Stand by for pics of our junk and our guns. Lots of people “carry appendix.” Many do not. Frequently the 2 sides argue about it – because, you know, you might shoot off your cock’n’balls. Most of our minions like AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waist Band) and carry that way, not least because it’s so comfortable (MDFI‘s Erik Utrecht wore a G19 in an RCS VG2 from Michigan to Arizona on a bicycle during Trek’s Trek). One staunch proponent of AIWB is Matt Jacques of Victory First; we asked him to pontificate a bit about it. We will run a counter-point (i.e. someone who thinks AIWB is a bad idea, or at least a less good one) as soon as we find an SME willing to write it. Mad Duo
Appendix Carry: Is It For You?
There are always differing opinions on everything. Best truck, best chocolate, direct impingement or piston, even the old reliable 9MM vs .45. The debate that seems to be getting the most attention over the last couple of years is “appendix or strong side carry?”
This is just like the decades-old ammo debate. There are strong feelings on both sides, some of which are non-negotiable. To help you make your own decision, I’ll offer my personal experience and findings as well as what some of my students have relayed to me over time.
I have been appendix carrying daily for about two years. Prior to that, I only carried AIWB (appendix inside waist band) off duty, since my PSD work required me to carry strong side with a 6004 rig. So why did I switch after nearly twenty years of carrying strong side? Well, it was a calculated and studied conversion.
I am a retired cop and former Marine MP. For the first few decades I carried a handgun, I used a Sam Browne rig for duty and a couple of different rigs for SWAT and fugitive work. Strong side was the norm and the gun was always in that general area, either on the belt or a few inches lower beneath my armor.
AIWB was something we did without much thought. When I did undercover work, I would regularly stuff my handgun inside my waistband to run a deal. Whether I was driving or riding dictated where I stuffed it; my carry location was based on where the suspect would be. The AIWB setup was perfect because I didn’t have to reach behind my back to draw my weapon in a deadly force confrontation or during the takedown kicked (damn do I wish the Vanguard II had existed back then). After carrying in my waistband as an undercover cop I realized AIWB was a viable concept, but I needed to address what the masses still stammer about… “but it’s pointed at your junk.”
Well, yes and no. “Pointing” is an act, not just placing the handgun in its resting position. If working in a safe and deliberate manner (as administrative prep should be) there are zero concerns. I get dressed, and my carry gun is already staged in its home, a Raven Concealment EIDOLON. When I don the rig, the gun is in the holster, trigger is covered and I secure the holster on my belt. At no time is there any chance of the handgun going off, unless you wrongly think they go bang all by themselves.
I do not subscribe to the “one more rep” loading procedure for my EDC. Loading and donning are an administrative function, in a controlled and safe environment and manner. If I deem it necessary to do a press check or swap out a magazine, it is done BEFORE I re-insert it into the holster, and then I secure it on my belt.
The rig isn’t “pointed” at my plumbing. It is offset at about 1 o’clock, resting there comfortably until I might need it. The same as a rifle in the closet is loaded, or the 30-30 that can rest on the rifle rack in the back of the truck. The rifle is safe, but you pass the muzzle (if you want to be THAT specific) without incident. When you sit with a handgun at 3 or 4 o’clock, you will flag yourself several times throughout the day without realizing it. Sitting in a chair and kicking your feet back so you are stretching, or on your toes reaching for something on an elevated surface, kneeling on both knees… If you are active, you do it more than you think.
“It’s pointed at your femoral artery”. Again, not really. Granted, if you had a negligent discharge the muzzle blast itself could cause serious damage. That being said, for years and with great success people have carried pistols in shoulder holsters, with their muzzles inches from the Axillary artery, Axillary veins and brachial artery.
We carry carbines muzzle down and loaded, and they flag our legs (there are arteries there too). We have to sling loaded rifles on our back in certain situations; we make sure the safeties are on and safely guide the rifles to our back. In that same way, before we carry AIWB we ensure the handgun is in the holster and then secure it in the beltline.
