Appendix Carry – The Most Dangerous Inside The Waistband Carry Position on Earth?

So carrying a gun comes with some inherent dangers. We mitigate them with training and using appropriate gear. But when it comes to concealed carry, specifically carrying a gun inside the waistband or (IWB), there still exists this idea that appendix carry, or carrying the gun in the roughly 12 o'clock position points the muzzle in an unsafe and dangerous direction. If so, carrying in the appendix position would violate the fundamental firearm safety rules. But is this an accurate view?

For example, here is a comment on one of our posts, and then the picture referenced in the comment:

 

If you're interested in reading the article posted on ‘negligent discharges” here is a link.

Muzzle position in Appendix and Traditional IWB Carry —

Let's look at where the muzzle points while carrying and drawing using the (AIWB) Appendix Inside the WaistBand (roughly 12 o'clock) and traditional (IWB) Inside the WaistBand (roughly 3 o'clock).

I am using a SIRT- Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger, laser training gun. The laser you see indicates where the muzzle points, and I taped the trigger down so the laser remains visible even when I am not pressing the trigger.

I positioned the holster on the outside of my pants but inside the belt. Also, I am not wearing a cover shirt. I did this to provide visibility of the laser, while keeping the holster position as similar to what it would be if it were on the inside of my pants.

AIWB Standing —

The photo below shows where the laser (muzzle) points carrying in the AIWB position while standing.

By observing the point where the laser touches my pants, we can imagine the path of a round fired from the gun while in the holster. It may be hard to see in the photo, but the laser doesn't point back toward my body, but really catches where the pants protrude out.

If my gun fired while holstered, the round may pass through part of my male parts at worst, and at best, I would likely sustain burns from the gases during ignition. However, the muzzle does not cross my femoral artery as many people who oppose AIWB carry suggest. It's possible to carry AIWB, and position the holster in such a way that the muzzle is closer to the femoral artery, but it would require the gun to be closer to the 2 o'clock position. Not only is this not truly appendix carry, it is uncomfortable.

AIWB Seated —

How about carrying in the appendix position while seated?

In the seated position, you see the laser is even further away from my body than standing. Again, if my firearm discharged while holstered, it would suck. It just wouldn't be the unequivocal life ender, or turn me into a eunuch.

AIWB Draw —

Okay how about during the draw? Surely carrying AIWB is much more dangerous during the draw stroke?

Carefully track the laser during the draw. At no time does the laser pass over my femoral artery or track back toward my groin.

Analysis of AIWB —

What we see is that at times, the muzzle passes over parts of my body, even if only superficially. The question is, does this constitute a violation of the safety rule that says we shouldn't point the gun at anything we are not willing to destroy? If you say that it does, and that is why traditional IWB is safer, keep reading.

Traditional IWB Standing —

In the traditional IWB position, we see the laser indicates the muzzle aimed, at least superficially, at my leg. I will note that I'm using a holster with an integrated wedge at the muzzle end, which orients the muzzle outward away from the body. Most people don't use a wedge with traditional IWB holsters, meaning that the muzzle orientation would be further inward toward my leg.

Let's refresh our memory with the diagram showing arteries of the leg.

As we see, there are more arteries than just the femoral artery, and carrying in the traditional IWB (3 o'clock) position doesn't position the muzzle away from all arteries.

Traditional IWB Seated —

In the seated position, just like the standing, the muzzle covers a slice of my body while seated and carrying traditional IWB. At least in the seated position, it appears that AIWB has a slight advantage.

Traditional IWB Draw —

Okay, finally what about during the draw?

Analysis of Traditional IWB —

No matter how you slice it, the muzzle crosses parts of your body while drawing in the traditional IWB position. I would say more so than AIWB while seated.

I guess to be consistent, we should consider if carrying traditional IWB is a violation of the firearm safety rules?

Final Thoughts —

So we come back to the question:

Is carrying in either the AIWB or traditional IWB position a violation of the firearm safety rules?

Well, is it? Can you have degrees of violation of a rule, or is a violation a violation? Is it more of a violation because it crosses more of the body in one position than the other? Of course, that doesn't make sense.

If you think my point in this post was to prove AIWB is safer than traditional IWB, you missed it. The actual point is that in both inside the waistband carry positions, the gun can potentially cross our body while standing, seated, or during the draw/holster process. To say one way is safer is like saying a gun with a manual external safety is safer than one without one, and then go on to say guns don't kill people, people kill people. Which one is it?

