Small Of The Back Carry: Easy Concealment Or Injury Waiting To Happen?

Ever tried small of the back carry? It engenders some divided opinion in the concealed carry community. Some people prefer it for various reasons. Others would warn you away, and also for various reasons.

Despite this divided thought on the practice, there are some ramifications that a person may want to consider before engaging in it.

Gun Draw From Small Of The Back

Small Of The Back Carry: Easy Concealment Or Injury Waiting To Happen?

First is the matter of the gun draw. The most natural position for a pistol is on the hip, since it’s the easiest location for carry as well as drawing. Appendix carry is also a natural position for carry for the same reasons, as is cross-draw appendix carry.

That would technically be gall bladder carry, but one digresses.

Drawing from the small of the back involves a longer arm motion, as well as tucking the hand behind the back. This motion is far more inefficient than other draw strokes, which can make good purchase on the pistol more difficult. Presentation likewise is more complicated than drawing from the hip or appendix position. A jacket or other cover garment will complicate matters even further.

Granted, these challenges can be overcome with sufficient training, but it bears mentioning that it is much less intuitive than the dominant carry positions.

There is also the practical matter of the interaction of the pistol and holster while seated. A gun on the hip can make finding a comfortable sitting position in a chair or car seat more difficult; a gun on the belt in the middle of the back can make things worse. If carrying a full-size pistol at the small of the back in an IWB holster, you can easily wind up sitting on the gun…which is not going to be pleasant if the slide is hot or cold due to inclement weather and you’ve been outside for awhile.

Injury Concerns When Carrying With A Small Of The Back Holster


Besides an awkward draw compared to conventional carrying positions, the other practical consideration to carrying with a small of the back holster is that of the potential for injury. It isn’t so much that carrying a couple extra pounds on the back of the belt line is going to throw your back out or even present much of a challenge; far from it.

Instead, the risk of injury is of you falling on it.

If you fall on your hip while wear ring a hip holster, it can give you a hip pointer bad enough to end some NFL careers, but you’ll probably get over it. Falling on the small of the back, though…can cause much more damage.

With small of the back carry, your gun sits more or less over your spine, and specifically over the lumbar spine and pelvis. Aside from hips and kneecaps, these are some of the most vital areas involved in ambulatory function. The lumbar spine is practically the foundation of the body; if it isn’t working well, everything else suffers.

There are a good number of anecdotal stories out there, no studies or surveys to back them up with data of course, but reports of police officers that fell on their SOB carry gun, causing a lower back injury that rendered them either disabled or forced medical retirement.

The odd civilian carrier may have experienced something quite similar.

If You Must SOB Carry…


However, if one must SOB carry, there are a few different ways in which to do it. A common method, and the easiest to conceal, is to wear an IWB holster in the small of the back position. Provided one is concealing a small enough pistol, sitting needn’t be too difficult. However, a best practice is for the holster to be opposite-handed from the carrier’s dominant hand. This points the grip toward the carrier’s dominant side, allowing for the easiest purchase on the grip.

With placement and cant adjustment, the draw may be less awkward than placed vertically in the center of the back.

Other SOB concealed carry holsters orient a pistol somewhat horizontally. This certainly makes sitting or driving easier, but during long sitting sessions (or drives) you’re going to notice that extra poke in the lumbar. If your back is already a bit dodgy, this isn’t likely to feel very good. The draw will be slower than in the hip position, though can be made somewhat easier with positional adjustment. Again, best practice is to orient the grip so it faces the strong side.

With holsters of this design, it’s imperative that there be adequate retention, as near horizontal carry makes a holster fight gravity…which hip or appendix carry will not.

Again, given the challenges of comfort, the draw and the potential for injury, small of the back carry is really not the best manner in which to conceal a pistol, which is why some people only employ it in carrying a backup gun. Even in that regard, there are still better options.

