Written By
Published Jul 1, 2022 6:31 AM

The modern holster crowd is all about AIWB — or appendix inside-the-waistband carry — but today, you get to gear up with an OWB OG and take a look at the best OWB holsters in production. And just in case you were wondering, OWB stands for outside-the-waistband carry. It’s the fancy way of describing these holsters. 

We are diving deep into the holster world and pulling out OWB holsters for all uses and situations you might find yourself in. We are going to cover holsters for duty, concealed carry, competition, and more. We’ve got a little something for everyone. 

We’ve put a focus on high-quality holsters from proven manufacturers that account for safety, retention, access, and how the holster works in specific situations.

Methodology

I’ve packed a mohaska in an OWB rig for over a decade and for various purposes. I’ve strapped an M9 to my side for trips worldwide, stuck a P365 there for daily carry, and tossed on my custom P320 to (try to) bring home gold. My experience with OWB holsters goes far and wide, and I’ve got a box full of holsters to prove it. 

Choosing good holsters can be challenging, and with so many out there, you might wonder how we came up with our picks. It’s a valid question, and we used a combination of experiences from the Task & Purpose brain trust. Our top picks offered the most versatile combination of features paired with safety, security, and access. 

When in doubt, we looked to professional firearm experts like Garand Thumb, podcasts like Primary and Secondary, and the choice of military forces, pro competitors, police officers, and firearm instructors. For more information on how we pick the best, check out the Task & Purpose editorial guidelines.

Best Overall

Declaring one OWB holster best is awfully tricky with many different use cases. I settled on the Safariland 7378 holster. Why is it the best? Well, if you asked me to pick one OWB holster that can do a little bit of everything, it’d be the 7378. Additionally, it’s exceptionally well-made, durable, modular, and rugged. Safariland excels at making safe, high-quality holsters that set the standard for the rest of the industry.

The Safariland 7378 ALS can be used for concealment, competition, and even duty use. The size and shape of the rig make it cling tight to the body, and it’s somewhat easy to conceal. Duty users get the ALS active retention system to keep their gun in the holster until it’s needed. Competition and duty shooters get the Safariland modularity that allows for multiple belt, paddle, thigh, and offset drop combinations.

Safariland’s ALS locking system is easy to use and defeat when drawing your firearm. ALS stands for automatic locking system, and as soon as the gun drops in the holster, it’s locked. When drawing, your thumb naturally falls where the release sits, allowing you to trounce the retention device.

Safariland uses SafariSeven, which according to Safariland, is a proprietary Dupont nylon blend. What that means for you is a very tough and durable material that won’t rub the finish off your gun. It’s waterproof, thermal-resistant, and super tough.

Our one downside comes to concealment. If you conceal-carry a full-sized gun with the 7378, you’ll need an overt cover garment like an overshirt or jacket. With smaller guns, it’s not a big deal, but don’t expect deep concealment.

The Safariland 7378 holster represents a classic and affordable OWB holster that hits all the modern needs of a holster. You won’t be disappointed by its design, by the security it offers, and oh yeah, it’s priced affordably.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Active
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Versatile
PROS

Compatible with Safariland aftermarket

Super versatile for multiple purposes

Made to last

Affordable

CONS

Bigger guns will be harder to conceal

The Blackhawk Omnivore provides you with the most bang for your buck for a few reasons. First, it accommodates any gun with a rail. Second, you can pick between light-bearing and regular. And, third, it costs less than $50. Even though it’s somewhat universal, it’s safe, easy to use, and provides an active retention option.

The Omnivore uses an active retention device that locks around a small block attached to the rail or your TLR 1 or Surefire X300U weapon light. The Omnivore fits most compact and full-sized handguns as long as they have that rail system.

Light-bearing holsters are often quite expensive. Finding one with an active retention device and solid construction for $50 is a real feat. Value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap, and the accessibility to use the one holster with multiple handguns makes it a great deal.

The Blackhawk Omnivore fits a wide variety of firearms but effectively covers the trigger of all of them. An active retention device pins the weapon into your holster until your thumb drives down the retention release as part of your natural draw motion.

Size matters, especially for concealed carry, and the Omnivore is enormous. At the same time, Blackhawk insists it’s not a duty holster. This makes the holster useful for the great outdoors, but not much else.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Active
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Range and hiking
PROS

Affordable

Fits over 150 different guns (according to Blackhawk)

Provides active retention

CONS

Bulky

Editor’s Choice

The Tulster Contour brings in the perfect combination of features as an OWB holster to please me. First, the design offers complete safety with a fully enclosed trigger and adequate and adjustable retention. It’s comfy and doesn’t poke or prod, but still holds the gun tight to the body for easy concealment. Tulster produces the holster for various firearms, so you can likely get one for your firearm of choice.

