The 1911 pistol might just be the most popular firearm of all time. Few guns are quite as iconic as this .45 automatic designed by John Moses Browning. Even though it was first issued to the US military all the way back in 1911, making it well over 100 years old now it is still beloved by many.
If you are going to carry a 1911 pistol as your everyday option chances are you need to be aware that it is not the smallest of pistols and in its standard format is too large for effective concealed carry. There are however compact models of the 1911, such as the ‘new agent’ and ‘defender lightweight’ which might be much more suitable for concealed carry.
Whether you are carrying a concealed compact 1911, a full size 1911 openly in States where that is permissible or on the range you will definitely need a comfortable, safe and effective holster.
Here are five of the absolute best 1911 holster options you will come across, as well as a few tips to help you carry these large and heavy firearms.
Carrying with a Round Chambered?
Whether you are carrying a 1911 or any other automatic there is always a fierce debate about whether or not to carry your handgun with a round in the chamber.
It’s a debate about the trade off between safety and the speed with which you could react to an emergency above all else and many people are terrified to carry with a round chambered due to the potential danger of discharging your firearm accidentally when drawing or re-holstering it with a round chambered or even perhaps due to fouling on clothing while the weapon is holstered.
Without a chambered round this can’t happen and so some people will choose to carry with a loaded magazine but without a round in the chamber, the time it takes to cock the weapon adds only a fraction of a second to the time it would take to bring the weapon into action.
With a holster which fully protects the trigger guard though, there is no chance that the pistol will fire in the holster and as long as you have proper trigger discipline when drawing and reholstering you can safely carry a weapon in what legendary competition shooter, ex-marine and ‘Gun Master’ Jeff Cooper described as ‘condition 1’; loaded, cocked with a round in the chamber and safety applied. Carrying in this condition will make the difference of a fraction of a second in potential self-defence situations where every fraction of a second counts.
Protecting the trigger with an effective holster is the best way of preventing a negligent discharge while carrying. Most holsters on the market do provide this protection but you need to practice to ensure you can draw safely while maintaining proper trigger discipline at all times.
All five of the holster options on this list have a trigger guard housing that completely covers the trigger and should allow you to safely carry in ‘condition 1’ with practice and care.
Review 5 of the Best 1911 Holster on the Market
1.) Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster
When it comes to composite holsters, holsters that are made from multiple materials, alien gear has the best blend of quality and price. They put out excellent holsters that are not made an order, no wait times necessary. They produce holsters for almost every concealed carry gun you can think of including an excellent option for the concealed carrying of a 1911.
These holsters are extremely comfortable right out of the box because they combine neoprene, leather, and Kydex to make a comfortable and durable holster. These holsters are great because they can be ordered as soon as you get your gun and you’ll have a high-quality holster that is excellent for concealed carry, unlike custom houses that require you to order months in advance.
While there’s no retention strap on this holster, the well fitting kydex provides plenty of friction and holds the pistol very securely. You also will notice that this holster supports the weight of a full-size 1911 exceptionally well and you won’t have any problems with the gun falling out as you walk around. This is a bulkier holster than many other designs but it supports the weight of the gun much better, which is the main problem with concealed carry of a full-sized 1911.
2.) Galco Triton Kydex IWB Holster for 1911
Galco makes some the best quality holsters on the planet. This is their Kydex holster made to support the weight of the 1911 to be carried on your belt. Designed primarily as an inside the waistband holster this is an excellent option for people who want a high-quality holster at a great price and without the long wait of a custom holster.
Galco stocks this holster right off the shelf which is rare in the world of high quality holsters which can be made for specific 1911’s which can be handmade to fit around specific features of your gun.
Galco makes enough holsters that they can turn out high quality Kydex holsters like these quickly enough to keep them in stock for a ton of different pistols. As far as Kydex goes, this is as good as it gets with all edges deburred and smooth to make it comfortable to use and to avoid unnecessary wear on your clothes and gun belt.
You won’t have any problems with this holster or the included belt clip or adjustable retention. The entire holster just works well and is a very fair price for what Delco is charging for it. Especially considering the lack of inside the waistband Kydex holsters for 1911’s that have as intelligent a design as this one.
