Selecting the right method for carrying a firearm is a decision that blends personal safety, legal compliance, and lifestyle compatibility. It's a critical aspect of firearm ownership that goes beyond mere preference, influencing how effectively and responsibly one can carry a concealed weapon. At the forefront of this choice are two prominent methods: Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) and Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) carry. IWB carry, characterized by its concealment efficiency, involves tucking the firearm and holster inside the waistband of the pants, offering a discreet solution for everyday carry. 

In contrast, OWB carry positions the firearm outside the waistband, affording greater comfort and faster access, making it a favorable option in environments where quick draw capabilities are essential. 

This blog post delves into the nuances of IWB and OWB carry, aiming to provide a comprehensive guide for firearm enthusiasts to make an informed choice that aligns with their personal needs and situational demands.

i. Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Carry

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) carry refers to a method where the firearm is placed in a holster that is secured inside the wearer's waistband, typically fastened with a clip or loops to a belt. This method is characterized by the holster and firearm being tucked between the pants and the body, providing a snug fit that contours closely to the wearer's form.


  • Better Concealment: The major advantage of IWB carry is its ability to effectively conceal the firearm. By positioning the gun against the body and under a layer of clothing, it minimizes the weapon's visibility, making it an excellent choice for those who need or prefer to keep their firearm concealed.
  • Lower Profile: IWB carry offers a lower profile compared to other carry methods. This is particularly beneficial in environments where discretion is key, or where a visible firearm might cause alarm or draw unwanted attention.


  • Potential Discomfort: One of the primary drawbacks of IWB carry is comfort. Since the firearm and holster are pressed against the body, they can cause discomfort, particularly when worn for extended periods or during certain activities like sitting or bending.
  • Restrictions in Movement and Clothing Choices: IWB carry may impose limitations on the carrier’s movement and choice of clothing. For optimal concealment and comfort, carriers might need to opt for slightly looser clothing around the waist or select specific types of garments that can accommodate the holster without compromising concealment or accessibility.

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Ideal Situations and Users for IWB Carry:

IWB carry, with its distinct advantages in concealment and profile, is particularly suited for specific situations and types of users:

  • Concealed Carry in Urban Environments: In densely populated urban settings where discretion is paramount, IWB carry is ideal. The method's low profile and effective concealment align well with the need to avoid drawing attention in crowded public spaces or in professional environments.
  • Private Citizens Seeking Discretion: Individuals who carry firearms for personal protection and prefer to keep their firearm concealed will find IWB carry highly beneficial. This method allows them to go about their daily activities without the worry of their firearm being visible to others.

  • Undercover Law Enforcement and Security Personnel: For law enforcement officers and security personnel who operate undercover or in plainclothes, IWB carry offers the necessary concealment to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings while maintaining quick access to their firearm.

  • Legal Concealed Carry During Summer Months: In warmer weather, when clothing layers are reduced, IWB carry provides an effective means of concealing a firearm under lighter garments such as t-shirts or summer dresses, without sacrificing accessibility.

  • Individuals with a Leaner Physique: Those with a slimmer build may find IWB carry more comfortable and effective in concealing their firearm, as the method benefits from a tighter fit against the body.

II. Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Carry

Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) carry refers to a method where the firearm is carried in a holster that is attached to the outside of the pants, typically fastened to a belt. This carry style is more traditional and visible compared to IWB carry. The holster and firearm sit outside the waistband, providing a straightforward and easily accessible carry method


  • Greater Comfort: OWB carry is generally more comfortable, especially for extended periods. Since the firearm and holster are not pressed against the body, this method reduces discomfort and is less intrusive, making it suitable for long durations of wear.
  • Potential Imprinting Through Clothing: There is an increased risk of the firearm “printing,” or showing the outline of the gun through the clothing, which can draw attention or reveal the presence of the firearm.


  • Less Concealment: The major drawback of OWB carry is the reduced ability to conceal the firearm. This method makes it more challenging to keep the firearm hidden, especially under light or close-fitting clothing.
  • Potential Imprinting Through Clothing: There is an increased risk of the firearm “printing,” or showing the outline of the gun through the clothing, which can draw attention or reveal the presence of the firearm.

Ideal Situations and Users for OWB Carry:

  • Home and Property Defense: OWB carry is well-suited for individuals who primarily carry a firearm for home defense or while on their property, where concealment is less of a concern.
  • Open Carry Environments: In regions or scenarios where open carry is legal and socially accepted, OWB carry is a practical choice, offering comfort and quick access.

