Although there are a number of different types of gun holsters on the market, paddle holsters tend to be the most convenient holster models available. The convenience with paddle holsters comes from the fact they are fairly easy to put on and take off. Unlike most other types of gun holsters, paddle holsters don’t directly attach to the belt so the belt doesn’t have to be removed to put the holster on or take it off. In most cases, the paddle itself slips down inside the belt.
However, are paddle holsters a good choice for concealed carry? Probably not. The same paddle design that makes it easy to put on, also causes the holster to ride farther away from the body than a traditional belt holster. In addition, paddle holsters are fairly stable, but they aren’t as stable as a belt holster as they aren’t really affixed to the belt. Paddle holsters generally lack the stability of belt holsters and may shift back and forth while being worn. Some of the same reasons that eliminate the paddle holster as a concealed carry choice, also eliminate it as a competition holster.
Paddle holsters are a good choice for other holster applications like range use, general use, training, or in an open carry environment like hiking. Paddle holsters come in several configurations including open top models or thumb break models, forward cant models versus straight up or neutral cant versions, and leather, nylon or kydex versions. Some models even feature an adjustable cant along with options like a bodyshield or tension screws.
When paddle holsters first came on the market, most of them featured a thin, narrow leather paddle that slipped inside the pants. Today, paddle designs have come along way. Most modern day paddles are wider for added stability, and features hooks or wings that wedge against the belt through the pants. These hooks or wedges serve to increase stability and minimize shifting, while keeping the holster itself seated on the waist. For added comfort, many paddle models are also lined with soft leather or suede.
Paddle holsters offer somewhat of a trade-off. They lack the security and true stability of a belt mounted holster, but offer the convenience of quick on and off. For certain applications, they are a great choice of holsters. For others, they probably aren’t the best choice. Take the time to evaluate your needs and then decide if a paddle holster might work for you.