While I generally go with waist carry, shoulder holsters are a viable option for bigger guys as long as you are comfortable with cross-drawing your weapon.
You reach under your arm instead of around the belly though, so unlike other holsters, this is probably the best choice if you want something that you can cross-draw with. It doesn’t require as much bending or flexibility to draw, either.
Below, I’ll give you some info that will make it easier to choose the right shoulder holster whether you’re big, tall, or both. Then we’ll get into my top picks for the best shoulder holster for fat guys.
If you’re more straight-to-the-point and just want to check out the products, here’s are the top contenders:
- Best Overall For Bigger Guys: Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Holster
- Best Leather Shoulder Holster: Galco Miami Classic Holster
- Best For Deep Concealment: AIKATE Shoulder Holster
- Biggest Shoulder Holster: Aker Comfort-Flex Shoulder Holster
- Best On A Budget: XAegis Shoulder Holster
Is a Shoulder Holster a Good Option for Conceal Carry for Fat Guys?
Yes, a shoulder holster is a good option for bigger guys wanting to conceal carry. It’s close enough to your body that cross-drawing is easy, plus it’s easy to keep concealed under clothing.
Shoulder holsters are also usually adjustable which is a feature you want when you are taller or broader in the chest or belly. Some other good choices for concealed carry as a big dude are IWB (inside the waistband) holsters, OWB (outside the waistband) holsters, belly band holsters, and gun belts.
What to Look for in Shoulder Holsters for Big Guys
If you’re new to conceal carry or just aren’t sure what to look for, this section should give you all the info you need to pick out the shoulder holster that works best for your body shape.
Style of Shoulder Holster
Basically, I’ve seen two styles of shoulder holsters. The first has two openings for your arms that are connected in the back. You put it on similar to the way you’d put on a dress shirt or a jacket and the actual holster is under your arm.
With this style of shoulder holster, it’s really easy to get the perfect fit as long as it’s made from good materials because most of them are adjustable. You’ll want a shoulder holster that wraps around the shoulders, but also clips to your pants or belt. This stops the holster from swinging when you bend, sit down, stand up, or move around.
The second type is a deep concealment shoulder holster, which has a strap that goes across the chest and one that goes across the shoulder. This is better for keeping your gun close to your body and there’s less chance of it shifting because of the design.
The biggest challenge with this style is that there aren’t as many models designed for big and tall men that might have broad chests. There are some viable options, though, and I recommended one below! Just be sure to know your chest measurements before you shop so you know if a holster will fit without having to try it on.
Compatibility with Your Gun
Shoulder holsters aren’t really made one-size-fits-all when it comes to compatibility with different guns. Factors like the barrel length, the thickness of the stock, and overall size change how your weapon sits in different holsters.
The best shoulder holster really isn’t worth anything if it isn’t comfortable and effective in carrying the type of gun you’re most likely to conceal carry. Something else to note is that they work best for smaller, more compact models because of where you conceal the gun. Something too wide or too long is going to stick out and be hard to keep hidden, even under your clothing.
The fit of the gun aside, retention (which is how securely the holster itself holds your gun, even when being jostled around) is also important. Holster retention is basically how well the holster retains your weapon.
Some have an open-top design and rely on friction to hold the gun in place, but others use a strap or a thumb break for added security. Personally, I prefer something with a little more security because the extra security measure doesn’t really hurt. Plus, the key to drawing quickly with any holster is practice and I don’t feel that extra level of security slows me down.
Materials really matter when it comes to how comfortable or uncomfortable a shoulder holster is. For example, I’ve found that while leather is a really nice material and it holds up well, it isn’t my first choice in the hotter months.
I don’t like when the leather sticks to my skin, so I usually wear it between an undershirt and whatever I’m wearing on top if I’m using a leather holster, whether it’s a golf shirt, dress shirt, hoodie, or one of those button-up Hawaiian-style shirts I like.
Alternatively, materials like Neoprene can be designed to allow airflow. This is generally my preference for sweating purposes, though I’ve seen holsters that combine the two materials for something that looks great but is still breathable and comfortable. Nylon is another material commonly used.
