The main reason I carry Outside the Waistband (OWB): me. Too much of me. As a result of my appetite for life (and ice cream), Inside the Waistband (IWB) holsters make a hair shirt seem like silk pajamas. I’m sure members of our Armed Intelligentsia can steer me in the direction of exceptions that prove the rule. Do I want to wear pants even bigger than the embarrassingly large trousers that currently circumnavigate my girth? I do not. And then there’s access. I find that OWB holsters provide the fastest possible access to a firearm—with a good grip. I can start as I mean to finish. Which is SO clearly not the case here (if you can be bothered to look beyond the fact that she’s resting her weak hand on her belt buckle). So, are you an innie or an outie? And how many holsters did it take you to settle on your current rig? Are you done holster hunting?

33 Responses to Question of the Day: IWB or OWB?

  1. I carry IWB in a High Noon “Split Decision” holster. I was carrying all weekend at the NRA meetings (including when I was standing in the middle of the PINN / CFPA protest interviewing..), and not just carrying, but packing a 5″ bbl Mil-Spec 1911 by Springfield Armory.

    Why IWB for me? Because I carry a stainless gun, and OWB causes too many stares for my CC likes. In my High Noon, the Springer just disappears.. Also, because the holster came with a 3″ Para Slim Hawg I used to own (but traded to get the Mil Spec).. so it was free..

    I’ve shopped OWB, and there are a few I’d like to try, namely Don Hume and Mernickle (both in “hi ride” versions). My issue – can I really drop 70 – 160 bones on something I might not like less than five seconds after I unbox it?

    I’m definitely not done holster hunting. I’d like two things – a good OWB that covers the end of my barrel and rides high enough to not be plainly visible, and another IWB with a “slide guard” (the Springer likes to dig into my side every now and again..)

    • I like the Galco FLETCH for 1911-carry. I’ve logged over 10k miles on a motorcycle/ATV with FLETCH holsters and haven’t had a single issue.

    • You just don’t want to have to give up the tight t shirts and polos 😉
      Embrace the longer shirt Ben, you know the comfort of the OWB beckons to you.

    • I also use an IWB Tuckable HighNoon Split Decision as one of my primary carry holsters with a Taurus 709 “Slim” 9mm with 7+1 Remington Golden Sabres. I may replace the Taurus as my concealed weapon with a Ruger LC9 as soon as it comes in and I qualify with it.

      My other primary IWB Tuckable is a DeSantis Tuck This II which has a mag pouch integral with the holster; both the Taurus 709 and the Ruger LC9 fit it fine.

      I also have a DeSantis SOF-TUCK #106 tuckable leather holster, but the leather collar that keeps it open for re-holstering makes it too thick, and more noticeable.

      I also am a little “large” and followed Massad Ayoob’s advice in his concealed carry book. I bought slacks 1 waist size larger, and use a black 1.5″ or 1.75″ belt, which makes the holster clip almost disappear. I have to wear a sports shirt or polo shirt tucked in most of the time, and the “Slim” pistols in a tuckable IWB almost totally disappear when in the 4 o’clock position, with my shirt tucked in, and my spare tire absorbing any patterning under my shirt. Other than a few of the people in my department who know that I am carrying, I don’t believe that anyone has ever noticed that I am armed.

      If Texas passes its “open carry” law, now being debated in the legislature, I will carry my Ruger SR1911 (already on order) in a brown leather retention holster OWB. The SR1911 looks like a piece of jewelry, and would need to be shown off.

