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I’ve spent the better part of my shooting and teaching career trying different styles and brands of holsters to find what works best for my students and me. There are so many ways to carry a gun, so many different sizes of firearms, and the options for how to carry a gun are endless. But when it comes to a holster, there are five essential aspects I look for in a holster, no matter what material, what gun size, or how I’m carrying it.

In this blog, I’ll review a light-bearing holster from UM Tactical that I recommend based on the criteria I look for in a holster and have tested for myself in the last few weeks.

What to Look for in a Holster

1. Concealment

I am not a fan of open carry, even though I live in a Constitutional Carry state. The whole point of carrying a gun is to protect yourself and not make yourself a target. You’re an easy target if you have a gun on your hip for all to see. So all the holsters I choose to use must always conceal my gun. I carry Appendix, at 4 o’clock, and occasionally wear my gun on a belly band. No matter how I carry or what method I use, the holster is the key to making sure my gun is concealed.

2. Comfort

If you have a holster that is uncomfortable to wear all day, you’re not going to use that holster. It’s as simple as that. Carrying a gun every day isn’t the most comfortable activity, but you can get pretty close to forgetting your gun is even on you with the right holster set up. IWB holsters must have smooth edges so as to not rub your skin and cause irritation. If you carry IWB a lot, consider adding a strip of foam to the bottom part of your holster that rests on your body for even more comfort.

3. Retention

Every holster I own is custom fitted and molded to the specific gun model I use it for. I do not use “one-size-fits-all” holsters or holsters that can fit multiple gun models with different length slides. The retention of the holster depends on how well fitted the holster is to the gun, specifically, the trigger guard, where most holsters have adjustable screws to tighten or loosen the amount of retention on the gun. For most holsters, you’ll hear an audible click when the gun is seated, and it should properly retain your gun while walking, running, or doing any physical activity. The last thing you want to happen is to have your gun fall out of your holster.

4. Attachment/Hardware

The holster attachment and hardware fit are just as important as the holster itself. What I mean by this is whatever clips and screws the holster manufacturer use on the holster need to be made of high quality as well. There are many clip types and sizes, some holster manufacturers use two skinny clips, others use one wide clip, some use metal, and others use plastic. The hardware can include screws, spacers, nuts, and other parts that can rust, wear over time, and even fall off if not maintained. Regularly check your hardware, use Loctite as needed, and ensure everything is in working order.

5. Sweat Guard & Drawing/Reholstering

The choice of a sweat guard is a personal preference. Some holsters come in your choice of mid guard, high guard, or no sweat guard at all. I prefer a mid guard for comfort and ease of drawing/reholstering, but what works for me might be different for you. If you carry a gun daily, you should be proficient in drawing your gun from concealment and shooting. Dry firing at home is just as important as live fire practice. If you never spend time getting used to your carry gun and holster, under pressure, you most likely will fumble around trying to draw your gun from concealment.

UM Tactical Light-Bearing Holster

UM Tactical Light-Bearing Holster

American Made

American-made products are important to me, so if I can support American made and I enjoy the product, it’s a Win-Win for me. UM Tactical makes all of its holsters in South Florida. Their holsters are handmade and assembled with hardware in-house.

Boltaron vs. Kydex

UM Tactical uses Boltaron rather than Kydex material for holsters and magazine pouches. Boltaron is a stronger, better material that is easy to form, has high impact resistance even at cold temperatures, won’t brittle or curl, and won’t deform in high heat. If left in a vehicle or in hotter temperatures, Kydex can lose shape; therefore, firearm retention can loosen.

Checks all the Boxes

The UM Tactical light-bearing holster I’ve been testing is for use with my Glock 17 with a Streamlight TLR-1 light. In my opinion, one of the most helpful things UM Tactical does is label their holsters, so you know exactly what gun model it is for. I can’t tell you how many holsters I have picked up and had to remember what gun it goes to.

UM Tactical Holster

The holster’s retention is perfect around both the gun and the light. The gun makes an audible click sound when it’s seated in place. Three adjustable retention screws on the side of the holster allow you to decrease or increase retention on the light side of the holster. The retention is set from UM Tactical when it ships, but if you prefer more retention, these screws are there for you to set that up exactly how you prefer.

The hardware, clip, and Boltaron material are all of high quality and are what UM Tactical prides itself on. Even though the Glock 17 is a full-size handgun, this holster conceals the gun well, and with the wide clip, it balances the weight of the fully loaded firearm. The comfort level of the holster IWB is a 10 on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best). There are no rough edges on the holster, and you can see how the holster has a slight curve inward around all of the edges for maximum comfort. The high sweat guard, I think, is preferential on full-size handguns. With a longer slide, a high sweat guard keeps the gun from touching my skin all day and is a smooth surface rather than the slide and frame.


If you’re in the market for a new holster and are looking for one that checks all of the boxes of a proper concealed carry holster, check out Remember to take a firearms course, and if you’re in a state where you can legally get a handgun permit, sign up for a local class near you!