Carrying concealed presents challenges to everyone who wants to make it part of their lifestyle, but it can be uniquely complicated for gentlemen with an above-average girth.
As one such gentleman myself, I can appreciate the difficulty in figuring out where the best place to carry on my body is and what holster is going to help me accomplish it.
My best overall pick is the Bravobelt Belly Band Holster. The main reason is that the larger your gut, the better it works. I’ll talk more about it down below, but my personal preference is actually to carry IWB at 5 o’clock, and I use a lefty holster so that the grip points out and away from my body. It works great for my body type and is comfortable as well.
Holster Options for Fat Guys
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Best IWB for Adjustability
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Best IWB for Comfort
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Best for Optics
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Best OWB for Comfort
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Best Belly Band for Larger Handguns
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1. Bravobelt Belly Band Holster
A lot of overweight guys think that a belly band won’t work for them because their belly is, well, too big. This is a fair assumption to make, but the fault lies with the branding of “belly bands”, because for fat guys, they actually work much better when angled down to go underneath your belly.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re just “fat” and not “fat”, a belly band can wrap around your belly just as intended, but if needed, it can slide down in the front to take a lot of tension off the velcro and be a lot more comfortable for you.
The reason the Bravobelt takes the #1 spot even among belly bands is because of how well it is made. The quality of the velcro that holds the belly band together can make or break this type of product, and here the velcro is crazy strong. Even with daily active use (squatting, bending over, etc.) the velcro should hold up for awhile.
The XL size should fit up to a 55” belly (I’d say 52” to be safe), and will allow you to carry essentially anywhere around your body that you would like.
It comes with two spare magazine pouches in case you’d like to use them, and is overall a high quality belt that should work well for just about everyone.
- Fits big bellies
- Gives you spare magazine pouches
- Can choose where you want to position your gun
- Works with small or large handguns
- Some users report that the velcro loses strength over time
- Can get hot and sweaty
Bravobelt Belly Band Holster
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2. Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster
If you’re looking for something a little simpler than the belly band, a good old-fashioned IWB holster might be a good solution for you. A lot of heavier gents assume that IWB carry is not an option for them, but it’s 100% feasible for a lot of guys. It certainly depends on the body type, but good IWB holsters don’t add much to the waistline.
This kydex holster from Concealment Express is a great example, and comes with the added benefit of being adjustable in some key ways. First, the retention (how tightly the firearm is squeezed by the holster) is adjustable via the two screws at the bottom you see in the photo above.
Next, you can adjust the cant, or the angle the firearm protrudes out from the holster. This can be a pretty nice feature, especially if you’re new to concealed carry and aren’t sure what is going to work best.
The kydex is strong and durable, and the holster adds very little bulk to the gun itself, making this a great IWB concealed carry holster / shoulder holster option for a lot of bigger guys.
- Adjustable cant
- Adjustable retention
- Simple, easy to use
- Won’t make you sweat like a belly band
- Rides a little higher than some folks like
- May be difficult to find a comfortable place on your waistband
Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster
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3. Relentless Tactical “The Defender”
I mentioned at the beginning that my personal preference is to carry IWB. Using a leather holster like The Defender strikes the right balance for me. I find that the passive retention offered by a leather holster (and the natural pressure between my waistband and my skin) is plenty to keep my gun immobile.
Not only that, but the leather is softer and warmer than a polymer or kydex holster, so it’s a lot more comfortable to wear. With The Defender, you’re stuck with the retention, cant, and ride height that it comes from the factory with, but all those are pretty happy mediums.
The Defender is fairly universal in its compatibility, which is unusual for a leather holster, but while you can fit something as large as a Glock 17, I wouldn’t recommend anything larger than a Glock 19. The larger the gun, the higher it will stick out above the holster, to the point where the trigger guard starts to be uncovered, and that’s something I would not recommend.
