Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites


Holster Method FBI Popularized is Tried and True

Holster Method FBI Popularized is Tried and True

In the beginning, the FBI. … Well, not the real beginning, but the beginning of the modern era. Ever wonder about the “FBI cant”? It has to do with fashion, and technology.

Back when the FBI was first getting guns (originally, they were an unarmed investigative agency) every man wore a suit when he left the house. Even factory workers wore a suit to work, then hung up their coats and worked in shirt and tie. When the FBI got guns, automobiles were the common new transportation method. If you are going to hide a handgun under a suit, you wear it just back of your strong-side hip. If you want it to be comfortable and fast on the draw while driving a car of that era, you tilt it just a bit, with the muzzle pointed behind you.         

And there you have it, the strong side, FBI-cant holster. Also known as the 4 o’clock IWB. Before, when horses were common, there were a lot of ways to hang a holster. But by the 1930s, with suits and cars, the FBI method was pretty much it.

Now, we have a lot more ways of carrying guns, but this one is still common, and for many good reasons. You also have the choice today of IWB or OWB. That is, inside or outside of the waistband. The pros and cons of those are simple: fashion. If you plan on carrying IWB, you must (and I mean must) size up your trousers. If you do not, you are trying to squeeze a pistol and holster inside of a circle that was already snug on you. A circle you already fill. Going up in size by 4 inches (what I had to do, to pack a 1911) means that the trousers no longer fit you the same way as before, and yes, that can make your butt look big.           

OWB avoids that, with the holster outside of the trousers, at the small risk of being spotted below the edge of a short jacket.     

Modern styles in cars are making the IWB/OWB less popular. When cars had seats that were benches, the holster wasn’t in the way. Seat belts complicated that, but the real culprits are modern seats, which are practically racing seats compared to those from a generation ago. The more the seat envelopes you for safety and comfort, the less room, and less access, there is for the pistol.

A quick rundown:

Pros: The IWB/OWB can be really fast. It hides a gun under pretty much any garment, even an untucked polo shirt. With the right holster, pistol and body shape, it can be all-day comfortable. It is easy to protect, by tucking that side elbow to your body, and thus prevent inadvertent discovery. Also, by blading slightly to someone, you make the pistol all but inaccessible to them. If you’re standing all day, this is the one for you.

Cons: With the wrong pistol, body shape, holster or waistband, it is uncomfortable in the extreme. In modern cars the IWB/OWB is so hidden by the seatbelt and seat cushions that it is almost impossible to dig out with any speed. A support-side-only draw with the FBI cant holster is only for the most limber of wearers. Arm rests on chairs on the gun side are a hazard, both for comfort and the “clunk” of discovery. A day spent in a car, or an office chair, and the IWB/OWB holster will make you walk like Quasimodo.