The way the holster attaches to your clothing should be a factor in your selection process. How can you find the best concealed carry holster clip with so many different options and styles? Is there really any difference, or are they all essentially the same?
Trial and error is the description I think best describes the process of finding the best holster. One reason is that there are so many different holster designs to choose from, and honestly, it can be challenging to decide, especially if one isn't sure what to look for.
I hope to help expedite the long process that so many concealed carriers have gone through in finding the right holster by addressing the different components of holsters and their strengths and limitations. In this post, I want to discuss different types of holster clips.
Different Types of Holster Clips:
For simplicity's sake, I have divided all the various clips into holster clips for inside the waistband (IWB) and outside the waistband (OWB).
Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster Clips:
The FOMI Clip:
Pros: The FOMI clip is a simple clip design. Because it is a standard, basic clip, you probably won't have to pay extra to upgrade to this clip.
FOMI clips may be metal or plastic. It has a hook design that helps keep the clip on the belt. So it isn't tricky to remove from the belt when you want to.
Cons: Because of its size, only one clip can typically be used on a single holster, eliminating this as an option for those who want two clips on their holster.
The clip doesn't stay on the belt, as well as some other designs.
Narrow Metal Holster Clip:
Pros: There are several different versions of this clip that are all very similar. The clip is narrow, so two can be installed on the holster. It is quick to clip on and take off the belt. The two-clip design stays attached to the belt a bit more than using one clip. These are cheap and usually not an upgrade option.
Cons: Must be used in a pair to secure the holster on the belt adequately.
Narrow Plastic Clip:
Pros: These clips have the advantage of being used in a pair, which better secures the holster to the belt. The design of this style of clip usually has a pronounced hook design that encloses the belt. I prefer these because they stay attached to the belt much better than other designs.
Even with the hook, these clips are easy to get on and take off. Clips with this design often come standard on more expensive holsters.
Cons: Some prefer metal over plastic clips. Not as secure as some other options.
Discreet Carry Concepts Clips:
Pros: These clip designs from a company called Discreet Carry Concepts are metal rather than plastic. The design has slight variations, but they all have a pronounced metal tab integrated into them. The tab wraps up and under the belt, making it nearly impossible for the clip to come off accidentally.
The clips come in a single clip design or the monoblock. The monoblock can be used instead of the FOMI style clip on most holsters and provide much better retention.
Cons: All companies don't offer these types of clips, and when they are, there may be an upgrade fee. You may have to order them from a third party, and they are not as cheap as other clips.
Some people have complained that the tab that provides a higher retention level on the belt is more difficult to remove. In addition, the metal tabs can scratch a leather belt. However, I have used these quite a bit and have not found them to show wear marks on any nylon belt.
Soft Loops / Pull-The-Dot Loops:
Pros: The soft loop design, sometimes known as pull-the-dot, provides the highest level of retention. The loops wrap around the entire belt and use a snap to secure to themselves. The pull-the-dot snap is different from a typical snap in that it is directional. When you are snapping it together, you must push on the snap at a certain angle. The same is true when unsnapping the loop. The snap won't come apart unless you pull a specific part of the snap first.
You can size the loops to fit snugly over different thicknesses of belts.
Cons: Some people find the snaps frustrating. In most cases, soft loops are not usually standard and will be an upgrade charge.
Pros: Ulticlip is a company that I am a fan of. They produce a holster clip that uses a clamping pressure to fasten to the belt, clothing, or other thin material. The clip comes in many different variations based on the thickness of the material it's attaching to and the configuration of the holster's holes.
Ulticlip is an excellent method in situations where you may not be wearing a belt and want to carry your firearm. The retention of the clips is surprisingly strong.
One can use the clamping clip when you need to attach a holster inside a bag or purse, so the holster stays inside the bag when drawing the gun.
Cons: Figuring out which clips will work with your holster can be a confusing process. The company provides a good guide, but you will have to work to ensure you get the correct version.
You must ensure you don't continually clip it to material that is over the prescribed thickness. For example, if your belt is too thick, the clip may fasten securely. However, the metal may bend over time, and how securely it clamps on the material is lessened. I have found I can periodically bend the clip back to gain the clamping pressure back, but it is something to consider.
Additionally, if you have too thick of a belt for your specific model of Ulticlip, you may not be able to keep the clip fastened. This is another reason it is important to select the right clip for your application.
Finally, the Ulticlip is more expensive than other clips, and not many holster manufacturers use them as standard clips in their designs.
