What does IWB and OWB Holster Mean?

Nowadays, more people than ever are deciding to bring their guns with them during their daily life. If you are looking for a new holster but don’t know where to start, then you’ve come to the right place. There are various types of holsters that there is sure to be one that fits all of your needs. 

When it comes to IWB and OWB holsters, they each have their pros and cons. IWB holsters simply mean that the gun and holster are carried inside of your waistband. OWB holsters are just the opposite and are carried outside of your waistband. 

In this article, we will cover the difference between IWB and OWB holsters, the positives and negatives of each, and examples of some that are for sale so you can see each style for yourself. If you already have a holster, or this is your first time buying a holster, this article is sure to guide you in the right direction.

The main difference between IWB and OWB holsters is the positioning (Source).

What does IWB and OWB Holster Mean? 

An IWB holster simply means that it is a holster that holds your gun inside your waistband. A simple way to remember IWB is that it means inside the waistband. An OWB holster is just the opposite of an IWB and means outside the waistband. An outside the waistband holster holds your gun outside of your waistband or on the outside of your pants. There are pros and cons of each type of holster, and the benefits vary on what you need to wear day after day. 

What are the Benefits of IWB and OWB Holsters?

IWB and OWB holsters are created to be concealed and protect your gun from the outside elements. Also, your gun positioning allows you to stay confident and reduce the chance of any misfires. 

How do IWB and OWB Compare?

There are pros and cons to both IWB and OWB holsters, and each has its benefits to get you exactly what you need. When it comes to inside waistband holsters, they are far more hidden than over waistband holsters. IWB holsters are entirely concealed, with only the handle peeking out over your pants. With your shirt pulled over IWB holsters, it is almost completely hidden. 

Another positive aspect of IWB holsters is that they are more secure throughout the day because they are secured to your belt and pressed up against your hip. Along the same lines, because of where you wear an IWB, it is sometimes not nearly as comfortable as its counterpart, OWB holsters. If your pants are already fitting tight, trying to fit a pistol inside your waistband can cause a lot of discomfort and redness from rubbing all day. 

Just like IWB holsters, OWB holsters have pros and cons as well. Over the waistband holsters allow you to draw your gun quickly and effectively without much thought. They are also typically more comfortable than holsters worn inside your waistband. A downside to OWB holsters is they are significantly harder to conceal than IWB holsters. Those that wear over the waistband holsters have to get creative in concealing their firearm, such as wearing baggy shirts. 

Which Holster is Best for Concealed Carry? 

As we mentioned above, holsters placed inside the waistband are one thousand times easier to conceal than ones outside of the waistband. IWB holsters are created to conceal easily, so if you want a holster to carry a concealed firearm every day, then IWB holsters are your best bet. 

What to Look for When Buying a Holster? 

When you are in the market for an IWB or OWB holster to use every day or every so often, there are a few factors you should always be aware of or look for. 

  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Ease of access
  • Sturdy and stays put
  • Concealed when needed

Buying a new holster can be an exciting endeavor; it’s okay to test out different shapes and styles to see what suits you best. 

What are four examples of IWB Holsters?

Crossbreed IWB Holsters

  • Leather Backing
  • More Comfortable 
  • Adjustable ride height
  • Easy Access
  • Hybrid Leather and Kydex
Black leather MiniTuck® IWB holster
Black leather MiniTuck® IWB holster (Source).

Shop for Crossbreed IWB Holsters here.

Alien Gear IWB Holsters

  • Clips for various belt sizes
  • Sturdy 
  • Dependable
  • Certain styles should not be worn on your back.
Alien Gear Holsters Original Cloak Tuck Video

Shop for Alien Gear IWB Holsters here

Concealment Express Kydex IWB Holsters

  • Budget-Friendly
  • Dependable
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to Access
  • Perfect for Hip, Back, or Appendix carry
Integrated Crimson Trace Laser IWB KYDEX holster
Integrated Crimson Trace Laser IWB KYDEX holster (Source).

Shop for Concealment Express Kydex IWB Holsters here

Tenicor IWB Holsters

  • More pricey, $87
  • Created to conform to your shape for appendix carry 
  • Sturdy 
  • Dependable
  • Easy to access 
glock holster
Glock holster (Source).

Shop for Tenicor IWB Holsters here

What are four examples of OWB Holsters?

Concealment Express Kydex OWB Holsters

  • Allows added Sights
  • Clicks when holstered
  • Ambidextrous
  • Durable
  • Minimal Material, Easier to conceal
Belt Loop Holster (Source).

Shop for Concealment Express Kydex OWB Holsters here

Alien Gear OWB Holsters

  • Clips for various belt sizes
  • Sturdy 
  • Dependable
  • Variety of prize options
  • Easy Access
Cloak Belt Holster for Concealed Carry – Alien Gear Holsters

Shop for Alien Gear OWB Holsters here

Crossbreed OWB Holsters

  • Extra Mag Clip Storage Option
  • Securely attaches to belt
  • Variety of options for price
  • Hybrid Leather and Kydex 
The reckoning system holster (Source).

Shop for Crossbreed OWB Holsters here.

Bravo Concealment OWB Holsters

  • Comfortable
  • Secure 
  • Easy Draw
  • Budget-Friendly
MaxSlide OWB Holster (Source).

Shop for Bravo Concealment OWB Holsters here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you conceal carry with an OWB holster?

Although it is harder to conceal carry with an over the waistband holster, it is still possible. You can conceal carry by wearing baggy or looser fitting clothes to conceal your OWB holster.

Do I need bigger pants to carry an IWB holster?

Carrying a holster inside your wristband means that you may run into a problem if your pants are already fitting tight. You may need to invest in some larger pants. but the size ultimately depends on what kind of gun you are carrying.


Overall, your holster’s type, style, and design comes down to how you will use your holster and what is most comfortable to you. IWB and OWB holsters are each created for different purposes, and both have their pros and cons. Take some time to decide what is most important to you for a holster and test out styles until you find what is right for you.


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Kevin was born and raised in Texas and loves all things tactical. His hobbies include shooting, hunting, rock climbing, and hiking with his dog Jax.

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