Benefits and drawbacks of an IWB holster

States policies on concealed carry in April 2015. Graphic by Wxstorm via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Hip holsters are often preferred by most gun owners for superior concealment of the gun they carry. Of the various hip holster designs available, the major distinction comes between inside the waistband (IWB) and outside the waistband (OWB) types.

Both types of holsters have distinct features, as well as shared similarities. This article will look closely at the IWB holster’s attributes, and more particularly, its pros and cons. Understanding these things help make well informed decisions and spare the budget from unnecessary purchases on pants, belts and accessories.


IWB mode of carry provides better concealment than OWB. It allows lighter or tight-fitting concealment garment (if you’re wont to wearing one) to provide more cover without exposing the holster and gun needlessly. When both gun and holster are tucked together inside the waistband, their exposure ends at the holster loops or clips attached to the belt. Whereas in OWB carry, the frame of both gun and holster are more prone to exposure from pulling up of shirt, requiring heavy and loose fitting garments for adequate concealment.

IWB holsters look discrete even with light clothing. The weapon hugs the body’s natural contour tighter without need of tightening the belt. It shows less profile print even on light outer clothing, allowing you to stay discretely armed.

Some IWB holsters need no belt. Owing to their lightness in design, some IWB holsters usually don’t even require a belt as they are held by sturdy metal clips that attach firmly to the pants’ upper hems, instead of the more time-consuming belt loops.

IWB works well with un-tucked shirts. Especially in warm weather, where vests, jackets or any heavy concealed carry attire is a no-no, carrying a gun under an un-tucked shirt is naturally the best option.

They don’t get in the way while you do your other activities. Because they’re tucked inside the waistband, they don’t get in the way as much as other types of holsters do.


IWB is not the most comfortable carry holster. Carrying your gun comfortably is, of course, very important. While IWBs score high in disguising a gun, it scores low in comfort. This is usually solved by choosing IWB holsters made of soft leather or nylon instead of rigid materials. Again, there’s a minor drawback there because it’s more difficult to re-holster a gun after it is drawn from the holster.

Harder to get a good grip when drawing gun. As you begin to draw you have to dig your fingers a bit harder between the gun and torso to enable you to get a good grip of the gun, which slows you down a bit. This could mean a lot for law enforcement personnel where time element is most essential in their line of work.

Usually more time-consuming to re-holster. If your holster isn’t a kydex IWB or without a steel-reinforced holster mouth, re-holstering your gun after drawing would be more difficult mainly because the holster tends to collapse due to the surrounding belt’s pressure on the now empty holster. As mentioned above, this now becomes a personal decision — whether to sacrifice comfort for ease of re-holstering.

IWB holsters require slightly oversized lower garments. If you want your holstered gun placed around the midline of your body comfortably, you need to wear pants with larger waistbands. That goes for the belt, too. This is not really a drawback, but if you’re just deciding to buy an IWB holster, it’s good to be aware that you may need to spend more on pants and belts with waistbands that are an inch or two larger than what you have in your wardrobe.

After we’ve presented you the highlights of how IWB concealed carry holsters work, the choice is now yours to make. But always keep in mind that what works perfectly well for an individual may not work at all for another.