If you carry a firearm IWB (inside the waistband), you need belt clips to keep your holster secure. These retention devices are often designed to maximize concealability, but what are the different types of belt clips, and which should you be considering?
Many of those who carry concealed handguns choose to carry in a waistband holster. Waistband carry is described using hour-hand positions on a clock face and may be either IWB or OWB (outside the waistband).
OWB can be more comfortable but requires a cover garment to conceal. IWB offers superior concealability and versatility regarding clothing. You can wear a T-shirt or collared shirt tucked in with an IWB holster, provided that you have the correct belt clips.
When you’re searching for a suitable holster for concealed carry, you have a few options. If you opt for an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster, and especially a pancake design, you’ll probably be using belt loops to secure it in place. However, an IWB holster sits between your waistband and your body. This requires the use of belt clips for retention.
There are several different types of belt clips that you can choose from to secure your gun holster to your belt or waistband. Your standard set of belt clips wraps over your belt, suspending the holster on the inside of your waistband.
The more you research belt clips and gun holsters, the more you’ll see the word “tuckable.” This refers to your ability to tuck in a shirt over the gun and holster but behind the clips. A tuckable belt clip will have a strut with mounting points below the clip.
If you work in an environment where your wearing an untucked shirt or loose clothing is not an option, tuckable belt clips for holsters and magazine carriers can allow you to meet a more strict office dress code and continue to carry your defensive weapon.
If you choose to tuck your shirt in like this, be prepared to use both hands to firmly grip the shirt material and pull it up. You’re not simply lifting your shirt — you’re untucking it to access your weapon.
When using tuckable belt clips, the clips may still be visible if they attach over your belt. An onlooker may not be able to discern what it is, but you can never be sure. If you’re concerned about the visibility of your belt clips, you can match, as closely as possible, the color of the clips to the color of your belt. If the clips are black or dark grey, wearing light-colored trousers (e.g., tan slacks) will increase the contrast.
Some gun belts are wider than usual. Standard sizes are typically 1.5–1.75”, but if you’re unsure of your belt’s width, you should measure it before purchasing clips.
The J Clip fits over the waistband and then loops under the belt, forming the shape of the letter “J” when viewed from the side, hence the name. This is a secure option, as it’s held in place by the belt, and the bottom loop of the “J” will stop against the belt when you apply upward force.
The C Clip is a type of tuckable belt clip that hangs over the waistband and attaches to the belt from behind. Rather than wrapping over the belt, it has a C-shaped clamp that attaches to the top and bottom, reducing exposure. While more discreet than many other belt clip options, the C Clip offers a less secure grip than other designs.
This type of belt clip snaps over the front of the belt and under it, providing a snug fit. Overhook clips are also often tuckable. If you need to detach this type of belt clip, simply lift it from under the belt, and it will release.
Unfortunately, while highly secure, the overhooks are not the most inconspicuous design. As they wrap over the front of the belt, you’ll need to either match the clips to your belt, your trousers, or both to reduce their visibility.
The Fold Over Mold Injected (FOMI) clip fits snugly, and its low-profile design allows for a comfortable fit. You slip the FOMI clip over the front of the belt, and the tab snaps under it. While easy to attach and remove, the FOMI is not tuckable, as the clip mounts to the holster at the top. This design also requires the use of a belt. It is, however, versatile and can accommodate a variety of belt sizes.
This clip uses a clamp with a latching system that can attach to your gun belt or your waistband fabric. Ranging in size from slim to XL, Ulticlip can resist a significant amount of upward force before releasing.
If you don’t typically wear a belt as part of your wardrobe, this can be a highly effective solution — it’s suitable for gym clothes, skirts, or dresses. When you attach these clips directly to your waistband, you can also wear a belt over them, rendering them all but invisible.
The Fabriclip allows you to attach a holster directly to your waistband. This design uses a square lip with a loop through it that presses against the outside of your waistband. At the same time, the frame on the inside pushes the fabric outward through the loop. One of the best ways to secure the Fabriclip is around one of your pant’s belt loops
This design is discreet and, depending on placement, could be confused for a belt buckle by the unfamiliar.
Belts and Accessories
There are many belt clips to choose from. But don’t underestimate the importance of a sturdy gun belt for concealed or open carry. A good gun belt should work with your holster to distribute your firearm’s weight and prevent the holster from sagging or canting away from your body. It should also be durable and capable of carrying accessories, such as magazine pouches/carriers. You should be picky when choosing a gun belt, you must get something comfortable to wear and fits perfectly to your waist to prevent your holster from sagging.
Finally, consider the addition of concealment devices, such as claws and wedges, that cant the weapon toward your body. This can reduce printing, rendering your weapon less detectable.
The Bottom Line
The right belt clips can allow you to conceal your firearm discreetly and securely, with or without a gun belt. You can also search for tuckable varieties that let you meet dress codes and continue to carry your weapon.
Before anything else let's define first what is a holster on this fundamental guide.