Pros and Cons of IWB vs. OWB
You have many different options for holsters and carry positions when it comes to packing a concealed firearm. It is vitally important that you choose a carry option that is both safe and convenient for you.
One of the safest and convenient places to carry a firearm is on the strong side of your hip. This position is beneficial because your firearm is easily accessible. It’s simply natural to want to put your hand down by your hip to draw your firearm.
If you do end up choosing a strong side hip holster, you will have two primary options here as well: OWB or outside-the-waistband and IWB or inside-the-waistband. The name of these types of holsters is exactly what they suggest: OWB are held outside of your pants (usually either to your belt or via a paddle that snugs into your pants), while IWB means that the pistol is held inside your pants, with the grip sticking out above your waistline so you can secure a full firing grip over the weapon before drawing.
The purpose to both IWB and OWB holsters are to protect your trigger guard in order to prevent the chance of an accidental discharge. They also keep the gun secured in one place, protect the surface and the finish from the outside elements, and ensure stability for carrying about your day.
But which one is better for you?
Both IWB and OWB holsters have their place, and both will serve you well. Here are the primary pros and cons of each:
Pros and Cons of IWB Holsters
The Pros of Inside the waistband holster
The first and biggest benefit to an IWB holster is that it is far more concealable. The holster and most of your gun disappear under your pants, with only the grip of the gun visible above, and it can be concealed under your shirt. Simply put, IWB holsters are far more easy to conceal and go about your day with than OWB holsters.
Another big benefit to IWB holsters is stability. This is because IWB holsters come with three contact points with your body, two on the belt, and one where the holster is pressed against your torso. This is beneficial because as you go about your day, the holster and the gun will remain stable and not move around as much. It helps keep everything more concealable, and it makes it easier for forget that you even have the firearm with you.
One more advantage to IWB holsters is the fact that you have a myriad of different carry positions, as you can carry it strong side hip, appendix carry, or at the small of your back.
The Cons of Inside the Waistband holster
The biggest negative to IWB holsters is that, depending on the person or what you’re wearing, they are not always the most comfortable. After all, the holster and the gun is held inside of your pants. Many people are forced to buy pants or shorts that are one size larger around the waist than they would normally wear in order to accommodate the gun (although again, it really depends on the person).
Having a pistol inside your pants could also make your pants feel tighter and dig higher into your body. That’s also not to mention that you’re going to have a pistol directly up against your skin all day too. In some cases, this can lead to red marks and rashes.
Of course, everyone is different, and there are also a litany of different IWB holsters available. You can test out different ones, and you will find that many IWB holsters are far more comfortable than others.
Pros and Cons of OWB Holsters
The Pros of Outside the Waistband Holster
OWB holsters are the main alternative to IWB holsters. Most OWB holsters are essentially the same holster as their IWB counterparts, only they are designed to be worn on your belt outside of your pants.
There are also many advantages to an OWB holster over an IWB. For most people, OWB will be more comfortable. You simply strap or secure the holster to the outside of your pants. An IWB holster will be kept in your pants, which as we discussed previously could necessitate you needing to get a larger pant size. At the very least, an IWB holster is most likely going to cause your pants to pull more tightly against your body.
Another advantage to an OWB holster, and this is perhaps most important of all, is it makes it faster to draw your firearm. How fast you can draw depends on the specific holster you are using and practice too of course, but generally speaking OWB holsters are more accessible.
The Cons of Outside the Waistband Holster
Many people believe that OWB holsters are not concealable, but the truth is it depends on the person and on the holster. Some OWB holsters hold more tightly to the body to be more concealable. With a long enough T-shirt, sweatshirt, jacket, or coat, they can be concealable. It’s up to you to test out different options to see for yourself.
That being said, while many OWB holsters are very concealable, for the most part IWB holsters are much easier to conceal because more of the gun and holsters are hidden. Therefore, you will need to get creative with concealing an OWB holster.
Conclusion of IWB vs OWB Holsters
Should you get an OWB or IWB holster? The prime solution is simple: get both and use them both depending on your needs. IWB holsters will generally be better for situations when it is of the utmost importance to conceal your firearm, such as in your everyday life, while OWB Holsters will be better for situations when it is not overly necessary to keep the gun concealed (such as when you’re embarking on a hike out in the woods).
Of course, remember to invest in holsters that are both comfortable and quality. Shop around and test out different choices, including customized options, before you settle on what works the best for you.