Best Concealed Carry Positions | Informational Guide 2020

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As the number of concealed carriers builds exponentially due to access to information, increased pressure on state gun regulations, a robust market of accessories, and a push from manufacturers to make products for the buyers of concealment products, it becomes important to understand which concealed carry position is the best for most shooters.

This article discusses the most widespread techniques for carrying, and why each of them makes sense (or doesn’t) for you. We cover popular styles of carrying and you’ will learn some unique benefits and disadvantages other articles may not even cover.

Comparison of the Best Concealed Carry Holsters by Position

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best appendix carry holster on our list
  • Fully adjustable design and offers a full grip over the handgun
  • Very comfortable design, perfect ride height, and low profile
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best OWB concealed carry holster on our list
  • Adjustable ride height and cant, plus includes belt and paddle platforms
  • SERPA-based CQC concealment holster with both active and passive retention
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best IWB holster for concealed carry and EDC
  • Adjustable low-profile design with full sweat guard for comfort
  • Posi-click audible retention lock system for positive signalling
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best ankle holster for EDC and office use
  • Comfortable, breathable neoprene and extra calf strap for a sturdy grip
  • Ambidextrous design with a universal fit holster and silent button retention
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best overall concealed carry shoulder holster
  • Modular design with quick release buckles and an extra twin mag pouch
  • Padded shoulders for a tight and comfortable fit all day long
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best pocket holster for concealed carry
  • Ambidextrous fit and outer sticky finish for extra stability in pocket
  • Inner closed-cell foam and liner for protection of the firearm
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

The Best Concealed Carry Positions

Let's take a look at some of the most popular concealed carry positions and our top holster picks per!

We cover Appendix Carry, IWB, OWB, Ankle, Shoulder, and Pocket carry techniques and go into the comparative value of each style. You might be quite surprised if you’ve only ever tried a single carry style - read on, to see what each style offers.

Quick Take - The Best Concealed Carry Holsters by Position

Review of the Best Concealed Carry Holsters by Position

Appendix Carry

Appendix holsters are super popular these days with a large number of new holster materials (like Kydex) and styles that can benefit the carry style.

Appendix Carry (Source)

It essentially involves a proven method of carrying a weapon halfway between a direct center position and the front hip position on your body, near where the appendix is located (hence the name).

Advantages

  • Concealment: Appendix carry offers good concealment for a wide range of body types and clothing styles because of its location, in the soft area between the hard hip, and the apex profile position of your zipper area.
  • Easy Access: You can get to your firearm from a variety of positions, including seated (see the caveat below), standing, or driving.
  • Good retention: Because it is positioned in a place where a natural tension exists, and there is no bone to rub against (like the hip bone), your firearm can easily be retained.

Disadvantages

  • Comfort while seated: As in – it’s not comfortable while seated.
  • Access if you’ve got a larger abdomen: As in – limited access for large abdomens.
  • Potential safety concerns: As in – it could be dangerous unless you take precautions because the barrel of the gun points towards your crotch and the biggest artery in your body.
BLACKHAWK Appendix Reversible Carry Inside the Pants Fits S&W M&P Shield Ambidextrous Holster, Urban Gray

Pros

  • Superior comfort
  • Rides perfectly for most users
  • Fits most compact-sized pistols
  • Allows for excellent concealability
  • Easy to attach to belts and waistbands

Cons

  • Lacks a slide guard
  • Clip quality may not be the greatest
  • Polymer could be a bit harder in quality

What Recent Buyers Report 

New buyers reported that the holster fit really well while it was inside the pants or waistband. The fit was perfect and very comfortable for them. At the same time, the clip held up pretty good and thus made it easy to keep it in the appendix carry position. One user said that not once did the holster slide out of position.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This holster was designed for appendix carry. It is considered to be one of the most comfortable types of carrying positions. And it excels when you are using an IWB holster that will make sure that you get the best in comfort and the best in concealability. This holster is made from high-quality polymer, which is pretty rugged and tough. Not to mention, it’s one kind of material that won’t forsake you since it won’t snag when you are drawing your pistol. Speaking of drawing, your times will be fast compared to some other holsters made from materials like nylon or leather. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be great for anyone who intends to conceal carry with a compact pistol. Those pistols are the perfect size for anyone who wants to keep the concealability to a maximum. And that means being able to carry your pistol without giving away your position or attracting undue attention.

