Outside-the-waistband (OWB) holsters are the most recognized carry rigs, simply because they’re the most visible style. This external-carry method is associated with military and law-enforcement use, but armed citizens can also take advantage of its benefits.
These rigs provide quick, easy access to a pistol. Since the bulk of the holster and gun are located away from the body, OWB designs can be built larger and sturdier and can include different levels of retention that add security.
That said, OWB holsters are much harder to conceal effectively than other designs. They can also block access to pockets where you keep your keys or wallet, and they require the use of a sturdy belt.
Comp-Tac Victory Gear Warrior Stealth By and large, OWB holsters tend to be bulkier and harder to conceal. The Warrior Stealth, however, heads in the opposite direction with a design that snugs the holster and gun tight to the body, making it easier for wearers to conceal their carry setup with a cover garment. The holster still provides all the benefits of a traditional OWB system, allowing for a fast draw and easy accessibility. Constructed entirely from Kydex, the Warrior Stealth is adjustable for cant, retention and ride height. An open bottom also adds the opportunity to carry guns with threaded barrels and suppressor-height sights. MSRP: $75; comp-tac.com
Fobus | Evolution With a single-piece body made from injection-molded polymer, the Fobus Evolution holster is built to be both durable and affordable. To secure a user’s gun, the rig features a passive-retention design that can be adjusted for tension through an adjustment screw located just beneath the trigger guard of the holstered firearm. Securing the holster to a belt involves threading the belt through the riveted belt-attachment slot located on the back side of the system. A raised sight channel offers added flexibility for the user, accommodating many aftermarket sights. MSRP: $38.99; fobusholster.com
Front Line | Open-Top LKC Built with a unique blend of Kydex and leather, Front Line’s Open-Top LKC is a hybrid design unlike many others on the market. Rather than having a molded-Kydex shell attached to a leather backer, the LKC features multiple layers in its construction, with smooth-side leather bonded to the exterior of a Kydex shell and suede leather bonded to the interior of the holster. This provides consumers with the classic look of a leather holster combined with the retentive rigidity of Kydex. The suede-leather interior protects the gun’s finish against abrasion. MSRP: $85.50; frontlineholsters.com
Mission First Tactical | H1911OWB In keeping with the company’s drive to use revolutionary materials in the construction of its products, Mission First Tactical forms its OWB holsters from Boltaron, a form of thermoplastic designed for increased durability. Each holster is form-fitted and finished by hand at the company’s facility and features a number of customizable features, including cant and ride-height adjustment. The system ships standard with 1.75-inch belt clips, and the passive-retention design produces an audible click when a holstered gun slides into position. Other clips sold separately make IWB and appendix carry possible. MSRP: $69.99; missionfirsttactical.com
Safariland Model 578 GLS Pro-Fit Holster With the ability to accommodate more than 225 different firearms, the innovative Pro-Fit holster from Safariland provides a secure option for most popular models on the market. The system incorporates the company’s Grip Lock System, which automatically secures the gun in position when holstered. To release, a lever located on the inside edge of the holster mouth is depressed when the wearer obtains a natural firing grip, allowing for a smooth draw. Durability is enhanced through the use of SafariSeven nylon blend in its construction, offering a temperature-resistant, low-maintenance carry rig that won’t mar a gun’s finish. MSRP: $55; safariland.com