911 holsters of 2019:
Outside the Waistband (OWB):
#3: Safariland 5196 Guard Detent
Inside the Waistband(IWB):
#2: Crossbreed – The Reckoning
Best Belly Band: Galco Underswraps
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5 Best Outside the Waistband (OWB) Holsters
1. Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB
Alien Gear is very well known for producing extremely high-quality IWB hybrid holsters, but their foray into OWB designs shouldn’t be slept on.
The Cloak Mod OWB is a complete polymer holster with a molded shell for your 1911 of choice. This is my first recommendation because they have a model for every 1911 you could picture.
This includes right- and left-handed models, models of varying barrel lengths, from the Government 5-inch to the super short 3-inch models, and guns with and without a rail.
Features and Specs
- Polymer paddle or belt slide holster
- An adjustable but passive retention device
- Can be adjusted for cant
- Modular and can accommodate different guns
- Affordable left- and right-handed options
- Extremely secure with tight retention
- Very comfortable
- Adjusting retention is a hassle
- Sticks out slightly far from the body.
The Cloak Mod is designed for concealed carry use and does that job well. It pokes out just a little more than I’d like, but I have no major complaints.
The open top and molded design make drawing easy, and the affordable price tag and lifetime warranty make it a great bargain.
2. 1791 Gunleather Combo
The history of the 1911 is steeped in leather holsters, so expect to see more than one here. The 1791 Gunleather combo is not only a great holster, but it’s great looking.
The leather shines just right, and it feels soft and well made. The holster comes with a built-in mag carrier to accommodate a single reload.
The holster is a pancake style design that utilizes two loops to deliver a slight forward cant. The cant makes it easier to draw and easier to conceal. The holster will fit both 4-inch and 5-inch 1911s.
Features and Specs
- Holds one additional magazine
- 100% American-made steerhide leather
- Double-stitched leather sewing for a strong fit
- Comes in a multitude of colors
- Easily conceals a full size 1911
- Extremely durable
- Somewhat expensive
- Will not accommodate railed 1911s
The 1791 Gunleather holster is perfect for concealed carry. It uses a friction fit to retain the weapon and a quick draw open top design.
The 1791 Combo holster makes it easy to carry both a gun and an extra magazine should you run dry or experience a failure. The holster clings tight to the body and allows you to conceal this big beast easily.
3. Safariland 5196 Guard Detent
I love Safariland but hate their naming conventions. With as many holsters as they make, it can be tough to keep up.
The 5196 Guard Detent is a hard-to-remember name for a very affordable and well-designed holster. This polymer-molded holster is designed to be easy to carry and comes with a belt loop attachment.
It’s also an IDPA-approved holster with an open top design. The combination of an adjustable retention system and an open top design means you never sacrifice speed for retention or vice versa.
Features and Specs
- Adjustable retention
- Low-rise sides help improve draw speed
- Adjustable belt loop for easy cant adjustmen
- Quick and easy draw
- Adjustable in a variety of ways
- Very affordably priced
- – Sticks out a bit far from the body for concealment under just a shirt
The 5196 is designed for both concealed carry and IDPA. IDPA stresses practicality with their guns and gear, and the Safariland fills that niche.
The affordable price tag makes it easy to get a start in IDPA holster-wise, and it can be a decent CCW holster. It’s not for everyone, but if you have a tight budget, it’s worth the glance.
4. Galco Fletch High Ride
Leather makes another appearance on this list with the Galco Fletch. This high-ride leather holster helps conceal the 1911 under a light shirt without issue.
The Fletch itself is an attractive tan or black leather with double stick work to ensure years of use. The Fletch uses a pancake design to keep the weapon tight to the body and easily concealed.
At the same time, it uses a thumb strap that is quick to release with a natural draw stroke.
Features and Specs
- Fits full-sized, 5-inch 1911s
- Made from premium-grade saddle leather
- Available for right- and left-handed shooters.
- Has the rare CCW holster thumb snap
- Improved geometry and comfort from two-piece construction
- Easy to conceal because of extremely narrow profile and high rise
- Quite pricey
The Galco Flex is mainly a concealed carry holster, but it could serve double duty as a detective’s holster or a holster for any other low-profile law enforcement officer.