Bottom Line

The Blackhawk Ambidextrous Appendix Reversible Carry Inside The Pants Holster will certainly be the go-to option for anyone who is right-handed or left-handed. This holster might just stick with you for the long-term if you want something that will be excellent in quality but will be super reliable in keeping your pistol right where you need it.

Outside the Waistband (OWB)

Outside the waistband holsters make sense for most users, especially those who need full-time, easy access to their firearm, and for those who are larger, or carry a little more weight, or have a large midsection.

Outside the Waistband (OWB) (Source)

Advantages

  • Quick access: if you need to get to your firearm fast, this is the concealment position for you.
  • Comfort: you will have a much easier time carrying an OWB holster in most cases, due to the high level of comfort  (provided you have a belt capable of holding up your pants).
  • Safety: Most OWB holsters have exceptional retention and safety considerations built in.

Disadvantages

  • Harder to conceal: The OWB can print easier if you are not wearing certain clothing, or if you have a large holster or firearm.
  • The gun can snag on things: If you aren’t vigilant about your carry, it can get annoying when you run into things while moving, or your shirt gets hung up on the top of your rig.
  • It’s not the best holster when driving: Plan on being uncomfortable with an OWB in a car. Especially if you carry on your right side and drive the vehicle – annoying is an understatement.
BLACKHAWK! Serpa CQC 410502BK-R Holster Glock 19,23,32,36 Matte Black

Pros

  • Easy to attach to tactical belts
  • Great for self-defense purposes
  • Solid construction and durability
  • Allows for quick and easy drawing
  • Fits a good number of compact-sized pistols

Cons

  • Not ideal for long slide pistols
  • May feel loose with some pistols
  • The release may not be the best

What Recent Buyers Report

New buyers were looking for a holster that was designed for those who were looking for a pistol that was their “designated self-defense” weapon. This holster proved its worth and a lot of the new buyers were happy with this holster overall. This handled so many compact pistols and was able to keep to the 3 o’clock position without any sliding around. One user said that he loved how he was able to comfortably carry his pistol at the hip position.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This holster is designed for the close-quarter battles (hence the name CQB). It’s undeniably one of the best IWB holsters that you can find for the purpose of excellent concealability so you can carry with confidence and be ready for action if and when you need your trusty pistol drawn. At this point, you’re probably wondering if this is just for self-defense applications. Well, you can use it to carry your pistol from your house to the range if target shooting is something you do also.

If you can justify the OWB carry model, or you are just in need of a range holster, this is a perfect fit. The proof is in the pudding. This holster has been a top performer for many years. The retention and quick draw potential for this product make it a compelling argument for those who are not ashamed of carrying and wear it proudly.

It does show, as most OWB holsters will do, but this holster is still not super obtuse and in the way like some options in this arena. If safety and low draw time are of paramount concern, this is a perfect choice.

Who Will Use This Most

This would be perfect for any civilian or law enforcement official that wants a holster that can handle the high-stress situations. And you better believe that it can handle all of that. If you want a holster that will fit on most tactical belts, then you may want to put an end to your search here. If that’s not enough, remember that this holster is made from high-quality polymer that will allow for some serious longevity. And it fits compact pistols like a charm.

Bottom Line

The Blackhawk SERPA CQB Concealment Holster will probably be the one holster that you’ll own for a long time if you end up trying it and love it a lot. Yes, it will be great for all kinds of small pistols and for good reason. It adds on to the maximum concealability that no pistol owner would deny. If concealability that excels is what you are looking for, this holster might just do you some good.

Inside the Waistband (IWB)

The inside the waistband holster is the current go-to for most carriers in decent shape. For those who don’t have a belly, this is the easiest to conceal (full-time) carry methodology, easy to access and safer than most positions.

Advantages

  • Great concealment: You can rest assured you aren’t going to print, with most situations and most guns unless you’re in an awkward situation, and/or in tight clothes.
  • Solid retention: The waistband and belt will pin your holster to the exact place you want it. It’s built into the system.
  • Fewer snags: You won’t have as many hiccups when carrying full time and it says a lot about why this method of carrying makes great sense for so many people.

Disadvantages

  • Slower on the draw: You will have a fraction of a second longer for the draw (maybe significantly more).
  • Comfort isn’t the IWB’s strongest suit: It’s not super comfortable to carry on your hip under your waistband.

