Tips for Wearing a Shoulder Rig

So, maybe you wear a sport coat everyday, or you just wrapped up a Miami Vice marathon and found yourself wanting to try out a shoulder holster. Shoulder rigs are quite convenient for certain types of carry. By moving the the gun up to the side of the body it can be more easily accessible for some. Additionally, many say that shoulder carry is more comfortable as it doesn’t press into the waist like other types of concealed carry. A jacket of some sort is a necessity, however. Galco Gunleather offers a variety of shoulder rigs, and now they have released a handy video to help you choose and understand the use of a shoulder holster system.



Shoulder holsters have been around for a while and are quite popular. Some just like the style and want to channel their inner Sonny Crockett. But, there are plenty of other advantages to wearing a shoulder rig. For those who want to carry a bigger gun, like a full sized (or even double-stack) 1911 or large barrel revolver, shoulder carry can conceal the bulky handgun and displace the weight better than a hip holster can. The weight of the handgun is carried by your shoulder, back, and even your non-carrying side, making the weight nearly disappear compared to a waistband holster.

If you are often in your vehicle, or constantly moving in and out of your vehicle, the shoulder rig can be a lifesaver. Since the gun is carried on your side, it isn’t trapped by the seatbelt when seated. The gun stays readily available while you’re sitting behind the wheel, and you can grab it at a moment’s notice without having to navigate the obstacles like the seatbelt, steering wheel, and gear shifter. If you have a job where you’re often moving from the vehicle to the outside, the shoulder holster can give you piece of mind, allowing you to enter and exit, without having to change carry positions or remove your handgun to place it in a car holster.

Most shoulder rigs also come standard with a magazine pouch or ammo carrier for a quick reload. The pouches are often carried underneath the arm opposite of the one carrying the gun, so it helps balance the rig. This gives you a reload or two without adding extra inches to your waistline. Swapping out the holster component is pretty simple, which allows you to buy the rig once, and then purchase different holsters if you change carry guns.


Shoulder rigs used to be very popular and used more often than hip holsters for concealed carry. But, as styles and technology change, they have fallen out of popularity. Since fewer people wear suits or blazers in their everyday wear, shoulder holsters have become less ubiquitous. Shoulder holsters also require a bit more set-up time to make them comfortable. Most modern holsters are ready to wear out of the box, but as the video below shows, you need to properly adjust your shoulder rig to ensure proper fit and comfort.

There’s also some safety and security issues to be aware of when choosing underarm carry. Because of the gun location and different drawstroke, the gun is pointed in an unsafe direction momentarily. As drawing is hasty maneuver, negligent discharges are prone to occur; most holsters keep the gun facing down or at the attacker, whereas the shoulder holster has the gun pointed to the side before it is brought to the shooting position. In gun ranges, this is a major problem. In a crowded area, sweeping everything to your side can be dangerous.

Shoulder holsters act like a crossdraw holster. Because of this, the grip of the gun faces the front. Close attackers can more easily access your firearm and disarm you before you have a change to draw it. Some shoulder holsters even keep the gun in a horizontal position, making it an easier target for attackers to grab. These are all considerations you need to account for when you consider underarm carry.

Assembly, Adjustment and Safe Use of a Galco Shoulder System

Galco Gunleather has multliple shoulder rig systems to match a variety of body shapes and carry styles. But, shoulder systems involve assembly and fitting unlike hip and ankle holsters. To help understand how to put together, adjust, and use a shoulder rig, Galco has produced this convenient video.

In the video, Account Representative Dave Starin and Customer Service Manager Mike Barham discuss the proper fitting of Galco shoulder holster systems. They also walk you through the drawing action for multiple carry positions, so you can speed up the drawstroke while maintaining safe operation of your handgun.