But even I have concerns with training AIWB. However, those concerns can be mitigated with good gear and good training. While drawing from AIWB from concealment, we need to make sure our re-holstering procedure is a direct reversal from the presentation.
How is that accomplished? Once your post drill/shooting engagement is done, reach down with your non-firing hand, grab a positive fist full of cover garment and clear that possible trigger guard obstruction. Then as your handgun approaches the “mouth” of the holster, take a quick look and make sure that you have a clear, unobstructed path. Do this in a safe and deliberate manner, much like you would move a loaded carbine to your back to aid another or clear an obstacle.
AIWB is faster and more secure than many other carry methods. The handgun is near my body’s centerline. If someone “bumps” it, they will most likely be someone I am giving a hug or brotherly shoulder bump to, and in either of those cases they know I’m a gun-toting guy so no surprise there. If it’s someone I’m not close to, I can now control the action and keep that area away from an accidental bump and resulting “look of concern”.
And the draw / presentation is faster from 1 o’clock AIWB as opposed to 3 – 4 o’clock strong-side carry. It’s an economy of motion consideration. Less time-in-hand movement, quicker to the target.
It’s also more practical while seated in a vehicle, since your weapon is up front and accessible instead of under a seatbelt or tangled in a cover garment. The cover garment can be mitigated with setup, but your draw is still faster coming from the centerline. I’ve also found that AIWB makes it easier to hide the handgun’s profile (depending on clothing). The new Raven Concealment EIDOLON holster has made hiding a full-size Glock easier than it has ever been, with the addition of the “claw” and “wedge”.
AIWB, while just now becoming more popular, has been around for some time. With advancements in redundant safeties on handguns, proper and safe procedures for loading and strapping up, and using slow and deliberate re-holstering techniques, AIWB is a safe and viable carry position.
Read more about Victory First here in this review. They’re online here and on Facebook right here.
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I am a service tech which requires alot of bending over and working from my knees. I have tried to carry several ways, but keep with strong side 3 to 4oclock fir comfort. I do have a little extra weight but not like my Dad or others that look like they swallowed a basketball. I can see how speed is increased from front waist draw but I just don’t see how you can drive, sit and watch tv or work at a labor intense job with a gun digging into your gut all the time. Most of the videos and pics I see are thin guys or gals talking of the comfort of carrying AIWB but for me, string side is king. I can drive, work, play cornhole all night and chase the kids around the yard playing nerf guns without discomfort. I actually think my love handles work out pretty good with several holders I use. I do like a good Kydex rig but half the time, I use a J frame Ruger hammerless .38 with a blackhawk “sticky” type holster and I have a Ruger Sr9c sticky holster for it that I am going to see a belt clip onto. The “sticky” type holsters are very comfortable and all they need on them is a simple belt clip because I only have trouble with them sliding down the waistband a little because I am moving around alot. I think less material is always better and of course it depends on what you choose to carry. My .45 is for around the property and the range but not for EDC. I encourage anyone to at least try the “sticky” type holsters and get a clip sewn on them and you will not have to buy a bunch of tactical belts to hold your rig up because it sticks to your skin taking alot of weight off of the belt and I find that it sticks pretty well to underwear if you don’t like the feeling against your skin.
