Hidden Inside: Some Holsters for IWB Carry

Talon Training Group

Lobo Gunleather

SwapRig

Inside the waist band carry (IWB) often gets a bad reputation for comfort. Most people will agree that for the concealed carry person, IWB offers the best combination of concealment, security and access of the other carry methods, but this recommendation is often accompanied by complaints that it is too uncomfortable.

I would put forward the notion that carrying a chunk of metal, plastic and a stack of bullets around for any length of time is uncomfortable. We get used to it and it's one of the costs of concealed carry. Obviously, one does not want a carry system that is unnecessarily uncomfortable and irritating. That will result in leaving your weapon at home, or going to a more comfortable carry method that does not offer the same advantages as IWB.

There are a number of factors involved in a successful IWB carry system. The most important being the person's body type, the quality of the holster and the size of the gun.

There is no perfect body type for IWB carry. Everyone is different and the range of differences is large. However, different body types benefit from different carry systems. Someone who is toothpick thin won't be comfortable with, nor conceal well with a rigid IWB holster and a large gun. A short barrel .45 semi-auto in a clip-on kydex holster worn at the strong side point of the hip will be a heavy, obvious burden. A smaller frame .9mm worn in the appendix position in a soft leather holster will work much better for that person.

A larger heavier person can conceal larger guns more comfortably in more positions.

Clothing and weather make a difference. T-shirts and shorts require different carry methods than cold weather sweaters, jackets and vests.

On the theory that there are IWB holsters out there that will suit different people carrying different guns, I obtained a few IWB holsters for an extensive real-life field test over a number of months. Some of those are pictured above.

I have used this year, on a daily basis, the following IWB holster systems:

  • pjholsters - kydex, thin, very well constructed and effective
  • SwapRig - a highly adaptable and variable system of leather backing with easily replaceable holster shells to accommodate different pistols
  • D.M. Bullard - full grain, exquisitely made leather
  • Talon Training Group - leather, comfortable and very well made
  • Cook's Holsters - kydex, exceptionally well made with a clip adjustable for cant
  • Blade Tech - Revolution Klipt appendix, one of their thin, inexpensive and well made IWB rigs
  • Galco Stow-n-Go - a simple, comfortable and inexpensive holster
  • Lobo Gunleather - a soft, comfortable offset clip hoster

All but the SwapRig holster are conventional designs with various design and manufacturing differences that made the difference in feel and effectiveness.

I will report in more detail on those holsters in subsequent posts, especially after the weather turns here at 7000' for the winter, but I can say a few general things about them now. I will also offer a few observations about some of the holsters I have used previously that didn't make the grade.

Of the kydex holsters, I generally prefer Cook's. The quality of manufacture is outstanding with attention given to small details like rounding and smoothing the corners, a decent sight channel and close conformation with the gun's form. I especially like the ability to adjust the belt clip for different angles of cant which allows this holster to easily adapt to positions ranging from the cross-draw to the strong side behind the hip carry.

Blade Tech's Revolution Klipt is an outstanding holster that works, is thin and comfortable and at under $30 is priced right. I like it.

pjholster's kydex models are among the best on the market, at least among those I have had the chance to use. Paul builds with attention to detail and comfort. His thin IWB models are secure and amazingly light and comfortable. With an adjustable belt clip, I would rate them up there with the Cook's models.

Of the leather holsters, I prefer the Bullard and the Talon Training Group's offerings. Comparing my models, I would give the edge to the Talon holster since it is equally as comfortable as the Bullard, but offers an offset clip and reinforcement to keep it open better than Bullard's design. Lobo's holster is the most comfortable but did not stay in place as well as the others, and while this may be fine for some people, I found it nagged me at times. However, the Bullard and the Lobo, being leather without reinforcement, would carry either a Ruger SR9c or a S&W M&P Shield equally well. The Galco Stow-n-Go is an excellent, cheap, effective and inexpensive holster especially for smaller handguns.

SwapRig holsters are in their own class. Based on a proven hybrid design - a flat piece of leather between you and the holster to provide both support and comfort, it departs from the competition in two major ways: quality of construction and customer support, and the ability to quickly and easily swap the kydex "shell" that forms the 'holster' part of the system with another "shell" or skin, to fit any other gun. Hence, one holster platform can be adapted easily to carry a wide range of handguns. Revolvers. Semi-Autos. Derringers. Large, medium or small, it doesn't matter. For around $15 you can buy a new skin for your new gun and use the same, comfortable, broken-in platform. Excellent idea, and you can tell from the packaging and instructions that they are well made and the make will stand behind his holsters. Outstanding value and effectiveness.

Those are my current picks 

of some of the good IWB holsters I have tried. There are other quality IWB holsters available from dedicated and quality-minded makers that I have not tried but hope to as the years go on. I suggest that you think carefully about your needs, you body type and they kinds of gun or guns you will be carrying and get the best made holster you can afford. Price is no guarantee of quality, so spend time on sites like this one, and on the makers' websites. Write them. Call them. The good ones will be more than happy to talk with you. They make holsters and understand their uses, so get their input and evaluate accordingly. It's going to be much less expensive to buy one or three quality holsters than run through a box full of also-rans.

As me (and most concealed carry people) how I know...

Not-so-hot

In this category are holsters I've tried and not liked for various reasons ranging from value, security to comfort. Others obviously feel differently, but I just didn't like them:

  • Crossbreed - based on the quality of construction compared to their cost, and the lack of interest and attention given to customers or potential customers.
  • Old Faithful - a slap-together, uncomfortable and less secure do-it-yourself assemblage of parts.
  • VersaCarry - I am just not that interested in the minimal level of security offered for the trigger and magazine release.
  • High Noon - looking at the excellent holsters on the market with the same designs and materials, I don't understand why their prices are so high. I also didn't like being told that I didn't know enough about holsters to question them on their pricing.
  • Remora - the 'high friction', no clip, IWB holster is generally a good holster, but after using many models with many handguns I feel they do not stay in place without adjustments during the day, especially if one is active. Yes, I've had one work it's way out of my waistband and fall to the floor. Also, when worn with some clothing, they are not guaranteed to stay in place when the gun is drawn. That's been my experience.