Why I ditched appendix carry


There’s no question that appendix carry is the hotness right now. I personally know a lot of serious, switched on dudes and ladybros using that system as their go-to for CCW. I also know of a lot of Internet derp-artists who are using it without really thinking through how to do it safely or smartly. But that’s none of my business.

If you peruse the archives here on the blog, you’ll see that I’ve spent some time with AIWB carry, experimenting with several different kinds of guns and holsters to see if I can make it work for me. To date, I’ve only ever been able to make it work with small automatics like the S&W Shield or Beretta Nano; or with small frame revolvers like J-Frames or SP101s. When it comes to full size guns like 1911s and Glocks, I’ve never been able to get it to work for me the way other people have.

I have spent a decent amount of money on holsters for AIWB, some of which have worked better than others, but haven’t had any luck with really getting full size guns to conceal well unless I’m willing to make wardrobe compromises. Actually, I think that’s a big part of it. It’s hard to conceal a full size gun under a tight fitting douchebag t-shirt, and I do love d-bag t-shirts more than anything.

So I’ve switched back to tradition 4 o’clock behind the hip carry. There is another good reason for this – it’s how I spend most of my practice time. I am primarily a competition shooter, not a defensive trainer, so the bulk of my practice time is spent training for competition. That means that most of my draws are done from strong side at the 3-4 o’clock position. Using appendix carry on a daily basis would mean spending practice time on another carry position. With my practice time already pretty limited, it’s important to focus good reps on skills that translate across CCW and competition.

The final reason I changed back to traditional behind the hip IWB carry is that for me, it just works better. I carry a full size gun a lot easier behind the hip, it’s more comfortable for all day carry for me, and I don’t have to remember to put my shoes on before I put my gun on.

There is no “one size fits all” carry solution. Different body types, different concealment needs, different tastes in carry guns – all of these will affect how you can carry. I tried AIWB and it didn’t work for me, but what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.


  1. I work for an agency that fully indorses AIWB carry with and without holsters (won’t get into the no holster part). I have also spent a lot of money, training time, and real world carry time utilizing the appendix carry. I too went back to strong side hip carry for the same reasons (plus it’s hard to walk a long period of time, run, climb, hike, and jump or ride a bicycle {yes sometimes some people are required to ride bikes while carrying}). I have also observed several negligent discharges (from “professionals” while re-holstering (thank goodness they were carrying strong side hip). I may not look that cool any more but, life is a lot better….

    1. The big thing for me was driving. I know people who do it, but I couldn’t come up with a holster/gun/belt combo to let me drive a car for over an hour without experiencing pretty severe discomfort. Strong side IWB? Not an issue in the car, although it’s a bit harder to draw since I’m basically sitting on the gun.

  2. I think this is interesting because strong side hip carry has never worked for me, unless I’m wearing a big poofy coat. Like you said, different things work for different people, and I’m totally sticking with my appendix carry.

    1. That’s pretty much exactly it for me, too—-standard IWB behind the hip looks like I have a most embarrassing growth that is blindingly obviously to everyone, no matter what kind of gun or holster I try. Either I have a weird butt shape (possible) or I’m Doing It Wrong, but I just can’t conceal anything IWB.

      AIWB, on the other hand, is fantastic. Concealing full-size guns with no issues, riding in the car for 10-hour drives with no problems, riding on a motorcycle for hours with no problems—I love it.

      It really is hugely body-specific, it seems. Length of torso, hip displacement, various body-part curvature, etc (plus obviously the right holster) really seems to make IWB vs AIWB a highly personal thing.

      It’s all good.

      Though in my case, I’ll rest happy knowing my draw is faster than yours. 😛

  3. Same. Tried it for a while with my XDs, and it worked, but wasn’t as comfortable as having the gun on my hip, and I never got comfortable with the loaded gun pointing at major arteries when sitting. Tried it with the G19, and there’s no way. IWB at 4 O’clock for me these days.

  4. I’ve considered installing some kind of car holster (maybe a cross-draw on the seatbelt) to address the difficulty of drawing while strapped into a nicely-bolstered seat. Other than that, I have yet to find a better way to carry.

    I can totally see why Shelley (and many other women) would have difficulty with it though, probably due to fashionable women’s clothes fitting tighter or higher in the hip/back area. Much more common to see a more “flowy” front to the shirt that could hide an appendix gun. Also Shelley doesn’t have a gut pushing the gun outward.

  5. Front carry IWB subcompacts 11 or 1 o’clock (LCP, P938, MK Kahr, J-Frame) only. OWB between 2 – 3 o’clock when carrying compact or full size; only in cooler times of the year (almost year round in the Pac NW), though I rarely carry larger than subcompact. I could never drive with a gun stuck in my back, I can drive and hike all day with either of the methods I mentioned.