Interested in trying out a shoulder holster rig? Galco has plenty of options for shoulder holsters from the appropriately named Miami Classic to the more modern Jackass Rig. They also have the Classic Lite for a lighter load, the VHS Rig for bigger handguns and a natural drawstroke, and for those who carry big bore revolvers for hunting, Galco has the Kodiak Shoulder Holster. You can view Defender Outdoors’ whole selection of Shoulder Holsters here. Or, if you have additional questions about shoulder rigs, you can contact Galco Gunleather at or 1.800.874.2526.

Have you ever worn a shoulder rig? Think you might try one out? Tell us your story in the comments below.

8 Comments On This Article

  1. Kudos to talk about shoulder rigs! I’ve been wearing one from Galco for years carrying a compact 9mm with an extra mag on the other side. Comfortable, easily accessible and great to hide the fact that you are carrying. Galco rigs are well made!

    Once you have adjusted it properly, it is super easy to use. I did have to shorten the safety strap over the back of the hammer but that was a simple fix.

  2. I have a couple of the old Galco ‘Miami Vice’ holsters and also a few off brand vertical carry holsters. I serve as a Bailiff in court and wear civilian clothes with a sportcoat. I have a variety of handguns and rotate them for carry, both in court and without. During the summer for off duty wear I carry on the waist with an untucked shirt unless a sport coat is called for. I find it almost impossible to carry on the waist with a sport coat and not have it be obvious

  3. Here in Texas the shoulder holster is one of the ways authorized by state law for licensed open carry of a sidearm.

  4. I recently had a sciatic nerve problem on my right side and strong side carry on my belt was very painful. A shoulder holster was much more comfortable for all day carry.

  5. For hunting, not a wannabe warrior combat freak or cowboy, I use large bore revolvers, and all while using binoc web holder.
    At least while hunting there is far less danger to anyone behind me, and I find that hiking over hill and dale the weight is minimal on shoulder and damn far less likely to come lose when creeping through vinymaple, slough brush. or shoulder packing out deer or elk quarters, in short thick reprods so common on Western side of WA. State and coastal mountain ranges.ranges.
    Still quick on draw and being single action I carry spare cylinder.
    Once while westing a tide down hip holster I crawled belly wise through old logged over cover looking for a clients hard hit deer, when finally finding it I reached for revolver to find it gone.
    DEER on last gasp so knife suffced, but back tracking on belly took time from hunting hours , and every animal for hundreds of ysrds heard some loud obscenities, until I found it.
    Shoulder rig from then on.
    Too fn old for that game, I hate road killings so guess I will pasdon old holstrrs and single actions.
    clients wounded deer and luckily when

  6. I wouldn’t carry a glock in a shoulder rig, since there’s no safety. I have been carrying my Commander length 1911 in a Galco shoulder rig for about 3 years now. I have Wilson Combat 8-rd mags, and carry one in the gun and four more on the weak side. The 1911 on the left and 4 full mags on the right completely balance the Galco rig. It came with only one mag holder on the right but you can buy individual accessories from Galco to customize your rig, so I got a 4-pouch mag holder on the right. I can carry wearing just a tee shirt, then the Galco, and then a jean shirt over the rig, unbuttoned. The jean shirt is on the large size and it completely hides the rig. So, No Jacket Required!

    • Sir you are mis informed. The Glock family of pistols have 3 safeties on them. A drop safety that keeps the gun from firing if dropped. A firing pin block that keeps the gun from from firing unless the trigger is pulled. Lastly the trigger safety prevents the gun from firing unless the trigger safety is depressed. The guns have an excellent safety record and like any of the popular pistol designs so long as good technique is followed and the shooters finger remains outside the trigger guard the gun can not fire. You reference a 1911 style pistol; and the same thing pertains to that gun. If the safety remains on and the finger off the trigger the gun can not fire, despite it being carried “cocked and locked”, a practice that was deemed “dangerous” by many for many years when it became popular.

  7. Most CCW folks live in climes that don’t see them wearing a jacket to hide a shoulder rig and since most in America are obese, (AMA says), belly/waist carrying isn’t comfortable either. Ankle rigs are OK but clumsy to use. For the most part. women have better and more comfortable places to conceal carry.