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


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.


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.

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