What is an IWB Holster Anyway?
An IWB holster or, Inside the waistband holster, is a firearm holder that allows you to comfortably wear your weapon inside your waistband.
Inside the waistband holsters have a smaller silhouette than outside the waistband holders. They will enable you to conceal carry effectively.
OWB vs. IWB vs. AIWB vs. Shoulder Holster
Today we will focus on the most popular holsters: Over-the-waistband, inside-the-waistband , inside-the-waistband -appendix, and shoulder holsters .
We should note that there are a plethora of other holster options. These include ankle holsters and purse holsters. There are holsters that can fulfill any specific carry niche.
There are many varieties and high-tech variations of modern OWB holsters. The basic Over-the-waistband (OWB) holsters resemble cowboy style belt holsters, though. They just don’t have the exaggerated hang of the belt.
Modern leather OWB holsters differ very little from designs of a hundred years ago. However, a good number of them have advanced safety mechanisms.
Wearing around over-the-waistband holsters can take a little getting used to. Yet they are really no different than wearing a thick wallet in a new pocket. The only real downside is that your firearm is displayed. This may not provide the best tactical advantage. Open carry is also not allowed in some states.
Inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters will typically be less bulky than their OWB cousins. They also have fewer safety snaps and tabs. The lack of safety features is generally offset by the holster’s concealing power.
Drawing a weapon from an IWB holster required practice. However, it can be tactically advantageous.
Just like the outer-wear holsters, inside the waistband holsters can take a little getting used to. The good ones will sit relatively comfortably against your body.
Inside the waistband holsters are incredibly popular with concealed carry users. They can still be used as open carry holsters as well. Just tuck your shirt (or jacket) behind the gun.
Inside-the-waistband-appendix (IWBA) holsters sit along your abdomen. They are positioned near your appendix, hence the name. If you are facing forwards, this would be the 1 o’clock position.
A weapon resting at the front of your body is more natural. It is less likely for the gun to be taken in this position. You can immediately have both hands in play as well.
A weapon resting at the front of your waist is also considered more comfortable. It is easier to access while driving.
IWBA holsters are also often referred to as Appendix-inside-the-waistband (AIWB) holsters. These terms are interchangeable.
Shoulder Holsters aren’t merely for looking good in mafia movies. They have actual practical uses as well. These holsters are worn in the lower armpit or upper rib area. They are secured by shoulder straps.
Shoulder holsters are a favorite of personal protection workers (bodyguards). They can remain almost completely unseen when worn under a jacket. Thus, they are useful in nice outfits that don’t allow durable belts.
Shoulder holsters also allow your weapon to be easily accessed in a vehicle or while sitting.
Many who find wearing holsters at the waist uncomfortable opt for shoulder holsters.
What Are the Advantages to IWB holsters?
We have covered this a bit in other articles. Yet the advantages are worth summarizing here.
Inside-the-waistband, IWB, holsters and their close cousins provide a series of advantages.
- Allow you to wear your firearm within your waistband comfortably and safely.
- Allow you to conceal carry discreetly and effectively. The bad guys won’t know you have a weapon until you are drawing it on them.
- Comes in a large variety of styles. You can get exactly what you want and need for practical self-defense carry.
What Are the Disadvantages of IWB holsters?
- Many places don’t allow concealed carry without a license or permit. You will have to use this holster as a close-sitting OWB holster.
- It requires practice to learn to draw your weapon properly from an inside the waistband position. You must practice with shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc.
Holster Materials: Leather vs. Kydex IWB Holsters
When buying a holster, should one go with leather or Kydex? The answer to this question will ultimately depend on your personal needs and preferences. There are some key points to consider, however.
- Leather holsters are considered the more comfortable. The material conforms to your body over time. It is similar to a baseball glove.
- Leather holsters are more expensive. They come with fewer variations. They also require specialized care.
- Synthetic materials are tough, stiff, and offer a very effective draw.
- Bending the cheaper Kydex holsters in the same spot will eventually weaken them.
- Kydex holsters require nearly no care.