- Near-universal compatibility
- Combination of softness and durability
- Small, discreet
- No adjustability
- Not recommended for larger handguns
Relentless Tactical “The Defender”
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4. Warriorland Optic-Cut OWB Kydex Holster
If you want to carry an optic on your concealed handgun, it can create some extra complication. While a lot of firearm manufacturers are making sure every new model they release is cut for optics, holster-makers have not been nearly as universal in making it a priority.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there for those who want to concealed carry and have the benefit of a red dot on their handgun.
Carrying OWB is often overlooked during the conversation about concealed carry, but there are a lot of situations where it makes sense. First off, most people would not dispute that it’s more comfortable to carry OWB than IWB as a general rule, so if you can get away with it, it can be worth it.
Anytime you’re wearing a jacket, OWB carry is going to be a great option that gives you that added comfort. Not only that, but heavier guys tend to wear oversized clothes, and depending on your build, there could be a spot on your belt where a slim OWB holsters could sit without printing on your shirt.
- Compatible with multiple handguns
- Adjustable retention
- Level I retention only
- Won’t accommodate a laser or light
Warriorland Optic-Cut OWB Kydex Holster
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5. Cytac OWB Holster with Silicone Paddle Pad
For even more comfort, you can take a look at the Cytac OWB holster. It functions very similarly to the Warriorland, but there are a couple things I like better about it.
Number one, I like that it has level II retention via an index finger release. For OWB, I would normally recommend at least level II and preferably level III, but that’s primarily because your firearm is visible to everyone and you never know who might try to snatch it. For concealed carry, though, this is less of a concern.
Number two, I like that it comes with an optional silicone pad to cover the paddle where it rubs against your skin. It may sound silly, but those stiff paddles can actually be quite uncomfortable. Adding a soft pad makes it a lot more comfortable to carry with this holster.
The drawback of getting a holster with level II retention (most of the time), is that the holster becomes specific to an exact make and model of firearm, so you have to make sure to buy the holster that will fit your exact model. Most of the time, I believe this is very much worth the exchange, but your mileage may vary.
- Level II retention
- Silicone pad for added comfort
- Compatible with optics
- Can push against the mag release button if you bend in the right direction
- Have to buy specific model for your gun
Cytac OWB Holster with Silicone Paddle Pad
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6. Ghost Concealment
If you want to carry something big like a Glock 17, you can find a way to make it work with a couple of the other holsters on this list, but this belly band from Ghost Concealment is designed a little bit better for it. Comparing it to our #1 pick, this one does have a couple advantages.
First, it only has one extra magazine slot. This makes a lot of sense when you’re carrying a full-size handgun because your magazine capacity is so much higher than with a micro or sub-compact already, there’s just not much need for two extra magazines. Even if you don’t carry an extra magazine at all you’ll have a lot of rounds available.
Second, having the gun pouch and magazine pouch right up against each other makes it a little easier to find a ‘sweet spot’ on your body to carry everything. Rather than having to line up two different spots, you only have to line up one. This belly band will work with up to 54” bellies, though the velcro may not last as long as the Bravobelt.
- Better for larger handguns
- Will work with up to 54” bellies
- Soft, comfortable
- Can get hot
- Velcro not as heavy-duty
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One Solution vs. Several
When you’re shopping for a concealed carry holster, try to let go of the idea that you need just one holster that will work for every situation, every day. Everyone wants to save money, but holsters aren’t that expensive, and having the right holster for each situation will help you carry more often and more effectively.
Having an OWB holster for wearing under a suit jacket, an IWB holster for when you’re out working in the sun, and an ankle holster for when you’re wearing long pants can be an important part of making sure that you’re always able to defend yourself and your loved ones.
That might be an extreme example, but having a couple solutions to match your different routines is not a bad idea. Remember, it doesn’t matter that you carry 9 days out of 10 if something happens on the 1 day you’re not carrying.
Velcro, a Blessing and a Curse
Velcro is the single biggest issue I have with belly bands and ankle holsters. You may have a fantastic holster that is strong and durable, but if the manufacturers cheap out on the velcro, it becomes completely useless as soon as it loses its strength.
