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Concealed Carry: Appendix Carry

Concealed Carry: Appendix Carry

When carrying a concealed firearm for self-defense, you can choose from several carry positions. One of the most popular positions is appendix carry. 

Appendix carry is the act of carrying a handgun inside or outside the front of the waistband between the navel or belt buckle and the hip or front pocket of your pants. 

Using a 12-hour clock face as a reference point, appendix carry places the weapon between 12 and 3 o’clock if you’re a right-handed shooter and between 9 and 12 o’clock if you’re left-hand dominant. 

Appendix Carry Basics

Gun owners cite several reasons for carrying guns in the appendix position. Among these are access, speed, concealability, and comfort. 


Some gun owners prefer having the weapon in the front of their waistband because it is more accessible.

Drawing gun appendix carry gif

When seated in a vehicle, depending on your body type you can more easily access your firearm in this position than when carrying strong side. The lap belt should not interfere with your ability to draw. It’s also easier to protect the weapon against attempted disarmament. 


Speed Drawing Gun Cowboy

When you draw from the AIWB (appendix inside-the-waistband) position, you grip the fabric of the covering garment with your support hand and pull it upward to clear the holster. This increases the speed of the draw since the support hand doesn’t need to move all the way across your body to assist with getting the weapon out of the holster.


Appendix carry can be highly effective for concealing a handgun, especially when inside the waistband. Unlike in hip carry, the butt of the frame is less likely to print through clothing because it’s pressed against your abdomen.


Whether or not you find appendix carry comfortable depends on a few factors, such as your anatomy and the type of weapon. Individuals with a relatively flat stomach may find AIWB more comfortable than those with a pronounced beltline. 

Women may find appendix carry more comfortable than placing the gun on their strong hip, especially if they wear tight-fitting pants.  

Is Appendix Carry Safe?

An unintentional discharge can cause serious injury or death, regardless of the position you carry your firearm. However, appendix carry is controversial because the muzzle can point toward your groin or femoral artery when you draw and reholster your weapon. If you experience an unintentional discharge, the consequences are potentially more deadly than using a strong side or cross-draw carry.

As a result of experiences with negligent discharges, some firing ranges and shooting schools prohibit appendix carry. A notable example is Larry Vickers, who banned appendix holsters in his classes in 2015. 

Appendix Carry Tips

To minimize the risks associated with appendix carry and carrying a firearm in general, it’s necessary to evaluate how you draw and reholster your weapon. The holster’s design plays a crucial role in the safety and effectiveness of concealed carry. 

Practice Your Draw Stroke

Practicing gun draw stroke from appendix carry gif

When you practice drawing your firearm from the appendix carry position, take your time and break the process into individual steps, if necessary. Ensure your finger remains outside the trigger guard until your muzzle is parallel to the ground. 

Select the Best Holster

A high-quality holster is essential for safe carry, regardless of position. Soft, pliable holsters like nylon or hybrid may collapse when you draw. It’s common, when this occurs, for gun owners to use the muzzle to force the mouth of the holster open, inadvertently pointing the gun at their hip or abdomen. 

A suitable holster for IWB or OWB carry should cover the trigger guard, remain open when empty, and have a stiff holster mouth that won’t deform. 

Reholster Precisely

Inserting a firearm into your holster can be one of the most dangerous actions you can perform on a firing range. It’s advisable to reholster your weapon slowly and precisely. If you’re training for self-defense, you won’t be reholstering your gun when there’s still an active threat; therefore, speed is not crucial. 

Assume a high-ready position, with the gun at chest level. Verify that your index finger is straight alongside the frame or slide and that the hammer is down or the manual safety is off, depending on the weapon. With your support hand, lift your shirt and cant your body rearward at the waist to minimize exposure to the muzzle. 

In returning the weapon to the holster, insert the gun cautiously, ensuring there are no obstructions. 

Thumb on Hammer

As an added precaution, some gun owners control the hammer or striker of the weapon with their thumb during reholstering. If you’re carrying a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) semi-automatic pistol, you can place your thumb on the cocked hammer to prevent it from releasing. However, in a DA/SA revolver, you would place your thumb on the hammer to keep it down. 

In a striker-fired handgun, such as the popular Glock series, a striker control device can fulfill the same purpose. Cant the muzzle away from your body as you insert it into the holster mouth and seat the weapon. 

Tips for Carrying Comfortably

Some gun owners find appendix carry to be uncomfortable compared to other positions. 

Choose Your Weapon Carefully

Find a handgun that fits you well and won’t dig into your groin when leaning forward at the waist or when seated. Compact and subcompact handguns with relatively short barrels don’t dig into the body as much. 

Adjust the Height of Your Pants

Raising the height of your pants can improve your comfort when carrying in the appendix position. This action increases the clearance between the weapon and your groin and, consequently, range of motion. Find a holster with adjustable ride height and cant to ensure proper placement.

Find the Best Holster for Appendix Carry

If you’re interested in carrying your handgun in the appendix position, consider our IWB Kydex holsters. In our Freedom Holster, you can wear both a Kydex holster and magazine carrier AIWB, increasing available firepower without compromising concealability. 

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