A great many shoulder holsters are designed for concealment, some only to cover and casually hide the weapon, and others not meant for concealed use at all

M-3 shoulder holster

The author draws a 1911 from an M-3 shoulder holster. During World War II, these holsters were even found for Colt 1903 Pocket Model .32 medium-frame pistols, such as general officers were issued for carry.

One of the most popular concealed carries is the shoulder holster. But saying “the shoulder holster” is misleading, since there is such a wide variety of shoulder holster styles.

The purpose of a shoulder holster is to suspend the weight of a gun more or less evenly to both sides of the body. That may be the idea, but it doesn’t always work that way and largely depends on the design of the shoulder holster and the shoulder holster’s intended purpose.


Concealed-carry holsters of various types each have their own virtues. For example, a type of concealed-carry holster very rarely seen these days, yet one that is ideal for carrying small-frame revolvers and—from one maker—traditional and non-traditional medium-frame automatics, is the upside-down shoulder holster. I’m sure I’m missing someone; but, to the best I can recall, only Null Holsters and Alessi Holsters still offer them. And, the work of both makers is uniformly excellent.

With these smaller guns in holsters that position the gunbutt pointing rearward and under a loose-fitting garment (but, not ridiculously so), the gun is essentially invisible. The garment can be an ordinary sport coat, suit jacket, bomber jacket, windbreaker or even a loose-fitting sweatshirt. Aside from concealability, if you have your hand on the gunbutt (which can actually sometimes be done without drawing too much attention), I can’t think of a faster shoulder holster type.

NOTE: This is an excerpt from a recent issue of Gun World magazine.

By Jerry Ahern

Photos by Sharon Ahern

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