Appendix carry is among the most controversial method of concealed carry for many concealed carriers.
It also happens to be one of the most common for many combatives instructors including Mike Seeklander, Rob Pincus, Kyle Lamb, Todd G, Paul Carlson… Why is that?
Appendix Carry can be scary.
After you have carried for a while it can be easy to forget the moment when you decided that you wanted to keep a firearm with you AND that you were prepared to use lethal force in the defense of yourself and those you care about.
This moment can also change the way you think about firearms.
They are no longer just tools that you plink with, or hunt with, but they become tools that can be used against humans. Granted they are bad guys determined to cause death or grave bodily injury to you or a loved one, but since you aren’t a sociopath (are you?) it can be hard to get past the idea that they are people and their death would have an impact of those that love them.
If your firearm can cause incapacitation to an attacker, then if it is misused it can do the same to you or a family member… at this point you really internalize the power and responsibility you have.
So if you are like me and other responsible concealed carriers, you begin studying…
First the safety rules
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
- Identify your target, and what is behind it.
Number 2, always captivates us, because we think if we do that one thing and we screw-up up everything else it will still be ok.
The problem is, we take it too far.
We get nervous walking through a gun store and seeing muzzles in the cabinet or seeing photos/videos of muzzles pointed at the camera. We succumb to the idea that there is a laser coming out of the barrel and that it could go off at any time… it won’t.
Then we study terminal ballistics to make sure that the gun we chose will be enough to stop a threat.
Uh oh! We chose pistols and “All pistols suck!”
How can that be?!?
So we start looking for what we can do to make them more effective and we learn about the human anatomy and the location of cranio-ocular cavity, the thoracic triangle, the brain stem, the pelvic girdle, the spine and of course the arteries that could cause incapacitation… including the femoral artery.
Now we know that the handgun we chose to carry isn’t the devastating tool of mass murder the media tells us it is and that we have to be able to hit a relatively small area, under stress to make the threat stop and protect our family and we think
“I need to train! But how… I know I’ll take a class! Doh that is expensive, I need another solution YouTube!!! Who is Tex Grebner?”
And then as a new shooter we see a video of a guy shooting himself in the leg… video available here
|There are a number of great lesson’s to be learned in that video, but the only one we internalize is that the draw and reholstering are very dangerous times for the shooter. (They are I’m not debating it.) But we miss the facts that all holsters can position the gun to be pointed at yourself (or at the person behind you in the case of a shoulder holster or purse carry) and that rule 3 is just as important as rule 2!|
At this point have all the information we need to develop well-articulated fear of appendix carry…
A) It is possible to shoot yourself on a draw or while reholstering
B) It points the gun at a part of the human anatomy that many men prize above all others
C) Past that there is a femoral artery that could be a lethal hit even with a pistol
Some people either don’t think it through or realize that with liberal use of rule 3 and training that you can in fact mitigate the risks of shooting yourself to the point they are a statistical non-issue. They also realize that a holstered pistol is effectively stored and therefore it isn’t going to go off on its own, so they buy an appendix carry holster and realize…
Appendix Carry is Uncomfortable
If you look at us on the whole we really only bend one way so a gun carried on the waist is never really in the way of our bodies from 3-6 o’clock because we typically bend either parallel to it or away from it.
Appendix carry is a whole ‘nother thing because we tend to bend towards it and guns tend to both not bend and have sharp edges. This isn’t a problem when we are standing (unless you have a tactical shelf) but when we sit or bend over it can be quite the issue.
There are a few things we can do to mitigate this issue that all relate to selecting “Gear that Just Works!”
First the gun that we choose to carry should have a muzzle length that permits it to sit above anything that bends. When I sit the pubic bone become the biggest issue. (Go ahead and chuckle, I’ll wait)
You can control this by selecting a gun with a short muzzle or a holster that doesn’t sit as low.
The next concern for me is that I am relatively short from hip to rib.
When I am carrying a few extra pounds, like the 10-15 I am carting around now, my gut helps keep the gun from getting in under my ribs and makes it much more comfortable.
I am not saying that gaining weight is a good answer, it isn’t… but selecting a holster that tends to guide the gun away from your ribs or a gun with a short slide can help.
If it is scary and uncomfortable, why do many top trainers carry appendix carry?
Appendix Carry is extremely concealable.
If you are reasonably fit you shirt will naturally be pretty loose near your waist and many guns that are well suited for appendix carry have shorter grips that make them more concealable. However there is a psychological reason as well. People (at least Americans) don’t feel comfortable looking at another person on their centerline at or below their waist.
If you don’t believe me greet the next person you come into contact with by staring at their crotch. See how you feel and they react.
Appendix Carry is easier to protect.
A gun grab is one of the biggest fears of many concealed pistol carriers, because it can be done fairly easily from behind if you are caught unaware. Because the appendix carry holster is on your front (and near the same sensitive parts nobody wants to look at) there is little risk of a surprise.
When we draw from a hip it takes a fairly large movement and a lot space behind us for our elbow. This can be a difficult movement if we are in a tight space like in a bucket seat or on our back.
Appendix Carry is more natural.
As Monkeys we tend to flinch towards our centerline, once there all we have to do is drop our hands and we can access our firearm.
Appendix Carry is FAST (with a capital F, A, S and T)
Because the movements are natural and shorter you can access an appendix carried gun much quicker than you can a hip holster. Since we are already going to be behind the curve, the faster we can respond the better.
Learning to carry in an appendix holster is about getting over some fears about firearms and their handling and finding a holster and gun combination that works with your body, but there are many defensive reasons to do so if you are willing and able.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at a number of great appendix carry holsters for the M&P Shield. I will break down what makes them work and some interesting features that set them apart.
Do you carry AIWB? If so what was the factor that got you past the safety and comfort concerns many struggle with? Let me know in the comments below.