Which Type of OWB Holster Style Is Right for You?

Regarding concealed carry, the holster choice can make a world of difference. Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) holsters are popular among gun enthusiasts, offering comfort, accessibility, and versatility. However, not all OWB holsters are created equal. The key to finding the perfect OWB holster style is understanding your needs, preferences, and lifestyle. This comprehensive guide will walk you through various OWB holster styles, helping you make an informed decision.

1. Paddle Holsters

Paddle holsters are a top choice for many gun owners, thanks to their ease of use and comfort. These holsters feature a paddle-like attachment that slides over your waistband, securing the holster. The advantage of paddle holsters is that they can be quickly put on or removed without needing a belt. This makes them a great choice for those who prefer to avoid wearing a belt or need to take their holster on and off frequently.

Paddle holsters offer excellent stability and retention, making them popular for open and concealed carry. They are available in various materials, such as Kydex, leather, and nylon, allowing you to choose the one that suits your preferences and needs.

2. Pancake Holsters

Pancake holsters are known for their slim profile and versatility. They are designed to sit close to your body, offering excellent concealment and minimizing printing (the visibility of the firearm through clothing). Pancake holsters typically have two slots for threading your belt, which helps distribute the weight of the firearm evenly and reduces discomfort.

One of the advantages of pancake holsters is their adaptability to different carrying positions. Whether you prefer strong-side carry, appendix carry, or small-of-the-back carry, a well-designed pancake holster can accommodate your needs. This flexibility makes them an excellent choice for those who like to switch their carry position depending on the situation.

3. Belt Slide Holsters

Belt slide holsters are a classic OWB style that has stood the test of time. These holsters feature slots or loops that allow you to slide them onto your belt. The firearm is held securely close to your body, making it easy to conceal under a jacket or untucked shirt.

One of the key advantages of belt slide holsters is their simplicity and reliability. They are typically made from durable materials like leather or Kydex, ensuring long-lasting performance. However, it’s important to note that they may require a good-quality gun belt to provide optimal stability and comfort.

4. Duty Holsters

Duty holsters are designed primarily for law enforcement and security personnel. These holsters prioritize security and retention above all else. They often come with retention devices such as thumb breaks, hoods, or locking mechanisms to prevent unauthorized access to the firearm.

While duty holsters may not be the first choice for everyday civilian carry due to their complexity and bulk, they are worth considering if you prioritize maximum security and retention. If you are a law enforcement officer or have a job demanding a high level of firearm security, a duty holster might be the right choice.

OWB Holster Materials

In addition to holster styles, it’s essential to consider the material of your OWB holster. Here are some common options:

  • Kydex: Kydex holsters are known for their durability, lightweight, and excellent retention. They offer a secure fit and can be molded precisely to your firearm.
  • Leather: Leather holsters are known for their classic appearance and comfort. They mold to your body over time, offering a personalized fit. However, they may require more maintenance.
  • Nylon: Nylon holsters are affordable and lightweight. While they may lack the rigidity of Kydex or the style of leather, they can be a practical choice for some users.

Holster Cant and Position

The cant of a holster refers to the angle at which the firearm is carried. Different holsters offer various cant options, including straight drop, forward cant, and reverse cant. The choice of cant depends on your preferred draw style and comfort. Experiment with different cants to find what works best for you.

The position of your OWB holster is also crucial. Common positions include strong-side carry (3 o’clock position), appendix carry (front of the body), and small-of-the-back carry. Your body shape, clothing choices, and comfort preferences will influence the best position for you.


Selecting the right OWB holster style is a personal decision that should be based on your needs and preferences. Whether you opt for the quick accessibility of a paddle holster, the versatility of a pancake holster, the simplicity of a belt slide holster, or the security of a duty holster, remember to prioritize safety, comfort, and retention.

Before making a final choice, consider trying different holsters and positions to see what feels most comfortable and practical for your everyday carry needs. Remember that a high-quality gun belt is often just as important as the holster, providing the necessary support and stability.

By understanding the various OWB holster styles and materials available, you can make an informed decision that ensures your firearm’s safety and overall comfort and confidence while carrying. So, take your time, research, and find the holster OWB that perfectly complements your lifestyle and preferences.

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