4 Tips to Stay Concealed with Your Next IWB Holster
For those new to concealed carry, or guns in general, the idea of picking a holster can seem daunting. There are so many choices and so many styles. Finding the right one for you and knowing it will be comfortable to carry can be a winding path to navigate, but we got you covered.
Here are four tips to help you choose an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster for concealed carry.
First tip is all about protecting that trigger. While covering the trigger might not conceal a gun any better it’s an essential part of picking the right holster and you need to choose a holster that covers the trigger and trigger guard. Most holsters take care of this, but if you're new to concealed carry, it's important to understand why you need it.
If the trigger is exposed, it can be pulled by your finger or clothing or even your dog jumping up to greet you. You don't want room for anything to get inside the trigger guard and put you at risk of a negligent discharge. Also, you shouldn't be able to pull the trigger through the holster, which is why Kydex holsters are so popular.
The growth of women's concealed carry has brought on several new types of holsters. Bellybands, corsets, and carry leggings are typically made of soft material, and you want to make sure you can't pull the trigger through it. I love the convenience of these choices and occasionally wear them, but only with a Kydex holster attached. Many holster makers offer a minimalist style with a UltiClip that works great with these options.
Fit & Retention
You don't have to spend hundreds on a holster, but considering it's part of your self-defense toolkit, it makes sense to pay for quality. A well-made Kydex holster can last years since plastic doesn't wear out quickly. Be sure to periodically check and tighten your screws as part of your maintenance routine.
For the best fit, look for a holster that's molded specifically for your make and model of pistol. Some holsters will fit similar models – most of my Glock 48 MOS holsters also fit my Glock 43. But, stay away from any holster that claims to fit a wide variety of pistols.
A good holster molded to fit the make and model of your gun will provide passive retention, which is typical for IWB and concealed carry. Retention can either be fixed or adjustable. My personal preference is adjustable retention because you can make minor changes to suit your carry position and draw.
You can test retention by putting on your holster with your unloaded gun and doing daily activities. Move around, bend over, heck, do some jumping jacks. The gun shouldn't move around inside the holster or fall out. Not even if you're doing a backflip at a bar.
If you typically wear pants with a belt, you can go with a standard plastic or metal belt clip. I've used this type of clip for years and haven't had any issues. Plastic will wear out over time, so it's always smart to check your gear. I've found that right about the time when my plastic clip was getting loose, it was time to replace the entire holster.
Metal belt clips like the ones from Discreet Carry Concepts are another good option, and they don't wear out as quickly as plastic. They're slightly harder to manipulate, but they can also often clip directly to a waistband without the need for a belt. The trick to making the beltless carry work is that the pants need to be very fitted with a sturdy waistband to hold the weight.
Another thing to consider is whether your holster has one or two clips. In my experience, one clip conceals better, so that's what I use most of the time. Two clips can be a better option for heavier guns because it gives more stability. Your holster shouldn't move around much while you're wearing it. If you find one clip leaves your holster moving around during the day, try a holster with two clips.
Concealment Wing or Claw
Printing – the visible outline of the gun through clothes – was the issue I struggled with the most when I started carrying. No matter which holster I tried or where I positioned it, the grip of my gun always seemed to stick out like a sore thumb.
After six months, I tried a holster with a concealment wing, and I felt as if heaven opened up and the angels were singing just for me. OK, maybe that's a little dramatic, but it changed my concealed carry from occasional to daily.
I was skeptical at first because it looks like it sticks out and would make printing worse. When I realized adding this piece actually reduces printing, I was sold, and I'll never use a holster without a wing again.
The purpose of a concealment wing (sometimes called a claw) is to reduce printing, specifically the from the grip, but I've found it helps overall. The wing, combined with pressure from a belt, pivots and pushes the grip of your gun so it makes contact with your body.
I like the Modwing because it comes with two different inserts, so you can play around and see what works best for you. The large insert gives you more grip tuck, and the small insert gives you less grip tuck.
A rigid belt that can hold the weight of your holster and gun will help a ton with printing. I didn't wear belts when I started carrying, and after I tried one out, I could conceal a lot better.
Picking a holster can be intimidating, especially if you're new to concealed carry. It’s important to find the one that works best for you. Using these four tips will help you choose the right IWB holster and stay concealed.