The 1911’s history is a rich and storied one originating a decade prior to the handgun’s creation by John Browning. During the American-Philippine War, the frenzied charges of the Moro tribesmen were all but unstoppable with the .38 caliber handguns used by the U.S. Cavalry, a problem that both damaged morale and resulted in deaths. As a result extensive testing was carried out including the famous Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904, and, in the end, a new caliber was chosen for military defense: the .45 ACP. For the new big, bold caliber, a new handgun was needed, and the Colt M1911 was born.
- 1 Choosing the Best 1911 Holster
- 2 Choosing a 1911 IWB Holster
- 3 Choosing a 1911 Leather Holster
- 4 Choosing a 1911 Shoulder Holster
- 5 Choosing a 1911 Kydex Holster
- 6 Choosing a 1911 Paddle Holster
- 7 1911 With Rail
Choosing the Best 1911 Holster
Today there are a vast number of 1911’s on the market made by a variety of manufacturers, but all have one thing in common: fine accuracy, one-shot stopping power, and serious personal protection capabilities. And if you have a 1911, you need a holster, and not just any holster: you need one made to specifically suit your legendary handgun’s needs. Whether you IWB (Inside WaistBand) carry or open carry on your hip, there is a 1911 holster out there for you. It’s hard to define what the best 1911 holster really is because everyone’s opinion varies, but we’re sure this list will point you in the right direction.
Outbags Nylon OWB Belt Gun Holster
For: Remington R1, Rock Island 1911, Ruger SR1911, Colt Gov’t, Colt 1911 .45/Gold Cup, Kimber HD1911, Hi-Point JHP, and most 5” semi-auto’s
The Outbags OWB (On WaistBand) 1911 holster is designed for open carry. It’s made of tough 600 Denier nylon and has a steel belt clip for hooking it over your waistband but also has a belt loop for on-the-belt use.
One of its greatest features is the included mag pouch on the side, which enables you to carry a spare mag right alongside your handgun. Having a readily available extra loaded mag is a must when carrying for personal protection, and Outbags has you covered – and fully loaded.
For added security the Outbags has an adjustable thumb break that comes free easily with one hand. And if you’re in the market for a 1911 concealed carry holster, it is possible to conceal this holster with an un-tucked shirt or a jacket. This holster comes in right and left-handed styles. Holsters for 1911 handguns need to be durable, secure, and versatile, and all of those things can be found with the Outbags OWB. For around $15, this holster is tough to pass up.
Cons: The mag pouch is a snug fit and best for 7-round short mags, and although its smaller size may be seen as a shortcoming by some it still provides the user with the ability to carry that spare mag, which is important regardless of size.
Choosing a 1911 IWB Holster
IWB holsters are one of the more common types of concealed carry and because of that there are a number of holster manufacturers that have created a holster that is specific for the 1911, such as the Ruger 1911 holster, for example. Let’s look at the top 2 picks based on current feedback:
Tagua Gunleather 1911 Inside Pants Gun Holster
The Tagua Gunleather is an IWB 1911 holster. Inside WaistBand holsters are a favorite of many concealed carriers not only for their ease of concealment but for their comfort. This particular one is made of quality brown saddle leather with heavily reinforced stitching throughout for durability and longevity. It has what Tagua describes as a combat grip and features a sturdy clip for attaching it to your waistband or belt.
This is an open-mouthed holster, meaning the muzzle of your gun is left open; some shooters prefer this style so the gun can be readily fired while holstered if need be. The leather molds firmly to your gun’s frame providing a solid hold and retains that shape even after drawing. If you’re in the market for a 1911 IWB holster, give this $30 Tagua a try for its comfort and security.
Cons: The open mouth is a con for some due to its allowing lint or other debris to potentially enter your gun’s barrel, however, the ability to take a clear shot while the handgun is still holstered is a feature worth considering for the serious concealed carry owner.
Galco KT218B King Tuck IWB Holster 3.5″-3″ 1911’s
The KingTuk is a popular inside the waistband holster in part because it combines the comfort of a pancake holster with the durability of Kydex. The Kydex molding grips your gun securely, preventing slips and making for a fast draw and easy holstering, and although you might thing it appears bulky, the length and overall size of the KingTuk actually enables the holster to more fully distribute your 1911’s weight.
The holster’s footprint is broad, padded leather, with the leather extending the length of your 1911’s slide, leaving the grip free. It has two metal belt clips that can be adjusted for the best possible angle – your gun’s “cant” tends to be unique to your needs, so have a holster you can adjust a bit is great.
The last thing you want with IWB concealed carry holsters is one where the entire weight of your gun is pulling down on one specific spot. With some wear, this waistband holster breaks in nicely to your body, making carry even more comfortable. If you’re looking for the most comfortable IWB holster, you’ve found it, and we are very fond of this IWB model in general.
