An IWB holster is a gun holster that is affixed to your gun belt and worn inside the waistband of your pants. The IWB holster enables safe, effective concealed carry.
There is no better, more effective means of self-defense than a concealed carry firearm. Criminals know that, at best, the police are a phone call and several long minutes away. So their plan is to assault you, take what they’re after and get away quickly. Drawing an equalizer from your IWB holster will send an unmistakable message that they have chosen the wrong person to mess with.
It is important that your IWB holster is well-made, lightweight, and comfortable and that it enables quick, effective deployment of your firearm in all conditions. The following are the best IWB holsters of 2021.
1. Bravo Concealment IWB Holster
The Bravo Concealment IWB Holster features adjustable belt clips, full coverage and a minimalist, lightweight construction that is as effective as it is convenient and comfortable. The holster is fashioned from high-quality Kydex that won’t warp, crack or break and is compatible with an array of firearms. Its slender profile makes it a good choice for appendix carry, and its rigid nature ensures fast, effective re-holstering. With a lifetime warranty, outstanding customer support, and a very attractive price point it is a solid choice for both novice and experienced concealed carry aficionados.
2. Alien Gear ShapeShift 4.0
If you want a concealed carry holster that is going to ensure all day comfort it will be hard to beat the Alien Gear Shape Shift 4.0. It provides a thick, durable neoprene pad that keeps your weapon off your skin so there is no chafing, blisters or rashes on those hot sweaty days. The holster itself is remarkably well-designed and provides rock-solid retention until you need to draw. You can adjust the height and cant, and when you re-holster your weapon there is a nice little confirmation ‘click’. The ShapeShift 4.0 is not for fans of appendix carry. But for everyone else it should be high on their list of potentials.
3. OutBags USA Full Grain Leather IWB Holster
The OutBags USA Full Grain Leather IWB Holster has such an incredibly satisfying look to it that it is a shame you have to conceal it inside your waistband. But that’s life. The hand-dyed, full-grain leather feels every bit as good as it looks and will stand up to many years of regular use. The holster slips easily inside the waist and attaches firmly to your gun belt via a heavy duty, spring-loaded steel clip. If there is a downside here it is the limited compatibility. The holster is designed to accommodate Springfield XDs only. And while that covers a fair number of firearms it cannot be said the holster is widely compatible.
4. Cytac IWB Holster
The Cytac IWB Holster is rigid and light and has an effective, full length sweat guard that makes summertime concealed carry a lot easier. The holster is adjustable for height and will keep your Glock 43 firmly in place regardless of your activity level. The clip will fit over any belt up to 1 3/4 inches wide, there is full trigger coverage and you can adjust the firmness of the hold as well. Cytac fashions their holster from top-quality, injection-molded polymer that will last for many years without becoming brittle. Although compatibility is limited you would be hard-pressed to find a better hoster value for your G42/43.
5. Raven Concealment Eidolon IWB Holster
The Eidolon IWB Holster for Glock is an aggressively practical, state-of-the-art IWB holster that accommodates a variety of Glock models, including the 19, 21, 23 and 26. It is fashioned from high quality Kydex, weighs a mere 8 ounces and can be adjusted in myriad ways to dovetail with your preferred carry position. The Eidolon has a pair of overhook belt attachments as well as a concealment claw that hold the pistol in close to your body to minimize printing. Overall, it is light, comfortable (even for appendix carry), durable and highly functional.
6. Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster
If you are having a hard time finding an IWB holster for your particular firearm, fear not. The Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster is here to save the day. This is one of the most widely compatible holsters on the market, if not the most widely compatible. It will accommodate more than 500 different pistol models and do so safely and securely, while facilitating fast, effective draw. The neoprene torso guard is a staple of Alien Gear designs and ensures that even on the hottest days, your holster will not become a problem for your skin. If there is a downside it’s that appendix carry is not going to work.
7. Relentless Tactical Defender IWB Holster
If you are a fan of leather you will appreciate the look and feel of the Relentless Tactical Defender IWB Holster. It is handcrafted in the US using full-grain leather and has a firm, yet supple feel that makes concealed carry a little less of a chore. Unlike many rigid Kydex holsters that will only accommodate one model of gun, the Defender welcomes an impressive array of concealed carry firearms. The wide spring-loaded steel clip keeps the holster firmly affixed to your gun belt. Stitching and attention to detail throughout is first-rate. And this is one of the best IWB holsters we know of for appendix carry.
