Many believe that the shoulder holsters or “underarm” holsters are a relic of a bygone age, but that doesn’t mean shoulder holsters don’t have a place as a carry option in your life.
While they have been portrayed as a stylish way to carry a sidearm and cool in the entertainment industry, shoulder holsters are a harness designed to carry a handgun under an arm with the ability to add some accessories, like extra ammo in magazines pouches.
Since movies and television have popularized them, it’s not uncommon to find the best shoulder holsters designed to carry a handgun under each arm.
As a timeless concept, shoulder holsters are developed to be worn with a jacket, open shirt or another cover garment for concealment. Still, some shooters also choose to wear their shoulder rig over their clothing for a faster draw.
There are few variations of the upper-body rigs, such as a belly band concept or the chest holsters, that are very popular among military personnel, hunters and others who spend a lot of time outside.
Vertical And Horizontal Shoulder Holster
As for the construction, the shoulder rigs come in either vertical or horizontal configurations. You can also find the shoulder holsters configured to carry handguns at a 45-degree angle.
While the shoulder holsters with horizontal orientation are the easiest to draw from, the holsters with vertical orientation enable you to carry a pistol with the muzzle pointing straight up or straight down. In our opinion, vertical carry (muzzle down) is the best means to conceal a gun. In contrast, it may actually work better with longer and heavier sidearms than the more popular horizontal holsters.
Shoulder Holster Advantages and Disadvantages
Like other holster types, shoulder gun harness systems have many advantages and some drawbacks.
The main reason people deciding to carry their handgun in a shoulder holster is about comfort. An excellent fitting shoulder holster distributes your sidearm’s weight more evenly over a larger part of the body, making them more comfortable for all-day wear.
The traditional shoulder holster works exceedingly well for heavy and long-barreled pistols and revolvers. These holsters are the most efficient way to carry hand canons with barrel lengths of 6 inches or so during hunting season.
Besides, the shoulder holster compared to the traditional belt holster is more comfortable and accessible when you are sitting or driving because your seatbelt will not affect your handgun access.
For concealment reasons, the gun owners are intended to carry this holster under a jacket or an open button shirt. Thus, a shoulder holster is a less than ideal rig in warm environments but an excellent carry platform in the winter.
Generally, the shoulder rig is an incredibly comfortable and easy way to carry and conceal a large gun when it comes to daily carry.
Another advantage is adjustability since most shoulder holsters are equipped with adjustable thumb breaks and multiple adjustment points to fit different body types and handguns.
Besides the comfort, the other most vital thing to consider is the price because shoulder holsters, compared to other carry styles, are most expensive and in the under $50 price range, you’ll only have a few worthwhile options.
Similar to other on-body carry holster styles, the traditional material for making shoulder holsters is leather. While very durable and long-lasting, most of the reliable leather shoulder holsters require some break-in period for a perfect fit.
On the other side of spectrum there are Nylon shoulder holsters that are less expensive than leather but usually more convenient for open carry in a tactical or hunting arena.
We’ll present you with six, the most commonly available best shoulder holsters with the best ratings and reviews in the next chapter.
(TOP 6) Best shoulder holster
Review And Guides 2021
1. The Best All-Around Tactical Holster for the Sig P365
Galco Gunleather is one of the oldest and most popular holster manufacturers today. Undoubtedly, their legendary Miami Classic shoulder holster rig was the direct inspiration for many world’s holster makers, so it’s not surprising Galco has upgraded their classic into Miami Classic 2 Shoulder Holster System.
While the Miami Classic kept the horizontal orientation for the quickest draw, Galco has innovated its magazine carrier with an open-front design horizontally holding a pair of magazines. That way, the new magazine carrier securely holds a pair of magazines without the need of a retaining strap, keeping the holster system easily concealed and comfortable under the arm.
This Galco open-top holster’s trademark is a spider harness with a Flexalon swivel backplate for a fully adjustable strap system and all-day wearing comfort.
The Miami Classic next-generation features a medium-width shoulder strap for comfort and excellent weight distribution of a heavy handgun and accessories.
Made for almost all popular semiautomatic pistols makes and models, the Miami Classic’s shoulder straps have 1 1/2″ at their widest point, providing the ability to adjust the harness to fit chests up to 52 inches.
Like most high-end holsters, Miami Classic 2 is designed to be ambidextrous, meaning it can accommodate both left- and -right-handed shooters.
As for the construction, the MCII is made of premium saddle leather with a choice of black or tan finish with a quality set of system screws.
2. NCSTAR HORIZONTAL SHOULDER HOLSTER
Another shoulder holster with horizontal gun orientation comes from NcSTAR under the name VISM Shoulder Pistol Holster. With incredibly durable construction of tough PVC material and elastic band sections on straps, the holster is produced with budget-conscious shooters in mind.
The NcStar horizontal shoulder holster is lightweight, but it can hold various size pistols ranging from medium to large handguns with two standard capacity double stack magazines.
That said, the NcStar/VISM shoulder holster is designed with double magazine pouches attached to the shoulder harness on the opposite side of the holster. The dual magazine holder keeps securely two (2) pistol magazines using adjustable hook and loop fastener flaps.
As you would expect, this extremely affordably shoulder rig comes with an adjustable thumb break and shoulder straps that are fully adjustable for length and a perfect fit for concealed carry.
Other features include the tie-down straps for securing the holster to your belt or belt loop for optimum concealment and pistol security.
Like its name says, the NcSTAR Vism Ambidextrous Shoulder Holster can be oriented for right- or left-handed CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) permit owners.
