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Mexican Carry: Appendix Carry Without a Holster

Mexican Carry: Appendix Carry Without a Holster



There are several ways to carry a gun. Inside-the-waistband (IWB) appendix carry is a popular choice for the gun owner interested in deep concealment and a fast draw. By placing the weapon between 12 and 2 o’clock — between the belt buckle and the dominant hip — you’re able to carry discreetly while maintaining access to your weapon. 

However, while most gun owners who IWB carry handguns use a holster, there’s also a technique called Mexican carry. Mexican carry refers to the practice of carrying a handgun inside the waistband without a holster. This may be either open or concealed.

A Brief History of Mexican Carry

It’s common to see portraits and photographs depicting soldiers and outlaws carrying firearms in their belts or waistbands. When belt holsters were expensive or less available, this was a convenient alternative. 

According to Massad Ayoob, in Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, this method was favored by Mexican civilians who chose to defy restrictive gun-control legislation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As a result, the name Mexican carry stuck.

It allowed these men to discard their firearms for later retrieval should they expect to meet Federales. A holster would be more difficult to detach in a rush and provide evidence that they intended to violate the law by wearing firearms. 

Mexican Carry Today

While Mexican carry fulfilled a specific purpose in centuries past, it’s unnecessary in the modern-day United States. In most jurisdictions, the private citizen can carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, with a valid permit. In an increasing number of states, concealed carry is legal without a permit. Additionally, Mexican carry is less safe and secure than carrying in a suitable holster. 

In the 21st century, there are a wide variety of high-quality holsters that allow you to carry your weapon in the most secure way possible. 


When carrying in the appendix position, IWB holsters are common. This is a carry method that uses an inside the pants holster. As the holster rides between the inside of the waistband and your body, you’re able to carry the weapon more discreetly than other options permit. In pants holsters often require that you increase the size of your pants to accommodate the bulk of both the handgun and the holster that surrounds it. 

OWB is less common for appendix carry but is still compatible with the position. If appendix carry is uncomfortable with an IWB holster, you can try an OWB holster. This holster attaches to the belt via loops and doesn’t place the weapon against your body. 

Appendix carry

Appendix carry and strong side carry are the two most popular waistband-carry positions among American gun owners. Appendix carry places the weapon in the front of your pants, increasing access — the gun is close to both hands. The appendix draw stroke is also more comfortable for many shooters, as you don’t have to lift and rotate your shoulder to grip your weapon, as you would when carrying strong side. 

However, appendix carry is controversial among some gun owners and prohibited on some firing ranges because the gun’s muzzle points toward the groin and femoral artery. 

If you experience an unintentional discharge in this position, your risk of serious injury or death is higher than with other carry positions. Mexican carry increases the risks associated with appendix carry because there is no holster to house and retain your firearm. 

The Importance of a Holster

If you want to carry a gun in the appendix position, you must choose a suitable holster; it could save your life. A gun holster serves several important purposes for the gun owner. 

It provides retention

A holster provides a protective housing that attaches to a harness or gun belt, offering secure retention. 

Carrying an unholstered firearm inside your waistband is not secure. If you find yourself having to engage in vigorous physical activity, an unholstered firearm can fall out or shift its position.

For your concealed-carry firearm to be useful, it needs to be available for immediate access. A high-quality holster retains the weapon, ensuring that it remains in one place for a predictable draw stroke. 

If you intend to carry concealed in an IWB holster, passive retention is often sufficient. This system uses the friction between the firearm and the holster to retain the gun. 

Alternatively, for open carry with an OWB holster, you may consider using an active-retention system. Active retention systems make it much more difficult for criminals to disarm you. Examples of active retention are thumb breaks and locking mechanisms using rotary levers or buttons.

It allows you to carry safely

A proper holster encloses the trigger guard, allowing you to carry your firearm safely. When you place your hand on the weapon to acquire a full firing grip, a safe holster prevents your index finger from entering the trigger guard until the weapon clears the mouth. In addition, it stops foreign objects from contacting the trigger, which could cause an unintentional discharge. 

It’s legal

In addition to retention and safety, carrying a handgun without a holster may be illegal in many jurisdictions, regardless of whether you carry it concealed or openly. A holster is widely regarded as necessary to prevent your weapon from either firing unintentionally or becoming available to unauthorized users, whether criminals or children. 

It protects your firearm

Holsters protect the gun against impact, the elements, and sweat. When you have a gun pressed against your body, a sweat shield provides an impermeable barrier between the corrosive effects of perspiration, especially if you carry a firearm in hot weather. Rust or corrosion can do more than ruin the cosmetics of your weapon. It can affect performance. 

If you fall or are assaulted, the Kydex or leather exterior can take abrasion and impact, protecting your firearm against damage or finish wear. 


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Always Carry With a High-Quality Holster

At We the People Holsters, we recommend wearing a high-quality holster, regardless of your preferred carry position. The benefits of a durable, safe holster are significant, protecting both you and your firearm and keeping it securely in place. 

Take a look at our IWB and OWB holsters for concealed and open carry. We offer holsters for major makes and models, from Beretta, CZ, and Glock to FN, HK, and Smith & Wesson.