My Holster Has a Gap Around the Trigger Guard, is it Safe?
I recommend hard-sided holsters molded for the gun that covers and protects the entire trigger guard. I prefer these qualities because I want to eliminate the possibility that anything enters the trigger guard and unintentionally activates the trigger.
But not every holster is created equally. And even some hard-sided, gun-specific holsters may leave the trigger guard partially exposed. So how much trigger guard gap is acceptable, and when should you consider the gap unsafe? Let's look at some examples.
Holsters should cover the trigger guard —
Here are a couple of photos of the holster I use to carry my everyday carry (EDC) gun.
You can see how both of these holsters cover the trigger guard on each gun. It is improbable, if not impossible, for any object to reach the trigger.
Is this trigger guard gap acceptable —
Now, look at this photo, and notice the gap around the trigger guard.
If this was your holster, should you be concerned? Maybe, maybe not. Let me explain.
This holster is from a manufacturer that makes excellent holsters and one I recommend. However, the gap around the trigger guard is because it is for a gun with a weapon mounted light (WML).
The mouth of a light bearing holster must be larger to accommodate the thickness of the WML. Additionally, these holsters bear on the WML and not the trigger guard. These factors mean any light bearing holster must have a slight gap around the trigger guard.
Clearly, the gap in this holster is larger than the non-light-bearing holsters I use for EDC, but does that mean it's unsafe?
My opinion is that a gap like this one isn't large enough to concern me. A gap of this size isn't wide enough for a finger, and it's unlikely I'll unintentionally jam pencils, keys, or coathangers into my waistband near my gun. This recommendation is simply my assessment, but if a gap like this concerns you, you'll have to go to a non-light-bearing holster to achieve complete coverage.
Now, look at this one.
I'm not as big of a fan of this holster's design. See how much more of the trigger guard is exposed? Is it an unsafe design? I wouldn't go that far, but I would prefer the one pictured first since there are options. Below is another borderline holster that I think exposes a bit more trigger than I would be completely comfortable with.
Too large of a gap is unsafe —
While a slight gap around the trigger guard is acceptable and necessary for a WML, too much is dangerous. Typically a large gap is due to poor manufacturing or an improper gun fit.
Here is a story of a law enforcement agency that recalled holsters once issued to its officers. Was it a failure of the holster or the officer?
Here are some examples of holsters I wouldn't use. These photos are for your consideration.
You can see that some have a large gap, and some expose nearly half of the trigger guard area. So in the case of these holsters, I would draw the line and look for a different brand.
Let me pause and say that any company can make a quality control mistake. It's also possible that some of these guns are not the correct model for the holster, which is causing the gap. Nevertheless, it is always our job to inspect the holster and make sure our gun fits the holster to our level of acceptance. If you find the gap a safety issue, ask the company if it is a quality control issue. Give them the chance to correct it if it is, or ask for a refund. I know it sucks to waste money on a holster you can't use, but you can't let money be the only factor when it comes to a safety issue.
How to choose a holster —
Here are some resources we've put together over the years that can help you in holster selection.
- Attributes of a Safe Holster
- 4 Things Every Appendix Holster Should Have
- Is it Okay to Use a Cheap Holster
- One or Two Clips on Your Holster?
- Choosing a Holster Clip from so Many Options
- Sweatguard on your Holster?
- Trouble Concealing With Your Sidecar Holster?
- Your Car is not a Holster
You can also check out the Concealed Carry Podcast episode, where we discuss holster selection.
Here is a link to Season 2, Episode 4.
I’ve ALWAYS carried front pocket with a holster that completely covers the trigger. That’s the way we taught our students. Plus NOTHING goes into the same pocket but the holster.
To me, it looks like the logic behind your preference of trigger guard coverage concerning holster design is unsound. What should holster design prevent from happening and at what point? You seem to indicate from your comments that the holster should prevent the finger from coming in contact with the trigger. If the finger is in contact with the trigger or anywhere near the trigger guard during the draw or the re-holstering process, that is an issue of personal negligence. Holster design can’t mitigate that issue no matter what. One can leave their finger inside the trigger guard resulting in a ND no matter what the holster design. The only thing that a holster can prevent is the introduction of a foreign object outside of the control of the operator from mechanically actuating the trigger while pistol is in the holster. Even preventing foreign objects like gear or clothing from activating the trigger during re-holstering has to be a cognitive and intentional act of the operator. Closer proximity of the holster material to the trigger guard can actually increase the odds of a trigger being activated unintentionally by clothing in front of the trigger because it takes less material to form an obstruction than it would if the holster design had some additional room at the mouth of the holster (within reason). Everything in holster design is a compromise of some function taking priority vs. another. Personal preference is fine but take a look at your preference objectively and ask yourself if your preferences are rooted in logic or feelings.
To be fair, if your main concern regarding holster design is to prevent a third party from actuating the trigger while the pistol is holstered, as the article you referenced alleges, your preference in design would be warranted. Any holsters that are cut for a wide weapon mounted light like the TLR1 or X-300 would put you at more risk than holsters that are only fitted for the pistol alone. What do you think the odds are that the LEO Safariland holsters mentioned in the article are for light bearing pistols in an external belt holster? I’m guessing the odds are high. As I mentioned before, there is always a compromise of prioritizing one function over another. The use of a wide light in an un-concealed belt holster is largely irrelevant to non-law enforcement (private citizens) primarily concerned with concealed carry, which is probably the base demographic of this website. I think your article would be much more relevant to LEO’s and whether carrying a light bearing pistol in a duty capacity in uniform is worth the risk of unauthorized access to the trigger. Just a suggestion, and thanks for being willing to post your ideas at the risk of criticism from others. I rarely take the time to comment on an article and yours peaked my interest enough to participate.
Access to the trigger by another person is only one reason to protect the trigger guard. I agree that particular consideration may be more of a concern for law enforcement carrying in an OWB duty holster. The reason I wrote the article for concealed carriers also because I see many everyday carriers posing the question in various online forums. I don’t think I came out saying that the gap inherent in light-bearing holsters is a concern that should make someone forgo a WML. Just that at least in this day, light-bearing holsters have to have a larger gap. I think everyone needs to make their decision if that is a concern for them no matter what method they carry. Also if there are two similar holsters, one completely covers the trigger guard, and the other doesn’t I’ll choose the one that covers the trigger guard. I think that is a pretty logical position to take. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave your thoughts.
The majority of the examples you have of exposed trigger guards are paddle magazine release guns. You have to leave that piece exposed or you can’t remove the magazine without drawing the gun. Just something to think about. Look at just about any brand name holster or the VP9 with the exclusion of the VP9B (button mag release) and you’ll see it’s pretty much a universal compromise.
*For the VP9* (my F key is dying)