So you want to know how to wear an OWB holster? Great! There are many advantages and benefits to this type of holster. The main advantage is that it can be worn in a variety of positions, styles, and across different types of clothing.
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If you’re not carrying a concealed firearm, it can also be used as an outside-the-waistband carry system. Here are some tips on how to use this type of holster for maximum comfort!
What is an OWB Holster?
An OWB holster is a type of holster that is worn outside the waistband of the pants. It is most commonly used for semi-automatic handguns or double-action revolvers.
OWB Concealed Carry Holster
A dedicated OWB concealed carry holster will generally be soft-sided and typically uses a clip design to attach the firearm with retention provided by either an internal safety strap, tension screw, or leather snap loops. It is designed for wear without a jacket, shirt tucked in, or oversize clothing that can hinder access to the pistol.
OWB Duty Holster
A duty holster is designed for full-time use by uniformed law enforcement officers and security personnel who are required to wear their sidearm on duty at all times when in service. A dedicated OWB duty holster usually uses a metal or synthetic clip to attach the holster with retention provided by a manual safety strap.
OWB Competition Holster
A competition holster is used for open-carry matches, IDPA or IPSC matches, and other action shooting sports. These types of OWB holsters are worn around the hip and offer quick-release buttons to remove the gun in competition.
How to Wear an OWB Holster?
An OWB holster can be worn in a variety of positions based on your comfort level and the type of clothing you are wearing. For maximum comfort, it is recommended that you experiment with different styles until you find one that fits your needs. Below are some tips that may help:
The FBI Style
This style is a very popular way to carry an OWB holster because it offers the ability to adjust the cant and ride height. To create your own FBI-style holster, use a sturdy belt to attach the clips of the holster in a cross formation towards the center of your back. Then tighten or loosen your belt based on your comfort level for a snug fit.
The benefit of this style is to have increased flexibility in the positioning of the holster based on clothing, waist circumference, and gun size.
This style can be worn one of two ways – over or under your shirt. The main idea behind this style is to tuck your shirt in at night for concealed carry, but during the day to have the ability to cover it up if needed. While this style does not offer adjustment of cant or ride height, it is easy to get on and off without removing your belt.
Tips for Wearing an OWB Holster Comfortably and Safely
A reliable belt is important to have with you while wearing an OWB holster. It will help to ensure that your clothes are not being pulled down or causing you any discomfort. This is true of any type of holster, but especially so with the OWB holster because it goes outside the waistband of your pants.
Your gun should be positioned high on your hip, close to your body for maximum comfort. It is also important to keep it close to the center of your body in order to avoid printing.
The more grips that are available on your gun, the more likely it will be able to stay securely in the holster during movement and while you’re sitting down.
It can take time to find a position for an OWB holster that gives you easy access to your firearm. While it may be uncomfortable for the first time, continue wearing it until you find a position that will work for you.
Common Mistakes in Wearing OWB Holsters
Over-tightening the belt: This can cause discomfort and/or decrease mobility.
Not wearing a belt: A good belt is needed to keep your holster in place when you move around. Without it, your holster will be loose and may even fall off if you bend over or sit down. Also, make sure that your belt is sturdy enough to keep your holster in place and not allow it to slide.
Letting the gun grip “stick-out”: This can cause discomfort because it will press into your body as you move around. It may also print through clothing, which may alert people that you are carrying a firearm.
Trying to wear an OWB holster without a belt: A good, sturdy belt needs to be worn with your OWB holster in order to keep the holster secure and avoid it slipping down over time.
Belts come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. The belt needs to be wide enough to keep your holster stable, but not too thick or it will be difficult to get through belt loops and pants and dress pants may begin to bulge. Having the right belt is an important part of wearing an OWB holster effectively and comfortably.
Benefits of Wearing an OWB Holster
The benefits of wearing an OWB holster include:
- Increased range of motion
- Increased flexibility in the positioning of the firearm
- Flexibility to effectively conceal your firearm or show it openly as needed depending on your outfit and where you are.
- The ability to have a holster that is not directly covering your firearm, which can mean that it will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer
- The ability to wear a larger gun comfortably because of the design of the holster itself. This means you can conceal carry a larger gun without being “humped over” as much.
- The ability to wear an OWB holster that allows you to reholster without removing the entire holster, which may slow you down in an emergency situation where speed is needed.
