Man Dies Trying To Reholster — Is It Appendix Carry Or Negligence?

Man Dies Trying To Reholster -- Is It Appendix Carry Or Negligence?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN — Last week, a man died trying to reholster his pistol.  According to FOX6, Timothy Phonisay was posing for pictures with his pistol when he reholstered his pistol and it discharged into his thigh.  Based upon the medical reports, the holster was placed into the appendix carry postion (2 o’clock) – a popular position for a concealed carry holster.

This highlights some of the inherent dangers with the appendix carry style.  Especially for striker-fire or light trigger firearms, any pressure applied due to an incorrect or poorly angled insertion can result in a negligent discharge.  To be clear – this isn’t at all common.  Is it possible?  Yes.

Read Also: Appendix carry vs 4 o’clock carry

Every single day, thousands of concealed carriers put their pistols and revolvers into appendix carry holsters and it’s a rare day when one of them discharges.  There are a number of factors not known in this case – namely whether his finger was anywhere near the trigger, the type of holster he was using, etc.

If and when that information is made available, we’ll be able to see if this is a danger posed by the configuration, by the equipment, by the operator — or the perfect storm of all three.

In my opinion, the safest position to orient your inside the waistband concealed carry holster is likely to be at the 3 o’clock position.  This is directly on your right hip.  For most carriers, this means the weapon’s barrel is always facing away or at the very least down to the ground.

The next biggest threat is reholstering itself.  While a high-retention holster is great for securing a firearm, it can sometimes pose an issue with reholstering if it’s too tight and constricts on the trigger group.  That’s why it’s always important to test out retention and reholstering with an unloaded pistol first.  If the trigger is ever at risk during that testing phase, loosen up the gaskets or do whatever you need to do to not jeopardize that trigger.

Lastly, practice drawing and reholstering with an unloaded pistol.  This will give you an idea of how much give is both in the firearm itself and the holster.  If you are not confident you can reholster a loaded firearm into your IWB holster – change holsters.   You want a holster that has good retention and protects the trigger group.

For Phonisay, unfortunately, suffering a close range gunshot wound to the inner thigh is a true recipe for disaster.  The inner thigh contains a vital artery called the femoral artery.  If punctured or knicked, the person will bleed out incredibly fast.  This is the biggest strike against appendix carry despite it being a very convenient place to store a pistol.  However, everything has risks and if you feel that you’re properly situated to handle it — that’s your call as a responsible concealed carrier.

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  • Sivispace

    Luke’s comment regarding the type of holster is true as is his observation regarding us not knowing all the facts. One critical thing for concealed carry is holster design. A prudent concealed carry practitioner will invest significant money in buying a carry holster. The holster should have a reinforced top or be of a rigid kydex design to allow one-handed reholster without collapsing the holster. As Luke points out, a CCW guy or gal should practice frequently with an UNLOADED pistol. Every time you draw a pistol, practice moving off line and scanning for threats. Then, once you are satisfied that there are no threats, reluctantly, very reluctantly, slowly and deliberately reholster the unloaded gun. Practice this drill often so you will attain muscle memory. As they say in the military, “Train hard; fight easy.” When things get dicey, we default to our training. By raising our training routine, we are raising our default.

  • Sianmink

    If you nick that artery, it can’t be un-nicked without an experienced medical professional and at the very least a field surgery kit. A bullet through the outside of your thigh is one thing, through your junk and femoral artery is entirely another, and worth some redundant safety devices. This is why I’m really twitchy about appendix carry with glock-like pistols.

  • 357 magnum

    The article states this was a pistol and not a revolver which don’t have a safety like pistols do. When holstering your pistol check to make sure the safety is on.
    If you are carrying a revolver with a short trigger pull like a Dan Wesson be sure NOT to have you finger near the trigger when holstering.

    • Frederick Herring

      Revolvers ARE pistols.

      • Steven

        Revolvers are HANDGUNS. They are NOT pistols. Learn the terms before ATTEMPTING to correct those using them properly.

        • Frederick Herring

          Pistols can be revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, derringers, single shot, and so forth. Redefining “pistol” as semi-automatic only is an attempt to change the vernacular, and I oppose that effort.

          • Steven

            Actually, a revolver has multiple chambers. A pistol is any handgun with ONE chamber. I NEVER said is only referred to a semi-automatic. YOU are attempting to redefine the term for exactly the reason YOU claim to oppose.

            By the way, distinguishing between derringers and single shot pistols denies the very DEFINITION on a derringer,

          • G50AE

            Is this the part where I mention that pistols such as the Glock do not use “clips” to feed ammo?

            Some people feel the need to refer to pistol magazines as “clips” because they think it sounds gangsta.

