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Gear Guide: How to Choose IWB Holsters for Everyday Carry

by Chris Mudgett   |  June 12th, 2014 8

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In many states, concealed carry laws require keeping your pistol hidden at all times. Sure, dressing around your gun comes with the territory, but wearing the right holster can make it easier to conceal your pistol comfortably and fashionably.

When concealability is the main objective, we’re after a holster that fits our body type in a desired concealment position that works with the type of clothing we’re wearing. The holster should securely attach to our belt and not shift once fastened. We want the holster to fit closely to our body, as this minimizes the chance of printing through clothing.

The most popular variety — for good reason — is the inside-the-waistband holster, also known as IWB. This means that the holster rides inside of your waistband, between your undergarment and your trousers. Many IWB holsters offer a tuckable option, allowing you to tuck a dress shirt or other top into your trousers, presenting a neat, clean appearance while also concealing your pistol.

Accessibility is also an important factor when choosing a holster, and is easily influenced by concealability. You need to be able to access your pistol in a hurry, as your life or that of another person may depend on it. The level of retention is up to you, but generally, a level-one — or friction retention holster — fits the bill for most of us who carry a pistol inside the waistband. You should be able to draw the pistol without impediment and safely re-holster it one-handed. The objective is to find a happy medium where your pistol is concealed, yet readily accessible.

Comfort is in the feel of the beholder, and over time you can adapt to just about anything. With that said, if it’s not comfortable, you’re probably not going to wear it on a consistent basis. Holsters are constructed from a variety of materials, ranging from leather to Kydex (plastic), to multi-material systems that combine leather or a synthetic textile backer with a Kydex shell. Many find these combinations of materials the most comfortable for long-term wear. These types also do not collapse or change shape when your pistol is drawn, which aides in re-holstering. A point worth mentioning is that some users may need to increase one or two pant sizes when carrying IWB, especially if your pants are a little tight to begin with.

Regardless of the holster you choose, you should allow at least two weeks of everyday wear before making a change. You’ll likely find that during week two, you will forget you’re actually carrying a gun, as your body will adjust to the feel.

Belt positioning of an IWB holster varies based on personal preference. With the belt buckle representing the 12 o’clock position, the most common carry locations range from 3 o’clock to 5 o’clock for right-handed shooters and 9 o’clock to 7 o’clock for lefties.

We rounded up eight IWB holsters that are great options for those seeking comfortable concealment. All holsters featured are built for the Glock 26, but most are available for many of today’s popular semiautomatics.

  • JudyDMaddox

    The holster should securely attach to our belt and not shift once fastened. We want the holster to fit closely to our body, as this minimizes the chance of printing through clothing. http://0rz.tw/9BIIY

  • C. Lewis

    I am relatively new to concealed carry and usually carry a compact 1911 in a Galco IWB with belt clip at four o’clock. I would not describe it as at all comfortable but wasn’t it Jeff Cooper who said a handgun is meant to be comforting – not comfortable?

  • Harts

    I was concerned that you didn’t have Hidden Hybrid Hollsters in your list of holsters since it sells for around $60 and can be used as either a IWB or a OWB. It has been highly rated amoung those who own it like myself. I love mine that is for my G-26. They are high quality and come in a couple colors and no, I don’t have any affiliation with the company other then being a loyal customer.

  • Lynn Circle

    I found maybe 5 years ago that the regular Crossbreed holster works so well in carrying a nearly full-sized (4 inch Barrel) that I can actually forget it is there. The weight is comforting, but doesn’t try to pull my pants down. If anyone is looking for a comfortable IWB holster, give serious consideration to Crossbreed.

  • JB

    I have one IWB made for the BU9 by Beretta and I have a crossbreed double tuck and the crossbreed is by far the most comfortable and functional by far it was made for my Px4subcompact. I would think that a holster made by the guns manufacturer would be better. I would recommend the crossbreed, excellent holster.

  • J. R.

    The Alien Gear IWB for my XD SC 40 is extremely comfortable and 1/2 the price of Crossbreed. Fantastic Warranty!

  • http://www.kineticconcealment.com Kinetic Concealment

    WOW! Thank you guys so much for including us in this article! We are humbled and much appreciative.

  • Stacy

    Always consider pocket carry like the MaelWear Holster

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