The Most Comfortable Concealed Carry Holsters

The Most Comfortable Concealed Carry Holsters

Written by Mark Buff , GunZee founder and CEO.

A good holster can make all the difference for those long days carrying concealed. We’ll explore the comfortable holster options for different body types and carrying styles. 

Quick links:

What makes a holster comfortable?

Most comfortable carry positions

Best IWB holster

Best OWB holster

Best belly band holster

Best ankle holster

Best leather holster

We’ll look at some of the best holsters on the market so you can carry concealed without hating it.

If you’re packing heat in an IWB position, our holster pad will make any KYDEX holster wear like a dream. Apply a GunZee pad to the inside of the holster and the memory foam will make uncomfortable holsters a thing of the past.

 

GunZees holster, a 3-layer slow-rebound memory foam cushion that is placed between your holster and your body

 

Just listen to what our customer Ryan had to say in his five-star review after buying the GunZee Mini:

“I have been needing a way to maximize my comfort and exercise my right to carry. My holster was uncomfortable and the slide bit into my stomach for appendix carry. I have been waiting ages for a…solution to my kydex holster. I could not be happier with this…Thanks to you guys I can wear and focus on feeling comfort instead of looking like a goober who’s constantly adjusting and being obvious.”

Now, on to the topic of holsters.

What Makes a Holster Comfortable?

There’s no universally perfect holster. What’s comfortable for one person might be godawful to the next. As one redditor points out, "comfortable is subjective." 

Reddit commenter talks about comfort of CCW holsters—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

Comfort is not only subjective, but it’s also dependent on a whole lot of different factors. The following is a list of issues you should be thinking about. Note that some of these factors—for example, “concealability” and “quick draw”—are in competition with each other, meaning that optimizing for one might reduce the other. It’s up to you to find the right balance between them.

  1. Carry position. Some like IWB holsters, while others prefer OWB. Appendix carry works for many, but not for everyone. Still others swear by chest, belly band, or even bra holsters.
  2. Material and construction. Leather holsters are softer than rigid KYDEX, even though KYDEX has better safety and retention. Hybrid holsters offer the best of both worlds for many shooters.
  3. Concealability. Go with a holster that minimizes printing. A good appendix holster seems to print less for many people.
  4. Quick draw. You want quick and easy access to your firearm. Practice drawing (with gun unloaded) from different holsters and carry positions.
  5. Comfort while sitting. You want your holster to be comfortable while sitting, but many folks struggle with this. Appendix carry seems to be a favorite position for long periods of seated carry. Check out our article on seated appendix carry for more on this. 
  6. Clothing styles. Tight yoga wear will limit your options a lot more than baggy jeans and flannel shirts.
  7. Pad any KYDEX holster with a GunZee memory foam pad. It makes inside the waistband carry a whole lot more comfortable.

What is the Most Comfortable CCW Position?

There are holsters designed for specific concealed carry positions and carry styles. So, what’s the most comfortable concealed carry position? It really depends. The best we can do is go over some common positions, and the holsters associated with them, and give you some general advice. From there, it’s up to you to go try them out.

IWB and AIWB Holsters

IWB holsters can be worn in different positions (side carry, appendix, 5 o’clock, etc.). Appendix holsters are a popular choice, but by no means the only option in the world of IWB concealed carry.

Pros:

  • Safety
  • Good retention
  • Stiff material, trigger guard protected
  • Concealability—not too much printing, depending of course on clothing type
  • Decent draw speed: not as fast as OWB, but better than other positions
  • Good adjustability—height, cant, angle, position, retention
  • Many folks are able to wear them for extended periods, especially with a GunZee memory foam holster pad

Cons:

  • Can be less comfortable when sitting, depending on body type and holster
  • Printing with tight clothing or for some body types

Many people choose IWB for deep concealment and have great success. With the right type of holster, you should too.

OWB Holsters

OWB (outside the waistband) holsters come in a variety of styles (thigh, drop-leg, belt, etc.). As a general rule, these are great for quick access to your firearm, not so great for deep concealment. 

