Shoulder Holster vs Belt Holster: How Should I Conceal?

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Shoulder Holster vs Belt Holster: How Should I Conceal?

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    When you decide to conceal and carry, one of the most important decisions you have to make is where to place your firearm on your body when you go out. You want to keep your gun hidden yet accessible in a self-defense situation. 

    While you can strap your firearm in a few places, two standard holster placements are at the waist or shoulder. 

    Neither holster type is superior, but one may be more useable in a specific situation over the other. In this blog, we will explore some of the pros and cons of each holstering method. 

    For more specifics on the advantages of different holster systems, consult with your concealed carry instructor or other self-defense specialists for more info.

    Variations for using a Belt Holster: Waist Holstering

    A waist holster is the default position for most concealed carriers. The concealed carry community widely accepts it. There are two primary placements for a waist carry: outside the waistband (OWB) and inside (IWB). 

    Outside the Waistband Carry (OWB)

    When you carry outside of your waistband with a belt holster, you most likely will place your firearm on the same side as your strong hand (at the 3 or 9 o’clock position) for a quick draw. The only way to conceal OWB is with a long enough garment. You will need to wear a long shirt untucked or a jacket to keep the firearm concealed.

    Inside the Waistband Carry (IWB)

    When you place your firearm inside your waistband, you have a few more options for concealment. 

    • The top placement for IWB is the “kidney carry,” or placing your firearm at the 4 or 8 o’clock position on your back, depending on your dominant hand. This placement allows for quick access with your strong side hand while keeping your firearm concealed. These holsters usually clip to the belt to stay in the same place.
    • Another IWB placement is at your frontside called an “appendix carry.” With an appendix carry, your firearm will be a few inches from your pants button. 
    • The last IWB placement we’ll discuss is the “small of the back carry.” This concealed carry position puts your firearm directly at the center of your back. It’s the least commonly used as it can be uncomfortable to have a gun at your back while seated for long periods.

    Pros and Cons of Waist and Belt Holsters


    • The waist is the most common placement for concealed firearms as it’s an easy position to draw. 
    • The concealed carry community accepts the waist as the standard placement.
    • IWB carriers can conceal most of, if not their whole firearm, without additional clothing.
    • The path from draw to fire is short.
    • Unlike other concealment methods, you can theoretically carry a full-sized pistol with a waist carry.


    • Since the waist is the most widely-used position for concealed carry, those who wish to harm you may suspect the placement.
    • The backside IWB is one of the most accessible spots to steal a firearm.
    • Certain IWBs can be uncomfortable after long periods, especially the “small of the back carry.”
    • It can be challenging to draw from the waist while seated.

    After delving into the pros and cons of the waist holster, let’s take a look at shoulder holsters to see if they should be your concealment method of choice.

    The Pros and Cons of Shoulder Holsters

    A shoulder holster can be a viable option for concealed carry in some situations. Before using a shoulder holster, you may ask, “are shoulder holsters legal in my state?” For concealed carry, you can use a shoulder holster in any situation you would use a waist holster. As long as you completely conceal your gun, it has the same use case.

    Unlike a waist or belt holster, there is generally only one way to carry a shoulder holster: under the left or right arm opposite of your dominant hand. You can use a concealed shoulder holster if you wear a jacket or other covering layer that can open quickly.


    • Shoulder holsters can be more comfortable than IWB holsters. 
    • Shoulder holsters are the most accessible holster while seated.
    • Shoulder holsters usually have a slot for extra magazines or ammunition on the side opposite of the firearm.
    • Shoulder holsters may be a better option if you aren’t wearing a belt. 
    • Shoulder holsters can work well in colder weather or conditions where you are wearing several layers.  


    • To contrast the last pro-point, you have to wear several layers for a shoulder holster to work. If the weather is too warm, a shoulder holster isn’t feasible for concealed carry.
    • Shoulder holsters can get heavy and cause the concealed carrier to slouch if they don’t use proper posture.
    • Shoulder holsters can restrict movement.
    • Shoulder holsters require you to draw across your body, which takes longer than drawing from your hip. The movement can also alert an attacker that you have a firearm.

    Alternative Concealed Carry Methods to Consider

    If you are looking for the best concealed carry method that doesn’t require a belt or traditional pants, there are a few options you can go with that aren’t a shoulder holster. Belly belts are a viable alternative if you need something that won’t slip. 

    Remember these three items when deciding on a concealed carry method:

    1. What you wear on a normal basis
    2. What you do throughout your day
    3. How large your sidearm

    Contact your local concealed carry instructor for more information if you have any other questions about concealed carry.

    Non-Holster Gun Concealment Options for Home

    If you are looking for a way to conceal your firearm at home while keeping it accessible, check out some of our most popular concealment flags, gun concealment wall art pieces, concealment furniture items or gun storage home decor solutions.

    Have questions about our concealment furniture? Give us a call, send us an email or fill out a contact form for more information.

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