How to Wear IWB Holsters | Informational Guide 2022

| Last Updated:
August 26, 2023

IWB holsters are an important and widely used accessory when it comes to concealed carrying of firearms.

These holsters come in handy under specific situations and offer an element of surprise to the user. However, they have their own advantages and disadvantages. Plus, they have to be worn properly to be effective.

Here, we’ll learn in detail about all the characteristics of an IWB holster, along with some other useful info. We will also look at some of the top IWB holsters on the market, in case you are in the market for one.

What is an IWB Holster and When is it Ideal?

IWB here stands for Inside-The-Waistband.

An IWB holster is a type of handgun holster worn inside the waistband, right between your lower garment and your body (the place where you tuck your shirt in). IWB holsters came into being through the need for concealed carrying handguns.

CYA Supply Co. IWB Holster (Source)

Concealed carry (also known as CCW) refers to carrying a firearm in such a way that it is not visible or broadcasting to anybody else.

The purpose of an IWB holster is to conceal your firearm meanwhile offering you comfort, proper retention, and a quick draw.

IWB holsters are ideal for certain situations, some of which include:

Self Defense

IWB is a good option for self defense. These holsters give the user an element of surprise to shock any attacker. 

Plus, it also gives you an edge in case of situations arising in public places, because prying criminals won’t even consider you to be a threat since they can’t see your weapon.

Additionally, IWB holsters prevent anyone from stealing or snatching your weapon, similar to concealed carry purses.

Everyday Carry

IWB holsters are ideal for Every Day Carry (EDC). Whether you are a working woman or man, IWB holsters let you carry your weapon without offending anyone near you.

Performing Strenuous Activities

Another realm where IWB holsters work very well is while performing strenuous activities like running, hiking, jogging, or even hunting.

IWB holsters protect your weapon and prevent it from falling out or getting snagged on something.

Deciding How to Wear an IWB Holster

Carry position is the place on your waist where you place your holster. The circumference of your waist can be compared to a traditional clock (when viewed from the top).

Thus, different carry positions can be represented as the time values marked on the clock.

For example, your belly button is 12 o’clock, your center back is 6 o’clock, your right hip is 3 o’clock, and left hip is 9 o’clock. To put it simply, there are 12 different carry positions for an IWB holster, which can be designated by the hour positions of a clock.

The carry position you use depends upon certain factors, including your size, weight, and sometimes clothing.

Alien Gear Holsters demonstration on how to put on your IWB holster (Source)

People who have put on extra weight and have a sort of plump body should carry at 4 or 5 o’clock (7 or 8 o’clock for lefties). On the other hand, the best carry position for skinny guys is 3 o’clock, 2 o’clock or 12 o’clock.

This difference in carrying positions is obviously due to the size of the belly. However, regardless of the size, the 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock carry positions might not work out very well.

That’s because the prime function of an IWB holster is to offer concealment, and wearing the holster in these positions can promote printing because of the raised hip.

Wearing an IWB Holster 

Wearing an IWB holster properly is the basic requirement for it to function properly. You must learn and understand this step-by-step process to get the best results out of your IWB holster.

Undo Your Belt and Waistband

Some people skip this step, and try to poke in the holster forcefully, which may lead to an uncomfortable fit. Undoing your waistband ensures that you get proper room to slide and attach the holster properly.

Slide the Holster to Your Desired Position

Take the holster, place it in between your body and the band and slide it all the way to your desired position. If your holster has a belt loop, adjust it accordingly.

Slide the Belt Clips Over Your Belt

Ensure that your holster is properly tucked in place. Wiggle it to make sure it stays in place.

Fasten Your Waistband

Once you have ensured that the holster has been seated properly in the right position, fasten your waistband and belt, and tighten it according to your level of comfort.

Adjusting Your IWB Holster Retention 

Once you have attached your IWB holster properly, the next step is to check it for functionality.

Before you commence this step, please ensure your weapon is empty and there’s no round in the chamber. Make sure you don’t put your finger on the trigger while doing the steps mentioned below.

Safety is vital to this step to avoid injuring yourself or others around you unintentionally.

Holster Your Weapon

Once your holster is in place, put your weapon inside it to check for retention and draw.

Adjust Retention

If you feel the retention of the holster is too tight or too loose for the weapon, take it out and adjust the retention by tightening the respective screws (refer to the user manual if you don’t know how to do this). Test the retention of the holster after making slight adjustments to attain the proper level.

Check the Grip

Make sure you get a proper grip on your weapon when you reach for it. Practice a few times to ensure your holster sits in a comfortable position.

Adjust Your Clothing

Tuck and un-tuck your shirt/t-shirt to ensure that the holster doesn’t create any problems. Practice a draw several times to make sure your holster fits and sits correctly.  

How to Properly Wear and Adjust an IWB Holster

Since you already know how to make adjustments to the retention, let's take a look at some other adjustments which will make your holster even more comfortable and apt for use.

The video below will teach you the proper way to wear and adjust an Alien Gear IWB holster.

You will learn the importance of undoing your waistband and using a belt when carrying an IWB holster. Once you fit an IWB holster, you must fasten your belt nice and tight for the holster to stay comfortable.

IWB holsters can be worn with shirts or t-shirts either tucked or untucked. The video also talks about the different types of clips such as J-clips, C-clips, belt loops and their respective features and benefits when used in conjunction with an IWB holster.

You can also adjust the ride height, cant, and retention of the holster and the entire holster shell by using a simple hex key and loosening or tightening respective screws.

Advantages and Disadvantages of IWB Holsters

Like any other product, IWB holsters also have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the most important ones:


IWB holsters have many advantages over OWB such as:


The most astounding advantage of an IWB holster is concealment. These holsters were intentionally designed for CCW and serve this purpose really well. These holsters give a minimum hint about your CCW when used with tucked in shirts(due to belt clips) and absolutely no hint when used with untucked shirts.

Doesn’t Limit Wardrobe

IWB holsters generally feature a low profile and conform with the contour of your body to show the least profile print, even with light clothing. Moreover, IWB holsters work very well with untucked shirts.

Can Be Used Anywhere

IWB holsters can be used for everyday carry without letting anyone know that you are CCW. Plus, these holsters don’t interfere while you perform other activities, due to their position.


The most common complaints about IWB are:

Little Comfort

IWB holsters are not very renowned for comfort. Since they are worn inside the clothing, they tend to poke around while driving or sitting. Additionally, any holster without a full-length sweat guard is difficult to bear, especially during summer.

A Microsecond Late

Even though IWB holsters offer concealment and an element of surprise, they are a bit time consuming compared to OWB (Outside-the-Waistband) because you have to dig your fingers deep to attain a proper grip.

Difficult to Reholster

If your holster isn’t made from plastic or doesn’t have a steel reinforced mouth, you may struggle a bit when reholstering. If you don’t consider this a disadvantage, imagine using both your hands to reholster while you have to give first aid or pull somebody out of a dangerous situation.


An IWB holster is the best option for concealed carrying a weapon. These holsters have a low-profile and are good for EDC and self-defense.

A holster should be worn properly for maximum effectiveness. An IWB holster offers concealment and can be carried anywhere. However, on the other hand, they lack comfort and lengthen draw and reholster times.


Ankit Kumar is an engineer turned writer who specializes in topics related to firearms, gun safety and weapon tech. His passion towards enrolling in the Army drifted his interest towards light and heavy firearms. He’s a qualified competitive air rifle shooter and an avid nature lover. His other areas of expertise include survival, prepping and firearms/ammo storage. When he’s not writing, he’s either learning a new skill, trekking or enjoying a long drive.

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