Appendix Carry: An In-Depth Look

A Look At The Not So New Fad of Appendix Style Carrying

In my ten-year law enforcement career I’ve seen and practiced a wide variety of carrying methods, all of it concealed. While in the academy, we are issued a leather holster that I religiously used for my first three years of service. In that time, I carried my pistol anywhere from the “12 o’clock” position to the “6 o’clock” position. Now I’m not saying I had anything to do with “developing” the appendix carry style of concealing a firearm. I simply did what I think any other new law enforcement officer (who has the freedom to experiment with concealment methods) did and moved my pistol around a lot. I eventually settled on a “3:30/4 o’clock” body position for my holster and carried that way everyday until just recently (unless I was working on a tactical team wherein I carried my pistol on a drop leg platform). I’m going to share my tests and evaluations of appendix carry style and prove it is more than a fad, it’s verifiable.

In the past year I’ve read a lot of articles on appendix carrying and watched a lot of YouTube videos on it. I felt this wasn’t anything new from when I moved my old leather holster to the 12 o’clock to fit my needs at the time (working protection details in crowded areas, etc.). But I decided I would buy an “appendix carry holster” and give it a try in my off time. I selected the G-Code INCOG Holster for my appendix style carrying experiment. My first impressions in that first week were not great. When sitting in a car for more than 20 minutes the bottom of the holster dug uncomfortably into my pelvic region and pinched the very top of my leg in my pelvic crease. Another issue I had was the psychological hurdle of pointing a pistol at my “manhood” during the holstering process. I had to literally tell myself the pistol wouldn’t go off so long as I’ve cleared the holster of obstructions and my finger is off the trigger. That said, I felt the pistol was secure enough and I liked the quick draw I achieved from carrying the G-Code INCOG holster appendix style.

So how did I overcome the pains and aches of appendix carrying? Simple, I moved the holster. It took me a little over a week, moving the holster around my beer belly, to find a perfect spot. I moved it everywhere from a “10 o’clock” position to a “2 o’clock” position before settling on a “12:30” body position. But is appendix carry the “perfect” carry for plain clothed law enforcement officers and responsibly armed citizens? The answer – maybe.

Like all things in the firearms world, it is entirely up to the end user. In day-to-day carrying, appendix carry can be quite comfortable. On the range drawing from the appendix position is (in my opinion) faster and smoother than a traditional “4 o’clock” carry position, and with minimal weapon retention issues. I used combatives [1]scenarios to test potential weapon retention issues while carrying a pistol, concealed, appendix style.

Much of pistol retention during hand-to-hand fights or attempted gun grabs come from the holster design itself. That said, the tactical beer gut plays a role in pistol retention while appendix carrying when fighting from your back. By simply crunching into the pistol itself, you are forcing your aggressor to overcome your entire body in order to gain control of your pistol. Fair warning – this will not be comfortable but in a fight for your life I think you won’t care much. The interesting thing about body mechanics is while in this position (on your back, crunched into the pistol, and fighting an aggressor), when you get the aggressor back enough to draw your pistol, you won’t fight your own body in getting to your pistol. You will naturally get out of your own way. The downside to a “4 o’clock” position carry, when fighting from your back and you reach for your pistol, you must clear around your own body to get to it. Additionally, having the pistol right in front of you during combatives, if the aggressor gets a hand on your pistol, you can generate quite a significant amount of power and strength downward to keep the pistol in the holster[2]. This forces the aggressor to have to overcome not only your body (remember you’re crunched into the pistol) but also your power and strength to take your pistol from you. You will be able to generate more downward power than the aggressor can generate upward power. They may lift you up or move you around because of their strength but the pistol will stay in its holster where it can’t come into play. In a best worst-case scenario, the clips of the holster break and the pistol is then loose in your pants. I hope you have a good combatives game at that point because retrieving a loose pistol from inside your pants is not likely to happen in a timely manner.

