Choosing a holster is a difficult but important decision.
Even if you’ve already narrowed your options down to a particular holster type, such as an inside the waistband (IWB) holster, the sheer number of options can still be overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In this guide, I’m going to take you through some of the top recommended IWB holsters currently available to help you find one that works for you.
Summary of Our Top Picks
Table of Contents
What is an IWB Holster Anyway?
“IWB” stands for “Inside Waist Band” and that means exactly what it sounds like it does:
An IWB holster is carried inside of the waistband of your pants, skirt, kilt, or whatever, between your waistband and underwear.
Or your waistband and skin, I guess, if you prefer to go commando. I wouldn’t recommend it with an IWB holster, but I’m not here to judge.
IWB holsters are almost unquestionably the most popular carry type.
What Are the Advantages?
There are few benefits that have led the IWB holster to become so popular.
One of the biggest advantages of IWB holsters is that they’re easy to conceal since they sit so close to the body, making them less likely to print.
IWB holsters are easily hidden in most untucked tees and button-downs, and throwing on a jacket gives you even more freedom.
Another perk of keeping your weapon tucked inside your waistband is security.
Your gun is very unlikely to fall out of the holster and is very difficult for someone to take from you.
Sure, IWB holsters are slower to draw from than their OWB (Outside Waist Band) counterparts, but they are much quicker than other highly concealable holsters like shoulder holsters, belly bands, and ankle holsters.
What Are the Disadvantages?
So with all this going for IWB holsters, why does anyone carry anything else? Well, there are also some downsides.
IWB holsters are easy to conceal in most clothing, but if more fitted clothing styles are your jam, IWB holsters probably aren’t going to work for you since you’ll almost certainly experience printing.
Of course, any holster type is going to have some clothing styles it doesn’t work with, so you just have to find the type that works with the clothes you prefer.
IWB holsters can be a pain (literally) to sit in, especially at 12 o’clock or appendix carry positions and especially with mid to full-sized handguns — though even compact pistols can be a problem for smaller shooters.
Speaking of which, particularly full bellies may find that many IWB holsters dig in or otherwise sit uncomfortably, while the bony-hipped among us may suffer from our hip bone rubbing the holster as we walk around.
And no matter your build, if your IWB holster isn’t properly padded and does sufficiently handle sweat, you can expect to get rashy.
My advice: always wear your IWB holster with full coverage underwear and an undershirt to minimize rubbing, add a bit of padding, and help mitigate sweat.
Draw and Holstering Difficulties
Yes, IWB holsters are quick to draw from, but that’s only if you’ve done your due diligence by regularly drilling with your holster.
As I’ve already said, the way that an IWB holster holds your gun so close to your body is great for security, but it also makes it more difficult for you to actually grab your gun and establish a secure grip before drawing.
Now that you’ve got some basics, let’s move on to the recommendations.
Best IWB Holsters
1. Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster
You’ll see at least one Concealment Express holster on just about any holster round-up on Pew Pew Tactical.
We even did a round-up and review specifically of Concealment Express holsters, and this particular holster is probably the one that you’ll see the most since it’s so affordable and gets the job done.
The Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster is great for a variety of IWB carry positions, including appendix, hip, cross draw, back, and palm-out carry, though it’s especially well-suited for appendix carry.
It’s lightweight and secure, and the Kydex keeps your gun protected.
And it’s also remarkably comfortable for a Kydex holster thanks in part to the holster’s full-length sweat guards.
Kydex holsters, in general, make re-holstering your weapon easier than holsters made from other materials do, and this one’s audible lock system makes re-holstering even easier.
The holster attaches to the waistband with a 1.5-inch plastic belt clip. The holster’s retention and cant are both adjustable.
And it’s pretty low profile, so you have a lower risk of imprinting. A great way to start in IWB carry.
Again, here’s our full review.
Want the most baller pure Kydex option?
Enter Tenicor with their Velo and Sagax Lux.
It’s an idea so simple I wish I thought of it…mold the back of your appendix carry holster to your natural form!
It really does make a difference.
Plus if retention is the name of your game…check out those crazy belt loops.
It’s a little harder to put them on but wow…they are not coming off. And don’t worry…they have standard options as well.
And if you like lights…their model is not that much larger than the standard.
Of course, it’s fast and easy to get a full grip too.
The only thing in your way is likely the sticker price. I’d recommend Tenicor for those that you carrying AIWB consistently in regular life or for your job.
3. Crossbreed Supertuck
The Crossbreed Supertuck is a fantastic hybrid holster that combines the best of both leather and Kydex holsters.
The holster comprises a Kydex shell that protects your pistol placed on a soft and flexible leather backer made of either premium cowhide and or natural horsehide, depending on the color.
And the Supertuck Deluxe is available with or without a combat cut, where some of the leather backing has been trimmed away to make it easier to draw and re-holster your weapon. But this also makes the holster less comfortable.
The backing is the raw leather but it’s pretty comfy by itself.
If you’re not sure whether you want the combat cut, go without. You can always get the combat cut added later!
