UP FRONT AND PERSONAL
APPENDIX CARRY HAS SOME ADVANTAGES, BUT DO THEY OUTWEIGH THE DRAWBACKS?
Appendix carry has some advantages, but do they outweigh the drawbacks?
By Bob Campbell
It seems that more and more people are bellying up to appendix holsters as a way to carry their handguns concealed.
Today the demand is such that quite a few makers now offer inside-the-waistband holsters designated with an “A” prefix (AIWB) and market them as appendix holsters.
An appendix holster is worn inside the waistband rig, forward of the hip and to the right (or left if you are left handed) of the navel. As such, it is a strong side draw, but not in the usual sense of the term. For right-handed shooters, the handgun is in the general location of the appendix.
The popularity of these holsters has increased as more and more people look for a way to completely conceals their handguns while ensuring they have ready access to them. But, as with most things, there are trade-offs, and you must decide whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Appendix carry is gaining ground based not on a fad but on real advantages.
1. Easy access. The primary advantage of the appendix holster is that it offers a natural draw. Think about it. When you are standing and relaxed, your hands tend to drift toward the front of the body and you may snag your thumbs in the front pockets of your pants. Few of us place our hands in our back pockets when relaxed. So, the AIWB offers a natural draw because it’s where your hands are normally placed.
2. Easy to conceal. A long, covering garment isn’t needed. You need only cover the gun butt and holster snaps.
3. Easy to retain. Retention is good because with a well-designed holster, part of the retention is in the holster and part is maintained by body compression.
4. Easy to defend. Some say the appendix draw is easier to defend against a
gun grabber. With any holster and draw, when you draw, you blade the body from the attacker and you have the non-dominant arm up and ready to defend at the very short ranges in which these things occur. I rate the appendix carry no better or worse than most, as proper retention from a gun grabber is a matter of preparedness and training.
1. Muzzle direction. Where’s that thing pointed? The overwhelming observation made by most is that the muzzle is pointed toward important parts of the anatomy. With other carry modes, the muzzle may also cover the body, but strong-side carry and belt scabbards at 3 o’clock are less offensive.
None of us are planning on having an accidental discharge, but we know it might happen. The vast majority occur when holstering or drawing. The solution with the IWB and AIWB is to strap the holster and gun combination in together when suiting up.
Always exercise strict muzzle and trigger discipline. That being said, the
“THE PRIMARY ADVANTAGE OF THE APPENDIX HOLSTER IS THAT IT OFFERS A NATURAL DRAW.”
muzzle points toward the anatomy no matter how careful you may be. A perceived drawback is as real as any. If you cannot get over that, you need another holster carry position.
2. Uncomfortable or awkward for some. The AIWB is not suitable for all body types. It can poke you, especially when seated, and some find presenting the handgun to be more difficult, which can cost your life.
3. The AIWB also limits the size of the handgun. I have used the JM Custom Kydex holster with good results, molded for the Glock 17, but for most of us the Glock 19 or SIG P239 type handguns are better choices. The popular Smith & Wesson Shield and Glock 43 single-stack 9mm handguns are well suited for this carry.
4. Another concern is rollout. The body tends to push the AIWB holster out and away from the body. The front of the body tends to bulge at the waist, more so with some of us than others. This results in the gun butt being pushed away from the body along with the top of the slide and angling the muzzle inward. This makes for greater concern with muzzle safety, and this rollout also limits draw speed.
Some companies, such as JM Custom Kydex and Keepers Concealment have anti-rollout designs that work very well. These devices or designs also make for a sharper draw.
Anti-rollout features may be integral to the design or add-ons screwed into the holster body. JM Custom Kydex addresses the problem with holster wings, while Keepers Concealment offers extra wedges and Velcro attachments that allow a customized holster cant to fight rollout.
They offer a wide range of adjustment. A wedge near the toe of the holster is all that is needed to eliminate rollout in most cases. Some may need more of a wedge than others, and in my experience if you use a shorter handgun such as the Glock 43 you will not need wedges at all.
A PERSONAL TEST
While there are benefits and drawbacks to all carry methods, the only way to find what works best for you is to try different holsters. You might discover that no one carry method is ideal for all situations.
If you discover that appendix carry is the way to go, the good news is that you will have will have no shortage of holster choices.
Top Middle: The Gearcraft rig offers good fit and retention and also incorporates a magazine carrier into the holster.
Above: The Galco Triton holster is a versatile holster with much to recommend it.
Right: These three photos from Viper Holster demonstrate the draw sequence when using an appendix holster.
xxxx Above: Wraith Tactical offers a wide range of holsters for concealed carry and particularly for appendix carry. Lobo’s versatile IWB/Tuckable is a useful AIWB.
Above: Combining the holster and magazine carrier in a single holster makes sense. The Galco Walkabout is a modern design with much utility. Bottom right: Galco’s USA Ultimate Second Amendment tuckable makes sense as an appendix holster. Note neutral draw angle.
Above: Appendix carry is among the most useful carry positions for modern shooters.
Right: These holsters from JM Custom Kydex are for the Glock 42. The holster on the left features an anti-rollout component. The holster on the right is a conventional IWB.