Pros: I have seen the under-hook style clip made of plastic as well as metal. The clip doesn't wrap over the belt. Instead, it goes behind the belt and then extends up to hook the belt. This method provides decent retention on the belt.
A benefit of this type of clip is that it allows you to tuck your shirt into your pants. Furthermore, the fact that it goes behind the belt rather than over means it is more discreet. Only a portion of the clip is visible, so it helps not draw attention to your belt line.
Cons: The under-hook design does not provide the same retention level as many of the other options. During a fight, the clips could disengage from the belt.
Most holster makers do not usually offer this clip style, so you will likely need to order it from a third-party source.
Pros: Fabriclip is a specific brand of clip offered for IWB holsters. Like the Ulticlip, Fabriclip can be attached directly to different types of material and doesn't require a belt. In addition, there aren't as many other options to select from as Ulticlip, so ordering one that will work is more straightforward.
The Fabriclip works well even on thick clothing like jean material, as long as it is soft.
These clips are a good option if you tuck in your shirt. You can clip the holster to your pants behind the belt. This way, the clips are not obvious and somewhat hidden.
Cons: The Fabriclip won't work on all holsters. The clip doesn't do well on hard materials such as thick belts.
Outside The Waistband (OWB) Holster Clips:
When it comes to outside the waistband holster clips, retention becomes even more critical. I don't differentiate between OWB holsters carried openly or concealed. Either way, when carrying OWB, retention of the clips and the level of retention of the holster MUST be considered.
Closed Plastic or metal Loops:
Pros: Closed loops that fasten to the holster on both sides are most secure. I have seen them made of metal or plastic, and either is probably sufficient as the failure point would likely be where the clip mounts to the holster rather than the clip itself.
These types of clips are common for OWB concealed carry holsters and don't usually cost extra.
Cons: The belt must be removed from the pants and threaded through the loops while attaching the holster. Location of pant loops sometimes limits how far forward or rearward you can slide the holster on the belt.
Depending on the clip's dimensions, it can add bulk and make it more difficult to conceal the gun and holster.
OWB Speed Clips:
Pros: Speed clips provide a quick on and off option for outside the waistband holster. Half of the clip goes in front of the belt, and a half rides behind the belt. These clips are fantastic for an OWB holster that will be worn on the range and not used for everyday carry (EDC) use.
Many companies offer these clips on their OWB holsters.
Cons: These clips provide more retention than what one would presume by just looking at them. However, I don't think it is sufficient for an OWB EDC holster.
Paddle-Style OWB Holster Clip:
Pros: Sometimes gun manufacturers provide holsters equipped with these paddle-style clips. The “clip” rides on the inside of the belt and works somewhat like the speed clips mentioned above.
The holster can be put on and taken off quickly and without removing the belt.
These clips provide adequate retention for an OWB holster used on the range.
Cons: There is a significant design issue with holsters that use paddle-style clips. Many have documented this drawback with the well-known Fobus Holster that uses a similar paddle-style clip design.
The primary issue is how the paddle clip fastens to the holster. The design is susceptible to upward torque on the holster during a gun disarm or fight. However, it doesn't require much strength to break the holster off of the paddle clip completely. For this reason, I don't recommend this as an everyday carry option.
Over-Hook OWB Clips:
Pros: These clips are the same as the clips mentioned above for IWB holsters. They come on many OWB holsters and provide a decent amount of retention.
Cons: I find these add bulk to the holster and make it more difficult to conceal the gun and holster.
Magnetic Clips JM4 Tactical:
Pros: JM4 Tactical is the major holster maker that first used magnets as a clip method for holsters. The magnets are surprisingly strong and provide a good amount of retention in holding the holster to the belt and the gun in the holster.
Because the clip uses magnets, you can clip it to various materials like the Ulticlip and Fabriclip.
The magnet retention allows the gun and holster to stick inside the safe, providing more room for additional guns.
Cons: You can purchase a magnet clip to add to your existing holster, so you are limited to the holster designs JM4 Tactical makes.
The retention doesn't work as well on thin, slippery material like spandex.
These are the significant clip designs you find on various holsters. I hope this helps you make a more informed decision on the types of clips you choose for your holster.
Here are some other resources to help choose a good holster:
- Criteria For Selecting a Concealed Carry Holster
- Women's Concealed Carry Holster Options
- 4 Things an Appendix Carry Holster Should Have
- Claws and Wedges
- Off Body Considerations
- Sweatguards on a holster?
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