Carrying a handgun inside the waistband has become a very popular way to carry on a regular basis. As more men and women get their concealed carry permits (CCW), it is important for them to explore different methods to carry their handgun safely. The requirements for concealed carry obviously require the handgun to be concealed. There really is no more effective way to carry a handgun than in an inside waistband holster (IWB).
The basic premise for IWB concealed carry holsters is to find a location that is comfortable for the individual user. The location should be on the interior of the belt line of the person’s pants. As we know, all people have different body types and various other concerns that they must take into account. Essentially, any section of the entire interior of the waistband can be used.
Some people like to carry in the front and call this 12 o’clock. Other people choose the very middle of the back to conceal their handgun and refer to this as 6 o’clock. Any other location inside the belt line of the pants works also. By finding a comfortable holster and location, the advantage of the IWB concealment holsters prevents the holster and handgun from being viewed in plain sight, as it does not protrude past the belt line.
Three Types of Inside the Waistband Concealed Carry Holsters
LEATHER CONCEALED CARRY HOLSTERS
There are three basic versions, or materials, of inside the waistband holsters. Leather inside waistband holsters have been used for a very long time. If fact, leather was most likely the first material of any kind used as a holster. Manufacturers use cow hide, and sometimes, bull hide (stronger, more durable) to form the holster. Leather can be soft and flexible, but typically requires break-in and maintenance. One of the top performing leather holsters is the Pro Carry LT CCW IWB Leather Gun Holster for it’s durability and softness.
You can read more about the Pro Carry here, but in short, it’s lightweight, easy to manipulate up and down, and uses the finest quality leather to construct this holster. It’s easy to break in and the retention is what you would expect it to be from an upper level IWB holster. It does not have a thumb break mechanism.
Because inside the pants holsters are in close contact with the body, they can turn a different color due to perspiration. Gun oil will also cause discoloration in leather. They usually feature one or two leather loops that a belt can be drawn thru to help maintain the holsters position inside the pant line. Metal or kydex clips are sometimes attached to the holster to take the place of the belt loops.
KYDEX CONCEALED CARRY HOLSTERS
Kydex inside waistband holsters have really become popular in the past ten to fifteen years. Kydex is a type of moldable polymer, similar to plastic. It is formed using heat and is molded to the exact handgun it is being made for. Kydex is not susceptible to perspiration and oils like a leather holster. It will hold its shape even without the handgun being holstered inside of it.
The Galco Triton is a top option that is 100% Kydex and has a number of positive reviews behind its name. It’s a single clip tuckable holster and slides down your pants in between your body. It is made in the USA using a high quality, but thin Kydex, making it more comfortable than other, more bulky competitors. Many of the griefs of wearing a Kydex holster for a long period of time is that can become cumbersome and uncomfortable, but the thin Kydex of the Triton absolves owners of this problem.
You can read a full review of the Galco Triton here.
LEATHER AND KYDEX CONCEALED CARRY HOLSTERS
Recently there has been a combination of leather and Kydex inside the waistband holsters. Often called “hybrid” holsters, these holsters combine the relative comfort of the leather holster against the body, along with the retention and rigidity of the kydex holster for the handgun. In fact, the explosion of kydex and leather together to form a long lasting holster was important enough to dedicate a whole article to. Read this post on hybrid holsters and discover what some of the best options are for you.
In short, a good example of this is the Galco King Tuk holster, a popular model that is highly regarded. Of course, all of the factors I listed above need to be taken into consideration by the end user, and what he or she is comfortable with. Take a look at my more in-depth review of the King Tuk IWB by Galco.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a IWB Holster
The main advantage of carrying a handgun inside the waistband is easy concealability. All you really need to have the handgun hidden from plain view is a garment that hangs past the belt line. Most shirts and coats have the necessary length. A person must take into account that they will be standing up, sitting down, bending over, and possibly reaching over their head. The handgun must stay concealed during these normal movements. The IWB concealed carry holster also pulls the weapon in and close to the body which helps with the concealment factor and printing.
The disadvantages are minimal in my opinion. Comfort tends to be a complaint. Comfort can be minimized by experimenting with various designs, along with the position the handgun sits and is carried. Again, this is a user preference issue. Taking the time to experiment with a couple different options will ultimately lead you to the best IWB holster for your body type and comfort threshold.