  6. AIWB conceals better and is more comfortable for me, but I’m usually carrying an SP101 2.25 inch barrel. My side profile is very narrow and strong side is uncomfortable unless I move it back a bit too far. Drawing from that position is really awkward and probably a very obvious motion. I have to swing my coat back really far or almost rip my shirt off, lean over to the left, cock my arm up high while reaching back, etc….. AIWB requires more simplistic movement for me anyhow.

  7. I like the idea of AIWB and while I have only tried it with a sub-par holster and found it uncomfortable (need to try the 5shot leather SME holster) I have decided to stick with 4:00 IWB for now. Mainly because I have a small child at home and when carrying her around while carrying AIWB, my gun just gets in the way. Much better with traditional IWB, although I was able to conceal much better with an AIWB holster. Once I am not toting a child around I may revisit AIWB.

    1. I still enjoy and frequent AIWB for most of my activities. It’s much easier to draw from when seated and is decently comfortable when driving for less than an hour or so. It’s also encouraged me to eat a bit healthier, which is also a plus. Same as Adam though, I have a 4 month old at home and when I’m carrying him around for extended periods of time, I prefer to have my pistol on my hip as opposed to 1:00. Now that it’s getting colder out I can get away with carrying 4:00 IWB easier than before, but I loved how I could easily carry a medium size gun (G32 or HK45c) and have zero printing when AIWB. When it’s at the 4:00, I find the biggest I can get away with without printing is a subcompact. … that said, printing isn’t that big of a deal in my state and sometimes do open carry, but if I’m trying to conceal it, I’d much prefer it stay that way.

  8. I do both. AIWB during the spring/summer with a Shield where clothing is generally less concealing, then to 4 o’clock IWB with my PPQ during the late fall through winter/early spring months. I spend the two or three weeks up to the carry change polishing up the ‘new’ drawstroke, and the first week or two after the changeover I hit my dryfire pretty hard to burn in the switch.

    I get Caleb’s reasoning. Makes sense. Swapping back and forth twice a year probably has some degree of negative impact on my IPSA and PD drawtimes, but to be honest it’s kind of nice to not have carry calluses all in the same spot from x number of years grinding a holster into the same place, too.

      1. Open carry carries different connotations in different places. In Arizona it really does not raise much of an eyebrow “unless if it is a rifle at sky harbor”. With that said when I see pen carry I always ask myself is that a reasonable man or a poser? Clean clothes good leather OK high point in sweats with a 5 dollar holster and a k mart dress belt?….

  9. I too have switched from AIWB to traditional strong side carry…most of the time. I can definitely conceal a pistol better with AIWB and really walking around and even sitting is fine. Its the driving that gets me. And while it is all just me imaging how things might go if I got into an accident….I just cant trust AIWB while driving. Anybody who has been in an accident knows how violent they can be. The first thing I think about is the big piece of metal that is jammed into my pelvis with the seatbelt directly over it. I cant imagine that ending well in an accident. The second is even though I do use quality kydex holsters I still fear that the violence of the accident may cause the seatbelt to bend/warp/twist/whatever the holster and impact the trigger. Putting a round into my pelvis. I just dont have those fears with strong side carry. Its not as fast nor conceal as well but if Im riding in a car I use strong side carry.

  10. So….is it the d-bag that is tight or the t-shirt? And can we henceforth refer to it as DBIWB?
    You’re right on with the whole sitting-on-your-gun-in-the-vehicle thing. Since I can’t be shifting my heater around as I leave the vehicle, (too many sheeple-peepers in my state), and I have seemed to grown a spare tire as of late, this form of carry is the only one that works for me.

  11. Chris above makes a very good point. As someone who is still dealing with neck trauma from an 1997 car accident, I second his opinion about the unbelievable violence of auto accidents.
    I don’t like AIWB because of the “ND” factor. I think that changing the term “Accidental Discharge” to “Negligent Discharge is generally good, but it can cause a level of complacency: “It won’t happen to me because I’m not negligent.” NDs are fairly common in self-defense situations. Watch the dash cams of police shootings and see how many first rounds go into the ground by the offender’s right foot.
    Also, reholstering. I’ve heard people say, “I always remove the holster, place the gun in it, and replace the holstered gun. No problem.” But are you going to remember all that after a self-defense shooting, while your hands are shaking and the sirens are coming closer?
    I go with 3-4 o’clock OWB. It worked for me for 30 years in plainclothes LE and it still works. And if worse comes to worst, I can live with a skid mark on the outside of my thigh much better than a blown-out femoral artery. (And the skid mark is easier to turn into a funny story.)

  12. Been there done that… Never agian! I tried carrying in front, I just can *not* do it comfortably. The gun (even a smaller gun) tends to go places is just rather not have metallic things with corners going. Sorry no I switched back to a strong side carry about 4 years ago and won’t try it agian.

