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Why I’m still no fan of Appendix Carry

April 9, 2020

Photo courtesy TRex Arms.

I know appendix carry enjoys increasing popularity among a lot of people including a good number of younger shooters. It also seems to be the choice of many keyboard commandos who want to be just like their heroes in the gun community. To say nothing of the folks who think they can buy skills in a bubble-pack on aisle three of their local Cabela’s or Academy Sports.

I wrote in 2016 about how I had fallen firmly into the “no fan” side of things when it comes to appendix carry (sometimes called AIWB – appendix inside the waistband).

Well, four long years have passed.  And nothing’s changed aside from me watching more people practice AIWB on ranges.

I still don’t like it for one reason: safety.

It is patently unsafe.  If you screw up your holstering, there’s a good chance you’ll die.

I’ll repeat that for those who speed-read past it the first time: if you mess up while holstering with appendix carry, you will be in serious trouble. At best, you’ll probably blow apart your reproductive parts. Just about as likely, you’re going poke one or more holes in your femoral artery. At that point, you’ll have the rest of your life to regret your carry method…which won’t be very long.

Courtesy T.Rex Arms

Granted, appendix carry offers good concealment and fast presentation. With a good rig and the right body type it can be every bit as comfortable as other carry options. But it won’t work with all body types.

If your skills are minimal or marginal, AIWB is a disaster waiting to happen. If you’re an appendix carry devotee, you can’t practice until you get it right. You better be practicing until you can’t get it wrong.

So you’re an appendix carry aficionado and you say that you’re confident in your reholstering skills, eh? Stuff happens, even to the best of us. Here’s an example of what can happen to even those with extensive training and experience.

A few years ago, a training school here in Illinois had an instructor development class. These instructors — all highly experienced trainers and shooters — had excellent gun handling skills. At the end of the day, they “gunned up” for a trip to a more gun-friendly state for dinner.

As they did their thing preparing to go out for some grub, one of the instructors discharged her firearm as she holstered into her AIWB rig. As I recall, she was talking with another person when her gun fired.

“Ah, [bleep]!  I shot myself,” she yelled. The state-of-the-art hollow-point entered her leg at about the crease at the hip and traveled downward.

These instructors knew more than just how to poke holes in paper. As a group, they had very good first aid training. Indeed some were former military and they had at least one tourniquet on her in less than half a minute.

EMTs responded quickly from a nearby station and got her to an ER most riki-tik, pumping fluids into her during the ambulance ride. She went right into surgery and then spent a week or more in intensive care, having ruptured her femoral in three places. She was extremely lucky to have survived.

My question to any appendix carrier (or anyone thinking about trying it): do you think you’re going to have some medically trained friends nearby to put a CAT tourniquet on you if you screw up your re-holstering? What if you’re out in the sticks at a range by yourself with spotty cellular service and little or no help available?

Courtesy T.Rex Arms 

“I’m cautious and skilled. I’m not worried about an accidental or negligent discharge,” you say.

Maybe you just met Mongo the Mauler in a dark alley and he wanted to do some thoracic surgery on you with his half-rusty Case knife after you declined to surrender your wallet in a timely enough manner. You just applied some ballistic therapy to end the attack.

Do you really think you’re going to be able to flawlessly execute a reholster as you’re shaking like a leaf thanks to that adrenaline dump?

Maybe you’ll actually be able to stay cool as a cucumber. Are you willing to bet your life on it? It would be a shame to survive a violent criminal attack only to do yourself in with an accident upon reholstering.

I’ve heard AIWB practitioners explain away some of these risks. “Well, I take the holster out of my pants to reholster every time.” Sure you do. “Just put the gun down somewhere instead of reholstering after a defensive gun use.” Not a bad plan, but what if you need it again quickly? “It’s safer than other carry methods.” Keep telling yourself that.

If I make a mistake holstering in my “late afternoon” carry position, at worst I get a new scar across my butt, but I’m not going to die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I’ve seriously considered AIWB carry because of its speed and utility, but I just can’t get over the high cost of a mistake. My life’s worth more than that. Ditto for yours.

I’ve donned my asbestos suit as I expect a few flaming arrows for taking on a topic that a lot of people consider a sacred cow. Let’s hear it.

9 Responses to Why I’m still no fan of Appendix Carry

  1. Steve on April 9, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    I agree with you 100%

  2. SED on April 10, 2020 at 8:22 am

    True. Every word. There are multiple ways to carry in all manner of dress which do not involve the risks noted above.

  3. Not a dumbass on April 10, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    Shut the fuck up boomer

    • Old 1811 on April 11, 2020 at 9:47 am

      Classy. Now defend your position.

    • GSL 1589 on April 14, 2020 at 10:50 am

      N a dum-bass:
      Sounds like you are an uneducated punk-a$$ troll-type with your “witty reply”, moron. IF you are REALLY not a dum-ba$$ you MIGHT learn from another’s misfortune. Apparently you are a “know more than everybody” moron that refuses to learn from more experienced people that teach firearm safety for many that actually learn. Too bad, so sad you know too much to learn.

  4. Not Incompetent on April 10, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    If you’re not fat and incompetent it’s actually a great way to carry.

  5. Andrew Breen on April 11, 2020 at 6:11 am

    Sounds legitimate….if you don’t train and don’t look to register. I’ve seen far more people shoot themselves reholstering with small of back holster or strong side holster. Lack of training, substandard equipment or just plain not WATCHIMG your pistol return to the holster. The only time you should be reholstering your firearm is when the threat is eliminated.
    If cops show up I would much rather have my weapon pointed at threat than have to unholster while their guns are pointed at me.
    Please keep your fear mongering to a minimum and leave those of us who actually train alone…

  6. Old 1811 on April 11, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I’m not a fan, either. A lot of people seem to think that, because it’s reasonably safe on the range, Mr. Murphy won’t show up on the street. I’ve seen a lot of people reflexively stick their fingers inside the trigger guard during a draw (Look up “trigger affirmation”)on a timed qualification, for one thing. For another, reholstering on a range, or even in competition, is a lot different from reholstering after you’ve been involved in an armed confrontation, whether you actually shot somebody or not. Shaky hands, screaming bystanders, and approaching sirens don’t enhance your holstering skills, and you don’t want to have a gun in your hand (pointed at your assailant or not) when the cops show up. NDs happen, and I’d rather have a hole in my butt or the outside of my thigh than in my femoral artery. But it’s America, you can do what you want. Just don’t expect me to give you blood.

  7. Tommy on April 11, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Dont like to appendix carry either.