The Colt Automatic Pistol was designed by John Moses Browning in cooperation with Colt’s technical staff was and adopted by the U.S. Army as the M1911. For almost 75 years, the M1911 and M1911A1 pistols served the United States military in multiple wars and police actions.
Despite its replacement by the 9mm Beretta M9 in 1985, the 1911 design remains popular among private citizens for self-defense and competitive target shooting.
Springfield Armory's 1911 line
If you carry a 1911, you need a holster to match, and leather beautifully complements the design of this classic workhorse. Gun owners choose leather because it’s cosmetically attractive, soft against the skin, quiet to draw from, and comfortable to wear.
However, it’s still important to look for the elements that combine to create a safe, reliable, and rugged leather holster.
What to Look for in a 1911 Leather Holster
A suitable leather holster for 1911 pistols needs to meet several key requirements, such as:
A durable 1911 holster in leather should safeguard your weapon against impact and abrasion. It should also last, keeping its shape and retention under various adverse conditions, whether on the street, at the range, or in the wilderness.
Premium, vegetable-tanned cowhide leather using multiple layers ensures that the shell is rigid and resistant to wear. Our Independence leather holsters only use the finest full grain leather, which is the strongest and toughest kind available.
A loose-fitting holster is unsafe and impractical, especially when there are no additional fasteners, such as a thumb break or active locking system. In passive retention holsters, the fit between the leather and the gun’s exterior surfaces must be tight enough to keep the gun in place.
Ideally, the retention level should be adjustable. By tightening or loosening one or two screws, you can determine the force you must apply to break the gun free. At We the People Holsters, all our holsters use passive retention for the fastest and most efficient draw stroke possible. Our holsters are open top, so there’s also nothing to cover the manual safety on your 1911, ensuring you can disengage it quickly as you draw.
The leather holster should fit your 1911 like a glove for the smoothest draw possible. We The People Holsters molds each Independence leather holster to your specific firearm, providing the maximum degree of passive retention possible.
A holster that has a grain-side interior is softer and less abrasive than other designs. Many 1911 pistols have a blued or parkerized finish, which is more susceptible to holster abrasion than ferritic nitrocarburizing such as Glock's Tenifer and Menonite finishes. The We The People Holsters Independence IWB and OWB holsters use grain-side leather for the interior to reduce wear on the pistol. This is even more important when the holster relies on a tight fit to hold the gun in place.
Comfort is critical
Your holster should be comfortable to wear. In IWB carry, comfort is especially critical, as the tension of the waistband presses the holster directly against your body.
Leather is generally considered more comfortable than hard thermoplastics because it’s softer and molds to your body over time. However, if you’re concerned about chafing due to perspiration, wear a thin layer between the holster and your skin. We The People Holsters uses cowhide in both IWB and OWB configurations, combining comfort and rigidity for a balanced option.
Choose the right carry method
If you own a compact or subcompact 1911 pistol, consider an IWB holster for increased concealability. While the Commander has the same size frame as the Government Model, the shorter slide and barrel take up less space inside your pants. The Defender’s reduced height prints less in this carry method, but its design lends itself to deep concealment.
For a full-sized Government Model or long-slide 1911 pistol, many gun owners find outside the waistband (OWB) more comfortable because there’s more space outside the pants for the increased length. As the holster is not held as tightly against the body, OWB is generally less concealable than IWB. You may have to cant the holster forward more to compensate for the increased height (the distance between the top of the slide and the bottom of the magazine).
IWB and OWB Holsters
If you’re interested in carrying your 1911 in a leather holster, you have to decide whether you prefer inside or outside the waistband.
At We The People Holsters, we offer our Independence line of leather holsters in two configurations: IWB and OWB. Both types are available for the three primary 1911 variants: Government (5”), Commander (4”), and Defender (3.25”).
Our vegetable-tanned, hand-crafted IWB Independence leather holster uses two belt clips to attach to your gun belt securely. This ensures the holster distributes the weight uniformly and the weapon remains in the same position throughout the day. The Independence IWB holster also has a low-profile design for discreet carry, holding the weapon close to the body. The heavy-duty stitching ensures durability, while the inner grain-side layer protects your 1911 against wear and tear.
The clips are tuckable for maximum concealment, allowing you to tuck your shirt into your pants between the holster and the clips. Featuring a double-layer shell for increased durability and multiple options for cant and ride height, the IWB holster is highly versatile.
If you prefer carrying outside the waistband — whether for comfort or access — our OWB Independence holster can meet your concealed carry needs.
As with our IWB holster, this design uses vegetable-tanned leather and offers cant and ride-height adjustability. Instead of using belt clips, this holster uses a reinforced belt loop — 1.5” standard. A tail fin holds the holster close, keeping printing to a minimum.
For the Best, Carry We The People Holsters
Whether you want a leather or Kydex holster for your 1911 pistol or another handgun, we offer the best designs on the market at We The People Holsters.
Our IWB and OWB holsters combine a glove-like fit with comfort and durability.