  2. I’m 6’3″, 325 lbs. and have a big chest/shoulder profile, and I use both IWB and OWB. If concealment isn’t necessary, i.e. camping, hiking, riding the motorcycle/ATV, etc then it is OWB. I almost always use a Galco “FLETCH” thumb-break holster for very positive retention, but also like my DeSantis OWB (for my XDM’s) and my Galco DAO for my 6″ revolvers. Initially when I carried my 1911 and my SIG P220, I used Galco open-top holsters which provided adequate retention for every day use. The big problem I had with them is concealment. For me, CCW equals concealed and there is no other option. Since I refuse to hand in my man card, and “Queer Eye for a Straight Guy” is no longer popular, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a SMFV (or maybe I would!). Regular length, and even most “Tall” shirt sizes aren’t tall enough for me (apparently I’m “all torso” as my wife puts it). OWB holsters, especially OWB holsters with too short of a shirt, either printed like crazy, or the butt of the pistol got caught up in the shirt or it irritated me. So, I tried and tried to find an IWB that I liked, trying everything from all Kydex, to all leather, to leather with reinforcement “mouths”, etc. I finally came across the CrossBreed SuperTuck Deluxe and have never again felt the need to find a “new” holster (other than ordering additional CBSTD holsters for other pistols. To RF’s point, it takes practice drawing the pistol from an IWB holster with the proper grip, but it can be done. You can even get CrossBreed to “Combat Cut” your SuperTuck to make it easier. Then again, it takes practice drawing a pistol from ANY holster correctly. Those “high and tight” paddles and pancake holsters are no more or less tighter to the body than my SuperTuck. RF I suggest that you bunker down the $65-85 and get one for yourself.

    • Since I just ordered a SuperTuck yesterday, I’m really glad to read what you said. After visiting the website a few times and having some interest, I finally decided to wait out the 4-6 weeks and see the results.

      Re drawing with the proper grip, I do find it quite difficult and hope to improve. Nonetheless, I can double-tap anyone in CQC range with an improper grip, right or left-handed. Odds are, that’s the range where bad things would happen. If not, there’s a decent chance you’ll have the split second to adjust your grip to a two-handed, “range-ready” position, while moving for concealment/cover.

      However, odds are that bad things will *not* happen; therefore, I did not order the “combat cut”, since, statistically, the additional comfort is a wiser investment.

  3. I just bought the NRA tactical jeans with the hidden inside pockets and I love them. I have one pair with my regular waist size and the other pair is 2 sizes larger so that I can have two pistols IWB and 2 or 3 holsters on the outside. I also like shoulder holsters, but I’m not to crazy about the belly or ankle holsters. I also have their tactical jean jacket with two hidden panels on the inside and little pockets that will hold six extra mags.

      • Well John, It depends on how many guns I’m going to put on. My record is eight 45’s at one time. Two shoulder holsters, Two in each hidden jean jacket pocket, one belly holster and three fobus holsters (one on the left hip, one on the right and one for small of the back. But now that I have my new tactical jeans I can add two more, and if I liked ankle holsters(which I don’t) that would be another two. I’m small so all these guns would easily out weigh me.

  4. I am a big guy too, and I still do IWB. Why? I have large hands, and I don’t like shooting a gun smaller than my Beretta 92FS.

    The 92FS is hard to hide with an OWB holster. My Galco IWB makes it easier to hide under a vest (I will start investing in wastecoats once I lose a shirt size; I have always liked them). Under a shirt, they print more, but that’s more of a function of the love handles than the holster (again, working on weight loss too).

    I’m hoping that a drop to 2XLT would give me enough of a waist again to wear a belt, and enough shirt length to hide the pistol.

  5. As with Patrick Carrube above, it depends on the activity. For my day-to-day CCW it is center-back IBW holster with two spare mags in my back pocket. I’m still looking for a good hip holster for my Springfield-Armory XD-45s or my Taurus Magnum Judge. I may have to break out my old leather working tools and make my own. 🙂

  6. IWB at 4 o’clock… Crossbreed Supertuck for the XD. Big guy, 6 ft 325 lbs with large chest and shoulders (and waist and hips and thighs and calves). I wear sized pants and longer 4X shirts. And if I am printing more than I want, I will put a denim over shirt with rolled up sleeves and open in the front to disguise it a bit more.

    The 1911 4 inch Kimber I use a deSantis tuck thing, not even sure of the name. It works fine and I find the 1911 even more comfortable because it is more thin than the XD… I was surprised about that….

  7. I’m a OWB guy. It’s much more comfortable and most of the clothing I wear on a daily basis easily covers a gun on my belt. My G19 in a BlackHawk check six disappears under all my large sized shirts and I’m not the most svelte individual ( 5’9″ 215lbs). Same thing with 1911 in a Bianchi pancake holster.

    I also carry IWB, but not nearly as much. I just find it much more uncomfortable no matter what gun I carry. That being said, right now I only have a generic leather IWB holster. When I had my XD, I used a Crossbreed SuperTuck and that was very comfortable as far as IWB goes.

      • Note: all TTAG photos are credited to their original source. Simply click on the image or mouse over for the caption.

