Concealed carry is arguably the best way to defend yourself in a violent encounter. There is no doubt that a pistol is the great equalizer when ambushed or confronted by multiple, possibly larger, attackers. When seconds count, you can guarantee that the cops are minutes away. Therefore, concealed carry permits have become more popular and why we are seeing more people push for Constitutional Carry in various states. However, one of the first questions asked regarding concealed carry is what kind of holster should I get? Let’s look at the different options to conceal carrying, the top brands of the best IWB holsters, and best methods of concealing your holster.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for IWB Holsters:
- 1Bravo Concealment IWB Torsion 3.0
- 2Hidden Hybrid Holsters
- 3Raven Concealment Eidolon Holster
- 4Concealment Express IWB KYDEX Holster
- 5Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
- 6G-Code Haley Strategic Incog Half Guard IWB Tuckable Holster
- 7IronXHolsters AIWB Sidecar Kydex Holster
- 8Galco Stoe-N-Go IWB Holster
- 9Q-Series IWB Minimalist Stealth Holster
- 10Sticky Holster
Table of Contents
- Top 10 IWB Holster Companies
- OWB vs IWB vs AIWB vs Shoulder Holster
- How to Wear an IWB Holster?
- Best Methods to Conceal Your IWB
- Leather vs Kydex IWB Holsters
- Best of Both Worlds? - Hybrid Holsters
- Best IWB Holster on the Market Review
- 1 Bravo Concealment IWB Torsion 3.0
- 2 Hidden Hybrid Holsters
- 3 Raven Concealment Eidolon Holster
- 4 Concealment Express IWB KYDEX Holster
- 5 Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
- 6 G-Code Haley Strategic Incog Half Guard IWB Tuckable Holster
- 7 IronXHolsters AIWB Sidecar Kydex Holster
- 8 Galco Stoe-N-Go IWB Holster
- 9 Q-Series IWB Minimalist Stealth Holster
- 10 Sticky Holster
- IWB Holster FAQ
Top 10 IWB Holster Companies
If you like the punchline before the joke, here is the list of brands identified as being the best. Why are these the best and others are left off the list? Holster companies like T-Rex Arms, Tier 1 Concealment, and others are great at building innovative and concealable holsters. But this list will highlight companies that provide awesome holsters with immediate availability that are affordable. Most people do not have $100+ to spend on a holster. Nor do they want to wait a couple weeks, or even months, to get the ‘perfect’ one.
OWB vs IWB vs AIWB vs Shoulder Holster
For years, there has been a raging argument as to which is the best method of concealed carry. If you’re not familiar with the abbreviations, OWB is short for outside the waistband and IWB is short for inside the waistband. Another abbreviation you may have seen is AIWB which stands for appendix inside the waistband. All three methods have advantages and disadvantages and should be recommended based on what your environment will enable you to. Factors like weather, attire, an accessibility will dictate the best method for you.
Outside the waistband is without a doubt one of the most comfortable ways to carry. Allowing for a good belt and holster to carry the weight of the pistol outside your pants allows for less strain against your body and more maneuverability. In addition, OWB enables you to carry just about any size of pistol since there is no issues with clearing the waistband in larger framed pistols.
The major down side to OWB holsters and carrying this way is consistently concealing your firearm. During the colder months, wearing hoodies and jackets make it very easy to conceal a pistol. However, if you live in the desert states like New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, or Southern California, concealing OWB may be very difficult since a t-shirt is the only comfortable option especially in the summer.
Inside the waistband carry is the best way to effectively conceal your pistol, especially for compact and smaller sized firearms. It uses the waistband of your pants to not only hold the pistol against your body and allow your clothes to better conceal. This means those people that live in arid climates can easily conceal your pistol with merely a t-shirt.
What concerns most people with IWB carry is it can be very uncomfortable especially if you plan on carrying all day. In addition, many are concerned with the possibility of muzzling yourself. However, both can be mitigated by choosing the right holster, carry position and ensuring the trigger guard is adequately covered.
By far the most controversial conceal carry method is appendix inside the waistband. As mentioned previously, muzzling yourself is a concern for many when concealing at the 3 or 4 o’clock positions. However, some argue that you place your femoral artery at risk when placing a firearm at the appendix position.
