Being that most of the people who visit our website, ConcealedCarry.com, are armed citizens who carry concealed firearms, we have a lot of content and reviews relating to IWB (inside the waistband), ankle, and off body holster systems. OWB holsters (outside the waistband) don't get a lot of love since they are generally thought of as being less than ideal for concealed carry.
This is despite the many obvious advantages that OWB holsters provide including increased comfort and a generally accepted faster draw and target presentation.
While I agree that in most cases IWB holsters are going to be preferable to OWB holsters there are many reasons and circumstances in which owning an OWB Holster for your firearm is necessary or handy. What follows is a review of those circumstances.
1: Some Ranges And Courses Prohibit IWB Holsters
Gun ranges have to establish rules in order to limit their liability and risk so as to ensure they can stay in business. Often those rules include several clauses or prohibitions related to the use of holsters. Many ranges will prohibit carrying concealed or drawing from concealed while they may allow carrying and/or drawing a firearm from an OWB holster.
At least owning an OWB system allows that you can go to those ranges and not get kicked out. Having a secure place on your body to holster your gun is preferable to setting it down on a table or similar even if that holster may not be the way you carry your firearm everyday.
2: You Can Use OWB Holsters For Concealed Carry
I know a lot of gun owners who successfully carry a concealed handgun daily in an OWB holster. With the right shirt or jacket an OWB holster can still be properly concealed while adding the other benefits of a faster draw and increased comfort that are traditionally found with OWB carry.
Some OWB holsters are specifically made to angle the firearm into the body and create a slim profile off the torso. These “CCW OWB” holsters create a happy medium and if the covering garment (shirt/jacket) is long enough then this can be an effective option.
3: Pant Size Challenges
One reason some people gravitate to an outside the waistband holster is because it doesn't require purchasing all new pants. Since those holsters worn inside the waistband inherently take up space in the waistline, they require that the wearer use pants that are generally 1 size bigger than what would normally fit the person well.
This can be difficult especially for people who can't carry all the time as they either have to buy all bigger pants and then cinch up a belt on days they don't carry or they have to stock the closet with two sets of pants … those that work with the gun and those that don't.
Choosing to move to an OWB carry system means that all your pants already work. No more drama in dealing with pant sizes.
4: Open Carry Makes Sense Sometimes
Personally I'm not a huge advocate for the practice of open carry despite being an advocate for the right of open carry. This could be in part because I live in a large metro area which is full of people with opposing views and ideas about gun rights as well as jurisdictions where open carry is outright illegal and I don't want to create an incident.
Regardless, there are circumstances where open carry makes sense. Perhaps the place you live, the event you are attending, or the place you are going today is widely accepting of firearms and in fact encourages their presence. In those cases Open Carry is a more tactical and effective way to carry a firearm for self-defense, so why not?
5: Personal Property Carry
I know some gun owners who rarely leave their own property. Farmers, retirees, or people who work from home may spend the greater part of their day or week without leaving their own property. In those cases, or even the isolated times when you are home or on your own property, OWB carry makes plenty of sense in a place where you don't have any specific need or reason to conceal the gun at all.
What are your thoughts about OWB holsters? Why do you have one or feel you might need one?