A Look at Hybrid Holsters
Hybrid holsters are a somewhat new creation. They combine stiff synthetic materials with leather. The conventional set-up is a solid Kydex outer wall and a softer leather interior wall. The hybrid holster allows a gun to be drawn quickly and smoothly. Yet, you still have a comfortable leather wall resting against your body.
A Review of the 15 Best IWB Holsters on the Market
1. The Overall Best IWBA Appendix Holster: Tulster IWB Profile Holsters.
The top IWB holster or appendix-inside-the-waistband (AIWB) holster has to be the Tulster IWB Profile Holster.
The Tulster IWB Profile Holster is well-designed. It is a sleek, small, and utterly concealable IWBA holster. There is adjustable retention with a visceral pop. There is also a higher grip for magazine release in the holster.
Your weapon feels snug and safe. This is a rare feat for AIWB holsters. The adjustable cant will work for almost all body types.
If you have a wider belt, you can simply wrap the 1.5″ quick clip for the 1.75″ variation. There are also soft loop alternatives to the quick clips. You can choose from many color variations for the holster.
In the end, if you talking about pure comfort and functionality. These are combined with a complete, fairly priced package.
- Small but feels very secure. The adjustable retention system is responsible for that. Has a nice, noticeable “click.”
- The quick clip makes putting on and taking off the holster fast and easy.
- The adjustable cant from 0-30 degrees gives you a lot of adjustabilities.
- Full sweat shield aids in reholstering and keeping clothing out of the way.
- The design of the Tulster IWB Profile holster makes it sleek, small, and easy to conceal
- It has adjustable retention with a visceral pop
- The iwb gun holster has a higher grip for mag pouch release in the holster
- It has an adjustable cant that works for every body type
- People that have wider belt loops can wrap a 1.5″ quick clip for the 1.75″ variant
- The price is very high
2. Best IWB Hybrid Style Holster: Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster
Our favorite in the hybrid holster category is the Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster. This hybrid holster is made of three different materials. It is a fantastic all-around everyday carry holster.
The materials are structured to allow you to maximize flexibility and comfort. There is still a stable drawing platform, solid retention, and impressive durability. Leather, neoprene, and Kydex are used together.
Alien gear uses three-layer laminate for balance. This is more relevant to the comfort of the holster than I had previously realized. The weight distribution of this holster makes it truly stand out.
For a mid-size or large handgun, the Alien Gear Holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster is at the top of the list.
- Supports over 100 different firearms.
- Easy to switch between various configurations and adjust the retention.
- Adjustable cant.
- Excellent balance and comfort.
- A unique mixture of materials for functionality.
- Alien Gear holster cloak tuck 3.5 IWB is one of the best concealed carry holster because it is made of three different materials
- It is made with a material that will maximize structure and flexibility
- Alien Gear is made with three-layer laminate for balance
- It has an equal weight distribution that makes it very comfortable
- It supports over a hundred firearms
- The plastic clips can’t be replaced with leather loops
2.1 WeThePeopleHolsters Iwb holster
The We The People Holster is a simple but all-around excellent option one of the best concealed carry holster.
It’s made of Kydex for durability and a thin profile. The Kydex is custom molded to perfectly fit specific guns, so make sure you’re choosing the right model for your firearm.
The We The People IWB Holster comes in versions for all of the most popular firearms, including versions that also accommodate aftermarket accessories. Each of those versions also comes in right or left-handed models, so make sure you consider that when selecting yours.
And on top of that, it’s also available in a ton of different color and pattern options, so there’s sure to be one that suits your tastes.
Whichever specific holster you go with, the We The People IWB Holster will have the same features.
It will have adjustable retention, ride height, and cant. A protective sweat guard will keep your gun from rubbing on your skin and protect your gun from moisture. The belt clip will securely attach to 1.5-inch belts for easy draws.
- Adjustable belt clip with eight positions
- Tons of color and print options
- Adjustable retention, ride height, and cant
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee
3. Best Value Priced IWBs: Concealed Carrier AND The Defender
There is a tie here for the top budget synthetic holster and top budget leather holster. For this category, the options were rated solely on price, comfort, and usability. Obviously, price considerations were the most relevant.
