I can almost assure you that, whoever came up with that old cliché “a match made in heaven” must have been a gunslinger.
If ever so true of any product, one can readily assume there are few, if any, such a dependent interaction between two of anything as those between a gun and a holster.
So much so to where one may even conclude that a gun and a holster are “mutually exclusive” to each other, meaning one cannot exist without the other.
Nowadays, as you all know, the added variables resulting from all the different gun types, calibers, makes, models, styles, etc., etc., have grown exponentially and so have the holsters to accommodate them.
As well you can imagine, buying a holster in today’s marketplace can become an overwhelming undertaking and that’s where I come in.
To be sure, I have already done all the dirty work for you.
So, allow me please, if you will, to narrow down the alternatives to but a few of the choices which I believe can best match your specific needs.
In a Rush? Here's The QUick List:
What is an OWB Holster?
So, our journey today begins by defining what an OWB holster is.
A OWB holster or Outside the Waistband holster, as the name implies, is one that you wear outside of your waistband.
For some of us, the OWB may be the preferred option over their IWB or Inside the Waistband counterparts, simply because the OWB is relatively more comfortable, however less secure.
Meaning it’s easier for others to access as well as it can be harder to conceal, speaking of which, there are, as always, advantages and disadvantages which you need to consider.
Advantages of an OWB Holster
You do not have to be a rocket scientist, nor do you need to have a degree in engineering to figure out that OWB holsters are just more comfortable.
The fact that your handgun does not rest against your body makes these holsters more comfortable to wear – that simple.
Ease of draw and reholstering
Admittedly, OWB holsters also provide for a much faster and swifter draw and re-holstering, thus their preferred choice by police, military, and most all law-enforcement personnel.
Dressing & clothing issues
So, if you are the type that is used to wearing clothes loosely, OWB holsters are for you.
Matter of fact, you may even have to bring it up a notch in size as OWB’s demand a loser garment to help with concealment, disguise, and printing issues.
Disadvantages of an OWB Holster
Concealment & disguise
The primary disadvantage to OWB holsters is, by far, the fact that their disguise and concealment capabilities do take a backseat to their IWB counterparts.
The fact that your weapon will rest outside the waistband makes it more difficult to conceal and obviously more prone to printing.
Besides the concealment drawback, the fact that your firearm is exposed on the outside of your waistband makes it easier or more likely for it to fall out of the holster and/or simpler for someone to yank it from you – all told, yes, somewhat less secure than their counterparts.
Dressing & clothing issues
For those who prefer fitted-type clothing, OWB holsters are not for you.
The fact that your firearm is resting outside your waistband rules out tucking of shirts for fitted clothing.
So, now that I have covered some of the basics, how about I give you my choice of the ten best OWB holsters.
Mind you though, my preferences are not governed by any price-point criterion, I will leave that up to you.
My choices, instead, are strictly based on features typically considered critical when deciding which is the best OWB holster you can buy.
What Are The Best OWB Holsters
1. Safariland 7377 7TS
At number one in my choices for best OWB holsters comes the Safariland 7377 7TS.
This one is concealment-driven, made by one of the best holster manufacturers in the world.
No wonder it is one of the most popular choices among the law-enforcement community.
The Safariland fits tight to the body and has adjustable belt loops and a comfortable paddle for everyday wear.
The Safariland has an Automatic Locking System [ALS], which offers great retention.
If retention is what you are looking for, this is your you, while it does not compromise an easy release in any way.
I tested this one in multiple draws and found it to have a great ride.
I was able to wear it with my 1.5” to 2.5” belts in forward, straight down, or rearward cants.
Made with a proprietary non-abrasive Nylon it offers a simple straight draw.
2. Desantis Speed Scabbard
Taking the 2nd place in my choice of best OWB holsters is the Desantis Speed Scabbard.
Originally designed for plainclothes professionals, this one was designed for those who prefer holsters without a thumb-break.
I wore it with one of my 1.75” belts. It is made of high-quality cowhide leather.
Also comes in a pancake design – nothing to do with your favorite dessert, but all to do with a flat fitting carry, tight to body and relatively easy to conceal.