Our Favorite IWB Holster:
CYA Supply Co. IWB Holster

CYA Supply Co. Fits S&W M&P 9/40 Shield M2.0 Inside Waistband Holster Concealed Carry IWB Veteran Owned Company (Flat Dark Earth, 053- S&W M&P 9/40 Shield M2.0)

Pros

  • Really comfortable fit
  • Works for compact pistols
  • Makes most pistols concealable
  • Comfortable for those with sensitive skin
  • Retention clip does a good job keeping holster in place

Cons

  • Some say it may ride a bit too high
  • The clip may fail after short term use
  • May not be ideal for subcompact pistols

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were happy with the holster’s ability to keep itself in position while being able to walk around all day long. This holster was a perfect fit for so many new users who owned compact pistols. The holster was really comfortable for those wearing it on a hot summer day. With the built-in sweat guard, it didn’t allow for any skin irritation (which was a major plus for those dealing with sensitive skin).

Why it Stands Out to Us

The CYA Supply IWB holster is just your regular inside the waistband holster that does a great job in making sure that your pistol keeps to your side at all times. It’s great for EDC use for those who rely on smaller pistols that are accurate, concealable, and just all-around awesome. This holster is made with high-quality Bolatron material, which might stand up to the scuffs and bumps while providing quick drawing and re-holstering without the snags.

It hasn’t been around forever, but it’s so well received and obtained excellent reviews, that it can only get better from here in regard to its market performance. This is a much-needed disruptor on the market that gives normal shooters a real bargain, with a serious value transfer to the end user consumer.

The quality materials and form-fitting design make this a significant option for those who need to have an IWB coupled with stability without too many extras. The dual retention clips and the continued minimalist approach means you are getting the absolute best of both worlds.

Don’t try too hard to understand why this is such a good holster, just be glad that it exists and at an affordable price point, no less.

The company that makes this holster has also proven they are no slouch when it comes to standing behind their product – we know when you have a product this good, that comes with the territory.

Who Will Use This Most

This IWB holster is a starter holster for those new to concealed carry. Indeed, it is quite affordable for most budgets so it would make sense as to one of the reasons why it’s newbie-friendly. You might want to pick this up when you are beginning your CCW training so you are one step ahead of the game. You’ll be doing that “steps ahead” thing a lot when you practice concealed carry that will keep you on top against dangerous assailants or prowlers.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a tough holster that won’t suck the life out of your bank account then the CYA Supply Co. IWB Holster might just be what the doctor ordered. Whether you are new to concealed carry or just looking for a simple to use holster for max concealability, this might be the holster of choice for you. It has the potential to last a long time and will handle any purpose that your pistol is useful for.

Ankle Holsters

The ankle holster is a significant option for a backup gun, or for those who need legitimate concealment and aren’t doing a ton of extraneous movement. Most ankle holsters are only well suited to smaller guns.

Advantages

  • A near perfect selection for dress attire: This is an acceptable carry method/placement for those who need to have a gun during work in an office environment, or who have to have good concealment in dress pants.
  • Gives you a second option: A wise group of highly trained individuals once went by the mantra - for every situation one is none, two is one.
  • Comfort: Not getting poked in the gut or having a hunk of heavy metal riding on your hip bone has its advantages.

Disadvantages

  • You need to be stationary for a draw: you cannot be moving and expect to draw.
  • You cannot exercise or run with an ankle holster: You will either lose your weapon, get a bruised-up ankle, or be frustrated with the outcome of the choice to run/exercise.
  • When your pants ride up your gun is viewable: Don’t cross your legs unless you’re in a board meeting where everyone already knows you’re carrying, because you’ll be outed by your totally exposed firearm.

Our Favorite Ankle Holster:
LIRISY Ankle Holster for Concealed Carry

LIRISY Inside The Waistband Holster | Gun Concealed Carry IWB Holster | Fits S&W M&P Shield/Glock 19 26 27 29 30 33 42 43 / Ruger LC13 & All Similar Handguns

Pros

  • Fits across most sizes
  • Provides a really comfortable fit
  • Comfortable for all-day carrying
  • Compatible with all kinds of pistols
  • Ambidextrous design is fitting for both left-handed and right-handed shooters

Cons

  • A few have reported some slippage
  • May cause the ankle to heat up quickly
  • Some say it may not be recommended for compact pistols