It's always incumbent on the person using the gun to assess the risk of carrying or using a firearm, and then become proficient so they can mitigate the risk that is inherent in carrying a gun. Carrying a gun in the AIWB position is not negligent gun handling. That isn't my opinion. To suggest that it is, is factually incorrect.

If you would like to learn more about how to carry safely and comfortably, this course called Holsters, Concealment and Carry Positions is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand more about concealed carry.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. I produce the Concealed Carry Podcast and coordinate the Concealed Carry Instructor Network, and manage MJ Maruster Defense.

25 Comments

  1. N. Buford on January 6, 2023 at 6:59 pm

    Matthew, I have found that having a dispute between two individuals with opposing opinions is not hard when both individuals has at the least, a modicum of common sense. However, when an attempt is made to dispute an opinion that is senseless or the opposition seems to fall in the same said category, the discussion can be rather difficult & usually impossible. In this case, it seems you have flawlessly executed the reasoning & common sense has been able to shine.

    I do agree, the most important part is proficiency. My opinion is if someone is going to be a concealed carrier they should know their firearm as well as they know any of their own appendages & know it’s abilities & limitations just as well.
    Thank You & keep up the great work!

    • Matthew Maruster on January 6, 2023 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks Nick I appreciate the comment. I agree with what you said. I mainly write these types of articles to help people new to concealed carry from falling victim to bogus info. At least present information for them to consider and make a decision. I don’t try to convince people of anything especially people that don’t have the self awareness to reflect or think critically and just want to argue. People who seek truth will find it.

      • Greg Rice on January 26, 2023 at 4:22 pm

        this is why your articles are epic

        • Matthew Maruster on January 26, 2023 at 5:43 pm

          I don’t know about epic but I am very humbled you like it. Just try to get people thinking. Not to propose my views as dogma.

  2. Clark Kent on January 6, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    You just can’t fix stupid.

  3. simracn on January 9, 2023 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for the info. Gives some good info and like the way presented. New to concealed carry, not quite there yet with required paperwork, but getting info and things to practice.
    Deffo gave me some ideas and thoughts for practicing.
    Not sure if have gone over it, but another good one is the shoulder holster and which way it is pointing. Such as pointed behind you, towards the ground, or have seen some that point up

    • Matthew Maruster on January 10, 2023 at 1:27 pm

      I haven’t done anything like this with shoulder holsters, that is a good thought. In general, I think shoulder holsters have limited application where they are a better option than IWB carry. If I can pull together a bunch of shoulder holsters, I may take you up on this idea. I appreciate the thoughtful comment.

  4. Jim Y on January 10, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    We’ve seen the issues with a Sig model discharging while holstered. Mechanical devices can fail. I’m not pointing on at my balls.

    • Jaco on January 26, 2023 at 5:30 pm

      Friend of mine’s son in Charleston SC this past Dec had a Sig P320 discharge in IWB holster, while standing. Bullet went through his penis, completely took out one testical, in and out the leg and hit the floor next to his foot. The remaining testical is still questionable. 28 year old, and the poor kid is NOT in good shape, physically nor mentally! I’m still (unsuccessful) trying to convince my own son this is not a good carry position, but young ones always know better! … so y’all keep believing this BS. I’ll just carry mine NOT pointing at myself!

      • Matthew Maruster on January 26, 2023 at 5:52 pm

        That sounds like a very tragic experience for sure. I’m happy he survived even with multiple traumas. Even people carrying with OWB holsters have shot themselves from negligent gun handling while drawing or holstering. No carry position is without risk, that’s my only point.

  5. N. Buford on January 10, 2023 at 6:37 pm

    Simracn,
    In my opinion & keep in mind, my opinion may not fit you, or your needs.
    No matter the position of carry that you choose, it should be as comfortable as possible for your needs, be as accessible as you can make it & provide the best means of concealment.
    Whether it’s a shoulder holster, OWB, IWB ankle holster or any other location you may choose.
    Research your carry options & the firearm you will choose to carry. Talk to people with experience &… knowledge! You will get many opinions but just learn to wisely filter through them. In my line of work, I frequently tell trainees to never hesitate to ask questions, just be sure of who you ask!

    Some people are of the opinion that when you are carrying the muzzle of your firearm should never come in contact with your body parts or in the act of drawing should not pass over any part of your anatomy. Try any carry method known to man & there is always some level of danger. The firearm selection is part of your safety options.
    Good luck!

