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Inside the Waistband (IWB) Versus Outside the Waistband (OWB)

Inside the Waistband (IWB) Versus Outside the Waistband (OWB)
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Inside the Waistband (IWB) Versus Outside the Waistband (OWB)

Do you know the difference between Inside the Waistband holsters vs. Outside the Waistband? Check out this guide to learn all the pros and cons.

At Comp-Tac we strive to offer holster options for Every Body, especially brand new bodies getting into competitive shooting or concealed carry. One question we often get is, 

"What do IWB and OWB stand for?"

IWB is short hand for Inside the Waistband. An IWB holster is a holster that is meant to go on the inside of your pants. A great example of an inside the waistband holster would be our very popular MTAC or the Spartan.

OWB is short for Outside the Waistband. An OWB is a holster that goes on the outside of the waistband. A great example of an outside the waistband holster would be The International or the Paddle.

Another question that our customers ask is,

“Which one is better?”

There are many different factors that go into answering that question, such as environment, clothing requirements, daily activities and comfort requirements. Here are some pros and cons for each style of holster:

Pros of IWB

Your firearm sits closer to your body because it rides inside the waistband.
Your firearm may be easier to conceal because the bottom portion is already concealed inside your pants. This leaves only the top to be concealed.
Many Comp-Tac IWBs like the MTAC, CTAC and Spartan have a “Tuckable” option which allows the shirt to be tucked in over the grip and top portion of the firearm. After tucking the only part of the holster that will show will be the clips. Or, they may completely disappear with V Clips and loop belt.
Most popular holsters for business attire.
Comp-Tac IWB holsters with a leather backing like the MTAC, Spartan or Infidel Ultra are extremely comfortable against the skin.

Cons of IWB

If your pants have a tight fit you may not have enough room in the waistband to comfortably carry a firearm. You may have to buy bigger pants to wear the firearm.
If you live in a very hot humid climate a leather backed holster may not be comfortable. Sometimes an all Kydex holster like the CTAC can fix this.
The draw can be more difficult and takes more practice.

Pros of OWB

They can be more comfortable if the user does not like items inside his/her waistband.
They are great to wear with a light jacket or over shirt. Very easy to use with casual clothing.
They are easy to draw from.
OWB may be more comfortable to sit in.

Cons of OWB

OWB holsters require a sturdy belt to prevent sagging or stretching.
OWB holsters may be more difficult to conceal because you have to hide the entire holster.


Hopefully this information will help you decide which holster is right for you. If you need more advice please email us at or give our friendly customer service a call at 281-209-3040!