It's 2023 and you’re scrolling through Instagram. You notice about 99% of the concealed carry content you see now features a gun being carried inside the waistband in the front of the pants (anywhere from 11:00 to 1:00, if you think about your waist as an analog clock with 12:00 being the front of your pants where the button and zipper are). This is the new hype. This is appendix carry. As the youth would say, “the future is now, old man.”
Why would someone “appendix” carry? What are the benefits to this method of concealed carry? Are there any drawbacks? Let’s get into it.
Right off the bat, someone might look at this and think how uncomfortable it must be. Another might be turned off by the fact that the muzzle of the firearm is pointing in a certain general area when carried in this position. But another person might realize how easily and quickly accessible the grip of the firearm is, for both the right and left hands. These are probably the 3 top arguments for and against appendix carry.
Comfort. This is a huge concern for nearly everyone making decisions in their everyday life, gun owners are no different. One thing, however, needs to be made clear, concealed carrying a firearm in any fashion is inherently uncomfortable. Think about it, a heavy chunk of metal/polymer, filled with 10-20 rounds of ammunition, shoved in your waistband. The goal here is to find the most comfortable solution, the most convenient inconvenience, if you will. And that method will be slightly different for everyone. As holster makers, we have realized that there is no real solid pattern as to who or what body type might find a certain method of carry “comfortable” or not. Some skinny guys with a 29” waist might find appendix carry unbearable, and some big ole boys with 54” waists might find appendix carry the fix to their concealed carry problems. There are, however, some general tips and tricks that can help make appendix carry more comfortable. The first is using quality gear, like a good holster (from Tier 1 Concealed), and a good belt intended for concealed carry (also from Tier 1 Concealed). The second is finding the best holster “ride height” for you and the gun you carry. Every single Inside the Waistband holster from Tier 1 Concealed features belt clips and a concealment claw that are easily adjustable for the ride height of the holster. This means you can move the belt clips higher up on the holster so that it sits deeper in your pants or you can move the belt clips lower on the holster so that it rides up higher in relation to your belt and waistband. The third thing is just good ole trial and error. Wear the holster for a few days and figure out how your body moves and bends and what the holster is doing during that movement. You can make minor adjustments to the holster and gun as you move and bend to make things a lot more comfortable, especially when bending over or sitting down. Most people find that they can carry in the appendix position fairly easily with some practice and a little guidance.
“Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.” Or some variation of that phrase. One of the common rules of firearm safety. This is a big hang up for a lot of people when it comes to appendix carry. While this safety rule is extremely important and valid, it is kind of irrelevant when considering a modern handgun inside a quality kydex holster that securely holds the gun and protects the trigger guard. With appropriate holster retention on the gun and a good draw technique, the trigger should never be interacted with until the gun is drawn and the sights are on target. A common misconception with strong side, or 4:00 carry, is that the muzzle is never pointing at any part of your body. Unfortunately there have been quite a few cases of negligent discharges with strong side carry, with many of them hitting the user’s leg, hip, or buttocks. Shooting yourself is never a good idea, no matter where it is. Always practice smart and safe firearm handling, especially when you draw a loaded gun from the holster and re-holster it. Buy quality gear that you can trust and work on mastering the fundamentals. And get medical training.
Accessibility. This is a big topic, and an often overlooked topic at that. There are countless statistics regarding self defense scenarios, distances involved, shots taken, time elapsed, etc. and we are not here to discuss all of those. One thing everyone can agree on is the quicker you are at getting your gun out and making effective hits on target, the better. Why resort to a 3 second draw to first shot when you can make a 0.90 second draw to first shot? We are never going to know the exact situation and scenario we might find ourselves in if we have to defend our own life or that of a loved one, but why settle for being slower when we could be faster? Life and death in a a self defense situation can start and stop in the blink of an eye. A big argument for appendix carry is how quickly and easily you can get your gun out, in nearly every body position, sitting, standing, running, fighting. Having your setup at or near 12:00 allows you to access it with both hands and protect it as well. Controlling it in front of your body rather than on the side or back of your body seems to be natural and a lot easier. Likewise, drawing the gun from concealment in the front of your body requires a lot less movement, feels more natural for a lot of people, and can be done quicker simply due to the economy of motion. How much quicker can you draw from appendix than strong side? Well, that just depends on the individual and their training. Like with most things, there is no definitive right or wrong answer, and there are a lot of variables to consider. It might do you well to try out some new things and experiment, see what works best for you.
Appendix carry has become insanely popular, insanely quickly and that is probably for a good reason, or two. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way for you. At the end of the day you’re going to have to make your own choice as to how and what you want to carry and train with. Keep these things in mind when making those considerations. At Tier 1 Concealed we want you to be your best self and most capable self. There needs to be more skilled and responsible people out there to defend the good and the innocent from the evil that exists, seemingly everywhere. For now we can offer you quality holsters, belts, and other concealed carry gear, but the training and skillsets… that's on you. Be safe, be smart, and stay strapped.