  6. Tim Slemp on January 11, 2023 at 9:16 am

    Some good points made in the article but also some oversights. It’s difficult to compare AIWB with traditional IWB and the methodology to reholster guns using the laser was misleading with IWB, particularly while seated. It is entirely possible, and advisable, to reholster a pistol into a traditional IWB holster without ever crossing one’s body. I do it everyday. Bring the gun to the holster with the muzzle pointed behind one’s self instead of from the front. Moreover, a traditional IWB requires essentially no different reholstering technique than a traditional OWB. At worst, one’s buttocks may be flagged. However, it is nearly impossible to not cross one’s body while reholstering AIWB, except without extreme Yoga-like contortions. Much easier with traditional IWB. AIWB has its place but discipline and consistency is key. Also relevant is the type of firearm and action being used for AIWB. The prevalence of precocked, striker-fired guns without manual safeties to back them up makes AIWB carry a very serious subject. One can easily mess it up with serious consequences that simply are far less risky with traditional holsters.

    • Matthew Maruster on January 11, 2023 at 9:35 am

      Hi Tim I appreciate your feedback. I happen to disagree primarily because I was showing the draw, not the holster process. You’re right, you can holster in the seated position carrying IWB without flagging your leg. Your draw doesn’t look like that though. Holstering and more importantly drawing, in the AIWB position, seated or standing, does not require the muzzle to cross any part of the body, even without yoga contortions.

      • Tim Slemp on January 12, 2023 at 7:33 am

        Matthew, those are fair points, although I personally struggle with holstering any pistol back into an AIWB from a seated position. And, despite the risks of AIWB, I do personally carry AIWB in certain circumstances because it works but I also choose my pistols carefully for such duty. More importantly to the matter, holstering is far more dangerous to one’s self than drawing. This is where the AIWB vs everything else debate is really lively. Thank you for your work and thoughts.

        • Matthew Maruster on January 12, 2023 at 8:20 am

          Thanks for the thoughtful and kind dialog. Sounds like you make informed decisions which is terrific. Thanks again for the feedback.

  7. Joe L. on January 18, 2023 at 4:02 pm

    I generally put my firearm in my holster, before attaching to my belt. I rarely draw my loaded pistol where I have to rebolster. However, I do practice rebolstering quite a bit with unloaded pistol or my SIRT Pistol. I carry AIWB.

    • Dave McW on January 28, 2023 at 11:04 am

      I also keep my equalizer in the holster virtually all of the time. I carry a Ruger LCP Max in a SmartCarry holster [it is also in the Viridian ECR holster, so the gun is actually in 2 holsters] as a health care professional in scrubs, while working, with a spare magazine and a rosary in the 2nd pocket of the SmartCarry holster. The gun never leaves my Viridian ECR laser holster when being moved back and forth from my pocket to the SmartCarry holster. When in the pocket or the SmartCarry holster, or in my pants pocket, the gun is virtually never pointed at vitals unless crossing my legs. When using the SmartCarry holster there is a bit of a more well endowed look, but virtually no one is looking there!

  8. Kilgore on January 19, 2023 at 6:38 am

    Your “traditional IWB” isn’t so traditional. Most IWB carriers in practical EDC prefer a canted holster, not straight down like some IDPA range-rule warrior, ridding the world of malevolent cardboard. I actually came across this article posted on the Crossbreed fb page, which is ironic – from the time of the first Supertuck to present day, their most popular IWB is canted, muzzle slightly to rear, not straight down along the axis of the leg standing or into any flare of the cheek when seated. I would never wear that ungainly-straight, goofy high-ride thing you have there.

    Furthermore, your AIWB video actually does show the laser tracking back towards the belly, which makes sense under duress – when the hand may well prematurely drive the gun forward from that lateral position, dragging the barrel out of the holster top. Either that or sweeping the opposite arm trying to pull up too high too fast and get it turned horizontal before it’s pointing downrange. You see, the gun has to rotate on two axes to present from AIWB, vs. only one from IWB 0300. More potential for sweeping something with the gun hand contorting itself, lateral impingement on the barrel, and possibly rotating the grip out of the hand, with a finger prematurely on the trigger, and increasing the chance of pulling an unintentional discharge.

