Vertical vs Horizontal Shoulder Holster for Conceal Carry

A shoulder holster is a great way to carry a concealed handgun, especially if you will be carrying it on your person for long periods of time. However, there are two different types of shoulder holsters: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical shoulder holsters are what most people are used to seeing—they run from your shoulder down your body, crossing your chest.

Horizontal shoulder holsters are exactly the opposite; they begin at your back, cross over your body, and continue down to your shoulder.

Which one is best? It all depends on where you plan on carrying your concealed weapon. If you will be carrying it on your person for long periods of time, then a vertical shoulder holster will give you the greatest concealment and minimal interference with your natural movement. However, if you will be carrying your concealed weapon in a situation where you might need to draw it quickly, a horizontal shoulder holster will give you the greatest chance of success.

Vertical Shoulder Holsters

Vertical Shoulder HolsterVertical shoulder holsters are designed to fit under the arm of your jacket, and hold the handgun at your side. They are ideal for men and many women who want to carry concealed weapons (CCW).

A vertical shoulder holster (sometimes called a “shoulder harness”) is a holster designed to be worn on your body vertically across your shoulder blades. They are primarily used by law enforcement officers, but civilians can use them for concealed carry purposes too. The advantage of a vertical shoulder holster is that it keeps your weapon closer to your body, where it is more accessible in case you need to use it in an instant. This makes it easier to draw and fire your weapon.

This type of holster is the most comfortable, as it allows you to move your arms freely and easily adjust the belt in order to fit the size of your waist. It can be used for both long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts, and it is often recommended for women because it fits their shape better than a horizontal holster.

The primary advantage of a vertical holster is that it allows you to have a concealed weapon with your body.


  • Vertical holsters are easier to conceal.
  • That they are very unlikely to ride up and snag your shirt.
  • They are more likely to stay out of the way when you are drawing your weapon.
  • With a vertical shoulder holster, it is MUCH easier to draw from the holster.


  • It’s more difficult to adjust the belt in place,
  • It can sometimes be harder to find a suitable belt for the holster.
  • It’s not always sleek and looks like you are wearing an old fashioned coat-of-arms around your hips, and
  • It can get uncomfortable after a while if you carry it for an extended period of time.

Horizontal Shoulder Holsters

Horizontal Shoulder HolsterHorizontal shoulder holsters are great for people who want to carry their gun in a more comfortable position, but still want to draw and fire it quickly. They’re very similar to cross-draw holsters, but instead of being worn vertically across your body, they are worn horizontally across your body. Hence the name “shoulder” holsters. They allow you to have a more natural, less rigid grip on your weapon, which makes it easier to control and aim. This type of holster is most often used by police officers, military personnel, and private citizens who need to carry a concealed weapon on their person.

Horizontal shoulder holsters are most often worn by police officers, who have to draw their guns quickly from their holsters. As such, they have to be as sure-handed and as quick-witted as possible when drawing their weapon. This is good if you are a cop, but many civilians also wear a horizontal-shoulder holster for protection.

The main disadvantage of the horizontal holster is that it can be cumbersome and bulky.


  • it’s sleek,
  • can be adjusted quickly and easily, and
  • looks great with almost any outfit.


  • Horizontal holsters can be uncomfortable.
  • Horizontal holsters are more expensive.
  • Horizontal holsters have a much higher likelihood of getting snagged on clothing.
  • Horizontal holsters can make your arms look really weird.

Differences between Vertical and Horizontal holsters

A shoulder holster is a great choice for those who regularly carry a handgun. However, for most law enforcement personnel and military shooters, a vertical holster (one worn on the hip) offers many advantages over a horizontal one (worn on the outside of the leg). These include faster draw speed, a more natural shooting position, and less “shoulder fatigue.” Here I’m going to describe key features of the shoulder holster:


Shoulder holsters come in two basic varieties – vertical and horizontal. The main difference between the two is concealability. A vertical shoulder holster is most concealing, but it limits your movement. On the other hand, a horizontal shoulder holster is less concealing but allows you more movement. You can also carry your firearm more comfortably with a horizontal shoulder holster. So it really depends on your personal needs and situation. If you are going to be playing in a loud environment where you will be noticed, go for a vertical holster. However, if you are going to be playing in a venue where the volume is low, you may want to consider a horizontal shoulder holster.


When choosing a shoulder holster for your weapon, comfort is the main thing you should be concerned with. After all, when it comes to comfort, you will be carrying your weapon 24/7 for an extended period of time. You want your shoulder holster to be comfortable, concealable, easy-to-use, and most importantly – provide you maximum comfort.

Consider the following: A vertical shoulder holster is the most comfortable type. It has a strap that goes around your body and holds your weapon close to your body, which in turn puts less pressure on your shoulder.

On the other hand, a horizontal shoulder holster is the least comfortable. It has a strap that goes across your body and holds your weapon far away from your body. This causes much more stress on your shoulder and makes it uncomfortable to carry your weapon.

In general, a vertical shoulder holster is more comfortable than a horizontal one. This is because your body weight is supported by your body, rather than your weapon.


The way you carry your gun determines the kind of retention that’s best for you. When choosing between a vertical and horizontal holster, the most important thing to consider is whether you want your gun to be easy to get to in an emergency situation. The good ones are usually designed to keep the gun securely in place, but not too tightly, and you can easily access it.