The Desantis’ are available for a ton of different revolvers.
It has protective “wings” which cover the hammer area while providing for passive retention, easy grip, and fast draw.
All told, the Desantis Speed Scabbard has the looks, the efficiency, and the safety which I am sure you too will like as I did.
3. Fobus Paddle Holster
At 3rd place in my list of favorites is the Fobus Paddle Holster.
I was swayed to this one mainly because of its light weight.
Maybe, or most likely, because of the few extra pounds I now carry.
At 2oz., this one was for me, besides the fact that it is a low-profile design for good concealability.
Molded from plastic material softer than Kydex, with a rubberized back for comfort, the Fobus was designed to be used with a belt and has passive retention.
The Fobus is surprisingly affordable.
Easy to put on and take off allowing for easy draw.
As far as I am concerned, the only downside is that they are made for right-handed folks, and also the fact that my 9mm did not fit as well as I would have wanted.
Other than that, if you happen to be right-handed, this one could well work for you.
4. Blackhawk T-Series L2C
At number 4 in my preferences for the best OWB holster comes the Blackhawk T-Series L2C.
And, at the top of my “wish-list” on this one is its thumb-driven active retention button for easy draw, which follows the Master Grip Principle.
The Blackhawk is lightweight, sturdy, safe and secure.
It is concealed-carrying friendly, rather comfortable using a traditional dual release belt loop.
It has smooth sound-dampening, and it is especially good for Glocks.
This one emphasizes silent draws and re-holstering.
5. Concealment Express Paddle Holster
Ranking at number 5 for me is the Concealment Express Paddle Holster.
Made in the U.S.A., the Concealment Express Paddle Holster has, as implied in the name, a paddle which provides for easy cant adjustment from -5 to + 20 degrees.
It has a nice footprint and adjustable points for good retention with a clicking sound.
The Paddle Holster accommodates threaded barrels and does not drag in drawing.
In my trials I thought it had good body fitment, ease of draw without too much drag.
Made of Kydex it comes with a lifetime warranty.
On this one, I only wish the sweat guard was not further in.
This is a Hip Carry Holster (3/9 O’clock).
6. Bravo Concealment BCA 3.0
The Bravo Concealment BCA 3.0 comes in as 6th in my list of preferred OWB holsters.
This one I submit to you is for those who are price conscious.
It was designed for OWB use but it is also convertible to IWB, offering the best of both worlds.
The Bravo’s 10°-degree cant enhances concealment with solid adjustable locking retention of the weapon.
It’s natural curve allows for easy tuckaway, good concealability and reduced printing.
It provides for a fully covered trigger.
This holster was designed with comfort and safety in mind, but as I said before, it is offered at a great price-point if you consider all it offers.
Made of Kydex, it has a good body fit.
It is also capable of accommodating threaded barrels, suppressor height sights and red dots.
The passive retention is adjustable via a single screw.
It features a tight-to-body design for concealed carry.
I personally liked this one to where it has become one of my most frequently used holsters.
7. Outlaw Holsters
At the number 7 post comes the Outlaw OWB holster.
So, I said in my introduction that I was not going to let the price-point be the governing criteria in my decision-making process.
That is, of course, unless I was able to find a holster out there that offered some really good value features for the money.
I think this one from Outlaw Holsters, is one that is affordable if yet has features that really won me over.
Made of Kydex, in the U.S.A., the Outlaw offers good concealability.
I found it to have a nice high ride while fitting closely to my body for good retention.
As far as comfort is concerned, frankly, it was fine when I was walking but not so much so when sitting or bending over.
Outlaw Holsters are form-fitted for over 125 different guns – not bad.
They come with a one-year replacement warranty which gave me a sense of confidence as far as wear and tear.
8. Concealment Express Belt Loop Holster
At the number 8 position of the best OWB holsters is the Concealment Express Belt Loop.
Made in the U.S.A., the Belt Loop is ambidextrous, easily swapped from right to left-handed configurations.
With a built-in magazine protection, it has a simple ride-height changing cant and adjustment.
Made of Kydex polymer, I can attest to its excellent durability and weather resistance.
I have exposed mine to the elements and it has held its own time and time again.
