What Is The Best IWB (Inside Waistband) Holster for 2020?

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If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best kydex inside the waistband (IWB) holster is for 2020, our evidence supports the Concealment Express’s IWB Kydex Holster as the one you should consider.

So you are looking for a new holster, and have narrowed it down to an inside the waistband (IWB) holster. Great! That only leaves a few hundred options for you to choose from. Do not worry. We here at Outdoor Methods will guide you through some of the top IWB holsters on the market, and more importantly, what to look for in a holster based on our extensive research in the lab. 

Our List of the Best IWB Holsters 

  1. Concealment Express’s IWB Kydex Holster
  2. Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5
  3. Galco Kig Tuk IWB Holster
  4. Sticky Holsters
  5. Urban Carry G2
  6. Relentless Tactical The Defender IWB Leather Holster
  7. CYA Supply Co. IWB Holster 
  8. Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster
  9. Bravo Concealment Torsion IWB Gun Holster

What Is Inside The Waistband (IWB) Carrying? 

Inside The Waistband (IWB) Carrying- Is the method of carrying your firearm between the waistband of your pants, or skirt and your body.  

Other Common Methods For Concealed Carrying

There has been a debate over the years about which method is truly the best for concealed carry. It has not reached the “which came first the chicken or the egg” debate level yet, but it is close. So let’s briefly review some of the most common/popular methods for concealed carry besides IWB. 

Ankle Carrying 

When it comes to concealability, this method gets top marks. Think about it. Most people are not going to look at your ankles while you are out. If they do, they have been trained to do so, or they might just be a little strange……. 

The problem people run into with ankle carrying concealability is that they can only wear a long pair of pants, or dress with this method. The other and more important issue is it will be difficult for you to draw your firearm if it is needed. 

We recommend you think about this method as a great secondary location for concealed carry.

Outside The Waistband (OWB) Carrying

I know what you are thinking; this is not a concealed carrying method. Still, a lot of people have success carrying this way. Carrying your weapon outside the waistband is very comfortable. It gives you the best maneuverability out of all the methods listed, and there is no restriction on what size pistol; you can carry. 

It should come as no surprise that this method’s significant flaw is concealability. However, if you have a jacket or a long untucked shirt on, you can conceal your holster and firearm. It is also easier for somebody to steal your weapon using this method to carry. 

Shoulder Carrying

The only shoulder conceal carrying I have ever seen is on old police movies. However, surprisingly this is still a preferred method for some. 

This method is excellent for people that will be sitting a lot while carrying. It is also very comfortable because the weight of the holster and gun are distributed evenly over your shoulders.  

A massive issue with shoulder carrying is that your gun’s muzzle has the potential to be pointed at anybody that is around you. So be sure to that into account if you wear this way.

While the listed methods above have their pros and cons, our vote for the best-concealed carry method is IWB using an IWB holster. 

Why Is IWB The Best Overall Concealed Carry Method?

Here is the evidence backing up our stance: 

  • Concealment- If done correctly, you will be able to conceal your weapon easily. The key is to ensure your pistol or holster are not printing  
  • Security- While you are carrying a firearm, you need to make sure it is secured at all times. When your pistol is inside your waistband, it is practically impossible for somebody to grab your gun without you being aware.
  • Outfit Flexibility- IWB concealed carrying gives you clothing options from casual all the way to formal with your shirt untucked or tucked in. It works with long pants, shorts, and even skirts (usually used with a belly band because there is no belt). The main principles to remember are clothing must be loose-fitting, so the holster or weapon does not print and wearing a durable belt for the rig to attach to. 
  • Fast Draw- At first, drawing from this position is going to be awkward, so it is imperative that you practice drawing and re-holstering your weapon in this position. Once you get the hang of it, you will be amazed at how fast you will be able to draw your gun from this position. 

The Downsides To IWB Concealed Carry Method 

As the saying goes, “nothing is perfect,” and IWB concealed carry method has some disadvantages you need to think about. 

  • Discomfort– Each one of the different IWB concealed carry locations has the risk of being uncomfortable. For example, the holster and/or gun rubbing against your skin in the 3 o’clock position. This can result in your skin becoming very irritated. An easy way to prevent this from helping is making sure your underwear and undershirt are between you and the rig.    

