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IWB vs. OWB Holsters

by Ben Jimenez 4 min read

As you compare concealed carry holsters for your gun, you will probably notice that some of the most popular options fall into the IWB and OWB categories. To some extent, IWB vs. OWB holsters depends on personal preference. If you haven't worn both types, though, you might have a hard time deciding which one to buy.

In the following article, we'll compare and contrast common features found in IWB and OWB holsters. Ultimately, a lot of people choose to purchase one of each. That way, they can wear holsters that fit each day's needs. Learning more about them, though, should help you choose a holster for your favorite gun.

What Are They? IWB Vs. OWB Holsters

If you've never bought a concealed carry holster, "IWB" and "OWB" might sound like nonsense. IWB stands for "inside-the-waistband." OWB stands for "outside-the-waistband."

With an IWB holster, your gun sits between your body and your pant's waistband. More often than not, a belt clip will hold the holster and your gun in place. At Rounded, we use a 1.5-inch fiber-reinforced stealth belt clip that keeps everything in position without drawing any attention to itself.

With an OWB holster, your gun and holster sit on the outside of your pants. Nothing comes into contact with your body (although there's always a chance that your gun's grip could rub against your side).

Not to add any confusion to this explanation, but there are at least two types of popular OWB holsters. An OWB belt loop holster has fiber-reinforced belt loops that attach your holster to your belt. An OWB paddle holster uses a clip to connect to your belt and waistband. You should still wear a sturdy belt with your OWB paddle holster, but you do not need to thread the belt through any loops.

IWB Vs. OWB Holsters: Comfort

Comfort matters a lot for daily carriers. If you don't feel comfortable throughout the day, you will not continue carrying your gun, which could lead to security risks.

Some people find that OWB holsters feel more comfortable to them. That makes sense because you don't have the holster or gun rubbing against your skin.

On the other hand, plenty of people say that the mild discomfort they feel from carrying an IWB holster goes away quickly. You just have to get used to it. As long as you carry daily, your body will adapt and you (probably) won't notice the gun at your waist.

Keep in mind that your body isn't necessarily like someone else's. Someone with a very lean build might not mind having a gun inside their waistband. A bigger person might find it very uncomfortable.

The verdict: If you're worried about comfort, it makes sense to start with an OWB holster. You can always try an IWB design later to decide whether you like it.

IWB Vs. OWB Holsters: Accessibility

You probably carry a firearm because you want the opportunity to create a safe environment. If someone becomes violent, you have a tool to persuade that person to follow your orders and stop harming others. If you encounter an active shooter, carrying a gun is one of the few ways you can protect yourself and others.

That makes accessibility a big concern for most people.

An OWB holster will make it easier for you to draw your weapon. The grip is resting right there at your side, so you just reach down and pull it out.

That doesn't mean an IWB holster makes it difficult for you to draw your gun, though. It just takes more practice. If you decide that you want to wear an IWB holster, you must spend additional time practicing your draw. You don't necessarily have to fire the gun. Dry practice will help you learn how to draw your weapon quickly and precisely.

The verdict: An OWB holster gives you better access to your gun, but the right amount of training makes an IWB holster just as accessible.

IWB Vs. OWB Holsters: Concealment

IWB holsters usually beat OWB holsters when it comes to concealment. It only makes sense that something kept inside your clothing would be easier to conceal than something carried outside of your clothing.

IWB holsters also benefit from designs that can accommodate claw kits. Holster claw kits angle the gun's grip toward your body to reduce printing. The combination of an IWB holster and claw kit makes a gun nearly impossible to spot.

A well-made OWB holster can still conceal your weapon. Use our Rounded models as examples. They're small, lightweight and designed to keep your gun close to your body.

It is a little more likely that a trained person will spot an OWB holster than an IWB holster. Your average person, however, will never know the difference. Of course, it helps to wear clothing that covers your holster and gun. Otherwise, they're out there for everyone to see.

The verdict: IWB holsters are slightly easier to conceal, but either option will work well.

Should You Get an IWB or OWB Holster?

Obviously, you can make an IWB or OWB holster work for you. At Rounded, we also make other options, including:

We stand behind the reliability of every design we sell. No matter which option you choose, we will always make sure that you get a high-quality holster made in the US from sturdy, long-lasting materials like Kydex and leather. We're so confident in our products that we offer a lifetime guarantee. If you decide that you don't like the holster you choose, send it back and try a different one.

We know that you want to get your holster as soon as possible, too, which is why we ship daily Monday through Friday. As long as you place your order by 3 p.m. Eastern Time, we'll ship it on the same day.

Purchase a concealment holster today!

Ben Jimenez
Ben Jimenez


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