5 Reasons You SHOULD Own an OWB Holster

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.

Shown here a class full of students all using OWB holsters in this Guardian Essentials Pistol Class

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?

If you are in the market you can check our store's holster selection here.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of ConcealedCarry.com. ConcealedCarry.com provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Richard Steven Hack on September 21, 2017 at 12:14 am

    If one is carrying for hunting or animal defense while camping, IWB makes zero sense.

  2. Jeramiah on September 21, 2017 at 5:54 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I even look at the upcoming weather with larger coats and clothes that are a little bulkier to utilize the OWB carry. My opinion is that there are both advantages and disadvantages to this carry method.

    Much like any other circumstance, the options need to be weighed. Some may not have enough pros to warrant the OWB while the first persons pro could be the next persons con.

    Keep the good work up Jacob and team!

  3. Chris on September 21, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Like most I am not a big fan of an OWB holster for carry. However, one OWB holster that I did find serviceable was the DeSantis “Speed Scabbard” It is a fairly thin leather holster that will put some off because there is no reinforced top making the “re-holster’ more difficult. But the gun draws like butter from it which for me is the most important. It is good leather and does conceal pretty well. I have one for my Sig P226 and H&K P2000. I am not a fan of Kydex for anything other than competition.

  4. Doug Walker on September 21, 2017 at 7:44 am

    I have been a concealed carrier for over 54 years now and I use both OWB and IWB holsters, I have “never” heard of a club that bans IWB holsters and “if” one really exists, I would not belong to it as anyone that stupid and politically correct is not a conservative, there is “NO” plausible reason to ban IWB except in the twisted minds of a dumb libtard and anyone who agrees with a stupid rule like this is NOT my kind of person, nor should they be carrying a gun !!!

    • Stugee1 on September 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Due to local laws, the indoor range I shoot at does not allow drawing from a concealed holster. Take a breath.

    • Sterling Prisbrey on November 29, 2017 at 3:04 am

      Doug Walker, I agree with the underlying idea behind your post that NO one should put restrictions on how you carry or use your gun, especially at the range. But I respectfully suggest that you missed the point. Jacob said “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.” The operative word was have to, not want to. So what would force a pro-second amendment range owner to post restrictive rules like no rapid fire or OWB holsters only? I asked one once and its simple: insurance.Range owners could potentially be held liable for incidents at their ranges or in their classes. Gun ranges and instructors have to pay for expensive insurance to keep from losing their business if something happens. And as someone who worked in insurance for awhile, I know that as soon as some nerd at the actuarial tables decides some part of the business “poses some greater risk” that the insurance company will have to pay out a claim, they charge through the nose for it. Some of the cooler, larger ranges in my area can afford that so they allow rapid fire and IWB carry, but some of the medium to smaller ranges or private clubs just can’t afford it so they have to give in and change the rules. It sucks but that’s business. And I won’t boycott those smaller ranges, I still frequent them from time to time because I know my money is going to a local, American, pro 2A business. Its not that these folks are supporting some liberal agenda, they’re just trying to make a living. I guess I would just say to be careful before you go making it political, or throwing around the. ignorant or libtard labels at your fellow gun owners. Save that for the politicians who really want to take away your rights. Remember we’re all on the same team here.

  5. Edward Gosik on September 21, 2017 at 7:48 am

    I’ve had a snap on OWB holster since I’ve had a gun. Easy to attach & detach. I have a big gut, so there’s absolutely NO WAY I’m sticking anything else inside my waistband, let alone buying bigger clothes! Not to mention how totally uncomfortable it is for me. Leave that OWB crap for the skinny guys. And my firearm is ALWAYS totally concealed.

  6. Jim Anderson on September 21, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Not a fan of IWB holsters. Guess I have gotten too heavy for them. Having said that, I found what is, in my opinion, the best OWB holster I have ever worn is the Mitch Rosen product. Excellent product, great fit, comfortable EDC.

