Inside the Waistband or IWB carry is one of the most popular options for concealed carry. Inside the waistband is exactly what it sounds like and positions the holster inside your pants for easy concealment. To do so, you’ll need an IWB holster. It’s not a wise decision to toss a gun in your waistband without some form of holster.
With that said, a quick google search for ‘IWB holster’ reveals thousands of results, and that can make it tough to find a rock-solid holster for concealed carry. Concealed carry is serious business, and as such, you shouldn’t approach it haphazardly. Concealed carry is all about self-defense, and as such, you want a safe and effective holster that’s capable of down in and day out use.
Today I plan to provide you with a list of the best holsters on the market for IWB carry and to teach you how to choose the right IWB holster for you.
Why carry inside the waistband? Well, simply put, it’s the most effective means to conceal a firearm while keeping it accessible. Inside the waistband utilities your pants to cover the vast majority of the gun with nothing more than a shirt to cover the grip. IWB is putting the concealed in concealed carry.
The larger the gun, the more efficient IWB is. Anyone can carry a P365 OWB, but it’s a lot harder to carry a Glock 17 OWB and keep it concealed. You toss a Glock 17 in an IWB rig, and it’s easy to conceal, easy to access, and with the right holster, it’s quite comfortable.
IWB and AIWB
When we talk about IWB, we are talking about traditional IWB with a holster tucked onto the strong side of the body and AIWB. AIWB stands for Appendix In the Waistband carry. Appendix carry positions the weapon in the front of your body where your appendix is.
AIWB has become an incredibly popular means to carry a firearm and offers numerous advantages. It’s quicker to draw from, makes it easier to avoid printing, and adds no bulk to your sides. IWB can be traditionally easier to access when sitting, and to me, it is a bit more comfortable.
I’m not going to debate the two, but I do want to inform you fine folks that we will include holsters that work both for IWB and AIWB.
Best IWB Holsters
- Phlster Floodlight
- Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker
- Henry’s Holsters Spark
- Galco Royal Guard
- Raven Concealment Eidolon
- Tenicor Certum
- Bravo Concealment
Best IWB Holsters
Best Holster Reviews
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an IWB holster, such as the type of gun you will be carrying, the type of clothing you will be wearing, and your personal preferences. Below, we will take a look at the reviews of the best IWB holsters on the market, and give you some things to consider when making your decision.
Phlster Floodlight Review
The Phlster Floodlight is a quality universal holster that defies expectations. Calling it a universal holster isn’t entirely accurate. It’s more quasi-universal and functions only with automatic handguns of full to compact size and utilizing a Streamlight TLR1/2 or a Surefire X300U weapon light.
Phlster bases the retention and the fit around the light and around the adjustability of the holster. The end-user can adjust the slide fit with a simple shock cord to ensure the fit is nice and tight. The Floodlight allows you to pack a light, as well as all the other modern accessories shooters love. The Floodlight allows you to rock optics, suppressor height sights, and most compensators.
Additionally, this has to be one of the most adjustable holsters ever created. It’s super easy to swap out belt loops for clips and beyond. You can change the ride height and cant with ease, and the installed wing makes these comfortable and accessible. If you want to carry a big gun IWB, then the Phlster Floodlight is the way to go.
It’s ambidextrous, extremely comfortable, and offers excellent retention, is safe to carry with, and seemingly difficult to break while doing normal holster things.
Phlster Floodlight Pros and Cons
- Customizable and Adjustable
- Fits all Modern Accessories
- Only accommodates compact and full-sized guns
Phlster Floodlight Deals
Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker Review
The Phlster Floodlight is my favorite big gun holster, and the Dark Star gear Hitchhiker is my favorite little gun holster. The Hitchhiker fits the Glock 42, 43, 43X, 48, the S&W Shield, the P365, P365XL, and other similar small guns. The Hitchhiker is a polymer holster that’s molded to the gun you intend to carry.
I adore this gun because it allows for a high degree of access to my little firearm. You’ll notice the holster seems long for such a small gun. However, that’s purposeful. The extra length allows for a full firing grip and keeps the pistol stable. That extra-length cantilevers the gun inward for better access without compromising concealment. Additionally, it increases comfort by pushing the muzzle lower on the pelvis and reduces hot spots.
The Hitchhiker comes with a metal central clip, but you can swap the clip out for loops or other clip options if you so choose. This holster works perfectly for IWB and AIWB. You can add a Dark wing to the holster for AIWB carry, or remove it for standard IWB carry. It’s quite thin and very comfortable for carrying a small gun in a deep concealment position.
I rock a red dot on my P365 XL, and the Hitchhiker accommodates it without argument. It’s a modern choice for modern guns.
Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker Pros and Cons
- Super Comfortable
- Easy to Access
- No light Option (C’mon, I love my TLR 7 SUB)
Dark Star Gear Hitchhiker Deals
Henry’s Holsters Spark Review
Henry’s Holsters is a great little company that produces an awesome line of well-made holsters, with the Spark being an awesome rig for IWB or AIWB carry. The Spark moniker comes to be because the holster accommodates a weapon light. Specifically, you can choose a Spark that fits your TLR 1, TLR 7, or Surefire X300 series. Additionally, the holster is made for Glock and FN series pistols.
