I have been carrying my concealed handgun inside the waistband (IWB), and, more specifically, positioned in front for almost 10 years. Carrying in this position, known as appendix carry, has a lot of benefits when compared to other modes of carry.
In fact, I didn't start out by carrying in this position but adopted it once I found it provided advantages over other IWB methods. Some of the advantages include:
- fewer steps and less movement equal a quicker/simpler draw stroke
- being able to visually confirm that the holster is not obstructed, means safer holstering
- easier to control or defend against a gun takeaway
- it is easier to conceal a larger gun
- I can carry a larger gun more comfortably
- ideal for a draw/presentation in the seated position
- allows a draw that does not require you to expose yourself by reaching behind to the small of the back or down to the ankle
If you've drunk the proverbial appendix carry cool-aid, now's the time to select an appropriate holster. Choosing the wrong holster makes carrying uncomfortable and dangerous. So I've made it pretty simple and listed four things that every appendix holster needs to have.
4 Things an Appendix Carry Holster Must Have:
- Completely protect the trigger guard- Protecting the trigger from being accessed by fingers or other objects is a basic job of all holsters. While your gun unintentionally discharging in the holster is potentially life-ending in any carry position, the appendix carry position can orient the muzzle toward the femoral artery. An injury to the femoral artery can lead to rapid blood loss that requires immediate medical intervention.
- Secure Fasteners- The gun can be pushed around a lot from twisting, bending over, etc. A good appendix holster should securely fasten the holster to the belt so it doesn't require constant adjustments after moving around. Of course in general, holsters need to keep the gun in place for a consistent draw and secure when in a fight or more dynamic movements. I personally prefer holsters that have dual attachment points, and highly recommend soft loops or clips like these from Discrete Carry Concepts. I am not a fan of the run of the mill plastic and metal clips that are on most holsters. I have seen too many holsters come off during a draw, or break free from the belt during some dynamic movements like running, jumping, grappling, etc.
- Claw and or Wedge- These devices extend from the grip-side of the holster, and force the grip of the gun into the body by pushing against the back of the belt. This results in better concealment. Perhaps the most underrated component of an appendix holster is the wedge. Many holster companies are now molding a wedge into the Kydex from the start, others add them later as an option. The wedge is placed toward the muzzle end of the holster and sits between the holster and the body. It not only pushes the grip toward the body, aiding in concealment, but directs the muzzle away from the body which is safer. Click here to view several different wedge options.
- Adjustability- carrying in the appendix position requires some fine-tuning in how high or low the gun sits in relation to the beltline. How high or low your gun sits has a lot to do with the gun's slide length and your body dimensions. A gun sitting too deep can be uncomfortable when bending or sitting. A gun that sits too high can be difficult to conceal, as there is less of the holster below the belt. This results in a situation where the grip of the gun is pushed out and leans over the belt. Think of the holster as a lever, with the belt being the fulcrum.
First, please get a holster designed specifically for appendix carry. You may be able to get away using a standard IWB holster but you probably won't. I have seen many people give-up on appendix carry because their standard IWB holster wasn't comfortable in the appendix position.
Lots of companies make great holsters for appendix carry. A few that I have used or have trusted friends endorsements are KSG Armory, Philster, Keepers Concealment, Tier One Concealed, T5 Custom Kydex, and Tenicor. Sure there are more appendix holster makers out there, so if I didn't mention your favorite, feel free to leave a comment.
Still on the fence about carrying in the appendix position? I pulled an episode from our Concealed Carry Podcast that discusses appendix carry specifically, as well as some other content we have done on the topic.
- Big Guys Can Appendix Carry Too
- How to Carry in The Appendix Position
- Appendix Carry and Keep all Your Body Parts
And of course, if you're looking for more information on appendix carry, we have put together a mini course that you can view in the comfort of your own home that is less than a dollar and a quarter.