IWB Vs OWB For Concealed Carry | Concealed Carry Society (2023)

OWB and IWB are quite different ways to carry a handgun. But what are the benefits of each of these types of carry? Is one better than the other? That is precisely what we are here to find out.

Below we cover each of these two types of carry and the advantages that each type brings to the table. We also cover what to look for in an IWB and OWB holsters.

Check out our article Best Holsters for Concealed Carry!

What Is IWB Carry?

IWB stands for “Inside the Waistband”. Inside the waistband carry is when your holster is attached on the inside the waistband of your pants. This allows for a more concealable firearm and is used more often than outside the waistband when wanting to keep your gun hidden.

There are many positions inside the waistband that you can carry your gun. Usually anything IWB in front of your hips is referred to as AIWB…or appendix carry. Anything on the hips around to the back is referenced like a clock, with 12 o’clock being where your zipper is located. So if your gun is located on your right hip, it is at 3 o’clock. If it is between your right hip and center of your back, it would be located at about 4 or 5 o’clock.

Advantages of IWB Carry

IWB Vs OWB For Concealed Carry | Concealed Carry Society (1)

Carrying inside the waistband is extremely popular for concealed carry. While it may take a little while to get used to, if you are looking to conceal your firearm in the best possible way, this will be the best option for you.


The point of concealed carry is just that…its hidden. IWB offers the best way to keep your firearm hidden from the public. Keeping the gun hidden gives you three different advantages.

  1. Less attention from the public
  2. Less chance your firearm can be taken
  3. Opportunity of surprise on attacker

Having these three advantages is why you would conceal your firearm. The more concealable, the better these advantages are going to be.

State Laws

While we could argue “shall not be infringed” all day…the fact remains our lives could get very difficult if state law decides to step in and enforce their laws against open carry. Many states have requirements about how you can carry and if a permit is needed. Always check your state and local laws.

(Video) Massad Ayoob: The Pros and Cons of AIWB, IWB and OWB Concealed Carry Positions - Critical Mas Ep 15

USCCA has a great resource to help know each state’s laws on carrying a firearm. This is kept up to date and is very handy. While you are there, check out USCCA’s Membership Plans. They offer a wealth of info, training, and liability insurance to all members.

What To Look For In An IWB Holster

Like we mention in our Best Concealed Carry Holsters article, you want to look for Safety, Quality, Comfort, and Function in a holster. All four of these things are important to consider.

If you are carrying IWB, I would look for something that has as little material as needed to safely carry your firearm. If you favor comfort, a good soft backing with a kydex front might be best. If you favor function then a complete kydex holster may work best for you as it typically locks the firearm into place better.

Either way, be sure to get a holster that is safe, and that means completely covering the trigger.

We recommend Tulster holsters as they make two kinds of IWB holsters that work for most people. One is a simpler design with a large clip to attach to the belt, the other is a tuckable holster that allows you to also tuck in a shirt while wearing it.

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(Video) Concealed Carry Positions: Where to Carry and Why

What is OWB Carry?

OWB stands for “Outside the Waistband”. Outside the waistband carry is when your holster is attached on the outside of the waistband of your pants. This typically allows for a more comfortable carry experience at the cost of being a little less concealable. OWB does allow for a slightly more accessible firearm as well.

Outside the waistband carry doesn’t mean that you have to open carry. You can still carry concealed, however it can be a little more difficult than inside the waistband. But, with the newest holsters and attachment methods, OWB has become a little more concealed.

Advantages of OWB Carry

IWB Vs OWB For Concealed Carry | Concealed Carry Society (3)

Carrying outside the waistband is the way to go for open carry. Right there on your hip, ready to go when needed. However, recently, more and more people are starting to carry concealed OWB.

While outside the waistband is not as concealed as inside, it is becoming easier with many of today’s holsters and clothing options. Just find a quality holster that rides high and tight to the body and a shirt with enough room to hide it.

Easy Access

Your arms and hands naturally fall to your sides. Therefore, it is natural and easy to move your dominant hand from your side to your weapon in preparation for neutralizing a target. All you must do is point your muzzle upward from its holster and you will be able to fire.


Carrying a gun is going to be less comfortable than not carrying one. However, we always want to be carrying, so making it as comfortable as possible helps to ensure that you are doing so on a daily basis.

(Video) Tier1 + UltiClips | TUCKED Shirts, GYM Clothes, & LADIES wear

Some people just have trouble getting used to IWB carry and instead of not carrying a firearm, decide to move to OWB carry. Whatever ensures that you are keeping your gun on you every day…go with that.

