The 4 Best Shoulder Holsters — Leather, Vertical Reviews 2023

best shoulder holster, best leather shoulder holster, best vertical shoulder holster

Photo by Zorin Denu / CC BY

Whether you love shoulder holsters or hate them, there’s simply no denying that they have gained quite the following by a large number of shooters over the years. Also known as underarm holsters, they are a perfectly viable option for either concealed carry or even for just open carrying your sidearm while on tactical assignments.

So what’s the highest-rated shoulder holster currently available on the market? Here are the 4 best shoulder holsters that we could find:

Galco Classic Lite Shoulder Holster

Galco is one of the main names in quality leather holsters. They’ve been making them for decades and have really perfected the system. The Galco Classic Lite is their smallest and lightest leather shoulder holster. It’s a simple system that retains the weapon well and carries it horizontally. The soft external leather holster doesn’t irritate or grind against the body while being carried long term. It’s perfect for concealed carry and for everyday carry.

The opposite side of the holster features a single magazine pouch to allow the carry of a spare mag with you. The Classic Lite shoulder holster is available for a wide variety of handguns and this particular model covers most Glock automatics (though, Galco sells this model for other guns too). The holster makes use of the X model straps in the rear to provide comfort and to allow for easy adjustment. The Classic Lite Shoulder Holster is an awesome holster option and is among the best leather shoulder holsters period.

Assembly, Adjustment and Safe Use of a Galco Shoulder System

Gould & Goodrich Gold Line Shoulder Holster

Like the Triple K holster, the Gould & Goodrich sits horizontally to permit a faster draw. The entire holster system is fully adjustable for maximum comfort, and can be carried concealed comfortably thanks to a back swivel. Two mag pouches or speed loader holders sit on the right side of the holster for a double reload The actual quality of the holster meets the world class expectations that have been set by Gould & Goodrich, who are well known for producing some of the best leather shoulder holsters in the world.  (See all the other handgun models that the Gold Lines are made for.)

Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster

Like we’ve said earlier, anyone within the gun world is familiar with the name Galco, and here we have the vertical shoulder holster that Galco produces for those who prefer their sidearm to point down rather than behind them. In making this holster, Galco took many features of their wildly successful Miami Classic and combined it with a traditional vertical shoulder holster system.

The resulting Vertical Shoulder Holster has seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq where it has encountered great success. One of the neatest things about this holster is its ability to fit nearly any body size or shape, thanks to the clover shape and patented swivel connectors. Since it’s a Galco, there are also a nearly unlimited number of aftermarket accessories that you can buy for this holster as well. If you, for whatever reason, prefer the vertical carry style, it’s impossible to go wrong with the Galco Vertical Shoulder Holster, which is available in either black or tan finish. This is arguably the best vertical shoulder holster period.

Galco VHS Shoulder Holster for Kimber 1911 first Impressions

Galco Miami Classic Shoulder System

Even those who are not familiar with Galco’s name have at least encountered the Miami Classic Shoulder Holster (see all of the other handgun models here). In one incarnation or another, the Miami Classic has been imitated more than any other holster system on the market and has become a favorite shoulder holster of thousands of professionals across the globe. The Miami Classic consists of four points of a spider harness that are connected by a clover shaped swivel, a trademark of Galco. The result is immediate comfort and a lasting fit. The actual holster itself is constructed out of saddle leather and held together by tough system screws, and being a Galco, the holster is completely modular. Like their vertical shoulder holster, Galco offers the Miami Classic in either a black or a tan finish.

Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster Review

Why a Shoulder Holster?

The best shoulder holsters are both well-designed and well-fitted works, and they would also work well for most handguns for concealed carry or open carry alike. In our opinion, however, shoulder holsters seem to work the best for heavier handguns because they allow the gun’s weight to be spread out over a larger part of the body. Say, for instance, if you were to carry a heavy gun on your belt, you could encounter some small discomfort on your side or the small of our back after hours of heavy use. You would also require a thick waist belt in order to support the pistol.

This is why a fully adjustable and high quality shoulder holster makes it much easier to carry that pistol with less than half the effort required if you were to carry the gun on your belt. It’s perfectly possible to conceal carry large frame and long barreled revolvers using a shoulder holster system, provided that you wear ample outer garments to keep the holster fully concealed and to prevent printing.

There are lots of advantages to using a shoulder holster in particular if you use one around machinery. The weapon and your spare magazines or speed loaders are kept out of the way while you work, whereas a belt holster or tactical thigh holster could potentially get in the way. Additionally, when working from a prone position, a hip holster can drag on the ground or even catch on something, which can distract you from whatever you are working on.

Don’t be convinced by those who try to tell you that shoulder holsters are a thing of the past and are outdated in this day and age. They’re not. They are a basic but well done design that allows you to conceal your weapon safely and even offer a number of advantages over a more traditional hip holster. We’re not saying that a shoulder holster should be the only way that you decide to carry your handgun and spare ammunition, but we are saying it’s a way that will come in handy on more than one occasion and makes it worth the money to buy one. Just make sure that your holster is well made, comfortable for you to wear, and fully adjustable. The 4 best shoulder holsters we have suggested above meet those criteria in excellent fashion.

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

Share the Post and Images

3 responses

  1. I have , over a lifetime of carrying a firearm, found the two best positions are either a crossdraw or shoulder rig. My reasoning are two fold; 1) the weapon can be drawn while sitting , lying , or standing. 2) the weapon can be drawn with the off hand, if the primary hand is injured. Just my observations from 5 decades of CCW.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *