Of all the places on your belt to wear a holster, forward of the hip—in what’s often referred to as appendix carry, even if it’s worn on the left side—is one of the most controversial. The prevailing fear is that when carrying this way, the muzzle of your handgun is uncomfortably close to your groin.
While it’s true that appendix carry places your gun’s muzzle near your groin, it’s no more dangerous than any other carry position. In fact, when correctly executed, appendix carry can be one of the safest, most efficient and most comfortable ways to carry a concealed handgun. Safest? Yes, here’s why.
You won’t shoot yourself in the groin (or anywhere else for that matter) if your trigger finger is properly indexed along the frame of your gun when holstering or drawing. When you have a physical reference of where your trigger finger is (pressed against the frame), you don’t have to worry about where it isn’t, i.e., on the trigger.
But when holstering you don’t just have to account for your trigger finger. I am aware of two instances where someone inadvertently pressed the trigger with their middle finger when holstering. In both cases, the individual was heavyset and using an inside-the-waistband holster worn behind the hip. Fortunately, both wounds were superficial.
One important safety feature of appendix carry is it enables you to see your holster, something that’s less feasible the farther back on your belt your holster is worn. I can hear the tactical gurus chiding that you should never take your eyes off the threat area when holstering. In fact, I used to regurgitate that admonishment to my students.
But other than risk looking “un-tactical,” what’s the harm in taking a glance down at your appendix rig? It’s easier to divert your eyes momentarily to the front of your waist than to your side or behind you, where you’d have to turn your head away from the potential threat.
Of course, you shouldn’t even think about holstering until you’ve determined there are no remaining threats. At that point, your only threat is one you pose to yourself from inadvertently pulling the trigger during your haste to holster. To prevent this, adhere to the following protocol.
After properly indexing your trigger finger and scanning your environment, take a breath to compose yourself. When you’re convinced your world is safe, take a glance down at your holster. Has it moved? Is anything obstructing the mouth of the holster? If not, ease your gun into the holster.
If your holster has shifted, you can guide the gun into it. If a portion of your cover garment is in the way, you’re able to clear it away. Again, this is possible because when your gun is worn forward of the hip, you have a better view than if it’s worn further back on your belt. You also can use your off hand to make any necessary adjustments.
Believe it or not, a little pelvic thrust can make drawing and holstering from appendix carry safer. By thrusting your pelvis forward, you can prevent the muzzle from ever pointing at any portion of your anatomy. Try it with an inert training gun and you’ll see what I mean.
Now that you know appendix carry is safe, let’s talk about efficiency. For your gun to do you any good, you’ve got to have it between you and your adversary. Appendix carry enables you to start with your gun between you and the threat, assuming you’ve oriented to it. And since the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, appendix carry sets you up for a quick draw.
Appendix carry also one of the easiest ways to conceal a handgun. Of course, an appendix rig is designed to be worn inside the waistband, which means the area below the belt clip or loop is hidden by your pants. Such is not the case with outside-the-waistband holsters typically worn on or behind the hip.
A gun worn in the appendix position is less likely to print through the fabric of your cover garment. A slightly baggy, dark-colored shirt is all you need to conceal an appendix-carried gun.
But where you wear your gun is another important factor. Using the clock principle with 12 o’clock representing your centerline, the appendix carried rig is situated between 12 o’clock and 2:30 for a right-handed shooter. A lefty’s rig would be worn between 9:30 and 12:00. The closer to centerline the holster is worn, the easier it will be to conceal the grip. However, this may not be as comfortable as wearing your gun slightly back along your belt.
Some prefer to wear the gun directly under their dominant eye. This makes it easier to acquire your sight when driving the gun to the target. However, wearing your gun here will cause the grip to protrude more than if it were worn along your centerline.
To remedy this, many dedicated appendix holsters come with a claw or a wedge designed to reposition the gun on a horizontal or vertical axis respectively. While these features aid in concealment, they can make drawing your gun more difficult because they eliminate the gap between the gun and your body.
Rather than try to squeeze your thumb between your abdomen and the grip of your gun, place the base of your thumb along the back of your pistol’s slide as you establish your grip. Then, as you draw from the holster, allow your thumb to wrap around the grip.
Appendix carry gets a bad rap when it comes to comfort. Sometimes sliding the holster ever so slightly in one direction or the other can be the difference between comfortable and intolerable. Before dismissing appendix carry as uncomfortable, experiment with different holsters and positions.
Some appendix holsters are narrow to take up less room. A narrow holster is easier to attach and remove from your belt. Wider holsters sometimes contain a magazine pouch and are designed to distribute the weight and pressure over a larger area. Again, you’ll have to experiment to find what’s comfortable based on your physicality.
Being overweight doesn’t necessarily rule out appendix carry. However, if your belly is hanging over your belt, that could be a hindrance. Your genes may be a factor in whether appendix carry is comfortable but so are your jeans. As with any pant intended for IWB carry, you’ll want to have an extra couple inches in the waist—as well as your belt—to account for the width of your holster.
If you’ve not tried appendix carry because you assumed it was unsafe, impractical or uncomfortable, give it a try. Do your research and be willing to try different holster configurations. You just might find the pros of this carry position far outweigh the cons.