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waistband holster

The 3 Best Types Of Waistband Holster For Comfortable, Functional Daily Concealed Carry

The default for daily concealed carry use is a waistband holster. That can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so don't worry if that term seems too nebulous.

What the heck does that even mean, anyway?

What Is A Waistband Holster?

waistband holster

What is a "waistband holster," if someone wanted to split hairs?

Well, a holster that's carried on the waistband. This includes both inside and outside. In some cases, the term is used to refer to one or the other, but is obviously such a blanket term that it has to mean both.

But why is it the standard for concealed carry or for carrying a gun in general?

The gun is in a quickly-reached location, making it both ergonomic as well as expedient if you need to use the pistol in defense of yourself. In terms of concealment, it's easy to cover up as you pretty much just need a shirt.

If made correctly and positioned well by the user, a good waistband holster is also comfortable to carry or at least comfortable enough to carry all day without issues.

Okay, fine. But what's the best kind of waistband holster?!

Many are good, but which one is "best" depends on what is best for you. What kind of gun you're carrying, how it sits on you, and where and how you want to carry it all make a difference.

Chances are, though, that one of three types of waistband holster is going to be perfect for you.

What are they?!

These three right hereā€¦

Find YOUR Waistband Holster For Daily Carry

The Dominant Form Of Waistband Holster For Daily Carry: Strongside IWB

IWB holster

The strongside IWB holster is the dominant form of waistband holster for daily concealed carry in the modern era, though it's starting to actually lose a bit of market share so to speak...more on that later.

It makes a compelling case for itself.

For one, this style of holster tucks into the waistband, so it's easy to conceal. Plenty of people have no issues with as little as an untucked t-shirt and the jeans, pants, shorts, what have you of their choice.

Also, this style of holster allows for easy concealment of almost any pistol short of the largest of magnums like a Desert Eagle in semi-autos or a full-size revolver.

For garden variety semi-autos, anything from a micro compact to a full-size pistol like a Glock 17, S&W M&P or even a 1911 are easily carried and concealed.

If the holster is designed correctly, and made from the right materials, and if the user places the holster correctly on the waistband, the holster will also carry comfortably.

Of all holster styles, a good example of this type has the fewest weaknesses if carrying on or behind the strongside hip and inside the waistband is how you want to carry.

There are some drawbacks. Some people find it a tad slower to draw from this position compared to an appendix or OWB holster; the fastest champion shooters tend to be 0.1 to 0.2 seconds slower on the draw relative to a concealed OWB or AIWB.

Also, you do have to have the gun in the waistband, which some people don't prefer.

With that said, it has been the default for many years for good reason, and plenty of people still carry this way every single day.

IWB Holsters For Comfortable Daily Concealed Carry

The New Breed Of Waistband Holster: The Appendix Carry Holster

appendix carry holster

That said, the more modern style is the appendix carry holster, so named as the gun is carried inside the front of the waistband, which is commonly referred to as the "appendix position."

Don't kid yourself; this isn't a new idea. People were carrying guns in this position and in fact holsters were being made for it in the 19th century. Back then, a compact pistol was called a "belly gun" for precisely those reasons.

That aside, the appendix carry position offers a few advantages.

Typically, appendix carry is faster on the draw than strongside IWB holsters, as previously mentioned. The typical holster made for this type of carry has a smaller overall footprint, which some people prefer.

The right holster also doesn't limit the shooter to compact or subcompact pistols only; plenty of full-size guns can be appendix carried with no issues.

Provided the right placement and the right holster design, such as with a padded holster base, appendix carry is just as comfortable as any other kind.

It seems like nothing but upsides, but there's a catch.

Appendix carry is reported by almost all people who try it to be an all-or-nothing proposition. It either works for you or it doesn't, and it depends greatly on where your natural waist sits. The higher it is, the better suited you are for appendix carry.

Plenty of bigger guys have no problem with it, so it isn't the case that's only for those with washboard abs.

With the gun lower down, the pistol and holster will bend forward as you hinge at the hips to bend over, sit down and so on, making it uncomfortable and indeed, all but untenable.

So IF you happen to be well-suited for appendix carry, it's incredible. If not...it won't be for you.

Appendix Carry Holsters For Concealed Carry

The Classic Waistband Holster: High Ride OWB

OWB holster

Some people consider the best waistband holster style to be a high ride OWB holster. There's a lot to like, so it's definitely worth looking at as a concealed carry holster.

Many people find OWB holsters the most comfortable, as they're worn outside the waistband. There's nothing jammed between you and your waist, so it's less intrusive.

Made of the right materials, and if it includes a proper sweat guard/slide guard, the gun doesn't rub you too badly (watch out for those 1911s; the hammer will bite ya!) and is otherwise much less obtrusive.

Provided the proper construction, an open-top is very secure to carry with. Adjustable retention is a good thing to have as you can dial it in to hold the pistol almost with a vise-like grip.

Concealment is not as easy as with an IWB, either of the strongside or appendix variety.

The longer the pistol, the longer the shirt must be to cover it. Depending on how far down the hem of your shirts fall, this could mean just a bit of dressing around the gun or it might mean that OWB concealment is only happening with a tiny pistol.

Some people find that with a compact or subcompact gun, a loose unbuttoned button-up - like a denim shirt or flannel - is all that's needed. Some people find that anything larger than a subcompact requires a jacket.

Again, it depends a lot on your gun and how it sits on you. Some people have no problems with a full-size 1911 concealed in this manner, and some people can barely cover up their S&W M&P9 Shield. You'll have to experiment to find out how it works for you.

The other benefit is a lot more speed. With an open-front cover garment - like an unbuttoned button-up or unzipped hoodie - you can just whip it out of the way and be on the gun. This makes the draw faster.

That said, some people wear an OWB holster under an untucked polo or button-up shirt with a longer hem and have no issues; the holster just doesn't tuck into the waistband and everything's the same as with a typical IWB.

That blend of speed and concealability makes this carry method very popular for that reason...but adding additional layers makes it less tenable for a few months out of the year. Or possibly at all, depending on what part of the country you live in.

You gain a bit of speed, and a bit of comfort in wearing the holster, but lose a bit of comfort in what you have to wear to conceal it. Granted, you might find the trade-off is worth it.

This was the default holster choice for decades for a reason. It's fast, it's comfortable; you just have to dress around it a bit.

High Ride OWB Holsters For Concealed Carry, Range Day And Everywhere In Between

About The Author

Writer sam hoober