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IWB Carry Alternatives

In Waist Band carry, also called IWB, holsters are used for concealed carry. Carrying a gun inside your belt may sound exciting, but it’s a lot of things that can be annoying, a lot of things that can make it a pain.

In most states, you can’t legally carry a pistol concealed without a license. You must be certified by the state. In my state, we have Constitutional Carry laws, which means anyone can carry concealed, no training required. If you want to carry concealed, regardless of your laws, get training by a certified trainer. Most conceal carry certifications only require a minimal level of skill. You should attain at least 8 hours of Conceal Carry training even after you are licensed to carry.

IWB carry has some drawbacks, but may be your only option to carry in public. If you Appendix carry, sitting is pain, your gun may be jammed into your crotch and no matter where you adjust it, nothing seems to make it better. If you Hip Carry, others may be able to see your gun imprint under your clothing. And if you carry in the small of your back, really forget about sitting down.

Again, we are not saying IWB is bad, but you should be aware of these issues before you commit to an expensive IWB holster. For Appendix Carry, you may need to wear looser pants that allow for more room as you sit. For Hip Carry, you can hide your gun easily with a loose shirt or a jacket. For Back Carry, you won't be sitting much, which may be an excellent carry method if that is your situation.


There are two alternatives to traditional IWB carry that I employ a majority of the time when I carry.

Mexican Carry is a common technique that makes it easy to insert or remove your gun, especially when getting in and out of cars.  You cannot carry this way, however, if you desire to carry with a hot gun, meaning you have a round chambered. There is simply no protection for the trigger without a real holster. Even with a safety, we do not recommend you carry a hot gun Mexican style.

Simply insert your pistol into the small of your back, IWB, with the grip pointed toward your primary side. I am right-handed, when I Mexican Carry, my grip points to my right hip. I can easily retrieve it with my right hand, even if I am being attacked. Appendix carry can be difficult for larger guys with a belly, Mexican or Back Carry may be your only IWB alternative.

Shoulder Holster is the other alternative to IWB that we recommend. There are a lot of products out there for Shoulder Carry, but most of them don't really work effectively. The problem with shoulder holsters is the system must be either strapped to your belt to counter-balance the weight of the gun, or you have to carry 2 loaded mags under the shoulder opposite to your pistol.  This is simply too much fuss and weight to carry.

One design we recommend is by KO Holsters. They have a system where the counter-balance side is simply an adjustable elastic strap.  This system holds the gun effectively in place, and is very comfortable to wear for hours on end.  I modified mine by replacing the elastic strap with a 1” latigo leather strap. You can do this yourself with a few tools from the Tandy Leather store.

In addition, there is very little imprinting with a shoulder holster, meaning you can't see the holster under your clothing. The straps hide themselves very well under your outer shirt or jacket.  And unless you are carrying a hand cannon, nobody will know. You will need to practice cross-drawing your pistol from this holster.


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