Transitioning Holsters: From IWB to OWB and Vice Versa


I. Introduction

I. Introduction

In the world of concealed carry, finding the perfect holster is crucial. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose between different styles and designs. One common debate among gun owners is whether to use an Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) holster or an Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) holster. Each has its own advantages and considerations, making the decision a matter of personal preference and situational requirements.

Transitioning between IWB and OWB holsters is a common occurrence for those who carry concealed firearms regularly. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each style allows you to adapt your carrying method based on changing circumstances or preferences.

Switching from an IWB to an OWB holster provides several advantages worth considering. Firstly, OWB holsters typically offer better comfort as they don’t require squeezing your firearm against your body tightly. This extra space allows for improved airflow around the gun, reducing sweat and discomfort during warmer weather conditions.

An OWB holster also provides easier access to your firearm when compared to an IWB option. The position on the outside of your waistband allows for a quicker draw without any obstructions from clothing or body positioning that may interfere with smoothly retrieving your weapon in critical situations.

The transition process

Moving from IWB to OWB requires some adjustment in terms of concealment techniques because switching holsters means changing how you hide or blend in with everyday attire while keeping their firearm securely holstered.

Modifying clothing choices

When transitioning from IWB to OWB carry, it’s important to consider wardrobe adjustments that will ensure effective concealment without compromising quick access to your firearm.

Different retention mechanisms

A significant factor when transitioning between holster styles is the variation in retention mechanisms. OWB holsters often employ different retention systems, such as thumb breaks or adjustable tension screws, to ensure a secure hold on the firearm.

Practicing with different draw techniques

Transitioning holsters also means adapting to new drawing techniques. It’s crucial to practice drawing from your new OWB holster to establish muscle memory and familiarize yourself with the nuances of this carrying method.

II. Understanding the Basics of Holsters

II. Understanding the Basics of Holsters

When it comes to carrying a firearm, having a reliable and efficient holster is essential. Whether you prefer an Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) or an Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) holster, understanding the basics will help you make an informed decision about which option suits your needs best.

The Purpose of a Holster

A holster serves multiple purposes when it comes to carrying a handgun. First and foremost, it provides secure storage for your firearm, keeping it in place and preventing accidental discharges. Additionally, holsters offer quick and easy access to your weapon when needed while protecting both the gun itself and its trigger from damage or debris.

Differences Between IWB and OWB Holsters

IWB holsters are designed to be worn inside the waistband of your pants, offering better concealment as they sit snugly against your body. On the other hand, OWB holsters are typically worn outside the waistband on your belt or attached via paddle or thigh straps for open carry situations.

An IWB holster allows for better discretion as it reduces printing (visible outline) of the firearm through clothing. It also offers greater comfort while sitting or bending due to its closer fit against your body’s contours.

OWB holsters provide easier accessibility since they don’t require lifting clothing to draw the weapon quickly. They also allow for more significant customization options such as different cant angles and adjustable retention levels.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Holster

Selecting the right holster depends on various factors that suit your specific needs:

  1. Type of Firearm: Different firearms require different types of holsters based on their size, weight, and grip style.
  2. Carry Position: Consider where on your body you prefer to carry your firearm. Common options include appendix carry, strong-side hip, small of back, or cross-draw.
  3. Concealment: If concealing your weapon is important to you, opt for an IWB holster that offers better discretion.
  4. Comfort: A comfortable holster ensures you can carry your firearm for extended periods without discomfort or irritation.
  5. Safety Features: Look for holsters with features like adjustable retention levels and trigger guards for enhanced safety.

Taking all these factors into account will help you make an informed decision when choosing between IWB and OWB holsters. Remember that practice drawing from different holsters is essential to ensure proficiency in handling your firearm effectively in any situation.

III. Exploring the Benefits of IWB Holsters

III. Exploring the Benefits of IWB Holsters

When it comes to choosing a holster, there are several options available in the market, and one popular choice is the Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) holster. Designed to be worn inside your waistband, these holsters offer numerous benefits that make them a preferred choice for many gun owners.

