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Is appendix carry for you?

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. 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 increased consequences of an accident 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.)

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. As a consequence, 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.

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 absolutely NOT for the novice gun carrier!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Two new revolver holsters from Crossbreed and DeSantis.

I'm always looking for good revolver holsters. It seems we get the short end of the stick from everyone! This week, however, there are a couple of new holsters I'd like to bring to your attention, as they both offer something unique.

The first is the
DeSantis Ammo Nemesis. It's a synthetic pocket holster for a small revolver (J-frame, possibly a Detective Special.) The outside of the holster has a very grippy rubber covering, which should help keep it in the pocket as opposed to coming out with the gun.


The neat little feature is a small pocket in the 'wing' under the grip. The pocket will hold a SpeedStrip or a TuffStrip for easy access. This isn't the first time I've seen that feature, of course, but it is the first time I've seen it in a decent yet affordable ($25 MSRP) holster.

There have been quite a few of these offered for autoloaders, but they don't work well in that format. An auto is reloaded with the support hand, and having the spare ammo on the other side of the body, in a pocket, means that no matter how you elect to handle the situation you'll be slow and fumble-prone. With a revolver, however, if you reload with your strong hand (as I've advocated here and in my books) the spare ammunition is right where it needs to be - accessible to your strong hand.

The ammo pouch, combined with the tacky material, should be perfect for getting the holster off the gun as it's drawn. I'm going to get one to try for myself!

The second holster news comes from Crossbreed.
They've been working with Rob Pincus for the last year on a new bellyband holster design, one which addresses many of the drawbacks of other bellyband holsters currently on the market. It looks like an interesting offering, and it's available for J-frames (with, perhaps, others on the way.)

Instead of the traditional bellyband construction of an elastic pocket sewn into an elastic band, the Crossbreed Modular Bellyband uses an elastic band with a large strip of Velcro. The holster bodies are made of Kydex and have Velcro on the back side; they simply stick onto the band in any position and at any attitude you wish.


Since the holsters are fairly rigid the gun draws easily yet is securely held. The gun can be re-holstered with one hand, something no other bellyband can claim, and the Kydex makes clearing the covering garment on the draw easier, as fabric slides easily over the plastic rather than being grabbed by the elastic cloth of the typical bellyband.

It's a great idea, and I have no doubt that the execution - like that of all Crossbreed products - is perfect. If you need truly deep concealment and don't like the telltale belt loops of most 'tuckable' holsters on the market, or you just like the concealability and versatility of a bellyband design, give the new Crossbreed Modular Bellyband a serious look.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Why I continually caution about off-body carry.

I’m busy as can be today, so I’m going to pull an
Uncle and tell you to go read this.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Perfectly suited.

I get a surprising number of inquiries about carrying in an office (suit and tie) environment. I spent a few years wearing Italian suits and selling to corporate types, so I'm passingly familiar with the problems involved.

There are a number of ways to carry a gun in a suit: belt holster, shoulder holster, pocket carry, bellyband, Thunderwear (aka 'crotch carry'), and in an ankle holster.

Belt and shoulder holsters can be considered together, as in a corporate environment they share the same major disadvantage: you can never take the jacket off. If you go to your office every day, sooner or later your co-workers are going to notice that you never remove your coat! For a salesman, who doesn't actually work in the offices he visits, these can be viable. In those cases, the suit needs to be tailored to fit around the gun - and no, going to Men's Wearhouse to buy your suits isn't going to cut it. You need a real tailor, who can either make a custom suit or modify an off-the-rack example to fit properly.

Of course, this means you need to wear the gun and allow the tailor to work around it. This can be easier said than done, particularly if you live in a gun-unfriendly city (which is to say, most of them.) The best thing to do is call around and discreetly inquire if the tailor has experience working with legally armed clients. There are always a few, and it pays to seek them out.

(My favorite clothing store back in the day was owned by a mother and son, neither of whom had any problems with concealed carry. In fact, I got to know the son fairly well, as he routinely carried a very nice Colt Model M in .380, aka Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless. It was his opinion that the sleek little Colt was "the perfect gun for the well-dressed gentleman.")

If, like most people, you need to be more flexible with your habiliments, a close relative of the belt holster is generically referred to as a "tuckable." This is an inside-the-waist holster that allows you to cover the gun with your shirt - the shirt slipping between the gun and your waistband, then bloused a bit to conceal the outline. This leaves a small leather keeper visible on the belt, but if the belt and holster color are well matched it is difficult to spot. Of course, you end up looking a bit lopsided with a bulge on your belt; proponents argue that blousing of the shirt properly on the off side will help conceal the protrusion, but many people dislike the somewhat sloppy appearance which results.

One often overlooked method is the bellyband. Originally designed to be worn just above the beltline (hence the name), it can be effectively employed at the mid- to upper-torso level. At this position the gun is placed under the arm, very much in the same position as a shoulder holster. Getting to the gun is done through the shirt front, (again) using the same movements as one would with a shoulder holster. The shirt button at the base of the sternum is left undone, allowing rapid access to the gun; one's tie covers the buttons anyhow, so that the arrangement is not detected. Be sure that you do not wear 'athletic' fitted shirts - standard shorts only to allow plenty of room to hide the firearm.

The Thunderwear carry is often touted as a solution to many problems, but for those who sit for long periods of time they prove to be quite uncomfortable. They're also slow to access, and the size of the gun is very constrained. I do not personally consider them suitable for a primary sidearm, though they may be useful for backups or deep cover assignments.

Ankle holsters are another special-purpose carry method. They are very slow and cumbersome to access for a primary arm, and are best used to carry a backup pistol. Yes, I know that there are some fancy ankle holster draw moves which are surprisingly fast, but I encourage you to try them in a realistic force-on-force exercise. You'll quickly learn why I don't feel ankle holsters are a good choice for general armed carry.

Finally we come to pocket carry. With a proper holster and loose-fitting slacks, this is perhaps the most viable method of concealing a pistol in a corporate environment. They're reasonably quick to access, comfortable (if used with a lightweight gun), completely invisible (unless you wear your slacks tighter than a gentleman should), and has the additional benefit of allowing your hand to be on the gun without alerting anyone.

You'll need to shop for slacks with front pleats (provides blousing to hide the gun's bulge) and deeper pockets (some have shallow pockets from which the gun's butt can peek out.) I also recommend a medium-weight pant, which typically features a satin lining between the pocket and leg. The lining dramatically reduces chafing as the gun moves around, and makes sitting for long periods more tolerable.

-=[ Grant ]=-