Concealed Carrier (TM) Universal IWB Holster
If you have about twenty dollars, the Concealed Carrier (TM) Universal IWB Holster is your best option. It is a simple, comfortable IWB holster you can just throw on. Made from breathable “surgical grade neoprene,” this holster is incredibly lightweight and soft. It is still sturdy enough to do the job.
The draw is surprisingly smooth for a soft holster. The metal clip is clearly high-grade. It successfully anchors the piece. It is surprising that something this lightweight and low cost works so well.
The Defender by Relentless Tactical
Relentless Tactical’s The Defender Leather IWB Holster For S&W M&P Shield is simple and effective. There are no frills, bells, or whistles. This is just a leather inside-the-waistband holster done correctly. It is also sold at a great price. If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck, choose this leather holster.
- It is a very affordable carry holster
- One is the best aspects of the concealed carrier and defender is the weightlessness
- It allows the gun to be drawn easily and smoothly
- The metal clip is a high grade
- It doesn’t have frills, whistles, or bells
- It works well for shorter firearms but not for a Glock 22
4. Best IWB (Kydex): Raven Concealment Eidolon Holster
The top IWB (Kydex) holster is going to the Raven Concealment Eidolon Holster. This sleek, small holster sits very comfortably in appendix carry. It maintains a smooth and reliable draw.
The Eidolon from Raven Concealment Systems is based around a simple shell. Yet it is ideally made to fit your weapon. Your firearm will remain secure against your body. It is small, but also has optional attachments and additions. You can customize it to fit your carry needs.
The adjustable retention is a proprietary design. It keeps the weapon secured around the trigger. That allows for a more secure and crisper draw.
- Available with either a bodyside sweat guard, and a “combat cut” variation.
- Incredibly comfortable, yet secure.
- Unique retention system allows for smooth removal of the gun.
- It is very secure and comfortable
- The raven concealment Eidolon is available with either a body sweat guard or a combat cut variation
- Raven Concealment Eidolon has a unique retention system that helps with quicker draws
- The holster comes with optional attachments and an addition
- It is a little bulky
5. Best IWB (Unique): ClipDraw Gun Clip
The ClipDraw Gun Clip is not technically a holster. It does function in a similar way, though. It is incredibly versatile for a gun clip. The clip itself mounts to your firearm. Then you can place your gun in multiple positions securely.
It doesn’t have any extra material or fabrics. This may just be the most discreet way to carry your firearm. You can put this clip anywhere (within reason) on your weapon. That versatility is amazing.
- Unique mounting ability.
- Place your weapon anywhere.
- No extra material. You can carry it discreetly.
- The ClipDraw Gun Clip has a unique mounting ability
- It is very versatile
- It allows one to carry it very discreetly
- The versatility allows the users to place the gun in various positions
- There are complaints of the craftsmanship being bad for the Glock 43
6. Best IWB Holster for Athletic Shorts: The Sticky Holster MD-1
The Sticky Holsters MD-1 s a surprisingly lovely feeling holster. It also doesn’t feel anything like a holster. The sticky holster is made from thin and durable material. It adheres to your clothing and your weapon securely. You can use it as a comfortable inside-the-waistband holster.
If you want something sleek, smooth, and wearable in basketball shorts, this holster is the way to go. Other sticky holder variations tend to lose adherence over the day. This piece stays stuck and secure.
The sticky holster will feel like your gun merely is floating on your hip. It also allows the weapon to be drawn quickly. It can be placed almost anywhere for greater versatility.
- Adheres to almost anything.
- Feels great and takes up very little space.
- Really secure for a sticky holster. It is worth a shot if you are skeptical.
- The sticky holster MD-1 is made from thin and durable material
- The holster adheres to the wearer’s cloth while securing the weapon
- It is sleek, smooth and can be worn on basketball shorts
- The sticky holster MD-1 allows the weapon to be drawn quickly
- It doesn’t fit the p365
7. The Best IWB Holster for a Big or Fat Person: LIRISY XL Belly Band Holster
The LIRISY XL Belly Band Holster can either work great or not at all depending on your belly. But if a traditional holster isn’t comfortable due to your size, consider this option.
