Having been in the concealed carry world for a little while now, I have tried every possible method for carrying a handgun. The one that has come to be my favorite (as well as my every day method) is appendix carry. For some reason, this method of carry seem to be extremely controversial, and for reasons that I cannot comprehend. For anyone that is just starting out carrying, or just honestly hasn’t heard of this way to carry, it’s very simple. Basically, it’s carrying your handgun along your center line between 12 & 1 o’clock. There are obviously some considerations that need to be made if you decide this is the right carry method for you.
Individual Body Shape: The first thing I tell my students right off the bat is that appendix carry is not for everyone and I won’t claim that it is. I personally find it to be the most efficient way to carry a firearm concealed. Not every person’s body is built the same, and you need to look at that as a major factor when deciding if you want to carry a firearm in this manner. If you have large amounts of “body mass” along your center line, then appendix carry may not be the most effective way to carry your firearm. “Slim” people such as myself have no problem in that department, and I can carry it quite comfortably.
Handgun Size: Another important factor you should look at is the size of the handgun you are considering to carry. I don’t believe in using “absolutes,” therefore I’m not going to say you “can’t” carry a full-size firearm (Glock 17, M&P Full-Size, etc.), but it may be a little more difficult. I’ve found a “happy medium” in the Glock 19, and I carry it every day. For those not familiar with that platform, it is the model with a four-inch barrel. Anything smaller than that would likely be even more comfortable, especially when you get down to the size of a Glock 26/27 or M&P Compact. Snub-nose revolvers also seem to “disappear” along your center line with this type of carry.
Style of Holster: With this “unorthodox” type, holsters should be tailored specifically for appendix wear. Using a traditional “strong –side” Inside the Waistband (IWB) holster will prove to be uncomfortable, as there is too much excess material to deal with. A good quality Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) holster should be extremely minimalist, be very sturdy, hold its shape for one-handed re-holstering in a “worst case scenario,” and have a “tuckable” feature, in case the situation dictates it. There are many manufacturers out there tailored for the Appendix world, but there a few that I recommend to people. The Comp-tac 2’oclock, Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 and Keepers Concealment “Keeper AIWB” are all great holsters. The one that I personally recommend, as well as carry on a daily basis is the ROCity “IWB Soft-Loop” Holster. They’re a great bunch of guys and I have yet to have any problems with this rig, despite my daily use.
The benefits of carrying a firearm appendix style significantly outweigh the cons. As we all know fights happen in a very dynamic and chaotic manner, and having your firearm located right on your center line will help you deploy it faster and get it into the fight. Because it is located along the center of your body, a place where your arms naturally move in an alarm response during a fight, you can protect your firearm as well as block attacks. In a “grounded” situation where you’re on your back, you can also get to your firearm much more quickly than trying to get to it while you’re literally lying on it on a traditional IWB holster. I’ve found that no matter what position I’m in whether I’m on my stomach, side, back or even sitting, I can still deploy my firearm effectively and efficiently.
One of the most argued cons I’ve heard is “I don’t feel comfortable with it being pointed at my femoral artery.” If that’s the case than you shouldn’t be carrying a firearm to begin with, and you should take a step back and re-evaluate carrying concealed. It doesn’t matter where the firearm is holstered on you, it’s all inherently dangerous per se. What is the difference from carrying it “strong side” IWB? It’s still pointed at your femur bone. As long as you keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire, then you will have no issue. Did that last part sound familiar?
As I said earlier, appendix carry is not for everyone and I would not say that it is. Depending on what works for you and your body type, appendix carry may be a viable option for you – then again, it may not be. I would recommend that you at least try it – who knows, maybe it will end up being your new favorite way to carry your firearm. As always: practice, practice and more practice if you decide to carry in this fashion. It requires a little getting used to.