The use of a thumb snap ensures excellent retention when dealing with suspects. The design is perfect for concealed carrying a big gun like the 1911.
The Fletch is backed by Galco’s awesome warranty, too. It’s hard to hate anything by Galco.
5. Bravo Concealment BCA
If you want a minimalist, professional-grade polymer holster at a great price, then the BCA is for you. This simple OWB design is perfect for the daily carry of both large and small firearms.
The BCA is made for those who want a kydex holster that will cling tight to the body and conceal with ease under nothing more than a T-shirt.
The BCA will also accommodate threaded barrels and tall suppressor height sights for those who run a can occasionally. Best of all, it takes nothing more than a T-shirt to conceal.
Features and Specs
- 1.5-inch belt loops
- Made entirely from polymer and metal
- Accommodates either 5- or 4.25-inch guns with or without rail
- Affordable and high quality
- Adjustable passive retention
- Design works with tall sights and threaded barrels
- Unlimited lifetime warranty
- Holds the gun tight to the body, so rough texture grips can rub
The Bravo Concealment is unsurprisingly a holster designed for concealment. The Bravo BCA is a well-made and very modern holster designed for a lifetime of use.
It comes with belt loops, but paddle attachments and pancake loops are also available. The system is well proven and very affordable.
Learn more about the Bravo Concealment BCA.
5 Best Inside The Waistband ( IWB ) Holsters
6. Desantis Mad Max Holsters
Like the design of an OWB pancake holster and wish it came in IWB? Well, then Desantis has you covered with the Mad Max.
The Mad Max is an all-leather IWB holster that utilizes the same style layout as a pancake holster. Two leather clips extend over the belt, with button snaps in the same area belt loops would be.
This keeps the holster comfortable and ultimately thinner by spreading out the clips. The open top design is reinforced to allow easy one hand holstering.
Features and Specs
- Designed to be soft and comfortable against the body
- Friction retention works extremely well.
- Comes with both leather loops and J-hooks.
- A rare all-leather IWB design proves to be very comfortable.
- Made from premium-grade leather
- One of the few IWBs with true one-hand holstering.
- No sweat guard beyond the holster
The Mad Max is perfect for the leather aficionado who wants a deep concealment IWB design. It’s well suited for daily carry, and if the gun is ever removed, you can reholster without the holster collapsing. Best of all, the belt clips are adjustable for height and cant.
The Desantis Mad Max Holsters is also available at:
7. Crossbreed – The Reckoning
Crossbreed is well known for their impactful and well-designed hybrid holsters, and any of them would be a good choice, but I went with the Reckoning for a few reasons.
The Reckoning is not just an IWB holster, but it can be converted to OWB as well. The minimalist design is also nice for those who want an appendix carry option.
The Reckoning is part leather and part kydex with a solid set of J-hooks. The soft leather backing and complete sweat guard make this an incredible option for daily carry. It’s super comfortable and very quick and easy to draw from.
Features and Specs
- Adjustable height and cant
- Easily converted to OWB with belt loops
- Can holsters 1911s with Miniature red dots
- Multiple adjustment points for retention
- Extremely modular
- Very comfortable and easy to draw from
- Lifetime warranty
- Swapping to OWB takes a lot of unscrewing and screwing
The Reckoning is for those who want options. IWB for daily carry is perfect for most concealed carriers, but when jackets and hoodies break out, the OWB option is quite comfortable.
The Reckoning is a solid holster with a lot of flexibility behind it. It’s hard to beat in terms of versatility. Best of all, the price is low, and you are basically getting two holsters for the price of one.
8. Bravo Concealment Torsion
Bravo Concealment hits us again with another 1911 holster. This model IWB holster is designed for appendix and strong side carry. This all-kydex holster utilizes an inward cant to improve concealability and make carrying the gun more comfortable overall.
The Torsion comes with two clips but can be used with a single clip if you so choose. An all-kydex holster means the holster will not collapse when the gun is drawn, letting you very easily and safely reholster.