Excellent article, really well articulated. I am a sort of fence rider when it comes to this topic of appendix carry. I personally do not, and foreseeably will not, carry appendix for a couple of specific reasons to me, the first being my spare tire doesn’t leave much room for the gun up front, and the second and in my opinion more important reason (and the reason I advise my students to preference strong side or even cross draw over appendix) is the issue of the muzzle. Yes, you’re absolutely right, basically no matter where you wear the gun it’s going to be “pointing” at some part of you throughout the day. Where do most people who train experience negligent discharge gunshot wounds? It’s usually tracking the right leg or left hand/arm. Why? Because most are right handed and carrying strong side. If it’s appendix, you’ve now got the risk of not just punching a hole through your fat thigh, you do in fact have the genitals (mostly for males) and the femoral artery. I have to say I don’t accept the premise that just because we do other things with firearms that are demonstrably less safe that we can therefore do them with others. The point about the rifle is not substantial — there is no other safe way to carry a loaded rifle other than muzzle down, and furthermore the muzzle is generally going to be significantly far away from the artery. The point about the shoulder holster is also not substantial — the brachial etc arteries are perpendicular to the muzzle, whereas with appendix the femoral is essentially parallel, making the possibility of hitting the artery much higher, and again, just because shoulder holsters aren’t the “safest” of methods to carry doesn’t mean it validates other “unsafe” methods (note the quotations — there is no such thing as complete safety 🙂 ), also shoulder holsters are largely out of favor for concealed carry, partially due to the safety concern. One last point is that I believe the difference in draw time between appendix and strong side is negligible in the totality of circumstances. If you have to draw your gun, from concealment, in a reactionary fashion, you can always expect at least a quarter second for reaction, the time it takes to clear the garment, and THEN the actual presentation. The difference in total time between appendix and strong side (all other things being equal) could be somewhere around 25-30% improvement. Granted, that is a vast improvement, but it’s not lightning and molasses. The last point is that I believe there is the distinct possibility that you would have to reholster quickly. I really appreciate the legitimate safety concerns you bring up with appendix, and the best way to guarantee you don’t have a negligent discharge while reholstering is to do so slowly. You may need to do it quickly, one handed, and by feel. I’m personally much more comfortable doing that with the muzzle tracking the outside of my right thigh, rather than the inside of the thigh where the aforementioned sensitive parts and arteries are.
Also please forgive my poor grammar/syntax/spelling — long day at the range, need my nap 🙂
I’ve been carrying AIWB for over a year now. I’m a certified cake lovin’ fat kid and it works just fine for me. It is a comfortable way to carry. I observed that my firearm is more effectively concealed than if it were carried between the 3 and 6 o’clock positions. I also feel that it is better protected from an attempted grab. The draw and re-holster are both quick and with an economy of movement. I no longer feel the need to “check” on my firearm and make sure the cover garment is still in place and a HUGE plus, it is the only method of carry that doesn’t constantly try to pull my britches down! As a smaller statured person (that’s fancy talk for short) I have found that 1911’s, Hi-Power’s and Smith M&P’s all dig into my leg a little when seated for extended periods. A slight and discreet readjustment of the pistol/holster combo will fix that. I simply went back to my favorite carry gun, the Sig P-229. The shorter slide made a minor annoyance disappear. If I bend over to pick something up the hammer does dig into the belly a bit, but I’ve been at this for a minute or two and the same thing happened long ago when I was skinny. So far the only con I have been able to conjure up has been the difficulty of a discreet draw if the threat is directly in front of me (ex. a mugger demanding my wallet) I have also gamed out some possible solutions for that situation. Like everything else in the firearms world, it is all a series for trade offs. No solution is perfect but AIWB is working very well for me.
Also, your reholstering scheme, unless you slide your gun hand down the front of your body, inevitably tips the gun inward so the muzzle is pointed at your cuerpo during the reholstering process. If you like it, fine. I’ll stick with the way I’m happiest. (Once again, it’s America.)
I’ve tried it and I don’t like it. I carried strong side OWB for 31 years on the job, and I carry strong side OWB now. I don’t like the idea of having a muzzle pointed in the direction of my femoral artery (among other things).
I worry about reholstering. Most people say, “Remove the holster, put the gun in it, replace the holster.” Do you think that’s going to happen after a DGU, with your hands shaking, sirens approaching, and maybe the bad guy’s buddies hanging around? I don’t.
On top of all that, unlike your models, I wear my shirt tucked in, with an open jacket. AIWB doesn’t hide so well.
But it’s America. You do your thing and I’ll do mine. (Even if your way is wrong and stupid, and mine is correct and enlightened.)
The average American is fat. IWB doesn’t work if you have a gut. How about covering carry options for reality?
