About the Study Guide

You are looking at the Washington Handgun Education Study Guide. At the present time, you cannot obtain handgun education certification from Handgun Safety Course. However, you can use this Study Guide as a resource to learn more about handgun safety.

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Video Transcript

Hunter stands with an array of holsters spread across his bed.


What to wear, what to wear, what to wear? Sometimes I just can’t stand all the choices. Which holster do I wear today? Do I want my inside-the-pocket holster? My shoulder holster? My cross-draw holster? My tactical holster? My ankle holster? The speed-draw holster? My Cowboy Action holster? My pancake holster?

Now Hunter is in the living room.


Well, yes, that was a bad holster morning. But I’ll bet you didn’t know there were so many different kinds of holsters.

Now Hunter stands in an Old West main street.


Most everyone thinks of the Old West holsters, the toter to cowboys’ six guns. Real cowboys wore their guns on their hips, not way down on their thighs like Hollywood tries to make us believe. Obviously, the purpose of a holster is to allow you to carry your handgun with you, but not have to carry it in your hand. If your purpose for owning a gun is plinking, recreational, or many forms of competitive shooting, or even protection in your own home, you probably don’t need a holster at all.

Now Hunter stands in front of a table displaying a wide variety of holsters. Andrea and another man and woman walk in.


Before you set about selecting the right holster for you, stop. Laws regarding carrying guns in holsters vary from state to state, and you need to know them. In some states, you can’t carry concealed, but you can carry in the open. In others, you can’t carry in the open, but you can carry concealed with a permit. Know the laws before you go holster shopping. Holsters are also specific to the handgun you own. There’s no chicken or egg question here. You need to get your gun first, then decide which holster to buy. Not only will the wrong holster be inconvenient and uncomfortable, it is downright dangerous. You must choose a holster designed for your specific handgun. The two basic categories of holsters are concealed carry and open carry.

On screen: CONCEALED CARRY—Keep handgun from sight using your wardrobe.


Concealed carry models are designed to hide your gun from sight, but keep in mind they rely on help to do that from your wardrobe.

On screen: Consider a special purse, pouch, or pack.


Often, the best choice for concealed carry is to utilize a specially-built purse, pouch, or fanny pack.

On screen: Make sure your holster is convenient and comfortable.


While some holster designs and locations do a great job of hiding the fact that you are carrying a handgun, they are extremely awkward and slow to access. So what good is having the gun with you if you can’t get it out when you need it? Handgun hunters sometimes use holsters for their large, break-action scoped pistols. These are usually across the chest, bandolero style, to distribute the weight of these big guns comfortably on the shoulders. There are also slings available to carry these guns that can aid in steady shooting if a rest is not available. Some kinds of competitive handgun shooting require you to draw your handgun, fire, reload, and fire some more. There are special holster rigs for these events, too. There may be a holster in your future. If there is, a well-stocked gun shop with a bunch of different holsters to try is the place to begin your search.