The Spark takes minimalism to new levels, and a minimalist light-bearing holster is quite handy. You can utilize pull-through button loops made from Super-Flex webbing. Carriers can also use Griphook tuckable overlooks if they so choose. Additionally, these loops and hooks can be adjusted for ride height and cant to make the holster fit you and your carry method.
Henry Holsters installs what they call a Concealment Kick on the back of the holster. This pushes the muzzle tip away from the body and rotates the grip towards the user’s body. Now the gun and holster are easier to conceal and easier to draw. Outside of a light, we have an open bottom that accommodates compensators as well as micro red dots.
Henry’s Holsters Spark Pros and Cons
- Easy To Conceal
- Easy to Draw From
- Only fits a small number of guns
Henry’s Holsters Spark Deals
Galco Royal Guard
You have to be really picky when it comes to choosing a leather rig, especially for IWB carry. The Galco Royal Guard is perfect for picky people. This isn’t an AIWB rig and should be used for strong side carry. As a leather holster, it is extremely comfortable and soft against the body. The comfort leather provides is tough to beat, and it’s a big reason why people still choose leather in the age of kydex.
A big problem with leather holsters is that the holsters collapse when the gun is drawn. With the Galco Royal Guard, this isn’t an issue, and the rigid design and metal reinforced mouth prevents the holster from collapsing. As such, reholstering is extremely easy to do and very safe to do. The rough side of the leather faces outbound and helps prevent the holster from moving inside the pants.
The Royal Guard utilizes a set of belt loops that ensure security when attached. We also get a butt-forward cant for enhanced concealment and a faster draw. Drawing is also easy due to the smoothed out gun pocket that allows the gun to glide out smoothly. Finally, to round out comfort, a full-length sweat guard protects both you and the gun.
Galco Royal Guard Pros and Cons
- Extremely comfortable
- Made for Tons of Different Guns
- Does not Collapse
- Not customizable
Galco Royal Guard Deals
Raven Concealment Eidolon Review
Raven Concealment makes one helluva good IWB rig, but don’t ask me how to say Eidolon. The Eidolon provides you a dedicated IWB or AIWB holster for daily carry. It’s a polymer shell-based holster that holds each shell precisely to each gun. This improves retention, safety, concealment, and your ability to rapidly draw the weapon. The Raven Concealment Eidolon uses an innovative adjustable retention system that lets the user tweak the retention to their needs.
This adjustable retention can be handy because people live different lives and do different things. Someone doing manual labor might want tighter retention because they are climbing, lifting heavy things, and generally moving fast and doing hard work. That same level of retention isn’t necessary for someone in an office or driving a car for a living.
The holster comes with a set of tuckable clips that can be adjusted for ride height or cant. The holster shell allows you to attach various accessories, including wings, different belt clips or loops, and wedge for enhanced concealment. You can tailor it for AIWB or IWB carry, fit it and forget it. The Raven Concealment Eidolon is compatible with most threaded barrels, any height sights, and most mini red dot optics.
Raven Concealment Pros and Cons
- Works with Red Dots
- Glocks only
Raven Concealment Deals
Tenicor Certum Review
Tenicor Certum, another weird name for a great holster. At least Tenicor lets you know how to pronounce Certum and even what it means. Names don’t matter much if the holster doesn’t work, but the Certum works extremely well. This polymer IWB rig is a foldover design constructed for various popular pistols, including Glocks, SIGs, Walthers, and many more. The Certum packs plenty of adjustments too.
Users have the ability to adjust nearly an inch of ride height and 30 degrees of cant. It’s easy to adapt the Certume for IWB or AIWB. Attaching wedges, wings, and claws isn’t difficult, and the holster is set up to accommodate whatever you need for a comfortable carry experience. You can swap the metal clips for soft loops and utilize a tuckable design on demand.
Tenicor profiles the holster near the trigger guard and sweat guard to ensure you can get a good, positive grip on the gun as you draw it. It’s critical to scoring an accurate first shot, drawing safely, and maintaining control of the gun. The Trucise fit ensures each holster is molded perfectly to the gun. This also increases safety, your ability to draw, and retention. It’s a very capable holster with tons of great features and excellent adjustments.
Tenicor Certum Pros and Cons
- Tons of Adjustment
- Made for A Variety of Guns
- Easy to customize
Tenicor Certum Deals
Bravo Concealment Torsion 3.0
A lot of holsters on this list cost well beyond a hundred bucks, and sometimes that can be a lot of juice to squeeze. If you are looking at a budget-friendly carry option, the Bravo Concealment Torsion 3.0 is here for you. At this price point, you might not get all the features, accessories, and craziness a more expensive holster delivers, but you get a competent and safe rig for the money.
The Torsion 3.0 can be both an IWB and AIB rig and is made for a relatively wide variety of pistols. The Torsion 3.0 is customizable with adjustable ride height and cant. You can drop an entire belt clip for a minimalist AIWB experience. A small screw allows you to adjust the retention quite easily, and you can really ratchet it up if you so choose. The Torsion 3.0 accommodates most mini red dots and threaded barrels, but don’t expect compensator support.