Sweating due to you wearing the rig can also irritate your skin. Holsters made of leather or material like it are notorious for this occurring. Again a good pair of underwear and an undershirt between you and the rig will help prevent this from happening. 

The only way to eliminate any discomfort while wearing a holster is through trial and error. Be sure to practice at home just wearing the rig and try to perform normal activities. Once you figure out the right setup, you will hardly notice you are concealed carrying. 

  • Position of The Rig– Your body type, clothes, belt, gun, and holster you are using all factor into how comfortable you will be while concealed carrying IWB. Try to take this into account when testing out a new holster. 
  • Difficulties Drawing and Holstering – It can be challenging to draw and holster carrying in an IWB position. One factor that causes this is not having easy access to the pistols grip of your gun while holstered. This can be caused by either the grip being so close to your body; it is difficult for you to grab, or the holster is preventing you from fully getting a hold of the grip. 

Holstering or re-holstering your firearm can be a challenge as well and is usually the result of the holster’s design. Holsters that retain their shape and do not cave in after drawing your weapon prevent this issue from occurring. 

What Are The Different IWB Carry Positions?

The different carry positions are referred to as points on a clock where 12 o’clock is at the center of your front, and 6 o’clock is in the center of your back. The most common positions for IWB carrying are 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and the recently popular 2 o’clock position.   

The 3 o’clock position is located directly on your hip bone. It is the position we recommend for beginners at least try first, because it is easy, and highly effective for most people. The issue you run into here is printing of the grip, and it can be very uncomfortable for some. It can also be difficult to sit or bend over in this position. Adjusting the cant of your rig can help with the printing issue.  

The 4 o’clock position is between your hip bone and kidney, and the 5 o’clock location is right where your kidney is. You mostly run into the same issues carrying in these two positions as you would in the 3 o’clock position. For example, grip printing can occur when bending over or sitting down. However, heavier set people may find these positions more comfortable than in 3 o’clock position.  

Next on the list is the 6 o’clock position or also known as the small of the back (SOB) position that is located directly over the spine. Many people like this position because it is so easy to conceal. There are two different ways to carry in the SOB position. First is the palm out position meaning your palm will be facing away from your body when drawing. The second is the palm in position which means your palm is facing towards your body when drawing. 

While many people like this position, we do not recommend it due to all the potential problems you can have. To draw or holster your firearm, you are forced to put your arm in an unnatural position. Your draw time will be slower than if you are carrying in a more natural position, and people normally muzzle themself when drawing for the SOB.  

Finally we have the recently very popular 2 o’clock or appendix inside the waistband (AWIB) carry position. In fact, it is so popular that manufacturers are making holsters specifically for this position now.  

Why Has AIWB Carrying Become So Popular?

The 2 o’clock or AIWB position gives you a more efficient and quicker access to your firearm than the 3, 4, 5, or 6 o’clock position, which will result in a faster draw. 

Many people also find the AIWB position is more comfortable and easier to draw when sitting than other IWB carry positions. Historically many in the gun community stated that this position was too dangerous to carry in. Their reasoning is the risk of accidentally shooting your femoral artery, and thus they refuse to carry in this position. 

Therefore as we mentioned in our appendix inside the waistband holster review, the 2 o’clock carrying position is no more dangerous than any others we listed above. 

The key to safe AIWB carrying is to find a proper holster and to master drawing and holstering your firearm wearing your rig in this position. Be sure to monitor your trigger discipline while you train as well. 

Our Methods

We performed a general literary analysis to narrow down our search. From there, we cross-examined multiple reviews ranging from experts to novice to prestigious websites and books to numerous forums to compile our list. 

Then for a few holsters on our list, we got our hands on and performed our own experiments in the lab to find all the information we needed. 

