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.