Vertical holsters like the Kydex Retention Holster are designed to hold your gun securely, with no chance of accidentally releasing it, and are generally ideal for concealment. But they’re a bit tricky to get into. Horizontal holsters like the Stag Arms Stowaway are a bit easier to get into, and they offer a lot more retention when your gun is inside, but they don’t provide much security.

Another important factor when choosing the right holster is whether it’s comfortable to carry. Most vertical holsters are a little more comfortable than horizontal ones.


In the age of smartphones, the shoulder holster has become a very popular option. The holster not only protects your phone but also keeps it close at hand.

While most people use the traditional vertical style, some prefer the horizontal style because it is more comfortable. Of course, the vertical style allows for more adjustability and movement.

The horizontal shoulder holster is designed to be more stable and is often preferred by people who want to work with their phones while sitting at a desk or in a car. It is also less bulky and easier to keep hidden than a vertical holster.

However, the horizontal shoulder holster may also require you to reach a bit higher than a vertical one.

Ease of Use

For the most part, it’s up to you which type of holster you prefer. Vertical and horizontal shoulder holsters are both suitable for your needs. But which one is better?

The vertical shoulder holster is the most common one and is usually recommended by police officers. It’s easy to use and comfortable for most people. It can be put on and taken off easily with one hand, and most models are adjustable for size, weight, and comfort.

On the other hand, a horizontal shoulder holster is easier to conceal than a vertical holster, and it’s a better fit for smaller, thinner men. But it’s a bit more difficult to put on and remove.

Vertical shoulder holsters are also easier to find, and most retailers will have them in stock. If you prefer a more comfortable fit, check out the options available. You may also want to consider carrying a second gun in a belt holster.

Left-handed or Right-handed

Vertical – Most people are right-handed and thus pull their gun from their left hip when they draw. If you are left-handed (like me) you should carry it from your right hip. With a vertical holster, your gun will be immediately accessible with the simple flick of your wrist.

Horizontal – This is the most comfortable position for a person who is right-handed. It allows your upper body to “give” as you pull your gun from your holster. Your hand will be above your center of mass and thus will not exert nearly as much pressure as if it was pulled from your left hip.

Man or Women

For most women, a horizontal shoulder holster is far more comfortable than a vertical one. A woman will find a horizontal holster much more supportive and less likely to chafe or irritate her underarm area. For the same reason, a man will choose a horizontal holster over a vertical one. It’s just easier to wear. A vertical shoulder holster (even if it’s made with soft material) will still give you a “racked up” appearance and make you look like a hard-charging, no-nonsense type of person.

Side-by-side comparison between vertical and horizontal holster

vertical holster horizontal holster
The most common type of shoulder holster. A smaller version of the vertical. This is also called a cross-draw.
A vertical holster keeps the weapon close to the body. A horizontal holster allows the wearer to draw their weapon from their chest.
Less likely to be noticed, better for most situations. It’s easier to draw, with less chance of snagging your shirt when you move.
Most comfortable and easiest to draw from Allows for faster drawing if need be
Put your gun in the highest accessible holster on your belt. Put your gun in the lowest accessible holster on your belt.
Most often worn by civilians for personal protection. Most often worn by police officers, who have to draw their guns quickly.
It transfers the weight of the weapon to your arm. It puts the weight of the weapon in your hand.
Most concealing Less concealing
Takes up more room on your body Easier to reach your target
More expensive Less expensive

4 Most distinct advantages of vertical over the horizontal holster

The choice between a vertical and horizontal holster is really a matter of personal preference. However, there are some distinct advantages to having a vertical holster. Here are four reasons to consider using a vertical holster:

  1. Vertical holster lets you use your off-hand to open the holster and take out your weapon.
  2. It keeps your weapon close to your body where it is more likely to be found in a fight.
  3. It frees up your dominant hand to operate your equipment such as a camera or phone.
  4. It makes it easier to draw your weapon because you do not have to remove your firearm from its holster.


Which is better vertical or horizontal shoulder holster?

A vertical shoulder holster is better than a horizontal one. This is because when you are wearing a vertical holster, your weapon is closer to your body and hence easier to draw and less likely to be noticed. On the other hand, a horizontal holster gives you more freedom of movement, but it may not be as comfortable for you. You should experiment and see which one feels more natural and comfortable for you.

Are shoulder holsters a good idea?

Shoulder holsters are great for concealed carry applications, but they might not be the best option for every situation. For example, if you have a large group of people or animals, they might become agitated and unruly due to your presence. In this case, a different type of holsters like a cross draw or a traditional belt-style holster might be more appropriate.

Can you wear a shoulder holster under a shirt?

Yes, you can wear a shoulder holster under a shirt, if you’re comfortable with it. In most cases, it’s best to wear one over a t-shirt. However, if you are wearing a thick undershirt or sweater, then you could wear the holster under it, but not right above it. This is because the sleeve hole will block your access to the shoulder, and you might find yourself uncomfortable.

Are chest holsters safe?

Yes, chest holsters are generally very safe. They are not like ankle or wrist restraints which can cause damage to your clothing, and hence are suitable for most situations. The only situation we’d advise against using a chest holster is when you are driving a car or riding a bike, or doing other activities where you need total freedom of movement.

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