3. UNCLE MIKE’S SIDEKICK VERTICAL SHOULDER HOLSTER
Uncle Mike’s is a renowned company known for a variety of shooting products like concealed carry holsters. While Uncle Mike’s Sidekick Vertical Shoulder Holster has a basic design that works well when you need it, this holster’s key feature is its price.
Uncle Mike’s Sidekick shoulder holster is made of black Kodra nylon that won’t rip or fray and is designed with a pouch for an extra magazine or speedloader for your handgun.
The Sidekick line of holsters is available in two styles. You can opt for one type of rig that carries the gun horizontally, but we have chosen the second type of shoulder holster that carries the handgun muzzle down for this overview.
Also, the Uncle Mike’s Sidekick shoulder holsters cover several different styles, such as wearing it inside or outside your jacket.
The Uncle Mike’s Sidekick shoulder holsters are offered in several sizes, ranging from small to medium and large autos and double-action revolvers. The Sidekick Shoulder Holster allows you to comfortably carry even scoped single action revolvers with longer barrels due to the vertical gun orientation.
The high-quality Kodra nylon holster features a retention strap, an onside self-adjusting belt loop, and an adjustable shoulder harness with comfortable, 2 1/2″-wide nylon web straps.
With generous harness dimensions, this nylon shoulder holster will fit chests up to 48 inches. In contrast, a self-centering back-piece will keep your firearm in place and provide superior weight distribution.
4. Bianchi X16 Agent X Shoulder Holster
Bianchi Gun Leather is another holster manufacturer that has been around for several decades, making their name famous by producing traditional leather hip and best shoulder holsters.
The all-leather Bianchi X16 Agent X is crafted from high-quality premium grade leather combined with a soft leather harness. The vegetable-tanned cowhide holster itself is suspended from a silicone-suede X-style harness to provide the optimum carry angle and distribute a heavy gun’s weight across the shoulders.
This Bianchi quality leather rig carries the gun vertically oriented and is balanced by the double, contour-molded pouches for magazines and speedloaders on the opposite side of the harness.
Since the holster models are handgun specific due to the leather’s molding, the Bianchi X16 keeps your sidearm where it needs to be.
In addition to precise fit, X16 Agent will secure your firearm with a thumb snap, dual spring design and tension rod for retention.
Like any quality shoulder holster, this Bianchi unlined holster system includes 2 suede leather tie-down panels to anchor both holster and offside pouch to the belt.
While it comes in sizes small to extra-large, allowing you to carry massive guns, Bianchi Model X16 Agent vertical shoulder holster doesn’t feature a configuration to handle scoped guns.
5. UTG LE SHOULDER HOLSTER
Though the concealed carry market is overflooded with cheap holster designs, there are not as many good and surprisingly affordable shoulder holsters on the market, such as the UTG Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster.
With an extremely affordable price, the UTG holster certainly isn’t going to win any design awards. Still, it will be a great choice as a beginner holster or for those experimenting with a best shoulder holster.
The Leapers UTG holster is all nylon design combined with synthetic leather to offer more support and padding across the shoulder harness. Additionally, it features a soft lining to protect your handgun finish from wear and tear and adjustable Velcro straps attached to the web belt to optimize weapon retention.
UTG shoulder rig comes with fully adjustable hook-and-loop straps and two mag pouches making it a well-balanced shoulder holster tailored to your body.
This lightweight shoulder holster from Leapers keeps your sidearm in a horizontal position, make carrying compacts to medium firearms very easy and quite comfortable.
The UTG Deluxe Universal holster is designed to fit the most popular sidearms, and due to its modular design, it will suit both left- and right-handed shooters.
6. Kenai Chest Holster
Unlike classic leather shoulder rigs, nylon shoulder holsters are largely not an option for concealed carry because they are primarily used in outdoor activities where you can strap them over your clothing.
Kenai Chest Holster is designed for an unconventional carry method when carrying a sidearm on your hip is inconvenient or impossible.
The Kenai Chest Holster is a modernized version of the traditional leather guide holster designed for open carry of heavy-duty big-bore revolvers.
While this upper-body rig certainly isn’t a “deep concealment” system, putting the Kenai Chest holster under a light jacket will take more than a casual glance to notice the gun.
The Kenai Chest Holster is constructed from heavy-duty Kydex and very robust elastic nylon webbing. The nylon webbing chest harness has buckles carefully located to be out of the way of backpack straps and minimize any rub spots.
This exceptional shoulder and chest carry holster consists of Kydex pieces joined by eyelets in typical Kydex pancake-holster fashion.
Typically to Kydex holsters, the Kenai chest holster features excellent retention characteristics to keep your firearm in a secure and comfortable position.
The lightweight harness with chest holster has full trigger guard coverage, while Kydex’s body is specifically made for a particular firearm type.
Carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) efficiently keep away it from the curious views and hold the handgun in a secure and comfortable position, ready to draw when needed.
Using a shoulder holster to carry a firearm under one arm is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable methods suitable for many occasions and activities.
Since these types of holsters may be exceedingly expensive, carefully consider how you will be using your shoulder holster and maybe firstly opt for a ring made of synthetic materials before you go shopping and decide on a budget.
Brian Belko is a freelance writer and blogger. His primary areas of focus include the outdoors and shooting sports. In addition to his freelance work, Brian also writes for Wide Open Spaces and is on the Pro Staff at Military Hunting and Fishing. When he isn’t busy writing, Brian enjoys fishing farm ponds for bass and hitting the spring woods during turkey season.