IWB vs OWB: Which Should You Choose?

man carrying handgun using IWB holster (inside the waistband) with a concealed carry belt from Blade-Tech Holsters



Concealed carry comes with a sense of security and confidence. Your strong hip is the best bet for safely carrying a firearm. First, you don't have to change your grip when duty calls, and it's easier and faster to shoot.

You need an excellent holster and concealed carry belt to hold your firearm for maximum balance, safety, comfort, and concealment. The choices might be limitless, but the big question is which type of holster to consider: IWB vs OWB.


Inside Waistband (IWB) Holsters

An Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster allows you to carry your gun inside your waistband. In this case, the pistol is well-concealed inside your pants while the grip sticks above your waistline for easy drawing and firing.

IWB holsters come in different materials, including Kydex, nylon, or leather. They use either clips or loops to attach to your belt system. There are also other IWB holsters that you can carry without attaching to a belt, but these aren’t recommended as they offer no stability, may hinder your ability to draw and fire, and may sag.

The perfect choice of an IWB vs OWB holster depends on weighing the pros and cons of each and picking what works best in your situation.


Pros of IWB

The right choice of a holster depends on several factors. Here are some reasons you may opt for an Inside Waistband (IWB).

    • Concealment

      Concealment is one of the dominant reasons most people find IWB holsters excellent. An IWB carry keeps a large part of your gun buried in your pants, except for the grip. Some holsters even allow you to tuck in your shirts.

    • Dress-Code Versatility

      Carrying IWB allows you more choices in terms of dressing. You can wear a shirt and tuck in, clad tank tops, t-shirts, etc. But, there's a limit to this, as you'll need slightly baggy pants to bury your firearm. 

    • Stability

      IWB holsters encourage three contact points between your body and the gun, boosting holster stability.

    • Carry Options

      While the IWB is a strong side carry, you can flawlessly and comfortably change between appendix, hip, or small back carry.

Cons of IWB

IWB holsters come with a humble share of disadvantages too. Here are a few points to note. 

    • Comfort

      While an IWB holster works perfectly for concealment, it may not be the best choice for your comfort, especially if you're carrying a gun for the first time. The firearm brushes against the skin inside your pants. That may cause discomfort until you get used to it, lead to rashes, or develop red marks on your skin.

    • Pant Choices

      Carrying the gun inside your pants means you'll need an extra inch or two to compensate for the space where your holster and firearm rest.

      Still, people are different, and the market booms with varying types of IWB holsters. Thus, you may want to shop around and find a comfortable choice before deciding on an IWB vs OWB holster.

Outside the Waistband Holster (OWB)

Outside the Waistband (OWB) holsters come in three types: belt slides, pancakes, and paddles. A pancake OWB concealed carry comes with two pieces of material held together, with the firearm passing through them. Their paddle counterparts feature clips attaching to the belt and a solid back.

On the other hand, the belt slides enable you to thread your belt through the holster.

The holsters come in different materials, including Kydex, fabric, leather, or polymer injected. Unlike their IWB counterparts, OWB holsters attach to your belt from outside the pants.


Pros of OWB

Are you wondering which holster to pick between IWB vs OWB? Here are some reasons you may love OWB holsters.

    • Gun Variety

      IWB holsters are good for concealment but not suitable for large gun sizes. OWB options, on the other hand, allow for more versatility and can carry larger gun sizes.

    • Comfort

      The OWB holsters strap on your belt from outside. Thus, they feel more comfortable and limit irritating body contact. Also, OWB holsters don’t restrict the size of pants you wear since you don’t need extra space as with IWB.

    • Faster Draw and Fire 

      The gun is outside. Thus, drawing is much faster and more consistent than when using an IWB.

Cons of OWB

Even the best OWB holster may sometimes come with disadvantages. These include: 

    • Less Stability

      Belt slide holsters, for instance, may move along the length of your belt to the next loop, derailing your ability to draw the weapon quickly. 

    • Dress Choice

      An OWB will require you to wear jackets, add blazers, or don baggy tops to hide the concealed carry.  

IWB vs. OWB: Which Is Right for You?

The best holster between an IWB vs OWB depends on several factors. First, an IWB is the best if you're looking for more concealment. However, many people find the body contact upsetting and prefer the comfort of carrying an OWB.

Besides, the choices of both categories are numerous, and people adapt to each differently. Thus, the best choice is to have both types if you can afford them. Get yourself an OWB, experience the advantages, purchase an IWB, and enjoy the benefits.

That way, you'll get to know the option that works best for you. Also, getting the right concealed carry belt to use with your IWB vs OWB holster makes a big difference.

Blade-Tech Holsters offer the best choice of each design. Check out what we have for IWB holsters, compare it with our top-rated OWB

choices, and pick a match for your needs and preferences.

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