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Published Feb. 22, 2021

Self-defense is a human right, and while you may not be able to get away with slinging an M249 over your shoulder while you pick up your morning Starbucks, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your rock chucker at home. Carrying a concealed self-defense weapon is an art that must satisfy a number of requirements, and sometimes, an ankle holster is the only way to pack heat without attracting attention. Some see ankle rigs as gimmicky, and some products certainly live up to that standard. So, do your homework, and find a quality holster designed to meet your specific needs. Then, practice, practice, practice.

Sure, ankle carry may not be for everyone, but when it’s the best solution for you, be prepared with the right skills and the perfect holster.

One of the most loved ankle holsters on today’s market is the Galco Ankle Glove. This strap-on rig features a custom-molded leather holster stitched to a wide neoprene band for a sleek, straightforward design and secure firearm retention. The Ankle Glove relies on a hook-and-loop fastener to secure the band in place and allow for a truly custom fit. A genuine sheepskin pad sits inside the band, creating the perfect layer between your gun and your ankle. The holster itself consists of a premium steerhide, and most models include a reinforced thumb break wisely positioned on the inside of the rig to prevent any accidental releases. The Galco Ankle Glove can accommodate a wide variety of revolvers and semi-automatic handguns and fits ankles up to 13 inches in circumference. This rig is compatible with Galco’s Ankle Calf Strap (sold separately), and those who prefer to wear their holster over boots or need a little more space will also appreciate Galco’s Boot Extender. With its quality construction, modularity, and FBI cant, we can see why this ankle holster is so well-loved despite its high price tag.

Looking for an ankle holster that performs well and saves you some pennies? Consider picking up a DeSantis Apache Ankle Rig. While it may not be the cheapest option on the market, this strap-on holster certainly isn’t a budget slayer, and you can rest easy in its solid performance and uncompromising quality. This custom rig relies on a wide yet low-profile elasticized band with a hook-and-loop closure to secure your firearm, while virtually eliminating its ability to rock back and forth in the holster with each step you take. As with all quality ankle holsters, the Apache comes with genuine sheepskin padding between the firearm and your leg, and includes a secure inside thumb break for solid retention and easy access as your situations change. Semi-auto models include a retention strap with an inside adjustable hook-and-loop thumb break, and models designed for revolvers and .32 caliber semi-automatics use a plain hook-and-loop strap instead. Despite its small size, the Apache Ankle Rig accommodates handguns of all sizes, although those packing larger firearms definitely will want to snag a DeSantis Gunhide Ankle Support Strap to match.

Concealed carriers who appreciate the merits of friction holsters will love the relatively hard-to-find Galco Ankle Guard despite its higher price tag. Unlike most ankle holsters, this strap-on hybrid combines the best of Galco’s Ankle Glove and BlakGuard holsters. It skips the retention strap in favor of a customizable clamp-like retention system controlled via twin tension screws located at the trigger guard. The holster’s “trench” sight rail accommodates and protects almost any iron sight on the market. The injection-molded sight rail and retention system are attached to a premium, center-cut steerhide body which is in turn sewn securely to a neoprene ankle cuff with a hook-and-loop closure and genuine sheepskin padding. Like the Ankle Glove above, this holster works well with both the Ankle Calf Strap and Boot Extender from Galco. While this particular listing is for the right-handed Glock model, the semi-custom Ankle Guard is available in a variety of models capable of hosting most common concealable semi-automatics.

Related: Kick it old school with one of these 5 shoulder holsters

Why should you trust us

Ever since shooting a .22 carbine at eight years old, I have been fascinated by small arms, and I have studied the art of self-defense for over a decade. I believe that skills and gear must work in concert, and I have developed an appreciation for well-designed gear that can handle any situation. I have covered other self-defense and EDC gear, such as flashlights, bear spray, and various knives.

Different finds of ankle holsters


Ankle holsters must be secure and easy to use, and for most people, putting their holster on in the morning must fall into the category of “easy to use.” Many (if not most) ankle holsters rely on a single strap or a series of straps to secure them in place, making them much easier to don and doff without removing your shoes. Most often, these holsters employ hook-and-loop straps to further improve the user’s experience.


