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Best Shoulder Holsters [2018]

best shoulder holster leather vertical
Photo by ZORIN DENU

It seems with the shoulder holster you are either a fan, or you despise them. There really is no middle ground. For those of you who are fond of them, this article should help in finding the best shoulder holster for your buck. Leather shoulder holsters are the traditional material used, but newer nylon/kydex holsters have hit the market now too. Finding the best shoulder holsters takes a bit of patience and diligence, but I have put together a list that should suffice even the most hardcore enthusiasts.
Although other materials have been incorporated into shoulder holsters, leather is still the way to go for comfort and durability. The thing about leather is that it can be made from many different hides, and just as many processes to tan and shape it. This shoulder holster review will take into account four main areas of importance: Comfort, durability, price, and design.

  • Comfort: When it comes to vertical shoulder holsters comfort is close to the top of the list. What good is a holster that is uncomfortable. The best leather shoulder holster will not rub, and be able to move with you. Since none are really created equal, the decision should not be made lightly. After looking at shoulder holster reviews, I have included some holsters that are revered for their comfort, along with durability and use. Many of you will be wearing your holster for long periods of time, making this a very important aspect when choosing what to buy.
  • Durability: This is, of course, an important aspect of any gear. Dishing out the dough is only worth it if you get something that is going to last. I recommend not buying cheap leather when it comes to your concealed carry shoulder holster. It will save you money in the long run. Craftsmanship is a quality that is often overlooked these days where everything can be had for a dollar, but there comes a certain pride with something that is built well. Look at the stitching and other spots where the leather comes together to make sure it is put together with that kind of pride. Well made leather will say so in the specs, and it pays to know where the leather comes from. There is a big difference between steer-hide leather, and horse-hide leather. The tanning process is another area to look at when buying a holster, and if they do not mention it then you can bet it is the quickest, cheapest way to tan possible.
  • Price: Good craftsmanship comes at a price, but do not get caught up in name brands. There are many choices that are well made, and still reasonable when it comes to money. Custom made leather vertical shoulder holsters can cost several hundred dollars, but if you do not have that kind of money to spend there are plenty of options still available. I am a middle ground shopper; I want a good deal for the best gear. Going cheap, as I said before, will only end up costing more in the long run. Shelling out the few extra bucks now will save you from buying a new holster every few months.
  • Design: The best shoulder holsters are a combination of durability, comfort, and design. With so many choices, and new styles it is hard to find the right pick. All of the holsters I review will have design incorporated into the decision. Adjustable straps, switching from left to right, and clip storage are just a part of the design considerations that are available on leather shoulder holsters. The design can also affect comfort , and a design that works well with one person might not be the best for another. The more adjustable your holster is, the more comfort control you will have.

The 4 Best Shoulder Holsters

Finding the four best vertical shoulder holsters required some research and time. Looking at each one for its price, durability, comfort, and design took a bit of effort. I hope this shoulder holster review will make the choice easier, and narrow down some of those options.

Galco Jackass Rig Leather Shoulder Holster

Galco Jackass Rig Shoulder System

This is a great choice for a leather vertical shoulder holster. It has a high level of comfort, and is made to balance the weight evenly. The upward angle of the muzzle makes it especially good at concealing larger firearms, but this same feature makes it more difficult to draw when sitting in a car, or anywhere else.
One thing that has caused minor problems is the retention screw on the holster itself comes loose after several draws. It can be repaired using Loctite, or just removed if you do not need it. The leather that this holster is made from is of the highest quality, like saddle leather. This ensures great comfort, and a good “break-in” that will last for as long as you have the holster.
The adjustable straps take time to fit your specific needs, but once you have it set, it will give you comfort and concealment. The screws are made Flexilon, a material like plastic but much more durable. Some people complain about this, but in reality metal is one of the worst for corrosion and other problems that occur with moisture around the body.

Pros
  • Adjustable holster
  • Swivel connectors
  • Made from center-cut steer-hide
  • All four points of the harness can pivot independently
  • Includes ammo carrier
  • Breaks in nice
  • Comfortable
  • Durable high quality leather construction
Cons
  • Retention screw comes loose after several draws
  • Gun sticks sometimes when going to draw
  • Does not fit all the firearms that it advertises
Sale
Galco Jackass Rig Shoulder System
49 Reviews
Galco Jackass Rig Shoulder System
  • Made using the finest materials
  • Used by Law Enforcement, Military, and citizens alike
  • Tested for durability and quality

Gould & Goodrich vertical leather holster

Gould & Goodrich 804-G17LH Gold Line Shoulder Holster

In the world of vertical shoulder holsters Gould and Goodrich is a name that many people recognize. This holster fits a variety of firearms making it a very versatile holster. The thin straps are made from durable leather, and the fact that they are thin makes them very comfortable to wear.
It moves with you, making it easy to wear no matter what position your body may be in. The wide front strap helps to distribute the weight more evenly than on other rigs of similar design. The leather breaks in nicely holding your firearm and ammunition securely. Even the finish on this holster is something to smile about.
The craftsmanship of this holster is seen throughout the construction of it. It is highly adjustable and can fit a variety of body sizes and types. Retention screws hold your goods in place well, and give you an even more personalized product. It is so comfortable that it can be worn directly on the skin if one so chooses. That is a marvel in, and of itself.

