Choosing the best concealed carry position is vital for you to be safe, comfortable, and effective.
After all, one of the main reasons for concealed carry is to protect yourself and your family. Carrying in the wrong position can destroy that goal.
Our team has tried every concealed carry position imaginable. We got together and listed all of the pros and cons of each and shared our experiences to put together this guide.
Keep reading to find out what we have learned and to pick the best concealed carry position for you.
Best Concealed Carry Positions
Selecting the best concealed carry position for you depends on your body shape, lifestyle, daily activities, the climate you live in, and the clothes that you wear. Fortunately, there are plenty of options.
There are two basic ways to carry around the waist. Inside the Waistband (IWB) and Outside the Waistband (OWB). These are the most common and the best ways to carry concealed.
As we discuss the various positions, we like to refer to the position on the body as numbers on a clock. 12 o’clock is directly in front of the body at the belly button. 3 o’clock is on the hip, and 6 o’clock is in the center of the back.
Here are the concealed carry positions we will focus on:
- IWB – 12-1 o’clock (appendix or AIWB)
- IWB – 3 o’clock (hip)
- IWB – 5 o’clock (behind the hip)
- OWB – 3 o’clock (hip)
- OWB – 5-6 o’clock (small of the back)
- OWB – 10 o’clock (cross draw)
- Shoulder Carry
- Midsection – Belly Band
In addition to these, there are also alternatives. We do not recommend these as a primary carry method unless there are circumstances where the above positions will not work for you. Carrying in one of these is still better than not carrying at all.
- Off-body (Purse or bag)
AIWB or Appendix Position
This position is an IWB position inside the waistband in the front of the body. I find it is the most concealable carry position since just a loose T-shirt can conceal my handgun. This makes it great for warm weather. Some holsters have clips that allow a shirt to be tucked in around the holster, so dress shirts can be worn as well.
The appendix position is also the most “protected” position. By this, I mean that I have full control since it is directly in the front of my body. I can draw with either hand and while lying on the ground if I absolutely have to. I can also protect my handgun from being taken by an attacker better than any other position.
However, this position can be one of the most uncomfortable positions. Depending on your body type, it may not work for you at all. People with a lot of belly fat find it hard to carry in the appendix position since their pants sit too low.
Driving while carrying in this position can also be dangerous since your seatbelt rides directly across the holster.
Read our best appendix holsters guide to find our tips on how to make carrying in this position comfortable. It can take a little bit of practice.
Best Protected Position
Good for any Weather
Uncomfortable for some
May not work for some body shapes
Not the best for Driving
IWB – 3 O’clock Position
This position is inside the waistband on the hip. Depending on the size of the gun’s grip I am carrying, I can conceal it well with a loose T-shirt. I find that a light jacket or vest works well too.
The main advantage of this position is that I can use a hybrid holster. These holsters have a leather or cloth backing with a Kydex shell to hold my handgun. These holsters are very comfortable and keep my handgun close to my body, helping to conceal it.
The main disadvantage of this position can be clearing my shirt or jacket with my hand and getting a good grip on my handgun when I draw. If I have a T-shirt on, getting it out of the way can be difficult, depending on the shirt. Some holsters hold the gun so close to my body that it is hard to get my thumb between the holster and my handgun.
For people with a lot of belly fat that find appendix carry uncomfortable, this position is a great option.
Read our best IWB concealed carry holster guide for some good options for this carry position. Many holsters are available on the market, but it’s important to choose a good one.
Good for any Weather
Drawing can be difficult
IWB – 5 O’clock Position
This position is inside the waistband and behind the hip. This position is not as easy to conceal with just a T-shirt but is easy to conceal with a loose, unbuttoned shirt or jacket. With a proper holster, this position can be very comfortable.
I have found that sitting while carrying in this position is uncomfortable, though. Driving is almost impossible, especially with bucket seats. Even at a restaurant or in an office chair, I have not found a way to make this position work for me.
Also, trying to draw from this position while wearing a T-shirt is tricky for me. Getting my shirt consistently out of the way is slower than the other positions. Again, an unbuttoned shirt or jacket is best here.
This position is good if you are mainly standing all day, riding a motorcycle, or sitting in chairs or on a bench that doesn’t have a back.
Good for Motorcycle riders
Drawing is slow
Not good for driving or sitting
OWB – 3 O’clock Position
This position is outside the waistband on the hip. It is one of the most comfortable carry positions. Since the holster and the gun are outside of my waistband, there is no discomfort with this position when I sit or move around.
However, this position is not as easy to conceal as the IWB positions. I find that I need an unbuttoned shirt, vest, or jacket to conceal properly. In warm weather, this is an issue.
This position allows me to carry a larger handgun, but there are still limitations. A handgun with a longer grip tends to print when I bend over or twist at the waist. I find I have to pay attention to how I move in public.
Nearly anyone can carry in this position, regardless of your body type. This makes it one of the most popular, but again, it is harder to conceal with this position.
