Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) and Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) are certainly the two most common ways to carry a handgun, but the debate on which is better will go on for years to come. Personally I prefer IWB but there are times when I opt for OWB. If you are new to concealed carry and still trying to decide which method of carry you want to use, I hope to provide you with a resource to help your decision.
Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Carry
For concealed carry, IWB carry is the easiest way to conceal a handgun. This is because the slide of the gun is down inside the pants and the only thing left to cover is the grip, which is as easy as throwing on a t-shirt. Also, inside-the-waistband carry is extremely comfortable, contrary to older beliefs, especially with the current trends of “conceal carry handguns” and the wide range of holsters available.
Printing with IWB carry is relatively minimal compared to OWB depending on the handgun and clothing style. I am consistently able to wear very fitting clothing without printing.
Appendix carry makes concealment even easier because the average person, man or woman, is not going to be staring into another persons crotch. (Unless they are a flat-out pervert)
Tactically, inside-the-waistband carry gives you better control and access to the firearm at all times, even while driving. (which I do a lot of.)
Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Carry
When a lot of people hear OWB carry they usually think Open Carry, which is not always the case. Carrying concealed with an outside-the-wiastband holster is very doable, it just requires a little more attention to detail than carrying inside-the-waistband. Even though, IWB can be extremely comfortable, there is no denying that OWB is much more comfortable because you do not have the cold, hard handgun slide down your pants rubbing against you.
If you are gravely concerned about printing or you gun being seen, I would not recommend OWB carry for you. This is because it is very likely that throughout the course of your day, someone will see your gun via printing
or because your shirt has raised up enough to reveal the bottom of the slide, or completely exposing your handgun. As you can see in the above photos, OWB carry with properly fitting clothing makes me look bulky round the waist and if someone looks hard enough, they will likely see the outline of my pistol. (Adding a jacket to this outfit, would probably get rid of the awkward wideness around the hips)
One major disadvantage to outside-the-waistband carry is driving. Once you strap on the seatbelt, your access to your firearm is greatly hindered not only by the seatbelt itself, but also your cover garment. This tactical disadvantage is at the top of my list for why I do not carry this way on a daily basis. When I do carry this way; however, I often remove the firearm from the holster and wedge it in-between my seat and the center console area.
(I do plan on getting a Grassburr Mountable Holster for this purpose)
Which one is better?
I would not go on record saying one method is better than the other, but I will say that if you are new to concealed carry and are fashion conscious, IWB carry is the way to go because of the ease of concealment and minimal printing even with extremely fitted clothing. If you can afford it, I would recommend purchasing a holster for both carry methods because there are pros and cons to both and there are times when one method is clearly more desirable and/or appropriate than the other.
No matter which you chose, ALWAYS carry and look dapper while doing it!
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