1. Concealment:

The primary advantage of IWB holsters is their ability to provide excellent concealment. By positioning the firearm inside your waistband, close to your body, these holsters effectively hide your weapon from view. This makes them ideal for those who prioritize discretion and want to avoid drawing unnecessary attention in public.

2. Comfort:

IWB holsters are generally considered more comfortable compared to other types of holsters because they distribute the weight of the firearm across a larger area on your body. The snug fit against your waistline ensures that the holster stays in place while providing minimal discomfort during extended periods of wear.

3. Accessibility:

An important aspect of any self-defense situation is quick and easy access to your weapon when needed. IWB holsters excel in this regard as they allow for fast draw times due to their proximity and position on your body. With proper training and practice, drawing from an IWB holster becomes second nature.

4. Versatility:

IWB holsters are versatile when it comes to wardrobe choices as well since they can be easily concealed under various clothing styles such as t-shirts or jackets without compromising comfort or accessibility.


IWB holsters offer enhanced security by providing retention systems that keep your firearm securely in place even during rigorous physical activities or movements. This ensures that your weapon doesn’t accidentally fall out or become dislodged, providing peace of mind for the carrier.

6. Reduced Printing:

Printing refers to the outline of a concealed weapon showing through clothing. IWB holsters minimize printing due to their position inside the waistband and tight fit against your body, ensuring that others are less likely to notice you are carrying a firearm.

IV. Transitioning from IWB to OWB Holsters

IV. Transitioning from IWB to OWB Holsters

Transitioning from an Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster to an Outside the Waistband (OWB) holster can be a game-changer in terms of comfort, accessibility, and concealment. While IWB holsters are popular for their ability to provide deep concealment, OWB holsters offer quick access and enhanced comfort.

The Benefits of OWB Holsters

1. Improved Comfort: OWB holsters are typically worn on the outside of your waistband, allowing for better weight distribution and reduced pressure on your body. This can alleviate discomfort during prolonged periods of wear.

2. Quick Accessibility: Unlike IWB holsters that require reaching inside your waistband, OWB holsters allow for a faster draw as there is no need to clear clothing or obstacles before accessing your firearm.

3. Enhanced Concealment Options: While it may seem counterintuitive, transitioning to an OWB holster can actually offer more concealed carry options by utilizing long shirts, jackets, or vests that cover the weapon entirely without printing.

Tips for Transitioning

If you’ve decided to make the switch from IWB to OWB holsters, here are some tips to help ease the transition:

1. Proper Placement:

Determine where you want your OWB holster positioned on your waistband – whether it’s at three o’clock (hip), four o’clock (slightly behind hip), or appendix carry position – and experiment with different locations until you find what works best for you in terms of comfort and accessibility.

2. Belt Selection:

An important consideration when transitioning to OWB holsters is the choice of belt. A sturdy, reinforced gun belt will provide the necessary support and prevent sagging, ensuring your holster stays securely in place.

3. Clothing Choices:

When concealing an OWB holster, it’s crucial to wear clothing that allows for effective concealment while providing easy access to your firearm. Loose-fitting shirts or jackets can help maintain a low profile while offering quick draw capabilities.

4. Practice Makes Perfect:

Transitioning from IWB to OWB holsters may require some adjustments in your drawing technique due to the different position and accessibility. Regular practice at the range or with an unloaded firearm can help you develop muscle memory and become proficient with your new carry method.

In Conclusion

Making the switch from IWB to OWB holsters can bring about significant benefits in terms of comfort, accessibility, and concealed carry options. By following these tips and practicing regularly, you’ll be well on your way to seamlessly transitioning between these two popular holster styles.

V. Advantages of OWB Holsters

V. Advantages of OWB Holsters

OWB holsters, or Outside the Waistband holsters, have gained popularity among gun owners for various reasons. These holsters are designed to be worn on the outside of the waistband, providing several advantages over their IWB counterparts. Whether you are a law enforcement officer, a competitive shooter, or a concealed carry permit holder, OWB holsters offer unique benefits that make them worth considering.

