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A Beginner's Guide to Holsters

Posted by customer service on

In the past year, the number of new gun owners has grown by millions. Learning a new skill can sometimes be intimidating. With firearms specifically, it is often complicated by confusing terms and an overload of information. Buying a holster can be confusing at first as well, especially when ordering from a company that offers custom-made holsters with many different options available for you to choose from. At Odin Holsters, we believe that everyone is capable of learning about concealed carry and improving their skills.

Overview of Holster Terminology

Kydex -

Kydex is the material that most holsters, including all Odin Holsters, are made of. It is heated and formed to fit each specific gun and its accompanying accessories. Kydex comes in a variety of patterns and colors. It is used for holsters because of its durability, as well as its ability to protect the trigger and ensure consistent draws.


IWB stands for "inside the waistband" and refers to a style of holster that is worn between your body and your pants. It is hooked over the top of your pants onto a belt. This style of holster is most often used for concealment purposes.


AIWB stands for "appendix inside the waistband" and refers to a holster that is used to carry inside the waistband with your holster located at the front of your body, usually in the space between your belly button and your hip. This is a popular way to carry because it offers greater concealability and comfort. 

appendix carry holster

OWB - 

OWB stands for "outside the waistband" and is a style of holster that is attached to the outside of your pants. Outside the waistband holsters are a popular choice for range days, while certain OWB holsters can be concealed.

drawing from concealed OWB holster

Concealment Wing -

A concealment wing is a plastic piece that attaches to inside the waistband holsters in the area underneath the trigger guard of the firearm. The concealment wing is used to improve concealability. It is especially useful when carrying larger guns, as well as when carrying in the appendix position. It functions by acting as a small "bump out" and when your belt pushes against it, it helps to bring the grip of your firearm closer to your body. 

concealment wing attached to appendix holster

Sweat Guard -

The sweat guard refers to how far up the slide of your firearm the Kydex extends on the side of your holster that will be closest to your skin. A high sweat guard means that the kydex will extend the entire length of the slide to be flush with the end of the slide. This option is popular among individuals who prefer to have something between their skin and their firearm. A low sweat guard will extend to just above the trigger guard area and be even with the height of the front of the holster.

low sweat guard vs. high sweat guard on IWB holsters

How a Custom-Made Holster Stands Out

A custom-made holster sets itself apart from a mass-produced holster by fitting perfectly to the specifications of your firearm and its accompanying accessories, such as a light or optic. Custom holsters offer more combinations of firearm models and accessories, allowing each holster to be built to fit your exact gun. Our holster building process also allows for the customization of other aspects of the holster such as the color or pattern of the Kydex, the style of clip used, the washer color, and the addition of accessories like a concealment wing.

The purpose of a custom-made holster is to give you the best fit, retention, comfort, and performance. Mass-produced holsters work, but not the same way that a custom holster works. At Odin Holsters, we test fit each holster with the actual gun and accessory combination before it goes out the door. This allows for perfect retention right out of the box. Proper holster fit is extremely important for safe carrying practices, and since each holster is specifically made for a certain gun model, it is essential that you only use it to carry the firearm for which it was made.

Not all holsters are created equal. When first starting out with concealed carry, it can be very tempting to order something from a site like Amazon. More likely than not, you will need to upgrade your holster to one that is more durable and offers more accessory options as your concealed carry skills and knowledge improve. It is definitely worth doing it right the first time. If you are interested in a custom quality holster without a lead time, we also offer quick ship versions of some of our more popular models. 

As always, we are available by phone and email to answer any questions you may have about our holsters.



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