Cons: This holster doesn’t extend to cover the trigger, however, with IWB carry and the extremely firm grip the KingTuk keeps on your gun, it seems highly unlikely anyone other than you will be getting at your trigger.
Choosing a 1911 Leather Holster
Leather holsters are some of the most preferred type of holsters due to their ability to adhere to the firearm’s shape over time. Many Colt 1911 holster owners or Kimber 1911 holster keepers only deal with leather and won’t consider nylon or Kydex. Below are the top two leather 1911 choices you can select.
Galco Combat Master Belt Holster
For: 1911 5-inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield
This Galco Combat Master Belt Holster is a leather 1911 holster designed for extra-secure carry at your hip. It can be used for open carry or concealed with the use of an un-tucked shirt or jacket. Galco uses only the highest quality premium saddle leather for these holsters and uses double-stitched seams for superior strength.
Leather holsters for 1911 handguns are as classic as the piece itself, and the opening at either side of the holsters allows the user to pass their belt through it and keep it in place once and for all. The slits are large enough for belts up to 1 ¾” wide.
The Combat Master has an open mouth and is available in right or left-handed styles. And not only is this holster molded to perfectly grip your handgun but it angles your 1911 in a butt-forward cant for rapid presentation and increased comfort. A 1911 leather holster from Galco will always be a superior product, and the Combat Master curves to your hip for an exceptionally stable fit and delivers a carry method that is not just comfortable but is also aesthetically pleasing.
Cons: Leather holsters do require more maintenance, such as oiling, but the extra effort is well worth it for their impressive longevity and beauty.
Galco Waistband Inside The Pants Holster
Made specifically for the 1911 5-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield, the Galco Waistband Inside the Pant holster is made with premium steerhide and provides increased security with a retention strap.
The holster itself is not too thick, and that’s fantastic because an overly-thick leather holster can make IWB carry awkward, especially when you carry a thicker gun such as a Glock. This holster has a wide, injection-molded clip for firmly fixing it to your belt; it fits belts up to 1 3/4” wide.
The retention strap is a thumb break style, meaning you can easily free your firearm with a push of your thumb, but it’s also quite secure, so there’s no concern that it will simply come free on its own. Galco specifically designed this holster for a vertical carry position, meaning there is no cant, making it possible to carry it in a variety of positions including side, crossdraw, and appendix (meaning immediately in front of your hip). It’s meant for both semi-auto’s and double-action pistols. You’ll find your firearm fits into this top-tier holster like a second skin, staying firmly in place until needed.
Cons: The softer leather doesn’t retain its shape well, so the mouth may collapse after you draw your gun, but that’s simply a matter of practice re-holstering, and with a more flexible mouth your gun is gripped more closely rather than having a stiff mouth standing away from it.
Choosing a 1911 Shoulder Holster
Shoulder holsters are useful in their own right and there are ones made specifically for 1911’s, making life very easy when you’re on the prowl for a good fit. Let’s take a look at the top 2 shoulder holsters for the 1911.
Galco Jackass Rig Shoulder System
For: 1911, 5-inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield
This Galco Jackass Rig is a shoulder holster for 1911 owners. Shoulder holsters are preferred by some for use under a jacket and are also good for long car rides and situations where open carry is possible.
This is a classic system first created in 1970, and after nearly 50 years the design remains as a favorite for many seasoned marksmen. It’s made of top-of-the-line leather and is a right-handed system. The holster is horizontally positioned but can also be adjusted for diagonal carry.
There are four vital points to 1911 shoulder holster rigs such as this, and on the Jackass each point can pivot independently. Those points are connected to the rig by Galco’s Flexalon swivel back plate. System screws are included for greater customization. With the custom-molded holster on one side and an ammo carrier on the other, you’ll be ready for anything when you don this high-quality shoulder holster for 1911 handguns.
Cons: Shoulder holsters can be harder to conceal since they create a bulge under jackets but they’re still quite versatile and comfortable, making them a great choice that should be included in every serious shooter’s collection.
Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster
The Deluxe Horizontal Holster is a light weight and durable harness, with a tactical appearance that adds a touch of quality and appeal to this model. The design of this holster caters for ease of use, as well as for left or right handed carry.
The Deluxe holster is engineered for optimum comfort, boosted by the presence of padded shoulders that are designed to distribute the weight of the firearm and ammunition adequately, allowing users to go through their daily routines without headaches or constant reminder of its presence.
