IWB or OWB: Which is the Best Holster For Concealed Carry?

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By Joel Jefferson •  7 min read

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:

IWB or OWB: Which is the Best Holster
  1. Do you wear Inside the Waistband (IWB) or Outside the Waistband (OWB)?
  2. 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.

owb holsters, outside the waistband carry option

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:

  1. It is a tool that you may need instantaneously and with minimal effort.
  2. You must be able to withdraw your handgun effortlessly.
  3. 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?

carry concealed belt slide holsters to keep gun secure under untucked t shirt

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

everyday carry, right holster

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 disadvantages of IWB carry are:

outside the waistband carry options for regular wear on a gun belt

The advantages of OWB carry:

The disadvantages of OWB  carry:

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

IWB holster carry method with gun belt and cover garment

Kydex holsters have really set the standard for IWB carry. There are so many advantages of Kydex holsters when IWB concealed carry:


OWB Holster

waistband holsters

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:

Key Points

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

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.