I first began working with what is called “Appendix Carry” when two things happened concurrently. I jammed up my right shoulder doing overhead presses in the gym, and I began to work in some ground fighting Jujitsu into the skill sets (I hate ground fighting, but you never know right?)
I had normally carried in the traditional 4:00/5:00 position, but now found my shoulder got very sore reaching back there. You know the story the doc tells you when you tell him it hurts to do something right? He usually says, “well stupid…don’t do that”. Moving the pistol forward of the hip fixed that right away. The other issue was that if I was fighting someone on the ground, it was exceedingly difficult to reach back to grab a pistol that was sandwiched between the ground and my body. Yet Appendix Carry still allowed me to do so.
When we tried Appendix carry in our force on force drills we also found that it is very fast to draw from - faster than traditional strong side or crossdraw. And mind you, we judge this speed of draw from dynamically moving positions not from the “gunfighter’s ready to go position” often seen in traditional "stand and deliver" range work.
Of course, the traditionalists object at this citing all manner of reasons why Appendix carry is unsafe, un-american, and anything else they can think of. Yet...the icon of those who tend to despise Appendix carry wrote this -
From Jeff Cooper on Handguns - copyright 1979
(ISBN 0-8227-2121-X) Page 86.
"Raked forward in front of the right hip is the appendix position. This is a good one for a detective whose need for concealment is not overriding. The pistol can be seen when if the coat falls open, and is somewhat uncomfortable when the wearer is seated, but it is faster than the kidney position and it permits a locked wrist.
The only man I know who is both a Class A combat shot and a highly skilled holster designer is also a full-time narcotics agent. (I would like to call him by name but his line of work prevents me).
He has settled on a .45 Commander, carried in the appendix position in a soft leather holster worn inside the trousers and beneath a hung out shirt tail. To blend with his unsavory professional environment, he has cultivated a sort of peacenik slouch with arms dangling forward and hands touching.
In this pose, his right forearm protects his sidearm from surreptitious search, and his left hand is ready to flip the shirt tail away if his right hand must draw. And heaven help the pusher who chooses to challenge this particular narc!"
The man Cooper was writing about was none other than the inventor of the entire IWB Summer Special concept, Bruce Nelson.
The main complaint of the traditionalists is "you will shoot your junk off". Well, if you are an incompetent "Billy Boogerhook" that routinely shoots holes in his pants when holstering, then yes, appendix is probably not the best choice for you. But if that description doesn't fit you, you should not be held back by the low standards of others.
Immediate Advantages of Appendix Carry/IWB:
1). Protect the gun in crowded situations – One of the fears of most armed guys is going into a large crowd where you can’t keep everyone 21 feet away like they tell you at the range, you can’t keep your back to the wall like they did in the old westerns, and all manner of strangers will be bumping into and rubbing across your strong side holstered CCW pistol. With Appendix Carry, you can simply keep your arm across the holster and no one will ever know you are armed.
2). Easier covert deployment due to less arm motion in the draw - Some folks never worry about covert deployment. This is probably because they have never been in an armed robbery where any fast motions indicative of a draw would be met with gun fire.
The shoulder articulation needed to bring the hand up to the belt buckle area is considerably les, and includes less travel time, than what is needed to reach for a wallet kept in the right cheek pocket. Less motion draws less attention, and is faster.
3). Easier deployment in grappling or stalemate situations - Think of your fight starting with the bad guy knocking you down and now pummeling you on the ground. If you tell me that such a thing will never happen you must be the baddest hombre ever to strap on a gun. Me, I know it could happen. Look at the lead photo above. Could you get your pistol out? Finding yourself in that situation, a draw from Appendix Carry will be much easier and faster, not to mention physically safer than traditional strong side carry.
4). It is faster than any other kind of carry. Don't believe it? I will prove it to you on based on physics and geometry alone....and then we'll go out on the Force On Force floor.
Try an experiment right now. Stand with your arms at your sides. Now move your “strong side” hand to the Appendix Position (just to the right of the belt buckle). Try again with what would be the cross draw position, and the strong side position. You will notice that the distance to grip is much less in appendix carry. Left handed guys, simply reverse the exercise.
A second experiment. From each one of those positions, move your hand now to the fully extended position as if you were going to shoot. Just do it one handed now for simplicity. The Appendix position is still less movement, and thus faster.
5). Unless you are extremely overweight, Appendix Carry is easier to conceal than other types of carry. Guys, my job is to produce people that can win a gunfight decisively and not to validate poor eating habits. If you are overweight, your most pressing danger is metabolic disease and not the terrorist...nor injury from appendix carry. Exercise discipline in your food choices. Those guys that fly armed on airplanes in case there is a terrorist on board? They tend toward appendix carry as well because their concealment requirements are quite high.
Important points about Appendix Carry holsters.
1). Height of the holster from the beltline is a compromise. The guys who want total concealment want it to ride as low as possible. Problem is that the lower it rides, the harder it is to get a grip on the gun when you draw. The higher it rides, the harder it is to conceal.
A rule of thumb is that the holster should allow your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky finger to wrap around the front strap of the pistol. If you can't do that, you will not be able to draw the gun at speed. Oh, you might pull some decent draws standing still shooting at some cardboard monkey on the range, but the minute you have to move and your body is not in the perfect position, forget it. Don't believe me? Come on out to class and see for yourself.
2). Positioning of the holster. The holster has to be placed on the belt in the same spot so when your hand habitually moves to it, it will not have shifted somewhere else. Usually riding a belt loop is enough to satisfy this need.
3). It must be mobile. Wait...didn't you just say it needed to the fixed? No. I said it needed to be positioned on the same spot every time. But unlike the side holster or the near-behind-the-back holster, the front of the torso flexes and moves considerably more and in various ways. A holster placed there needs to be able to move with the body, while remaining stationary on the belt.
Again, don't judge the holster by how you did at a gun game where you always shoot and draw from stationary points. That is a gun game and not a gun fight. Determine how well the holster works for you in how well you can still draw from true street concealment and fight in a force on force event, while running for your life "off the X".
If you have been looking for a good concealed carry concept that gives nothing up in terms of speed of access, this is it guys. Give it a serious try. I think you will like it.