IWB Holster – What is it?


Holsters are essential accessories for firearm owners, providing a safe and accessible means to carry a handgun. Two common types are the Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster and the Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) holster. Both are popular for concealed carry, but they serve distinct purposes and have different characteristics. This article explores these holster types in detail, comparing their features, benefits, and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision about which might be best for your needs.

Inside the Waistband (IWB) Holster – IWB Holster

Definition and Placement

An Inside the Waistband, IWB holster is designed to be worn inside the waistband of your pants, with the holster and firearm positioned between your body and the waistband. This method of carry is favored for its concealability and comfort. The holster is typically clipped or looped onto the belt, ensuring it stays in place throughout the day.

Features and Benefits

  1. Concealability: One of the primary advantages of an IWB holster is its high level of concealment. Because the firearm is tucked inside the waistband, only the grip is exposed above the belt line, making it easier to hide under clothing. This makes IWB holsters a popular choice for those who need to carry a handgun discreetly.
  2. Accessibility: While IWB holsters offer good concealment, they also allow for relatively quick access to the firearm. With practice, drawing from an IWB holster can be smooth and efficient, which is crucial in self-defense situations.
  3. Comfort: Many IWB holsters are designed with comfort in mind, featuring padded or contoured backings that rest against the body. The materials used, such as leather or soft synthetics, can prevent discomfort and chafing during extended wear.
  4. Versatility: IWB holsters can be positioned anywhere along the waistband, from the hip to the back, allowing users to choose the carry position that best suits their body type and preferences.


  1. Initial Discomfort: Some users find IWB holsters uncomfortable at first, especially if they are not accustomed to carrying a firearm in this manner. The pressure of the holster and firearm against the body can be noticeable until the user adjusts.
  2. Clothing Choices: To effectively conceal an IWB holster, it’s often necessary to wear slightly looser clothing or untucked shirts. This may not align with everyone’s style or professional dress code.
  3. Limited Access for Some Body Types: Depending on an individual’s body type, drawing from an IWB holster might be less accessible or slower than other holster types. This is particularly true for people with larger midsections.

Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) Holster – AIWB Holsters

Definition and Placement

An Appendix Inside the Waistband, AIWB holster, is a specific type of IWB holster worn at the front of the body, typically around the 12 o’clock position, near the appendix—hence the name. This position allows for easy access and a natural draw motion.

Features and Benefits

  1. Quick Draw: The AIWB holster is renowned for its rapid draw capability. Positioned at the front of the body, the firearm is within easy reach, allowing for a swift and efficient draw. This can be a significant advantage in self-defense scenarios where speed is critical.
  2. Concealment: Similar to other IWB holsters, AIWB holsters offer excellent concealment. The firearm is tucked into the waistband, with only the grip visible above the belt line. The front position also helps minimize printing (the outline of the gun showing through clothing).
  3. Comfort and Accessibility: For many users, the AIWB position is comfortable, especially when seated or driving. The firearm is easily accessible without having to adjust or shift position, which can be particularly beneficial for those who spend a lot of time sitting.
  4. Control and Retention: The AIWB position allows for better control and retention of the firearm. Since the gun is positioned in front of the body, it is easier to maintain awareness of its presence and prevent unauthorized access.


  1. Comfort Issues for Some: While many find the AIWB position comfortable, it can be uncomfortable for others, especially those with larger midsections or those who sit for long periods. The firearm may dig into the abdomen, causing discomfort.
  2. Safety Concerns: One of the primary concerns with AIWB carry is the potential for accidental discharge. Because the firearm is positioned near vital organs, an accidental discharge can result in serious injury. Proper training and a thorough understanding of safe handling practices are essential for those who choose AIWB carry.
  3. Clothing Constraints: Similar to IWB holsters, AIWB holsters require careful consideration of clothing choices. Looser-fitting pants and untucked shirts are often necessary to effectively conceal the firearm.
  4. Body Type Considerations: AIWB carry may not be suitable for all body types. Individuals with a larger abdomen or those who carry additional weight around their midsection may find it challenging to comfortably and effectively carry in the appendix position.

Choosing Between IWB and AIWB Holsters

When deciding between an IWB and AIWB holster, consider the following factors:

  1. Body Type: Your body type plays a significant role in determining which holster is most comfortable and accessible. Try both types to see which feels better for you.
  2. Carry Position Preference: Consider where you prefer to carry your firearm. If you favor a front carry position, the AIWB holster might be the best choice. If you prefer carrying on your hip or back, an IWB holster is likely more suitable.
  3. Comfort and Concealment: Think about how often you will be carrying and for how long. Comfort and concealment are crucial for everyday carry, so choose a holster that you can wear for extended periods without discomfort.
  4. Training and Practice: Regardless of the holster type you choose, proper training and regular practice are essential. Ensure you are comfortable with drawing and re-holstering your firearm safely and efficiently from your chosen holster.


Both IWB and AIWB holsters offer unique advantages for concealed carry. The choice between them ultimately depends on your personal preferences, body type, and lifestyle. IWB holsters provide versatility and comfort for various carry positions, while AIWB holsters offer a quick draw and excellent control from the front of the body. Whichever you choose, prioritize safety, proper training, and regular practice to ensure you can carry your firearm confidently and responsibly.

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