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  • F4klift

    Without s.o.b. carry, there aren’t many other options for those of us with a few more inches around the waist. Overhang doesn’t allow me to carry appendix or hip. My best choice was to go s.o.b. with a left handed holster. There is enough curve to my backside that minimizes impact from falling directly backwards and I carry a small framed 9mm. Am I not to carry simply because I’m fat?

    • Mollie

      My partner carries his the same for the same reason and it works well for him because of this. I also carry sob due to the fact that it is the most comfortable and easily concealable spot for me as a woman. Side presents and issue of concealment with my daily attire and due to my hips and appendix carry is entirely too uncomfortable in my humble opinion. I think the good point was made that as long as it is comfortable to the carrier and they train regularly to where the draw is comfortable and efficient for them that is all that matters.

      • F4klift

        Very well said.

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  • cjohnson44546

    carrying at 4 o’clock is not the same as SoB carry… SoB would be more like at 6… maybe towards 5 some, or towards 7. That first picture you have is definitely not SoB carry.

    • F4klift

      That’s true, the pics included in the article weren’t truly representative of a SoB carry. I’m using an IWB in 6 o’clock opposite handed.

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  • RBR

    The photo above the article is not SOB carry.

    One risk of SOB carry, a serious one in my view, you did not mention is the possibility of an auto accident in which the wearer receives a spine or hip injury. There is also the matter of the handgun being inaccessible when seated in the car and belted in.

    Appendix carry also has a number of risks although the article was about SOB carry.

    • F4klift

      Granted, any of these rearward carry options have risks and drawbacks. I can only comment my particular point of view as per my situation. It’s much easier for me to lean forward and pull from 6 than undo the seatbelt that is wrapped directly over the gun that is pressed tightly against the console of my vehicle, then draw my gun.

  • Scott

    I’m currently using a sticky holster at the small of my back. I find it comfortable and easier concealment for me. I realize the draw is more difficult i.e. slower, but an added benefit is that the knowledge of that has made my situational awareness more keen. Btw I don’t wear while driving.

  • Tom Sieg

    Your pictures are either horrible or the shooter is left handed. I have always carried in the true SOB. I use custom built SOB Holsters. I am right hand dominant. The butt of the pistol is pointed at my right hip not the left. It would be very awkward for a right hand dominant person to draw the weapon as shown in the pictures. When I was the Prosecutor on an Interagency Narcotics Team I had more than one occasion to draw my weapon. The only comment the Cops made was that they had never seen someone clear leather as fast as I did. This was a compliment not a comment about drawing when it was not necessary.

    • Steve

      Is the pistol vertical or skewed to your dominant hand and you did not say but your holster IWB?

      • Mikial

        You can set it up however you like it with a good adjustable holster or one that is made to your specifications. On the occasions circumstances make it necessary for me to carry SOB I have a holster that is slightly tilted to the right, like the FBI cant of hip holsters except the gun is canted back instead of forward because I am drawing it out of the holster backwards rather than forwards like a hip holster.

      • Tom

        The Holsters is IWB and slightly tilted towards my right side.

      • Steve

        Thank you @Tom, @mikial:disqus – I am a new shooter and have not transitioned yet to carry so this is very good information for me. Because of my lifestyle I feel that SOB is a likely way to carry and did try it out with my small 9mm last evening. One other question if you don’t mind … I commute for a good amount of time and thinking about access to the firearm from the driver’s seat, seems that SOB would NOT be the way to go since I drive with my seat belt tight and my back pressed and square to the seat? I suppose the holster could be slid forward to the hip?

    • Mikial

      That was my observation as well. The positioning of the gun in both photos is just plain bad; too far back for a hip draw with the right hand, and too far to the right for a back draw with the left hand. Let me clarify that.

      First, when carrying SOB you have to use a holster that is the opposite hand of what you would for carrying on the hip. In other words, if you are right handed, you carry in a left handed holster so the butt of the gun is facing correctly for a draw with your dominant hand. So, the pictures would have to be for a left handed shooter, which brings me to the second point.