This holster affixes to your belt using powder-coated steel belt clips that allow you to adjust the holster’s ride height and cant angle.
4. Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster
The Cloak Tuck 3.5 is another great hybrid IWB holster at a lower price point.
Alien Gear uses Kydex to protect and secure your handgun and has a broad, flexible, breathable neoprene backing to keep you comfortable and sweat-free.
These materials also mean that you can expect this holster to last you a long, long time.
Two flexible polymer clips work alongside the broad backing to keep the holster in place.
The retention level, cant angle, and ride height are both adjustable for maximum comfort and security.
5. Hidden Hybrid Holsters
As you can tell…I like my hybrid holsters.
But if I had to choose my current favorite one for comfort…it’d be Hidden Hybrid Holsters.
They use Amish leather and add one some silky soft suede to the back.
A couple of simple models like a single clip for appendix carry and a double clip for your 4-5 o’clock or even outside the waistband.
It took a day or two for the leather to start forming well to my body. Plus the suede actually kinda clings to my underwear in a good way.
The Kydex does its job with retention. And I like their “claw” for appendix carry since it pushes everything more inwards.
Drawing is easy once you adjust retention and cant angle to your liking. All the holsters I tried from them also give you a full grip.
If you have some lights/lasers or even an RMR…they have options for it. Though for me it’s just too large to carry except for special occasions.
I go super into it in my full Hidden Hybrid Holster Review.
But basically…it’s the comfiest hybrid I’ve tried so far.
Their mag holders aren’t too shabby either.
What’s your take on Hidden Hybrid Holsters?
6. PHLster Floodlight IWB
Want an IWB holster with light capabilities? The PHLster Floodlight IWB is a great option for those that carry a light-equipped CCW.
A Kydex style, the holster offers retention adjustments via a shock cord to ensure proper fitment.
Available with either belt-loops attachments or belt clips, users can choose a set-up that really works for them.
The Floodlight supports Streamlight’s TLR-1 and Surefire’s X300U.
Not to mention, PHLster knows concealment. Not only will you be able to carry well in this, but it’s pretty darn comfortable.
PPT contributor Travis is a big fan of PHLster’s Floodlight set-up in both OWB and IWB and says both models allow for a good, purposeful draw. (You can read his full review of both holsters here!)
What to Look for in an IWB Holster
So now you’ve heard about a few great IWB options, let’s talk generally about what you should be looking for in an IWB holster.
Getting an inexpensive holster only saves you money if you don’t have to replace it every year or so because it falls apart.
That’s not to say that you have to spend a lot to get a good holster, but make sure you won’t be spending more in the long run by pinching pennies now. Besides, the last thing you want is your holster to fail while you’re using it.
Durable, reliable materials like leather, nylon, and Kydex are the way to go, but be sure to make sure that any stitching is also strong.
Your holster should be comfortable in any position you can reasonably expect yourself to be in while wearing it, as well as while you move.
It also shouldn’t restrict your movement and should be lightweight to avoid pulling or shifting. It shouldn’t rub or pinch and should feel secure as you go about normal activities.
Don’t underestimate the importance of comfort, as a mildly uncomfortable holster can quickly become incredibly annoying and can even lead to rashes, chafing, and bruises over time.
If possible, try on your holster before you buy it, and if not, make sure that you can return your holster if you try it on and find that it’s not comfortable.
Your holster should protect your weapon against bumps, scuffs, drops, and theft, and protect you and any bystanders from accidental discharge.
The same durable materials we discussed above should be sufficient to protect your weapon so long as they adequately cover your gun.
And speaking of which, your holster absolutely needs to cover your firearm’s trigger so that it’s not accidentally bumped.
There are a startling number of holsters that don’t provide adequate trigger coverage, especially considering the possible consequences of accidental discharge.
Do not, under any circumstances, buy one of these holsters.
Finally, your holster should have an adequate retention system, whether active, passive, or hybrid. This ensures that your gun doesn’t fall out, opening up your firearm to damage or theft, and revealing to everyone around you that you’re carrying.
If you’re still not sure which holster to get, don’t worry. Try out a few different holsters before you buy so that you know what you do and don’t want from your holster and make an informed decision.
Only you can determine what holster is best suited for you.
And once you pick your holster, you should be sure to consistently drill with it so that you have the skills and muscle memory that you need when you need it.
For some ideas, check out our post on the 6 Best Shooting Drills.
And if you’re new to concealed carry, check out 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Carried Concealed for some things you should know before you start.
Want more education? Check out our review of USCCA membership which teaches you about everything before, during, and after a self-protection incident. AND every tier of membership gets the benefit of personal liability insurance.
Know what holster you’re going with? Looking at OWB, ankle, shoulder, or other types of holsters…check out our massive Best Holsters article. For the ladies, we also suggest heading over to our Best Concealed Carry Gear for Women article!
6 Best IWB (Inside Waistband) Holsters [Hands-On Tested] is written by Megan Kriss for www.pewpewtactical.com