Two of the most popular holster options are IWB holsters and OWB holsters. Simply put, IWB stands for “inside the waistband” while OWB means “outside the waistband.” These terms are used to indicate whether your gun is concealed inside or outside of your waistband. There are many pros and cons to consider in choosing an IWB vs. OWB. Depending on your state’s laws, you may not be permitted to openly carry a firearm in public. Many people opt for an IWB for this reason. On the other hand, IWB aren’t always as comfortable as OWBs.
Whether you are looking for a way to carry an everyday firearm or whether you just need something to safely hold your pistol when you’re spending a day on the range, the market is full of holster options. The main thing you’ll need to look for when purchasing a holster is one that allows you to safely carry your firearm while still being able to access it quickly if a high-pressure situation arises.
Inside the Waistband (IWB Holsters)
Benefits of IWB Holsters:
- Better Concealment: This one probably goes without saying, but we believe that it bears mentioning. Having your holster concealed inside the waistband of your pants automatically provides more concealment. Many of our holsters are considered “thin profile,” which means that many people around you won’t even realize that you are carrying a concealed weapon inside the waistband of your pants. IWB holsters automatically provide better concealment than their OWB counterparts.
Maintain Weapon Control: If you are in a situation where you are attacked, it will be nearly impossible for your assailant to confiscate a firearm inside your waistband. Hopefully, you’ll never be put in a position where you must worry about someone snatching your weapon away from you, but responsible gun ownership includes having a plan for every possible scenario. Should you find yourself in a physical altercation, it’s unlikely that an assailant would be able to easily seize your weapon from an IWB holster.
- More Clothing Choices: It may sound superficial, but many gun enthusiasts don’t want to be limited in what they can wear based on their desire to carry a firearm for personal protection. Besides shying away from extremely tight pants, you can wear essentially any type of clothing while carrying an IWB holster. For example our expansive line of Kydex holsters are designed to contour your body. This means you can wear virtually any type of clothing.
Drawbacks of IWB Holsters
As with any purchase, IWB holsters also have their list of drawbacks. While they are still an excellent option for gun enthusiasts, you should probably consider the following potential issues:
- Requires Drawing Practice: If you are going to carry a firearm every day, you should be prepared to safely and effectively draw it and re-holster it without putting yourself or bystanders in harm’s way. To safely and draw and re-holster a gun in an IWB holster, you will have to spend time practicing. If you are in a position where you have to draw your weapon, you will not want to break your line of vision to re-holster. Re-holstering a gun in an IWB holster without looking down will require practice. While you should undoubtedly practice with OWB holsters as well, there is no denying that safe and efficient firearm use with an IWB holster typically requires more practice than OWB holsters.
- Can Be Less Comfortable: IWB holsters are widely seen as the less comfortable option when considering IWB vs. OWB. Kydex holsters can improve the comfort of IWB holsters. Still, if you are in a seated position for extended periods, you will probably feel some level of discomfort since the gun and the holster will be pressed directly against your waist or upper leg.
- More Danger Associated with Accidental Discharges: Responsible gun owners know that the first rule of gun safety states that you don’t point the gun at anything you aren’t prepared to shoot. This includes your own lower body. Due to how they are constructed, IWB holsters typically leave the firearm’s barrel pointed directly at your leg and foot. While the chances of an accidental discharge may be minimal, a single finger slip when you are trying to draw or re-holster your firearm can be dangerous with the gun pointed at your own lower body.
Outside the Waistband (OWB Holsters)
Benefits of OWB Holsters
While there is certainly plenty to be said about IWB holsters, OWB holsters provide their own list of practical benefits. Gun enthusiasts who choose an OWB holster can expect to enjoy some of the following:
Typically More Comfortable: While our IWB Kydex holsters have significantly increased comfort, many gun owners still say that OWB holsters are more comfortable. OWB holsters don’t allow any part of the gun or the holster to rest directly against your skin. If your everyday carry is a larger gun, the increased comfort provided by OWB holsters can be even more valuable.
- Quicker Draw: Typically, people who carry a gun on the outside of their waistband can draw their weapon more quickly than those who rely on an IWB holster. If you are ever put in a position where you need to draw your firearm, you know that every second matters. Unless you spend a great deal of time practicing drawing and re-holstering from an IWB holster, you will be able to act quicker with an OWB holster.
Drawbacks of OWB Holsters
Much like their IWB counterparts, OWB holsters also present their list of potential issues. Before you commit to an OWB holster, consider the following:
- Requires a Special Belt: Depending on the type of gun you carry, you will have to ensure that your belt is sturdy enough to support both your holster and your gun. While this may seem like a minor issue, it is still one that deserves discussion. Some firearms are considerably heavier than others, which means that not every belt on the market will securely carry the weight of these heavier guns. We always recommend wearing a gun belt and this belt is our favorite.
- Increased Risk of Gun Snatching: If you are in a physical altercation and your gun is placed outside of your waistband, there is a chance that a volatile situation can escalate. While this scenario is unlikely, you still need to consider the fact that a would-be assailant could more easily snach a gun from an OWB holster, especially if he or she managed to incapacitate you.
- Harder to Conceal: Unless you are prepared to commit to wearing baggy shirts or a jacket, OWB holsters are automatically harder to conceal than IWB options. Different states have different laws regarding the legality of weapons being carried openly or concealed, which may impact your decision to use an OWB holster.
Wrapping it up
Our team recognizes the importance of choosing the right holster for your firearm. Not only do we believe that the correct holster helps increase your gun safety, but we also know that having a high-quality holster ensures that you can safely draw and re-holster your weapon in any type of situation. Having the correct holster can be imperative when defending yourself, your family, and your Second Amendment rights. Be sure to check out our massive inventory of IWB holsters and OWB holsters when looking for a holster to fit your needs.