The other side of the argument is that it is one of the more convenient ways to carry. Some set ups will have the holster and a magazine caddy combined in a single rig to allow you to carry everything where it is easily accessible. From a sitting position, AIWB can be more comfortable than IWB at the 3 or 4 o’clock position especially if you are sitting for prolong periods. You will also be quicker on draws from concealment due to your arms generally being closer to your pistol. Finally, the concerns on the dangers of carrying appendix can be easily mitigated. A quality kydex holster that completely covers the trigger guard and keeping clothing from bounding in the holster will ensure you will have no issues.
The last method of concealed carry to discuss is using a shoulder holster. If you’re hell bent on reliving the 1980s or need to go to a Miami Vice convention, then a should holster is your best bet. Seriously though, a shoulder holster is not necessarily the best or worst way to carry.
One major concern is always having a cover garment to conceal the pistol. The next major concern is muzzling those people standing around you. However, if these are not concerns for you then you will have one of the most comfortable methods of carry. You will also have good access to your pistol and the weight of the firearm will be even distributed across both shoulders.
How to Wear an IWB Holster?
When wearing an IWB holster, you should first consider which position you will wear it. Many will typically place the holster in the appendix, 3 o’clock, or 4 o’clock positions; however, appendix is quickly becoming very popular. The next piece that you need to consider is a good concealed carry belt. A thick, quality belt will not only keep the IWB exactly where you want it; moreover, it will hold your pistol against your body for added retention and concealment.
Best Methods to Conceal Your IWB
Once you have decided which position you want to wear your IWB, you will then want to focus on the best ways to conceal you pistol and holster. One of the best ways to conceal your firearm is the clothes you choose. Wearing form fitting shirts may not yield the set-up for concealment. Looser fitting shirts, regardless if that is a Hawaiian or standard t-shirt, will help prevent showing the outline of your pistol, or printing. If you like to wear t-shirts regularly, slightly stretching the bottom of your shirt will help prevent printing.
The next piece that could help in concealment is finding a holster that has a concealment claw or look to add one. A concealment claw is usually a “L” shaped piece of kydex or plastic that will push against the inside of your waistband. That will push the end of the pistol grip more against your body assisting in preventing printing.
Finally, choosing a pistol that will easily conceal will be very helpful. You can carry a full-size pistol, and many do; however, it may not be comfortable or practical for some. A pistol that is approximately the size of a Glock 19 or smaller are ideal for IWB. These types of firearms will have a smaller footprint, will be more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and will not print as much.
Leather vs Kydex IWB Holsters
Inside the waistband is arguably not the most comfortable way to carry. Leather softening techniques have become widely know which allows for more companies to produce better, more supple holsters. Having a holster that feels good against your body is one main reason why a lot of people continue to buy these holsters. In addition, innovative designs have increased the modularity and popularity among the concealed carry crowd.
However, leather holsters do have some faults. First, leather holsters do not have much retention to begin with and as they start to break-in or wear down, they will become loose. Next, the texture of rough leather holsters tends to grab clothing or allow a shirt to stick inside a holster making re-holstering precarious to say the least. This could then lead to a negligent discharge if the clothing is not cleared before re-holstering. Due to this issue, a lot of people do not recommend leather holsters for the more modern pistols like Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P series, or the Sig Saur P320/P365 series of pistols that do not have a manual thumb safety.
Kydex is a material that has become more popular in the last 15-20 years and is a type of thick plastic that can be easily molded into various designs. It is inexpensive and extremely rigid allowing for holster manufactures to design some interesting products. The inherent rigidity allows kydex holsters to have the best passive retention of any type of holster. This feature makes these types of holsters sought after my many serious ccw people.
Nonetheless, kydex has its issues, too. The material’s rigidity does make for a more uncomfortable product compared to its leather brethren. The abrasiveness of kydex does deter some people from using it as their primary holster. In addition, if a company does not use quality, thick kydex then it can become brittle and break with extensive or extreme use.
Best of Both Worlds? - Hybrid Holsters
Hybrid holsters have surged in popularity as innovative products have pushed the envelop on comfort and retention. A hybrid holster is a holster that bridges the gap between kydex and leather holsters. These will have a kydex front for retention with a leather, or synthetic, backing for comfort. This combination has created innovative designs that will accommodate most styles of pistols regardless if you are looking for an IWB or OWB holster.
Best IWB Holster on the Market Review
As mentioned, there are plenty of companies that are not listed below that are better. However, the below brands will have immediate availability at a price that almost anyone can afford. Other manufacturers that arguably will have better products will normally have a lead time and could cost upwards of $120. That can be frustrating to wait for a holster when you want to conceal carry right away or must buy a filler holster while you wait. However, here is the list of holsters that will give you quality at an affordable price.