1. Enhanced Comfort

One of the primary advantages of OWB holsters is their enhanced comfort compared to IWB options. The positioning on the outside of the waistband allows for better weight distribution and reduces pressure points on your body. With an OWB holster, you can enjoy extended periods of wear without feeling discomfort or irritation against your skin.

2. Quick and Easy Access

When it comes to self-defense situations or competitive shooting events where every second counts, quick access to your firearm is crucial. OWB holsters provide easy access due to their position outside the waistband and typically feature adjustable retention systems that allow for a smooth draw stroke with minimal effort.

3. Better Concealment Options

Contrary to popular belief, OWB holsters can still offer effective concealment when paired with appropriate clothing choices and cover garments such as jackets or untucked shirts. They provide better options for concealing larger firearms that may be uncomfortable or impractical in an IWB holster.

4. Improved Weapon Retention

In high-stress situations where physical activity is involved (e.g., running or grappling), weapon retention becomes critical for maintaining control over your firearm securely. Many OWB holsters feature adjustable retention levels and secure locking mechanisms that prevent accidental weapon dislodgement.

5. Customization and Versatility

OWB holsters often offer a wide range of customization options to suit individual preferences and needs. From different cant angles to adjustable ride heights, OWB holsters can be tailored to your comfort and drawing style. Additionally, they are compatible with various belt sizes and types, providing versatility for everyday carry or specific shooting disciplines.

VI. Switching from OWB to IWB Holsters

Transitioning from an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster to an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, or vice versa, requires careful consideration and adjustment. Both types of holsters have their own advantages and it’s important to understand the nuances of each before making the switch.

The Benefits of IWB Holsters

IWB holsters offer a more concealed carry option compared to OWB holsters. By positioning the firearm inside the waistband, it becomes easier to keep it hidden under clothing. This can be particularly advantageous in everyday situations where you want to maintain a low profile.

In addition, IWB holsters provide better weight distribution as they sit closer to your body. This means that even with a larger firearm, you’ll experience improved comfort and reduced printing. The snug fit also prevents accidental exposure or dislodging of the weapon during physical activities.

Getting Used to IWB Carry

Making the switch from OWB to IWB can initially feel uncomfortable due to the change in position and proximity of your firearm. However, with some practice and adjustments, you can adapt quickly.

Firstly, consider wearing looser-fitting clothing or pants with a slightly larger waist size when carrying IWB. This will allow for better concealment without restricting movement or causing discomfort.

Secondly, experiment with different positions along your waistline until you find what works best for you. Some prefer appendix carry while others prefer strong-side hip carry – find what feels most natural and accessible for drawing your firearm efficiently.

Selecting an Appropriate Holster

A crucial aspect when switching holsters is selecting one that suits your needs and preferences. With IWB holsters, factors such as comfort, retention, and accessibility become even more critical due to the closer proximity to your body.

Look for an IWB holster with adjustable cant and retention options. This will allow you to customize the draw angle and ensure a secure fit while accommodating different clothing choices and body types.

Investing in a high-quality holster made from durable materials is also important. The last thing you want is for your holster to wear out or deteriorate prematurely, compromising both safety and functionality.

Training for Smooth Transitions

Once you’ve made the switch from OWB to IWB (or vice versa), it’s essential to practice drawing your firearm from the new position regularly. Familiarize yourself with the nuances of the different draw stroke required by each type of holster.

Schedule regular range sessions where you can simulate real-life scenarios while practicing drawing from concealment. By doing so, you’ll build muscle memory and increase your proficiency in using either type of holster effectively during critical moments.

VII. Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about transitioning holsters from IWB to OWB and vice versa:

1. Can I use the same holster for both IWB and OWB carry?

No, typically, holsters designed for IWB carry are not suitable for OWB carry and vice versa. The key difference lies in the way they are constructed and how they attach to your belt or clothing. It’s recommended to invest in separate holsters for each type of carry.

