If you are in a hurry picking out the most comfortable IWB holster, our research suggests that the AllenGear ShapeShift 4.0 is the most comfortable concealed carry holster.
Are Inside the Waistband Holsters Comfortable?
Inside the waistband (IWB) holsters are comfortable to carry IF you have the right rig for the job, and know how to properly position the holster. Yet, for many concealed carrying with an inside the waistband(IWB) is a funny thing: When they first start carrying, people usually are worrying about how to conceal their weapon. We’ve all been there. It’s nerve-wracking to think about inadvertently revealing the pistol. Of course, as carriers gain experience, they realize that finding one of the most comfortable holsters is really what they need to be concerned with.
So how do you find a comfortable IWB holster that’ll keep your weapon secured and your willingness to carry intact? That was our most recent question in the Outdoor Method labs, and now we are ready to present our research to you. Let’s get to work.
Our List Of The Most Comfortable Holsters
What Is Inside The Waistband (IWB) Carrying?
The definition of inside the waistband (IWB) carrying is a method of carrying your firearm between your waistband and your body. One of the critical components of this method is what the holster you will be using, known as an IWB holster.
What is an IWB Holster?
An inside-the-waistband or IWB holster is what it sounds like, a holster designed to ride inside the waistband of the carrier’s pants, usually attaching to the belt through a clip. Some allow the wearer to tuck in a shirt, and some require an untucked shirt as a cover garment. Most IWB holsters feature only rudimentary retention devices at best since the bulk of the holster rides inside the user’s clothing.
Comfort vs. Function
Before we go any further let us define comfort. When we talk about comfort, we mean whether the piece is physically comfortable to wear and access in a variety of situations and positions, and how that’s affected by certain factors. The simple truth is that you could have a holster that has more features than a Swiss Army Knife, and yet if it is not comfortable, it will end up in a closet. So with that in mind, let’s look at what key factors play into how comfortable a holster is.
- Cant of the holster– A holster’s cant is the angle your pistol is carried at while in the holster. A way to improve the comfort of a rig is by getting a holster with adjustable cant. Adjustable cant gives you the ability to adjust the rid angle of your holster and gun. This will improve how comfortable the rig is while you are wearing it. It also allows for better concealment and enables you to have a quicker draw time because the pistol grip is right where you want it.
- Ride height of holster– The holsters ride height is how low or high it rids on your waistband. Rigs with an adjustable ride height will allow you to determine how low or high a holster will ride on your waistline and adding to the holsters comfort level.
- Material of holster– Arguably, the most significant factor affecting comfort is what material a holster is made of. So we decided to dig into this topic a little further and report our findings below.
Leather vs. Kydex vs. Neoprene
As we mentioned above, it can be argued that the material a holster is made of is the single most significant contributing factor of comfort when it comes to a holster. There are many different materials used to make a holster,, too many to review in this article, but we did highlight some of the most commonly used ones below.
Leather– Everybody loves the feel of leather on their skin, and a leather holster is no different. Many people consider a leather holster to be the most comfortable concealed carry holster you can buy. Add that current manufacturing techniques allow for the leather to bend more efficiently, and it is clear why so many people love this material so much.
However, leather is not without its faults. For one thing, as a leather holster continues to be broken in, it will continue to lose the retention it has on the pistol. As a result, you run the risk of your gun falling out of the holster creating a dangerous situation. Another issue is that as you sweat, leather tends to create friction between your skin and the leather. This means you run the risk of rubbing your skin raw.
Kydex– On the opposite side we have IWB holsters made of Kydex material. Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride material made in the USA. Its claim to fame is its durability and flexibility to be modeled when heated up.
Just like any hard plastic, it does not feel the best against skin due to how hard it is. Kydex also is not very flexible and can jab into you when you bend over, sit down, or just move around.
Neoprene- Have you ever had to use a knee or back brace? If you have, you know what neoprene is. This is a soft, flexible material that is gentle against the skin and does an excellent job of wicking sweat away from the body. When it comes to a comfortable material, you cannot do much better than neoprene.
