Carrying crossdraw has fallen heavily out of favor in the modern era. This all started with competitive shooters trying to save a few 10ths of a second off their time and carried over into the world of defensive carry. Despite the marginally slower speed, there are still plenty of positives to carrying crossdraw.
There are some negatives too but having one of the best cross draw holsters will help alleviate some of those issues. This is one place where a good quality holster is incredibly important. Don’t skimp on one of those cheap nylon jobs or you will regret it.
One of the most devastating issues with the decline in popularity of crossdraw is the decline in the number of decent holsters for crossdraw. What used to be a staple of companies like Galco, Desantis, Bianchi, and all the rest has been relegated to a small corner of their production.
The issue has grown so bad that even some holster makers have stepped in to defend this all but lost carry method. Alien Gear, a current fan favorite, even penned an article discussing the ins and outs of carrying crossdraw. Not all holster companies agree but it should be up to the carrier to decide what works best for them.
Before we drag this on, let’s actually break down carrying cross draw and look at the pros and cons. Maybe weigh some of the arguments in a logical way. If it was a bad idea, it would not have been common in the past where it was used from the advent of firearms up to the close of the 19th century.
Carrying Cross Draw – Pros and Cons
The first argument against crossdraw is that it is slower. While this is true, very few people ever practice their draw stroke enough to actually make a noticeable difference. The speed will be in milliseconds with practice. Unless you are at the top of your game with a carry gun, don’t use speed as an argument.
If you want to discuss any issues with a carry position, you need to have carried that way and experienced it. Don’t use arbitrary rules about speed if you don’t know the speed of your draw stroke from those positions.
A more important argument against crossdraw is that carrying across your body makes it impossible to reach your gun when pinned. This is a legitimate concern. It is harder to draw across your body in a fight. This is the type of point that should make people think.
Another valid concern about crossdraw is that the muzzle is pointed in a direction other than down. This means it is always pointing at something that you probably don’t want shot. It also means that when you draw, your firearm will cover something or someone in its arc to the ready position.
A final negative is that it can be harder to conceal a pistol carried crossdraw. This will depend on if the pistol is carried fully on the opposite hip or more in front of the hip. With a small handgun, you can carry in front of the hip and keep the gun concealed.
Carrying fully on the other side is not advisable. Not only is it awkward for you to reach your pistol but it makes it much easier for an attacker to disarm you with the grip facing forward. Keep the pistol more toward the centerline of the body.
So, with all of those negatives, why would anyone carry crossdraw? There are a few good arguments for carrying in this position.
If you spend much of your time sitting in a car or at a desk, you will find you have much better access to draw your pistol. The whole draw stroke will be easier with the gun on the outside of the hip. This makes crossdraw a very popular method of carry for some truckers.
Some people with rotator cuff injuries have a very hard time with a dominant side holster. The motion of pulling a pistol straight up from a holster is nearly impossible. Because of the joint mechanics, pulling a pistol from across the midline of the torso is much easier.
Hip injuries on the dominant side can cause it to be painful to carry on that hip but not the opposite side. This is a matter of weight distribution. If your hip can’t take the weight, cross draw may be the answer.
And the main reason that I carry crossdraw is that it keeps my pistol out of the way of other gear I carry. When hunting I have a rifle slung on my dominant shoulder that bangs against the holster. When I hike, the waist belt and frame of my pack push against the pistol. This limits me to carry in appendix or crossdraw.
Whether this is an appropriate method of carry for you is your decision. You will have to weigh your needs against the negatives. All carry methods have some negative, understanding and learning to cope with them is just a part of learning to carry effectively.
What to Look for in a Cross Draw Holster
The basic considerations of what makes a holster good enough to use never change. All holsters have the same job to do. At a minimum your holster will need to do all of the following:
With those considerations met, what other traits should your holster have?
There are options available for both IWB and OWB crossdraw holsters. I prefer an OWB holster as it is easier and more comfortable to carry. The angle of the holster is critical and some IWB holsters have issues with the proper cant of the holster.
Any material that meets the above criteria is acceptable. Leather may be preferable as it is more comfortable to carry than Kydex. Leather will have less retention but it is a trade that I am willing to make. You may have a different opinion.
The holster should carry the pistol slightly angled toward the dominant side. A vertical holster carried crossdraw is difficult to draw from at the best of times. How angled is up to you but pistols carried with a large angle will be constantly pointing at those around you.
Considering the very few decent choices for crossdraw holsters on the market, most likely you will have to live with what you get. You can go custom but if that isn’t in the cards for you, below are some of the best crossdraws on the market. An effort was made to provide holsters for both autos and revolvers.