Features and Specs
- Will accommodate threaded barrels and suppressor height sights
- Designed for 5- and 4.25-inch barrels and railed and non-railed models
- Modular belt clips adjustable for cant and ride height
- Inward cant increases concealability
- Extremely small profile
- Quick and easy to draw from
- Some will find it stiff compared to leather
The Torsion from Bravo Concealment is an extremely well-made and well-designed holster. The affordable price tag makes it an easy buy for those seeking an IWB or appendix design.
The materials are top notch, and this minimalist holster is an excellent everyday carry option. Bravo Concealment holsters are perfect for those who conceal in warm locations where light clothing is worn.
It disappears under a shirt and is out of sight and mind until you need it.
9. Galco Triton Holster
The Triton Holster from Galco is a bit of a departure from their typical leather work, but it was only a matter of time with this market.
The Triton is an all-polymer holster that utilizes passive retention. It is a single clip IWB design made for appendix carry. It offers a small, minimalist design that’s backed by a quick draw and a small footprint.
The single clip design ensures it can be worn with ease without being noticed. This all-polymer foray into holsters is an interesting development.
Features and Specs
- Very thin but supportive design
- Single clip design makes it easy to take off and put on
- Passive retention is quick and easy to defeat, but secure
- Full-length sweat guard protects you and the gun
- An unbeatable draw stroke from concealment
- Very simple to reholster, remove, or install.
- Single clip design makes it suited for AIWB but not much else
The Triton is a dedicated IWB holster designed for those seeking the appendix experience. This makes it very easy to conceal a full sized 1911 and very quick when drawing and firing a gun.
The Triton is rock-solid reliable and is backed by Galco’s awesome warranty.
10. Best 1911 Belly Band Holster: Galco Underswraps
Outside of being a good pun, the Galco Underwraps is one the more high-quality belly bands on the market. This belly band is designed to conceal a very small gun, so keep that in mind. This is for the 3- or 3.25-inch barreled 1911.
This may accommodate your 5-inch barrel model, but be warned: it won’t conceal it well. The Underwraps comes with two holsters and numerous pouches to accommodate spare gear.
The Underwraps is incredibly comfortable to wear, and the two holsters are made from leather over the elasticized nylon band. The Underwraps holster system is ambidextrous and can accommodate strongside, cross draw, appendix, and small-of-back carry.
Features and Specs
- Two leather holsters for handguns
- Two additional pouches for gear
- 4 inches wide for maximum support
- Very easy to conceal a gun in all manner of dress
- Perfect for people who find OWB or IWB uncomfortable
- Completely ambidextrous
- Will only accommodate small 1911s
The Galco Underwraps is a well-made piece of gear designed for the deepest layers of concealed carry. It’s perfect when wearing dress clothes, dresses, or other attire that makes traditional holsters a no go.
The Underwraps isn’t for a full-sized 1911, just smaller and lighter 1911 designs, so keep that in mind.
The Galco Fletch High Ride is also available at:
Why Do You Need a Quality 1911 Holster?
If you’ve never carried a gun, you don’t know the pain of choosing the wrong holster. It’s a terrible drag on your hip that will often poke and prod your body, rub parts of you raw, and, at the end of the day, removing it will be a massive relief.
A proper 1911 is a steel gun, which means it is a heavy gun. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does create a need for a high-quality holster.
You need a holster that is capable of supporting a heavy handgun like the 1911. A 45 ACP holster must be formidable. A good, high-quality holster won’t cause that type of pain.
A good high-quality holster will do its job supporting the gun and should protect you from the gun and vice versa. What I mean is the gun shouldn’t poke or prod you, and you shouldn’t be sweating all over the gun.
One of the most important factors when choosing a holster is fit. The holster needs to be fitted for the gun. A quality holster will protect the gun as much as it carries the weapon.
A holster serves as a shield from most dust and debris. More than that, a well-fitted and designed holster will protect the weapon’s outward finish from damage.
Holsters are designed to do different things overall, but in that context, all holsters should be supportive and well made. A holster should last you years and years before you need to replace it.