8. Hidden Hybrid Holsters Single Clip IWB Holster
Although the Hidden Hybrid Holsters Single Clip IWB is not as widely compatible as some other holsters, its sleek, effective design, high-quality materials and effortless functionality cannot be denied. This is a custom built holster, manufactured in limited numbers by a gun owner who got tired of what he saw as low-quality IWB options. The Kydex here is a robust .093 thick, the spring-loaded clip cozies up snugly with any decent gun belt up to 1 3/4 inches wide, and the unique leather backing feels so much better against your skin than the cold, hard Kydex.
9. Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster
The Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster is 8 ounces of precision molded Kydex designed to accommodate an array of different firearms. The beauty of this piece of concealed carry kit is its simplicity. It’s sleek, slick and safe and holds your 1911 or Glock 26 firmly in place whether you are eating at your favorite restaurant, driving or running to get in out of the rain. Some might find it a bit unforgiving for appendix carry, but that does not detract from its overall beauty, durability, facility and affordability.
10. Galco Stow-N-Go Inside The Pant Holster
Our final IWB holster is the simple but effective Galco Stow-N-Go. This handsome piece of high-quality leatherwork redefines ‘minimalist’ as it applies to concealed carry holsters. Its compact nature means it is extraordinarily comfortable, won’t take a bite out of you when you sit and will facilitate any common carry position, including appendix carry. The spring-loaded steel clip will hold fast to any gun belt up to 1 3/4 inches wide, and the attractive price may just win over some leather skeptics.
What is an IWB Holster?
An ‘inside the waistband’ holster is a holster that slips inside the waistband of your pants enabling you to effectively conceal your firearm at all times. An IWB holster holds the gun close in to your body and is attached to your belt by a durable clip or clips. With a good IWB holster, all you will need is a loose shirt to keep your weapon safe from prying eyes in the summer, and a loose jacket to keep it out of sight when the cold weather sets in. If you plan on engaging in concealed carry, it is imperative that you get an effective, comfortable holster to prevent loss or accidental discharge of your firearm.
What are the Benefits of an IWB Holster?
Discretion – You conceal your weapon for a reason. Because you do not want to draw attention to it. The IWB holster enables you to maintain complete discretion so that you can go on about your business in a safe, relaxed manner. No one is the wiser, and you will not have to deal with weasels who interpret the presence of a firearm as a challenge to their manhood.
Safety – There are numerous reasons why police officers wear their firearms on their belt for all to see. One of those reasons is deterrence. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for those exposed weapons to be stolen and used against the officers carrying them (1). And the same threat exists for anyone openly carrying a firearm in public. Keeping your weapon stowed out of sight is the safe, responsible thing to do.
Greater mobility – Outside the waistband holsters tend to be clunky and get in the way when you are trying to sit down at the coffee shop. That will not happen with an IWB holster. With your firearm tucked safely and securely inside the waistband of your pants you will not have to worry about the gun getting in the way when you are trying to move around.
The element of surprise – Criminals prey on those they believe they can handle (2). If one or more weasels has targeted you it’s because they think you an easy mark. Imagine their surprise, then, when you draw your firearm from your IWB holster! In all likelihood you will not be able to get off a clean shot because they will be running away so fast.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Wearing an IWB Holster?
They limit what you can and cannot wear – Even though your IWB holster is tucked away you will still need to take it into account when dressing. Loose clothing should be the order of the day. And any shirt will need to be long enough to cover your waistband. Tight clothing and concealed carry are not on speaking terms.
They take some getting used to – It is typically easier to sit down with an IWB holster than an OWB holster. But even so, it can still take some getting used to. The last thing you want to do is to be seen adjusting your gun before sitting down. So work out the kinks of sitting before you leave the house with your concealed carry weapon.
They are not great for heavy people – Folks carrying extra weight around the midsection are likely going to find an IWB holster to be uncomfortable. It is likely to chafe, cause rashes or bind when walking or sitting.
Not so easy to re-holster your weapon – With practice you should be able to draw your weapon as quickly from an IWB holster as an OWB holster. Problems, however, can arise when trying to re-holster the weapon. Once again, though, with enough practice you should be able to nail it.
What are Some Things to Consider When Buying an IWB Holster?
Compatibility – That spiffy new IWB holster you have your eyes on will not be much good if it is not compatible with your firearm. As such, the first thing you should check for is whether the holster will accommodate your particular weapon. Some are widely compatible. Some are made for specific handguns.
Safety – Having your sidearm tucked away in your IWB holster results in a safer carry experience. That is, if the trigger is fully covered by the holster. If the holster you have your eye on does not have full trigger coverage you could open yourself up to injury (3). So you should move on to a holster that does.
Materials – We would be lying if we said we did not have a soft spot for leather holsters. Fortunately, leather holsters have more going for them than just looks. They are also durable, comfortable and pliable. Kydex (4), on the other hand, is light, extremely durable and holds its shape like nobody’s business.
