Appendix Carry

I’ve been playing around with appendix carry of a pistol lately. For those who don’t know, appendix carry is carrying the pistol, usually inside the waistband, just to the strong side of the belt buckle.

So far, I’ve found quite a few things to like about appendix carry (AIWB.)

  • The drawstroke is actually a bit faster than with traditional strong-side carry. I average about a 1.5-second draw to the first shot, from concealment, at 7 yards. From AIWB, I’ve hit a couple of draws under 1.3 seconds.
  • AIWB is somewhat more accessible from a seated position, especially while driving. It’s also much easier to draw weak-hand.
  • It opens up a whole world of options for cover garments.  With traditional strong-side carry, you either have to wear an open-front shirt, vest, or jacket, or accept a cripplingly slow draw.  With AIWB carry, you can conceal a pretty large pistol under pretty much anything, as long as it’s untucked.  AIWB carry works very well with my usual cargos-and-golf-shirt casual dress.

Of course, nothing is perfect.

  • If you fuck up and light a round off while reholstering, you stand a very good chance of castrating yourself.  And that’s the best case scenario – worst case, you get to experience a severed femoral artery and the joys of rapid exsanguination…
  • Okay, you did read the last part, about blowing your jimmy off while reholstering?
  • If you have to draw strong-hand only, it’s gonna be a little slower clearing your cover garment.
  • Reloading from under a closed-front cover garment is also going to be a little slower.
  • Seriously, go back and re-read the part about castrating yourself.

I’m going to continue carrying appendix-IWB for a while, just to wring the technique out.  I think that it has a ton of potential for concealed carry.  But as much as I hate to say this, AIWB is an experts-only carry method.  If you want to try it out, carry empty around the house for a week or so, and do a few thousand unloaded draws and reholsters.  DO NOT GET IN A HURRY WHILE REHOLSTERING!

For those who care, I’m carrying a Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm full-size in a Custom Carry Concepts Looper (thanks again, Todd!)


12 thoughts on “Appendix Carry

  1. I guess if you carry around one of those bitty little pistols that everybody wants to carry (and nobody wants to fight with) it’ll work okay, but I just don’t see how people do it with a service-sized auto.

    The first time I tried it with my 1911 blue gun, I tried to sit down and damn near bruised my pubic bone.

  2. I carry a full-size Smith and Wesson M&P9 AIWB. It’s all in the holster. Helps if your pants are a bit on the loose side, too.

  3. How the looseness of the pants affects the length of the barrel eludes me. The problem here is that with a 5″ 1911, if the trigger guard is in the belt line, the muzzle is about an inch from the crotch seam of the jeans, and that’s without a holster, (and I’m all old and stuff, so I don’t wear particularly low-cut jeans.)

    This may be one of those guy clothes/girl clothes things; kinda like how I’ve never understood how dudes carry J-frames in their jeans pockets…

  4. Know two guys who had true ADs while reholstering. Both have big divots down their strong side asscheeks. I’m very attached to my wedding tackle and do not plan to point a loaded gun at my already sparse bits and pieces. Hitting my femoral artery might be preferable. 🙂

  5. Bleeding out while I scream after shooting my junk off would not be my idea of a good time.

    I could never understand why folks are in a rush to reholster. Jamming shirts and things in with your holster can lead to unexpected load noises.

  6. Tam,

    You may well be right. I’m 6′ tall, 180#, 34″ waist, 32″ inseam, and the muzzle of my MP9 come nowhere near the crotch seam of my khakis. Keeping the pants/belt a little looser than you normally would helps let the holster ride up a bit when you sit. Makes it a little more comfortable.

    Al T., et al,

    You’re exactly right. AIWB carry is bloody dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, or if you let yourself get distracted. For me, I think the benefits outweigh the risks.

    However, if I do AD while in the holster, the next bullet will go into my own head, and I’ll shoot anyone who attempts to provide first aid… 😉


  7. I’ve been carrying AIWB for about nine years (gov’t model 1911s and Glocks) and the worst problem was finding the right holster. The proper cant and height (from the belt) are very individual dependent.

    For me (6’3″ and 195lbs), a longer gun like a 5″ 1911 works very well if the grip is about 1 1/2″ to 2″ above the belt (helps getting a proper master grip on the gun rather fast). If the gun is shorter (or higher), it tends to stick out and thus print.

    The best holster for what I’ve just described has been for me, the Garrity Changeling (

    Presently, I’m using a rig that Lou Alessi made at my request some five years ago. It’s basically, a NY Talon with belt loops set at an angle where the front strap is basically parallel to the belt and seats about 1/2″ above the belt. It works very well with the G19/23 but I wish I had asked for a G17 model (longer gun means it seats deeper IWB and is thus more stable). Lou told me he based my request on a variation of a Talon (with the clip) made for AIWB that was once requested by some members of the DEA sometime in the early 90s. Interestingly enough, I had gotten the idea to try AIWB from seeing one such DEA agent during a John Farnam class in that same time period; it turned out that Lou knew that agent personally, small world huh?

    Anyway, all forms of carry are highly personal and we have to adapt to our body type as best we can. AIWB works for me but I wouldn’t recommend it above other systems to everyone.

    P.S. Drawing strong hand only from a closed front undegarment can be done and quite fast too but it takes time to master the technique.

  8. I don’t see how you could have an AD if you remove the holster from your belt when reholstering (so trigger guard is covered) then put the holster back on your belt AIWB.

  9. Anyone interested in AIWB carry should check out Raven Concealment Systems’ Original Vanguard and Vanguard 2 holsters. These are minimalist “holsters” that cover only the trigger guard and trigger and are attached to the belt with either a strong nylon cord or, in the case of the Vanguard 2, a snap secured belt loop The OVG is available for a few different makes of sidearm and is constructed of Kydex. The VG2 is injection molded and only fits Glock pistols (as of this writing). You have to remove the holster to re-holster the weapon but it adds no bulk to your gun, and you can adjust the depth and angle of carry for comfort. when not attached to your person the slide can be cycled and the magazine loaded or extracted without the trigger being exposed. Worth a look!

  10. I carry a Glock 35 AIWB. It is definitely the only position I could conceal a full size handgun. It only prints when I’m wearing a T-Shirt. Honestly though there are times when I wish I had a G23 for those times I absolutely would not want someone to notice that last half inch of the grip that tends to print in light shirts.

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