It allows for use of optics and a threaded barrel. Fits suppressor height sights.
Comes in a pancake-like design for tight fit to body and easy concealment.
Weights only 3 ounces and has smooth rounded and tapered edges.
It features an audible click when holstering with excellent drawing capabilities.
Comes with a trigger guard and passive retention and I found it rather comfortable to wear.
I should say, you really can’t go wrong with this Belt Loop.
9. Blackhawk Serpa CQC
At number 9 in best OWB holsters comes the Blackhawk Serpa featuring a unique speed cut design which provides for quick and easy draw.
The Blackhawk Serpa also has a great Level 2 retention for concealed carry.
Blackhawk Serpas are versatile for ambidextrous use.
My personal experience qualifies this one as one of the best OWB holsters for its security with its belt loop and paddle system.
I had good drawing and holstering experiences along with smooth draws with the Blackhawk Serpa.
It features an excellent Auto Locking retention system with index finger release that translates to increased safety of draw.
The Blackhawk is popular with uniformed patrol officers.
It accommodates approximately 40 different handguns.
I can say, for me, it was comfortable.
The paddles are curved for a nice fit to the hip.
10. Galco Combat Master
At the 10th spot in my list, I placed the Galco Combat Master.
Made of premium steerhide high quality leather which, in my humble opinion, is not quite as hard as Kydex.
I was able to use it with a belt up to 1.75” inches.
I found it comfortable and with little or no printing.
The Galco made for a smooth and snag-free draw and re-holstering.
It is available for small and large semi-automatic revolvers for both righties and lefties as well.
It offers a pancake style for easy concealment and they are hand molded.
The open-top design allowed me for a rapid draw as I was able to also accommodate a good full grip as well.
What to look for in terms of OWB styles
While I was pleased to give you some of my preferred choices for best OWB Holsters you can buy, I want to also give you some pointers as to what you can expect to be available for you out there in terms of the most popular styles.
Open-Top OWB holsters are common among law enforcement personnel who need easy access while in their line-of-duty.
The rest of us, outside law-enforcement, however, can just as well enjoy the benefits of the easy-access offered by the Open-Top models.
There are many who, like me, will look favorably upon OWB holsters only because of the added safety feature of a thumb-break design which prevents assailants from possibly removing the weapon.
Among the many different styles of OWB holsters available today in the marketplace, you should always strive to look for those designed to wear comfortably while not sacrificing their concealment capabilities.
Features such as paddles, backings or otherwise material composition should always be a forefront consideration in the purchase of an OWB holster.
Summary and Conclusion
OWB, outside the waistband holsters offer uniquely improved capabilities as far their comfort and easy-to-draw features, thus becoming the preferred choice for many in the law-enforcement community.
Traditionally OWB holsters are worn slightly forward at the three o’clock carry position.
While the OWB holsters are more obvious to carry in public, this drawback is greatly offset by allowing for easy access and re-holstering.
When on the range, you need straightforward re-holstering which you will get with an OWB holster.
An added-value feature of OWB holsters is that they happen to be well-suited for beginners as they do not have the pressures associated with tucking a weapon closely to your body or the pressure of a belt pull, which, at times can become unpleasant and annoying in carrying your weapon.
Besides all else, I think it is fair to say that OWB holsters reign supreme in comfort as they allow for you to carry them with virtually no restrictions on clothing.
As I said earlier, for the most part, you can wear your normal size garment without fear of printing.
I will concede to the fact that, yes, OWB may be, in fact, somewhat less secure due to the obvious exposure which comes with the territory.
Having said that, however, I will also acknowledge that OWB’s greatly offset the security issue with their superior drawing and re-holstering capabilities.
One last thing I must remind you though.
At the end of the day, regardless, choosing the OWB holster that is best suited for you is and should be a very personal decision as, ultimately it will be your holster not mine.
While I have tried to give you some of my preferred choices of the best OWB holster now available in the marketplace and while I have also tried to provide you with some parameters as to what to look for when buying an OWB holster, in the end, it will still be your choice and no one else’s.
I just hope to have been somewhat instrumental in helping you make that difficult choice.
Wish you good luck!