Is appendix carry for you?

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I received an email last week, to which I’ve finally managed to reply, asking my opinion regarding appendix carry. For those who don’t follow this stuff, the appendix carry has become quite popular over the last few years, being touted by many trainers/schools and serving as something of a trademark for some of them.

The carry method usually employs an in-the-waistband (IWB) holster positioned on the front of the body, between the hipbone and the navel. The holster is usually of the zero cant (straight up and down) variety, though some people prefer it to be canted slightly to the rear. The method gets its name because the gun is placed approximately over the appendix.

The appendix carry has much to recommend it: it’s quite fast to access; the gun can be easily brought into play even if the defender has been knocked to the ground; the weapon is readily available to either hand; and there is a certain psychological resistance to looking at people’s nether regions, thus possibly enhancing concealment. The holster’s position makes it particularly appealing to people who must bend and stoop around other people; one person I know who carries in the appendix position works in IT, and is constantly crawling under desks and around cubicles to work on computers. Doing so with a typical hip holster worn at the 3:00 or 4:00 position would result in the gun printing and the loss of his job — his employer is what we euphemistically refer to as a “non-permissive environment.”

Of course there are downsides. The biggest one is usually comfort: people who have, shall we say, extended girth usually don’t find appendix carry terribly appealing. The options for covering garments are a bit limited; either the shirt has to remain untucked, or an overgarment of some sort must be worn and kept buttoned/zipped. (It’s possible to use one of the tuckable holsters in this position, potentially allowing carry in a button-down shirt and tie, but the shirt must be of the currently-out-of-fashion straight cut type.) Finally, many people worry about the safety of such carry in the event of an unintentional discharge; the gun is usually pointed at the femoral artery in the leg, making for a life-threatening wound if the gun should be triggered either while drawing or re-holstering.

I’ve experimented with appendix carry a bit, and found that with my body shape (short and stocky) it just isn’t comfortable. I’m short enough that when sitting my thighs push the gun butt into my stomach, with painful results. If I’m standing it’s not an issue, but who stands while driving their car? I’ve noticed that the people most comfortable with appendix carry tend to have long torsos and very little body fat, though there are exceptions. As it happens, I’m not one of them! If I could make it more comfortable I’d probably carry in that position as my default. (I’m continuing to experiment.)

Regarding safety: I’ll admit that while I wouldn’t hesitate to carry a revolver in that position, I’d have to think twice about sticking a Glock there. It’s irrational, that’s true, but while I believe I’m well trained enough to avoid an accident there is still a nagging worry that I’ll slip up and trigger a round into my leg. That’s never happened to me before, but the possible consequences of an accident in that location tend to magnify the perceived danger. It definitely weighs on my mind, in the same way that traveling in an airplane does (even though the most dangerous part of any flight is the ride to the airport.) As I said, it may be irrational but that doesn’t mean it’s easily dismissed!

If you do elect this carry method, you’ll need to practice extensively to ensure that your finger doesn’t enter the triggerguard at all during the draw or when reholstering, and that your offhand is used to keep any garments clear of the holster when putting the gun back. Practice slowly in front of a mirror, with an unloaded gun, to make sure that nothing touches the trigger when it shouldn’t and that the muzzle isn’t pointed at your anatomy during the procedure.  Also, holsters for appendix carry should never be made out of nylon or thin, floppy leather. Hard plastic (Kydex or its equivalent) or appropriately reinforced stiff leather holsters are the only types to consider for the appendix position. Frankly, I think Kydex is best in this application.

Consider the pros and cons carefully, as you should with any carry method. Given the unique risks of appendix carry, I think it’s safe to say that it is not for the novice gun carrier!

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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