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.