Are IWB holsters for 1911 realistic?


Oleg Volk
February 17, 2003, 12:37 PM
I am considering an IWB for a full-size Govt. model and want feedback from folks who use or tried to use leather or nylon or kydex for IWB. Is this way comfortable, concealable?

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February 17, 2003, 12:38 PM
Oleg, I know ArmySon carried a 5" fullsize IWB. Try checking in with him?

February 17, 2003, 02:27 PM

I carry a full size 1911 every single day in a Sparks Summer Special IWB. It is seriously one of the most comfortable rigs that I've ever tried when combined with my Rosen contoured 1.5" belt. I conceal it in all manners of clothing and in everything from zero degree to ninety degree weather. Once you try a good rig, you're not going to believe how easy that horsepistol conceals.

As for materials, I would rule out nylon right now. For a holster to be comfortable and useable it needs to retain its shape relatively well.

Kydex vs. leather is simply one of personal preference. Like any other choice of mere preference, you're just gonna have to try both to see what you like. Personally, I think that leather is more comfortable.

Let me know if you have any sort of questions.

El Tejon
February 17, 2003, 03:13 PM
Oleg, I use a Milt Sparks Executive Companion with a Milt Sparks 1" belt to carry a Les Baer TRS for daily "on-duty" or "Off-duty" Territory Ahead yuppie scum look. I have a 1.75 belt as well if I feel like dressing like a hairy-chested Westerner in dungaress, but minus elf boots.

I prefer horse, have never tried kydex. I have everything dyed black for tacticality.:)

A big advantage of the 1911 is that the weapon is narrow and flatish. Thus, with a good holster you can snug it up tight to your body. Works for all body types, but the long and lean have an advantage.

February 17, 2003, 03:42 PM
IMO I don't care how big the gun is as long as it's flat. The 1911 is great for this but I can't shoot them very well.


Yes! Skunkspeak catching on!

El Tejon
February 17, 2003, 04:39 PM
Yes, Skunk, but it's catching on amongst the tactical golf vacation set. I mean, I'm not even a tactical poser. You know how hard it is to be a tactical at say UR2 or API499 in a "Friends of the Library" or a shirt from Territory Ahead yuppie scum line?:D

February 17, 2003, 05:23 PM
I'd like to see Oleg in Yuppie Scum gear! Got any links?

Oleg, run a search on the 1911forum holster & accessories forum. Lots of good advice on holster gear there, they have good taste in leather.

February 17, 2003, 05:37 PM
The guy that owns the indoor range I frequent carries his 1911 IWB and is very comfortable doing so. He's not a big guy...maybe 5' 5", 140#'s. I've seen him with gov't to officer's models IWB.

February 17, 2003, 06:42 PM
Oleg, a 1911 in a good IWB holster may take a few days to get used to. Then it's almost like it's not there. Once you find your "sweet spot" where concealability and comfort converge, it's the best way to carry.

Right now I can't use my IWB holster because of a back problem that affects the nerves in my hips and makes the hip area ultra-sensitive. So, I'm using a shoulder rig, and there's NO forgetting that the rig is on. Also, concealment is much more difficult.

My IWB holster is a Mitch Rosen ARG Express model. It's the plainest of the line, but it's been all over the country, in every type of climate, and it's held up extremely well. For $65, I'm very happy.

Just my .02.

Ed Brunner
February 18, 2003, 12:09 AM
A good IWB holster is usually the best way to conceal a 1911. For some people who sit a lot, a Commander is easier because a full size digs into their butt.
There are a lot of good leather and Kydex IWB holsters out there. A lot of it depends on your build and your preferences. My favorite is the Alessi/Burns GWH. You can see it at

February 18, 2003, 12:47 AM
Oleg: In my experience, a full size 1911 is alot more comfortable carried IWB than guns with a shorter muzzle because the weight of the gun is distributed over a broader area of the hipbone. I find that guns with shorter muzzles tend to dig into the ischium and aggravate the sciatic nerve, which is a problem that I'm currently experiencing..again.

February 18, 2003, 01:34 AM
Preferred carry is full size 1911 IWB..for a long time now.
High Noon
Many other quality makers out there...

Jake 98c/11b
February 18, 2003, 10:24 AM
Oleg, several years ago I wanted the Milt Sparks executive companion in horsehide, my reading had me convinced it would be the best carry option for me (I'm 5'9" 170lbs). When I called to place the order I was informed the horsehide model would be at least 16 weeks I went with the, now discontinued, Galco NSA. I now have a few of the old style NSA for my M1911s and BHP, I think they are great. One day I will order that Milt Sparks but I don't need to, I have what I need.

