|Best Overall||Phlster Pro Series||SEE IT||
The Phlster Pro is one of the best high-end holsters in the industry, with superb engineering to reduce discomfort and conceal the firearm entirely. One caveat is, this holster is only available for a select few firearms, although they are the most popular guns on the market.
|Best Value||DeSantis Slim-Tuk||SEE IT||
The DeSantis Slim-Tuk holster is a very basic, lightweight holster, available for numerous makes and models, and does not cost much. This holster is a good start for those who do not want to fork out extra cash for longevity, particularly if a weapon is not carried daily.
|Editor’s Choice||Black Rhino Concealment TCS||SEE IT||
The Black Rhino Concealment Tactical Carry System is a sturdy, form-fitted behind-the-hip holster custom-made for your firearm, with whichever accessories you have affixed. Comes in a huge variety of makes and models, and because each holster is custom-made, it can also be customized with prints and colors.
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With so many options available, finding a good inside-the-waistband holster can feel like an overwhelming task. If that’s you, read on. In this article, I’ll not only show you the best IWB holsters available today but also how to find the best for you.
In this selection, I focused on performance and construction material. When you buy an IWB holster, you’ll want one that will resist wear and shield the trigger from accidental exposure. You’ll also notice that all the holsters on this list include a shell made of Kydex, which is a heat-moldable plastic. When it’s used to make holsters, it’s often molded for a specific make and model and will hold up over time.
The Phlster Pro Series is designed to provide tight passive retention while hiding the shape of the gun’s muzzle and the grip of the handgun as well through the use of a wing that torque the grip side of the holster inwards toward the body.
The Phlster Pro is an injection-molded holster with great retention out of the box, numerous mounting options (including the Phlster Enigma mounting belt), and excellent concealment. The design of this holster has a rounded bulge near the muzzle, which helps conceal the shape of the firearm, plus a ModWing device, which turns the handgun’s grip in towards the body.
While the Phlster Pro is only available for a few handgun designs, it is arguably the very best option for those it does cover. The biggest pro is the varied mounting options, which allow this holster to be used as an appendix holster or behind the hip holster with default belt mounting, or additional purchase of the Enigma system, which allows carrying under clothing such as a dress, yoga pants, or other clothing where a gun belt would not make sense.
- Fits: Sig P320, Glock 43/43x/48, Glock 26/19/17/34, Sig P365/XL, Walther PDP
Rounded muzzle end, for comfort, when worn all-day
Can be worn with the Enigma beltless system, at an extra cost
Includes claw/wing for help in concealing weapon's grip
Excellent passive retention, keeping a firearm in place
Only available for a small selection of firearms
Retention is non-adjustable, should retention lessen over time
Does not support flashlights
The DeSantis Slim-Tuk line of holsters is inexpensive, small, and available for several popular firearms. Made from fairly thin Kydex material, they won’t bend over time like leather or nylon. In turn, you can trust that the design will shield the trigger from exposure and outside influence.
My main criticism of the DeSantis holster was that it’s equipped with a single clip rather than a pair, so it’s more susceptible to rotating on your belt. The issue there, though, was re-holstering. Because it sat flush with my pants, I found it difficult to guide my weapon back into place. And, although it won’t fit a firearm with a weapon-mounted light, it does a great overall job as a basic holster.
- Material: Kydex
Very low cost
Very slim, makes minimal increase in the beltline
Can be worn as appendix or behind the hip holster
Many firearm models supported
Very thin Kydex used in construction
Single belt clip means the weapon can rotate forward or backward while worn
Difficult to reholster into quickly, due to lack of sweat guard
For several years, the Black Rhino Concealment TCS has been my go-to IWB holster. I like everything about it from comfort to ease of use on the range to customization and even the warranty. The design, specifically made for wearing behind your hip, uses shaped sides that turn inward at the front and back so it sits against your body, spreads out pressure, and keeps your gun in one spot.