Pros:

  • Safety 
  • Passive retention
  • Stiff material, trigger guard protected
  • Fast draw speed
  • Good adjustability: height, cant, angle, position, retention
  • Multiple configurations available: thigh/belt, drop leg, etc. 
  • Generally more comfortable than IWB

Cons: OWB holsters are notoriously difficult to hide. They’re terrible for deep concealment; great for open carry.

Shoulder and Chest Holsters

Shoulder and chest holsters help distribute the weight of heavier and larger pistols. Advanced shooters often choose them for full-size concealed carry

Pros:

  • Potentially decent draw speed depending on clothing options
  • Active or passive retention, depending on model
  • Either leather or KYDEX, molded to firearm shape
  • Good adjustability
  • More comfortable for seated concealed carry than IWB for most people

Cons:

  • You need the right clothing to pull this off, otherwise, you’ll print like a mother
  • Bulky and heavy, can place strain on shoulders and back

Belly Band Holsters

With the right clothing choices, a belly band holster can work really well for some. Usually, these are limited to carrying subcompact and microcompact guns, as heavier firearms will tend to pull on the elastic too much. 

Pros:

  • Fits all body types and positions
  • Good for sitting for prolonged periods
  • Decent adjustability
  • Easy to conceal with looser clothing

Cons:

  • Can’t wear tight clothing
  • Sweating from having the gun against the skin
  • Fairly poor draw speed

Pocket Holsters

A pocket holster works for very small guns; anything bigger than a microcompact will be bulky for pocket carry. 

Pros:

  • Fairly safe: chances of an accidental discharge is low
  • Good active retention
  • Stiff material, trigger guard protected
  • Easy to conceal: with tiny guns like the Ruger LCP, your entire package (gun plus holster) is about the size of a thick wallet, so people shouldn’t think anything of that picket bulge
  • Fairly comfortable

Cons:

  • Limited to microcompacts
  • Poor accessibility
  • Holster and gun might fall out of pocket

Bra Holsters

For the ladies, bra holsters can provide an interesting alternative to other carrying positions. The efficacy of this position depends in large part on bust size and other factors. 

Pros:

  • Excellent concealment for the right body type
  • No pressure on the waistband—the weight is distributed across the torso

Cons:

  • Limited to smaller, lightweight guns
  • Fit issues: it can be a challenge to find the right bra holster that properly fits your specific body shape
  • Potential printing, depending on body type
  • Slower draw speed

Ankle Holsters

Ankle holsters aren’t a true contender here. In most cases, they’re used for a backup gun, and not a primary EDC firearm. Still, we thought we’d cover them anyway.

Pros:

  • Good for sitting for prolonged periods
  • Decent adjustability

Cons:

  • Slowest draw speed
  • Need to wear loose pants to avoid printing
  • Weight interferes with gait
  • Limited to tiny guns

Comfort of Different Holster Materials

Your choice of holster materials will influence how comfortable the holster is, especially if it’s an IWB or AIWB holster. Unfortunately, some of the most comfortable options are the least safe and secure.

  • KYDEX, Boltaron, and polymer holsters are rigid and custom-molded to provide a secure fit and good retention for your firearm. Their rigidity can be uncomfortable, digging into your body. Our awesome holster padding fixes this issue.
  • Hybrid holsters combine different materials, usually fabric or leather with KYDEX, to offer a balance between comfort and retention. The soft material against the body can provide a more comfortable feel compared to full KYDEX holsters. Unfortunately, hybrid designs tend to be bulkier.
  • Leather holsters are softer and more flexible, which makes them more comfortable. They are also more expensive and have less secure retention than their KYDEX counterparts.
  • Nylon, Cordura, and fabric holsters are more comfortable than KYDEX and cheaper than leather. Like leather, they have poor retention, making them more hazardous.

Principles of Comfort

Follow these general principles to maximize the comfort of your CCW experience.