What To Look For In An OWB Holster

To find a good OWB holster, you need to decide if you want to open carry or conceal carry.

If you are going to open carry you will need to find a holster with great retention. I like Safariland Holsters as they offer different levels of retention and work great. Many police departments use these.

If you want to carry concealed outside the waistband, find a holster that rides high and tight to the body. The closer to the body it rides, the more concealable it will be.

Tulster makes a great OWB holster called the Contour. It is our favorite for carrying concealed OWB.

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Tulster OWB Contour Holster

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(Video) The Truth About Concealed Vs Open Carry

Is IWB or OWB Carry Better?

A general rule of thumb is that IWB will be more concealable, while OWB will be more comfortable. The best way to figure out which type you prefer is to test out each. Using each type allows you to see what works with your body type, your abilities, and your clothing choices.

Another option is to get one of each. This way you have the option to change your carry method depending on where you are going and what you are doing.

If you shop around on our recommended gear section, you can find some great deals on holsters, so you can easily find the right one for you.


IWB and OWB carry positions are both great options that depend on your needs. If you are looking to carry as concealed as possible, or your local laws require it, then IWB may be the best option. However, there are many ways to carry OWB and still remain concealed. You will need to try both and see what works for you.

If you are looking to open carry, then an OWB holster on your strong side hip is perfect. There are many great holsters for this carry type. We have many great options of holsters that we recommend.

Whichever you choose, make sure you get yourself a great concealed carry belt. A good belt will help keep your holster right where you want it.

Just be sure to Carry Safe, Carry Smart, and Carry Daily!

(Video) New to Concealed Carry? WATCH THIS ASAP


Is IWB or OWB better for concealed carry? ›

IWB holsters are superior to OWB holsters when it comes to concealment. With IWB, the holster holds basically all but the handgun grip below the beltline, concealed by the trousers or shorts. Having loose-fitting trousers and shirts aids in the concealability.

Should I buy IWB or OWB? ›

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).

Are OWB holsters good for concealed carry? ›

Outside the waistband – or “OWB” – holsters are an excellent choice for both open and concealed carry. These commonly-used holsters are carried on the outside of your waistband and are known for being one of the most comfortable carry options available.

Is IWB or OWB more comfortable? ›

Comfort Level: While you can certainly find comfortable IWB holsters, especially as you grow accustomed to carrying, OWB holsters are typically more comfortable from the get-go because they're positioned outside the pants rather than against your skin.

What is the most comfortable concealed carry position? ›

OWB is the original form of carrying a handgun, with the holster hanging on your belt outside your waistband just like the westerns of old. Because the firearm is no longer between you and your clothing, this is the most comfortable carry method by far.

What is the most popular concealed carry position? ›

By far the most popular concealed carry positions are on or inside the waistband, because waistband carrying tends to work better than carrying positions like pocket, ankle or shoulder carrying. Since it's the most popular a vast selection of holsters are made for this purpose.

Why is OWB helpful? ›

OWB allows you to quickly develop even complex ETLs thus saving lots of time for the developers to work on other things. I would say OWB is a very convenient and easy to use tool.

Can you carry IWB without a belt? ›

This minimalist IWB holster is designed to be worn comfortably inside the waistband without a belt! No need to adjust your wardrobe to always wear a belt for concealed carry, with the Ulti-Clip your holster will securely fasten to any garment you ask it to.

Is IWB carry uncomfortable? ›

IWB Holsters (inside the waistband) holsters are the most uncomfortable because you have to tuck them into your pants. They also require you to wear pants 1 size larger than normal. If you are new to concealed carry buying a new wardrobe will add up to a big expense.

What holster Do FBI agents use? ›

A canted holster became associated with the FBI over the years, and has thus entered the gun/concealed carry lexicon. If you carry in a typical strong-side concealed carry holster, it's actually a good thing to have, but nothing to worry about if you don't.

What holsters do law enforcement use? ›

Patrol or duty holsters are generally going to be belt and hip mounted. These are the Safariland 6000 or 7000 model series duty holsters. The holster will use some form of UBL – Universal Belt Loop, and offer Level I – IV Retention.

Can you tuck in your shirt with a IWB holster? ›

Most holster clips attach directly to the holster, leaving no place to tuck in a shirt. On the other hand, IWB tuckable holsters are designed with a space between the clip and holster that you can slip your shirt into. The only thing visible once you tuck in your shirt is the clip itself.

