Appendix carry in one form or another has been around almost as long as handguns have. It does have advantages, but there is some debate though about the greater potential for injury.
Now maybe it’s just me, but I always cringe just a little when I see someone with a pistol down the front of their pants. My mind always goes to the possibility of losing one’s ‘parts’ down there in the event of a negligent discharge. Similarly, when someone is trying to re-holster with any under-the-belt carry and the muzzle is pointed inwards. I know that it can be safe, but it gives me the willies.
For most concealed carriers, the choice of where and how to secure your weapon really comes down to comfort and just how fast you may really need to draw in the event of a legitimate threat. What you carry and your level of training will also be factors to consider.
Both Appendix and Strong Side techniques would typically be somewhat faster since you’re less likely to have to fumble too much with your cover clothing to access the grip. Concealing your pistol behind your back is also favored by many, but can be a little slower. Some Appendix advocates will contend that their method will be quicker, due to the fact that your hands naturally sit out in front of you more and will be more efficient in making a smoother draw from in front of your hip. Real gunfights happen very quickly and speed will be of the essence. No matter what method you go with, consistent practice with countless repetitions are required to really get it right. Another factor to think about is the type of gun you’re carrying. Some are simply too big and/or considered to be potentially too ‘twitchy’ for IWB use.
You may not agree with all of these points based on your experience, but here are some advantages and disadvantages that may apply:
The Appendix draw is fast, with a smooth motion and less distance for your hands to travel.
It allows for more discrete access to your weapon without the need to telegraph your intention through a more obvious body movement like reaching to the side or behind you.
Your weapon is situated in a way that it is easier to protect from a grab by an assailant.
It is generally easier to conceal your handgun without having it ‘print’ on your garments.
The risk for serious injury or death due to a negligent discharge is higher with AIWD when drawing or re-holstering. The barrel is pointed downwards towards your groin and the femoral artery that runs along the inside of your thigh. Either way, you’re going to have a really bad day if either gets hit. Strong side or behind-the-back discharges will cause an injury for sure, but not to the same extent.
One of the biggest complaints about Appendix carry is the discomfort felt when bending or sitting. It’s fine when you’re standing straight up, but anything else can definitely cause some pain.
Those who are overweight will typically have a harder time with IWB carries in general since there tends to be some overhang to work around. This also makes it more necessary to point inwards when re-holstering due to the angle required.
Techniques & Tips
Doing your homework and applying some common sense can go a long way in keeping you safer if your choose to go the Appendix route.
Your weapon of choice can be a big factor in the success and safety of Appendix carry. Be sure that the size is right for both you and the technique. Some advocates will even go so far as to only use single-action revolvers and will avoid striker-fired autos to help minimize the risk of a negligent discharge.
A good quality holster is another must-have. It should be designed specifically for the purpose, properly fit your weapon, feel comfortable and cover the trigger guard. The right gun in combination with the right holster can make it almost impossible to discharge your gun accidentally while it is holstered in your waistband.
Be sure to undertake some sort of professional training from a certified instructor and practice both drawing and re-holstering (a lot and from different positions) until you feel completely comfortable with the techniques. Practice unloaded initially just to be safe.
Most accidents happen when drawing or re-holstering (obviously), so attention must be paid to exactly how you handle the weapon. Most of this applies to any situation that you have a gun in your hand, but here goes:
- Don’t rush the re-holster. Take a breath, focus and think about what you’re doing.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
- Ensure that the safety is on / hammer is not cocked
- Angle the weapon AWAY from your body
- Be sure that your holster is free from any clothing before you attempt to insert your pistol
Appendix carry isn’t for everyone. Especially those who are new to shooting, are a little nervous about the whole idea, or just find it uncomfortable. There are definite draw advantages, but you have to have the equipment, skill, focus and the confidence to make it work safely.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.