  • Find the carry method that agrees with you: experiment with IWB, OWB, shoulder carry, and more. Experiment to learn what works for you based on your body type, clothing style, and priorities (for example, is concealment the most important thing, or do you prize accessibility above all else?).
  • Choose the right holster type based on your carry method and firearm: after you know your preferred concealed carry position—and you presumably own a specific gun—find the right holster type for your chosen position and weapon. You’ll want to find a holster specifically made for your gun. 
  • Test different holster materials (e.g., KYDEX, leather), and retention methods (passive or active) to find the optimal balance of comfort and security.
  • Get a good gun belt: you want a belt designed specifically for concealed carry. Make sure it has a reinforced core and adjustable buckle. You’ll thank us later.
  • Design your wardrobe accordingly: some clothes conceal a lot better than others. You’ll need to experiment to find what conceals best for you based on your body type and style preferences. Looser clothes are a plus.
  • Invest in quality holster accessories: holster padding, sweat guards, and other accessories can improve your experience dramatically. 

Most Comfortable AIWB Holster

The Tier 1 Axis Elite is one of the best appendix carry holsters on the market, in our opinion (and also in the opinions of many other AIWB enthusiasts). It’s known for its comfort and functionality.

  • Slim design for comfortable and discreet concealed carry.
  • Features a concealment ridge on the magazine for added discretion.
  • Magazine retention has been moved inside the holster, reducing its overall size.
  • Accommodates optics and suppressor height sights for enhanced versatility.
  • Offers more ergonomic access to the magazine.
  • Strategically placed gusseting enhances strength in critical areas.
  • Non-light-bearing holsters feature a concealment wing, while light-bearing holsters come with a concealment claw.
  • Utilizes military-grade shock cord that allows the firearm to flex closer to the body for improved concealment and comfortable movement.
  • The shock cord can be easily replaced and is available in different colors.
  • Accommodates a GunZee holster pad, which makes it ten times more comfortable for those long days of concealed carry.

“Another added benefit is the claw attachment which pushes the grip of the gun in towards your body which decreases printing even further, so the holster flexes and the claw pushes against your belt pushing the gun nice and snug to your body as seen in the picture This does two things it allows the holster to conform to the shape of your body and flex and makes it more comfortable and more concealable - Win!” —Daniel, Holster Central

This redditor recommends the Axis. “Tier 1 has been the best holster and most comfortable.”

Reddit commenter recommends the Tier 1 Axis Elite holster—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

“This is the most comfortable holster I’ve ever used,” says this user.

Tier 1 Axis purchaser thinks this is the most comfortable holster ever—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

This purchaser has five Tier 1 holsters. “... all I can say it fits like a glove and super comfortable with and without a wedge.”

Purchaser loves the Tier 1 Axis Elite—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

Most Comfortable OWB Holster

The 1791 GunLeather OWB holster is arguably the best OWB holster on the market. It is handcrafted using premium, full-grain leather that looks good, is durable, and feels great. Here are some things we love about it:

  • Custom molded for a wide range of specific firearm models, ensuring a secure and snug hold.
  • Open-top design allows for a smooth and quick draw.
  • Thumb break strap is strategically placed to provide an additional layer of retention.
  • Adjustable cant angle lets you personalize the holster's positioning to achieve the most comfortable and natural draw angle for your body type and carry preference.
  • Crafted with reinforced stitching to enhance durability.
  • Sturdy belt loops that securely attach the holster to your belt.
  • Premium leather construction, combined with meticulous attention to detail, ensures a comfortable fit against your body throughout the day.

“I don’t even notice it’s there,” says this redditor about carrying his Glock 43 in the 1791 holster.

Redditor loves his 1791 OWB holster—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

Best Belly Band Holster

The Alien Gear Low-Pro belly band holster is one of the top belly band offerings out there. It offers adjustable retention, versatile carry positions, and an ambidextrous design. It works for a wide range of body types and personal preferences.