Works for almost everyone
Works well with larger handguns
Hard to Conceal in Warm Weather
OWB – 5-6 O’clock Position
This position is outside the waistband in the small of the back. I can easily conceal in this position since my spine naturally curves, and my shirt or jacket hangs loose here.
However, that is the only good thing about this position.
I find that drawing from this position is slow and awkward. If I wear just a T-shirt, getting it out of the way to draw is almost impossible. A jacket or unbuttoned shirt works a little better, but my draw is still much slower.
I also can not see the holster when I holster my handgun, and it is facing behind me and to my left. This makes me break a few safety rules at best.
This position is also uncomfortable when sitting or driving. Plus, if I fall and land on my back, my handgun could injure my spine.
Overall, this position has too many negatives for me to consider it.
Comfortable when standing
Hard to draw from holster
Risk of Back Injury
OWB – 10 o’clock (Cross Draw)
This position is outside the waistband on the weak side of the body (opposite the draw hand), with the grip facing the strong side. Sort of a reverse OWB holster, if you will.
This position works well for me when I am working on my property and in and out of a vehicle a lot. This position allows me to draw quickly, is comfortable, and keeps my strong side open when I am working.
However, this position is not concealable at all. Even with a jacket, others can see my gun peeking out unless I have it zipped up, and then I can’t access it. It is more suited to open carry than concealed carry.
Good for Driving/Riding
Easy draw from holster
Shoulder Carry Position
Shoulder holsters are the classic carry position that you see law enforcement investigators wear on TV. They are comfortable and easy to conceal with a jacket or sports coat.
I find that drawing from this position can be a little tricky for two reasons.
Most shoulder holsters have a strap that holds the handgun in the holster. This can take time to unsnap, especially if I don’t practice it much or if I am in an awkward position.
Also, it is easy to point my gun at my arm when I am drawing it, especially if I am not standing in a normal position.
Drawing my handgun must be a well-thought-out process that is practiced a lot. This, combined with having to wear a jacket, doesn’t work well for some people. But, for anyone who wants to carry and is in and out of a car a lot, this is a great choice.
Good for Larger Handguns
Draw process tricky
Requires Jacket or Coat
Midsection Position – Belly Band
Belly bands are a unique carry position that can be worn IWB under a waistband or higher up, similar to an OWB holster. They can be concealed with a loose shirt and are usually very comfortable.
A belly band is useful for times when your pants won’t allow you to carry IWB or OWB because they lack a good waistband and belt.
One good example is when I want to carry concealed while wearing athletic clothing. Typically, gym shorts or joggers don’t have a belt and will not work with a typical holster.
I have found that belly band holsters can be hot in warm weather since they wrap all the way around my body.
Another alternative is the shorts and joggers made by Arrowhead Tactical Apparel. These have a unique integrated belt that allows me to carry my normal IWB or OWB holster just like I normally would. Check them out if you are looking for a way to carry while running and like wearing joggers.
Belly Bands come in all different shapes and sizes. I have found that it is important to consider how safe they are and how I will draw my handgun. It really depends on how I wear it. See our full review of our favorite in our best concealed carry holster guide.
Works without a belt
Draw process tricky
Alternative Carry Positions
As I mentioned earlier, we do not recommend these as the primary way to carry unless there is no other alternative.
If your body shape or lifestyle just doesn’t allow you to wear a holster, off-body carry can be an alternative. This would include fanny packs, backpacks, and purses.
There are two big disadvantages with this carry method.
Drawing a handgun from a bag or purse can take a lot of time. I have found depending on how I carry the bag and my body position at the time, I may have to move the bag before I can draw.
The biggest disadvantage is I can be separated from my bag. This could very well lead to my handgun falling into the wrong hands and being used to injure me or someone else.
Keep in mind that this requires a bag specifically designed for concealed carry. Most have a pocket with an integrated holster that maintains its position inside the pocket. A main concealed carry safety rule is never putting a handgun into any bag without it in at least a holster.
Ankle and Pocket Carry
I don’t consider these as viable methods of concealed carry.
With ankle carry, I have to lift up my pants, bend over, and then draw my handgun. If you have never tried it, it is very slow.
With pocket carry, to be safe, the handgun must be in a holster anyway. Never just put a loaded handgun in your pocket with the trigger exposed.
Both of these methods only work with very small handguns. I don’t have many pairs of pants that I can even fit a handgun in any way. The only combination I have found is pants with cargo pockets and a Glock 43.
Smaller handguns are harder to control and handle as it is, and trying to draw them safely from a squat or from a pocket makes it even more challenging.
Consider these two positions as a backup to your main carry position, if at all.
What is the Best Concealed Carry Position?
For most people, IWB appendix (AIWB), IWB at 3 O’clock, or OWB at 3 O’clock is the best position. There are plenty of holsters made for these positions. I find these positions are safe and concealable, depending on my clothing.
In the warmer months, I like to carry IWB, but in the cooler months, I tend to carry OWB. This is just my personal preference and based on my lifestyle.
Nest, spend some time reviewing our other holster guides to decide what will work best for you.
Go Back to our Complete Concealed Carry Guide