Best Cross Draw Holsters on the Market Review
1. Blackhawk Inside the Pants Holster
While not specifically a crossdraw holster, this is a holster that can be carried in a variety of positions making it very versatile. This is our top rated holster because of its quality, versatility, and the handguns it is available for.
Carried IWB, this full grain leather holster comes in models for your 1911 on the large side all the way down to holsters for M&P Shield and other compact handguns. With adjustable tension, it has good retention that is aided by the pressure the belt exerts. The full back even prevents issues with sweat on your handgun.
The belt loop provides adequate support for smaller pistols but heavier guns may have some comfort issues. This is a vertical holster which may not be the easiest to draw from without practice. The belt loop compensates for this by allowing the pistol to pitch toward the dominant hand.
If you are looking for one holster that does it all, this is pretty close. It conceals quite well and will allow you to transition from one carry position to another as your needs change. All in all, this is top of its class.
2. Galco Cop 3-Slot Holster
Galco makes some of the best holsters on the market, the only thing that knocks this out of first place is the limited handguns it is offered for. If you are looking for holsters for Glock 19 or the similarly sized 23 or 32, this is the best holster on the market.
The leather Galco uses is top grade making for a sturdy and attractive holster. Carried OWB in a vertical position makes drawing a little awkward but having a shorter pistol helps. This would not be a prime choice for a 1911 or other full sized pistol.
The three belt slots cut into the holster make it very versatile in its carry position. Anywhere from a conventional side holster to crossdraw. It is a little harder to get on and off the belt than the Blackhawk but you could move it throughout the day as your needs changed.
This is one of the most popular OWB holsters on the market and was the standard for law enforcement for years. None of that quality has changed.
3. Blackhawk 3-Slot Pancake Holster
While I am not a fan of nylon holsters in general, if you are set on crossdraw this is the one option that is most likely to fit any pistol you carry. It does work best for smaller and lighter pistols. For Glock 43 sized guns on the small side up and maybe for Glock 26 sized on the larger.
This is a durable holster and no doubt. Though nylon is not optimal, that is one thing it has going for it. The mouth of the holster is a little flimsy but the retention strap does assist in keeping it open. Usually, nylon has issues with snagging but this holster is lined to prevent that from happening.
The other common issue with nylon holsters is sweat. The liner prevents any issues with that as well and keeps your pistol protected well. Sweat can do nasty things to a pistol.
Of all the holsters on this list, this is the most versatile. It can be carried in almost any position and is ambidextrous for either right or left-hand carry. Even the retention strap is reversible. While not perfect, having options is always a bonus.
4. 1791 J-Frame Revolver Holster
With everything above being for automatics, we should give a little love to an amazing J frame holster. This size revolver has always been a popular carry gun, especially as a backup. In this case, crossdraw actually makes a good bit of sense.
Being a small company, there is a lot of attention to detail in 1791s products. The leather is outstanding quality and all of the stitching and details are perfect. This is a company we are likely to see more from in the future.
Sized only to fit the S&W J-frame makes this a niche product but one well worth mentioning. The molding provides great retention and the overall shape blends well to the body. Of all the holsters on this list, this is probably the most comfortable.
Like most of these holsters, you are not restricted to crossdraw. You can carry in most any position that is comfortable for you. If you do carry crossdraw, the smaller pistol size and ride height of this holster makes it a good choice.
5. Winthrop OWB J-Frame Holster
In line with the last holster, Winthrop has provided an alternate design that works better with the heavier J-frame revolvers. With a larger footprint, this holster sits more snuggly against the body for a more confident carry.
Thought the fit and finish are not as good as some holsters, there is little wrong with the quality. The leather is thick and durable and the included retention strap holds firm but releases easily. If you want that added security, this is a good holster to consider.
Once again, this only fits the very popular J-frame models by S&W. That is a huge limiting factor but if you happen to be a fan of these versatile revolvers, you won’t go wrong with this holster.
Able to be carried in most positions, this is a fairly easy holster to conceal with its high ride height. Drawing the pistol suffers as it does with most vertical crossdraw holsters. Still, this is a quality design made of great materials that should last for years.
While cross draw may be outdated for some, with a reasonably best crossdraw holster there is no reason it can not be a viable carry method. There are some situations it just makes sense. For those who spend much of their time sitting at a desk or behind the wheel of a vehicle, it makes drawing quicker and easier than most other carry positions. Learn when its good and when another carry method works better, get a good holster, and you should be set!