- Added comfort when carrying a firearm all day long
- Having one holster for both open carry and concealed carry (if allowed)
- The ability to wear an OWB holster with lots of different outfits and in different positions (e.g., appendix carry).
- Less maintenance than other types of holsters, such as IWB or ankle holsters.
Drawbacks of Wearing an OWB Holster
The drawbacks of wearing an OWB holster include:
- Less concealment than other types of holsters, such as IWB or ankle holsters
- Some people may be more comfortable with a different type of holster (e.g., IWB)
- Some people feel like the weight on their hip can be slightly more uncomfortable than it would be on their stomach or lower back
- It may take longer to draw your weapon than it would with other types of holsters (e.g., IWB or ankle) because your hand is further away from the grip of your firearm.
- People may feel like they are constantly having to pull up their pants if they don’t have a belt on with their OWB holster.
DOs and Donts of OWB Holsters
Do make sure your belt fits well – if you have too big or small a belt size, it will affect how comfortable your holster is on your body. Don’t forget about the height at which the holster is positioned when you are wearing it. This will affect how your handgun sits in your waistband and whether or not it will be comfortable to draw from.
Do pay attention to the material of your pants – for example, I find that jeans tend to rub against my skin too much when I go about my day, so instead, I wear slacks. Don’t forget to wear good underwear – this one might be said in jest, but you wouldn’t believe how much difference that bit of fabric makes when you are wearing an OWB holster!
Do be aware of potential safety hazards – for example, if you have long hair, it can get caught in your trigger guard. Don’t stick your holster in the back of your pants – I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me, but every time it has gone terribly wrong.
Do check to see what holsters are available for your specific firearm. Not all OWB holsters are compatible with all handguns, so it’s important to be careful about the fit between the gun and holster. Don’t forget that you can also buy attachments or replacements parts for your existing holster if you want it in a different color or if it has broken.
Do consider purchasing an OWB holster that has adjustable cant – this can help you to wear your holster in different positions. For example, wearing the holster at the small-of-the-back will tend to pull your shirt down slightly more than if you wore it on your side.
Don’t forget that you might need to wear an OWB holster in hot temperatures. When it gets too hot, the sweat can get trapped between your skin and your holster – this can be very uncomfortable. Don’t carry a firearm when you are not wearing an OWB holster – even if you have another way of carrying your concealed firearm, it would be illegal to carry it without your OWB holster on.
Don’t forget that you have to choose an OWB holster that is right for you – if it doesn’t fit well, or if you can’t get used to wearing it, then chances are you won’t want to use it very much. Don’t let the sheriff know how much you like your OWB holster – even if it’s a legitimate use of the holster and you don’t mind wearing it, they might not agree.
Don’t forget about using an OWB holster with a firearm that has safety features such as manual safeties, decockers, trigger locks, etc. If these features are compromised during the holstering process, then there is a risk that the firearm can discharge.
Don’t let your OWB holster get in the way of your daily life – for example if you need to drive your car every day and it is hard to use the brake and gas pedals when you have an OWB holster on (or with any type of holster, for that matter), then you might want to consider wearing a different type of holster.
Don’t wear your OWB holster with tight-fitting clothing, as the pressure from the firearm against your skin can become uncomfortable over time.
This is open for discussion, but generally speaking, people only tend to use their OWB holster with handguns.
It may take some getting used to, but it will be easier if you don’t try to re-holster the firearm immediately after taking your hand off of it. Let your arm naturally fall to your side (or put it in front) and then push down on the holster with two fingers so that you can get a good grip on the firearm. Put your fingers into the trigger guard and then make sure you are applying pressure to the back of the firearm as you re-holster it.
This may require a combination of adjusting the position of your firearm and the clothing you are wearing. If you are not comfortable or able to walk around with a firearm at your side, you could consider wearing an OWB holster that is in the small of your back and carry it at your front, or alternately carry it IWB in front and move it to your back.
A sturdy leather belt with fewer holes in it is best for carrying an outside-the-waistband holster.
Every 3 months, a good amount of oil should be applied to the leather straps and metal hardware but does not need to be oiled more than once a year if you have a nylon or Kydex holster.
Wearing an outside-the-waistband holster is a great way to carry your firearm on your hip, but make sure you do it in a way that works for you and makes you comfortable, whether that means using a different type of holster or changing the position of your body while wearing an OWB holster.