Concealed carry has numerous questions that must be addressed to be effective and meet the important criteria of ease of access to your handgun. Two of these questions are:
- Do you wear Inside the Waistband (IWB) or Outside the Waistband (OWB)?
- Which holster provides the most comfort and ease of access to your handgun?
Naturally, there are several other issues that you must address when concealed carrying such as cover clothing, belt, and size of the handgun.
However, how you wear your handgun and what holster you chose both play a vital roles in many aspects of concealed carry.
Three Considerations for Concealed Carry Holsters
Prior to discussing the pros and cons of the above-mentioned topics, it is important that we review the reasons and practicality of why you are wearing a firearm. There are three very important criteria you must consider when wearing a firearm:
- It is a tool that you may need instantaneously and with minimal effort.
- You must be able to withdraw your handgun effortlessly.
- If you draw your handgun, then it must be easy to put it back into the holster safely.
All of these factors are influenced by how you are wearing and concealing your firearm. Thus, your holster is a vital part of meeting the expectations of the criteria listed above.
Also read: Ten Tips Everyone Should Know Before Carrying Concealed
How Do You Want To Carry?
This is a huge question based on numerous factors such as laws in the location where you are carrying, why are you carrying, weather, and the activity you are planning while wearing. Several factors must be taken into consideration when wearing your handgun.
1. Local Laws
Local laws play a role in deciding how you are going to conceal your firearm. For example, in some states, open and conceal carry is legal. Thus, being highly concerned about concealment is not so much an issue.
On the other hand, some states have strict concealment laws and maintaining concealment at all times is critical. So when making the decision on “How to concealed carry” the local laws must be the determining factor to making that call.
2. Why Are You Carrying?
Why are you carrying? The answer is simple, in case you encounter a situation that requires you to draw your firearm. In most of those situations, you wish to use all you can to your advantage.
3. Your Advantages
There are five attributes you can use to your advantage in a bad situation: Situational Awareness, Stealth, Distance, Darkness and Speed. Taking these elements into consideration is one of the decisions making factors when deciding How to Carry and What Holster.
Keep The Weather In Mind
Weather is one of the major factors affecting how you are going to carry and concealment. For example, if it is winter and you are in an area where jackets and sweaters are needed then concealment becomes easier.
However, as the weather warms and you are wearing shorts and tee shirts, concealment and holster stability become more concerning.
Level Of Activity
The activity you are participating in plays an additional role in deciding how to carry and what holster you need. Naturally, if you are only going to the mall or grocery store, then it is less likely you will be concerned with concealment and holster security.
On the other hand, if you are going bike riding, running, or walking in the park, then it is reasonable to be more concerned about concealment and holster security.
With all these considerations in mind, let’s talk about: is an IWB holster or an OWB holster the best way for concealed carry?
IWB Holster vs OWB Holster Pros and Cons
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of IWB concealed carry and OWB:
The advantages of IWB carry are:
- The holster and firearm are held close to your body.
- The holster is more secure and stable.
- The holster and handgun are less bulky, thus more concealable.
- Less clothing or cover garments are needed.
- Less likely to get caught on things such as seat belts.
- It is less likely anyone will see the holster and handgun if inadvertently exposed.
- The holster can be more easily adjusted to allow you to access it.
- There are more locations such as appendix carry or even 6:00 (middle of your back) you can carry IWB.
The disadvantages of IWB carry are:
- You must have pants that allow you to wear IWB.
- The holster can be uncomfortable if not worn correctly.
- It is more adaptable for compact and sub compact handguns.
- You have less access to increased levels of retention such as thumb brakes.
The advantages of OWB carry:
- It can be easier to access your handgun.
- Larger selection and styles of holsters.
- Can wear a larger assortment of handguns, such as full size.
- Can make it easier to wear an extra magazine
The disadvantages of OWB carry:
- Can be bulky and harder to conceal
- May need to wear more cover clothing
- Can interfere with seat belts and get caught on things
- Can be less secure to your body that IWB
So, now we must decide which type of holster is best for concealed carry. If you do not have an excellent holster that fits you and your handgun well, then you will be constantly adjusting it and feel uncomfortable.
Also Read: Survival Gear Review: Craft Leather Pancake Holster
Kydex IWB Holsters
Kydex holsters have really set the standard for IWB carry. There are so many advantages of Kydex holsters when IWB concealed carry:
- Provides consistent and repeatable draw effort. This is incredibly important when practicing, wearing different attire, and being comfortable with managing your handgun.
- Stays secure. It will not move if you’re running, crawling on the ground, or changing positions.
- Does not collapse when the handgun is removed, thus making reholstering safe and easy.
- Is easily removed and replaced.
- Easy to draw from and reduces the need for additional levels of retention.
- Easy-to-feel secured retention when replacing the firearm into the holster.
- Highly durable.
- Easy-to-adjust cant, and in some cases, the height of the holster attachment to your belt
OWB holsters allow for more flexibility in the materials they are made from. Kydex holsters are equally and well proven with OWB concealed carry. Leather holsters can be equally comfortable and effective. Listed below are some key points to choosing an OWB holster for concealed carry:
- There is less concern about the holster collapsing when the handgun is removed.
- You have a larger assortment of holster attachments to your belt.
- You can have added levels of retention that can be more easily managed with OWB holsters.
- A wider range of material may be selected for OWB holsters.
There is plenty to think about when choosing your method of carrying a handgun and the holster you select. It is not something you should take lightly, as there are many key factors that go into choosing a holster and determining your method of carry.
One final note: When choosing a holster, make sure you choose a holster maker with a strong commitment to quality, an excellent reputation for customer service, and a wide range of products. There are lots of holster makers out there, and you are buying something that you may need in a life and death situation, so you want the something you can count on.
All Photos by Drew and Doc Montana