I think the IWB is the best way for a relatively slim person to carry a full size pistol. With a relatively slim pistol like the M1911 you probably won't have to buy a seperate wardrobe. I have been able to carry this way in as little as a pair of shorts and a T shirt, it's the best way to go for me.

Zak Smith
February 18, 2003, 12:01 PM
It's not quite as big as a Gov't model, but I carry my BHP in a Milt Sparks Watch-Six and it's a comfortable and easy to conceal setup.


February 18, 2003, 07:17 PM
I'm gonna recommend a Kydex holster if you live where its warm and sweat alot. The Kydex keeps the gun dry and is easier on you if it gets next to your bare skin. The leather will get wet and stay wet,(rough out is the worst at this) and your gun will suffer. The leather grabs your skin and some of the acids from the tanning(I'm assuming here) are irritating, at least to me, and its very uncomfortable. I always wear a tee shirt, as its a lot more comfortable, any season. It also stays open for reholstering(so do most of the good leather ones) and is "click" adjustable for tention. The IWB is the most concealable, especially at your 4 o'clock. Once your used to it, and it can take a little while for your body to adjust, you wont even know its there. Still need a good belt though. I use Blade Tech holsters. The one I have on gets used daily, and has held up well. I'm done with leather, at least for IWB.

February 18, 2003, 11:41 PM
AK103K brings up a good point. I always wear an undershirt (even if its 100 degrees out), I don't sweat very much, and I have a very mild body chemistry (the girls in high skool used to call me "Soap" b/c I smelled like soap even after an entire day). That said, leather works great for me...but it might not work great for you.

February 19, 2003, 09:31 AM
Pretty easy and pretty comfortable or at least as comfortable as IWB carry can get.
I'm 5'2 115lbs and have carried a 5 inch 1911 in a Milt Sparks Summer Special 2 for about a year on and off(sometimes I carry a BHP or Colt Mustang). It is more comfortable with a good belt and pants that are little big.

February 19, 2003, 10:02 AM
Ditto to what's been said. With a good holster and belt, you'll be fine. I've carried a full-size Kimber in a Mitch Rosen USD (not the best holster in the world) and concealed it under a large T-shirt. No problem. You'll be nervous the first bit as you get used to it, but then it becomes second nature.

February 19, 2003, 03:00 PM
I wear my 1911 in a bellyband everyday in IWB position. Works great. Other than that I use a Milt Sparks Summer Special. Great holster. It really is a piece of cake once you get used to it Oleg.

February 19, 2003, 06:11 PM
I carry my Kimber Eclipse I in either a Galco Royal Guardian or a FIST #1 clip holster. Both are quite comfortable and exceedingly concealable. Of course, you must have a good belt to make it all work properly. Good shooting;)

February 19, 2003, 06:50 PM
Daniel: "the girls in high skool used to call me "Soap" b/c I smelled like soap even after an entire day"

You're lucky. Many of us were called much worse. ;)

Back on topic, other than the perceived issue of price, is there a reason why so few THR's own Mitch Rosen holsters? Even the Express line, which doesn't have all the extra-fancy stitching, is exceptional. As mentioned, I just purchased a Galco Miami Classic, and the quality is nowhere near that of the Rosen ARG. Rosen offers an Express line shoulder rig for about the same price.

Am I missing something?

Safety First
February 19, 2003, 07:58 PM
As several have already mentioned horsehide is best material..Wildbills concealment can do it for you,but wait time is in the 3 month range...

February 19, 2003, 08:01 PM
Monkeyleg- Some girls called me Soap, some called me ______. But luckily, it was the good-looking ones that called me Soap ;) :D

February 21, 2003, 02:55 AM
Oleg: Could I loan you my Tucker IWB for field testing?


Click to View Sven's Tucker IWB Photo Gallery (

Rob at Tucker Gunleather ( informed me that the rear clip can be mounted on the short hole to cant the pistol butt forward for those who like a greater angle.

No CCW here in CA - yet - but would love to see if you like this model. It's molded for a full-size 1911, such as the Valtro shown above.

Glowering Review of Tucker IWB ( -

Hot brass
February 21, 2003, 07:12 AM
Oleg, I carry a 1911 45,daily, in a Sparks VMII IWB. IMHO the best if not one of the best IWB holsters for comfort and carry. Some days I carrry a P14/45 with 14rounds in the same holster.
Pulling the gun from the holster is QUIET!

