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Getting Started with Appendix Carry

I’ve been carrying concealed for about 10 years now, but up until a few months ago, I had never tried appendix carry. Appendix carry is where you carry your pistol inside your waistband in the appendix area. Appendix carry is also commonly referred to as AIWB, which is an acronym (because who doesn’t love a good acronym?) that stands for Appendix Inside The Waistband.

concealed carry

Having carried AIWB now for a few months, I decided to share my thoughts as a relative AIWB newbie to help others who are curious about this method of carry. So if you are new to AIWB, or AIWB curious, this post is for you.

My AIWB Journey

AIWB isn’t new, but it’s popularity has certainly been growing as of late (anecdotal evidence). Since I have a deep seated desire to fit in and be accepted by my peers, I decided to give AIWB a try.

Ok, that last part isn’t exactly true. Actually, I’d say more than half of the reason I decided to finally give appendix carry a try is because of noted trainer Todd Green (ToddG) from pistol-training.com. As a long time reader of pistol-training.com, I’ve read Todd talking about appendix carry, both the good and the bad, and how he prefers it over other carry methods.

That, combined with my curiosity, was enough to get me off the fence and finally give it a try.

AIWB Disadvantages

If you are new to AIWB and are considering trying it out, you should first understand the disadvantages of this method of carry.

The main disadvantage of AIWB, to paraphrase ToddG, is that if you mess up, you will die. While this may be self-explanatory to a certain extent since we are discussing firearms, essentially what he’s talking about is that because of the position the holster is in, the gun is pointed either at your reproductive region or your femoral artery when coming in and out of the holster.

So if you make a mistake when drawing or reholstering your pistol, it might be the last mistake you ever make. This is why I was hesitant to try AIWB for so many years. I just couldn’t get over the fact that the gun was pointed at my gentleman’s region coming in and out of the holster.

The second main disadvantage of AIWB is that some people find it uncomfortable when seated. In my opinion, this can be avoided by choosing a holster designed specifically for AIWB.

AIWB Advantages

The main advantages usually given for AIWB carry are concealability, comfort and speed. Here are my thoughts on these advantages 2 months in.

Concealability

I have found this to be very true. With the proper holster, I can conceal a full-sized handgun in shorts and a t-shirt. No kidding. Printing is virtually non-existent, which I find to be a constant battle in other IWB positions.

Comfort

For me, AIWB is very comfortable, but I wouldn’t say that it is more comfortable than other carry methods. With the proper gear and clothing, I think just about any carry method can be comfortable.

Speed

This definitely seems to be true from my testing, but as I said earlier, I’m new to AIWB. I will know more in the coming months as I carry AIWB more, and practice drawing from concealment more.

Getting Started

I followed ToddG’s advice when I started my AIWB journey. I recommend reading this AIWB thread on the pistol-training.com forum, but here’s a summary of what I did.

Assess

Make sure you understand the inherent safety risks of AIWB. While there are safety risks to any carry position, most of the time your biggest risk is shooting yourself in the leg or butt. As we have already discussed, this is not the case with AIWB carry.

Holster Selection

Like most carry methods, holster selection can make or break the experience. AIWB is no exception. Choose a holster that is built specifically for AIWB carry, both for comfort and concealment as well as safety.

In the coming weeks, I will highlight some AIWB holsters that I have found to work well, like this Kydex Shield-A by Bradley Custom Concealment for my Walther PPQ.

Practice

Spend a week or two carrying AIWB around the house with a properly cleared gun. Practice drawing from concealment and reholstering, taking note of how to reholster safely. Make sure you reholster slowly.

Wrapping Up

AIWB carry is not everyone, and that’s just OK in my opinion. If you think it might be for you, make sure you understand the risks, make sure you spend some time practicing before you try it, and make sure you purchase a holster specifically designed for AIWB carry.

Carrying AIWB isn’t for everyone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone who is uncomfortable with carrying this way. It is not a badge of honor or an indication of skill. It doesn’t make you cool. Chicks don’t dig it. It’s simply an option with benefits and costs, like any other carry method.

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18 Responses to Getting Started with Appendix Carry

  1. Dr. L. April 5, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    “Gentleman’s region,” Brandon? That’s the first time I’ve heard it referred to in that way. You are certainly a gentleman for calling it that, if I might add.

    • Brandon April 5, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      LOL…thanks. I think. :)

  2. Paul April 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Thanks for the post, was curious what the fuss was all about. Not sure it’s for me though.

