- 1 IWB Holsters – Concealment, Comfort, and Drawing
- 2 Selecting the Perfect IWB Holster
- 3 Leather IWB Holsters
- 4 Kydex IWB Holsters
- 5 IWB Hybrid Holster
IWB Holsters – Concealment, Comfort, and Drawing
When it comes to carrying concealed, there are a variety of options available when it comes down to which method you prefer. Although some prefer carrying at their ankle or shoulder, there are many good reasons for considering IWB (Inside the WaistBand) carry.
By tucking your handgun inside the waistband of your pants and under your shirt, you’re remedying a number of problems presented by other styles. For instance, IWB concealment holsters solve issues such as the hard-to-hide lump at your hip and also protect your firearm from being grabbed off your body by positioning it at your abdomen (in appendix carry) rather than to one side or another.
Your arms automatically protect and block the front of your body, and drawing from an in-the-waistband holster is easy and simply a matter of some practice time. Perhaps, most obviously, carrying IWB solves some of the issues presented by carrying in warm weather because your firearm can be concealed without adding heavy layers of clothing as is required by carrying at your hip or shoulder.
Comfort and Positioning
No matter how you carry, comfort is a big part of the decision. Holsters are made from a variety of materials, so keep in mind if your new Kydex holster doesn’t feel right, a leather or cloth holster could be just fine. It also bears keeping in mind that your pants size could be an issue; some IWB users need to go up a pants size to accommodate their firearms. When using an in the pants holster, your firearm should be held against your body snugly but not so tightly it cannot be easily accessed.
Take time and location into consideration as well. It can take a few weeks to get used to a new mode of carry, and there’s more than one spot you can IWB carry. Most common is appendix carry: using your belt buckle as 12 o’clock, you’d carry right around 4 o’clock if you’re right-handed and about 8 o’clock if you’re a southpaw. Don’t hesitate to adjust it a bit as needed, including tightening your belt, to find a secure yet comfortable carry spot for your in the pants holster.
Learning to draw with your IWB holster is a necessity. The most commonly used tactic is using your off hand to lift your shirt while drawing with your strong hand, and as with everything in the world of firearms, it takes practice. Drills are a must for the serious shooter, and learning to safely and quickly draw from your new carry position is a life-or-death matter. It cannot be emphasized enough how vital it is to dedicate time to drawing your firearm. Once you’ve mastered drawing, you should increase the movement to include aiming and, eventually, firing. From there it’s just like any other drill, and for self-defense purposes the Mozambique Drill, which involves two rounds to center mass and one to the head, is considered the gold standard.
Selecting the Perfect IWB Holster
In order to fully inform you of your IWB options, we’ve included reviews of some of the most commonly preferred and used IWB holsters. They’re made with different materials and will sit differently against your body, so if one doesn’t suit you, don’t give up. Another might be perfect. Carrying your gun concealed is an important decision, so why not let us take some of the guesswork out of choosing a holster?
Galco KingTuk IWB Holster
For: Glock 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33
– S&W M&P Shield 9/40, M&P 9/40, J Fram 640 Cent
– 3.5″-3″ 1911’s, 1911 Commander and 1911 Gov
– Sig-Sauer P220/P226/P229
– Springfield XD 3-4 in.
– Ruger LC9, Ruger LCP
Weight: 12.8 ounces
The KingTuk is a popular inside the waistband holster in part because it combines the comfort of a pancake holster with the durability of Kydex. Kydex is, specifically, a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride, which is a long way of saying it’s really tough, moldable plastic. And, of course, it’s a Galco KingTuk IWB, meaning it’s a tuckable holster, which is a wonderful feature.
The holster’s footprint is broad, padded leather, with the leather extending the length of your gun’s slide, leaving the grip free. It has two metal belt clips that can be adjusted for the best possible angle – your gun’s “cant” tends to be unique to your needs, so have a holster you can adjust a bit is great.
The Kydex molding grips your gun securely, preventing slips, and although you might thing it appears bulky, the length and overall size of the KingTuk actually enables the holster to more fully distribute your firearm’s weight. The last thing you want with IWB concealed carry holsters is one where the entire weight of your gun is pulling down on one specific spot. With some wear, this waistband holster breaks in nicely to your body, making carry even more comfortable. If you’re looking for the most comfortable IWB holster, you’ve found it.
Cons: This holster doesn’t extend to cover the trigger, however, with IWB carry and the extremely firm grip the KingTuk keeps on your gun, it seems highly unlikely anyone other than you will be getting at your trigger.
Uncle Mike’s Nylon Open-Top IWB Holster
For: A variety of handguns. Check their site for barrel length guidelines.
The Uncle Mike’s OT IWB is an inside the pants holster fan favorite because it’s incredibly lightweight and very simple. If you want a basic inside pants holster that doesn’t require fussing or fidgeting with your belt, this is it.