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were people who were looking for a discreet way to carry their primary pistols. Meanwhile, a handful of users were also those who were in search of a holster for carrying a secondary pistol in case their primary failed. Either way, they were happy with the overall fit and comfort of the holster. One user said that it set the stage for catching any attacker off guard if such a situation were to arise.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Ankle holsters are pretty fashionable and popular with those who want to maximize their ability to conceal carry a pistol. In this context, we mean being able to carry two pistols at a time. You can carry a primary in the usual way like a hip holster and a secondary pistol in another. Or you can wear it on days where a hip holster may not be appropriate. Either way, you’ll have a holster made from breathable neoprene that will provide maximum comfort while making sure that every pistol that you use is compatible with a holster that will be reliable for all your concealed carry needs.

A holster doesn’t have to be expensive to be one of the best in class offerings. In the case of the LIRISY ankle holster, the performance is the point. This is truly a case of function over form.

It is better than much more expensive ankle holsters and offers legitimate carrying capacity and the vital calf strap. Without it, you will be digging your gun out of your shoe every minute of the day.

We like the simplicity and the impressive retention of the design which do not compromise the safety or concealment of the holster.

Who Will Use This Most

This is designed for those who are security guards looking for super discreet carry. Meanwhile, another handful of users are those who may be looking for a different way to conceal carry other than with a regular holster. You’d be hard-pressed to find a holster that is easy to fit and really comfortable to wear all day than this bad boy.

Bottom Line

The LIRSY Ankle Holster might be one of the best in the business when it comes to providing discreet concealed carry. You can wrap this around your ankle and be able to walk around all day with your favorite pistol without dealing with any looseness or discomfort. It’s a holster that you probably won’t say no to unless you have a good idea of what kind of holster you really want to use.

Shoulder Holsters

By far, this is the most comfortable all-around holster for someone who needs instant access to their gun, needs to be able to move quickly, and doesn’t mind that people can easily see your rig in most conditions.

Drawing gun from a shoulder holster (Source)

Advantages

  • Super comfortable: After it’s been worn for a bit, it will feel like an extension of your body. The weight is always distributed evenly, even with a very heavy gun.
  • Easy access: You can grab your gun quickly, even while moving, seated, in a car, in an office, or while running fast. You can easily grab your gun. Period.
  • Easy to conceal in a suit (or with a jacket buttoned up).

Disadvantages

  • Not so easy to conceal for those who see you every day: you will be outed when you move with an open suit jacket or take off your jacket on a hot day.
  • Safety concerns: Your gun is not always pointed in a safe direction depending on your surroundings.

Our Favorite Shoulder Holster:
UTG Deluxe Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster

UTG LE Grade Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster, Black

Pros

  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Compatible with many pistols
  • Easily adjustable to fit most sizes
  • Compatible with civilian and security guards
  • Perfect for cold weather carrying or secondary pistol carrying

Cons

  • Retention might be inconsistent
  • May be bulky depending on the pistol you carry
  • Some say drawing is a little slower compared to hip carry

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, most of the new users were quite happy with the holster for a few reasons. For one, it was easy to adjust so it can fit so many sizes of shooter frames. One user said that considering that he is about six feet and weighs around 200 pounds, it was a comfortable fit that provided no slack with the straps. Overall, the holster itself accepted a lot of holsters.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Shoulder holsters are often the popular choice among concealed carry users that want to carry a pistol in the cooler weather months. Alternatively, they are holsters that provide excellent concealability while being able to stay discreet. These are also among professional security guards that often wear them to throw off any assailants that appear to be causing trouble. They know that they check to see whether or not a security guard is carrying, so a holster like this is sure to keep them off guard.

Shoulder holsters are an oddly personal thing, and we didn’t want to muddy the waters by selecting something too specific in the market segment. Hence, our generic choice for the shoulder holster style. The versatility, adjustability, and build quality of this holster greatly defy the price point attached to it.

We are impressed by this holster’s ability to make us believers again in the utility of a shoulder rig for daily use in the office setting, as long as the user can justify the fact that concealment will not be the top priority for this type of holster setup.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be useful for security officers or anyone looking to make their pistol more discreet in carrying. And yes, it’s another holster that you can use for the purpose of secondary carry. If you carry two pistols at once, then this will come in handy for the pistol that you rely on in case your primary one somehow doesn’t live up to the challenge.