Safety and security are a big deal when carrying a firearm, especially when concealed. The Tulster Contour covers the trigger completely, and each holster is molded to your individual gun, which increases safety as well as access. Retention is passive but adjustable.

Tulster hand-buffs the edges, which prevents the edges from poking, prodding, and digging into your body. Comfort might be a lower priority, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a priority. Typically, a comfortable OWB holster compromises concealment, but not in this case. You get an easy-to-conceal holster that doesn’t cause irritation.

Tulster produces the holster for various firearms by brands like CZ, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and Springfield Armory. That’s a ton of holsters, and you love to see it in a world where a lot of companies just make Glock holsters. Plus, the holster can accommodate red dot sights and threaded barrels.

The Tulster Contour provides shooters and concealed carriers with a do-it-all holster. It’s easy to use for concealed carry, range, and competition use. The Contour is entirely safe and comfy to wear. There isn’t much more you could ask for with the Contour.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Passive
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Concealed carry
PROS

Comfy

Made for tons of guns

Safe and secure

Easily concealed

CONS

Belt loops are squared and cause belt hangups

Best for Concealed Carry

Raven Concealment Systems cut its teeth making high-quality IWB rigs designed for deep concealment, and its expertise made the Perun the best OWB holster for concealed carry. The holster disappears underneath a t-shirt and makes hiding even bigger guns reasonably easy. Plus, it’s designed to accommodate all the modern features for concealed carry.

Taking inspiration from the Phantom and Eidolon series, Raven Concealment designed the Perun to be as concealable as an OWB holster can be. This includes a pancake design that curves around the body and hugs it tight. The holster is only a little thicker than the gun, and the bulk is reduced to improve concealment.

The Perun comes with three sets of 1.5-inch belt loops that allow you to adjust for cant. The Perun can be easily set up for left- or right-handed concealed carry. Retention is passive, but a sliding nut will enable it to adjust as required.

The Perun is a modern holster designed to work with modern gear like red dots, threaded barrels, and suppressor height sights, and there is even a light-bearing model of the rig. Unfortunately, the light-bearing model is limited in firearm and light selection.

Ultimately, the Perun is made for more than just Glocks, but not much more. If Raven makes the Perun for your gun, you’d be hard-pressed to find an easier-to-conceal, more modern option for OWB carry. Concealed carrying in an OWB holster can be a real pain, but the Perun makes it work and work well. You aren’t compromising much in concealment for a gain of comfort, speed, and security.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Passive
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Concealed carry
PROS

Easily concealed

Fits modern accessories and parts

Easy to draw from

CONS

Only fits Glocks and Sigs

Best Light-Bearing

If you like carrying a weapon with a mounted light, you know that holsters can be tough to find, but the Safariland Model 557 dominates the market for light-compatible OWB holsters. Safariland’s long history of making innovative designs shows the 557’s unique setup for light-bearing guns. We also get a holster that exercises a reasonable degree of brilliance in the basics, which translates into a concealable, safe, and secure holster for everyday carry.

What’s interesting about the 557 is that you can carry it with or without a weapon-mounted light. The retention indexes on the ejection port and not the light, so you won’t need two holsters if you occasionally ditch the light. This saves you a little money and only requires you to train with just one holster.

The Safariland 557 isn’t a duty holster and uses a passive retention design combined with a concealment focus. This ensures the holster wraps around the body and conceals without a baggy or overt cover garment. The ejection port retention keeps the gun locked in place, and the holster completely envelopes your trigger for safety’s sake.

On top of that, Safariland makes the holster for various guns and light combinations. This goes beyond the typical Streamlight and Surefire lights and includes Nightstick and Olight.

While the holster can be concealed and is designed for concealment, its main downfall will be some extra bulk. Smaller people will find it challenging to hide the 557 effectively. Even so, it’s a relatively simple but very effective holster. The massive combination of guns and light options alone make it the only choice for some shooters.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Passive
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Concealed carry
PROS

Fits a ton of guns and lights

Works with and without light

Provides a tough, supportive holster

CONS

Somewhat bulky

Best Universal

PHLster found a way to make a universal OWB holster that rules. PHLster always scores high in quality, and the holster will last through tons of abuse without issue. Even though it’s universal, it’s safe and provides excellent access regardless of your firearm.

