When it comes to carrying a concealed firearm, selecting the right holster is of utmost importance. Two popular choices among gun owners are the Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) holster and the Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) holster. Both options offer unique advantages and considerations that gun owners should be aware of. In this article, we'll explore the differences between IWB and OWB holsters to help you make an informed decision when it comes to carrying your firearm discreetly and comfortably.

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Holsters:

IWB holsters are designed to be worn inside the waistband, against the body, typically at the hip or appendix position. They are secured by clipping or sliding onto the belt and are often made from materials such as Kydex, leather, or nylon. The key features and advantages of IWB holsters include:

Concealment: The main advantage of an IWB holster is its superior ability to conceal a firearm. The positioning of the holster inside the waistband allows clothing to drape over it, effectively hiding the gun from view. This makes IWB holsters an excellent choice for those who prioritize discreet carry.

Comfort: IWB holsters generally offer a higher level of comfort due to their position against the body. The holster's interior is often padded or designed with ergonomic considerations, providing a better fit and reducing potential discomfort during extended periods of wear.

Accessibility: While IWB holsters may be slightly more challenging to access quickly than OWB holsters, proper training and practice can mitigate this concern. With the right technique, drawing from an IWB holster can be performed efficiently and safely.

Clothing Style: IWB holsters are well-suited for individuals who wear looser-fitting clothing or those who prefer a more discreet appearance. The firearm remains tucked inside the waistband, minimizing printing or any visible indication that a gun is being carried.

Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Holsters:

OWB holsters, as the name suggests, are worn on the outside of the waistband, typically on the hip. They are attached to the belt with loops or clips and are commonly made from materials like Kydex, leather, or polymer. Here are some notable features and advantages of OWB holsters:

Accessibility: OWB holsters excel in providing quick and easy access to the firearm. The positioning outside the waistband allows for a natural and unobstructed draw, making them ideal for open carry or situations where speed is paramount.

Retention and Stability: OWB holsters generally offer a higher level of retention and stability compared to IWB holsters. The added space outside the waistband allows for more secure retention systems, such as adjustable tension screws or retention hoods, which enhance gun security.

Comfort (in certain situations): While comfort can be subjective and dependent on personal preference, some individuals find OWB holsters more comfortable, especially in terms of reduced pressure against the body. They also allow for better airflow and ventilation, which can be advantageous in hot climates.

Clothing Style: OWB holsters typically require longer shirts or jackets to effectively conceal the firearm. They are commonly used by individuals who prefer open carry or live in areas where concealed carry is not a legal requirement.

Choosing the Right Holster for You:

When deciding between an IWB and OWB holster, several factors should be taken into account:

Concealment vs. Accessibility: Consider whether you prioritize concealed carry or quick access to your firearm. IWB holsters are generally better for concealment, while OWB holsters offer fasteraccess to your weapon. Think about your specific needs and the situations in which you plan to carry your firearm.

Clothing Style: The type of clothing you wear regularly can influence your holster choice. IWB holsters work well with looser-fitting clothing, as they can be easily concealed. OWB holsters may require longer shirts or jackets to effectively conceal the firearm.

Body Type and Comfort: Your body shape and personal comfort play a significant role in holster selection. Experiment with different holsters to find the one that fits you comfortably and provides optimal concealment without sacrificing accessibility. Consider factors such as the holster's material, padding, and adjustability.

Retention and Security: Assess the level of retention and security you desire for your firearm. OWB holsters generally offer more options for securing the weapon, such as adjustable tension screws or retention hoods. If you value enhanced retention, an OWB holster may be the better choice.

Training and Familiarity: Regardless of the holster type you choose, it is essential to undergo proper training and practice regularly. Becoming proficient in drawing and reholstering your firearm from your chosen holster will enhance safety and ensure efficient use in critical situations.


Choosing between an IWB and OWB holster ultimately depends on your personal preferences, concealment needs, and accessibility requirements. IWB holsters offer superior concealment and comfort, making them suitable for discreet carry, while OWB holsters prioritize quick access and stability. By considering factors such as concealment, accessibility, clothing style, body type, personal comfort, and retention options, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your specific needs and preferences. Remember, responsible and safe firearm carry is of utmost importance, so always prioritize training and practice with your chosen holster to ensure you can confidently and safely carry your firearm.

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