        • You keep using that word… I do not
          think it means what you think it means.

          Wiki:  “Softcore pornography depicts nude and semi-nude performers engaging in casual social nudity or non-graphic representations of sexual intercourse or masturbation.” 


          Merriam-Webster
          : containing descriptions or scenes of sex acts that are less explicit than hard-core material

          Where’s the sex acts in Oleg’s work????
           

        • Patrick, Patrick, Patrick…

          This is MikeB30200 we’re talking about here. In the land of Liberals, the meaning of words are fluid, just like the way they interpret the Constitution. And remember, WE are held to a much higher standard than they hold themselves.

          But I’m diggin’ the Princess Bride reference. (I’d like it even better if Mandy Patinkin wasn’t such an anti-gun guy.)

        • I know Brad, but I couldn’t resist – every time I read mb302K’s pornography rant I hear Inigo Montoya’s voice in my head…

  8. When concealment and discretion count, IWB is the only way to go for me. I’m big but not too big (6″, 205) and I’m allergic to fanny packs or SMFVs. I can conceal a duty-sized 9mm in my Blade-Tech kydex IWB as long as I’m wearing a jacket or sweatshirt, but I know that many shooters absolutely hate the feel of cold sticky kydex against them.

    Subcompact 9s conceal very easily IWB, either inside a minimalist holster or simply using a Clip Grip or the handy Kel-Tec belt clip.

    Having said all of this, I have to admit that NO holsters are as comfortable as my Fobus paddles. They don’t conceal my full-sized autos worth a damn, but they sure are comfortable.

  9. The concealed-carry weight loss programs are sweeping the nation.
    My new workout DVD is coming out soon: “Power Yoga for Better Gun Carry.”

  10. I use mostly IWB. A Remora for my Ruger LC9 and a drawer full for my 3913. My favorite for the 3913 usually ends up being my UBG (http://www.ubgholsters.com/iwb.htm) Becker. It sits nicely around 3:30. I experimented with pocket carry on both guns, but the draw is so bad I really can’t see it being realistic under stress.

  11. I’m like 5’7″ and 140, so not a whole lot of places to hide a gun. I carry my SW1911 OWB at around 4-5 o’clock with an untucked shirt or cover shirt. I pretty much always opt for OWB when practical. It’s much more comfortable and doesn’t really give up any concealment unless you need to be fully tucked with no cover shirt or jacket. When in a t-shirt with smaller guns I’ll go IWB. J-frames hide well just about anywhere. I have a 3″ NAA Earl which I carry in my boot sometimes as a “better than and less legally ambiguous in my state than a knife” weapon.

    -D

  12. IWB except when I am driving or at work. I can’t find any way to really conceal my fullsized PX4 .40 OWB at all. I’ve tried 8 different holsters, and my wife took great delight in telling me everytime I printed or flashed the gun.
    Using an underarm holster t-shirt or a shoulder rig under an open shirt or vest in the car works great in winter/early spring/fall.
    In the summer it is just too hot & humid here to wear a second layer, so it is IWB under a loose shirt or pocket carry with something much smaller. My IWB is a Crossbreed Super Tuck Deluxe with J hooks.
    I am still looking for a good shoulder rig. I currently use an Uncle Mike’s 8701 horizontal, but am looking for something that would hold the gun at a 45° angle rather than straight up and down or straight horizontal.

  13. I have an IWB from ttgunleather. I went through one holster before I found the IWB. My CCW instructor had one and let me use it. Ended my search and saved me a few dollars. However, ttgunleather products are not cheap.

    I carry a full size 1911 and I’m far from large. 6’3″ 175. I carry all the time and the 1911 is easily covered by a polo shirt. My daughter knew I was carrying and couldn’t tell.

    I have tactical pants from Proper and 5.11 (prefer the Proper) and carry a spare mag in the spare magazine pocket. (if the pocket is called something else, well, 8 round 45 mags fit awfully well.)

    If I’m wearing jeans, I have a pouch on my belt for a spare magazine.

    I highly recommend the ttgunleather IWB holsters.

  14. Again I sing the praises of Thunderwear. Carry a full size in looser pants easily. Also, Desantis has a great pocket holster for Glock sub compacts-even Glock 30’s. I’m 6′, 52 ” chest and 280 lbs. You would be hard pressed to see me carrying.

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