  7. Gary Engel on September 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I like the OWB holsters because they are in my opinion less restrictive and I find I have a easier and much faster draw than an IWB holster. I have an IWB holster or I should say I had An IWB holster because I gave it away because it was uncomfortable to ware and for me it was a hard draw. I think that as the weather gets more colder and a coat is warranted i find in some cases I will use my shoulder holster and that depends on the coat I wear. I use a Fobus paddle holster for my SR9c ruger, I love it,comfortable easy to use and hardly noticeable when I wear it. Half the time it feels like I don’t have it on.

  8. barry on September 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I tried using an IWB holster when I first got my CHL(now called a License to Carry in Texas) 17 years ago and I never liked it then and don’t now. I have used the Galco Concealment holsters for all this time and even still have my first one and use it around the house. The leather is still tight enough to hold the gun doing tasks. AS you said its canted and keeps the gun close to you. Whether you choose to buy new pants a size larger or buy larger un tuck shirts you are still changing your wardrobe so it what ever you are comfortable with is what I say. I just happen to like the OWB for older guys its one lest step we have to worry about.

  9. Rachel Waite on September 21, 2017 at 11:11 am

    I am female and carry a government 1911 OWB all the time. I use a pancake holster from Da!tech Force and a custom holster from Grizzle Leather. I dress around my gun because carrying is my priority. I live in Florida and rarely wear a sweater. Both fancy and casual tops conceal very well. Not only is it comfortable, OWB carry also protects my gun and holster from perspiration on the many hot, humid days in the south. And yes, it affords a very quick, smooth draw.

  10. Doug on September 21, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I only carry OWB for a couple reasons. First, as an aging adult male I have gained a few lbs. this decade and now suffer from “dunlaps” (you know, when your belly dun laps over your belt) but not so much my belly as my love handles. Thus, IWB is uncomfortable and awkward. Secondly, when carrying IWB your belt can’t be adjusted for the purpose it was made. To hold up your pants. Carrying a brick between your belt and body prevents uniform tightness which affects comfort. Third, Shirts are cheaper than pants. So if I have to go up a size it’s not as expensive and can still be worn even if not carrying and still look OK. For the above reasons, I also prefer leather pancake holsters as they conform to your body and hold the gun tight to your side. And I kind of like the leather on leather squeak when I move around (a little old west nostalgia without the ringing spurs). Most kydex or hybrid OWB holsters are best for competition, training classes and open carry due to the amount of real estate they take up on your belt and their unyielding quality.

  11. Doug on September 21, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Jacob, Thanks for recognizing the under representation of OWB carry, which I think is equal if not more prevalent across concealed carriers, except with you younger guys and gals. So check your age bias. LOL (sorry, seemed like the PC thing to say. I’ll go vomit now.)

    • Jacob Paulsen on September 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

      That is actually a very legitimate point!

  12. William on September 21, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I used an OWB while in security. I would only use one in civilian life if I have a triple retention holster. Because I now have a laser that attaches to the trigger guard I had to make my own IWB holster from the kydex IWB I got from On your 6 designs. I removed the kydex from the top of the trigger guard down clear to the front of the holster. Then I used a sheet of leather to wrap the kydex top and create a new trigger guard option. The kydex holds the leather open for easier reholstering. The leather makes the wearing of the holster more comfortable as well.
    If I want to open carry all I have to do is tuck my shirt in and presto I have easy access to the weapon.

  13. CHARLES CAMERON on September 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Reading and reflecting on all the comments…I’ll add mine. I have both, if not 3 types.
    Belly band, IWB, OWB. For me, I like the OWBthat’s carries an additional magazine pouch.
    I found that the Galco “Walk About” fits my need because I don’t need an additional or separate magazine holster. Both my OWB have a strap so when I bend over, my firearm doesn’t fall out.
    My IWB “Walk About” is form fitted just to my gun, and as I too have a “kinda large tummy”,
    it’s secure. For camping and backpacking, I use the “good old ” military web belt & gear that I’m used to. The “Belly Band” is OK…for maybe a .380…but…you figure it out. Lol.
    Anyway, a great article, something I’ll print up for my training references

  14. allan on September 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Looking at the picture, those firearms are in grave danger of someone behind you pulling the gun out either as a joke, to steal it, or to commit a crime. That one dude has his hands folded in front so he isn’t even thinking about the exposed revolver behind him.

