IWB Holster Search: Part 1

The search for the best In Waistband Holster…

Kydex IWB holster

So I have a problem, and I freely admit it. I just have to keep messing around with the status quo, and that applies to my choice of a concealed carry holster as well as many other things. My standard carry pistol for several years has been a Walther PPS and it’s a keeper (although lately I’ve been torn between my Ruger LC9s… or a Springfield XD-S). There’s my problem… I just can’t decide. When I carried a double stack pistol I much preferred OWB carry, I just found it far more comfortable but always struggled to keep it from being visible. All things being equal, I prefer it OWB. But things aren’t equal. Or simple. So when I moved to a slimmed down single stack pistol it opened a whole new world of experimentation to find the ideal IWB holster for me.

What works for one person with IWB (Inside the waistband) holsters won’t necessarily work for everyone because face it, we’re all shaped a little differently and that affects where it’s comfortable to have a pound or two of oddly shaped metal pressing against you. What works pretty well when you’re standing won’t necessarily work when you’re walking, running or sitting behind the wheel of a car. When you get down to it though, the basic requirements for an IWB concealed carry holster are pretty much the same for everyone. Your IWB holster should be :

  • Secure. Regardless of how you’re moving around your pistol should stay just where it is. Until you don’t want it to be.
  • Discreet. That’s the whole point of concealed carry right? It should not be calling attention to itself.
  • Comfortable. If that Roscoe is driving you nuts and you have to adjust it every five minutes, you’re not going to want to carry it. And if you’re not carrying it, it’s not going to do you any good when you need it.
  • Accessible. Though secure as it should be, when you need it, the holster should allow you to draw smoothly and efficiently.
  • Affordable. Sometime you get what you pay for. Sometimes you get more. More is better.

Lets take a look at some of the best values in a concealed carry holster. These are targeted at the compact/sub-compact range of pistols. We’ll be looking at some OWB and full size pistol/holster options in coming installments. And just an aside, if you are going to carry, get a good belt. Whether it’s OWB or IWB holster carry a good belt will help distribute the weight and keep things where they’re supposed to be. Relentless makes one of the best CCW gun belts. See it @ Amazon.

1. Concealment Express IWB KYDEX Holster

Concealment Express Kydex holster

The Concealment Express is a perennial bestseller because it checks all the boxes. It is made of Kydex, molded to the specific contour of your model pistol. Kydex is a thermoplastic developed for the aircraft industry back in the 60’s and is a great choice for holsters. It’s tough, abrasion resistant and extremely strong even at this thickness. It has just enough pliability to release your pistol from it’s form fitting grip when needed. For comfort it’s depending on it’s thin profile, the holster itself is pretty rigid. If you’re type to cycle your pistol in and out of the holster a lot for practice drawing (and I’m a big advocate of practice), be advised that the tougher the material of your holster – the more wear it will put on the finish of your gun.

The angle of the pistol or “Cant” relative to your belt is adjustable as is the amount of tension holding the pistol in place. Being able to adjust the Cant allows both optimal access for drawing as well as minimizing the “printing” effect of the grip through your shirt.

2. The Urban Carry G2

Urban carry G2 IWB Holster

This is different! The Urban Carry G2 is a totally unique and innovative design making it comfortable to carry in waistband and still have quick access to your firearm. It comes in either a standard or a premium quality leather and I have to say is unlike any other holster I’ve seen. This holster seats deep and very concealed. It’s a little bit different operation than a standard holster so a little practice is in order but I think you’re going to like it.

3. Desantis Sof-Tuck holster

Desantis Sof-tuck leather Holster

The Desantis Sof-Tuck concealment holster is made of a soft suede leather and is one of the most comfortable IWB holsters I’ve tried. The soft suede breaths somewhat vs. a synthetic material which can trap moisture against you. The top of the holster is reinforced with a thicker grade of leather which help it to hold it’s shape and assists with holstering/re-holstering. The holster ‘s clip can also be adjusted for Cant to get it just in the right spot. I’ve found that my pistol seats and holds well in this holster but does not have quite the positive retention grip of a form fitting Kydex or formed leather option. However if comfort is the primary goal, this is an excellent choice. It’s also crazy affordable.

4. Alien Gear holsters Cloak Tuck 3.5

Alien Gear IWB Holster

The Alien Gear holster is something of a hybrid – combining the form fitting retention of a molded shell with a soft neoprene backing to keep the pistol or shell from poking into your umm.. stuff. Your skin. The backing extends up beyond the back of the slide adding even more protection. The base is very wide which when hooked over your belt make this extremely stable. Smaller folks may find this wide base just a bit too wide. It’s flexible but not exactly soft. Retension is very positive and the molded shell can’t collapse for reholstering.

5. Relentless Tactical The Defender

Relentless IWB Holster

Last, but not least, we have Relentless’ take on a timeless classic IWB holster. Handmade in the USA, heavy stitched bullhide leather it just feels like quality. The “Defender” is not model specific so it does not have the precise retention “snap” of a formed synthetic holster but the thick leather has a deep pocket for the trigger guard and holds the firearm securely. I’m a sucker for natural materials and this holster has the feel and smell of classic quality. The stiffness of the leather also keeps it from collapsing to allow easier re-holstering. I wouldn’t have minded if the leather extended a little bit higher to completely cover the butt of the slide but most will find it adequate. I wouldn’t expect to ever have a problem with a holster this sturdy but just in case, Relentless Tactical provides a Lifetime Warranty.