Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) carry has been a steadily growing trend in the concealed carry world for several years now. It’s been derided by some as a fad, but it doesn’t look like we can expect appendix carry to go anywhere for a long time. The biggest problem with AIWB right now is the staggering amount of misinformation being spread about the topic, even from some respected industry experts who normally give reliable advice. I’m personally a big fan of AIWB, and even though I don’t think it’s for everybody, if you’re serious about concealed carry, you should take a few minutes to understand the pros and cons, and how appendix carry can be done safely. I’ve done my best to condense the basics of AIWB into one quick video…
The Basics of Appendix Carry
Full transcript below:
Pretty much every day for about the last six years, I’ve carried a handgun on my belt right here at the 1 o’clock position, also called Appendix Inside the Waistband carry or AIWB. There’s been a lot of controversy about this method of concealed carry, and that’s because it’s been really misunderstood both by its critics and by a lot of the people who choose to carry this way.
Appendix carry is nothing new. It’s actually been around for centuries, but it’s gained popularity in recent years which I believe has a lot to do with the influence of the firearms instructor Todd Green. Todd actually passed away last month after a long fight with cancer. And unfortunately, I never actually to meet Todd in person or take any of his classes before stopped teaching, but even so, he’s the one guy who probably more than anybody else has had the most influence on my development as a shooter. And not just the way I carry a gun, but my whole approach to thinking about self-defense general. And that’s because Todd shared a lot of his thoughts on his blog at pistol-training.com and the forum he started, pistol-forum.com.
So I first gave appendix carry a serious try after reading about it on Todd’s blog several years ago and since then I’ve had a lot of opportunity to experiment with different techniques and gear and I’ve also been able to pick up some tips here and there from other instructors who carry appendix. So there’s a lot more to this than I can share in one video, but I want to give you a quick overview of appendix carry, and maybe confront some of the more common criticisms.
But first I want to talk about why anyone would want to carry a gun this way. There are a lot of advantages to appendix carry. The one you hear most often is that it has the potential to allow for a very quick draw stroke from concealment. This is especially true if you’re sitting down or in an awkward position or in very tight quarters where you can’t move around much. The gun is just easier and quicker to access than a gun behind your hip. It’s also easier to protect the gun if someone were to try to make a grab for it, and it’s easier to surreptitiously access the gun without drawing a lot of attention to yourself if you need to do that.
A lot of people find appendix carry to be uncomfortable, and I can’t really argue with that, but that’s by no means a universal experience. I actually think it’s more comfortable because I don’t have a gun pressing against my hip bone all day — I can tolerate for a lot longer compared to any other kind of belt carry.
But for me, the most compelling reason to switch to appendix carry was just ease of concealment. With behind the hip carry, I just could not find a way to conceal a gun unless it was very small or I was wearing a jacket or really baggy clothing. But with appendix carry, if I’ve got the right holster, I can carry a gun of just about any size and I don’t have to wear a XXL poncho to cover it up. That’s not to say I always want to deal with the weight of a full size pistol but with appendix carry, I can be a lot more flexible with the size of gun that I’m carrying.
Usually, when somebody says they’ve tried appendix carry and then they immediately decide they don’t like it, it’s because they’re using the wrong kind of holster. That’s almost guaranteed to not work. You have to use a holster that is specifically designed for appendix carry. And I don’t mean just an inside the waistband holster with a neutral cant. You’ve got to get a holster with some really specific design features like pushing the muzzle away from the body and getting the grip tucked in toward the body. Those features are really important for comfort and concealment.
If you’re looking for some specific suggestions, I would say skip all the cheap stuff and go straight for the really good custom holster makers. It’ll actually end up being cheaper in the long run. So try Keepers Concealment or JM Custom Kydex. They both make some excellent appendix carry holsters. You could also try Custom Carry Concepts or Dark Star Gear or Raven Concealment — there really are a lot of good options these days. Just make sure you do your homework first and whatever holster you try comes from a holster maker who understands what has to go into a good appendix carry design.
The other big criticism of appendix carry is that it’s inherently unsafe because there’s no way to re-holster the gun without pointing it at yourself. Well, that’s only true if you do it wrong. Concealed carry in general — no matter how you’re carrying — is inherently dangerous if its done incorrectly. For instance, I know we’ve all seen this guy before: somebody pointing a gun right at his side while he’s trying to get the muzzle to go into his behind the hip holster. I see that at the range all the time, but I never hear anybody say that we gotta get rid of this behind the hip carry because it’s inherently dangerous. No, what we say instead is, “that guy is doing it wrong, somebody needs to show him how to re-holster properly so he doesn’t hurt himself.”
Well, it’s the same thing with appendix carry. There are a few things we can do to make sure we re-holster the gun safely.
So what I like to do when I’m done shooting is first, I bring the gun back to a high ready I then I just pause for just a split second. Sometimes this is called a “hard break”. I’m going to make sure my finger is off the trigger. I’m going to make sure, if I’ve got a double action gun, that I’m decocked and I’ll put my thumb on the hammer. And if I’ve got a safety, I’ll make sure that’s flipped on at this point also.
And now I’m going to move my cover garment and then I’m going to lean back just a little bit and tilt my hips forward a little bit. And I’m going to slowly and very intentionally look the gun into the holster, making sure there are no obstructions in the way. And as soon as the muzzle clears the mouth of the holster, I’ll tilt it outward just a little bit and… slowly into the holster. All of that takes about two seconds and at no point was the muzzle ever covering any part of my body.
I don’t think you’re any more likely to shoot yourself with appendix carry than any other kind of holster. But it’s got the perception of being less safe because, if you do make a mistake it’s going to involve your… gentleman area or maybe your femoral artery, and be fatal really quickly. And that’s why having a very intentional reholstering technique is so important.
If the idea of appendix carry makes you nervous, then don’t do it. I have never tried to convince anybody to carry appendix and I never will. It’s not for everybody and it’s definitely not for more casual gun owners. But if you do want to give it a try, just make sure you use a good holster and don’t get in a hurry when you’re reholstering.
Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment is now teaching an excellent one-day class on AIWB Skills. Be sure to check out the training calendar on his website to find out if there’s one near you!