    And this is all under IDEAL conditions. What about CQB when someone has ahold of your arm, or is pulling the grip away from the body, levering the barrel toward you? With IWB 0300, standard police weapon retention tactics may be employed – you turn your weak side to the attacker, rotating the holstered gun away from them with your strong hand protecting, indexing, etc, preparing to draw as soon as you can shove away. With AIWB, you can only ball up like a running back at first, which by definition has your barrel pointed at a leg. The development of tactics, especially by any real-world analysis of documented AIWB events, leaves much more to be desired – which means that all possibilities of losing muzzle discipline have not had anywhere near as much opportunity to be fully realized and understood.

    And that primitive medical diagram is optimistic at best. Not all “vitals” are in the exact same place for every person. It’s pretty clear, in conclusion, that gross variances in body types and the ratios of major human features are evidenced by the fact that so many people can’t carry AIWB comfortably at all – not even with a mouse gun.

    So, some small group of people are apparently built weird enough to carry AIWB, for-real-EDC, and at least claim “comfort”, LOL. OK, fine, (I only ever met one dude in the last 35 years that religiously did) I wish them luck – because the research and tactics aren’t really quite there for them yet. But it’s still great to have more options and still far better than not carrying.

  9. Biejay on January 25, 2023 at 6:54 pm

    I don’t understand why this debate is still going on. As long as people have the proper training and good habits formed, let them carry how they see fit. There’s no sense being an armchair quarterback about possible defensive situations because every situation is different. All that matters is constant training and mindfulness of the person carrying AIWB. It would be ideal to have force on force training to see if their skills are adequate enough for a true defensive situation, but in truth every carry position has dangers. We’re carrying something that can go bang and can potentially end a life or maim someone, so of course there will always be dangers anyway.

    All the fudds that keep regurgitating that AIWB is dangerous and blah blah blah should just stick to their shoulder holsters or 3 o’clock IWB carry and get off their high horses.

    • Joel on January 26, 2023 at 4:40 pm

      Completely agree Biejay. This is more examples of the pro2A community beating up our own instead of allowing for the idea that there may be more than one way to accomplish the same goal and focus on fighting the anti crowd.

  10. D Wright Downs on January 26, 2023 at 5:02 pm

    I was an OR Tech and a Welfare Examiner prior to enlisting in the Army…enlisted in my late 20s. I started shooting when I was a child under adult supervision. Got my first CC when we lived in Mid-TN. I do appendix carry or middle of the back depending on what I am wearing. I don’ t like to carry in a hand bag. I have had the anatomy discussion with many men who just don’t want believe me. Many times I have to rely on my art education and draw the blood and arteries since I don’t have a smart phone. I was a leader of men in the military but these civilian men are so often thick headed.

  11. Vince on January 26, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve tried AIWB and it’s just not comfortable no matter which firearm I try to carry in that position. My EDC is a Springfield XDE-45 and I normally carry in the 3 O’clock position, trying to carry my dads old Colt Mustang in AIWB is also very uncomfortable because it tends to dig into my junk.

    And trying to carry my HK45T is next to impossible to do with an IWB holster because the barrel is over 5” long with a knurled thread protector. It’s even harder to find a holster for it because most people don’t carry such a large handgun so there’s not enough demand for holsters for it so manufacturers don’t make them. If they can’t make money on it they won’t make them.

    During my time in the Navy I was issued a Colt 1911 that the hammer would fall when the trigger was pulled without the backstrap safety being engaged and the manual safety in the safe position. I returned it to the armorer for repair as fast as I could.

    I enjoy reading your articles Matthew, as I always learn something new and can learn about other people’s mistakes so I can hopefully avoid making the same ones they have made. After all, we only get one life and I want mine to be as long as possible.

    • Matthew Maruster on January 26, 2023 at 5:45 pm

      Thank you for explaining your experience and the very kind words. I agree and think everyone should make their own decision on how they carry. I made my decision so why would I suppose to take that same authority away from someone else?

  12. Steve on January 26, 2023 at 6:07 pm

    I am an older guy and carry AIWB most of the time. I have a pretty jacked up back. When I carry at 3 O’Clock it actually hurts my back. It must pull my hip to the side. I’m not carrying a big gun that’s not the problem it’s a Sig 365. Oh and yes I have tried multiple holsters.

  13. Tony L on January 29, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    When a gun is in a holster, a person cannot violate the rules of firearm safety, strictly speaking. If a gun goes off while already in a holster that is a problem with the gun, not the person. John Correia carried appendix and showed how to completely safely re-holster, even before he had a DA/SA with a hammer! Use a wedge, put your draw-side leg back, and lean back as you re-holster. There is no way to safely way to re-holster AIWB while sitting though, so not recommended.

Leave a Comment