Few people may realize that all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow the carrying of a concealed firearm. Of those, 34 states require a permit of some type whether it be a “may” or “shall” issue permit. There are now 15 states that have permit-less or “constitutional carry” laws that allow residents, in most cases, to carry open or concealed without a permit.
With so many states allowing residents to conceal carry, it is important to find the right equipment. Functionality, comfortability, and affordability are the most important aspects for most consumers but with so many options it is hard to determine which is the best OWB holster. Let’s look at the differences between, inside the waistband (IWB) verse outside the waistband (OWB), the top OWB brands, and how to best conceal your holster.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for OWB Holsters:
Best Kydex OWB Holsters
Best Leather OWB Holsters
Best Hybrid OWB Holsters
Table of Contents
- Top 8 OWB Holster Brands
- IWB vs OWB
- How Best to Conceal OWB Holsters?
- Choosing the Holster’s Material: Leather vs Kydex
- The Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Holsters
- What Makes for a Good OWB Holster?
- Best OWB Holster on the Market Review
- Best Kydex OWB Holsters
- Best Leather OWB Holsters
- Best Hybrid OWB Holsters
- The Verdict
Top 8 OWB Holster Brands
For those of you that want your dessert before the main course, here is a list of the best brands that are easy to find and always available. While there are a plethora of holster brands out there, this list will provide you with manufacturers that will have availability, good quality at the right price. This list will be divided into kydex, leather and hybrid styles of holsters and will be in no particular order
IWB vs OWB
There will always be an argument as to which is the best way to conceal your pistol. If you’re not familiar, inside the waistband, or IWB, is concealing your firearm in a holster that is tucked between your body and the waistband of your pants. This method is the best way to deep conceal most all compact pistols such as a Glock 19 or smaller. The major down side to this method of carry is that it is not very comfortable and not necessarily conducive for all body types.
Outside the waistband, or OWB, is concealing a firearm under a shirt or jacket while attached to your belt or pants line. This makes for an extremely comfortable method of carrying a firearm and will allow you to carry most any pistol regardless of size. However, by gaining comfort you will lose some ability to conceal. Over garments will help in concealing your firearm; however, your pistol is more likely to print, or show the outline of your weapon, than you would if you were to carry IWB.
If comfort is your major concern as you conceal carry, then OWB is the way to go. That is not to say you cannot carry comfortably with IWB holsters; you most certainly can. But since your pistol is not pressed up against you with an IWB holster it is easy to see why OWB is more comfortable.
How Best to Conceal OWB Holsters?
As mentioned, carrying OWB will give you a more comfortable option but will be more apt to print. One way to help with printing is to adjust your clothing options. Wearing loose overshirts, such as “Hawaiian” shirts is the easiest way to help conceal your pistol especially if you are carrying full-size pistols like the 1911 or Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm.
The most difficult way to conceal your pistol while wearing an OWB holster is by just covering it with a t-shirt. Hot weather may mandate that a t-shirt is the only viable option and printing will be the biggest concern. Stretching the bottom half of your shirt is a great way to help with concealment. Pulling the bottom of the shirt away from your front and back will stretch the strands for the shirt to lay more loosely than when it was first put on. The shirt will then naturally create wrinkles and sways that will hide the outline of your pistol.
Another option is wearing hoodies or jackets with your carry weapon. This is not the best option in summer in places like Florida or Arizona; however, would work very well in autumn, winter and early spring. Bulky coats will conceal your pistol with no printing in the colder months when coats are expected at be worn.
Finally, the most important, and often forgotten, piece to the conceal carry kit is your belt. You want to ensure your belt is rigid and capable of adequately holding the weight of your holster and pistol. A great test of a belt is to loop the belt through the buckle and hold it in front of you by the buckle parallel to the ground. If the belt sags or droops, it is not a good belt for concealed carry.
Choosing the Holster’s Material: Leather vs Kydex
Just like choosing between IWB and OWB, there is a question as to what type of material you want your holster made of. Leather has been the traditional material used in crafting holsters for well over 100 years. Because of this, softening techniques are widely known now and leather holsters are more comfortable than ever. Coupling innovative holster designs and placement of belt loop holes or attachment clips has made leather holsters some of the best options.
However, leather holsters have two main faults. Leather has been and always will be extremely pliable. While it may begin rigid, over time heat, sweat and usage will wear the holster down. This will cause issues with retaining the pistol in the holster. The next major issue with leather holsters are with modern pistols. Handguns like Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&P, and the Sig Sauer P365 will have trigger safeties in lieu of the traditional thumb safety. The pliable nature of leather holsters can cause negligent discharges should the holster become loose enough to actuate the trigger safety.