There is no reason you should swap holsters once a year unless you just want to. I’ve had holsters for years, and I adore each and every one of them.
How to Choose a 1911 Holster
Choosing a 1911 holster starts with one simple question: “What are you looking to do with it?” This is critical because different purposes have different requirements.
A duty holster, like those used by the police and military, is a lot different than a holster for concealed carry. The same can be said for competition holsters, light-bearing holsters, and even hunting holsters.
You have to actively pursue the purpose of the holster when shopping. Trying to make one holster do it all is usually a fool’s errand.
Pursue your holster with a purpose. A concealed carry holster should keep the gun tight to the body. A duty holster should be secure with a retention device but quick to access.
A comp holster places speed above all, and a hunting holster positions the gun for easy access in all positions.
IWB vs. OWB
The 1911 itself is a big gun, a heavy gun, but it’s also a relatively thin gun. This somewhat odd combination of features makes it a great candidate for both IWB and OWB carry.
Is one better than the other? Not necessarily, but each has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a look at both of these types of 1911 concealed holsters.
IWB 1911 Holsters
IWB, or inside the waistband, carry is a great way to conceal a gun. It pops into your waistline, and the majority of the gun is concealed by your pants.
All your shirt or jacket has to cover is the grip of the gun. An IWB 1911 holster is an ultra-low-profile way to carry your gun. The downside is often comfort.
Many people find IWB to be uncomfortable since the gun is held so close to the body, with hardly anything between you and the gun. IWB requires a well-made holster.
Also, with the gun held so tight to the body, it can be difficult to draw the gun due to lack of clearance between the gun and your body.
OWB 1911 Holsters
OWB, or outside the waistband, carry is a very comfortable way to carry a gun.
With the gun outside of your pants, you have an extra layer to protect you from it and the holster. OWB is also very easy to draw from in a multitude of positions. There is more clearance between you and the gun.
OWB is naturally harder to conceal than IWB, especially for smaller shooters. OWB carry requires a high holster that holds the gun tight to the body or a longer cover garment to conceal the weapon fully.
Another big consideration is the selection of the material the holster is made out of. Off the bat, I would rarely suggest nylon. The only nylon I would suggest is the Bianchi Accumold series because it is purpose-molded to the gun versus a generic fit.
The two materials that often rule the holster industry are leather and polymers. By polymers I mean there are a variety of different ones that work. Kydex, bolatron, glass-filled nylon, etc. And leather is, of course, leather.
Leather will wear faster than polymer. It tends to deform, bend, and can eventually become useless. Admittedly, high-quality leather work can last a lot longer than average grade leather.
If you go leather, spend the extra money with a company with a respectable reputation for leather holster making.
Polymer is the most modern style of holster and one that will last forever.
Polymer holsters tend to last longer and resist the elements much better than leather. Polymer tends to be thinner and the lightest of materials. Most polymer holsters are also modular and can be used with different attachments to wear the holster in different ways.
Concealment and Retention
I like to say that concealed means concealed in the defensive firearms classes I teach. What I mean is you should do your best to conceal the gun in every way possible.
This includes reducing printing, preventing accidental exposure, and choosing the right holster. You want the gun held tight to the body, and this aids in avoiding odd lumps that are a dead giveaway you are carrying a gun.
This is why IWB is such a popular form of concealed carry. Concealing a 1911 can be tricky if it’s a full-sized government model. You have to strive to find the right holster, carry position, and attire to make it work.
Additionally, IWB carry methods like appendix have become very popular in recent years. This positions the gun in front of your body over your appendix, a place that avoids awkward lumps and makes it blend in with the body fairly well.
OWB holsters need to be specialized for concealment and not duty. OWB holsters can be designed to cling tight to the body and to reduce bulk as much as possible. These holsters will use an inward cant or bend to make themselves near invisible.
Retention is the way the holster clings to the gun and can be either active or passive. Concealed carry holsters are mostly passive retention.
This means they utilize an internal design feature to keep the gun in place. This is often friction-based and works well for concealed carry.