Velcro allows you to carry in different ways, and that’s fantastic, but be aware that even the best velcro isn’t going to stand up to repeated use and high tension for very long. For that reason, I recommend trying to carry in a way that allows the tension on the velcro to be lessened.
For example, keep the belly band low enough that your pants will keep it from sliding so the velcro doesn’t have to be tight enough to stop it on its own. Similarly, for ankle holsters, get one with a calf strap or wear it low enough that your shoes stop it from sliding down.
Most holsters aren’t discarded because they break (unless it’s the velcro), they’re discarded for other reasons. That said, you still want to do your due diligence on any holster you’re thinking of buying before you pull the proverbial trigger.
The most common breakages on a holster are the belt clips, paddle, and sometimes the level II or III retention. The body of the holster that wraps around your gun is usually the part that you have to worry the least about.
The equation does change a bit when you buy a neoprene holster, but again, neoprene holsters are the ones that are most likely to use velcro, and the velcro will wear out a hell of a lot faster than the neoprene will.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: don’t underestimate the importance of having a comfortable carry solution. If you’re not comfortable while carrying then eventually you’ll stop carrying every day, no matter why you started carrying in the first place.
Life-threatening situations are rare things for most of us, and it’s easy to start weighing the annoyance of carrying with the risk that the once-in-a-lifetime event is going to happen that day. All the options on this list should be reasonably comfortable if they meet your needs in other ways, but be prepared to buy more than one holster as you experiment.
Neoprene and suede will be the softest materials in terms of rubbing against your skin, but that does not alone guarantee that they’ll be the most comfortable. Carrying OWB with the hardest, least forgiving material is still going to be more comfortable than the nicest neoprene IWB holster most of the time.
As long as I’m ragging on Neoprene, I may as well also talk about retention. Though, to be fair, many neoprene holsters actually have snaps that hold your firearm in place, so it’s not all that bad.
Retention just refers to how firmly your firearm is held in place. The most basic retention is just being “a tight fit”, so that you have to purposefully yank the firearm to get it to come out. This is called “level I” retention. Level II adds a button to release prior to yanking, and level III equips two separate buttons (usually one for thumb and one for forefinger).
When you’re carrying concealed, superior retention is often sacrificed in the name of concealability and faster draws. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in fact my own personal holster for concealed carry only has level I retention, which I would never, ever settle for when open carrying.
I know, I know, as men we don’t care about what the holster looks like, we only care about how it functions. Except every last one of us is guilty of standing in front of the mirror and thinking about how much of a badass we are with our cool new holster, at least once.
Obviously, style’s rightful place as a priority is behind usability and functionality, but it’s not reasonable to pretend that it doesn’t matter at all. This is a minor reason why the Bravobelt is considered number one – it has four color options in addition to its superiority functionality.
Honestly, fat guy holster or concealed carry are the same way as everyone else. Many of the same carry locations for slim folk work for chunky folk. It may take a little more research into finding the right holster, but fat guys can carry IWB or OWB holster, using a belly band, or even on the ankle in some cases.
Yes, though you may not be able to use it exactly the way you see in the product photos online. The bigger your belly, the more likely you won’t be able to strap the belly band right across your belly, but you can sometimes still use the band by wrapping it underneath your belly and positioning the handgun at about 2 o’clock.
True appendix carry might goes away as an option pretty quick as you start adding pounds. I would consider myself fat but not “fat”, if that makes sense, and my gut sticks out far enough that sitting with appendix carry is a fantasy. I have much more luck carrying at 5 o’clock.
Carrying on your back does require you to have decent posture, but I try to do that anyway so it works well.
Even skinny people have trouble sitting with appendix carry.
My number one pick for the best holster for fat guys is the Bravobelt belly band. Belly bands work great for a lot of huskier men, and being able to customize how high you wear it and where on your circumference that you position your gun make them a great choice.
The Bravobelt rises above other belly bands on the market by having high-strength velcro that will last a lot longer. Are there any holsters that you think should be on this list? Any that you’ve had specific experiences with? Let me know in the comments.