          • Steven

            Considering I DID NOT refer to magazines OR clips, in any way, the comment is completely out of place.

          • G50AE

            I don’t see how the comment was out of place. The discussion was about revolvers and pistols, and their differences. One of those is the difference between a clip and a magazine.

          • Steven

            Clips are not used to feed ANY gun. They are used to LOAD a magazine. A revolver is ‘fed’ by ‘revolving’ a different cylinder into position. Your attempt to justify an OFF THE WALL comment onky shows you don’t know the DEFINITION of a clip.

          • G50AE

            During WWII Smith and Wesson designed the moon clip to allow .45ACP hardball to be used in revolvers. The clip allows the extractor to push against it to extract the empty cases. The Smith and Wesson 610 if it is still being made can feed either 10mm or 40S&W rounds via moon clips and would be a good option if one wanted to compete in the IDPA Enhanced Service Revolver division.

            IDPA now features TWO divisions for revolver shooters, the Stock Service Revolver division which does not allow the shooter to use clips, and the Enhanced Service Revolver division where shooters can use clips.

      • 357 magnum

        No revolver are a hand gun the same as a pistol which is usually a semi-auto handgun.

  • DixieBoy

    This is yet another case (oh, I can hear the dissension now!) for an external safety. They save lives and, assuming practice, have negligible effect on speed.

    • Michael Scott

      As you said practice, if he had practice he wouldn’t have a round chambered, he wouldn’t have depressed the grip safety, he wouldn’t have the need to pose (play) with his pistol anyway

  • Mikial

    I agree with Luke completely, but there are a few details this particular article doesn’t contain.

    First, he was actually posing for a selfie . . . with a loaded gun, apparently. Unless he didn’t chamber a round until after he took the selfie but I doubt we’ll ever know since people don’t generally take selfies unless they’re alone. I guess anyway, since I don’t take them at all.

    Second, he’d only owned the gun 3 months. He had a Wisconsin ccw so he would have at least had the training required for the permit, but maybe not much more training or experience.

    Third, the gun he had was an XD .45, so that means it had not only a trigger safety like a Glock, but a grip safety as well so he must have been gripping it enough to depress the grip safety when either he or something pulled the trigger.

    My EDC is a fill sized XD .45 which I carry daily in a Crossbreed IWB holster at 3 o-clock. It’s a great holster that protects the trigger and was custom made for the gun so it fits perfectly, but unless I am absolutely, just cleared the gun, positive it is unloaded I never depress the grip safety when I holster it. I feel bad for the guy and his loved ones but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

  • Chris

    This is one of the reasons I prefer a “hammer”. You can rest your thumb on the hammer when re-holstering and you will know it is safe. Plus getting your gun out quickly is of paramount importance however, take your time re-holstering.

  • nicholsda

    Safety rule for appendix carry. Insert pistol in holster with holster outside of pants. Then put holster in pants. 1911 with safety on, grip safety untouched, insert in holster, retention strap under hammer, then holster inserted in pants.

    Firearms without safeties, just not safe to put in holsters while holster is in pants.

    • Steven

      If you can’t holster your gun with the holster in place, YOU should not be using that holster at all. Therefore your ‘safety rule’ is DEAD wrong, and I use dead in the literal sense of the word.

      • nicholsda

        I never said I couldn’t. I said safety rule.

        Some people think that they can handle a firearm safely all the time but it only takes one time with the wrong firearm treated the wrong way to ruin your day. And as the subject of the article proved, he should not have put his firearm in his holster while the holster was in place. Many others including cops have shot themselves when holstering their firearm. Do you inside the pants appendix carry?

  • Brian Mumford

    This is rare, but it happens more than you think. I’ve researched this in the past and there have been fatalities attributed to appendix carry. More of the reports are nonspecific, but there is always a danger—however remote—that the pistol will go off when a person is distracted and not paying attention. Negligent discharges also happen because clothing gets in the way. I know of at least two reports of police officers shooting themselves in the leg because the drawstring from their jacket got caught in the trigger guard while reholstering. One didn’t know for a day or two if he was going to keep his leg. I’ve been concealed carrying for ten years and none of my pistols have had safeties on them (all striker fired). I purchased a FN FNS 9c with a safety earlier this year. I only actuate the safety when holstering my weapon. When it’s seated, I deactivate the safety. If I can’t remember to do that, I shouldn’t drive a car or do much else. I’m not talking about having to remember to deactivate it under stress. I only momentarily activate the safety to get it inside my holster. Of course, there is always a possibility of a striker fired gun, or any gun, going off upon drawing it, but at least I’m cutting down on the risk considerably. Call me a safety Sally, but after ten years I’ve decided I don’t want to risk it and the FNS’ safety is so well designed I literally have a better chance of winning the lottery than actually inadvertently actuating the safety when my life depends on it. I don’t plan on ever getting in a gun fight, but I constantly handle my firearm, so that’s what’s best for me and my piece of mind. Again, it’s rare, but there really is no good reason not to use a safety in my opinion (the way I’m using it).