Passive retention ensures the user can draw the weapon quickly and without restraint. Since the weapon is concealed, there is very little chance of someone trying to take it.
Holsters designed for duty or hunting or open carry should have an active retention device. This device requires the user to press, pull, or unlock something to retrieve the gun.
These holsters prevent an unauthorized user from trying to take the gun.
I mentioned fit briefly above, but I wanted to elaborate on what fit means and why it is important. I will never carry a holster that is not fitted for my gun.
A holster needs to be molded or sewn or whatever to the gun it intends to carry. Generic nylon holsters are an automatic no-go for me. The holster needs to be fitted to the gun for a reason.
First off, it’s safer. I know the trigger is protected and nothing foreign can get in there. Second, it is a must for passive retention. If the gun isn’t molded to the holster there is no way a friction fit will work.
Also, if the gun isn’t fitted to the holster it will likely move as you go about your day. If it’s moving, you are damaging the gun’s finish, and it might not be in the right area when it’s time to draw the gun.
If you take only one thing away from this entire article, it’s buy a fitted 1911 holster.
The Top 1911 Holster Brands
If I was looking for a leather 1911 holster it, would likely be from Galco. Galco has been making leather holsters for decades. From OWB designs to quality shoulder rigs, Galco does it all.
They do make some kydex holsters in their Triton series, but their leather models are some of the best examples of high-quality leather holsters.
Galco holsters focus more on civilian use and concealed carry. That being said, holsters like the Miami shoulder rig are quite popular with some police officers.
Galco’s leather holsters are great OWB concealment designs as well as soft IWB holsters. The 1911 is a very classic gun that oozes historic appeal, and I love the idea of housing a classic gun in a classic leather holster.
Galco makes great holsters, and on top of that, they also provide an outstanding warranty. A valid reason to return a holster can be as simple as, “It doesn’t work for me.”
While quality leather is their main appeal, you can’t deny the awesomeness of some of their exotic line. This includes alligator, ostrich, stingray, and shark-hide holsters.
They also produce high-grade leather holsters that accept light attachments, which is quite rare in the holster world.
Safariland is a true do-it-all company. They produce holsters for absolutely everyone. They just secured the contract for the new SIG M17 and M18 holsters for the military and sit on the duty belts of law enforcement worldwide.
On top of that, they produce tons of holsters aimed at the civilian concealed carry and self-defense market. Safariland makes any kind of holster you could ever want for your 1911.
This includes OWB leather and kydex holsters, as well as appendix, standard, and hybrid IWB holsters. They make them all with varying retention devices and styles. Safariland is well known for its very high-quality holsters at a very affordable price range.
The sheer multitude of holsters they make guarantees you’ll find the right one for you. This includes light-bearing models as well.
Many Safariland holsters feature a universal attachment system that allows you to convert your gun into a belt loop, paddle, or even drop-leg design. This gives you a degree of modularity that’s hard to beat.
Safariland backs their holsters with an outstanding warranty, and they have an amazing reputation in every part of the market they enter.
Whenever someone asks me about Bravo Concealment, I always say they are like a good burger joint. Their menu is small, but they have perfect it.
At the same time, their products are affordable, functional, and just plain rock. Bravo Concealment produces only a few different lines of holsters, and they produce OWB and IWB lines for the 1911.
Bravo Concealment is all about designing the latest and greatest in polymer holsters exclusively for the concealed carry market. They only produce kydex holsters, and for the 1911, they produce holsters for 5-inch and 4.25-inch models with and without rails.
They only produce one OWB and IWB holster for 1911s. This isn’t a bad thing when you realize how well made and how affordable their holsters are.
The OWB model is one of my personal favorites, and I own multiple models for multiple guns. The IWB model, known as the Torsion, is one of the most concealable and comfortable IWB holsters on the market.
Their menu is very limited, but Bravo Concealment makes some outstanding firearm holsters, and their range is hard to beat.
Bravo Concealment produces versatile mounts, including belt, pancake, and paddle mounts, and their IWB holster can be used for appendix, strongside, and small-of-back carry.