IWB vs OWB For Concealed Carry

IWB vs OWB For Concealed Carry

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

Advantages of IWB Carry

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.

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.

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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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

Advantages of OWB Carry

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.

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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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!

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