The nylon the holster is made with is thin and made of a four-layer laminate that is no thicker than the average suede holster, and there’s an internal moisture barrier to keep your gun dry. Even if you perspire, your gun won’t. The interior of the holster is smooth and drawing is easy; there’s no retention strap on this Open-Top model, so you just grip and draw.
A thick plastic clip on one side of the holster allows you to slide the holster in place inside your waistband. It’s best to have pants snug enough to hold this in place, and remember to perfect the squat rather than bending at the waist so your firearm doesn’t slip (something you need to get used to anyway for concealed carry).
Uncle Mike’s makes comfortable, basic inside the waistband holsters easy for even the newest user to master. These holsters last quite awhile even with daily use, and they’re economically priced.
Cons: This holster is very straightforward, which is why some love it and others do not. But with its simplicity comes ease of use, because there’s no fumbling with belts or buckles.
BLACKHAWK! Inside-the-Pants Holster
This affordable and comfortable-to-wear-all-day holster is an excellent choice because it is developed using ultra-thin, three-layer nylon laminate. This makes it about as comfortable as possible, especially up against the skin as IWB’s are often worn.
The plastic and durable belt clips included with the Blackhawk IWB holster don’t pinch and they are meant to be placed over the pants or belt to keep the holster firm. Printing is virtually non-existent as it should be.
Often buyers have questions about what size holster to buy for the handgun they own. Use this Blackhawk size chart to determine what you need.
Cons: Few mention that from time to time their handgun is not 100% secure in the holster. It’s definitely snug but there’s that iota of doubt that it could fall out in rare instances.
Also comes with two leather options with clip as well.
Leather IWB Holsters
There are many reasons why leather is considered the gold standard of the holster world. Perhaps greatest of all is its durability; it’s strong enough to withstand the specific pressure and wear a firearm puts on it, something not all materials can claim. In addition, stiffer leather holds the holster’s mouth open, while, conversely, soft leather offers comfort. If you’re looking for a tough, aesthetically pleasing holster made with natural material, leather may be for you.
Pro Carry LT CCW IWB Holster
For: Glock 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 42
– Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, M&P Sub Compact
– Springfield XDS, XD Sub Compact 9mm 40Cal, XD 4″ 9mm 40Cal
– Sig Sauer 220, 226, P250 Sub Compact
Weight: 4.8 ounces
The Pro Carry LT CCW IWB holster brings you the best of both worlds by utilizing soft leather in a simple, secure design. It’s made with soft cowhide, so you get leather without the stiffness and durability with style. Care has been taken to heavily stitch this holster with reinforced seams at each pressure point and the leather is even doubled at the holster’s mouth to withstand the wear of holstering and drawing your firearm.
Another pro is to help the mouth stay open for ease of re-holstering. It features a single metal clip that fits over your waistband or belt and sits fairly deeply inside your waistband for more secure carry. Even after lengthy carry this holster remains snug, allowing for greater retention and safer carry overall. This is a well-made, quality IWB leather holster, and it’s impressively well-priced as well.
Cons: There is no retention strap because this is, after all, an OT holster, but the cut and stitching is quite well done, allowing for a firm grip and good security.
Galco Waistband Inside the Pant Holster
For: Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
– Bersa Thunder 380
– S&W J Frame 640 Cent 2 1/8-Inch .357
– Sig Sauer P229, P228, P226, P220
– Walther PPK, PPKS
– 1911 5-Inch, 3 1/2-Inch, 3-Inch Colt, Para, Springfield
– S&W M&P Standard and Compact 9/40
– Beretta 92F / FS
– KAHR K40, K9
Weight: 6.4 ounces
The Galco Waistband Inside the Pant holster is made with premium steerhide and provides increased security with a retention strap. The holster itself is not too thick, and that’s fantastic because an overly-thick leather holster can make IWB carry awkward, especially when you carry a thicker gun such as a Glock. This holster has a wide, injection-molded clip for firmly fixing it to your belt; it fits belts up to 1 3/4” wide.
The retention strap is a thumb break style, meaning you can easily free your firearm with a push of your thumb, but it’s also quite secure, so there’s no concern that it will simply come free on its own. Galco specifically designed this holster for a vertical carry position, meaning there is no cant, making it possible to carry it in a variety of positions including side, crossdraw, and appendix (meaning immediately in front of your hip).
It’s meant for both semi-auto’s and double-action pistols. You’ll find your firearm fits into this top-tier holster like a second skin, staying firmly in place until needed.
Cons: The softer leather doesn’t retain its shape well, so the mouth may collapse after you draw your gun, but that’s simply a matter of practice re-holstering, and with a more flexible mouth your gun is gripped more closely rather than having a stiff mouth standing away from it.
Kydex IWB Holsters
Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride material used in making a very specific type of holster. When a holster is made with Kydex it’s molded to fit the firearm very specifically, making it secure to an even greater level and preventing slippage. It doesn’t have the same give and molded features that leather contains but does have the added benefit of being long-lasting and incredibly strong, even when it’s a thinner holster. Some users dislike the stiffness and tight grip of Kydex, but it’s those very features many enjoy. If you’re looking for a holster custom-fitted to your firearm that can stand up to just about anything, you want Kydex.