February 21, 2003, 01:35 PM
IWB works well for 1911's for some of us (depending on our body shape ;)...), I did it with my old Kimber and still do with a 5" Coonan, which is just a tad larger than a Gov't model.

I use a Sparks Summer Special 2, his dbl OWB mag pouch, and his 1.5" jeans belt/1.25" dress belt. I also like Spark's Executive Companion.

February 21, 2003, 03:09 PM
i'm pretty "old school" (or cheap)...bought a milt sparks "summer special" 20+ years ago for my combat commander and it is still occassionally in use today. it has carried everything from fullsize GM to the officer's ACP.

the 1911 is one of the easiest guns to carry IWB because of it's slimness. the butt is a bit long, and angular, on the could sub in a officer's frame or "bobtail" it...but you can address that by just sliding it further back behind the point of you hip so that the grip panel lays flay against you back

February 22, 2003, 11:23 AM
Oleg -
If you are friends with any knife-makers in your area, see if they make kydex sheaths for their blades. If they do, they can probably fabricate an IWB out of Kydex for your particular piece. My guy has done a couple for me including one for my Star BKM's. (Think downsized 1911's). You just heat the Kydex to its softing point and mold it over a close wood replica of your pistol. Then while it is still soft form it on whatever part of your anatomy you are going to wear it against. I put a piece of non-skid on the body side of mine and damn near don't need to use a belt with them.

February 27, 2003, 11:05 PM
Check out: IMHO some of the most useful and comfortable holsters made by anyone.

Gordy Wesen
February 28, 2003, 05:33 PM
You know, I like the nylon inside the pants holster from Safariland. Aratoonnian, Kramer, Rosen and have their place but this one is 12 bucks and comfortable.!

March 1, 2003, 09:10 AM
IME, the problem with nylon IWB is that they collapse after the draw, thereby making a proper re-holstering impossible.

March 4, 2003, 02:32 AM
i carry one every day for 11 hours in a 10 cent CIA loop made from black paracord.

Byron Quick
March 6, 2003, 09:43 PM
Day in and day out I've carried a Government Model in a Galco IWB horsehide model. If you sweat a lot when it's hot this could do bad things to your pistol. An afternoon spent hiking Stone Mountain in the summer is still visible on the slide of my Kimber Gold I bought a SA Loaded Stainless:D

March 7, 2003, 03:25 AM
Carrying a full-size 1911 daily isn't overly difficult with the proper holster AND belt. The key is weight distribution. With the proper gear, the heavy weight (anybody that says otherwise is fooling ya) of a full-size 1911 will not be a burden.

I'm lean (112-120 lbs) and the only time I had problems with carrying a full-size gun is while riding a motorcycle. I got rid of that problem with a shoulder rig (just for biking).

My personal favorites are IWB made by Milt Sparks (Versa Max II) and Mith Rosen (ARG and ARG-DL). The skinnier you are, the more of a cant you want from the holster design.

March 7, 2003, 06:30 PM
When I carry the 1911, I carry it in a Sparks Summer Special 2. About half the year here in Indiana, I can carry it just fine. I'm pretty warm-natured and my dress is casual business attire (no coat) so in the summer, with just a casual shirt tucked, I'm a bit self aware about it and I geel it takes a bit too long to get to. I just feel too sloppy with I have my shirt untucked.

I love the 1911 and I've been shooting it my entire shooting life but due to the size, I'm going to try the Kahr P9 Covert for a while.

March 7, 2003, 07:15 PM
ArmySon, welcome back! Are you here in the states? For good?

110 to 120 pounds. I haven't been that light since 8th grade. ;)

March 8, 2003, 07:53 AM

I've been carrying a Full Sized 1911 with a Rosen ARG & Belt for almost 10 years (with a weakside SOS containing an extra mag and surefire (now with meat tenderizer attachment)). Not a probem!! Like Son I'm "Lean". What has happened over the years is that I am now buying my pants & T-Shirts/Polos one size bigger. Doing so provides the extra room for the gun and makes printing less of an issue. Concerning Dress wear, I take the gun, belt, holster and SOS in with me and have the pants/jacket tailored with them on. ;)

My normal dress is jeans/shorts and T-Shirt/polo. I'm still trying to figure out how to carry my 1911 when I'm at the beach with my UDT Shorts on. :uhoh:

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