Slip-on ankle holsters are easier and more economical to manufacture, making them a favorite choice for buyers looking to stick to a budget. These holsters usually consist of a neoprene band to which the actual holster is attached, providing a good combination of flexibility and compression. However, without a calf strap to secure the holster, most slip-on holsters will only work for short-term excursions.

What to consider when buying an ankle holster


Shop for an ankle holster that is comfortable to wear day in and day out. A holster with a breathable design and low-profile stitching will increase your concealed carry comfort and decrease your repertoire of excuses for not carrying. A comfortable holster also relies on padding to mitigate the weight and sharp edges on your handgun. Genuine sheepskin is an excellent padding option as it provides cushion and breathability while absorbing sweat and resisting bacteria.

Custom molding

While ankle holsters come in both universal and custom fit patterns, we recommend opting for a custom-molded holster over a one-size-fits-all alternative. Custom molding provides a strong, reliable grip on your gun both with and without a proper retention system in place. On the other hand, inexpensive universal holsters are a soft, one-size-fits-all option that often struggle to maintain a secure grip on your concealed firearm even with the help of a solid retention system.

Retention system

Firearm retention is a critical consideration when selecting any holster. A properly secured firearm keeps the kids safe when everything is cool, and when you find yourself grappling for your life, the last thing you need is for your assailant to control your last defense. Most ankle holsters rely on a strap with a thumb break to combine security with quick access to your weapon, although some use friction, an unreliable solution in most cases.

Calf strap

Anyone planning to wear their ankle holster for an extended period of time likely will want to invest in a rig that either comes with a calf strap or is at least compatible with one. A calf strap wraps around your upper calf then attaches to the holster via a secondary strap to help secure the holster in its intended position. Such a setup allows you to develop a smooth, consistent draw stroke.


No, we didn’t forget the apostrophe. The cant of a firearm refers to the tilt of the gun as it sits in the holster. Straight canted holsters align your gun’s barrel with your leg which often causes grip printing with non-subcompact firearms. An FBI canted holster rotates the top, rear of your firearm a few degrees forward, pulling the grip closer to your leg’s silhouette and minimizing printing and facilitating a faster, smoother draw.

The advantages of owning an ankle holster

Many concealed carry practitioners may scoff at the idea of an ankle holster, yet this setup has a number of advantages worth contemplating. Most obviously, ankle holsters serve extremely well as saddles for small backup guns, a place to keep a little extra insurance should the unpredictable occur. While not everyone prefers to carry two guns at once, those who do will appreciate the ankle rig.

On the flip side, some who carry everyday may find that an ankle holster fits the bill on an ideal primary carry location. Surprised? Consider this: Many people spend the vast majority of their time sitting at a desk or in a vehicle during their work day, and a gun sitting on your ankle is much more accessible than one located on or inside your waistline. Others wear uniforms that make other holster options completely impractical. Scrubs, flightsuits, and similar uniforms simply will not accommodate more mainstream holsters, making an ankle rig the only realistic option for on-body carry.

Pricing ranges for ankle holsters

Ankle holsters use only a couple of different designs, but as with anything, quality directly affects both the short-term and long-term effects on your wallet. Spend too little, and you’ll be spending again in a few short weeks.

As a rule of thumb, avoid picking an ankle holster that costs less than $50. These rigs feature universal fit patterns which may sound great in theory, but in practice, they usually get replaced in relatively short order. Even lower-end semi-custom rigs designed to host a small range of similar firearms will usually outperform universal holsters, and custom-molded Kydex or leather holsters shine in stressful situations. Both of these holster types will usually set you back $50 or more, but quality comes with the price tag. Just make sure to read the reviews and do your research before dropping $100 or more on a fancy rig. Know yourself and your environment before you spend triple digits on something that could end up in a drawer.

How we chose our top picks

When reviewing new gear, we much prefer to go the hands-on route, but sometimes, a lack of resources may thwart our attempts to get our mitts on some cool gear. When that happens, we listen to those who have firsthand experience. We comb through reviews on Amazon, enthusiast blogs, professional publications, and more to bring you the best, most comprehensive information we can. We sift through it all, keeping the gold and tossing the rest. For this review on ankle holsters, we want to give a shout out to American Arms, ConcealedCarry.com, Gun News Daily, Range 365, Shooting Illustrated, and USA Carry for the valuable information they supplied to us.

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