The average American also doesn’t give 2 shits about self defense. If you are serious about your craft, you will hone it. If not you will continue to be a fat American.
I really wish I could carry my G19 AIWB just for the “economy of motion” argument. Like a lot of other people though when I sit or bend forward I get jabbed. Losing a few inches off the gut would help but I still feel like I’m doing it wrong. Is there more to it than I’m thinking? Or does it just not work for certain body types?
Could be hoster type.
I have carried for years now in appendix only. Up until a couple of years ago it was difficult to find a dedicated appendix rig. I have quite a few that just were not comfortable or did not do what I needed.
Most comfortable appendix is G-code incog. Then the new Eidolon from raven concealment. Ive only been using it for about 1 week so still working ut the kinks. Its promising and can be used in many different configurations. I have addapted my incog a little like the Eidolon. I have attached a spacer to the right hand clip to put more inward pressure there. And had planned to adapt a claw and spacer to the side like the Eidolon has. No need now since raven concealment did it for me with the Eidolon.
I like to carry a G19 and find that here in the south when its hot you can see the butt printing a little more than I would like. That is what the claw and spacer are for. Another guy at keepersconcealment.com makes an interesting IWB appendix rig but I have not tried it. Its a lot more expensive than Eidolon at 160 vs 90 bucks. It has a lot of the features that you would want to conceal a larger frame gun. So far I would say if you are using a small frame go with incog from G code. If a larger try the new one from Raven or the one from keepersconcealment
Thoughtfully written article from an unquestionably qualified professional. Even though I personally carry strong side,the information causes me to pause and consider options (and we all know how much we like options). Again it all depends on what works for you and your body type,but information like this should be strongly considered when if come from a knowledgeable source such as Mr. Jacques.
I use appendix carry almost exclusively, now. I did have to shorten and smooth out the belt clip on my G-code because it jabbed in the leg at all times. Once I took care of the belt clip, the holster itself is comfortable for almost any range of motion, including sitting for long periods. The only issue I have is bending over to tie my shoes. Granted, I carry a Shield, so it is fairly short and minimizes getting jabbed by the muzzle.
I had much the same experience as the author.
I moved through the same carry methods in my law enforcement and subesequent private work.
I have been carrying AIWB exclusivly for the last 4 years, and the inability to find a good Aiwb rig, that worked for me, is one of the reasons i started making gear.
I have found that the primary design :onsideration for a comfortable AIWB is
That the rig must have a single point of belt attachment that allows the gun and holsyer to yaw slightly when changing.position.
A single softloop is our preference.
Good training and a slow, deliberate reholster mitigates most of the “dont shoot your junk” concerns.
My main problem with trying to carry in this manner is a combination of where i wear my pants and having too much belly. Perhaps I should get in shape and pull my pants up?
I really like appendix carry but a lot of my job involves sitting down at a computer for which aiwb is extremely uncomfortable for me so I end up just doing strong side carry most days.
Thats weird because I find the strong side to be more uncomfortable when seated. Move the holster over more to the 12-30 and see how appendix does for you. I find it conceals a little better there as well. Some people no matter what will just not warm up to the idea of having that muzzle pointed at the frank and beans. I dont use mine much anymore anyway so what the hell.
It must be body type and pistol length because when I tried appendix carry strong side with my Glock 19, or the Springfield 45 or Kahr K9 (lets not talk about the Beretta 92) the muzzle and rigid plastic holster jams itself into my leg every time I sit down as well as step over objects. I know that CCW is supposed to be comforting and not necessary comfortable, but that was too uncomfortable.
I seen a number of women for who this works well because of their curves. The appendix carry doesn’t jam the grip and slide in to their ribs like it does with strong side IWB.
Just 2 cents worth……..
A. Trek is awesome. And if you are in the Michigan areas you should definitely take a class with MDFI!
B. Man, I wish I wasn’t the only person in the world that is just having a really difficult time making the Eidelon work!
“Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you are not willing to destroy.”