Kydex is a newer material that has gained in popularity in the last 15 years because of its rigidity and how inexpensive it is. Kydex can be easily formed into just about any shape with heat and minor pressure. Manufacturing kydex to exact specifications has allowed this material to become a more popular material. In addition, kydex can be formed around the trigger guard of the pistol to create very safe holsters with positive retention that would hold the pistol far better than a leather holster. Even pistols with attached lights and/or lasers can have a level of retention based on the way the kydex is formed.
However, kydex isn’t perfect. Due to the material’s rigidity, kydex holsters are uncomfortable compared to leather. The texture of kydex is abrasive against the skin and not as conforming to the body as leather is. The material can become brittle and break with extensive or extreme use if the holster is made with thin kydex.
The Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Holsters
Innovators have developed a new style of holsters that combine the strength of kydex with the comfort of leather. The hybrid holster will have a leather or synthetic backing providing the comfort that leather holsters are renown for. Utilizing a backing made from soft material will allow the holster to hug the contour of the wearers body. The front of the holster is made from kydex to provide positive retention and protection around the trigger. This combination has created a lot of designs that will accommodate most consumers regardless if you are looking for IWB or OWB holsters.
What Makes for a Good OWB Holster?
Mark Grimsley with a Hidden Hybrid Holsters OWB holster
Finding a good OWB holster will always be linked to what you need a holster to accomplish. Holsters will either accomplish comfort or concealability; rarely both. That is not to say you will not find a comfortable holster that conceals well; however, most will find that they will have to “grow into” a comfortable holster.
With that being said, a good holster will need to have the following components.
Best OWB Holster on the Market Review
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of companies that offer a variety of holsters that will do you good. However, ensuring that you will be able to purchase one when you want it at the price that is fair can be difficult. Some higher end manufacturers will have a lead time that could be up to 6 weeks and many have found themselves buying a cheap filler while they wait. That can be extremely frustrating and expensive. Here is the list of holsters that will give you quality and availability for a fair price.
Best Kydex OWB Holsters
1 Safariland 576 Pro Fit GLS
Safariland is one of the best manufacturers for duty style holsters for military and law enforcement. However, what few people may not realize is that they also have some awesome everyday carry (EDC) holsters as well. The 576 and 578 holsters are an universal holster design that will accommodate over 225 pistols with a minor adjustment. You will need to determine which model will fit your pistol using Safariland’s sizing chart; however, you will be able to choose between a body-hugging paddle to ensure a close-fitting design.
What sets the 576 Pro Fit GLS apart from a lot of holsters is the level 2 Grip Locking System (GLS). The GLS will lock a pistol into the holster and will easily unlock as the wearer naturally grips the pistol. As a proper grip is initiated on the pistol, the middle finger will actuate a lever that will release the pistol. This system gives the wearer additional peace of mind that the pistol will have positive retention. While the Safariland 576 GLS holster is one of the bulkier holsters on this list, it still will conceal easily under a sweater, jacket or coat.
2 Bravo Concealment OWB BCA Light Bearing Holster
Bravo Concealment was founded in a garage in 2012 in the hopes to provide the best quality concealment holsters. Since then, they have garnered a name that has focused on not only quality but also customer service. In just a few years, Bravo Concealment coupled with technology with high-end materials to create a holster that provides comfort, fit and finish at a price almost anyone can afford. Regardless if you are looking for an OWB or an IWB holster, Bravo Concealment stands behind their unlimited lifetime warranty and 30-day money back guarantee. No matter what the reason they will either refund (within 30-days) or replace your holster if there is a problem.
The OWB holsters from Bravo has a unique design that will contour your hip. The holster will accommodate a weapon mounted light, threaded barrel and a red dot cut as a standard option. The BCA holster will have a 10 degree cant for easy drawing with robust 1.5” injection molded belt clips. This holster also has rounded edges to ensure this holster is as comfortable as possible. With all these features with Bravo Concealment’s excellent availability makes their line of holsters one of the best.
3 Blade-Tech Total Eclipse Holster
Blade-Tech has become known as one of the most economic brands on the market. They are able to do that by mass producing holsters for the most common types of pistols such as the 1911, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and Springfield pistols. The Total Eclipse is precision-molded with quality materials making their holsters very durable. While Blade-Tech holsters are rigid, they also have a slight give that makes them very comfortable to wear. This holster is packed with features that provides the wearer quality and utility no matter what the need.
The Total Eclipse’s features start with the belt clips. The kit that is included with every holster provides you with the ability to wear it as an IWB or OWB holster. In addition, you are able to reverse the clips to creating a truly ambidextrous design as needed. The holster can easily be canted to provide you the perfect angle for responsive draws. Due to the material that Blade-Tech uses, a positive and strong passive retention is built in and adjustable. Blade-Tech’s Total Eclipse holster will check all the blocks you need in an OWB holster.