Modularity matters with any holster, and PHLster makes one of the more modular options. It works with belt attachments from companies like Safariland, G-Code, and Blade-Tech. Things like ride height, cant, and retention are easily adjustable to fit a variety of handguns. Oh, and it’s even ambidextrous.

The PHLster Floodlight functions with compact and full-sized firearms. You can use any gun equipped with a TLR-1, a Surefire X300U, or modlite PL350. The magic is tied to the fact the Floodlight indexes your firearm on your weapon light instead of your weapon.

The Floodlight defies expectations by providing a holster that doesn’t compromise safety, retention, or access. That’s pretty hard to do for one gun, but PHLster figured it out for dozens of different models.

The only downside is finding a purpose for it. PHLster didn’t design it for concealed carry, and it’s not appropriate for duty, so it’s isolated to the range and competition.

PHLster found a way to produce a high-quality, lightweight holster that can accommodate a ton of different handguns, as long as they wear a light. You’ll have no worries about safety, access, or retention, and can make the holster your own through tons of modular options.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Passive
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Range and competition
PROS

Compatible with multiple firearms

Compatible with aftermarket attachments

Modular retention, ride height, and cant

CONS

Expensive

Limited use

Good holsters can’t be ambidextrous, but they can be reversible, and the Concealment Express’s entry into the realm of reversible holsters dominates. This simple Kydex holster is exceptionally well-made, and swapping from right- to left-handed configurations takes no time. The design embraces modern firearms with modern features and makes the weapon easy to conceal.

Swapping from right- to left-handed use takes the removal of four screws and the swap of two belt loops. Not only can you switch from right to left, but you can also easily adjust cant and ride height to make the holster fit you and your needs.

The .08-inch thick Kydex material is thin and lightweight, but also tough. Concealment Express designed the holster to accommodate modern accessories like red dot sights, suppressor height sights, and threaded barrels. OWB holsters can be tricky to conceal, but with adjustable cant and ride height, you can make the Concealment Express setup work.

One downside of reversible holsters that Concealment Express can’t tackle is the lack of a sweat guard. You’ll have to deal with the poke and prod of your gun as you carry it. Concealment Express designed the holster well and embraced modern holster design and the features modern firearms have without compromising concealment.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Passive
  • Material: Kydex
  • Recommended use: Concealed carry
PROS

Modular

Easily reversible

Adapts to modern guns

CONS

No sweat guard

Blackhawk hits the list again, and the Blackhawk T-Series L2C provides you with a fantastic, minimalist, and modern concealed carry holster. Blackhawk didn’t hold back when it came to modularity and modern design. It’s one of the rare minimalist holsters that implement an active retention device, putting it in a class of its own.

Blackhawk trimmed this and that to reduce the size of the holster and make it light and minimalist. At the same time, it doesn’t lack in the durability department.

You can swap between several belt attachments and adjust cant and ride height as you see fit. The L2C embraces red dot users with the necessary cut to allow modern red dots from the RMR to the Aimpoint Acro.

Sitting behind your gun is a small lever which disables the retention device, allowing you to draw when necessary. Passive retention works most of the time, but for those living a more adventurous or physical lifestyle, active retention prevents the weapon from leaving your side.

If you prefer belt loops from other companies and after-market options, you’ll be frustrated with the L2C. It’s relatively new and has only three options from Blackhawk. Still, for a new holster, it’s garnered an excellent reputation and is minimalist, with enough modern flair to keep it relevant for quite some time.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Active
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Concealment
PROS

Red dot compatible

Thin and lightweight

Produced for numerous handguns

CONS

Limited support for mounting options

Best Duty-Ready

Safariland rules the duty market. Even the U.S. military wisely moved to Safariland when they adopted the M17/18 series handguns. Safariland makes tons of holsters, but the 6360RDS is the number one OWB duty holster because it embraces the modern duty gun. It’s compatible with lights and red dots and made for many firearms. Additionally, it’s a level three holster that provides two levels of active retention, making it nearly impossible to take.

The modern duty gun in 2022 is likely capable of wearing both a red dot and weapon light. The 6360RDS embraces your lights and red dots without issue. It works with a ton of different light and optics combinations. This includes the standard Surefire and Streamlight, but you can also pick Olights, Inforce, and Nightstick lights.

