I started carrying appendix carry, or AIWB (Appendix In-The-Waistband) about a year ago. Before that, I had been resistant to the carry method for a list of reasons. Most of them centered around being able to successfully conceal a handgun, and do it comfortably while carrying AIWB. I had dabbled in the dark art of AIWB a few years ago, but could never get it figured out. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Fast forward to now, and I would never go back to just normal on the hip IWB. These are the tricks I learned to make it work. For the record, everyone one of these I stole from someone else.
Typically when we talk about canting holsters, we think of canting the butt of the gun forward when carried in a traditional 3-4 o’clock position. Canting the butt forward primarily serves to make the handgun a bit more accessible, and in some cases will also help to conceal the firearm. With appendix carry, canting the gun in the opposite direction can be of incredible usefulness. We are trying to place the muzzle of the gun where it doesn’t interfere with the movement of the upper leg or anything else that might be around there. All while keeping the grip of the gun that is above the belt concealable and accessible all at once. Using reverse cant on the holster allows me to put the muzzle of the gun where I want it, closer to the centerline, but keep the grip of the gun where I want it too.
The part of the gun that is most likely to print while carrying AIWB is the grip. People are sort of oval shaped, guns are typically flat, at least the good ones are anyway. When I place the straight thing on the oval thing, part of the straight thing is going to stick out. That is just the way it goes. Wings, whether it is the RCS version, the ModWing, or the newer DSG Darkwing, rotate the grip of the gun into the body. This aids in the concealment of the handgun.
When I first started carrying AIWB, the use of a wedge is what made it all click and actually make AIWB viable. The wedge does a few things. It serves to tuck the top of the gun above belt into the body, makes it possible to holster the gun without flagging our own body, and increases the comfort level. The good holster makers out there have caught on and either build a wedge into the kydex body of the holster or provide a foam wedge that is removable with the holster. Don’t have a wedge? It is easy enough to create your own using a yoga block, a sharp knife, and some Velcro. Or you can buy a cheap wedge made for AIWB from KSG Armory if you don’t feel like making one yourself.
Belt Buckle Off Center
Another potential struggle with AIWB is adding too much bulk to the front of our body. It can look kind of weird having this bulge of random stuff around our waistline. With AIWB, when you carry the gun close to where the belt buckle would typically be, the buckle itself can add to that bulk. How do we fix that problem? We thread our belt a bit differently and rotate the buckle away from where we carry the holster. This reduces the bulk on the front of the body and can conceal the presence of a firearm better. Some jeans, such as the Vertx Defiance Tactical Jeans, place the belt loops far enough so that you can look your belt normally but adjust the buckle to the side, away from the gun.
Adjustable Ride Height
Quite simply, AIWB holsters have to have some sort of way to adjust ride height. A holster with gross and fine adjustments, like the JMCK AIWB or Keepers Concealment holsters, is the best route. Proper ride height is necessary to allow for good accessibility but also balance that against concealment, and will be different for each person. If a gun rides too low, the belt will actually block access to the grip and prevent the gun from being properly gripped on the draw. If a gun rides too high, it will be more difficult to conceal. Having the ability to fine-tune the ride height is a critical piece of the AIWB puzzle.
Combine these five things, and you can summon Captain Planet, I mean you can make AIWB work. Or at least you probably can. I think that the vast majority of people can make AIWB work with a good holster. That’s if they give it an honest effort with a possible tweak here and there. If you have any other AIWB tips or tricks, hit us up in the comments.