  • Steven

    Man Dies Trying To Reholster — Is It Appendix Carry Or Negligence?

    It could be both, but it is negligence.

  • zippiest

    This is why I only hip carry out small of my back carry.

  • navywings

    “This highlights some of the inherent dangers with the appendix carry style. Especially for striker-fire or light trigger firearms, any pressure applied due to an incorrect or poorly angled insertion can result in a negligent discharge. ”

    Are you crazy? This isn’t an issue with a particular type of carry. it’s an issue with complacent carry. If you don’t have anything inside the trigger guard when holstering, I don’t care what kind of pressure there is, you are not going to fire your weapon. This is solely due to a guy being complacent with holstering. Period.

    The most risky phase with your weapon is holstering. When you are holstering, it shouldn’t happen until you are in a threat-free position (assuming it was drawn for a threat) or when all other tasks are completed and it can have your complete attention. If this guy had his complete attention on the process of holstering, he would be alive.

    Attributing this to appendix carry or any other style of carry is absurd. SMH….

    • Darren O’Connor

      No it isn’t. If he’d been carrying strong side, he’d almost certainly still be alive, not because it would have prevented the ND, but because it WOULD have prevented the ND from having such terrible consequences. Human beings being the flawed, imperfect creatures they are, accidents and mistakes are inevitably going to happen. Yes, if this guy had had all his attention on his reholstering, he would be alive. He didn’t. See above. No one will do it exactly right ALL the time. I don’t know a single experienced shooter who hasn’t had an ND at some point in his life. If you follow the basic rules of firearms safety, that need not result in anything worse than some embarrassment. If you don’t, it can be deadly. Appendix carry has certain inherent risks that are intrinsic to it and inseparable from it. So if you have an ND while drawing or reholstering from appendix carry, the consequences are likely to be dire. You will either blow off your reproductive organs, or put a bullet through your femoral artery like the guy in this article. If you have an ND from strong side carry, you are likely just to have a scorch mark on your pants, or, at worst, need a few stitches to deal with the crease on your buttocks or along your outer thigh, and even in the absolute worst case, where you put a bullet INTO your leg or foot, it’s almost always at least survivable.

      If you still want to use appendix carry, go right ahead, but acknowledge the greater risk, because it IS there. You can mitigate that risk with better training and self-discipline, but you never can remove it entirely. Remember the old saying “it’s always the strongest swimmers who drown?” There are studies that confirm that IS actually true, because the strong swimmers are often people who enjoy swimming and do it a lot more, and also their confidence in their ability leads them to take risks a poor swimmer will avoid. It can also lead to plain old complacency. It’s no different here. Shooters are as prone to slackness or complacency as anyone.

  • Joe D.

    “While a high-retention holster is great for securing a firearm, it can sometimes pose an issue with reholstering if it’s too tight and constricts on the trigger group.”

    I’m not sure it’s even physically possible that the retention on holster can cause a trigger to be pressed to the point of discharge. The geometry and physics required don’t add up. Even if retention was so tight it required both hands and a buddy to push down on the gun to snap it into the holster, there’s no way the side pressure (no matter how tight) could engage the trigger safety in the center of the trigger pad. So even if the retention was as tight as I just described — tight enough to pinch the trigger itself and pull it backwards — the trigger wouldn’t get to a point where it dropped the firing pin safety plunger or complete cocking of the striker because the trigger safety would prevent it from happening.

    Here’s the bottom line… this dead guy reholstered his gun with his finger in the trigger guard. Doesn’t matter where your holster is located, you do that and you’re gonna shoot yourself or someone near you.

  • NoNameGivenXX

    I appendix carry every gun that i carry. Full size beretta, nano, Glock 23, everything. It is NOT the holster, it is NOT the design, it was the USER that caused the death. Blaming the holster for his death is the same mindset as blaming the gun for any shooting. How many accidental shootings have there been with belt or thigh holsters? Plenty.

    Also, I NEVER use the safety on a double action pistol when carrying. So much so, I have a G upper on my Beretta, so there is no safety. Your finger is the only safety you need on a double action pistol.

  • GadsdenGuns

    1. Keep your finger off the trigger until your firearm is pointed in a safe direction.
    2. Use a holster that stays open so you can insert the gun without hitting the trigger.
    3. Don’t handle a loaded firearm unless it is absolutely necessary.

    This is a case of negligent discharge, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with the position of the holster.

    • Darren O’Connor

      No, but the position of the holster led directly to the wound not being survivable.

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