      Even if the photos do show a left handed shooter, the gun is positioned too far to the right to be able to draw quickly with the left hand. SOB is just that; small of the back, not over the hip or butt cheek. The set-up in the photos is pretty much the worst of all worlds in terms of being able to get at your gun.

      • Jim Dean

        A nice thing about a true SOB carry like you describe (which is how I do it) is that you can, if you want, flip the same holster and use it OWB on your right side. That’s how I’ve carried for years.

  • Alan Lynn

    NCIS Nola, I always wonder if they ever lose their gun to someone just walking by? How about having their arm cranked up behind them when trying to draw? Weapon retention, try stopping a person just grabbing your gun. You have little strength at that position. How about they shove you against a wall? Want to rethink SOB carry?

    • F4klift

      The photos in the article are all open carry to illustrate for the author’s point. Concealed in a true sob position, specially with a smaller frame pistol, printing is near zero. Somebody walking up from behind and grabbing it is not likely. But, if they do, maybe you should just let them have it because you weren’t aware enough to safely carry.

      • Alan Lynn

        On the show they carry openly thus the problem. A proper sized gun and holster with a cover garment and you gun disappears along with many of the problems. It just leaves injury from falling onto your gun and being grabbed from behind or being pushed into a wall or onto your back.
        Never say never. If a “dumb” position works it isn’t dumb.

    • Bob Long

      but the magic of concealment take care of that. I hear you I am you intBollywood has not done us any favors with the exception of showing people to keep their finger off the trigger until you’re ready to hollywood has not done us any favors with the exception of showing people to keep their finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot

  • The first photo on top isn’t SOB carry. That said, falling on a gun can be worse from the front where there are just soft tissues and no bone for protection. One could get internal injuries from having a pistol driven into their abdomen on impact. There are risks no matter what type of carry. To me, it all depends where i am carrying and what the climate and sartorial expectations are. I live in a hot climate several months of the year. When it’s 110+ outside, try hiding a service size pistol and still be comfortable. What if someone has to where more formal clothes, particularly if female? What if I am sitting, like driving for work? The cross draw works well there. IWB, not so much. The style of carry has to fit these considerations for sure. If SOB carry makes sense for what is needed and it works for you, that’s good enough.

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  • Bob Long

    If I was just going to carry a gun then check 6 would be comfortable and enjoyable. However I realize I might have to use it I might be on the ground rolling around I have to have a holster that provides me adequate retention so that I know when I reach for my gun it will be there. which is why I prefer hip carry outside the waistband with a Safariland holster or a Blackhawk serpa 2 or 3 holster.

    • F4klift

      Bob, you missed the point. This was a concealed carry discussion. Most currently available holsters, iwb or owb, have adequate or adjustable retention. This was about 6 carry as a viable option for those who need another choice. And bragging about your name branded holster choices causes doubt that your opinion to is reliable.

  • firelooker

    Elmer Keith used to claim that SOB was the fastest draw I tried it & it was but I still didn’t care for it. Carrying IWB on the hip is the best next to OWB.

  • Slowryder

    I agree with Jim, Tom, and others. I’m not sure if they went out of there way to position a SOB carry so poorly. I’ve carry my PPKS, CZ-83, S&W 39-2 and Colt Officer SS with 2 spare mags in a Desantis nylon holster for years. And yes that Colt weigh down my belt a little. And I’ve been behind the wheel with SOB carry for up to 30 hours with out any discomfort. The right holster and firearm has a lot to do with comfort, and deployment of your weapon when needed. Plus remember your left arm can be used as a block or push off, keeping your body turned as you draw your firearm with your free right arm. It’s all personal preference. IMHO

  • bluesea

    I carry every day and have been using a Crossbreed Super Tuck IWB with a fs M&P at the 4:30 to 5 o’clock position for over 3 years now. I have been crawling around in attics and basements, climbing ladders, and walking roofs with no problems.

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  • Allen Benge

    I have tried an SOB holster, and wore it for about three hours. It was very uncomfortable, made sitting in just about any seat an experience not to be desired, and made for a very unnatural draw motion. I go with the FBI carry, at between four and five o’clock, with a slight forward cant.