Galco Triton Kydex IWB Holster
For: Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33
– S&W M&P Compact and Standard 9/40
– Sig-Sauer P229, P228, P226, P220
– Springfield XD 9/40 4-Inch, 3-Inch
– 1911 5-Inch, 4-Inch, 4 1/4 Inch, 3-Inch Colt, Kimber, Para, Springfield
– S&W J Frame 640 Cent 2 1/8-Inch .357
– Ruger LCP, Ruger SR9
Weight: shipping weight of 16 ounces
Galco made this holster with security and a small footprint in mind. It’s made of Kydex, of course, which is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride, basically, it’s exceptionally strong plastic. But if you think that means it’s going to be thick, think again.
This is a light, thin holster with an open muzzle end and a raised sweat guard to protect your firearm from perspiration. In fact, it’s an excellent choice for concealed carry in the summer. It’s an Open-Top style as well, allowing for a quicker, less complicated draw.
There’s an indented clip to secure it to your belt or waistband, and if you find you prefer a somewhat tougher hold on your belt you can order belt loops from Galco and simply replace the clip. The whole point of Kydex inner waistband holsters is the way it holds on to your gun, and this holster delivers, hanging on with a seriously firm grip.
It’s designed to have a 10-degree cant, the angle most commonly used for FBI standard-issue. This is a great holster for when you just want to grab your gun and go without messing with straps or adjustments on your IWB holster.
Cons: You do need to use a larger belt to secure this holster properly, so consider getting a good, solid 1 ¾” belt for carrying purposes. That’s wise anyway because you don’t want to carry a firearm with a weak belt that isn’t really up to the importance of the job.
Shepherd Leather Conceal Mini
For: Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, 36
– Ruger SR9C/SR40C, Ruger SR9/SR40
– Springfield XDS, XD, XDM, 9mm, .40, .45
– Glock 20, 21, 29, 30, 30S, Glock 45
– S&W Shield 9mm/.40 w/Laser Max
– Bersa Thunder .380
– Taurus PT709/.40
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Shepherd Leather’s Conceal Mini holster is made from high-grade leather, and its soft, smooth feel makes it easy to forget it’s there at all. The actual holster that contains your firearm is made from super-strong 0.93” Kydex, and there’s really nothing more secure than using a holster specifically molded to your gun’s frame.
It has two spring steel clips for attaching it to your belt; two clips means even better support. The broad leather back of this holster spreads out your firearm’s weight a bit, allowing for more comfortable and practical carry, and it has superior retention the moment you put it on.
The leather is cut high in the back, which is an incredible feature because it protects your skin from being rubbed raw by your rear sight post. This inner waistband Kydex holster keeps a firm grip on your handgun so you don’t have to worry about it falling out due to the lack of a retention strap – and remember, you can draw more quickly without a retention strap. It’s also a great tuckable IWB holster.
Cons: It can take some practice to draw from this holster because of the way it tightly grips your gun, but that isn’t exactly a complaint. Security is vital to concealed carry, so it’s far better to have a tight fit than a loose one.
IWB Hybrid Holster
Hybrid holsters are a generous combination of leather and kydex and have both characteristics built in to provide gun owners with the best of both worlds.
FoxX Holsters IWB Hybrid Holster
For: Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm & 40, M&P Compact 9mm, 40, 45, M&P Fullsize
– Springfield XD-S, XD9, XD40 Service Model 4″, XDM 3.8
– Glock 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36
– Beretta PX4 Storm, BU9 Nano
– Ruger P345
– Taurus Millenium Pro PT111, PT140, PT145, PT709 Slim 9mm
– Walther P99, PK380, PPQ
– Diamondback DB9
– Sig Sauer P2022, P250 Subcompact
Inside the FoxX Hybrid holster, the firearm is secure and doesn’t budge. It conforms to your body well and consists of 2 black spring steel belt clips that are strong in nature and can be modified up and down based on the height and cant preference. This basically announces that if you’d rather ride low with a forward cant, for simple draw and re-holstering, you can easily modify both clips, by adjusting the positions of the included screws to fasten them to the horsehide backer.
At under $40, this is a great buy and features 9 oz. Premium Leather and .06″ black Kydex. There are a number of IWB holster reviews that insist this holster is extremely comfortable against your body and proper concealment is never an issue.
The Bottom Line
There are quite a few inside waistband holsters on the market, and choosing one can take some trial and error. Take the time to read some IWB holster reviews and ask seasoned concealed carry firearm owners what they prefer. Just remember, everyone is unique, and what works for someone else may not be right for you.
IWB carry allows for increased concealment and also offers greater comfort, keeping your gun close at all times. Give your holster of choice time to be broken in properly, and above all, practice, because it really does make perfect.