The overall shape of the holster delivers a nearly perfect balance of comfort and concealability. Two invaluable traits for an IWB holster. When I’m wearing the TCS, even other concealed carriers are surprised I’m carrying. This Black Rhino holster does that excellent of a job.
Over three years, I wore the holster so much that I’ve actually lost retention, but when I contacted the company, they immediately began working on a replacement at no cost. They even allowed me to pick a different pattern for the outside.
While the Black Rhino IWB holster is available for a long list of makes and models, what’s more, is that each holster is custom made to fit not just the gun, but accessories like a light, laser, optic, threaded barrel, etc. The customizable options also extend to angle of cant, color, pattern, and more.
- Material: Kydex
Supports many different handguns
Lifetime warranty on wear and tear
Can be used inside waistband or outside
Cannot be used as appendix holster
Retention not adjustable
The Red Balloon Industries Beltless holster makes carrying without a belt possible using an “Ulti Clip.” While the design caters to the beltless, the company really emphasizes that it allows you to carry IWB while wearing yoga pants, basketball shorts, sweat pants, etc. The Ulti-clip works like a suspenders clip, so it’s a claw that grabs onto fabric (as opposed to a hook that grabs onto a belt).
This holster is available for many different firearm models and is custom made to your specifications regarding lights, optics, threaded or compensated barrels, and comes in various colors, patterns, and wraps. This is one of the simplest holster styles, only perfected, with durable 0.08-inch Kydex material, adjustable retention, and no sharp corners to be very uncomfortable.
- Material: Kydex
Ulti-clip makes beltless carry possible
Minimalistic design means less bulk visible
Available for many firearms, and special orders can be requested
Made from durable 0.08-inch Kydex, for long life
Lacks a wing or claw to help push grip of a handgun into the body
No height adjustment for the body of the holster
Some edges may cause discomfort
I have not seen a hybrid IWB holster with good trigger protection until I came across the Back Arch Protos-M. It’s equipped with a Kydex shell that surrounds both sides of the trigger guard, but it also uses leather as backer material. Plus, you can exchange the backer material for different carry positions while also adjusting the cant and ride height. Although the Protos-M IWB holster is a bit pricey, it’s worth it if you’re going for comfort.
- Material: 3/4 Kydex shell/Leather backer
Kydex shell protects trigger well
Backer made of flexible materials, allowing unparalleled comfort compared to Kydex or plastic
Backer is changeable, to allow different carry positions
Available for numerous firearms
Backer may still bend over time, making re-holster difficult
No option for weapon-mounted light
The Tier 1 Concealed Agis Elite represents the highest end of sidecar holsters. It has excellent retention, a strong flexing point between handgun and magazine holsters, and overall, it’s the toughest rig in the sidecar category.
The Agis Elite is equipped with a full Kydex holster and mag carrier, a leather and button-press flex point, and many customizable options for mounting points and configuration. The appendix-carry only design is easy to use on the range. It not only offers strong retention, but it also keeps in place, so it’s easy to re-holster.
- Material: Kydex
- Carry Method: Appendix only
Very tough construction
Numerous firearms supported
Easy to use on the range
May be too big for smaller framed people
Can be very uncomfortable
Why you should trust us
While I write Task & Purpose fairly regularly, I am also a firearms instructor through my business Libertas Instruction. I was certified to teach concealed carry classes as well as defensive handgun and home defense skills by the United States Concealed Carry Association. Through my experience, I have handled many different holsters and developed an understanding of what makes a holster good. I am also happy to answer questions via my Twitter account @libertasinstruc.
Common types of IWB holsters
There are a wide range of IWB holsters. In fact, there are innumerable combinations, but they’re often categorized by where they’re meant to be worn and construction material. You’ll commonly hear terms like strong side, appendix, Kydex, and hybrid. In this section, I’ll cover what they mean.