Coverage – As the gun is going to be inside the waistband we much prefer that the holster provide complete coverage of the barrel and trigger. We do not want to feel the nose of the barrel rubbing up against our hip or lower back. And we do not want to be able to accidentally activate the trigger.
Clip storage – Not all IWB holsters can accommodate additional clips. And that is fine. But some will. So if having extra rounds is near and dear to your heart, you might want to consider an IWB holster with integrated clip holders.
Climate – If you live and carry in a hot climate, leather may not be the best choice for you. When leather gets hot and sweaty it can become uncomfortable against your skin and may result in chaffing, or a rash, or even a blister. If you live in an temperate climate you may want to have a kydex holster for summer and a leather holster for the rest of the year.
Comfort – Some of the more deluxe IWB holsters come with an integrated cushion on the inside so that the gun does not make direct contact with your skin. This can really enhance the comfort of the holster and make it far less likely to cause chaffing or rashes.
Price – Of course, how much you decide to pay for something is entirely up to you. But, fortunately, IWB holsters cover the gamut from extremely affordable, to pretty expensive and everything in between. The above list is representative of the various price points you will typically encounter when shopping for an IWB holster.
What is the Right Way to Wear an IWB Holster?
There are a couple of considerations that determine the ‘right’ way to wear your IWB holster. The first is whether you are right or left-handed. Because even if your holster is more comfortable on the left side, if you are right-handed that just isn’t going to work. The most popular positions are the 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock and the so-called ‘appendix’ position (5), which is just right or left of the buckle (either the 1 o’clock or 11 o’clock position depending on whether you are right or left-handed. Keep in mind, too, that you are going to need a high-quality gun belt that will withstand the weight and stresses brought to bear by the holster and gun.
What is the Best Way to Conceal an IWB Holster?
First of all, in order to ensure your gun stays where it’s supposed to be you will need a good gun belt (6) as we just mentioned. The gun belt is a heavy duty belt, often with a reinforced core, that will not sag or stretch under the weight of the gun and holster. Once you have the gun belt in place you will then need to ditch the tight, form fitting clothes. Nothing will give away the fact that you are carrying like a tight shirt.
So a baggy shirt that hangs loose is always preferable to a tight shirt that tucks in. During the colder weather concealing an IWB holster is a much simpler proposition. But during the summer you will have to choose your clothes wisely. You do not want to look like you are hiding something, but at the same time you have to make sure you are doing just that.
You might also want to consider a concealment claw (7). A concealment claw is a holster accessory, typically made of kydex, that pushes the butt end of the gun inward toward your torso. This minimizes ‘printing’ (the visual impact that gun has on your shirt) and makes it easier to conceal your firearm.
Finally, it should go without saying that the smaller the gun the easier it will be to conceal. Something like a Glock 19, or a Ruger SR9C is ideal for concealed carry. They are lightweight, have a very slim profile, and pack plenty of punch. Of course, you can stick to your guns (so to speak) and try concealing your Wildey Survivor .475, but why ask for trouble?
What Material is Better, Leather or Kydex?
Leather has a lot going for it. First off, there is no substitute for natural materials. Leather also has tradition firmly on its side. In addition, leather conforms to your body over time, and it feels better against your body than does cold, calculating kydex.
All that said, leather is not a perfect IWB holster material. First of all, its malleability means it may stretch out over time and become loose. Also, on hot steamy days the leather rubbing up against your skin could cause a rash or blister. And leather can sometimes catch on clothing, making re-holstering an issue.
Over the past 20 years Kydex has overtaken leather as the most popular material for IWB holsters, and there are a number of reasons for that. First of all, it’s less expensive. Second, it is not going to stretch out over time no matter what. Third, Kydex holsters are typically lighter than leather holsters. Not much lighter, but lighter nonetheless. Kydex is also thinner than leather and so it is a bit easier to conceal.
But Kydex has its own shortcomings. That ruthless rigidity makes for a less comfortable carry experience. If the holster is even a little out of place it could make for a painful experience when you try to sit down. There are also different grades of Kydex. So if you purchase a lower-grade Kydex holster it may become brittle over time and crack.
The Bottom Line
If you are intent on engaging in conceal carry the responsible thing to do is to get a high-quality inside the waistband holster for your firearm. This will enable you to carry the gun safely and securely while making sure it is ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice should the need arise. There are scores of IWB holsters out there but be aware, not all are worth the investment of your hard earned money.
The IWB holsters on the above list have all passed critical muster with our product review team and proven themselves in the court of public opinion. When choosing one for concealed carry make sure it is compatible with your firearm, that the trigger is fully covered by the holster, and that it will be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.