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3 Drawbacks to Carrying in an OWB Holster

Don't let the title of this article fool you, I actually enjoy carrying in an OWB (outside the waistband) holster. It's just that there are some drawbacks to consider for a new concealed carrier. These are things that must be taken into account.

Every method of carrying (yes, even appendix, though they'd love to tell you differently) has drawbacks to it. This article is just dedicated to the drawbacks of carrying OWB.

The main reason I like to carry a gun OWB between the 3 – 5 o'clock position is comfort. For me, it's just more comfortable to carry there than it is to carry anywhere else. Still, it's not my primary position to carry in (outside the waistband) because I would rather sacrifice some comfort for what I'd consider to be a better way of carrying.

So, what are the drawbacks of carrying outside the waistband?

Concealability

If you're an open carrier this won't really apply to you as much simply because your main goal isn't to keep your gun hidden.

However, if your main method of carrying is with a concealed weapon, using an OWB holster can cause you unneeded drama as it's harder to conceal the gun. The main reason why is because you're only using a shirt or jacket to hide it. There is more gun exposed and because it is you actually run into a different set of problems when trying to hide it.

You no longer just have to hide the butt of the gun (grip, back of slide) because the muzzle area of your holster is now also outside of your trousers. And because it is, you now have to also worry about that being exposed.

Walking that a step back for a moment, is another part about the inherent design on these holsters. That design states that because it's not tucked inside your pants, it actually sits further away from your body.

It sticks out a bit further and can print more or if your shirt somehow gets up far enough, can expose your gun in a different way.

Some holsters do a better job at sucking the gun closer to the body than others, so you may not have this problem directly. Still, it is something to be aware of as you make a conscious decision to buy a good holster.

Matthew put together an excellent article that you should read on the movements that give away that you're carrying and how to fix them.

Stolen Gun:

This is another one that won't be an issue for everyone. But, it's important to say because this happens enough that it's kinda scary. This usually happens as a direct result of your gun not being properly concealed and if you're able to properly conceal your gun in the OWB position you should be good to go.

What happens is that your gun somehow becomes exposed to a criminal who then looks for the opportunity to steal your gun right off your hip. It doesn't happen often but there are documented cases of this happening. Here's one covered by our friend John from Active Self Protection:

Now, he says that the guy is open carrying but I don't remember seeing or hearing if this was the case or if the shirt just drifted up over the gun because it was OWB. Still, it's the same idea and it can get you in trouble if you're ever presented with a similar situation.

And, as he says in the above video, the kind of holster you get is very important. If you are to carry OWB, doing so in a holster that has some sort of active retention that someone looking to steal your gun isn't expecting is key.

This should hopefully make it impossible for them to take it, allowing you to fight them off without them stealing your gun.

Movement:

I'm not talking about the movement of your body, but movement of the gun and holster itself. Not everyone will experience this. I don't experience it with all OWB holsters, but definitely do with some so it's important to keep in mind.

I've had OWB holsters that have slid around on my waist, and others that have stayed where I put them. They can only travel as far as the belt loops allow, but any movement can be bad. Any outside the waistband holster can move because there is less coming into contact with the gun to keep it in place.

I've had holsters that I wore just because they were able to be easily moved when going on long trips. When I'd get in my car, I could slide the gun into a more comfortable spot so it wouldn't interact with the seatbelt.

Now that I've been carrying for more years, I understand that this is actually a bad thing to do. If I'm practicing my draw with the gun in a certain spot and the gun has somehow moved a couple inches forward or back it can throw me off if I need to draw my weapon in a hurry.

This won't be a problem for everyone and not every holster will have this issue, even though they all CAN have this issue.

Conclusion:

Again, I've got nothing wrong with OWB carry and like to do it myself. Just make sure you understand the challenges that you may face, as well as how to overcome them and you'll be fine.

Our fearless leader and company president Jacob put together an article a while back about the five reasons why he thinks you should own an OWB. Check that out, here.

Leave your thoughts on this in the comments below.

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5 Responses to 3 Drawbacks to Carrying in an OWB Holster

  1. WinstonRomeo June 17, 2020 at 8:22 am #

    No doubt there are drawbacks to every type of carry. After carrying for over 10 yrs I am finding appendix carry is what works for me. Issue is that I have a laser mounted and an activation holster that came with the laser. Special care is required to not shoot your own junk, but it’s worth the extra effort given the concealability. Pistol and holster are kept together for safety.

  2. jennflip June 17, 2020 at 9:53 am #

    I always wear a vest and carry OWB but I carry crossdraw so no one can come from behind and rip it from the holster—gives me piece of mind and makes it more comfortable in most circumstances especially dring a car…

    • Robert W. Richardson June 17, 2020 at 10:18 pm #

      I carry in my pocket, Beretta 950 25auto

  3. Gary Sackman June 17, 2020 at 10:15 am #

    Hi Joshua,
    I bought my first OWB holster 3 years ago for my Ruger 9E (SR9). The initial problem was to find a holster for the pistol. Sigs, Colts, Glock and others have a wide selection. I finally located a great Bianchi 105 MInimalist that fits almost like a custom holster. I love the design and the leather is real fine. However to use for concealed carry, I am going to have to put on some weight or get a concealment vest that doesn’t look like a pistol vest.
    The only location I have found that really “conceals” the pistol is the appendix carry, if you are wearing a long shirt or jacket. The holster is a high ride design, which is great unless you are short like myself, and you can’t get your drawing hand high enough to draw the pistol from the holster from the 3 o’clock position and further behind. I received the holster directly from Bianchi, so I didn’t have a chance to test drive it before it arrived. Bianchi is a great leather crafter and holster maker. John Wayne depended on him for his most famous movie holsters. Just “try before before you buy” when you can. Otherwise, find a quality IWB holster that fits your pistol or revolver.
    Thanks, Gary

  4. Jimmie Meador June 17, 2020 at 10:47 am #

    need left hand shoulder

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