Essential Things To Think About Before Buying An IWB Holster

  • Determine what gun you will be concealed carrying with – If your firearm doesn’t fit in the holster, then “Huston, we have a problem.”
  • How will you use the holster? For example, will you be wearing it on a daily, or weekly basis, Are you wearing the holster in a formal or casual setting?  
  • What activities will you be doing while concealed carrying? For example, driving long distances or walking? Will you be bending over any or even running. 
  • Dominant Hand– Most IWB holsters are not ambidextrous, so make sure you get the correct holster for your dominant hand. All the holsters noted below have left and right-handed configuration available. However, if you are left-handed, you may need to check the manufacturer’s website to purchase a holster.

What To Look For In AN IWB Holster (Our Checklist)

Durability

The holster can endure being worn daily. Many holsters must be broken in, and the last thing you want is needing a new holster just after you have broken in your current one. 

Comfort

No matter how “great” people claim, a holster is, if it is not comfortable to wear, then you will not use it. One way many AIWB holsters keep comfort a top priority is by adding a cant feature to the holster. 

Another critical issue many people overlook is if the bottom of the holster is not rounded off.  This an important feature to an IWB holster, because without it you may have a decrease in range of motion while wearing the rig.

Protection

The holster should protect against scratches, theft, drops, and if something hits the holster. However, most importantly is it should protect you and those around you against accidental discharge. A very useful way manufacturers avoid this issue is by engineering a trigger guard into the holster 

Adjustable Cant 

This allows you to determine the carry angle of your pistol while it is in the holster. Why is this important? Because it will improve how comfortable the rig is while you wear it. It also permits better concealment and has the potential of giving you a quicker draw time because the pistol grip is right where you want it

Adjustable Height 

Holsters with adjustable height allows you to determine how low or high a holster will ride on your waistline. Common issues related to the ride height of a holster (that can be fixed if a holster’s height is adjustable):

  • Printing: If holster and gun are printing then most of the time holster is riding too high
  • Comfort: A ride height that is too low or high can make it to where the holster and pistol are digging into you.
  • Grip: If you have trouble getting a good grip on the gun, then the holster is riding too low most of the time.

Adjustable Retention

Since most IWB holsters do not have a retention strap, the adjustable retention of a holster is a great feature. You get to control how “tightly the holster” holds onto your gun. As a result, you keep the holster snug, but not too snug that it is hard to unholster your firearm.

Concealment

No matter how much you can adjust a holster or what accessories come with it, poorly design holsters are tough to conceal. Without concealment, IWB holsters are a waste of time. Nobody carries an IWB holster because they like the way it feels.

Comfort

If it is not comfortable, you will not wear it plain and simple. The holster should not restrict movement and should stay in place while being worn moving around while wearing.

Ease of Use

A holster should be comfortable, easy to adjust, put on, take off, and re-holster. If it is not, we will put money on it ends up in a drawer in your gun room. The most essential area a holster needs to be easy to use is drawing your firearm. Sure, you need to practice to make sure this is second nature to you, but if a holster is challenging to draw from, it could add seconds to your draw time. Seconds that you might not have…..

Clips

We can all agree that an IWB holster’s clip(s) is a vital feature. However, I will take this a step further and say a holster’s clip(s) is its Achilles’ Heel. If the holster has a clip that will not keep the holster in place or will not clip to a belt, or is not durable, then the holster is basically worthless, and you will not use it.

Best IWB Holster 

This list only includes holsters that are not outrageously expensive or have a very long lead time. We feel it is vital to only cover holsters that the majority of people would consider purchasing.  

1. Concealment Express’s IWB Kydex Holster

The holster is made of high-quality components, including 0.08″ Kydex material for the rigs shell. The holster also has an adjustable retention and cant from 0-15 degrees. The catch? The masterpiece comes with some “cheap” plastic clip that has been known to break, and shockingly enough, you cannot adjust the holster’s ride height. 

However, Concealment Express puts their money where their mouth is and gives these holsters a lifetime warranty. Add that Concealment Express is known for its excellent customer service, and what is there not to like? 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Sweat guard
  • Audible retention lock system
  • Adjustable retention and cant
  • Comfortable
  • Low profile (less chance of printing)
  • Price
  • Trigger guard (This will ensure the trigger is not pulled while holstered)
  • Durable
  • Easy to re-holster firearm while wearing the holster

Cons

  • Cheap clip
  • Ride height not adjustable

**Check Price On Amazon**

2. Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5

Alien Gear is a company known for making products that are high quality and innovative. The Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster is a “pancake holster” ( designed to stay close to the body) and IWB hybrid holster. Hybrid holsters use something like Kydex material that is very tough for its shell. The holster will then have something like leather for it’s backing because it is more comfortable than Kydex on the skin.  

