There are countless brands and styles of holsters, magazines, ear protection, eye protection, belts etc. Many of the items you see for sale will be very good accessories, however, there is a lot of stuff out there that I would consider a waste of money. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to know which which is which is through trial and error. However, if you shop judiciously, you may be able to avoid purchasing gimmicky or poor quality gear.
An accessory should fit the purpose you intend for the firearm. The key decision making points I use when purchasing a piece of gear include:
- Does the holster have design flaws that may lead to a safety failure? Some holsters are so weak or floppy that a trigger can be depressed even inside the holster. I prefer kydex (heavy plastic) or stiff leather holsters. I recommend you stay away from nylon and thin leather holsters as a rule. Once you have gained some experience with carrying a firearm, you may see a use for less substantial holsters, but you should always be aware of the likelihood of accidental discharge, loss of control, or damage to the firearm as a result of that holster.
- Do I need to conceal the item? Some accessories are specifically made for a deeper concealment. Typically, they will be inside the waistband or IWB items. Outside the waistband (OWB) accessories can be concealed but they may require additional clothing items to effectively cover the firearm or spare magazines.
- Will it last? Buy once, Cry once. Buying cheap equipment will cost you in the long run and may be a safety concern in the short run.
- Will the belt support a holster? Many “regular” belts will not support the extra weight of a firearm, especially in an OWB holster.
With regard to ear protection, I prefer to use the electronic types so that I can hear low volume noises such as range commands and instruction while blocking out the high volume noise of gunfire.
Eye protection is also very important since hot brass and sometimes bits of metal and ricochets may be flying around the range. This risk of being hit in the eye by something hot and sharp increases with a crowded range, use of steel targets, or use of inappropriate targets.
If you are concerned that the item may not be up to the task: I am very responsive to questions and will try to help you avoid buying something you will regret if you consult me beforehand.