3.) Desantis Mad Max Holster for 1911
Many people would never carry 1911 in anything other than a leather holster, given the pedigree of this pistol it suits a traditional leather holster. The custom high-grade finishes on many 1911’s leads many people to avoid Kydex for reasons of tradition as well as to avoid scratching or marking an expensive pistol.
For people who still want to carry inside the waistband with comfort DeSantis has you covered with this all leather holster design for full-size 1911’s.
This is one of their design that is extremely comfortable inside the waistband. The leather is hand tooled and extremely high-quality, as with many leather holsters though this one is quite bulky. Many people will not be able to effectively conceal carry this holster with a full-size 1911 inside the waistband without drastic changes in the way they dress.
If you’re a bigger guy and wear a suit on a daily basis this may be an excellent option. Otherwise look for something slimmer, like a Kydex holster, that will add less bulk to your gun.
4.) Galco KT218B King Tuck IWB Holster
If you like many of the designs on the market that incorporate neoprene with Kydex in a hybrid holster try this one from Galco the worlds best holster maker.
This is their most comfortable holster for concealed carrying a full-size 1911. Right out of the box this holster combines the best of all holster materials. The comfort of neoprene and leather with the security and support of Kydex and a metal belt clip. It doesn’t get any more comfortable out of the box than this premade holster available from Galco.
If you’ve got a new 1911 and want an extremely high-quality holster, but don’t want to wait for a custom maker to build you one, this is one of the best options you can have. You certainly get what you pay for as this holster costs much more than similar designs on the market but surpasses them in quality by far. This holster is going to last you a lifetime and you will enjoy every minute of using it.
5.) Blade Tech Industries Phantom Inside the Waistband Fits 1911 with 5" Barrel Holster
If you’re looking for a minimalist design but still want to carry a full-size 1911, here is an excellent Kydex holster from Blade Tech. Blade Tech is known for being one of the best companies in the world for Kydex holsters and they make a ton of different products ranging from competition to duty holsters.
This is one of their best holsters for 1911’s because it inherits many of the minimalist designs with features needed to carry a heavy gun like a full-size 1911. Sized for a 5 inch barrel it comes with dual belt loops with directional snaps that distribute the weight of the gun well.
It incorporates heavy-duty Kydex everywhere on the holster with adjustable retention that holds the gun securely and firmly even in a sprint. One of the best things about this holster is how securely it can handle a heavy gun like a 5 inch 1911.
The holster rides low to help conceal the huge grip and long barrel and overall this is a great option for anyone looking to conceal carry a 1911, especially if you’re looking for a low maintenance but extremely high-quality Kydex holster.
Carrying a Heavy 1911
1911’s are heavy guns! Especially the all steel 5-inch models. Carrying a 1911 day in and day out means getting used a substantial weight and heft of the pistol. This is by no means impossible but is made substantially easier with a well-designed holster and heavy-duty belt designed to carry that sort of weight. The belt you choose should be sturdy enough to distribute the weight evenly and a fairly wide holster, potentially with two belt loops will also help spread that weight across your belt.
Stay away from fashion belts that will pucker and bend under the weight of the gun and holster. That doesn’t mean go out and buy a steel lined instructor belt, these can be quite uncomfortable and really aren’t designed for concealed carry as they are very bulky, especially in dress clothes but do consider a double thickness leather belt.
When it comes to holsters, consider ditching an old-school leather for a newer model Kydex or polymer version. The old leather models are thick and bulky and can add a substantial amount of mass to a gun that is already heavy, and why would you conceal a beautiful leather holster?
Also due to the difficulties of concealing longer barrelled pistols consider carrying a smaller model to reduce the ‘print’ of your concealed firearm and to make it easier to carry. If you're gun is inconvenient to carry there is more chance that you won’t have it on you when you need it.
Consider wearing an over shirt that helps disguise the outline of a larger firearm. A longer overshirt or button up shirt can help conceal the gun as the longer shirt will bunch up around the pistol instead of stretching over it.
The 1911 is a gun that is made to shoot a lot and carry a little. Originally designed to carry straight into battle these guns been repurposed for competition or concealed carry. If this is your intended use, you’re going to need the best 1911 holster money can buy because the steel behemoths can be difficult to live with on a daily basis.
That’s not to say that they are not without their use, there’s something to be said about a .45 ACP slug headed downrange. Just get out and shoot these wonderful pistols and you’ll instantly understand why they have such a strong cult following and large fan base!