Safariland makes the holster for the most common duty guns, including Glock, Smith & Wesson, FN, Sig Sauer, and Staccato pistols. These represent the most common duty sidearms on the market, and between the numerous red dot, light, and gun options, there is likely something for everyone.

Level three retention makes the gun almost impossible to lose in a hands-on fight. It’s designed to require the drop of a hood and the press of an internal lever to remove. Anyone but the operator trying to do both is at a serious disadvantage, and it’s genuinely tricky to lose your gun with this type of security. At the same time, you’ll be able to draw and engage with your weapon without a clunky series of steps to remove the gun.

While this is an excellent holster, if you’re looking to make it a concealed carry or competition rig, you will be disappointed. It fits perfectly in that duty world but would be too bulky and cumbersome for concealed carry and competition.

Safariland makes some of the best holsters on the planet and is a prevalent choice for law enforcement and military forces. The level three retention keeps the gun locked in the holster until you need it. The compatibility with red dots and lights makes it ready for 2022, and it’s a durable, rugged option designed for years of use.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Active
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Duty
PROS

Level three retention

Compatible with modern features

Designed for duty

CONS

Isolated to duty use

Action sport shooting like ISPC and USPSA require specific holsters that meet certain criteria, and at the same time, competitors need a holster that provides a quick and intuitive draw. The Dara Action Sport Holster hits both of those high points and gives you a USPSA/IPSC legal holster that’s modern, modular, and available for nearly any combination of gun, light, and red dot sight.

The Dara Action Sport Holster is made from a rigid polymer and features an adjustable ride height and the ability to mount a Drop Offset to get the holster lower and off the belt. Dara cuts the holster at the ejection port to allow for a quicker draw. With this style of cut, you can orient your barrel forward fast. Plus, you can adjust your retention and ensure everything is just how you want it.

The Dara Action Sport Holster comes in both standard and light-bearing options. This OWB holster probably offers the most light and gun combinations I’ve ever seen. There are dozens of varieties you can pick from to get the right gun and light combination. Both the standard and light-bearing are red dot compatible. The open bottom of the holster allows for threaded barrels and even some minimalist compensators.

The downside to Dara holsters is that any extra mounts or drop offsets must be purchased from Dara. You can’t use your Safariland or G-Code options with a Dara holster.

While that’s a speed bump, the Dara Action Sport Holster is easily one of the best out-of-the-box OWB holsters for competition. The ability to work with modern accessories, backed by a ton of adjustability, and allowing for a quick draw while being IPSC/USPSA legal, makes this a rock star of a holster.

Product Specs
  • Retention: Passive
  • Material: Polymer
  • Recommended use: Competition
PROS

Modular

Fits a wide variety of guns and lights

IPSC/USPSA legal

CONS

No after-market compatibility

Types of OWB holsters

Because it’s hanging off of your belt, an OWB holster is ideal if you want to open-carry your firearm. They’re typically styled for use on duty, at the range, or during competition, but they’re also styled for concealed carry if that’s what you desire. The difference between the four styles of OWB holsters is usually price and retention. 

Concealed carry holster

An OWB concealed carry holster typically uses lighter and thinner materials so you have an easier time fitting the rig under a shirt or jacket. The holster will fit close to your body and shouldn’t cause much printing or unsightly bulges. If you do choose to use OWB for concealed carry, you might not want or need active retention. 

Duty holster

An OWB duty holster will make it very obvious that you have a gun on your hip. They’re large, but they’ll hold larger, modified, or full-size handguns, and some will even be designed to wear with other duty gear like plate carriers or battle belts. Of course, because it’s so obvious, you’ll want it to have active and passive retention systems as well as a highly durable construction. 

Range holster

For an OWB range holster, you won’t need much. Just something that supports your firearm. While it’s always ideal to have a holster designed with a mold of your firearm, a universal — as in fits any similar-style handgun — could work because you’re in a controlled environment. Of course, you’ll want it to safely cover the trigger. That’s a must. 

Competition holster

While you might think an OWB competition holster would be the same as a range holster, you’d be wrong. Competition holsters must meet certain safety and performance standards set by the organization managing the event. Typically, you won’t need duty-level retention, but you will need dependable passive retention. Additionally, you’ll want adjustable features for quick access and draw. 

Key features of OWB holsters

Safety

A safe holster reduces the risk of an accidental discharge. Holster makers do this by molding its holsters to fit specific handgun models and fully cover the trigger.

Accessibility

A firearm is only a tool if you can access it. Therefore, a good holster allows you — and only you — to easily access your firearm. This is accomplished with intuitive controls and adjustable features, so you can wear it in a position where it’s accessible. 