  • Recreational Use and Range Days: For those engaged in recreational shooting activities or frequent visits to the shooting range, OWB carry provides comfort and ease of access, making it a convenient option.

  • Law Enforcement and Security Personnel: For law enforcement officers and security personnel, especially those in uniform, OWB carry is often the standard. It provides quick access and fits well with the duty belt setup.

  • Cold Weather Conditions: In colder climates or during winter months, when individuals are likely to wear heavier and bulkier clothing, OWB carry allows for easier access to the firearm, as it can be positioned over thicker layers of clothing.

III. IWB vs. OWB Carry: A Detailed Comparison

IV. Legal and Safety Considerations

When it comes to carrying a firearm, whether inside-the-waistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB), understanding and adhering to legal standards, along with practicing safety best practices, are paramount.

1. Overview of Legal Considerations for Concealed vs. Open Carry:

  • Concealed Carry Laws: Concealed carry typically requires a permit in most jurisdictions. These laws dictate who can carry a concealed weapon, where they can carry it, and under what circumstances. It's crucial for IWB carriers, in particular, to be familiar with these laws as they vary widely across different states and countries.
  • Open Carry Regulations: OWB carry often falls under open carry regulations when the firearm is visible. Open carry laws can be significantly different from concealed carry laws, with some areas allowing open carry without a permit while others have stringent restrictions or even outright bans.

  • Jurisdictional Variances: Both concealed and open carry laws can vary not only from state to state but sometimes even between different municipalities within the same state. Always check local laws and regulations, especially when traveling.

2. Best Practices for Safety with Both IWB and OWB Carry:

  • Regular Training: Regardless of the carry method, regular and consistent training is essential. This training should include not only firearm proficiency but also practice in drawing the firearm from the holster, especially under stress.
  • Holster Safety: Use a holster designed specifically for your firearm model to ensure a secure fit. The holster should provide adequate trigger protection to prevent accidental discharge.

  • Firearm Familiarization: Familiarity with your firearm is crucial. This includes understanding its mechanics, regular maintenance, and practicing safe handling procedures.

  • Situational Awareness: Always be aware of your surroundings and circumstances. Carrying a firearm requires heightened vigilance and the responsibility to avoid conflicts whenever possible.

  • Responsible Storage: When not carrying your firearm, ensure it is stored safely and securely, inaccessible to unauthorized users, especially children.

  • Legal Awareness: Stay informed about changes in firearm laws and regulations, and understand the legal implications of using a firearm in self-defense.


1. Can I carry a firearm using IWB or OWB without a permit?

The requirement for a permit depends on local laws. Generally, concealed carry (IWB) requires a permit in most places, while open carry (OWB) laws vary widely. Always check your local regulations.

2. Is IWB carry more comfortable than OWB carry?

Comfort depends on personal preference and body type. IWB is less noticeable but can be less comfortable due to direct body contact, especially for extended periods or while sitting. OWB is generally considered more comfortable as it doesn’t press against the body.

3. Can OWB carry be concealed effectively under clothing?

Yes, OWB can be concealed under clothing, particularly with loose-fitting garments or jackets. However, it's typically less concealable compared to IWB, especially under lighter or tighter clothing.

4. What type of holster should I use for IWB or OWB carry?

Choose a holster that is specifically designed for your firearm model, ensuring a secure fit and adequate trigger protection. Comfort, retention, and ease of draw are also important factors.

5. How important is training for safe firearm carrying?

Regular training is essential for safe firearm carrying. This includes practicing drawing from your holster, understanding firearm mechanics, and staying updated on safety practices and legal regulations.

6. Are there specific clothing considerations for IWB and OWB carry?

Yes. For IWB carry, you might need looser pants or a larger waist size for comfort and concealment. For OWB carry, additional layers like jackets may be needed for concealment, but it's generally more adaptable to various clothing styles.


In the world of concealed carry, the decision between Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) and Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) methods is akin to selecting the ideal tool for a specific job. It entails aligning your carry choice with your unique lifestyle, comfort preferences, and the legal landscape in your region. Whether you lean towards the discreet profile of IWB or the accessibility offered by OWB, one thing remains constant: responsibility. Responsible firearm ownership is not just about the equipment but also a matter of mindset and commitment. Regardless of your chosen method, prioritize training, legal adherence, and safety to ensure that your concealed carry experience is secure and beneficial to you and those around you.


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