Something else you’ll want to consider is how thick the material is in some areas. The right padding really helps with comfort, especially in that area around the neck and shoulders.
With big and tall sizes, adjustability is really important. A good shoulder holster for a fat guy is going to be adjustable around the shoulder area and the waist. Generally, there’s a piece of material that goes across your chest/belly area too to add some stability to the shoulder holster, and that should be adjustable as well.
Something else to look for is adjustability in the overall length of the holster. A good shoulder holster is going to come with a connection that goes from the bottom of your holster to your belt or waistline to keep it from swinging freely under your arms. You’ll want this overall length to be adjustable too, especially if you carry your weight on the sides instead of toward the front of your body.
Something else that’s really important is flexibility. While material like leather isn’t the most stretchy, most companies add flexible joints or areas of elastic that lets the holster stay put, even when your body moves.
This is important when you’re trying to avoid printing, which basically means avoiding your gun being seen. You’ll most likely find stretch at the joints near the belt and on the shoulders.
Level of Concealment
The whole point of a shoulder holster is to keep your gun concealed until you need it. Conceal carry is all about avoiding printing, which happens when the “print” or outline of your gun shows through your clothing.
When I conceal carry as a bigger guy, I’ve noticed that the biggest obstacle is really being sure the holster stays flat against my skin and that the end or barrel of the gun isn’t making an awkward lump under my shirt.
Choosing the right type of clothing for conceal carry is equally as important as choosing the right holster. You want something that effectively holds your gun close to your body, without it shifting or moving too much when your body moves.
When you try out a new holster for the first time, put it on and adjust it so that it fits your body. Then, put your clothes over top and see how well/not well it stays concealed as you move around. This is even better if you can have a friend or your spouse look you over. They’ll be able to look for printing from areas you can’t.
The whole point of carrying a gun is to have it for protection should you ever need it. In most emergencies, speed is going to be a factor so you want to be sure that the holster you choose gives you that access you need for a quick draw.
Really, this comes down to factors like where the holster positions your gun, your arm length and flexibility, and the shape of your body. While the shoulder holsters I recommended below have been put to the test by a bigger guy like me, you still may want to try out an option or two if it’s possible before you decide which one you want to carry your gun in.
The style of holster also affects how you draw it. Shoulder holsters are usually designed with a horizontal or vertical hold, though they can also fall somewhere in between. Vertical holsters are generally used for smaller guns, while horizontal holsters are best for hunting or heavier guns.
Best Shoulder Holster for Fat Guys
If you skipped over the section above, some of the features we’ll definitely be looking at are fit (for both your body and your weapon), security, adjustability, and overall quality. Now, let’s get into some of my top picks.
Best Shoulder Holster for Big Guys Overall: Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Holster
- Maximum adjustability for bigger dudes
- Comes with belt/waistband clips for added security
- Really adjustable for the perfect fit, even if you're on the bigger size
- Custom molded to get the best fit for your weapon, too
There are two key features that really stand out and make this my top pick and they are the adjustability and comfort. If you’re going to conceal carry for long periods, then those really are a must. Plus, it’s easy to adapt the size to my bigger body.
This shoulder holster also has all the security features I was talking about earlier that I really like in a gun holster. It has clips for your belt/waist area to keep it flat against the body and overall, it has a slim profile that makes printing harder.
Each shoulder-strap set up comes with a custom-molded holster with adjustable retention so you can tighten/loosen and adjust as the leather breaks in over time. Plus, there is breathable neoprene on the back of the holster to prevent sweating and it’s compatible with other ShapeShift holsters from this brand, so you can switch your weapons out if you choose.
That being said, the custom molding doesn’t necessarily allow you to adjust the fit. It’s great for retention, but you will need to buy more than one holster if there’s a different model you conceal carry sometimes, too.
You can take a closer look, read more reviews from other big guys and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Leather Shoulder Holster: Galco Miami Classic Holster
- Harness fits chest sizes up to 52-inches
- Compatible with a wide range of handguns with 3-5-inch barrel
- Made from durable, high-quality leather that becomes soft as it wears in
- Horizontal holster, which might be easier for cross-drawing
Galco Miami is a great brand if you don’t mind spending a little more for high-quality leather. It is a little stiff at first, like you’d expect, but over the years it’s going to become a lot softer with wear. And I say years because this is going to be durable and last a really long time.
