What is IWB Holster? The Ultimate Guide

Personal protection is a serious concern that many individuals face in today’s unpredictable world. The solution that many people opt for is concealed carry — the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed or hidden manner. Concealed carry allows law-abiding citizens to defend themselves in situations where their safety is threatened. But, like any other skill, the effectiveness and safety of concealed carry heavily depend on using the right tools, the star of which is the Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster.

What is an IWB Holster?

An Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster is a type of firearm holster that attaches to the wearer’s belt, allowing the weapon to be securely carried inside the waistband of the trousers or skirt. IWB holsters are designed for both comfort and concealment, with the added benefit of allowing easy access to your weapon when you need it the most. Whether you’re a law enforcement officer on duty or a civilian carrying for personal protection, an IWB holster can make a world of difference.

The History of the IWB Holster

Dating back to the days of the Wild West, IWB holsters have been around. They were used by lawmen and outlaws alike to carry their revolvers. Over the years, the IWB holster has undergone several improvements in design, safety, comfort, and the materials used, all to better serve the needs of those who carry. Today, IWB holsters are a preferred choice for many because they combine concealment, accessibility, and comfort into one package.

Why Choose an IWB Holster?

When it comes to choosing a holster for concealed carry, several reasons make an IWB holster an excellent choice. Firstly, they offer superior concealment. Since the holster is tucked inside your waistband, the only visible part is typically the clip that attaches to your belt. This keeps your firearm out of sight and out of mind, reducing the chance of alarming those around you.

Secondly, IWB holsters allow for easy and quick access to your firearm. In an emergency situation where every second count, having your weapon readily at hand can be a lifesaver.

Lastly, with the right fit, positioning, and a bit of time for adjustment, an IWB holster can offer comfort, making it viable for everyday carry.

Materials Used in IWB Holsters

IWB holsters can be made from a variety of materials, each with its unique characteristics. These materials include leather, Kydex (a type of plastic), nylon, and hybrid materials.

Leather IWB Holsters

Leather has been the material of choice for firearm holsters for many years. It offers a timeless look, durability, and a comfortable fit. Over time, a leather holster will mold to the shape of your gun, creating a custom fit. On the downside, leather holsters require regular maintenance to prevent cracking and degradation, and they may not stand up well to adverse weather conditions.

Kydex IWB Holsters

Kydex is a thermoplastic material that’s become increasingly popular for firearm holsters. It is lightweight yet robust, maintaining its shape even under pressure. Kydex holsters are virtually maintenance-free, hold your weapon securely, and can stand up to a wide range of weather conditions. On the flip side, they can be a bit bulkier and less comfortable than their leather counterparts.

Nylon IWB Holsters

Nylon holsters are another popular choice. They are typically less expensive than leather or Kydex holsters but offer good durability and protection. Many nylon holsters feature extra pockets or compartments for carrying extra magazines or other accessories. However, they may lack the rigid structure provided by Kydex or the custom molding of leather.

Hybrid IWB Holsters

A hybrid IWB holster offers the best of both worlds. It usually features a backing made of leather or another comfortable material, with a Kydex or plastic shell to hold the gun. This design aims to combine the comfort of leather with the durability and weapon security of Kydex.

Choosing the Right IWB Holster for You

Choosing the right IWB holster is not a one-size-fits-all decision. It largely depends on personal preference. Things to consider include the type and size of your firearm, your body shape, the clothing you typically wear, your budget, and the specific features you want in a holster, such as adjustable cant or retention.

Correct Positioning of an IWB Holster

The correct positioning of your IWB holster can make a significant difference in both comfort and access to your firearm. Common positions include appendix carry (located at the front of the body), strong-side carry (located at the 3-5 o’clock position for right-handed shooters or 7-9 o’clock position for left-handed shooters), and small of back position (located at the 6 o’clock position).

The Art of Concealment with an IWB Holster

Successfully concealing your firearm with an IWB holster is an art. It involves not only choosing the right holster and positioning it correctly on your body but also wearing the right clothing to help conceal the shape of the holster and firearm. This could mean choosing shirts with a looser fit or patterns that break up the outline of the gun.

Safety Measures when Using an IWB Holster

Safety should always be a top priority when carrying a firearm, and IWB carry is no exception. Always ensure that your finger is off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, and that the firearm is securely seated in the holster. Make sure to regularly inspect your holster for wear and tear and replace it if necessary.

Comfort and Accessibility with an IWB Holster

Comfort and accessibility are critical factors in choosing and using an IWB holster. The thickness of the holster, the size of your firearm, your belt width, and ride height (how high or low the gun sits) are important considerations. Each of these factors can be adjusted to optimize your comfort and the accessibility of your firearm.

Legal Aspects of Using an IWB Holster

The legality of using an IWB holster varies based on local, state, and federal laws. Generally, a permit is required for concealed carry in most jurisdictions, and some places have specific laws about the types of holsters that can be used. It’s crucial to research the laws in your area before deciding to carry concealed.

Myths and Misconceptions about IWB Holsters

One common myth is that IWB holsters are uncomfortable. While they can take some getting used to, with the right holster and adjustments, IWB carry can be quite comfortable. Another misconception is that IWB carry isn’t suitable for women or those with smaller frames. However, with the wide variety of holsters available, it’s possible to find a comfortable and effective solution for almost anyone.

IWB Holster in the Women’s Concealed Carry World

While traditionally a male-dominated area, more and more women are embracing the world of concealed carry. IWB holsters are a popular choice for women due to their concealment capabilities and versatility. With a range of designs available, women can choose holsters that work best with their wardrobe and lifestyle.

FAQs about IWB Holsters

What does IWB holster mean?

IWB stands for Inside the Waistband. An IWB holster is a type of firearm holster designed to be worn inside the waistband of your clothing.

Are IWB holsters comfortable?

Yes, with the right fit and positioning, IWB holsters can be comfortable for everyday carry. The comfort level may also depend on the material of the holster and your style of clothing.

Can anyone see my gun if I use an IWB holster?

IWB holsters provide superior concealment as they are worn inside your waistband. With the right clothing, it can be nearly impossible for anyone to notice you’re carrying a gun.

Is it legal to use an IWB holster?

The legality of using an IWB holster depends on local, state, and federal laws. It’s crucial to understand and comply with the laws in your region regarding concealed carry.

How do I maintain my IWB holster?

The maintenance of your IWB holster would depend on its material. Regular cleaning and checking for wear and tear are generally recommended.

What is the best IWB holster material?

There’s no definitive answer as it depends on your personal preferences. Leather, Kydex, nylon, and hybrid holsters all have their unique pros and cons.


The world of IWB holsters is rich and diverse. Whether you are a seasoned concealed carrier or a beginner starting your journey, understanding what an IWB holster is, its usage, advantages, and how to choose one can be a game-changer in your concealed carry experience. By mastering the art of concealed carry with an IWB holster, you can ensure your personal protection while maintaining the element of surprise, comfort, and style.

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