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.
It is designed for deep concealment and features a high inner body to help protect your skin and shirt from the sharp edges of your pistol such as its rear sight, which is notorious for being hard on clothing. This feature also serves to protect your pistol’s finish from your body’s perspiration. The spring steel clip does an admirable job of securing this holster to your belt, ensuring that the holster stays put, even during a rapid draw.
CrossBreed uses its own corrosion- and chip-proof coated spring steel belt clips, two of which secure this holster to your belt, providing additional support, while also helping to distribute the added weight of your pistol across a wider area. The beauty of this design is that the leather backer will conform to the contours of your hip over time for a custom fit. Additionally, each holster fits all barrel lengths of a particular series of firearms, such as an Officer’s to a 5-inch 1911 or Glock models 26,19 and 17; this model is fitted for a G26 with Crimson Trace Rail Master laser. Each holster is adjustable for cant and ride depth.
The Scorpion II is fitted with tuckable C-clips that allow ride-height and cant adjustments for a user-customizable fit. Optional clips are also available. The Scorpion II is low profile, and the curvature of the holster body is shaped just right to fit on your hip at the 3 o’clock position or just behind it, with the smallest footprint possible.
For our purposes, we used it in IWB form. The Double Time is constructed of Kydex and is slender in shape, aiding not only in comfort but also concealability. This holster is very fast to draw from and intuitive to reholster. It is also tension adjustable, depending on the level of security the user requires.
Neoprene is the same material used in wetsuits and is comfortable next to the skin, especially on really hot days. This holster boasts nine different belt-clip cant positions, as well as two different ride heights. Chicago-style flat-head screws were chosen for easy adjustment and allow the user to fine-tune the amount of retention the holster provides.
The retention is fine-tuned for a smooth draw, yet with a level of retention you can trust. Weapon lights are more popular than ever, and the Hold Fast is one of the few IWB holsters available that will comfortably conceal your pistol with a light attached (not shown).
The platform is constructed with tri-dimensional polyester VentMesh, designed to wick moisture away from skin. Two different types of closed-cell foam are strategically placed to minimize the bulge created by your pistol and distribute pressure across the entire platform instead of focus it on one central point. A polyester-reinforced stiffener gives the platform its shape and assists in support. A high-tech nylon mesh is used where the pistol contacts the platform and has proven to be very abrasion resistant in our use and in StealthGear’s testing.
The holster fetters dual-layered laminated leather for comfort and retention. It features 1-3/4-inch belt holes, and also has the option of attaching leather belt loops or metal clips for various concealment options. Five leather colors are available to fit several types of common carry guns.