  • It’s made from a soft and breathable neoprene material that ensures all-day comfort. It is adjustable to fit various waist sizes and can be worn discreetly under clothing.
  • The holster pocket features Alien Gear's adjustable retention system, allowing you to customize the level of retention to securely hold your firearm in place.
  • It offers multiple carry positions, including appendix, hip, cross draw, and small of the back. This versatility allows you to find the most comfortable and accessible position for your preferred draw style.
  • The belly band includes additional magazine pouches that allow you to carry spare magazines or other small essentials alongside your firearm.
  • The holster is designed to accommodate both right-handed and left-handed shooters, providing flexibility and convenience for a wider range of users.
  • The slim and low-profile construction of the belly band helps to minimize printing and ensure a discreet carry, allowing you to maintain a low profile while still having quick access to your firearm.

This user thinks it’s pretty great.

Purchaser thinks the Alien Gear belly band holster is the best—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

Best Ankle Holster

The combination of neoprene construction, adjustable design, padding, and reinforced support make the CrossBreed Ankle Holster a top choice for comfortable ankle carry.

  • It is constructed with high-quality neoprene material. 
  • The holster features an adjustable ankle strap that allows you to customize the fit according to your leg size and comfort preferences.
  • The ankle holster is equipped with padding and reinforcement in key areas to provide additional comfort and support..
  • To accommodate different leg sizes and prevent the holster from slipping or moving during activity, the holster includes a wide calf strap. 
  • The holster itself is made from molded KYDEX, which offers excellent retention and protection for your firearm. 
  • It has an adjustable carry angle.

At NRA Shooting Illustrated, Jay Grazio talks about the CrossBreed ankle holster.

“An entire day with a 15 ounce revolver was entirely comfortable, with a mixture of driving, walking, sitting and even a short power walk at lunch time. It's a great way to hide a secondary pistol, and CrossBreed's Ankle holster lends comfort to the equation.”

Best Leather Holster

The Relentless Tactical Defender Leather IWB Holster is one of our favorite leather holsters. It’s made from genuine bullhide leather. 

  • The holster is handcrafted using premium bullhide leather. 
  • It’s custom-molded to fit specific gun models. 
  • The holster offers adjustable cant and ride height, allowing you to find the most comfortable and convenient position for your carry preference.
  • The holster features a sweat guard that acts as a barrier between the firearm and your body.
  • The opening of the holster is reinforced to maintain its shape and provide easy one-handed reholstering. 
  • It’s designed for inside the waistband carry, which offers excellent concealment. 

This Amazon purchaser was initially skeptical about the Defender, but now he loves it. 

Amazon commenter loves his Relentless Tactical Defender holster—The most comfortable concealed carry holsters.

Comfortable Holsters FAQ

What is the most comfortable concealed carry holster position?

The most comfortable concealed carry holster position varies from person to person, but appendix carry (AIWB) is often considered one of the most comfortable positions by many gun enthusiasts.

Are concealed carry holsters comfortable?

Holsters for concealed carry can be comfortable when properly chosen and fitted. Factors such as holster material, design, body type, clothing, and carrying position play a role in determining comfort. 

Is concealed carry supposed to be uncomfortable?

Concealed carry should not be uncomfortable. The goal is to carry your firearm in a way that is both secure and unobtrusive. Pain is not normal, and it's not something you have to just “get used to.” That’s why we created the GunZee holster pad. Apply it to your KYDEX holster and feel the discomfort melt away.

What is the best concealed carry holster for summer?

Some of the best CCW holsters for summer are:

  • Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB Holster
  • Safariland 7378 ALS Concealment Paddle Holster
  • Galco Ankle Glove Holster
  • Sticky Holsters MD-4 Medium Holster
  • Galco Classic Lite Shoulder Holster
  • CrossBreed Modular Belly Band Holster

Are leather holsters comfortable?

Leather holsters are usually comfortable. Leather molds and conforms to the shape of your body–and your firearm–over time, resulting in a comfortable fit for you, especially during extended periods of carry.

GunZee holster pad can bring the comfort of leather holster to the next lever.

Should you keep your gun loaded in a holster?