Now that we told you how amazing neoprene is lets review what sucks about about it. Many holsters that are made with neoprene calm to be “breathable,” but the truth is this material can start to make your skin feel hot. It also has been known to stick to a person’s skin from time to time. Finally, there is always the risk that you are allergic to neoprene, so if you have never come into contact with the material, check for redness and itchiness the site it touches your skin the first few times you put it on.
You might be thinking, man, if only we could merge a hard plastic material with a backing that is soft like leather for a holster we’d be in business. Well, hold off sending your patent to the patent office, because somebody has beaten you to it. A hybrid holster will have a rigid material like Kydex as the shell of the rig protecting your firearm, but has the backing of its base made up of leather or neoprene to ensure the holster is as comfortable as possible.
Big and bold, the AlienGear ShapeShift 4.0 starts our lineup with a full-featured offering. Keys to the comfort this holster provides is the steel-reinforced core, adjustable cant, adjustable ride height, and its base that has a neoprene back.
The design of the ShapeShift 4.0 core is to conform to the contours of your body, alleviating pressure points around the holster. The adjustable cant allows you to customize at what angle you carry your firearm. Next, you have the adjustable ride height that will allow you to wear the holster as deep or as high as you want it. The neoprene base is soft to the touch and does not need to be broken in or will not break down over time as a leather holster will. AlienGear has also expanded the base of the holster to distribute the pressure caused by wearing the holster over a larger area.
Yes, while we did state that neoprene can become very hot against the skin the holster comes into contact with such a small area of the body’s surface area, it should not bother you and will feel better than Kydex directly to the skin. When using this holster, just make sure you’ve got the belt, pants, and shirt to keep your pistol concealed. We have to discuss the ShapeShift 4.0 at length in another post, so head on over for a detailed breakdown.
Next on our list is The Defender by Relentless Tactical. This holster is made from real leather and has a nice metal clip that has proven to withstand the test of time. It is also very versatile, unlike a lot of holsters out there, and will fit many concealed size guns. However, its real claim to fame is how comfortable it is, and many consider it the most comfortable IWB holster on the market.
Which we can see why people think this, but you can not adjust the height or cant of the holster, meaning where it rides when you first put it on is the way it will continue to ride. Then you have to remember this is a leather holster, and just like all leather holsters, it will breakdown over time. Still, if you want a leather IWB holster, you cannot find a more comfortable rig.
The ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band represents an alternative take on IWB carry. No belt, no problem – this design supports its weight and offers both concealment and retention for your pistol. Heck, it’s even slimming. The band is made of neoprene material and includes pouches for magazines, and it also has a hard plastic trigger guard for safety.
Once you have wrapped this rig around you, it will stay in place, even when you’re doing some light exercising while feeling gentle against your skin. The retention strap adds an extra layer of confidence for the wearer; that pistol isn’t going anywhere. The magazine pouch, on the other hand, does not have a similar strap, so if you’re going to be especially active, you should perhaps forgo the extra mag.
This belly band holster is an excellent option for people whose clothing will not support most IWB holsters such as workout pants. It is important to note that this rig is best to be used with lighter weapons.
It is essential to remember that neoprene has a nasty habit of getting hot while wearing, and with this holster going all-around your midsection, it can heat up in a hurry. You especially want to be careful using this holster in hot weather due to the risk of excessive sweating and the potential for dehydration — all in all, this is a reliable option for folks who want to carry without a belt.
Conclusion: Picking Out the Most Comfortable IWB Holster
Most people only worry about concealment when first wearing an IWB holster, but as you know, if something is uncomfortable odds are you will not wear it for very long. If you are looking for a reliable holster that conceals well and quite possibly could be considered the most comfortable IWB holster look at the AlienGear ShapeShift 4.0. It has the toughness of Kydex to protect your weapon and the soft feeling of neoprene against your skin. This is enough for any holster to be comfortable. Still, AlienGear stepped it up a notch and gave us the ability to customize the way the holster rides with adjustable cant and adjustable ride height.
So what do you think? Did we miss anything? What are your criterias for a comfortable holster? Let us know below, and do not forget to share this article with others and check out our article on the best iwb holster!