  13. Just open carry. It eliminates the limitations imposed by trying to conceal, plus it’s a lot more comfortable.

        1. You know what? No. I have no obligation to coddle people’s feelings on my own damn blog. I’m tired of people whining when they get the feelings hurt because I say that something is stupid, and you know what? Open carry is stupid. If you’re trying to make a political statement by OC, you’re doing it wrong.

          1. “I have no obligation to coddle people’s feelings…”

            “I’m tired of people whining when they get the feelings hurt because I say that something is stupid…”

            Irony of ironies, that’s exactly one of many reasons why many people open carry.

            May I suggest, politely, that advocating that a Constitutional Right must be camouflaged may be “doing it wrong”?

  14. Appendix carry works for me because the fabric “overhang” from the girls helps with concealment — as a petite lady I can’t seem to hide it anywhere else.

  15. Not to change the subject of this post, but since it’s been brought up, I agree with Caleb on OC. When I was on the job the only OCers I saw were plainclothes coppers or Feds in IL, GA, TN, and FL, and they always had their shields or stars on the belt next to their gun. I still thought it was low-rent.
    Now that I live in an OC-legal state I’ve seen 3 OCers (one in a local stop-n-rob and two in a large sporting-goods store), plus once I was invited to a dinner at a local restaurant with people I didn’t know were OC activists. Even though everyone was well-dressed and well-behaved, nobody drank, and we might very well have been mistaken for police, the table still drew concerned stares from other patrons. (As did the other OCers I mentioned above.)
    In my opinion, OC just freaks people out, especially in these paranoid times. In most OC-legal states, it’s fairly easy to get a CCW permit. Just do that and don’t freak out your neighbors.

  16. I carry my G34 Weak side, AIWB with the grip toward the strong side. Not what you traditionally see…but it offers me the most comfortable carry, with the most concealable option…and yes, I can carry it while driving. Just gotta make sure ole hog nose on the Glock don’t pinch your business or snag a curly.

  17. Strong side hip is good especially for on duty, but for defense I go for the appendix carry. Why? Sitting in a car or in a booth the hip carry and the small of the back restrict your access to your weapon and if you can get to it, you are so obvious about getting it the element of surprise is no longer yours. Appendix carry leaves little to no outline of your weapon, again that element of surprise not to mention the paranoid civilians that will call the local PD on you because they can see your weapon. When training others they ask the question of which is better, the one that’s better for the individual. I can teach you all day to draw from your strong side and you may be much more comfortable appendix. Its all up to the individual. We have to learn to draw from our strong side for duty purposes, but off duty you have to consider all the variables involved and the “What if’s”. Which ever the carry (s) you prefer “Practice”, that’s all it takes. And as for holsters… I have enough to start my own store and which one came out on top for appendix carry. A small AIWB leather $20 holster. Not only was it the most inexpensive holster I ever bought, but it is the most comfortable and reliable. Don’t always think that if it cost more, its much better. Defensive draw is 99% total surprise, you are sent to the call anticipating the circumstances, its all a surprise so don’t let that 16 retention holster slow you down.

    Stay safe.

  18. I generally carry strongside IWB or OWB depending on who I’m working for and/or where I’m going.

    Still, there are times where I’ve found AIWB to be an optimal solution. On the whole, I’m not a huge fan of AIWB, but I prefer the ability to carry a full-size firearm as much as possible, and at times AIWB is the only practical way to do so.

    Like when I decide to stop at one of the shopping establishments in the yuppie mecca of my area on my way home from work (to look over a job site scheduled for later in the week with my other job), and I decide on reflection that my gun burka doesn’t do an adequate job of concealing my pistol OWB, and I don’t want to deal with the hassle of possibly being outed.

    Or when I’ve just arrived at the airport, the baggage handlers are taking forever, and my ride is there with an extra firearm.

    There’s also the instances where my preferred methods of carry aren’t ideal for use in certain ceremonial garb, and AIWB is not only the optimal way to conceal a firearm, but allows me to carry a far larger firearm than pocket carry would.

    On the whole, while I’m not at all a fan of having a gun pointed at certain critical areas of my anatomy, I’d ultimately rather have the gun with me than not have it at all.

  19. Interesting discussion as I’ve been looking at CC options and holsters. I’m brand new to CC and just bought a GEN 4 G19. In my research on holsters I came across Bravo Concealment. They have a DOS (Drop Out of Sight) holster for AIWB, along with some video of a guy using it very comfortably. Anyone have experience with this holster?

  20. “When it comes to full size guns like 1911s and Glocks, I’ve never been able to get it to work for me the way other people have. ”

    Same here. There is nothing more unpleasant than having a nut crunched between the muzzle and chair when taking a seat.

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