The Lirisy belly band holster is ambidextrous. It fits a wide range of weapons and people. You won’t need to look for a different holster if your weight fluctuates. The fabric is a high-quality porous neoprene. It allows your skin to breathe and prevents sweat buildup.
This band can be used all over your torso. You can quickly move this band from the small of your back to the waist. Even the shoulder area is fair game.
If traditional IWB carry doesn’t work because of your weight, you have options. First, try your back hip area, or the five o’clock position. Often this back area is a bit more comfortable for the heavyset. If your girth makes a softer elastic belly band untenable, shoulder holsters might be worth a try.
- It can be used in the carry position you prefer.
- Very versatile and breathable.
- An excellent backup holster.
- The Lirisy Xl belly band holster is perfect for overweight people
- The material is very breathable and versatile
- It makes for an excellent backup holster
- It is Ambidextrous. This means that it can be used either on the left or right side of the waist
- It doesn’t have a sweat shield
8. The Best IWB Holster for a 1911: Maxx Carry Leather Gun Holster
The Maxx Carry IWB Leather Gun Holster is a cowhide leather holster with a suede interior. It also has a full-length sweat guard. This holster sits securely. It is easy to conceal. It also fits the 1911 perfectly .
This is another no-frills, good at what it does leather holster. It is also relatively inexpensive.
This holster may not have the frills and features of other options. It still has fewer pieces that can fail or break, though. You can always rely on this Maxx Carry in a pinch. When you are talking about life-saving equipment, that is a great compliment.
For .45 owners, leather is also a traditional choice. It goes back the Americana roots of the weapon. Very little on earth feels as good as carrying a 1911 in an American Cowhide leather holster.
- The max carry is made with cowhide and has a suede interior
- It has a full-length sweat guard
- The holster is relatively inexpensive
- The Maxx Carry is made in America, which makes the quality standout
- It doesn’t securely hold the gun
9. The Best IWB Appendix Holster for the Glock 19: Pawia Leather Gun Holster
The Pawia Leather Gun Holster is another cowhide leather holster that sits securely. It is easy to conceal. It also just so happens to fit the Glock 19 perfectly.
This Pawia leather holster combines comfort with reliability. It doesn’t sacrifice the smoothness of the draw. The holster can sit anywhere inside your hip.
This holster won’t compete with the features of models that cost over $100. For what you are paying, it is arguably the top IWB Glock 19 holster around.
Functionality aside, for the price, this is also simply a great-looking piece of leather.
- Small frame conforms to the Glock 19 very well.
- Though thin, it provides a high level of comfort.
- Very attractive holster.
- Good draw for such a lightweight holster.
- The Pawia leather gun holster is easy to conceal
- It also fits the Glock 42 perfectly
- It is very comfortable yet reliable
- The draw is great for a lightweight holster
- It is not readily available
10. The Best IWB Appendix Holster for the Glock 43: The Amberide
The Amberide IWB is our favorite option for carrying the Glock 43. The ride height and waistband holster safeguards make the weapon feel very secure. The Kydex exterior isn’t too noticeable either.
Adjustable retention pressure and a customizable cant work well no matter what. The holster will feel secure. It will be easily accessible in any draw type.
Carrying the Glock 43 inside the waistband has a lot of options. The Amberide IWB is the perfect combination of durability, usability, and price.
- Very adjustable.
- Low cost.
- Feels fine on the hip.
- The amberide is a satisfaction guarantee holster. Offering low cost and durability
- It fits fine on the hip
- It comes with an adjustable retention pressure and a customizable cant
- People who like a fast draw will appreciate the amberide
- It collapses once the firearm is drawn
11. The Best IWB Appendix Holster for the Glock 26: The Galco KT224B Kingtuk
The Galco KT224B Kingtuk is a napa Leather and Kydex hybrid holster. It excels in draw speed, comfort, and versatility.
The backplate and sweat guard are made from quality saddle leather. They feel great being worn all day. The holster pocket is Kydex lined. It will keep the draw feeling snappy and crisp. The larger backing area and double clips reduce the chances of hard corners. You can wear the holster in a way that doesn’t adversely affect your draw.