I’ll be honest, there’s a good chance that you’ll think the harness is too tight the first time you put it on. Leather is something that stretches as it is broken in though, which is the reason you have to break in a good pair of leather boots. Wear it for a few days (at least 24 hours total) and there are good chances it’ll fit better then.
Now, I don’t necessarily like that this doesn’t come with a suspender or belt hook. However, the style really keeps the holster in place so there isn’t a lot of swinging even if you’re moving around.
There’s a snap closure that adds an extra layer of security to the holster and this comes with screws, so you can make adjustments if needed. While this model is molded specifically to fit a 5-inch 1911 colt, it does work for other weapons with barrels between 3-5-inches.
You can take a closer look at the design, read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Deep Concealment Shoulder Holster: AIKATE Deep Concealment Shoulder Holster
- 51-inches to fit up to a 49-inch chest
- Best deep carry option when you want your gun safe and nearby
- Made from neoprene with breathable air holes to reduce sweat
- Extra foam pad inside the holster to keep it comfortable against your chest
The most obvious drawback to this is the size and while I wasn’t able to try this out myself, I do have friend that’s a little smaller than me (but still a big guy) who likes this for deep concealment. It should fit guys who have up to a 49-inch chest.
Most of the holster is made from neoprene and there’s visible air holes for ventilation. That’s good because the amount of fabric is a little bulkier, so sweat could be an option without them.
In addition to being breathable, there’s extra foam inside the holster where it comes into contact with your chest and it uses a Velcro strap for added security. It’s quick to remove and makes the holster adjustable for different gun sizes. The only downside is that Velcro isn’t super quiet if you’re trying to be stealthy.
Biggest Shoulder Holster: Aker Comfort-Flex Shoulder Holster
- Adjustable for up to 62-inch chest size, which is bigger than the average 4X
- Made from soft leather for more comfort out of the box
- Flexible material moves with your body to avoid printing
- Adjustable tension for a more comfortable fit
This made the cut simply because it’s one of the largest on the list and compatible with chest sizes up to 62″. You’ll see when looking at it that it has a curvier appearance and that’s from the “flex” part of the design.
The leather is flexible and feels pretty comfortable right out of the box, unlike other leather holsters that you typically have to break in. You will need to break in the holster itself though- it fits a little bit tight but gets easier to use after the first several draws.
The holster is molded for specific gun types for a better fit, but it does work with several popular models including 1911, Sig Sauer, Springfield, Glock, and more. You can see the full list of compatible firearms, read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Budget Shoulder Holster: XAegis Shoulder Holster
- Super adjustable design to fit the bigger dude
- Vertical design, which is great for security even when used with different gun types
- Well-padded in the shoulder area for better comfort
- Uses a double-thumb break for added security
While this is a more affordable gun holster, it really offers a lot as far as comfort and security. It’s fully adjustable around the back, neck, and shoulders and there’s lots of padding up top so it doesn’t dig into your skin. You can also switch the holster and the magazine, so it’s ambidextrous as well.
The holster works with a wide range of guns, including most that have a 3.5-inch to 5-inch barrel. The vertical design keeps the gun in place, plus there’s a double-thumb break across the top. Plus, this set up has the belt hook that I like.
That being said, the biggest downside with this is a little bulky on top. While the extra padding makes it super comfortable, you do have to be wary about outfit choices if you want to conceal carry completely.
Still, it’s a great pick for the price and you can take a closer look (and see today’s price) on Amazon by clicking here.
The art of conceal carry as a bigger guy has a lot to do with the holster you choose and how well it works for you. Shoulder holsters are great option, especially when they offer an adjustable fit. Being adjustable also adds to the comfort because the last thing you want to do is be stuck in an uncomfortable holster all day long.
Choosing a shoulder holster for fat guys shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you know your chest measurements. Hopefully, this article has helped point you in the right direction as well.
Feel free to drop a comment if there’s any shoulder holsters you think me or other bigger guys should try out. I’m always ready to try something new!