I own more inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters than I care to count. By “more”, I mean enough that if you lined them up end to end, they would reach from here to Hillary Clinton’s email server, wherever that is.
I have this, umm, significant collection not because I use them regularly, but because I’ve bought, tried and discarded most of them. If I only knew then what I know now. In hopes of saving you some money, I’ve gone through my boxes of unloved holsters so that I can remember what it was I could have done differently in each case. I’m going to be careful here and not talk about styles or brands that didn’t work for me. The reason for that is that each of us is shaped differently. We carry different guns, we dress differently, and our daily activities differ. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. What I will do here is focus on some scenarios to consider. Whether your combination of body, gun and holster presents a risk for these scenarios depends on your specific variables.
Let’s take a look at the top five things I wish I knew when I was spreading my credit card love to all the holster companies.
Love handles are sensitive
I guess there’s a reason they’re called love handles and not insensitive abdominal protrusions. When rough gun parts rub on your side-belly skin for hours and hours, you’ll end up with a mark.
Most IWB holsters leave the grip of the handgun exposed to facilitate an easy draw. Many defensive guns have aggressive grip textures so you can hold on to the gun during recoil, even with sweaty hands. Unless you always wear some type of undershirt, your gun grip can, and most likely will, rub against your skin all day long. Ouch.
If you can, try for a few minutes before you buy. Your shape, holster and gun choice may amplify or reduce this potential gotcha.
Vanity isn’t all that practical
Even if no one is watching, I feel better buying pants with the smallest waist size I can squeeze into. No one likes to admit they’re growing sideways as the years pass. Even if you carry a super flat gun like the Ruger LCP inside the waistband, you need to account for that space. It’s not just the gun, but the holster pouch, backing and clips that occupy space between your pants and body.
Buying larger pants than you need is a tough nut to swallow because when you’re not carrying, they look huge. Yeah, I know, when you buy a larger waist size, other areas of the pants are larger too, and that adversely impacts the odds of you being on a fashion magazine cover.
While you can “suck it in” to fit a gun and holster into your regular pants, it’s not worth it. Trust me, I know. After a couple hours, you’ll be begging for relief.
You save some thickness by not wrapping the gun in a layer of plastic or leather. Except for revolvers most pistols can sit naked in your waistband and never fall down your pants leg. Guns with Glock style triggers are best kept in rigid holsters outside the waistband.
I have to vehemently disagree with the idea of carrying any handgun with any type of trigger in your pants without use of a holster. Ask Plaxico Burress and thousands of other people how it feels to shoot yourself in the leg. There’s also the issue of your femoral artery down there, so shooting yourself in the leg can cause death exceptionally fast as you bleed out. The gun is not secure, will eventually move and nothing protects the trigger. It’s a really, really dangerous way to carry a gun.
I enjoyed your article on IWB and have to agree with what you wrote. While I would prefer OWB carry, I am concerned about staying concealed. And like you, I have somewhat of a collection of regularly unused holsters.
I would add at least one more thing about IWB holstering. I carry at around the 4:30 position, frequently with a tucked-in shirt. I’ve noticed wear and tear on my garments as well as my desk chair where the grip’s bottom edge sticks out. I don’t think there’s much I can do about it without some modifications on clothing or furniture.
The holster I use daily right now is a High Noon Split Decision but am always looking for something better.
I tend to get wear on my pants over time from the muzzle of the gun rubbing against the inside. Takes a while, but almost always happens. Cost of doing business I suppose…
Agree heartily with #1. The only complaint I have with my Old Faithful holster is that the texture on a Gen 4 Glock gets downright painful after being pressed into a love handle by a car seat for hours on end.