Like many of the other holsters on our list, it should be worn in the 3 to 5 o’clock position. Per the manufacturer, it is best to wear it in the 4:30 area, and you should avoid wearing it in the 6 o’clock position. 

The “CoolVent” neoprene material allows the base of the holster to be breathable, this will help minimize your chances of sweating while wearing the holster. The neoprene also wicks any moisture you might have on your skin away. 

The “Alien Skin” of the holster will keep your firearm snug in place while carrying. Cloak Tuck 3.5 is redesigned so that there is no hardware exiting on the back of the holster allowing for great comfort while wearing. 

Alien Gear also added belt clips that can be adjusted by hand without a tool. This will enable you to customize your cant and ride height on the fly.

Pros

  • Adjustable Cant
  • Adjustable Height
  • Adjustable Retention
  • No Tools Needed To Adjust Height And Cant
  • Comfort
  • Concealment
  • Can Request A Customized Holster Shell Be Made To Accommodate Aftermarket Sights And Lasers.
  • Easy To Draw
  • Backing Completely Cover Slide Of The Gun And Keeps It From Touching Your Skin
  • Trigger Guard Protection (This Will Ensure The Trigger Is Not Pulled While Holstered)

Cons

  • Can Be Hard To Put On Because Belt Clips Are Stiff
  • The Manufacturer Recommends Applying Nail Polish To Screws To Give Them A Snug Fit, And They Will Not Come To Lose
  • Some Consider It Bulky

**Check Price On Amazon**

3. Galco Kig Tuk IWB Holster

Galco has been around since 1969, and used to be called “The Famous Jackass Leather Company.” Since the company’s beginnings, people ranging from Hollywood all the way to law enforcement have been a massive fan of Galco.

Galco also merged a pancake holster and an IWB holster with the result being a superior IWB holster that you can be used with a shirt tucked in.  Just like most IWB holsters, it’s Kydex shell has been explicitly molded for a specific gun model.

Pros

  • Leather Backing Makes It Comfortable To Wear
  • The Shell Of The Holster Is Very Durable Because It Is Made Of Kydex
  • Adjustable Height
  • Adjustable Cant
  • Conceals Firearm Well
  • Backing Completely Covers Slide Of The Gun Preventing It From Touching Your Skin
  • Easy To Holster Firearm While Wearing
  • Trigger Guard Cover (This will ensure the trigger is not pulled while holstered)

Cons

  • Clips Wear Out Quickly And May Not Keep The Holster In The Waistline When Drawing Your Holster
  • Cannot Adjust The Retention
  • Kydex Holster Shell Only Accommodates Stock Pistol Sights.
  • Sometimes Requires Two Hands To Draw. One Holding The Holster While The Other Draws

**Check Price On Cabelas**

4. Sticky Holsters

When it comes to small, unobtrusive holsters and comfort Sticky Holster has practically cornered the market. These things are dead simple: stick your gun in the holster, stick the rig in your waistband, and let the namesake sticky exterior material do the rest. 

We’re still not convinced these things aren’t made of voodoo, because despite the lack of clips, locks, straps, or any other attachments, they stay put. 

The exterior coating isn’t “sticky” to the touch, but once it’s in your waistband, it warms up and locks in against your clothes (or skin, if you prefer.) This allows for secure carry in practically any outfit where you’ve got a secure place to stick the holster. 

One last significant benefit is that these are not pistol-specific. Meaning you can carry different but similarly-sized pistols with the same holster. 

Despite the revolutionary design, there are a few downsides here. This holster offers very little in terms of Retention beyond the pressure of your waistband, so if you’re going to be doing armed cartwheels, look elsewhere. Likewise, because it’s a solid panel of a rubber-like material, these suckers can get a bit warm, which translates to sweaty in practice.

 Their performance doesn’t suffer, but your pistol’s finish might. 

