The laws for concealed carry vary from state to state, requiring that pistols stay hidden. Choosing the right holster can make hiding your gun underneath clothing much easier and more comfortable. There are many styles and designs of gun holsters on the market to choose from. The most popular design in holsters is the IWB holster which stands for ‘inside-the-waistband’.
With this style of holster it is carried inside your waistband between your pants or jeans and your underclothing. Some IWBs even offer the option of tucking your shirt in so you have a clean appearance while still properly concealing your gun.
Most Comfortable IWB Holster Comparison
|Material||Neoprene||Neoprene||Boltaron||600D Nylon||Leather||Bullhide Leather||600D Nylon||Kydex Leather||Leather||Kydex Leather|
|Holding Size||Sub Compact, Mid Size, Full Size||Custom Fit||Standard||Small||Universal||Full Size, Compact||Small||Custom Fit||Compact||Custom Fit|
Most Comfortable IWB Holster Buying Guide
There are two main types of IWB holsters:
- Pancake – This type of holster is constructed from two layers of material, most often leather, nylon cloth, Kydex, or Boltaron.
- Hybrid – Hybrids have a plastic retention shell that is connected to a composite backer of cloth or some other material. Depending on the brand, the backer can be made from nylon, leather, or another type of backer that is made from many layers of material.
IWB holsters and OWB holsters are made from the same type of materials. The most common ones include durable plastic, leather, and strong nylon cloth. Each type of material has drawbacks and benefits.
Leather IWB holsters will be very tight fitting at first and are very comfortable. The drawback to them is that they can put a lot of weight in a specific area depending on where the loops or belt clips are located. They are also known to be bit warm in hot weather and absorb sweat giving them a sweaty, not pleasant smell. Leather will soften over time and lose retention so although it is durable and looks nice, you may want to consider other materials.
If you choose other materials, you may want to consider a durable plastic such as Kydex or Boltaron which are injection-molded plastics that are specifically molded for a certain type of pistol. Not all plastics are created for specific pistols but you will need to check the descriptions to know for sure.
If you like pancake holsters and choose the plastic varieties you may find that they are not very comfortable against the skin. Holsters that are made from nylon or other types of cloth are typically made for a range of pistols and not one specific model so you have some flexibility.
Leather is a common material for backing. It will take a little bit of time to wear comfortably and break-in but companies are working to create holsters that don’t have this uncomfortable breaking-in time. One of the biggest problems you have to watch out for is thin leather.
Some companies use leather that is very flimsy which wears out faster. Thicker leather on the backing is much more comfortable but tends to get warm during hot weather which can be a nuisance.
Recently, neoprene has come onto the scene as a backer that has met with positive reviews. Neoprene is a sponge-like material that is soft and very comfortable. It can also work as a moisture wicker if open cell neoprene is used. Closed cell neoprene repels moisture which is better to use as a backer.
IWB Holster Considerations
There are several things you will want to consider when it comes to your IWB holster. These points are important in ensuring a quality product that is comfortable and that takes care of your needs.
- Drawing – A gun is a self-defense tool used to protect yourself and your family. There are times when you will need to access it in a speedy manner. The best IWB holster allows for smooth, fast drawing. You want to look for holsters that allow the user complete grip of the pistol easily while enabling the release of retention accessories that are built in.
- Concealment – Proper concealment allows you the element of surprise when facing an attacker that is threatening you with deadly force. The concealment feature also prevents accidental exposure which could scare people around you. People could end up calling law enforcement on YOU if they do not know you and see a flash of a gun, especially if you are entering a public place.
- Retention – Retention allows your pistol to stay intact unless you draw. Keep in mind that most attackers will go after you with a lot of aggression. Not every situation will be a need for your gun. High quality IWB holsters have retention features that allow the gun to stay in place and prevent it from slipping and falling down. Retention features range from complicated internal devices to simple thumb breaks. There are three levels of retention:
- Level 1 – Level one means there is only one retention device that could be a strap or thumb break.
- Level 2 – Level two holsters have two retention devices and could include a strap AND an internal device. Level two is the most popular. The best IWB holsters are level twos.
- Level 3 – Level three holsters have several retention devices and may not always be the best choice for an IWB holster.
- Comfort – Choosing a holster that focuses on comfort as well as safety will ensure that you will not want to leave your pistol at home. If every time you put the holster on you are uncomfortable you are much more likely to look for reasons to not wear it which defeats the purpose of having it. Choose an IWB holster that is comfortable to wear and easy to use and you will have no issues with putting it on each day.
- Precise Fit – Some of the IWB holsters are designed to fit specific pistols. Most guns have a holster that is just for them. The idea is to find the best IWB holster for your specific gun or guns. Check out reviews and if you can, try out a few holsters before ordering one online.
- Re-holstering – You want to choose an IWB holster that stays open rigidly once the gun has been drawn so you can re-holster it one-handed easily. You need to have your other hand free in dangerous situations so the more you can do one-handed the safer you will be.
IWB Holster Features
Below are the features that you may find with different companies. The number of features a particular holster has will depend on who has made it. Different companies will focus on certain features while others will not.
- Belt Clips / Loops – This is the most common feature that most IWB holsters have. These belt clips come in many different forms but ideally, a simple clip is what you want, made from durable plastic or metal. Metal clips are not automatically stronger; it depends on the quality of the metal used to make each clip. Some clips are designed for better concealment on a deeper level. Some clips, known as J-clips or C-clips allow the belt slide to slide over the clip. These clips will all but disappear when they are on the belt line. Most people will not even notice them unless they know what they are looking for.
- Tuckability – Another feature to look for is tuckability. There are some designs that make it easy to tuck in your shirt right over the holster which conceals your pistol even more. Loos for a space to be present between the holster and the clip that will allow apace for your shirt.
- Loop Placement – The older designs for IWB holsters put the weight of the gun in a smaller area which is much more noticeable to you when carrying it. The IWB holster with the winged design allows the weight to be spread out more which makes it more comfortable. Don’t forget about the adjustable cant angle. This is the angle that the grip is situated in. A holster with a forward cant helps conceal the pistol better and makes drawing easier if you are sitting down when you need it.
- Backing – Look for a holster that has a strong, comfortable backing such as closed cell neoprene or quality leather. Closed cell neoprene will repel moisture and prevent it from becoming uncomfortable against your skin or getting ruined by being wet and then cracking or lying against your skin and causing discomfort from the dampness.
There are many different facets to a good IWB holster. If you are new to gun carrying, you may not have heard of things like retention, cant angle, and other features. It is important to know what a good quality holster has so you know what to look for when you are researching the different choices available.
If you know what to look for and you understand the different options that are available, you should be able to sort through the different brands and styles of IWB holsters and find the ones that appeal to you. Before you start looking, you will need your make and model of gun so you can ensure that the holster will fit.
There are great deals for IWB holsters online, but a good way to find the type of holsters you like it to go to a gun shop and try a few out on your pistol. You can try different brands and then once you have settled on one, go home and order it. You will find much better deals when it comes to price, online, so don’t pay retail, but it is a great way to get your hands on the holster and see how it feels.
The information in this guide is designed to help you understand the higher quality IWB holsters so you can narrow the field and not have so many to go through. Any one of the top ten holsters we have featured above is popular choices with experienced gun owners. They are constructed from premium materials and made by well-respected companies that know what is needed in a good IWB holster.
The right product will be comfortable, easy to put on and take off, have all the safety features you need and stand up to daily use without having to be replaced frequently. If you like having a custom fit for your pistol, choose the Alien Gear Holster that designs their holsters according to the make/model gun you have. It doesn’t get more custom than a holster that is designed for your exact gun.