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Pancake and paddle holsters are both designed for carrying a handgun on your waist. The primary difference between the two is the mechanisms that each holster uses to keep in place. Choosing between a pancake and paddle holster is really a matter of personal choice, since both holsters have advantages and disadvantages.
Pancake holsters are one-piece holsters that are worn on the outside of the pants. The holsters are typically wide with two slots cut vertically on either side of the handgun. To put on this holster, you must be wearing a belt and weave your belt through the slots in the holster. By weaving your belt through a pant belt loop between the slots, you can use your pants to actually help keep the holster in one location.
The paddle holster is similar to a pancake holster but does not rely on a belt for security. Instead the holster features a paddle that is connected to the holster at the top. The holster is worn by placing the paddle on the inside of your pants against your body. The holster is secured in position by the pressure provided by your waist against the side of your pants.
Pros/Cons, Pancake Holster
The advantage of a pancake holster is security. The holster is attached directly to your belt and can be positioned anywhere along your waist. Ironically, the way you wear this holster is also its disadvantage. To put on, or take off, a pancake holster requires that you be wearing a belt and be able to at least partially undo your belt to put on or take off the holster.
Pros/Cons, Paddle Holster
The advantage of a paddle holster is that it can be put on or removed quickly. This is particularly convenient for people who carry weapons but must occasionally temporarily remove them; for example, if you’re entering an area that prohibits firearms, such as a school or an airport, you can quickly remove your pistol without much effort. The disadvantage of the paddle holster is that it is not as securely attached to your waistband and can come out if your pants are too loose.