Lastly, it’s practically impossible to re-holster your gun without removing the holster from your waistband, as it will collapse shut after you draw. If you’ve got a waistband but no belt, or if you need something tiny and thin with no visible exterior attachments, this is by far the best option you’re going to find. 

These holsters work best for subcompacts or smaller-model 1911s.  No matter which model you pick, the key to comfortable carry and a smooth draw is practice. Know your weapon, know your gear, and remember: Knowledge maybe half the battle, but the other half is drawing quick and shooting straight every single time.

Pros

  • No Clips Or Belt Needed. 
  • Ease Of Use 
  • Comfortable 
  • Trigger Guard (This will ensure the trigger is not pulled while holstered)
  • Cheap 
  • One Holster Can Fit Different Model Guns

Cons

  • Little Retention 
  • No Adjustable Cant
  • Cannot Re-Holster While Wearing 
  • Causes You To Sweat

**Check Price On Cabelas**

5. Urban Carry G2

Next up, the most unique holster in our group is the Urban Carry G2. These saddle-grade cowhide leather holsters are handmade in the great state of Tennessee. They are officially considered inside the waistband holsters. However, we here at Outdoor Methods are calling BS. 

These rigs are BELOW the waistband holster, which the manufacturer says eliminates the gun and rig from pushing into your stomach or leg while sitting or standing. They also calm these holsters have fewer restrictions on what you can wear compared to a standard IWB holster. They only recommend not to wear tight or slim pants due to printing issues.  

If the gun is below the waistline, how do you draw your firearm then?  

To understand how to draw from this holster, you first need to know how the holster works. 

The holster is made up of two pieces of leather that are connected at the bottom of the rig. The firearm fits in between these two pieces of leather below your waistband when holstered. At the other end of the holster, one leather piece has a clip that fits either over your belt or waistline of your pants. The other part of leather has a flap with a magnet in it that connects to the clip. So when you are wearing the holster, it looks like you are trying to wear the Dad cellphone waistband pouch from the early 2000s (My dad rocked it proudly). 

When you are ready to draw your firearm, you pull on the flap that pulls your gun out of your pants, ready to be drawn.  

Wouldn’t your pistol go flying out of the holster during your draw? 

This was actually an issue with the first generation of the Urban Carry holsters. So they added a magnet to the holster to keep the firearm secured when drawing. 

The holster can be carried anywhere from the 4 o’clock position forward but is not designed for any behind the back carrying. 

It should also be noted that even though Urban Carry Holsters are leather, they appear to be as durable as a Kydex holster.    

Pros 

  • Holster Uses A Magnet To Retain Gun While Holstered 
  • Right And Left-Hand Configuration Holsters Are Available For Purchase
  • More Comfortable For People With Larger Stomachs 
  • Conceals Small Pistols Well 
  • Has A Good Trigger Guard 
  • Secures Weapon From Theft
  • Sturdy Clip 
  • Easy To Draw Small Pistols Standing Or Sitting (once you are trained) 
  • Minimizes Sweat At Waistband 
  • Select Models Are Designed With a Built-In ECR Technology That Will Turn A Laser Sight On When Drawn From The Holster And Off When Re-Holstering 
  • Can Be Worn With A Shirt Tucked Or Untucked 

Cons

  • Cannot Adjust Ride Height 
  • Cannot Adjust Retention 
  • Cannot Adjust Cant 
  • Price 
  • Potential For Printing In Slim Fit Pants (It is best to carry the holster right behind your pants pocket to decrease the chances of printing
  • Slower Draw Time Than Other IWB Holsters
  • Difficult To Re-Holster 

**Check Price On Cabelas**

6. Relentless Tactical The Defender IWB Leather Holster

The only leather IWB holster on our list is made by Relentless Tactical. This holster is made from real leather and has a firm metal clip that has proven to withstand the test of time. It is also very versatile, unlike a lot of holsters on this list, and will fit many concealed size guns, not just one. 

However, its real claim to fame is how comfortable it is, and many consider it the most comfortable IWB holster on the market. Unfortunately, it is not higher on our list due to its tendency to collapse when the gun is drawn from it, making it difficult to re-holster. If you want a leather IWB holster, this holster is hard to beat. 

