Holster types and their wearing tips

If you’re new to carrying a firearm, the wide variety of holster choices can feel overwhelming. But fear not, this post aims to simplify things and assist you in making a well-informed choice.

Types of holsters

A holster is a device used to hold or restrict the unwanted movement of a handgun and is typically attached to a belt or waistband, but there are other styles as well.

1. Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) holsters

IWB holsters are worn between the waistband of your pants and your body, clipped or fastened to your belt.
IWB holsters provide quick access but might be slightly less than the below OWB holsters.
Besides, They are ideal for concealed carry under clothing but may require looser-fitting clothing for optimal comfort and concealment.
They are popular among those who prioritize subtlety without sacrificing accessibility.

To wear an IWB holster, place it inside your waistband at the wanted position (commonly just behind the hip bone on your dominant side), and secure it to your belt or waistband.

2. Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) holsters

Similar to IWB, these holsters are designed to be worn at the front of the waist, near the appendix area. That is, around the 1 to 2 o’clock position for right-handed users (11 to 12 o’clock for left-handed).

This positioning allows for easy and quick access to the firearm, making it a popular choice for concealed carry.
Its placement is more towards the center of the body, rather than on the side or back of IWB. This can offer better concealment under clothing.
However, comfort and safety are key considerations, as they require careful handling due to their placement near sensitive areas of the body.

IWB and AIWB are both types of concealed carry holsters worn inside the waistband of your pants. The main difference is their placement on the body as I mentioned before.

3. Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) holsters

OWB holsters are worn outside the pants, providing quicker and easier access to the firearm compared to IWB.
They are generally more comfortable especially for extended wear, because they do not press against the body.
OWB holsters are suitable for both open carry and concealed carry with proper clothing.

To wear, thread your belt through the loops or clips on the holster and position it on your hip or slightly behind.

4. Shoulder holsters

Embraced by detectives in classic films, the shoulder holsters cradle the firearm under the arm, thereby distributing the weight more evenly. A harness is used to suspend the firearm under the non-dominant arm in a cross-draw position.
They provide an alternative to the traditional waist-carry holsters.

Shoulder holsters are suitable for larger handguns, which might be heavy at the waist.
They’re also great for those who sit often or drive a lot, as they provide easy access while seated.

They typically require a jacket or loose shirt for concealment and are often used in colder climates where heavier clothing can conceal them.

However, this type of holster requires a different drawing technique, which can be slower and needs practice.
To wear, put the harness over your shoulders like a backpack, adjust the straps for comfort, and position the holster under your arm.

5. Ankle holsters

Ankle holsters are worn wrapped around the ankle underpants, offering a concealed carry option for smaller firearms. So they are popular among those who need a backup gun or have size limitations.
But they are far away from your hands, and you have to bend down to draw. This is disadvantageous in urgent situations.

To wear, strap the holster around your lower leg, just above your ankle. It’s usually worn on the inside of the leg opposite your dominant hand (e.g., on the left leg for a right-handed person).

6. Pocket holsters

Pocket holsters are designed to fit into a pocket, whether it’s a pants or jacket pocket.
These holsters protect the trigger and help mask the shape of the gun. They offer quick access but are largely limited to the smallest firearms.

To use, simply place the holster and gun inside your pocket. The holster should stay in the pocket when you draw the gun.

7. Drop leg (thigh) holsters

Drop leg holsters are designed to place the gun on the thigh at a position where your hand naturally falls and reaches the firearm.
They are often used by police and in military tactical situations, as they allow for quick and unimpeded movement.
Moreover, they also provide an alternative for women, especially when wearing dresses or skirts.

To wear, secure the upper part of it to your belt and wrap the straps around your thigh, adjusting for a snug but comfortable fit.

8. Chest holsters

Chest holsters typically feature a harness of at least 3 points of contact to secure the holster centered or slightly to the side of your chest.
They are favored for outdoor activities like hiking and camping or when wearing a backpack.

To wear, put the harness on and adjust it so the holster sits on your chest, allowing easy access to the firearm.


The right holster should fit both you and your gun perfectly. It should be comfortable enough for all-day wear and not shift around as you move. A good fit also means quick and safe access to your firearm.
A crucial aspect of this is retention – how well the holster keeps the gun in place.
Lastly, if you’re carrying concealed, choose a holster that keeps your firearm out of sight and mind.
No matter which types you choose, it is important to keep practicing until you get used to the feel, draw, and re-holstering, particularly in an emergency. After all, safety is paramount.