Pros
  • Adjustable straps
  • Thin straps for comfort
  • Distributes weight very well
  • Expertly crafted
  • High grade top grain vegetable leather
  • Fits a variety of glocks
  • Retention screws give it more personalized style
  • Can be worn on skin if needed
  • Ammo carrier
Cons
  • Plastic clips that hold straps are somewhat cheap
  • Needs some good tie down straps
  • Little tough breaking in
Sale
Gould & Goodrich 804-G17LH Gold Line Shoulder Holster
14 Reviews
Gould & Goodrich 804-G17LH Gold Line Shoulder Holster
  • Fits GLOCK 17, 19, 22, 23, 31, 32, 34, 35, 39
  • Made in USA
  • Top Grain Vegetable Tanned Genuine Leather from the World's Best Tanners

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact shoulder holster

Smith & Wesson M&P Compact

Here is a name synonymous with firearms. This shoulder holster for conceal carry is about half the price of the last two, but still has some high quality craftsmanship that you expect from this name. It fits a variety of compact pistols and firearms, giving it a good range in versatility. The four point harness on the back is made with metal rivets that are corrosion resistant.
The adjustable straps make it easy to customize, but it is not a good choice for larger-framed people. It is made for people of a certain body type, so beware of this before you buy. The holster itself is adjustable from a vertical to horizontal carry, and the magazine pouch is removable.
The leather is not as high quality of some of the other rigs, but it is also a bit less stressful on the wallet. It is a good, all around choice if it fits your body, which quite a few people have seemed to have problems with. The snaps and stitching are superb though, and this holster will last a long time.

Pros
  • Price
  • High quality tanned leather
  • Removable magazine pouch
  • Fits a multitude of smaller pistols
  • Great break in hold
  • Thumb break for extra security
  • Comfortable
  • Smooth draw
  • Adjustable straps
Cons
  • Leather is cheaper than other higher priced holsters
  • Made for smaller framed bodies
  • Strap that holds firearm a bit short
  • Magazine holder will only fit 7 round mag
Smith & Wesson M&P Compact
52 Reviews
Smith & Wesson M&P Compact
  • Shoulder gun holster. 100% genuine leather. Adjustable shoulder straps. Adjustable retaining strap with velcro.
  • Fits S&W M&P9c / M&P357c / M&P40c / M&P45c, S&W M&P Shield, subcompact handguns, Makarov, Sig Sauer P238/P938, Colt Defender, Beretta-84FS, subcompact handguns
  • The removable magazine holder can be used as a separately attached to the waist belt (OWB)

Desantis New York concealed Holster

Desantis New York Undercover Holster

Here is another one of the best shoulder holsters out there. Desantis is a well known name in the holster realm, and has earned its place as one of the top brands. Made from top quality cow hide leather, it is very comfortable to wear. The wider straps help to distribute the weight of your firearm nicely, giving you more ease in moving.
The leather breaks in nicely, and depending on which style you decide upon, it is custom made for that firearm. This makes it one of the best for drawing and holstering. The straps could maybe use a stabilizer strap for a little better comfort, but all in all it is a great pick. The design is sleek, and for a leather vertical shoulder holster, one of the best.
The adjustable straps are easy to maneuver, and make it versatile in the way it can be worn. From smaller body types to bigger ones, it will fit the bill. All four junction points pivot to give you freedom of movement and extra comfort. A double magazine carrier comes with the harness, giving you the complete deal.

Pros
  • High grade cow leather
  • Designed to fit firearm exactly
  • Pivots at all junction points
  • Double ammo carrier
  • Adjustable straps
  • Wider straps for weight distribution
  • Quick and easy adjustments
  • Sleek look
  • Breaks in nicely
  • Fits nearly any body type and size
  • Quality stitching and craftsmanship
Cons
  • Could use stabilizer straps
  • The straps need to be broken in too
Sale
Desantis New York Undercover Holster
8 Reviews
Desantis New York Undercover Holster
  • Shoulder holster
  • Crafted from top-grain cowhide
  • Molded to fit the exact firearm it is designed to carry

The Best Shoulder Holster Is…

All of these holsters are leather by my choosing because I think it is the standard for shoulder holsters. Some people do like nylon, but in my opinion, along with many other gun enthusiasts, that leather is the best option for a plethora of reasons that I will not go into here. Picking the top holster out of these four was a challenge because they are all designed very well. With production of this model since the 70’s, my top pick is the Desantis New York Undercover. With the beautiful, sleek design, and the versatility of the straps it just cannot be beat. All of these holsters will do you right, though, and it is a matter of personal preference in the end that decides. I hope this review brings you a few steps closer to that shoulder holster, and as always, happy hunting.

Price incl. tax, excl. shipping/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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