Handguns > News

Three Factors of IWB Holsters

Choose your IWB holster wisely, by following these three tips from Sheriff Jim Wilson.


Inside-the-waistband holsters are some of the most popular rigs for concealed carry and for good reason, as they are one of the best ways to conceal a defensive handgun. They can be concealed with just about any sort of covering garment, and they adequately minimize the gun's outline on the clothing. In addition, IWB holsters are manufactured by just about every holster maker in operation, giving consumers a wide selection from which to choose. However, there are three important factors to consider when selecting an IWB holster.

The first of these considerations is not really about the holster as much as it is about the pants in which the holster is carried. In order to comfortably carry a defensive handgun using an IWB holster, your pants need to be a bit larger in the waist. It is a good idea to buy pants that are one waist-size larger than what you would normally wear. And, if your choice of carry pistols is very thick, it might be wise to go to two sizes larger.

Clint Smith says that defensive handguns do not have to be comfortable, they have to be comforting. But the fact is, if the gun and rig are gouging the wearer's side it won't be long before he or she is tempted to leave it at home. It is important to make sure that the waist size is large enough to accommodate the handgun comfortably.

Second, IWB holsters are attached to the belt in a variety of ways. The least of which are those that have metal bands that snap down over the belt. It is not uncommon for these to come loose during a defensive pistol presentation. And, when they do, the holster will come out with the handgun. This could not only slow one's response but could really ruin a day.

The best IWB holsters have leather straps that go around the belt and snap back on the holster. These are just as concealable and far more secure. This type of IWB holster generally uses the one-way snaps that make the attachment even more secure. As with any defensive rig, a proper IWB holster will not impede the pistol presentation in any way.

Finally, it is important for the defensive shooter to be able to re-holster with one hand. In fact, a shooter shouldn't even have to look down while putting away a pistol. In order to accomplish this, the mouth of the holster has to stay open even when it is empty. 

Manufacturers of leather IWB holsters usually solve this problem by stitching an extra layer of leather around the holster mouth or by inserting a thin strip of metal between the two layers of leather. This allows the holster mouth to stay open and facilitates re-holstering with one hand. Kydex IWB holsters will, of course, stay open without this added reinforcement.

IWB holsters make an excellent choice for the defensive shooter. You should get pants that allow the rig to fit comfortably, make sure that the holster attaches securely to the pants belt and be sure that the holster is designed so that the pistol can be re-holstered with one hand.

You should also remember that, like anything else, you get what you pay for. It is wise to give some extra thought to your personal needs before buying an IWB holster. And it is smart to buy the best quality holster available. After all, a good IWB holster will last indefinitely.

Share |



Enter your comments below, they will appear within 24 hours

Your Name

Your Email

Your Comment

19 Responses to Three Factors of IWB Holsters

Terry wrote:
June 10, 2013

My Old Faithful Holster for my Kel Tec PF 9 Arived today. I put it together this morning (10 hours ago and have not taken it off. Very comfortable. Thick leather, and kydex. I like that adjustable tension aspect of these holsters.

DuckyMoMo wrote:
May 20, 2013

N82 Tactical is even more comfy than a Crossbreed. Plus White Hat's are made custom via the kydex options.

Juan wrote:
April 23, 2013

My cross breed holster has metal clips which work just fine, help will easy on and removal from my belt. It is the most comfortable of all my holsters for all day carry in and out of my vehicles. I have already bought another for my Bersa and magazine holsters.

rmowrer wrote:
February 18, 2013

Too bad nobody mentioned Old Faithful holsters, a Crossbreed in kit form, (or is a Crossbreed an Old Faithful in finished form?) half the price, adjustable for a perfect fit, extra strong steel clips that WILL NOT come out on draw, thicker leather. I can go on and on, and I'm not an employee; visit the site. I bought four the day after the election in 2012, and guns/ammo to fill them. These are great holsters. The comfort is amazing, and gun is exactly where my memory says it should be when I lift up whatever I'm wearing. I can wear a t-shirt and no one will know I'm carrying a Glock 23. I love the DIY part; when I'm finished, I have a leather/kydex holster that is molded to perfectly holster my gun - none of this "one size fits most." They are also available in finished form. Part of the satisfaction comes from knowing I made it myself and I am familiar with every single part that went into it. Enjoy.

Lane wrote:
December 31, 2012

Splurged on a Crossbreed. First time, forgot I had it on when I got home 12 hours later. Now, I won't leave home without it. Try it, you will like it!!

Capt Steve wrote:
December 16, 2012

Another vote here for CrossBreed. I've tried many different holsters and the Crossbreed super tuck is by far the most comfortable. I've worn it fishing, around the house, to work, church, etc and love the ability to tuck my shirt in and my full size EDC disappears!

