You’ve Picked Your Perfect Gun—Now What?

Last time we talked about how to select a firearm based on your specific needs and abilities. Now, let’s get into what else you will need to go along with your gun. Every pistol needs a holster, and every holster needs a good belt. Every rifle needs a sling; a sling is to a rifle as a holster is to a pistol. Practical training requires training ammunition, and you will want some spare magazines as well. Any time you are on the firing line, you need to wear eye and ear protection. After your time at the range, you will need a cleaning kit and cleaning solvent to keep your investment operating smoothly. To carry it all, a range bag will be your best friend. Depending on the type of firearm, you might want to consider accessories such as mounted lights, lasers, optics, or forward grips (on long guns only).

*Note – We are happy to help every client find the right firearm, holster, and accessories at our facility.


ALWAYS remember the four basic rules of firearm safety:

  1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded, even if you know it is not or cannot be loaded.
  2. Always be aware of your muzzle, and keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until your sights are on target and you’ve made a conscious decision to fire.
  4. Be aware of your target, what is in front of your target, and what is beyond your target.


Choosing a holster can seem like a daunting experience. There are so many types, manufacturers, materials, and styles to choose from that it may seem impossible to know where to even start. Like anything else, start with the purpose of the holster. Will you be open carrying or concealed-carrying? Is this primarily a duty gun or your backup for hunting? There are different types of holsters for different purposes, and not all holsters will be appropriate for all situations.

Next, do you want your holster to be inside the waistband or outside the waistband, appendix carry, small-of-back carry, ankle carry, shoulder, or belly band?

Inside-the-waistband holsters, or IWB for short, are almost always used for concealed carry. Using an IWB holster usually means you sacrifice a little bit of comfort in order to tuck the gun closer to your body for concealment, and it can generally be covered with as little as an untucked shirt. This can greatly reduce “printing,” or having the outline of the gun show through your cover garment as you go about your daily activities. That is not to say that all IWB holsters are uncomfortable. In fact, with the right combination of gun and holster, and experimentation with ride height and holster cant, it is possible to find a setup that is comfortable and doesn’t interfere with your normal and natural movements. IWB holsters are generally offered for appendix carry (tucked into the front of your pants at the one-o’clock or eleven-o’clock position, in front of your appendix) or small-of-back carry (sometimes abbreviated SOB and tucked into your waistband at the four-to-five-o’clock or seven-to-eight-o’clock position). Unfortunately, the only way to find what works for you in comfort, mobility, and concealability is to experiment with different holsters until you find the right fit.

Outside-the-waistband holsters, or OWB, can be used for concealed carry or open carry alike, although concealing and OWB holster usually takes a little bit heavier cover garment, such as a vest or jacket. If you decide to open carry with your OWB holster, there are different levels of retention for different situations. There are holsters that simply rely on friction and gravity to keep your gun in the holster. If you are carrying this for wildlife protection while hunting or hiking, just a thumb break will be sufficient to retain your pistol. This is usually just a strip of leather or webbing that hooks over the back of the slide and snaps in place. For self-defense or duty situations, you can get higher levels of active retention, often requiring two or more specific actions by the user to release the gun from the holster. This is so that if someone else tries to grab your gun to use it against you, it will be more difficult for them to take it from your holster before you can react.

There are other methods of carrying a firearm, such as an ankle holster (exactly what it sounds like), a shoulder holster, a belly band (an elastic band that wraps around your belly, with a pocket sewn in for your gun and magazines, generally used when your belt, or lack thereof, is insufficient to support your gun), pocket carry (for which there are dedicated pocket holsters), or off-body carry (in your purse, backpack, fanny pack, etc.)

With a myriad of options available, your pistol should ALWAYS have a proper holster. The holster will not only protect you and the people around you, but it will also protect your firearm. The holster, if properly fitted and used, will completely cover the trigger guard, preventing the trigger from being pulled accidentally, even if you are carrying off body (if it’s in your purse, you wouldn’t want a pen or lipstick slipping into the trigger guard and pressing the trigger while you’re digging for your keys). IWB holsters generally have a flap or tab that extends the entire length of the slide for two reasons: one so it doesn’t rub and chafe your skin throughout the day, and two to protect the metal slide of the pistol from your sweat and skin oils, which will corrode the finish over time.

A holster by itself does no good without a good belt to support it and keep it in place throughout the day. A good belt should be flexible enough horizontally to flex and form to your body as it moves, but stiff enough vertically that it should maintain its shape when buckled and held out on its own. If it sags too much, it will not stay in place, and the weight of your gun in its holster will drag your pants down.

As I said earlier, a sling is to a rifle as a holster is to a pistol. Again, there are different sling styles and different mounting solutions depending on the type of rifle and its purpose. There are permanent sling mounts, swivel mounts, webbing or strap slots, or quick-disconnect mounts. There are hunting slings, tactical slings, single-point slings, two-point slings, and even three-point slings. A sling not only provides a safe, useful, and comfortable (relatively speaking) way to retain and carry your rifle on your body while keeping your hands free, but a sling used properly can also provide added stability while shooting. For most defensive applications, a simple quick-adjust two-point webbing sling will do.

Whatever you are carrying, you must have a way to carry it safely while leaving your hands free, without having to worry about someone else getting their hands on it or having an accidental discharge.

*Spencer Roos is a contributing writer, former competitive shooter, and currently works as an armorer and trainer at Toe2Toe Firearms and Training, 807 Bill Dean Drive Conway, Arkansas 72032