All in all, this is one of the elite Glock holster choices. It fits a Glock 17 , 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 31, 32, and 33. To be fair it is over triple the price of other decent options. In the end, you have to decide if the features are worth the price.
- Fits a huge assortment of Glocks.
- Sits very comfortably for an inside-the-waistband holster.
- The hybrid design allows you to feel leather but draw on Kydex.
- The Galco KT224B kingtuk fits a wide variety of Glock pistols
- It has a hybrid weapon that allows the user to feel leather but draw on Kydex
- It allows the draw to feel super fast and snappy
- The backplate and sweat guard is made using quality saddle leather
- It doesn’t have an adjustable retention
12. The Best Tactical IWB Carry Holster: Raven Concealment Systems TLR-1 Full Shield OWB Holster
The Alien Gear ShapeShift Appendix Holster is our top overall tactical choice. Really any of the Alien Gear products on this list are great. But this one is the best example of what they do so well.
These are custom-molded to your weapon. It is designed specifically for inside-the-waistband Appendix carry . The holster is interchangeable with other Alien Gear pieces. That gives you modular customizability. Between your skin and this sturdy, durable holster is a layer of soft, sweat-wicking neoprene.
All in all, the custom fitting, flexible options, and overall great feel are perfect. You can wear this holster all day on the job without excessive discomfort. You can be sure it’ll be secure when you need it.
Shout out to this magazine inclusive tactical choice as well.
- It’s very comfortable and secure.
- Soft backing, but a solid quick draw.
- It can be added to and modified to fit other Alien Gear Products.
- The raven concealment systems TLR-1 shield owb holster is comfortable and secure
- It has a soft backing, yet it allows for a quick draw
- The holster allows for modifications to add alien gear products
- It can be worn all day without discomfort
- It is a bit chunky
13. Best CCW Alternative to an IWB Holster: Concealed Carrier Ankle Holster
The Concealed Carrier Ankle Holster is one of the most popular and well-designed alternatives to IWB carry. This ankle piece doesn’t slip or jostle around. It is perfect for a backup firearm.
The Concealed Carrier is secured by a soft double strapped neoprene. It conforms tightly to your leg but is breathable. This double-strap set-up allows you to move much more freely. There is no risk of dropping your pistol.
The pistol sits inside a Kydex pocket with quick push retention. This makes the whole design a bit larger than most concealed carry favorites. However, the high-functionality makes up for the size.
- A rare, complete, hybrid ankle holster.
- Incredibly secure for an ankle design.
- It gives you a whole other level of versatility and lethality.
- It is very secure, which is usually unlikely for an ankle holster
- It improves the users’ versatility and lethality
- The holster is secured using a double strapped neoprene
- Even though the concealed carrier ankle holster conforms tightly to the leg, it is still breathable
- The top strap velcro is poor
14. The Best IWB Cross Draw Holster
There are a few good reasons to cross-draw. You may be better at it. Or you may be more comfortable with it. The better your draw feels, the more you can rely on it when the adrenaline hits.
Another good reason to cross draw is when driving. The Active Pro Gear Driving Crossdraw fills this niche perfectly.
This unique piece allows you to carry your gun comfortably while driving. You can still draw it quickly. It is also designed not to interfere with your seatbelt.
The Active Pro Gear Driving Crossdraw is made from waterproof closed-cell foam padding. It won’t be abrasive. The rugged Cordura nylon helps it stay stiff and durable. It also allows for a quicker draw than other similar holsters.
- Comfortable cross-draw made for driving. Can be used anywhere, though.
- A quick-release thumb break to secure your weapon.
- Equipable without removing your belt.
- It is very comfortable and goes well during driving
- The active Progear comes with a quick-release thumb break
- It can be equipped without removing the belt
- The holster is made from waterproof closed-cell foam padding
- It is not easy to put on
15. Most Comfortable IWB Holster: 6 Position Ambidextrous Concealment Pancake Holster
As the name of the 6 Position Ambidextrous Concealment Pancake Holster suggests, this product allows a large array of positions. You can place it exactly where you need it.
If we are honest, this isn’t the most comfortable holster. Many of the others on here are custom-fitted and lined with suede. What this pancake variation does allow is versatility. No matter what you are wearing, you can use this holster.