The clips allow the rig to be tuckable, and a sweat guard keeps rust and bad rubs away for increased comfort. The holsters are molded for each gun and provide a tight and well-done fit. The Bravo Concealment Torsion 3.0 provides a very competent and safe holster for daily carry without breaking the bank.
Bravo Torsion 3.0 Pros and Cons
- Well Made
- Not compatible with most aftermarket holster accessories
Bravo Torsion 3.0 Deals
Holster Principles – Buyers Guide
Choosing a Holster isn’t easy, especially with such a crowded market. The seven holsters listed above are well made and perfect for concealed carry. Yet, if you don’t like the options above, I can help guide you in finding the right IWB holster for you. Below I’ve listed what I think are the most important points when choosing a holster for IWB, or well, any holster style.
Safety always takes the number one spot when it comes to firearms. An unsafe holster can easily cause an ND, cause retention issues, and similar issues that compromise your safety with the firearm.
First, ensure your handgun properly fits the holsters. Holsters shouldn’t be open sacks of leather or nylon. Holsters should be molded to properly encase the firearm without allowing it to move back and forth or left to right in the holster. If the fit isn’t correct, you are more likely to reduce retention, and you open up the possibility of something accessing your trigger.
Speaking of triggers, the second factor of safety in holsters is ensuring your trigger is encompassed by the holster. It should not be exposed to the world around you. An exposed trigger is much easier to be accidentally pulled and fired. It’s a great way to get a case of holes in your leg.
Access is the ability to retrieve your firearm. Access with a concealed carry holster should allow for a good initial grip that will translate to a proper grip when the weapon is drawn. Access should also allow you to draw your weapon quickly and safely.
With IWB holsters, you want to ensure you can assume a proper grip and that there is enough space between the grip and the belt for an initial grip. This is the foundation of your draw. The holster should retain the firearm during normal day-to-day movements but should not create any overt difficulty in drawing the firearm.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you also want a holster that allows you to safely re-holster the gun. Some holsters close when you draw your weapon, and re-holstering is nearly impossible.
The word retention has been spoken several times throughout this article. Principles of good retention include a properly molded holster that fits your firearm. As an IWB rig, you aren’t going to need an active retention device, but you want the holster to stay put. At least until you need it in your hand.
The fit should be slightly tight and will hold the firearm surely. It shouldn’t bounce around while carried, and if it slips as you climb into a vehicle, sit down, or bend over, then it’s time to change holsters. I also advise holsters that completely encase the gun and do not allow the bottom portion of the slide to poke out. Oftentimes the open bottom will encourage the gun to be accidentally bumped out of the holster.
You’ve chosen an IWB holster for its concealment, so it makes sense that you choose an IWB holster that can effectively conceal your firearm. This often requires a keen eye that targets a high-quality option that blends in with the body. A block of chunky, thick polymer doesn’t create much confidence in concealment.
The same could be said for bags of nylon and sacks of leather. Find a holster that will ride the perfect height for your body to effectively conceal the gun. Also, thinner can be better, and the addition of claw devices and wings also help a fair bit.
Obviously, no one wants a holster that will just fall apart on them. If you get a crappy holster, then it could fail during just daily carry, and if it can fail during daily carry, will it fail in a fight?
It’s tough to look at a holster online and tell if it’s durable or not, but there are some dead giveaways.
First, if it’s made from loose leather or some form of floppy nylon, that’s a dead giveaway it’s not well made. Next, if it has a cheap plastic FOMI clip, then be prepared for that clip to break. If the holster costs 15 bucks, well, be prepared for it to suck as well.
Sadly, the best means to choose a durable holster is to look at the price. Well-made polymer and leather holsters cost a fair bit for a reason. These holsters won’t just hold up for day-to-day carry, but for the training, you should be getting at the range.
IWB rigs typically require a little fine-tuning from the end-user. I won’t say this is a complete necessity, but it’s worth considering, especially for AIWB carry. Being able to adjust height, cant, and swap to different clip styles can be quite valuable for access, comfort, and concealment. I made my Phlster Floodlight fit me perfectly because it offers so many different adjustment options.
When it comes to holster selection, there are only two materials that matter, leather and the various polymer types. Even leather can be tricky. You need well-done and well-made leather holsters that provide proper fit to your firearm. Polymer doesn’t escape the crappy holster clause either.
Completely avoid soft nylon and neoprene. Soft holsters just suck. Avoid them at all costs. These holsters are unsafe for serious use, and there is a reason they only cost 15 dollars on Amazon. Holsters like these are unsafe and suck for concealed carry. They also suck for access and durability.
Picking the right IWB holster will make a huge difference in your ability to carry your firearm. A well-made holster is a buy once cry once affair. A good holster will last nearly forever, and it should be purchased with a degree of seriousness behind it. If you’re willing to spend five hundred bucks on a gun, then be willing to spend a fifth of that on a good holster. Be smart, choose a quality product, carry daily, and train hard.
April 30, 2022
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April 27, 2022