1 Bravo Concealment IWB Torsion 3.0
Born in a garage in 2012, Bravo Concealment has become one of the most trusted names in kydex holsters. The popularity was garnered by providing a quality product at an affordable price. Their holsters use the best kydex available and technology to create a holster that provides comfort, fit and concealability. In addition, their focus on customer service will ensure you are 100% satisfied or get a refund with their 30-day money back guarantee and an unlimited lifetime warranty. No matter the reason, they will refund or replace your holster should there be any issues and you are not completely satisfied.
The Torsion 3.0 is the newest IWB will accommodate most popular pistols on the market today. It innovative design not only contours your body but will also assist in preventing printing. The Torsion 3.0 integrates a 10-degree forward angle for better draws and re-holstering with robust 1.5” injection molded belt clips.
2 Hidden Hybrid Holsters
Hidden Hybrid Holsters (HHH) is the best hybrid holster on the market. Their reputation of producing a holster with a rigid kydex front for good positive retention and comfortable high-quality leather backing is challenged by few. Using Amish leather with a suede backing to lock the holster exactly where you want it increases the comfort compared to other holsters. Much like Bravo Concealment, HHH was started in a garage because the founder, Dave Kerry, was not happy with the options that were available. So, he took matters in his own hands and decided to create what he thought would be the most comfortable and functional holster on the market. Regardless if you have a j frame revolver, a Glock 43 or a 1911 there is no doubt that Dave Kerry succeeded in his goal.
Using a proprietary method of forming the kydex around the pistol to ensure excellent retention. In addition, Hidden Hybrid ensures full trigger coverage for safety and fully adjustable retention screws for the correct passive retention for what you need. Ultimately, the HHH IWB holster will be a great option for concealed carry that will be an easy fit and functional.
3 Raven Concealment Eidolon Holster
Raven Concealment has been a solid performer for holsters that are on a higher end of the budget spectrum. The Eidolon was designed over a 3-year period to precisely fit the firearm of your choice. It is also crafted to work well with the belt, clothing, body type and position of carry you choose. Raven Concealment’s priority with the Eidonlon is providing a functional holster that will maximize concealment.
The Eidonlon sets itself apart from most holsters by not only including a concealment claw but also a holster spacer for additional concealment. The spacer, also known as a wedge, is affixed on the backside of the holster to help push the pistol closer to your body. This holster also has adjustable clips and retention to ensure it sits at the height you like while keeping the tension set at your preference. Even though it is somewhat pricey, you are getting everything you need for excellent concealment and more!
4 Concealment Express IWB KYDEX Holster
Concealment Express is a brand that encapsulates the essence of this list. Their IWB kydex holster is simple, durable, and functional. While this could be used for AIWB, this holster will excel at strong side or strong hip carry with its -5 to +20 degree adjustable 1” belt clip. Concealment Express can accommodate a large variety of pistols because of its simple design and keep the price well under $50.
As expected with higher end models, this holster will have adjustable retention. This allows for the positive ‘click’ when holstering to ensure you are aware of the excellent passive retention. Concealment Express also offers an unconditional lifetime warranty to ensure your satisfaction is guaranteed. For a quick concealment solution this holster will fit your needs nicely.
5 Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
Another hybrid holster to consider is the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5. This holster is extremely comfortable for strong side and hip carry due to its long design that distributes the weight across your belt line. Differing from the Hidden Hybrid Holsters, Alien Gear uses a neoprene backing to help with sweat-wicking and breathable to mitigate irritation.
Alien Gear prides itself by offering this holster for over 500 pistols. The holster’s toolless design adds in comfort and reliability which eliminates the concern of screws loosening or backing out over time. Alien Gear accomplishes this by using screwless clips that are easy to install and adjust. Another great holster for those who like the idea of a hybrid style.
6 G-Code Haley Strategic Incog Half Guard IWB Tuckable Holster
G-Code has taken a different approach to comfort and kydex holsters. Partnering with Haley Strategic, the Incog was developed with provide a holster with minimum bulk, deep concealment, and capable of different carrying angles. The Incog uses a suede type of material to surround the holster for additional comfort and reduction in irritation from the abrasive kydex.
Their biggest selling point with design of the Incog is the user’s ability to get a full, proper grip of the pistol prior to drawing. The belt clips have a negative angle that forces the holster to hug your body. They also have several mounting points to get consistent and repeatable positioning on your belt. This holster will maximize function regardless of body size, position preference or your type of employment tactics.