  • Loren Scott Green

    I carry a m&p shield in SOB for two reasons 1 my small frame allows it to sit flush and 2 it doesn’t cause a buldge on my side for those who are scared. I’m also aware that my draw is slower and in return gives me an advantage of being within the law to defend myself with the pistol. I have a full size and a sub compact that are to big for SOB carrying. Tip on driving with SOB is to lower the lumbar support on the seat. Even with having racing seats I can barley feel the gun pressing on my back and has sometimes felt like a lumbar supporte. I would suggest that people try many different places for a length of time. Consider 1 to 3 days if not more. Body frame and structure has an effect on where a comfortable place to carry and take in considering outcomes and personal preferences on your own possible situations. Every outcome should be taken in considering in where to carry as well as why including possible injuries from falls to discharging. This is an opinion and just an opinion.

    • F4klift

      Loren, you’ve stated what I believe the author was intending with this article. A responsible carrier must consider the pros and cons of any carry position and be able to adjust to safely suit their individual situation. He just wanted people to know there are more options available.

      • Loren Scott Green

        I see what you’re saying and do respect you noting it. I intended for it to be an option for trying different places for periods of times. I also wanted to share how SOB carries can maybe deal with the seats. I was also putting out that body types play a role as well. When I was in full combat gear I seen guys have the side arms on their vest at the chest. Personally I carried mine low on my leg, but that’s different from CCW. I do hope my preference can help someone in their decision.

        • Whataday

          Loren, Dido for me, Shield SOB, as an EDC for over a year. I’m in the public eye constantly with not one exposure or noticeable bulge.
          As with all carries you need to work on the draw and although it’s a tad slower it’s still efficient.

  • Jim Dean

    As others have said, to me that’s not true SOB carry. That would have the gun butt pointed the other way. In essence, you use a left hand holster. I’ve done it for years. As long as it’s not directly over my spine, I’m not as worried about falling on it. In fact, it’s probably not as big of a risk as one might think, you’re more likely to hit on your rear end first. That said, I do keep it shifted just a bit toward my dominant side, which also makes it easier to get to. Concealment is easy back there, you’ll never even know it’s there as long as I’ve got a decent length shirt tail.
    One advantage to this is that the same holster that I can clip on the inside of my pants for reverse SOB carry can also go on the outside on my right hip. I’ve got a Kydex that works great in either position.

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  • Mike

    I carry a full size 1911 at the 4:30 position in an OWB Mitch Rosen with FBI cant. I am 6 foot 185 pounds and it conceals nicely. If the situation dictates I can slide it to the 3 o clock position, I do this when I’m driving. I also use a flat of the back double mag rig on occasion. With that said. It took alot of time working on my draw to get into acceptable split times. I have also carried a G36 IWB appendix as well as a Walther ppk appendix. The 1911 is still the most comfortable for me. To each his own. The key to being responsibly armed is practiceasy. Too many folks get hung up on what gun/holster/ammo is gonna make them Billy the Kid. Only practice, practice and more practice. Muscle memory is key. Smooth, effective shot placement will win the day in most cases. And always have a plan for after. Lawyers are expensive. I chose USCCA.

  • Keith A Milligan

    Where and how you choose to carry is all about personal preference and comfort. What I don’t understand is this article is about SOB carry and both pictures in the article are not SOB carry but 4-5 o clock carry OWB and IWB respectably. Not to mention that OWB is very shoddy and that belt sucks. With that being said I carry and train with a S&W M&P Shield 9mm mainly at 4:30 to 5 with a cant to the front in a Crossbreed Mini Tuck IWB with no printing whatsoever. Occasionally on quick trips to the store and I’m not carrying while at home, I have a single clip kydex holster that I can quickly throw on at AIWB.

  • KB

    S.O.B. I find comfortable and gives me the best concealment. Drawing is safe as the muzzle is pointed away when withdrawing from the holster. Drawback might be a longer draw but an emergency draw is rare, in my opinion

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