So … you have a firearm in mind that you would like to use for everyday carry? Awesome! Then it’s probably time to start thinking about holster options.

But before you get all caught up in the whirlwind of advertisements, discounts, recommendations, videos and social media posts, be sure to ask yourself some important questions. The answers you decide on can help you determine the best type of holster, the most effective location, and the best materials or styles for you to use. Here’s a list to get you started in the right direction:

What Gun Do You Plan to Carry in Your Holster?

The size and style of your gun have everything to do with the holster you’ll choose and the location in which you’ll wear it. Small guns may be easier to conceal in a variety of locations, while larger firearms may be more limited to how and where you can carry them. Also, remember a revolver tends to be bulkier because of its cylinder, while a semi-auto usually offers a slimmer profile that may be easier to carry and conceal. Learn how to choose your first gun in this video.

How Heavy Is Your Firearm (Fully Loaded)?

Be sure to keep in mind how heavy your loaded firearm will be. It may feel “just right” when you put it in a holster and try it on without any ammunition. But you could be unpleasantly surprised when it’s loaded and ready to go … and it pulls down on the holster, your belt and even your clothing.

Will You Want to Swap Between Guns and/or Holsters?

While it’s very sensible and beneficial to use the same gun in the same holster (in the same location) every day, it’s just not always possible. So be sure to think through how many different guns you plan to use for everyday carry, how many holsters you may need for each gun and which holsters might work for multiple guns.

What Will You Be Doing While Wearing the Holster?

Do you sit or stand most of the day? Are you active or moving around a lot? Will you need a holster for working out or just sitting around? Knowing the range of motion and the amount of movement you may incorporate into your days can help narrow down which holsters (and which carry locations) will best fit into your lifestyle.

Do You Want to Carry an Extra Magazine or Another Tool (Knife, Pen, Light, etc.)?

Some holsters may be able to carry more than just your firearm if that’s what you desire. (Just make sure NOTHING is ever placed directly with the firearm itself.) You might also consider purchasing a magazine pouch or two for toting extra ammunition, whether for everyday carry, for competition or for training. Also, be sure to think about where all these extra items will “live” as you go about your everyday activities. You want to be sure they are in locations that are safe and accessible without adding any awkward movements or causing any confusion.

What Is Your Body Type/Shape/Proportions?

Every body is unique, and this is a major reason why there’s no “one size fits all” for holsters. So … are you an apple, a pear, an hourglass or a rectangle? Understanding your body shape may help eliminate some holster styles that just won’t work well or won’t feel comfortable. It can also help point you to additional accessories, such as a wedge, that might help move that gun into just the right position so it doesn’t poke and print. (Keep in mind that some level of comfort may have to be given up to be able to carry a gun on your body, but it’s well worth it; you will become accustomed to it!)

Where Does Your Natural Waist Fall?

Are you high-waisted? A lot of women say they are. This makes a large portion of holsters more difficult to use because it forces the user to have to draw at awkwardly high or uncomfortable angles. You can wear your pants lower at your hips, you can look for holsters with a drop option, or you can try holster styles that aren’t limited to a belt or a waistband to remedy this issue.

What Materials Are You Looking for or Are You Comfortable With in a Holster?

From spandex and leather to thermoplastics and lace, women’s holsters, especially, offer a lot of variety in the materials of which they are constructed. It would certainly help to decide which materials you do not like and which ones make the most sense to you, both for wearing and for maintaining.

Are You OK With the Firearm Pressing Against Your Skin?

If you dislike the idea of feeling metal against your body or having a gun imprint show up from carrying your firearm all day, you may want to consider holsters that have a soft backing (and keep the entire grip off your skin) or options that can work outside of clothing layers.

What Types of Clothing Do You Wear?

Speaking of clothing, if you’re in dresses or skirts every day, you may be limited to which holsters work for you. Even if you wear dress pants or business suits, some options won’t work properly since you would need a proper belt and/or a very sturdy waistband. Think about what you wear most often. And, if possible, wear that when you go try on or test out some holster possibilities.

Do You Wear a Belt?

I mention belts because, if you don’t wear a belt every day with every outfit, you may have to eliminate a large group of holster options from your list. But that’s OK! That doesn’t mean there isn’t something that will work for you. It just means you need to focus on a setup that doesn’t require a belt. If you do wear a belt (or you would like to include one in your holster setup), just be sure to purchase one that is designed to work with a holster and a firearm.

How Much Money Are You Willing or Able to Spend on a Holster?

Some people don’t realize that a good holster can cost a pretty penny. But it’s definitely worth it! Don’t settle for a cheap holster or choose one because of cost alone. Do some research. Check out different manufacturers’ websites. Know the prices (or at least a range) before you shop. Then you are prepared to purchase the best holster (and the highest quality) for you.

Do You Have Any Limitations or Needs?

There are a host of other factors that may influence which holster you choose. They may include whether or not you have small children, are in a wheelchair, have limited movement in your left shoulder or have arthritis in your dominant hand. You might avoid cross-draw options for one of these reasons … or gravitate toward them. You might choose extra buttons, straps or security contraptions … or skip them altogether. Keep your own personal, unique situation in mind. And look for options that best fit your needs, your skills and your lifestyle.

USCCA Members get great discounts from multiple brands of holsters. Check them out on your Member page!