  3. Jon April 22, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    I’m in the process of transitioning to AIWB myself and appreciate the input. I too am finally getting over the irrational fear of having a weapon pointed at my “gentleman’s region” and am finding it just a little more difficult with my striker-fired non-external safety carry gun. I’m choosing to turn it into a positive safety reinforcement that will keep me from being too casual about carrying which is something I think we all slip into a little bit from time to time. Thanks for linking that holster as well; it looks nice. Also, the term is “deep seated” not “seeded”. It’s a fairly common mistake. I’m not trying to be a grammar geek or anything, but since you were kind enough to write a helpful post, I figured I’d return the favor.

    • Brandon April 22, 2012 at 7:21 am #

      Thanks Jon, good luck!

  4. browcs May 9, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Excellent article. I personally attest to the speed and concealment advantages of AWIB carry after attending the FLETC firearms instructor course with several Federal Air Marshals…they were consistently fast and smooth out of the holster. Understand, they train (much) more than most professional (LE/mil) and private gun carriers, so that is where they likely obtained most of their speed and smoothness. Still, the advantages of AIWB seemed there.

    • Brandon May 9, 2012 at 11:19 am #

      Thanks for the feedback!

  5. rugrash March 1, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    I have one of the G-Code INCOGs, but my gut keeps getting in the way so it never feels quite right to me ;-)

  6. Brian P Moffit March 2, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    I prefer the appendix carry my self.
    When I draw I can keep my hands low and movements small am not reaching for a unnatural location with a big movement.

  7. John Stanley March 2, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Great article, Brandon. I have carried like this a few times, but only with my .38. I have been reluctant with my XD. I feel like it would be too bulky, but I may try it anyway. Thanks for the info.

  8. Rodger Miller March 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Brandon, I have carried in this location for 3 years now, and to me, it is the perfect place to carry. But I carry at the 2:30 position, just in front of my hop bone. I am slender so carrying here is no problem, and concealment and quick access is better here. I carry my Caracal C, and have just bought the Walther PPQ M2 to try at this location as soon as my SHTF Ace-1 holster comes in the mail I will try this handgun as carry. To me, this is just as safe to carry AIWB as any other place. Just keep you finger off the trigger and slowly reholster.

  9. Tim McDaniels March 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    I have been trying AIWB but its very uncomfortable when sitting or bending over for something. It might be because I am trying with a Glock 23. lol

  10. Mike April 8, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Might I add weight can be a disadvantage to AIWB while sitting. I found it to be rather uncomfortable until I lost about 10lbs. Now it’s its a primary carry postion.

  11. Mike July 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    I have primarily carried AIWB while spending years as a under cover and plain clothes Detective in Los Angeles. I found there was little to no printing and extremely fast access on the draw.

  12. Trace November 18, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    You’re one of the few who I’ve seen comment positively on AIWB carry. Being a 93 pound female, especially with my primary gun being a Ruger SR40 (fullsize, not the compact), I’ve found that no matter what holster I have, it’s exceedingly difficult to find anywhere to carry without printing.

    So far, what works best for me to conceal, even carrying my 9mm luger, is actually a Galco OWB paddle-holster on the back of my belt, just over my right kidney. The gun sort’ve blends in with the natural bow of my spine, it’s easily concealed with just a button down overshirt, and with my bizarre monkey-arms (my brother-in-law’s phrasing), I have no trouble whatsoever quickly drawing or holstering my weapon from any position.

    About the only hurdle I’ve had with carrying a gun in any position I’ve tried is wearing it in the car, since I don’t want it to break bones or cause massive internal bleeding should I be in an accident and get mashed into the seat or hit with the airbag.

    So far, my solution has been a lumbar support cushion positioned at my shoulders, which naturally changes the curve of my spine so that it’s slightly forward-canted and-in theory-my lower half will slide toward the steering column instead of to the back of the seat on impact.

    Obviously haven’t tested it (I like my car in one piece), but so far I haven’t been given any other ideas, since my car is so small there’s literally nowhere to attach a holster in the vehicle itself.

    • Brandon November 18, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Trace – check out this YouTube channel if you haven’t done so already. She gives a female perspective on concealed carry and covers a lot of holsters, carry positions, etc.

      https://www.youtube.com/user/faliaphotography

      Best of luck!

  13. ds December 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Jon, having a load firearm, maybe with safety disengaged, pointing right at the old man is not an “irrational fear”. It is definitely rational to be concerned about this.

  14. Gary Ellis May 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    I have s&w model 59 that I have carried for 35 years. I have tried the Gentleman’s jewel carry and I always go back to the way I carried for actually 45yrs. Semi autos I carry in small of my back inside holster. Never a problem. Gentleman’s jewel carry is not my bag. Gets in the way when bending and I find it uncomfortable. It’s at a joint that moves a lot. But it’s always what is comfortable for the individual.

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