308plinkerVT wrote:
December 15, 2012

I completely disagree with the ability to reholster one handed statement. If you are choosing to carry deep concealed (as many consider IWB carry) IF you had to remove your weapon due to situation where you are carrying this fashion - the last thing on your mind is likely reholstering 1 handed. Until the threat is GONE (one way or another, if you cannot read into this statement and see it for it's many facets you are not ready) you are committed.

Ronald B. wrote:
December 14, 2012

I bought a Cross Breed hosterfor my Colt- Commander , which I nearly never carried be cause it was heavryer than some of my other pistols , but sence I purchased the Cross-Breed Hoster , you hardly know you are carring the Colt- Commander. I carry enough GUN NOW , try one you will like it . One hand braw and one hand to replsce it back in the hoster , LOVE IT , I can carry my favarate GUN ....

Gene Edgington wrote:
December 13, 2012

I have worn, mainly, Kramer Horsehide IWBs for over 20 years. They are very comfortable and retain very nice. I have carried SIG P226, P229, P232, P239 and P245s. I have one of each type of Kramer IWB, but find the IWB 1 1/2 to be the most comfortable.

Colonel Jim wrote:
December 13, 2012

Crossbreed holsters are the best I have found. I don't really fell I'm carrying my Glock in it. They are tuck-able, adjustable and I have used mine for a couple of years with no problems. A Crossbreed Holster is both comfortable and comporting.

tom wrote:
December 13, 2012

I have spent $300-$500 on IWB and have yet to find one that really works. They all do one thing OK but none of them fill all my requirements. The holster companies must love me but the feeling isn't mutual.

Jim Macklin wrote:
December 12, 2012

Being creative, I make my own holsters from leather. I developed a method of reinforcing te holster mouth by folding the leather to create a smoot rounded surface and then use contact cement to glue a thicker small piece of leatherto prevent the holster from closing. My current carry for the past 6 years is a Colt Officer's ACP, all steel and with a heavy, 1-3/4" wide belt. A picture of this rig is http://i210.photobucket.com/albums/bb144/p51mustang36/oacp002-800x600.gif There is no stitching inside the holster where it can wear. The widely spaced one-way snaps make the holster very stable on the belt. I carry 7 days a week, sometimes 18 hours. I can even lay down and sleep comfortably. I also carry several spare magazines two in individual sheaths on each hip toward tyhe rear and a dual pouch which is a perfect fit in place of a wallet. http://i210.photobucket.com/albums/bb144/p51mustang36/9a10ef70.jpg

Tommy K. wrote:
December 12, 2012

I gotta throw my vote to the crossbreed holster. I had 2 made, I wear one all the time and practically forget that I have it. Pricy, but worth it.

Concealed In Utah wrote:
December 12, 2012

I purchased a left hand draw Crossbreed MiniTuck for a S&W M&P Shield .40 -- good night, the thing is awesome and fits well. I like trim cut, straight leg jeans as well (cowboy-style) and it didn't even look or feel like I was carrying. If you wear baggy or size up like the article suggests, it will disappear.

Chien DeBerger wrote:
December 12, 2012

Another vote for the Crossbreed holster. I am able to carry my Sig P239, 229 and 220 in the Kydex holster and the leather backing makes it comfortable for all day wear. Agree with waistband posted by Gary Griffin and a good stiff belt is a big plus. Semper Fi!

maria wrote:
December 11, 2012

I have a n8 squared tactical iwb holster. I love it it is my EDC holster. It's so comfortalble that I forget that I have it on. The n8 squared tactical is the most comfortable iwb that I have ever worn.

Walkin trails wrote:
December 09, 2012

For years I carried my pistols in various IWB rigs, the best being an Alessi Talon, and had finally just started to use OWN holsters for full size and compact pistols. Then I ordered a Milt Sparks SSII as an afterthought. I was surprised how comfortable I can carry a full sized S&W 45 for even as long as 36 hrs (thus far) comfortably. I also ordered a Milt Sparks belt at the same time. A good belt also makes a difference. A good holster costs money, and a better holster costs more, but if you're going to carry a pistil on a daily basis concealed, then you seriously need to consider the investment.

V65Magnafan wrote:
December 07, 2012

Your IWB is probably adjustable for height and cant. Try the factory default setup first. See how you can draw, sit in a vehicle, print. If the fit is not perfect, or at least comfortable for all movement and activities, start adjusting the belt attachments. You will find a comfortable setting--even with a G22.

Gary Griffin wrote:
December 06, 2012

When I purchased my Crossbreed (one of the holsters pictured above), I purchased a set of optional "J" hooks that go behind the belt and hook it from the bottom. When I retrieve my pistol, the holster stays in place. I find a waist size 2 inches larger than normal makes for a very comfortable fit.