When fighting from your stomach, with the aggressor on your back, the appendix carry offers more retention capability than a 4 o’clock position does. This is because you are lying on top of your pistol making it quite inaccessible to the aggressor. As opposed to the “4 o’clock” position where, with an aggressor to your back, your pistol is more accessible to them than it is to you. There isn’t much more to talk about in fighting from your stomach with the aggressor on your back because fighting from your stomach is not advantageous in any fight. Your sole purpose in life at that point (aside from weapon awareness/retention) is to get out from underneath the aggressor or to reposition yourself to your back. From there you can move to other techniques to employ, which hopefully you know.

When fighting on top of an aggressor, either in their guard[3] or mount[4], an appendix carried pistol is accessible to the both of you. This is where I found I lost control of the pistol more times than not. It was typically when I ignored the cardinal rule of “break away – create space – introduce a different tool from your toolbox (i.e. your pistol, taser, baton or for a civilian – run away and call the police). I also found that appendix carry made certain arm bars and other “ground game moves” very uncomfortable because I had a hunk of polymer and steel digging into me while maneuvering. But again, go back to the cardinal rule of “break away – create space – introduce a different tool from your toolbox”

It should go without saying but whenever you purchase new gear or are using gear in a new way, you need to practice with it. The importance of training can never be stressed enough. It is always needed and you’ll never be good enough. This is something as a professional “gun carrier” we should all accept. The is why before I even began carrying a firearm concealed appendix style I did countless repetitions[5] with a safe and cleared pistol, drawing and reholstering it. Only after building the very beginning of muscle memory in drawing and reholstering my firearm did I then go to the range and practice drawing from appendix carry. I used a stair step approach first only drawing from an unconcealed holster. Then I put a lightweight over garment on (T-shirt) and began practicing my draw and reholstering from concealment. After all that, I finally chambered a round and began concealed carrying appendix style. As stated above it was a psychological hurdle for me to overcome pointing a loaded pistol at my “manhood” during the reholstering process. So that I could do this comfortably, I had to ensure I was able to clear my over garment completely from the holster and pistol to draw. I had to ensure my over garment was also cleared when reholstering without failure and without looking at either the drawing or reholstering process. I practiced this standing, sitting, sitting in a car, lying on my back, lying on my side, and lying on my belly. The point is, I practiced and I urge you to do the same.

Appendix carrying is a tried and true method of carrying. Larger body types can restrict appendix carrying; however, there are many holster options out there. Experiment with a few styles and types to make appendix carry a feasible option for the bigger guys and gals out there – just make sure it’s a quality holster. Not unlike any other method of carrying a concealed handgun, appendix carry has its pros and cons. It is up to you to know what they are and have a plan to enhance the pros and counter the cons. Some of the issues I ran into may not be a problem for you; conversely you may experience a problem that I never had. The key to success here is training. But still, the question remains – When carrying appendix style, does the gun make me look fat? The answer is simply “no”; it’s your gut that makes you look fat. The gun is just there to make your gut tacticool :-).


Bravo1Resq – out


Bravo1Resq used a Gen 3 Glock 26 in a G-Code INCOG holster with an RDR belt for dry fire drills, live fire drills, day-to-day carrying and combatives tests.

[1] Combatives refers to the simulation training regimen wherein one individual (the good guy) is attacked by another (the bad guy) in a controlled environment, wearing some form of protective equipment, with pre-established rules of contact. This may or may not be based off of a scenario.

[2] This is a pistol retention technique used when an aggressor has their hand on your pistol but have not removed it from the holster yet. You place your hands on theirs and over as much of the pistol as possible and apply downward force to keep the pistol from being removed from the holster.

[3] The guard position is where the bad guy is on their back and the good guy is positioned between their legs, on top of them.

[4] The mount position is where the bad guy in on their back and the good guy is positioned on top of the bad guy straddling their core/upper body.

[5] Actual repetitions were 300+ over three days before ever chambering a round and actually shooting the pistol. At a minimum I practiced 100 draw/reholster repetitions every evening for the first three evenings. Even after I began carrying the firearm “live” I still safe and cleared the firearm and ran through multiple repetitions every night before making the firearm ready again and securing it for the night. Yes, my wife did and still does give me strange sideways glances.