  15. David on September 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I, too, have several types of IWB and OWB holsters depending on a variety of situations. The weapon I use is always a Kimber Micro 9mm. As I’m retired and not under any clothing requirements I use various styled pullover collared shirts with an elastic cinched waist or similar sweat shirts depending on occasion and/or weather. Both types of garments are purchased one size larger than necessary to prevent printing. Most commonly I use a Sneaky Pete holster with a strong wide leather belt underneath the shirts at about the 5 o’clock position.

    If by accident my shirt was raised over my beltline, all that would be seen would be an attractive 5″x6″ black leather device with a flap secured by magnets which would appear to carry a smart phone or other electronic device. The holster is secured to my belt by two very strong clips. The holster provides quick flap open and the interior is designed to provide proper gun position and easy draw. I believe each holster is virtually hand made for a plethora of gun makes. There is also an additional mag provision if required.

  16. Matt on September 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    OWB is actually an ideal way to carry, especially in sweater/ sweatshirt season. I don’t like IWB holsters for the reasons stated. In the warm season, I have a pocket holster and pocket carry my Sig P938.

  17. Duane on November 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Being disabled, I find it a problem to carry IWB and OWB, can’t keep my paints up after losing 80 lbs. My preference is OWB, but superglue ingredients my butt inside my paints isn’t a option. HELP!

    • FLA Bev on February 3, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Duane, have you tried a belly band holster? That can go over your pants. That is what I use on my early morning walks. It holds the gun in place just fine, and have not had a problem with drawing my .380 from it. Mine also has space for spare mags, if you wish. Just a thought! I hope it helps!

  18. Sterling Prisbrey on November 29, 2017 at 3:17 am

    Great thoughts Jacob, thanks! I think the only holster more comfottable than my Brave Response holster is my OWB holster, and I go back and forth some days. Though I have trouble concealing an owb as a moderately skinny guy. I am one of the young guys these commenters are talking about that undervalued OWB so its nice to be reminded of its value. I think an important consideration for OWB open carry is also retention. When a gun is concealed, I’m not a big fan of retention because I don’t want to have to defeat it under stress in addition to my cover garment, and its co cealment means someone is less like to try and take what they don’t know is there. But with OWB if you’re going to open carry, its really important to have a retention system like a thub break or button, and hand-to-hand training in how to overcome someone who is trying to take your gun. I hear Masaad Ayoob puts on a good course on the subject, though he never seems to come to our area. Keep.up the good work!

  19. BC on November 29, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    I’m a fan of both the IWB and OWB holsters. I use both of them as needed. The important thing is to have your gun on you. It won’t do one any good anywhere else. Truthfully, I own several different types of holsters to cover just about any wardrobe combination I want to wear. As for ranges that dictate how you must carry while on the range, I’ll take my business elsewhere. I need to practice with all my chosen methods to carry!

  20. Ted on November 25, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    The same holds true with OWN(Serpa) hipsters. Some ranges due to liability and safety don’t allow them in the range.

  21. David on February 3, 2019 at 10:03 am

    I only carry OWB, with my DeSantis Mini Scabbard. I wear all my shirts, includiding Tee shirts, one size larger with no issues. I find IWB very uncomfortable!

  22. David L on February 3, 2019 at 10:13 am

    I only carry OWB, with my DeSantis Mini Scabbard. I wear all my shirts, includiding Tee shirts, one size larger with no issues. I find IWB very uncomfortable!

  23. Thomas Westgren on August 20, 2019 at 8:52 am

    It’s really nice how you said that some people have concealed carry holsters that they use on a daily basis. Having a gun holster that would be really comfortable would be an important thing to consider with a concealed carry. That way it will be invisible both to the people around you and to you because you won’t be feeling it poking into you every couple of seconds.

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