5 keys to selecting an IWB concealed carry holster

Here are a few key considerations you should evaluate in your shopping process, so that you end up with that “perfect fit” on the first try, not the sixth

If you are a firearms aficionado who carries concealed off duty, there’s a strong likelihood you have a box of unused holsters in your garage or basement. You’re too frugal to simply discard them, but you discovered at some point that they are just too uncomfortable for prolonged regular wear. So, there they sit in the box, collecting dust and serving as an ever-present reminder that you’ve spent way too much money on gear you’ll never use.

If are in the market for a new IWB holster, here are a few key considerations you should factor into your shopping process, so you end up with that “perfect fit” on the first try — not the sixth. Add your own holster-shopping advice in the comments section below. 

1. Mind the gap

IWB concealed carry holster
IWB concealed carry holster (Photo/Pixabay)

When looking at any IWB holster, ensure that you select one that has absolutely no collapse in it when the gun is withdrawn. This is not as much of a problem with OWB holsters, but the inward pressure of the belt against the body can collapse the pocket in an IWB, making it all but impossible to re-holster, one-handed and without looking. Consider a holster with Kydex or hybrid (Kydex and leather or synthetic material for the backing) to avoid this problem. 

2. Inspect the Kydex

Speaking of Kydex, there are different grades of Kydex. Good IWB holsters are light, but the Kydex has to be sufficiently thick and strong. Thin, wobbly Kydex will lead to the abovementioned collapse problem as fast as wobbly leather. Also, Kydex with a tacky finish is best. It creates friction between the holster and the clothing, which helps to further stabilize the rig.

3. Look at safety

Check (and re-check, and re-check again) the required safety features. Examine the size and shape of the draw/sweat shield.  A sweat shield not only wicks moisture away from the body, it protects the skin from abrasion when pulling the pistol from the holster. Ensure the trigger guard is completely protected, too. This may seem minor, but if even a small opening exists, a piece of clothing can work its way into the trigger area and present an unpleasant surprise.

Test the retention of the holster. Generally, IWB holsters are level-one retention, with most employing screws or nuts to adjust the level of retention. Watch out for those — they can loosen over time. One might consider using a drop of LockTite once the “perfect” retention is dialed in. Test your retention by holding the holster — with the gun in it — upside down. 

4. Try it on

If the proprietor is amenable — and this is probably a 50-50 proposition, depending on where you’re at and who you’re dealing with — try to actually don the holster, and practice your draw with it. You try on a pair of shoes before you purchase them, and their only significant consequence is if your feet get sore. You should try on your IWB holster — the one accessory that could be the difference between life and death. 

5. Remember training 

Among the ten thousand other reasons to own a blue gun inert replica of your firearm is to have it on hand when shopping for your holster. Having an adjustable cant is good if one feels comfortable changing from hip carry to appendix carry every so often. However, changing your carry location requires more reps of practice draws in the living room with your blue gun. Practice, practice, practice!

Stay safe out there my brothers and sisters.

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