Pros:

  • Retention Of The Gun
  • Strong Belt Clip
  • Well Made Trigger Guard
  • Very Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Lower Ride Height
  • Fits Most Guns
  • Lifetime Warranty 

Cons:

  • Holster May Collapse After Gun Is Drawn
  • Can Easily Cause Printing 
  • Cannot Adjust Cant
  • Cannot Adjust Ride Height

**Check Price On Amazon**

7. CYA Supply Co. IWB Holster 

Just like most of the holster on our this list, this CYA holster is made of 0.08″ thick Boltaron material. You can also adjust its cant from between 0-15 degrees. Plus, this bad boy has smooth edges making for a comfortable holster to wear.

Now the cons, the standard 1.5″ clip that comes with the holster, is not durable. However, you can purchase a 1.75″ clip if needed to fit your belt. Another issue is the holster’s lack of ability to adjust its ride height. The CYA Supply’s IWB Holster tends to ride higher than most IWB rigs, which may result in less concealment.

Pros:

  • Audible Retention Lock System
  • Adjustable Retention And Cant
  • Can Handle Aftermarket Sights
  • Sweat Guard
  • Comfortable
  • Allows For Excellent Grip On The Pistol When Drawing
  • Durable
  • Price
  • Trigger Guard (This will ensure the trigger is not pulled while holstered)
  • Easy To Re-Holster Firearm While Wearing The Rig

Cons:

  • Cheap Clip 
  • Ride Height Not Adjustable
  • Rides High While Wearing 

**Check Price On Amazon**

8. Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster

Now, this holster for appendix carry is out of this world… Just like with everything they do, Alien Gear’s ShapeShift Appendix Holster is impressive. Alien Gear goes as far as calling it “the safest and most comfortable AIWB holster ever.”

The ShapeShift Appendix Holster has your standard “advice alien skin material” to retain the firearm in the holster. It also comes with a perforated neoprene backing that goes against your skin. The neoprene is soft and allows the skin to vent, minimizing sweating just like the belly band holster. 

This rig has a single mounting point to your belt, which allows for some flexibility in the position of the holster. Alien Gear has also engineered an unique metalcore that maintains the holster’s shape while drawing. 

Pros:

  • Retention Lip on Clip
  • Trigger Guard
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Audible Retention Lock System
  • Adjustable Retention

Cons:

  • Bulky 
  • No Adjustable Cant
  • No Adjustable Ride Height
  • Price

**Check Price On Amazon**

9. Bravo Concealment Torsion IWB Gun Holster

The current Torsion IWB Gun Holster is Bravo Concealment’s 2nd generation. This new generation is designed with what Bravo Concealment calls,” torsion technology,” meaning the holster has a 10-degree inward angle. This 10- degree inward angle allows for better concealment, especially for a bigger pistol like the Glock 19.

In fact, some like to say this is the best IWB holster for the Glock 19, and they have some strong evidence backing this calm up. The Torsion IWB holster is very impressive with its trigger guard, firearm retention, pistol protection, comfort, concealment, durability, and ease of use.

Pros:

  • One-Handed Re-holstering
  • Adjustable Retention
  • Solid Polymer Injection Mold
  • Adjustable Rise and Cant
  • Durable
  • Sweat Guard
  • Trigger Guard
  • Price
  • Integrated 10-degree Inward Slant of the Holster for Better Concealability “Torsion Technology.”

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable in the Appendix Position
  • Cheaper Clips
  • Holster Material Is Not As Durable Ks Kydex

**Check Price On Bravo Concealment’s Website**

Conclusion 

That was a lot of information just thrown your way, and if you are still unsure what holster to get, do not worry. We recommend you try a few of these bad boys out by either borrowing one from a friend, asking the local gun shop with a shooting range if you can test the holster out, or buying one with a good return policy. The fact is no matter how much research we do for you, it will be up to you to decide which holster is best for you.  

With that said, our research leads us to recommend the Concealment’s Express IWB Holster as the best IWB holster. It’s ease of use, concealability, durability, and comfort level make it one of the top IWB holsters out there. However, its price and Concealment’s Express customer service are what sends it to the top of our list.  

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