Both paddle and belt holsters are popular options for carrying handguns. Belt holsters are the traditional option, while paddle holsters, sometimes called “duck bill” holsters, are becoming more popular among new users.
Even so, many gun owners don’t fully understand the difference between them. Fortunately, this post is here to help. We define each type of holster in detail and then outline their pros and cons before comparing them again at the end.
What is a paddle holster?
Paddle holsters hold handguns in place at the waist using a flap of plastic or stiffened leather. The flap is either flat or contoured to the shape of the firearm it holds.
The name “paddle” comes from the paddle-like shape of the holster. It is different from traditional belt designs. Vendors use low-friction interior materials to enable users to draw weapons quickly and prevent the holster from being pulled upwards during the drawing action.
What is a belt holster?
A belt holster is a type of holster that fits directly onto a belt. Users slide belt straps through loops on the accessory to keep it in place.
As an over-the-waistband (OWB) product, users have to remove their belts fully to remove the holster. Holsters remain in position, relative to the waist, regardless of the position of the user’s body.
Many gun owners use belt holsters as a concealed carry method. Holsters keep handguns in place without the risk of slippage.
Paddle holster vs belt holster
Paddle and belt holsters each offer a range of advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a rundown:
Pros of paddle holster vs belt holster pros
Pros of paddle holsters are as follows:
- Allows the user to adjust the angle of the holster – sometimes called the cant – so that it is in a comfortable draw position
- Keeps the broad base of the clip close to the body for an easier, smoother draw
- Offers the user the ability to quickly reposition the holster, for instance, when standing up or getting out of a moving vehicle
- Makes it easy to remove both the gun and the holster at the same time
- Can be positioned anywhere on the waistband or belt
- Stabilizes the gun for quick removal
The pros of belt holsters are as follows:
- Available in a variety of styles. There are dozens of belt holsters on the market, making it easy to find the perfect match for you.
- Fits high on the waist, making it easier to conceal a weapon when wearing long clothing
- Difficult or impossible to remove by accident. Requires removal by taking off the belt first
- Can be worn anywhere on the belt except at the buckle at the front
- Offers excellent grip retention.
Cons of paddle holster vs belt holster cons
The cons of paddle holsters are as follows:
- Sits proud of the body, making it easier for adversaries to detect concealed carry
- Not suitable for open carry because the holster itself can be easily removed
- Only fits into the belt via a belt clip, not through belt loops, potentially making it less secure in combat situations
The cons of belt holsters are as follows:
- Challenging to reposition the belt without a lot of fiddling (and perhaps having to take the belt off)
- Harder to withdraw a handgun in tight spaces, when crouching down or bent over
- A heavy-duty leather or nylon belt is required as a safety precaution. Users must wear thick belts to meet holster compatibility requirements
- Some belts holsters do not allow users to adjust the draw angle
What are the differences between a paddle and a belt holster?
While both belt and paddle holsters hold guns in place, their design and construction are different. However, many gun owners don’t know the difference between them, leading to confusion.
Regular belt holsters slide through the loops on a user’s belt whereas a paddle holster has a paddle section that fits into the waistband. The gun’s holster then overlaps this, securing it to the side of the body.
Belt slide holsters tend to fit closer to the body, making them better when you want to carry concealed. They are also secure because they loop through the belt directly. Paddle holsters, on the other hand, protrude more from the side of the body and have higher retention properties.
Historically, belt slide holsters were more popular because of their ability to conceal weapons. While paddle holsters were more versatile and made it easy to draw, they lacked the discretion that many gun owners wanted.
In recent years, though, things have changed. Vendors developed paddle holsters considerably, adding new features that made them more appealing. Today’s models have exceptional grip retention and remain stable, even when running.
Which is better, a paddle or a belt holster?
Which is better – a paddle or belt holster – depends primarily on your preferences. Belt holsters tend to be lower profile, which is great for people who want to conceal their weapons, while paddle holsters are ideal for anyone looking to draw outside of the waistband.
There are some specific advantages of paddle holsters that many owners find extremely attractive. For instance, you can place paddle holsters just about anywhere you like. And because it sticks out further than a regular belt holster, it can be easier to draw in high-pressure situations. It won’t dig into your leg either while sitting down or driving a vehicle.
But belt holsters offer their own perks, too. For instance, they hold firearms close to the body and are extremely secure because of the way they fasten to belts.
- Paddle holsters are holsters that have paddle-like shape designs to be low friction for easy draws
- Belt holsters have two loops that you thread your belt through to hold them in place
- Belt holsters are best for concealed carry
- Paddle holsters are best for versatility and ease of use, particularly when drawing and sitting down
- Paddle holsters are becoming more popular as vendors improve their features and design