How to Size Holsters

by Jeremiah Blanchard
Holsters come in many shapes and sizes, and they have multiple features.

Holsters come in many shapes and sizes, and they have multiple features.

A holster's primary purpose is to aid in carrying the weapon on your person when not in use. A holster's secondary job is to protect the weapon from moisture, abrasion or scratching. Some models offer security features to keep your weapon from easily being taken from your holster, such as those used by law enforcement. You must also have a holster properly sized for your handgun. Some holsters are made for specific weapons, so knowing your weapon's attributes and sizing your barrel length will help you to size the right-fitting holster.

Identify the attributes of your weapon. This include the caliber, model number, and manufacturer, e.g., Smith & Wesson .40 Caliber, model VE, Beretta 9 mm, model M9, etc.

Unload the weapon completely. Measure your barrel length. If you have a revolver, measure from the tip of the barrel to the end, right in front of the cylinder, with a ruler. If you have a semi-automatic weapon, field-strip your weapon, remove the barrel, then measure it with a ruler.

Tell the holster manufacturer or the sporting goods sales representative the attributes of your weapon and the barrel length. Most holsters manufactured today are made to suit specific weapons or a variety of "like-framed" weapons. The type of weapons these holsters will fit will be indicated on the packaging. If you are having holster custom made, the holster maker will possibly need your weapon to make the holster, or he will ask for the weapon attributes.

Items you will need

  • Ruler


  • Choose a holster with optional magazine pouches included to conveniently store additional ammunition.
  • Choose a holster that offers the best protection for your weapon.


  • Never keep a cocked or chambered firearm in a holster.
  • Never leave your weapon loaded in your holster and unattended.

Photo Credits

  • pistol and holster image by Paul Moore from