IWB vs. OWB: Which Holster Style Is Right for You?

If you are an avid gun user, you must understand the importance of choosing a well-suited holster. Ensuring your holster is a perfect fit for your gun is essential for many reasons: 

  • It ensures your safety by reducing the risk of accidental discharges.
  • It provides ideal retention to prevent your firearm from falling out.
  • It allows quick and reliable access to your weapon when needed.
  • It offers comfort through ergonomics and proper weight distribution.

Another crucial aspect to consider when selecting a holster is the carry method. In this article, we compare two different firearm carry styles, inside-the-waistband (IWB) and outside-the-waistband (OWB), to help you decide which best suits your requirements. 

Inside-the-Waistband Holsters

IWB holsters are designed to be worn inside the waistband of your pants, between your underwear and pants. This style is ideal for discreet carriers and is preferred by concealed carry enthusiasts. 


  • Minimal printing

As said before, this style is excellent for concealed carry. It helps you keep a low profile by minimising visibility. 

  • Close Body Fit

IWB holsters help keep the firearm more secure and in place as it is pressed against your body, thus reducing the risk of accidental exposure or printing.


  • Reduced Comfort

Some carriers dislike having a weapon pressed against their bodies, especially for extended periods, because it can cause discomfort and chafing.  

  • Limited Gun Size Options

IWB holsters are better suited for compact firearms, so this style is inadequate for carriers of larger guns, as it can be challenging to conceal a larger firearm in an IWB holster.

When to Choose IWB Holsters

If you prioritise concealment, IWB holsters are an ideal option for you. In general, this carry method is best suited for enthusiasts who own small firearms and want to maintain a low profile while keeping their guns accessible at any moment.

Ultimately, the decision to opt for an inside-the-waistband holster should align with your preferences and requirements as well as the type of firearm you intend to carry.

Outside-the-Waistband Holsters

As the name indicates, OWB holsters are the opposite of IWB. This type of holster is designed to be placed outside the pants, usually attached to the belt. OWB holsters are completely visible, meaning they are inadequate for concealed or discreet carry. 


  • Comfort 

Because they do not press against the body, OWB holsters are usually more comfortable and do not cause chafing. 

  • Accessibility

OWB holsters also provide slightly quicker and easier access to the firearm, as it is readily available on your hip and not concealed under clothing. 


  • Less Concealability

Naturally, OWB holsters do not allow you to conceal your weapon, meaning they are not suitable if you want to keep it on the down low.

  • Retention Concerns  

While many OWB holsters offer great firearm retention, some may fail to keep the firearm in place as well as an IWB holster, which increases the chance of the gun falling out.

When to Choose OWB Holsters

OWB holsters are best suited for carriers who feel comfortable with open carry. In addition, they are also a great option for enthusiasts who carry their weapons for extended periods and require quicker and easier access to the firearm at any moment. 

Outside-the-waistband holsters can also be a more adequate choice if you prefer carrying larger, full-sized guns. 

Be aware of legal restrictions regarding open carry in your area, as some regions are subject to stricter regulations, as opposed to the concealed carry style.

Making a Decision 

Weigh the pros and cons of each carry method and determine which meets your needs. If you are still uncertain, do not hesitate to seek guidance from experts who can provide you with more detailed information and answer your questions. 


Your preferences and purpose for the firearm are crucial in selecting the preferred carry method. When making a decision, take into account the security, retention, and accessibility the holster provides. 

What is more, determine whether you prefer to wear your holster inside-the-waistband or outside-the-waistband by going through the pros and cons of each style. And if necessary, seek gun experts to help you make an informed decision.