2. Are there any advantages of transitioning between IWB and OWB holsters?

Absolutely! Transitioning between different holster types allows you to adapt your concealed carry setup based on your needs and preferences. For example, if you need deeper concealment, an IWB holster might be preferable, while an OWB holster offers faster access to your firearm.

3. How do I know which type of holster is right for me?

Finding the right holster depends on various factors such as your body shape, clothing style, comfort level, firearm size, and intended use. It’s important to try out different holsters or consult with experienced shooters who can provide valuable insights based on their own experiences.

4. Can changing from one type of holster to another affect my draw speed?

Switching between different types of holsters may initially impact your draw speed as it takes time getting used to a new method of accessing your firearm. However, with practice and familiarization with the new holster style, you can regain or even improve upon your original draw speed.

5. Is it necessary to adjust my wardrobe when switching between holsters?

In some cases, yes. Certain holsters, like IWB holsters, require looser-fitting clothing to effectively conceal your firearm. OWB holsters may be more accommodating with different clothing options. It’s important to consider your wardrobe choices and make adjustments accordingly for optimal concealment and comfort.

6. Are there any safety concerns associated with transitioning holsters?

Transitioning between holster types doesn’t inherently pose safety risks as long as you follow proper gun handling practices at all times. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the new holster securely retains your firearm and provides adequate trigger guard coverage to prevent accidental discharges.

7. How often should I practice drawing from different holster types?

To maintain proficiency in both IWB and OWB carry methods, regular practice is essential. Set aside dedicated training sessions where you can practice drawing from each type of holster, paying attention to grip placement, sight alignment, and smoothness of the draw motion.

8. Can I modify my existing holster for a different carry method?

In some cases, modifications can be made to adapt a holster for a different carry method; however, this is not recommended unless you have extensive knowledge of holster construction and are confident in making such modifications without compromising safety or functionality.

9. What are some popular brands known for producing quality transition holsters?

There are several reputable brands in the market that offer high-quality transition holsters suitable for both IWB and OWB carry methods. Some popular options include CrossBreed Holsters, Alien Gear Holsters, StealthGearUSA, Blackhawk!, Safariland, Galco Gunleather

10. How do I maintain my transition holsters?

Maintaining your transition holsters involves regular cleaning using mild soap and water, ensuring all dirt and debris are removed. You should also inspect the holster for any signs of wear or damage, such as loose stitching or cracks. Lubricate hinges or moving parts as recommended by the manufacturer.

VIII. Conclusion

When switching between IWB and OWB holsters, it’s important to consider factors such as comfort, concealment, accessibility, and ease of draw. Understanding the differences between the two types of holsters will help you make an informed decision based on your individual requirements.

For those who prioritize deep concealment and minimal printing, an IWB holster may be the ideal choice. Its close-to-the-body positioning allows for effective concealment under clothing while providing easy access to your firearm when needed.

On the other hand, OWB holsters are preferred by many for their enhanced comfort during extended wear periods. They also offer faster draw times due to their position outside the waistband.

The Importance of Holster Training

No matter which type of holster you choose or decide to transition between, proper training is essential. Familiarize yourself with the specific holster’s retention mechanisms, practice drawing your firearm safely and efficiently until it becomes second nature.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle plays a significant role in determining whether an IWB or OWB holster is more suitable for you. If you frequently engage in physical activities or work in environments that require constant movement or bending over (such as construction sites), a securely concealed IWB holster might be preferable.

Holster Selection Process

To find the right holster for your needs, consider factors such as material quality, retention mechanisms (e.g., adjustable tension screws), cant angle adjustability (if applicable), compatibility with your firearm model, and overall build quality. Conduct thorough research, read customer reviews, and seek expert advice to ensure you make an informed decision.

Experimentation Is Key

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different holsters until you find the perfect fit for your needs. What works well for one person may not work as effectively for another. Trying out various options will allow you to discover what feels most comfortable and secure while still providing quick access to your firearm.

Leave a Comment