7 IronXHolsters AIWB Sidecar Kydex Holster
The appendix IWB ‘sidecar’ style of holster rig has become extremely popular. IronXHolsters has developed their version of the sidecar to increase your ability to carry your pistol and spare magazine for the fastest draw possible. Having a magazine accessible near your firearm helps keep all your tools centrally located. Constructed of .08 kydex and RCS overhook clips, the wide design will distribute the weight across the front of your body for the most comfortable possible AIWB holster.
IronXHolster also designed the holster to be open at the muzzle to allow for threaded or compensated barrels. This is something that has become more popular with the younger crowd of concealed carriers. A concealment claw comes standard and will aid in keeping the frame close to your body. While these holsters are not meant for everyone, they are extremely capable of increasing drawing times while maintaining concealment.
8 Galco Stoe-N-Go IWB Holster
Galco has been a quality name for leather holsters for 50 years when the company was started as The Famous Jackass Leather Company. The name took inspiration from the founder’s strict focus on the highest quality standards. In the 1980s, the company was rebranded and gained fame with their Jackass shoulder system in the hit TV show Miami Vice.
The Stow-N-Go is a simple holster that works great with sub and micro-compact pistols. Its small footprint allows for easy concealment yet comfortable enough for all day wear. The Stow-N-Go features a robust metal clip that will hold the holster in place regardless of the position. The simple and sleek design also makes for an affordable holster that will stand the test of time.
9 Q-Series IWB Minimalist Stealth Holster
Q-Series has developed an innovative take on a minimalist holster. Their Stealth holster is essentially a trigger guard that has an ambidextrous steel spring clip. This set up will keep your trigger safe from snagging on your clothing. Q-Series has these minimalist holsters for a variety of full-sized pistols; however, due to the weight and position of clip, compact or smaller pistols are ideal.
Your body would be exposed to the rigid angles of your pistol and may not be as comfortable as others on this list. But, Q-Series is really focusing on an option that is a quick fix. Should you be waiting on a custom permanent holster, or if you are just making a fast run to the store and do not want to use a larger holster, this would be easy to grab and use. This is definitely an ‘outside-the-box’ option compared to the other holsters on this list.
10 Sticky Holster
Last, but definitely not least, is this sleeve style holster that is also an ‘out-of-the-box’ take on what a holster should be. Sticky Holsters are made from an extreme non-slip material that utilizes the friction from your waistband to stay in place. The holster is also padded with a layer of closed-cell foam for the best possible comfort from this method of carrying.
This holster is perfect for women to pair with leggings or when they are wanting to dress up but do not want to wear a belt. It is also useful for those who do not want to leave their pistol at home while they head to the gym. Either way, this is a great, tuckable holster that will allow for free movement and will stay in place without belts or clips.
IWB Holster FAQ
Should I Get a Left or Right IWB Holster?
When researching the holster that will be right for you, you will need to determine if you want a left or right holster. Many are ambidextrous; however, those that are not will ask when you are checking out. What this is really asking is which hand is dominate? If you are right-handed then you will more than likely want a right IWB holster and visa versa.
How to Measure a Belt for IWB Carry?
The quick answer is that you should have a belt that will allow for an additional 2-4” of length. However, this will be dependent on a couple of factors. If you carry a full-sized pistol and a kydex holster you will require a longer section of belt than a single-stack, slim sub-compact pistol will. Also, positioning of the holster may, or may not, require additional length as well. Carrying in the small of the back could require a smaller belt than appendix carry.
How to Sit With a Holster?
Sitting while carrying IWB can be challenging at times. But, the longer you carry the easier it will become to sit and carry IWB. Small, unnoticeable adjustments can be your best friend before sitting. Moving a pistol from the 4 o’clock to the 3 o’clock position could be a major difference in comfort. While moving a holster higher up on your stomach when carrying AIWB will relieve some pressure too. It is always good to practice sitting with a new holster to understand where the most comfortable position and reposition works best for you.
Carrying IWB is the best way to fully conceal a firearm. Determining what is right for you is going to be a matter of personal preference much like deciding on which car is right for you. There is nothing wrong with buying a holster and trying it for a couple of weeks and returning it if it doesn’t work out.
The biggest piece of advice in choosing the best IWB holster is to find a holster that works for you and not a holster that you work for it. Trying to mold yourself to a particular holster will be uncomfortable, frustrating and possibly deadly should you need to rely on it. Most companies will have money back guarantees, so do not be afraid to use it.