IWB or OWB: which holster style is best for concealed carry?

Whether you’ve recently acquired a CCW license or you suddenly feel the need to carry your weapon in daily life for self-defense, finding the right holster is an important step in building the right setup. You must start with the choice between IWB and OWB.

What are OWB and IWB holsters?

For an inexperienced holster user, the first step en route to finding the right product is to understand what the acronyms stand for. The two main types of holster for carrying a handgun on your possession are; 

  • OWB, also known as Outside the Waist Band, is where the holster is connected over of the belt. This means that the holster and gun are outside of the waistband.
  • IWB, also known as Inside the Waist Band, is where the holster clips inside the belt and waistband so that the weapon is placed inside the pants.

The other features of the holster types are virtually identical while variances can be found between different brands and styles. The main difference, as mentioned above, stems from the way they are worn.

The pros and cons of each style

Both IWB and OWB holsters are used by millions of gun users. In fact, some gun owners will purchase one of each style to suit different circumstances. The choice of item will influence your comfort and movement. Moreover, it will impact what size belt is required as an IWB means that the belt has to go through the holster as well as around your waist, meaning a larger size is required.

There are plenty of additional features to consider when making your purchase. The following advice should make your decision easier:


Pro: Most users find it easier to withdraw the gun in this style.

Pro: You do not have to buy a specialized belt.

Pro: It avoids the threat of feeling a cold gun against your skin.

Con: The holster and gun are more visible unless wearing a jacket or other items.

Con: Probably easier for someone else to grab it.

Con: You’ll have to think more about matching the color with your outfit.


Pro: The gun and holster are less visible as they are inside your pant leg.

Pro: You can feel it against your leg at all times.

Pro: You’ll probably feel less conscious about having the gun on your possession.

Con: The bulge on one hip can make your pants misshapen.

Con: A bigger belt will be required to account for the size of the holster.

Con: It may impact your natural walk or run motion.

So, which style is best for concealed carry?

Looking at the above features, you’d probably argue that an IWB is better for concealed carry while an OWB is better for open carry. However, it’s not quite black and white, which is why you must consider other factors like the intended usage and the state laws.

As a rule of thumb, though, carrying the gun inside your waist band will make it easier to conceal your weapon. 

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