Bottom Line

The UTG LE Grade Universal Horizontal Shoulder Holster is no slouch when it comes to quality and being able to provide concealed carry to those who want to keep it under the radar. If you’re also a security guard where discreet carry is a requirement, then you’re probably going to enjoy using this holster to your advantage.

Pocket Holsters

Pocket holsters are an interesting option. You can carry extra firepower with easy concealment, and with the right pockets and the right gun, you can carry your primary weapon with few drawbacks.

Pocket Holster

Pocket Carry with Pocket Holsters (Source)

Advantages

  • Incredibly easy to hide: No one will know you’re carrying if you’re wearing jeans (unless they are skinny jeans) and using a reasonably sized gun.
  • Super comfortable: If you wear a belt, you won’t be bothered by the gun in your pocket.

Disadvantages

  • Slower draw: unless you go without a holster, which we don’t recommend because it’s not safe and doesn’t offer much concealment.
  • Fewer holster options: There aren’t a ton of options, so pay attention to the one below because it’s pretty good.
Sticky Holsters LG6 Short - for Larger Framed Automatics with a 3' or 4' Barrel

What Recent Buyers Report

New users report that this holster was perfect for larger pistols. Not only that, they said that it fits perfectly inside the waistband without any use of clips or belts. To add, they said that no slippage was reported with the use of this holster. They concluded that the holster was reliable and comfortable for all-day use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Sticky Holster is the one holster that doesn’t require a waistband or a belt. You can sandwich this between your waist and the waistband of your pants. The holster is designed to keep itself in a position to ensure comfortable carry with max concealability. Even better, it fits perfectly when you are wearing casual wear or even while you are wearing clothes that you would otherwise wear when you are going for a jog.

It’s simple and effective and allows you to feel confident in the safety, draw style, and build quality of the holster. The “sticky” surface means you have control of your draw, and the shape fills the average front pocket to keep “printing” to a minimum. This is a workhorse option that gives you great performance at a low price.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a holster that will definitely be the go-to choice for beginners and seasoned vets alike. If you are serious about ditching the clip or the tactical belt and want a holster that will stand out as the go-to choice for quick concealed carry, then you may want to consider this holster for your own use.

Bottom Line

The Sticky Holsters LG Short is probably one of the better choices for those who want to carry larger pistols. Its design itself is revolutionary and might just be one of the coolest holsters ever to fly off the shelves. For the no belt, no clip holster experience the Sticky Holsters LG Short might be your opportunity to give it a go. You might keep it for the long-term if you love using it.

What is the Most Comfortable Carry Position?

There is no right answer – only a ton of variables.

However, if you want the king of balance, and can keep it concealed, or don’t care much for day to day concealment as much as other needs; a shoulder holster is a fantastic option.

Most people would smirk at such a recommendation, but the balance is exceptional.

Of course, you give up the overall concealment of the holster in exchange for such balance.

You can do anything in it, including sitting in a car for long periods of time and exercise like running. If you want a good performance holster with exceptional comfort, this is the one.

But go into it knowing you are compromising true concealment by utilizing the shoulder holster.

Want something that’s very comfortable, and exceptionally concealable too? You could opt for a pocket holster.

You might get push back from some folks on this suggestion as well, but when you look at the reality of the matter, you get the comfort, carrying capacity, (given the right belt, pants, and gun combination) and absolute concealability. What more could you want?

If you are stationary, like sitting at a desk most of the time, an ankle holster takes the cake for concealment and comfort, but don’t dare to run in it.

You’ll get premium comfort and concealability, but without a bunch of great options. Additionally, this holster will not move well with activities.

Conclusion

The best concealment position is about the most comfortable carry style. Sure, there are other variables, but that is the king. Why? Because you need to be able to do it all day; every day when you are outside your home.

Sure, you could argue that concealment is AS important, but you’d be wrong. Concealment is important, but it’s secondary.

The truth is: you can get away with being found out as a concealed carrier. What you cannot do, is be forced to be without your gun because of discomfort or difficulty in carrying.

So, while you want to have a great balance of all the important aspects of firearm carrying, rest assured the comfort factor is the number one thing you’re looking for.

If you understand this position, you will want to opt for a shoulder holster, pocket holster, or ankle holster, if you can stomach the slower draw capabilities.

If you prioritize draw timing and ease of access, opt for the other variants. Like we mentioned earlier: There is no right answer – only a ton of variables.

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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