Competition holsters offer the shooter an advantage in IPSC (or any competitive shooting sport) by providing a balance of speed, protection and retention. It is important to choose the right holster for your needs in order to get the most out of your IPSC competition experience.
Features to Consider when Choosing an IPSC Holster
When choosing an IPSC competition holster, it is important to consider several key features. Speed is a key factor as a faster draw can give you an edge over your opponents. Protection of the pistol is also important, as you don’t want your pistol to become scratched or damaged on the range. Retention is also essential, as you don’t want your pistol falling out by accident. Finally, ride height should be considered; with ‘belt ride’ holsters being closer to the body and offering more consistent placement during start positions, while ‘dropped and offset’ style holsters place the pistol lower on your belt and closer to your hands during a “hands at sides” start.
How to Choose the Right Holster for Your Needs
Two main types of holsters are suitable for IPSC competitions: open-style race holsters and bucket-style holsters.
Open-style Race Holsters only grip the pistol around the trigger guard leaving the rest of the pistol exposed. The holsters provide greater speed potential as they require minimal movement for the pistol to release from the holster; however, they offer little protection for the pistol, and there is potential to scratch the pistol or damage front sights if not mindful when walking around the range. Race holsters usually have a locking mechanism that needs to be disengaged before shooting in order to prevent accidental falls from occurring while moving around the range. Race holsters are generally only available in ‘dropped and offset” style.
Bucket-style holsters wrap around the pistol and provide more protection for your handgun at the expense of having to lift your pistol higher before it clears the holster. Competition bucket holsters don’t have an active locking mechanism. They use the friction around the trigger guard to retain the pistol. These holsters can fully enclose your handgun for maximum protection, but they usually leave the pistol exposed above the trigger guard for a balance of speed and protection. Even very low-cut bucket holsters will protect your front sight, which can be the most easily damaged part of your firearm (especially fibre optic front sights). Bucket holsters are available in belt ride or dropped and offset styles.
Top Choices for IPSC Holsters
Blade-Tech Signature Series – The Signature Series from Blade-Tech use an injection moulded holster body with a Tek-Lok belt attachment. While the Tek-Lok is a belt ride module, it is compatible with dropped and offset mounts making it an extremely versatile setup. Perfect for new shooters wanting to experiment with different ride heights. The Signature Series is currently only available in right-hand configurations.
Ghost Civilian/Thunder – The Ghost Civilian and thunder series both use the same Kydex holster body; the only difference is the belt attachment. The Civilian uses a belt ride module, while the Thunder has an adjustable low-ride bracket. The Ghost holster is available for a wide range of models in both right and left-hand configurations.
Double Alpha PDR Pro – The PDR Pro uses a Kydex body with a fully adjustable belt attachment. These holsters are best suited to DAA belts.
BlackGear – BlackGear holsters use a Kydex holster body with either a Tek-Lok attachment or a machined aluminium offset hanger. The BlackGear holsters are perfect for anyone wanting a high-quality NZ-made holster.
Double Alpha Alpha-X – A machined aluminium holster that uses interchangeable insert blocks for different handgun models. The Alpha-X is considered the go-to holster for serious competition shooters.
Double Alpha Flex – New on the market, the Flex holster is similar in design to the Alpha-X with minor improvements, such as an additional adjustment axis. The main feature of the Flex is that it only uses two styles of insert block, which can then be adjusted to suit nearly all handgun models.
The Importance of a Quality Holster in IPSC
Having a quality holster that suits your specific needs can make all the difference when participating in IPSC competitions. They can give you an instant advantage over other competitors who are using subpar gear or who may not be aware of all their options when it comes to finding their perfect fit. A quality holster will offer protection for your handgun while providing fast draw times that can help you stay ahead of the pack!