Retention 

For a holster, retention is how well it can secure your handgun. There are two types of retention systems: active and passive. An active system uses controls like a button or switch that you have to engage to unlock and access your firearm. A passive system relies on the tension applied by the holster against your gun 

Ride height 

Ride height matters quite a bit with OWB holsters. Different tasks work better with different ride heights. Duty and competition guns typically ride low, allowing for a fast and intuitive draw. Concealed carry holsters will ride higher to allow for better concealment with cover garments. Most holsters will allow you to adjust ride height, and duty/competition holsters will likely be compatible with offset drop adapters. 

Modularity 

Modularity with OWB holsters means a few things. One is the adjustments you can make to ride height and cant. These allow users to tailor the holster for their needs and concealment requirements. Additionally, modular holsters often allow you to switch around your clips, loops, or paddle to make the holster better fit your clothing and gear. 

Accessories 

What accessories does your gun wear? The presence of lights, red dots, and even tall sights and threaded barrels might be something to consider. If you carry a blinged-out blaster, you need to ensure the holster you’re ordering will fit and function with your many accessories. 

Benefits of OWB holsters

Speed and access

Drawing from an OWB holster can be rapid and easy. You can get the gun out and ready with what’s often a good firing grip. OWB holsters are fast in the typical standing position, but also fast and intuitive when drawn from sitting, kneeling, and even prone positions. It’s also easier to reholster with an OWB holster than any other carry method. 

Comfort 

It’s tough to find a more comfortable way to carry a gun than OWB. An OWB holster reduces pokes, prods, and annoying rubbing. Even when concealed, these holsters tend to be much more comfier, and you can forget you are wearing an OWB holster. 

Tactical functionality 

When you are wearing backpacks, plate carriers, battle belts, and other tactical gear, an OWB rig is a must-have. Any other option wouldn’t function well, and would likely have an impeded draw when it comes time to pull your smoke wagon. 

Pricing for OWB holsters

Budget

At a budget price point between $35 and $50, you can likely find an OWB holster that’s molded to your firearm, as long as your firearm is a popular model. You will likely feel disappointed if you carry something a little different than the Glock and Smith & Wesson varieties. These holsters often offer passive retention and potentially red dot compatibility, but light-bearing is unlikely to be an option. 

These holsters are suitable for range use and even concealed carry, but are not the best option for duty use. They are typically safe and well-made, but generic mass-produced designs. 

Mid-range 

We’ll still be stuck with your more popular firearm platforms in the mid-range platform, but you’ll likely begin to find some red dot, suppressor height sight, and even light compatibility in the $50 to $75 range. We also see the entry of both active or passive retention and more modular designs. These holsters are well-suited for competition, concealed carry, and range use. 

High-range

This is where we spend the money required to get a holster for nearly any gun and light combo. At the $75 to $150 price point, we see companies making made-to-order holsters, offering you a holster to fit your CZ P01 outfitted with a Surefire XC1 and a Trijicon RMR. 

We also see proper duty holsters appear and give professional gunslingers options for their daily carry needs. We start to see companies with stellar reputations making holsters for concealed carry that are modern, modular, and often multi-purpose. These holsters will be built for daily use and rough training.

Premium

At the premium price point of $150 and up, we are seeing the best of the best. These concealed carry holsters will last through the hardest of training and keep swinging. We often see very modular holsters in this department that are chock-full of features and options to accommodate modern firearm accessories. 

In the competitive world, these are the holsters you see professional shooters using and often winning with. For those who carry for duty purposes, it’s the choice that offers compatibility with the most gear and belt types, as well as the ability to use all modern weapon accessories.

FAQs about OWB holsters

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Can you conceal an OWB holster?

A: Yep, it can be more challenging, but tons of OWB holsters are designed for concealment.

Q: IWB vs. OWB: Which one is better?

A: It depends entirely on the purpose and mission — both have strengths and weaknesses.

Q: Is it legal to use an OWB holster?

A: Yep, completely legal. However, competitions might have specific requirements. 

Q: Is OWB open-carry?

A: It can be open-carry, but is not necessarily open-carry only. 

Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. We independently evaluate gear by putting products in the hands of subject matter experts. The products we test may be purchased by Task & Purpose, our staff, or provided for review by a manufacturer. No matter the source, our testing procedures and our assessments remain free from third-party influence. Learn more about our product review process.

Load more...