Strongside carry means carrying your handgun on the side closest to your dominant hand. Since it is literally within grasp, you’ll have a quicker time drawing and presenting your firearm. The opposite is weak-side carry, which would require you to reach across your body to draw your gun. Most instructors and professionals do not recommend weak-side carry.
Appendix carry means positioning your holster by your appendix, which is in the lower right side of your abdomen, or usually to the right of your belt buckle. For many, it is an easy place to conceal a firearm and a more natural place to draw from.
There are two common types of appendix holsters. The first is simple in that it will only hold a firearm whereas the second type contains a sidecar capable of fitting a magazine and/or a knife. The latter can complicate things because it’ll take up more space, meaning it’ll be less comfortable.
Kydex is a trademarked polymer blend used for a range of applications, but in the gun world, it’s used to make holsters. Compared to traditional holster material like leather, Kydex is durable, lightweight, and won’t wear on your handgun.
Common hybrid holsters consist of Kydex and another material. The main benefit of wearing a hybrid holster is comfort. The exterior material, whether it’s leather or nylon, is significantly more comfortable than raw Kydex, but you’ll still get Kydex performance.
The drawback to a hybrid is that leather and nylon absorb moisture and will wear out over time. Therefore, the best hybrid holsters use a three-fourths Kydex shell, to specifically protect the trigger area, and contain softer material in areas that touch your body.
Features to consider of IWB holsters
Most holster makers offer designs in nylon, leather, or Kydex. Of all three, Kydex is by far the most common for modern holsters. When compared to Kydex, leather and nylon just don’t hold up and protect your gun as well over time.
Retention refers to how well the holster can contain your firearm. For holsters in general, there’s passive retention and active retention. Passive retention relies on the fit and tightness of the holster against your gun. Whereas active retention refers to a device controlled by a button or switch that keeps your gun contained.
However, solid passive retention is a must-have feature for a good IWB holster. Your firearm shouldn’t move or shake inside the holster if you had to run or do some erratic movement. Holsters with good passive retention usually fit the form of a specific handgun model because the holster maker literally just made a mold.
The main reason to use an IWB holster is to keep your firearm concealed, so if it doesn’t adequately conceal your firearm inside your waistband, it’s not working for you.
Pricing considerations for IWB holsters
IWB holster prices range from less than $10 to more than $150, but many good-quality ones fall somewhere in the $80 range.
- Low-end IWB holsters will use lower-quality construction materials, lack customized features and options, and have limited mounting options.
- Mid-range IWB holsters typically focus on good passive retention and concealability.
- High-end IWB holsters are a balancing act between the usefulness of added features and gimmicks.
How we chose our top picks
I based each pick on my own experience or the experiences of other firearm instructors. I deliberately excluded certain products like small-of-the-back IWB holsters as well as those constructed from materials like leather or nylon. I owned four of the holsters on the list, one I physically inspected during a training class, and the other was used by an instructor friend of mine. Additionally, I reviewed each holster for safety and durability.
FAQs on IWB holsters
You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.
Can you sit with an IWB holster?
A: Absolutely. Some inside the waistband holsters are easier to sit for long periods in different positions, based on your body type and how you’re wearing a holster. For some, appendix carry is the best position while in a vehicle. For others, this is the least comfortable.
What position do you wear an IWB holster?
A: Any position is viable. The usual positions are strong-side carry and appendix carry. Another is small-of-back carry, but I don’t recommend it. If you fall while carrying that way, you could suffer significant injury to your back.
Are IWB holsters comfortable?
A: It depends. A good everyday carry belt can mitigate some issues with some holsters, but cannot make up for bad holster design. Your body type and position of carry will determine comfort levels as well.
What is the most comfortable IWB holster?
A: Strong-side carry is generally the most comfortable position. This must be balanced with the other benefits or drawbacks of different carry positions.
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Joel Mason did six years in the Iowa Army National Guard as an infantryman, with one tour in Afghanistan. Now he does firearms courses through his business, Libertas Instruction, as a USCCA Certified Instructor.