The second in a two-part blog series about getting started with concealed carry. The featured photo shows an individual wearing a Blade-Tech Leather Ultimate Carry Belt and carrying a Sig Sauer P229 in a Blade-Tech Total Eclipse Holster.
Concealed Carry with an Outside the Waistband (OWB) Holster
In the last blog post we talked about the different ways to carry Inside the Waistband (IWB) but what about Outside the Waistband? In the context of concealed carry, Outside the Waistband holsters seem counter intuitive. However with the right clothing, holster, and firearm it can be a very comfortable way to carry.
Outside the Waistband Holster (OWB)
When looking for an OWB holster for concealed carry, you’ll have to do a bit of digging to find the right one. Your typical off the shelf duty holster or range holster probably won’t due. Those style holsters will stick out too far and ride too low. Luckily that’s where pancake style holsters come in to play.
Pancake style holsters are low profile, slim, and hold close to the body. You would often see these style of holsters made of leather for 1911s and revolvers. However the traditional pancake holster has been modernized in recent years. Many companies are offering pancake style holsters made of polymer.
Polymer you say? Yes polymer. Leather holsters are often beautiful if crafted well but they have some negatives. A leather holster that has been well loved can end up collapsing or losing some of its structure. This can cause issues with retention as well as reholstering your weapon. Polymer holsters don’t suffer from the same issues. Unless severely damaged, it will never lose its shape. Quality polymer holsters offer a more tactile retention, easy adjustments, and some are compatible with a wide array of modular mounting options
Another option for OWB holsters that can be used are hybrid holsters. A hybrid holster is made of two or more materials. Often they’ll have a leather or neoprene backing and a kydex shell that provides the retention and protection.
Cant, the angle of the holster, is another facet of Outside the Waistband holsters that can make or break the holsters ability to conceal well. With a 0 degree cant, your holster will ride completely vertical. This can be great for consistent draws, however it can make concealing a larger firearm more difficult. Traditionally many holsters were designed around an FBI style cant, which tilts the holster forward 15 degrees. A firearm such as the Glock 17 may need an FBI cant in order to prevent the grip of the gun from printing. With smaller firearms such as the Glock 43 or Smith and Wesson Shield you may not need any cant in the holster as they are small enough to avoid any printing.
Dressing for the Part
If your objective is to take the concealed part of concealed carry seriously, you’ll have to tailor your clothing choices in order to conceal your firearm effectively. This is particularly true when trying to conceal an outside the waistband set up. Without too much effort you can conceal well with a jacket, hoodie, button-up, or even a sport coat. You’ll want to pay close attention to the angle of your holster and how long the grip is to avoid potentially revealing your firearm.
Individual is wearing a button-up to conceal their M&P in a Signature Holster.
Realistically, concealed carrying while using an Outside the Waistband holster has some hard limitations if concealment is the goal. When it’s 90 degrees in the summer, you can only wear so many layers to conceal your firearm. In our experience, it’s a great idea to have more than one holster for different styles of dress. This will give you more options and make you more comfortable to dress how you want instead of dressing around your firearm.
The Wrap Up
With all the holster variations out there it can become a bit overwhelming to understand what is right for you. Things like your body type, height, and clothing will play a big role when it comes to concealing a firearm. If your local gun shop carries holsters, ask them if you can try them on with the firearm you’re interested in. Most shops would be happy to oblige. Lastly, you may end up with several different styles of holsters before you find the right one for you. That’s why it’s important to have patience and do your research.