Most concealed carriers keep their guns loaded. If you’re going to keep a round chambered, practice extreme caution, undergo extensive safety training, and use a holster with a trigger guard.

Otherwise, don’t have a round chambered while carrying.

Can you sit down while concealed carrying?

You can sit down while concealed carrying, but it’s usually more uncomfortable, especially if you’re carrying IWB or appendix carry. The bending of your body tends to put more pressure against a holster, pushing the gun into your body more. Our holster pad can fix this issue by placing a nice layer of memory foam between the holster and your body.

What is the easiest position to conceal carry?

The easiest position to concealed carry for one person may be extremely difficult for another. Factors like body size, body shape, body composition, lifestyle, and fashion all affect how easy or difficult a position is. 

Appendix carry is easy for some and difficult for others. Ditto for other IWB positions. Or for belly band carry, bra holsters, and other carry options. The most important thing is to find what is easiest for you and go with that.

What is the best CCW carry position for fat guys?

Appendix carry or cross draw positions usually work best for fat guys. Finding the right CCW holster for bigger guys is also essential when they want to have good concealment and ease of draw, while distributing the weight of the firearm in a way that works with their body shape. 

What are the most comfortable IWB holsters for fat guys?

Here are some of the most comfortable holsters that fat guys can carry IWB:

  • Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 holster
  • Rounded Gear KYDEX IWB holster
  • StealthGearUSA Ventcore IWB holster
  • CrossBreed Supertuck IWB holster
  • Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB holster
  • Galco KingTuk IWB holster
  • Bravo Concealment Torsion 3.0 IWB holster
  • Vedder Holsters ComfortTuck IWB holster

What position of the holster is best for quick draws?

Strong-side hip carry is a popular favorite for quick draw. Appendix carry is another commonly-touted quick-draw position.

What angle is best for a shoulder holster?

The best angle for a shoulder holster is typically a horizontal or slightly forward cant. This allows for a natural and ergonomic draw motion. The horizontal angle ensures that the firearm is easily accessible and allows for a smooth and quick draw from the shoulder holster. 

What are the different types of holsters?

Here are the main types of concealed carry holsters:

  • Inside the waistband holsters
  • Outside the waistband holsters
  • Bra holsters
  • Belly band holsters
  • Thigh holsters
  • Chest holsters
  • Shoulder holsters
  • Ankle holsters
  • Cross draw holsters
  • Belt holsters
  • Paddle holsters

What are the best 9mm pistols for concealed carry?

The following guns tend to be universally included in lists of best 9mm concealed carry guns:

  • Glock 19
  • Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
  • Sig Sauer P365
  • Springfield XD-S
  • Walther PPS M2

What are the best gun accessories?

The best gun accessories enhance your shooting experience and improve your performance. Here are some top choices:

  • Red dot sights
  • Magazine carriers
  • Weapon lights
  • Holsters (IWB, OWB, appendix carry)
  • Extended magazine baseplates
  • Recoil management systems 
  • Upgraded triggers
  • Rail attachments (laser, flashlight)
  • Sling attachments
  • Grip enhancements 

What are useful holster accessories?

Here are some of the most useful holster accessories:

  • Belt clips and loops
  • Mounting hardware
  • Straps and retention devices
  • Wedges and pads, like our GunZee holster pad
  • Extensions)
  • Covers and protectors
  • Attachments for additional magazine carry
  • Mounting platforms
  • Belt adapters
  • Cleaning kits
About the author: Mark Buff is the founder and CEO of GunZee. He is an ardent firearms enthusiast and has been carrying concealed for more than 15 years. He created GunZee to solve his own problem: that of uncomfortable KYDEX holsters. His patented GunZee memory foam holster pad makes inside-the-waistband carry super comfortable.

Further Reading

What are the best semi-autos for deep concealment?

What are the best subcompact Glocks for concealed carry?

What are the best Springfield full-size guns?

What is the best Ruger for concealed carry?

What is the most comfortable 9mm subcompact?

What is the best single-stack gun for concealed carry?