This adjustable holster features two mag pouches that complement the fully lined holster. Furthermore, the soft lining of the holster keeps your firearm in perfect condition and prevents any tarnishing of the finish. This is a very universal fit and that’s what makes it so accommodating as we pointed out in our review of shoulder holsters. For around $20, it’s difficult to find value anywhere else in that price range.
Choosing a 1911 Kydex Holster
Kydex is a preferred material because it retains its shape and durability longer than other types of materials like leather and nylon. It feels like plastic but it’s impressively strong and and capable of holding your favorite handgun in a solid grip, although some do site difficulty getting used to the material against their body. We firmly believe in the Galco Triton which we’ll break down below.
Galco Triton Kydex IWB Holster
For: 1911 4-Inch, 4 1/4-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield, Smith
This 1911 Triton Kydex holster is a nice, light holster custom-molded with more precision than many holsters can offer. Galco made this holster with security and a small footprint in mind. It’s made of Kydex, of course, which is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride, basically, it’s exceptionally strong plastic. But if you think that means it’s going to be thick, think again.
This is a light, thin holster with an open muzzle end and a raised sweat guard to protect your firearm from perspiration. In fact, it’s an excellent choice for concealed carry in the summer. It’s an Open-Top style as well, allowing for a quicker, less complicated draw.
There’s an indented clip to secure it to your belt or waistband, fitting belts up to 1 3/4″, and if you find you prefer a somewhat tougher hold on your belt, you can order belt loops from Galco and simply replace the clip. The whole point of Kydex inner waistband holsters is the way it holds on to your gun, and this holster delivers, hanging on with a seriously firm grip.
It’s designed to have a 10-degree cant, the angle most commonly used for FBI standard-issue. This is a great holster for when you just want to grab your gun and go without messing with straps or adjustments on your IWB holster.
Cons: You do need to use a larger belt to secure this holster properly, so consider getting a good, solid 1 ¾” belt for carrying purposes. That’s wise anyway because you don’t want to carry a firearm with a weak belt that isn’t really up to the importance of the job.
Choosing a 1911 Paddle Holster
Here’s our pick for the best 1911 paddle holster available on the market.
Fobus Standard Holster 1911 Style
For: 1911, S&W 945
The Fobus right handed C21 is a paddle holster, so it’s specifically designed to be openly worn on your hip. Although it could be concealed with a loose, longer shirt or jacket, paddle holsters are typically meant for open carry. This one is quite lightweight at just 2 ounces and is maintenance free because it doesn’t require oiling as leather does and is capable of withstanding extreme elements.
The paddle itself is rubberized, making it more stable, and just wide enough to keep its position secure at your hip without being overly wide, which can be uncomfortable.
It has a carefully molded holster for your 1911 that extends to cover the trigger while leaving the grip entirely clear for a quicker draw. And because it is a passive retention holster, rapid presentation is easily accomplished.
This holster has an open mouth and steel-reinforced rivets for increased strength. Fobus offers a lifetime warranty and 100% customer satisfaction.
Cons: Some users may feel the shorter holster style may make the gun top-heavy, but this particular style of paddle holster is actually quite secure and allows a faster draw which is vital in a self-defense situation.
1911 With Rail
Fobus Standard Holster R1911 with Rails
For: 1911 style with rails, Kimber TLE/RL, Springfield
The Fobus Standard Holster is specially designed for those with a 1911 that has rails. A Picatinny rail on your 1911 enables you to mount lights and lasers to your handgun, both of which can make all the difference in a combat or self-defense scenario. But they do add bulk, making a specific holster style necessary.
The Fobus Standard Holster is advertised as being made with space age high-density plastics and is injection molded, lightweight, and truly unique. These holsters were originally created in Israel for military and security specialists and are combat proven. Despite being lightweight and fairly minimal the Fobus Standard Holster offers fantastic retention and amazing comfort.
This is a paddle-style holster designed to sit at your hip and although it is best for open carry it can be concealed with a loose shirt or jacket. It leaves the muzzle both open and entirely exposed at the end for greater balance and covers the trigger.
With this paddle holster your 1911 with a Picatinny rail is held snugly in place at just the right cant for a fast, natural draw. These holsters are maintenance free and can simply be washed with soap and water. Fobus extends a lifetime warranty for all their products and 100% guarantees customer satisfaction.
Cons: This is a minimal holster, which can put off some gun owners, but Fobus knew what they were doing when they created it. Sometimes less really is more, and this holster cradles your gun at a nice angle with a firm grip.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a holster for your 1911 doesn’t need to be complicated. The majority of handgun owners utilize more than one style of holster because different kinds are needed for various situations. An IWB holster for true concealed carry suits a vast number of firearms owners while paddle holsters are great for open carry, including around your own home, and a shoulder holster could come in handy on long drives. Figure out what your needs are and select the holsters that best suit those needs.