- Huge versatility.
- Good secure feel.
- Velcro retention strap.
- The pancake holster leaves the gun feeling very secure
- It is very versatile
- The velcro retention strap adds to the gun security
- It isn’t very comfortable when compared to its counterparts
The Inside-the-Waistband IWB Holster FAQ
Do I need a left or right IWB holster?
You want a holster that allows you to draw your firearm quickly with your dominant hand.
If you are right-handed, you need a holster that rests your weapon on your right hip or appendix. If you are left-handed, you need a holster that rests your gun on your left hip or appendix.
When wearing a shoulder holster, the firearm should rest on the opposite armpit or rib area. Drawing a shoulder holster is near impossible to do gracefully with the same side hand.
This will vary a bit depending on the holster you purchase. A general rule of thumb is to increase your belt by 2 sizes. Measure out your belt size and increase it by a size or two. That should fit fine.
I prefer a snugger fit than a looser one. I like to use belts that utilize friction in the buckle rather than holes or notches. Friction buckles allow you to adjust to perfect size with or without the holster.
The same goes for pants. If you are wearing a waist size 36, then 38 will fit your needs with a holster.
● Why Is There No Concealment Express Holsters on this List?
Usually, this isn’t something worth mentioning. However, many Concealment Express holsters were the second choice for this list. The Concealment Express IWB KYDEX Holster is a great buy. It is worthy of any top ten, or maybe top five list. That is especially true for appendix carry options. Still, it simply isn’t the “best” in any one category. You may feel a Concealment Express holster fits your needs better. Any one of them will work well.
● How Should I Sit When Wearing a Holster?
A correctly worn holster should not change your posture. You want a holster that works with the mechanics of your body.
If you are trying to find more comfort when wearing an inside-the-waistband holster, than leather alternatives are the way to go. In many cases, barrel length is going to dictate your overall comfort. A holster really cannot do much to make a 5-inch barrel comfortable.
● What About Trigger Guards and Belt Clips?
Trigger guards and belt clips are important. But it is also crucial to consider a single product category at a time. We will have articles on trigger guards and belt clips soon.
● What’s the most comfortable IWB holster?
The most comfortable inside-the-waistband holster will always be a matter of personal opinion and body type. That said, some products we reviewed in this article were noticeably easier to wear all day. What these products all had in common were adjustability and better materials.
The most all-around comfortable holster would be The Defender Leather IWB Holster by Relentless Tactical. Other sleek, modern, leather equivalents would also work.
● What’s the best Kydex IWB holster?
Again, you will need to wear a few to find the one that suits your body shape and draw style. Kydex is stiffer than leather. The window for discomfort is greater. Be extra cautious when blind buying a Kydex holster.
Compact Kydex products made for concealed carry are often designed with lower profiles and more rounded edges. This is a great example of a comfortable Kydex holster.
● Are Kydex IWB holsters comfortable?
This is more or less answered in the previous question. Kydex is typically not considered as comfortable as leather or hybrid holsters. It is possible to find a Kydex holster that feels great, though.
● Are IWB holsters safe?
As long as you use the proper firearm and follow firearm safety procedures, inside-the-waistband options are perfectly safe. Thousands of professionals have worn IWB for decades without incident. Almost every mishap with an inside-the-waistband holster can be attributed to improper firearm handling or maintenance.
It may seem like a cop-out to say that the ultimate holster is up to you to find. That really is the truth, though. The type of firearm you use, your common activities, and your body type all dictate what is optimal for you.
A firearm is a very personal tool. The ways in which you carry and draw it will affect your holster choice.
Smaller, leather options are generally more comfortable. They do contain fewer “features” that you may want. Kydex pockets are stiffer and more durable. Outside of these universal truths, a holster purchase is a personal decision. Use our reviews above to get started on the journey.
Brian Belko is a freelance writer and blogger. His primary areas of focus include the outdoors and shooting sports. In addition to his freelance work, Brian also writes for Wide Open Spaces and is on the Pro Staff at Military Hunting and Fishing. When he isn’t busy writing, Brian enjoys fishing farm ponds for bass and hitting the spring woods during turkey season.