What is strong side concealed carry? ›

Strong-side carry (IWB) means to carry a firearm inside the waistband of your pants at the 4 or 5 o'clock position (if the person is right handed).

What is the hardest state to get a CCW? ›

California has put itself as one of the hardest states to acquire a CCW permit. Unlike New York, California CCWs are to be renewed yearly and must have good causation as to why a person needs their CCW renewed.

What state is the easiest to conceal carry? ›

Top 5 - Best States for Concealed Carry
  • Arizona.
  • Kansas.
  • Idaho.
  • Kentucky.
  • New Hampshire.
Oct 23, 2020

What is the easiest gun to concealed carry? ›

The first and most popular concealed carry gun is the Glock 19. This model started the journey into smaller, "micro-compact pistols." The problem is the Glock 19 is still a "duty-sized" gun. Albeit it's a small one, it still is. Today, several smaller options have the same - or greater - capacity.

What is the safest concealed carry position? ›

With break action firearms and long guns without a sling, the side or elbow carry position is typically considered a safe way to carry. With commonly used handguns, the inside the waistband (IWB) position is often recommended for concealability, access, and convenience, although this is somewhat subjective.

What state has best gun control? ›

G&A's Best States for Gun Owners 2022
  • 2022 RANK. STATES.
  • New York.
  • Hawaii.
  • New Jersey.
  • California.
  • Massachusetts.
  • District of Columbia.
  • Connecticut.
Aug 22, 2022

What is the most common concealed carry caliber? ›

The 9mm Luger is currently the most popular cartridge for concealed carry in the US. It is also our top pick. Although 9mm Luger works well for the vast majority of shooters, it doesn't work for everyone all of the time.

Should I get a OWB holster? ›

Benefits of OWB Holsters for Concealed Carry

While it may sound counterintuitive, wearing an OWB holster can actually be more beneficial than using other concealed carry holster styles. One of the biggest issues with carrying a firearm inside the waistband is the time it takes to clear a garment out of the way.

Do I need a sweat guard OWB holster? ›

Generally speaking, OWB holsters don't really need a sweat guard. The gun usually rides far enough away from the skin not to cause comfort issues. OWB holsters do not typically need a sweat guard. It is more likely that when carrying IWB, parts of the gun will be pressed into the skin and cause discomfort.

Why do people wear shoulder holsters? ›

Why use a shoulder holster? In the broad strokes, a shoulder holster is best used if you find carrying on the waistband too uncomfortable. It's also a good solution if you find yourself taking your gun on and off frequently for various reasons. In these instances, a shoulder holster is an ideal solution.

Can you appendix carry with a IWB holster? ›

Generally, this position is used with an “In the Waistband” (IWB) holster to aid in concealment. Today, appendix carrying is a little more sophisticated than that of the 19th century, with specialized holsters, belts, and techniques making it a much safer, comfortable method of carrying.

Is a holster claw only for appendix carry? ›

Many of our employees use the holster claw, and we have found that it works in almost every position. While it may be said that you can only carry with an IWB holster claw in the appendix position, the claw utilizes the leverage of the belt to push the grip of your gun toward your body no matter what position it is in.

Is it OK to carry without a holster? ›

Even if you dedicate a pocket for your handgun, there is nothing to hold the firearm securely, protect the trigger, and keep the barrel pointed in a safe direction, putting you at risk of a negligent discharge. In short, all holsterless carry methods are unsafe.

What size is best for concealed carry? ›

Typically concealed carry guns are best when they are a compact size or smaller. Compact firearms are usually about a 4” barrel. Most concealed carry holders will recommend a sub-compact, those are also the most popular firearms to carry every day.

Why is my IWB holster uncomfortable when sitting? ›

The firearm may be the wrong size for that holster, verify that the firearm you are carrying is in the correct size holster. If the firearm is too large it will be uncomfortabl when sitting. If we sent you the wrong size please let us know and we'll be happy to swap that out for you.

What is the best concealed carry for skinny guys? ›

Summary. Some concealed carry positions are better for one body type over others. If you are a skinny guy, appendix carry may be the easiest and most comfortable for you. If you consider yourself to be average build you can carry in whatever position is most comfortable for you.

What is the best holster to conceal a full size pistol? ›

Holster Choices

A well-made IWB holster or belly band holster is a much better alternative than using the more limited small-of-the-back carry method to conceal a full-sized handgun.

Can fat guys appendix carry? ›

Can you appendix carry with some extra fat? Absolutely! Appendix carry is an excellent choice for those of us with a few extra pounds in the gut area, as it can actually help conceal your firearm at times.


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