4 We The People OWB Kydex Concealed Carry Holster
We The People is an up-and-coming holster manufacturer that is usually seen in your social media feed. Their aggressive marketing campaign has garnered them a lot of looks and the consensus is you’re getting a great holster. One of the most interesting things with We The People’s OWB holster is the paddle clip. This paddle not only pulls the holster close to you but also has innovative angled edges to securely hook into a 1.5” belt or the inside of a waistband. It is also contoured for comfort against your body and capable of being canted to give you the best option for your carry option.
We The People’s OWB has adjustable retention to ensure you are getting the perfect grip on your pistol. It is made with a very nice undercut trigger guard to ensure a firm, full grip on your pistol when drawing. Rounding out the holster is an open-ended bottom compatible with threaded barreled pistols. For those of you who like a personalized touch to your holsters, they offer 18 colors/designs for you to choose from. Overall, We The People has produced a great holster for OWB carry and will suit you very well.
Best Leather OWB Holsters
5 1791 Gunleather Thumb Break Holster
Finding a good quality leather holster can always be a challenging task. However, 1791 Gunleather is making some of the finest leather holsters available. The 100% American Steerhide is reinforced and double stitched providing a durable, comfortable, yet lightweight holster enabling you to carry all day with no issues. They control the whole handcrafted manufacturing process in their own factory to ensure you are getting the highest quality holster possible. 1791 Gunleather wants you to be as comfortable as possible and has added multi-cant positioning in their leather holsters that have become standard in most kydex holsters.
One of the biggest appeals to the 1791 Gunleather Thumb Break holster is the price. You may expect to pay upwards of $100 for a holster of this quality; however, they offer these for about half that. This not only gives you quality but affordability in one of the most comfortable leather holsters on the market. To add to 1791 Gunleather’s quality, they stand behind their products with a lifetime warranty. They truly believe in the customer’s 100% satisfaction and should there be an issue they offer a no-hassle return policy.
6 Relentless Tactical Comfort Carry Leather Holster & Mag Pouch Combo
One of the most interesting holsters on this list is the Relentless Tactical Comfort Carry Leather Holster. This holster has a magazine pouch integrated into the design to enable you to carry an additional magazine. This allows you to be prepared for any situation regardless if that is a multi-attacker situation or a malfunction that requires a mag change. The belt loops also pull the holster and mag pouch close to your body for concealment.
One of the most appealing aspect to this holster is it versatility in fitting it to your pistol. Their standard holster will fit over 30 types of compact handguns in addition to most 1911s. This allows for a “one size fits most” feature that could benefit someone that carries different types of pistols throughout the week. In addition, this made in USA holster is backed by Relentless Tactical’s lifetime warranty to ensure your 100% satisfaction.
Best Hybrid OWB Holsters
7 Hidden Hybrid Holsters Concealed Carry Gun Holster
Without a doubt, Hidden Hybrid Holsters (HHH) is the best hybrid holster on the market. They have painstakingly crafted a holster that provides the comfort of leather with the retention of kydex. They do this by using an Amish leather backing with a kydex shell to lock the handgun into the holster all the while giving you the comfiest wearing holster available. Starting in his garage, Dave Kerry was not happy with the products on the market and took matters into his own hands. Since then HHH has moved into a modern facility and perfected their manufacturing process.
HHH using a proprietary method of forming the kydex tightly against the pistol to ensure maximum retention, full trigger coverage and the perfect sight channel without being oversized. Even though leather is already comfortable, HHH went a step further and added a suede backing to add to comfort and ensure the holster stays put. The ingenious for HHH’s design is that it can be worn as an IWB or OWB holster making it more versatile to the user. Finally, Hidden Hybrid Holsters are so sure of their product they offer a lifetime warranty with a 30-day “one question return policy.” The only question they will ask is how they can improve. That speaks volumes about not only the product but also the company.
8 Crossbreed Holsters SnapSlide OWB Holster
Crossbreed is a viable competitor to Hidden Hybrid Holsters in the hybrid market. Mark Craighead decided to develop a holster of his own after collecting a box of holsters he was never satisfied with. Soon, Crossbreed had gained recognition as being one of the most comfortable and functional concealment holsters available. Mark was so concerned about the quality of these holsters that he personally trained each craftsman.
The OWB holster is simple but maximizes comfort and retention with the hybrid design. Its high and tight design will keep your handgun pinned just behind the wearers hip on the strong side. With a forward cant, holstering and unholstering your pistol is quick and easy. Crossbreed offers this holster in a wide verity of firearms to include revolvers. For those of you that like color, they also offer 5 colors for the kydex to allow you to somewhat personalize the holster to you.
No doubt, you can find a holster for your pistol; however, will it fit your needs? That is the best way to determine if a holster is right for you. Which is more important to you; comfort or utility? It is more likely that you will have to grow into a holster before you find a holster that provides both right out of the box. Hopefully, this article has allowed you to think about what is right for you and provide you with the best OWB holster options to think about.