How to Make Appendix Carry Work for You

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Carrying in the appendix position comes with a number of benefits that other positions don’t necessarily offer. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy position to get comfortable with.

In fact, most people who make the switch aren’t happy at all in the beginning.

“It’s digging into my crotch”

“The gun is pressing into my gut”

“Are you SURE it’s completely secure while it’s pointing at…well, you know”

“It’s dragging my pants down”

“I have to adjust it when I sit down”

“How am I supposed to bend over?”

These are just a few of the common complaints about appendix carry. But that doesn’t automatically mean you should just throw in the towel. Armed with the right information, you can make appendix carry work for you; it’s simply a matter of persistence and playing with the techniques below.


1. Invest in a quality belt.

Seems like a given, right? Unfortunately, it’s something that a lot of people overlook.

The belt you wear with your concealed carry has a MAJOR effect on how well you’re able to carry. From concealability and comfort, to ease of use and accessibility, your belt plays a huge role in keeping you safe and comfortable.

A flimsy belt will cause your holster to drag downwards, creating an obvious and uncomfortable sag – especially when paired with looser pants (see the tips below for more information on that).

Not only can this cause your firearm to dig into your pelvic area, but it also makes your gun that much harder to access in time of need – you want a safe amount of resistance holding your holster to your belt, so the firearm isn’t wiggling around in your waistline.

A loose belt will allow the holster to move around in your pants, causing it to shift from side to side, lean forward, or sag low. When carrying a firearm, you want it close to the body, and you want little to no movement; it needs to be right where you expect it to be at all times.

Here are some links to companies that make great CCW belts:

For everyday use:

For range use:

2. Move your belt buckle over.

If you’re carrying right in the 12 o’clock position, you may find that your firearm simply adds too much bulk in that spot. This would cause issues with printing, and could also impact your comfort.

A common technique is to offset your belt buckle to the right or left anywhere from ½” to 4”. The amount that you offset by depends on the footprint of the holster – smaller holsters need less of an offset than larger rigs. This allows the holster and the firearm to lay flatter against your body, rather than being pulled forward by that belt buckle.

3.Choose the correct pant size.

This technique is all about trial and error, so get to shopping!

And we hate to be the ones to remind you, but pants belong around your waistline, not around your butt. Pull those pants up to where they need to be, and tighten your belt to avoid slippage.

Some folks find that going up one pant size gives them just enough room for the firearm, without creating the sag effect mentioned above.

Others learn that two sizes is more befitting, or no change in pant size at all. It’s all about your body size and shape, and unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. Just keep playing with different size pants until you find a comfortable amount of space, without a major excess of fabric in your waistline.

A general rule of thumb is that the holster should fit snugly into your waistline, without creating an obvious bulge – it should not be printing significantly (some printing is normal). Again, you want the firearm pressed securely against your body, but not so much so that it’s causing your pants to burst at the seams.

And if you have more than 1” of extra space in your waistline, chances are, your pants are too big.

4.Choose the correct shirt size.

Similar to the technique above, if the firearm is printing significantly, you may need to make some adjustments to your shirts.

A shirt that fits you fine when you’re not carrying, won’t necessarily be the right fit when you are carrying. You want a little bit more fabric to allow for some good flow – a bit of extra fabric in your shirt creates some subtle movement in the garment, and it goes a long way in concealing your firearm.

If you’re trying to show off your sculpted body by wearing a too-tight shirt, you’ll be showing off your firearm too.

5.Start off small.

If you’re new to appendix carry, and you’re trying to cram a full-size firearm into your pelvic area, it isn’t necessarily going to work out well for you.

Why? You’re thinking too big.

Starting with a smaller firearm will give you a chance to get used to having something in that carry position – trust us, if you’re used to carrying in another position, it can be a major adjustment.

Equate it to this: you’re working out at the gym for the first time, and you reach for the 100-lb. weights. You expect it to be easy completing a workout with that weight? No, obviously not. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, because you’re just not there yet – you have to start out with say, 25-lb. weights and eventually work your way up to the 100-lb. weights.

Now, we’re not suggesting you start with a teeny-tiny firearm. We’re just suggesting something a bit on the smaller side. Here’s some great examples:

  • Smith and Wesson M&P Shield
  • Glock 43
  • Glock 26
  • Springfield XDS

Once you’ve made appendix carry work for you with a gun on the smaller side, you’ll be far more likely to make it work for you on a larger scale. But again, you’ll need to get used to that, as well; don’t expect the Glock 17 to feel the same in your pants as the Glock 43.

6.Choose the correct holster.

This one may seem kind of obvious, but, it’s critical to point out: all Kydex holsters ARE NOT created equally. The design of your holster makes a major difference in appendix carry.

Why?

Well, if the holster has a large footprint, it may be pretty uncomfortable.

Just look at the design of these two holsters pictured below, and you can clearly see the difference in footprint, simply based on the holster design.

On the right: The Alpha Concealment Systems holster (made for the Glock 17) has trimmed edges, to ensure no excess material is present. The corners are all rounded to ensure more comfort for the customer.

On the left: Made by a popular competitor, this holster (made for the HK VP9) does not feature trimmed edges, and it’s clear that the footprint is larger than necessary. The corners are not trimmed at all, and have been kept square. Those square points make contact with the pelvic area of a customer’s body, making for some serious discomfort.

You want to aim for a holster that is minimalistic, but still provides adequate safety and security. What does that mean? Here are some basic things to look for in a good holster:

  • Your trigger guard is completely covered
  • Adjustable retention
  • Rounded bottom edges, rather than square
  • Edges that have been buffed smooth, not left raw and sharp
  • No excess material
  • Clear definition in the material

Ready to buy an appendix carry holster? Click here to shop the starter appendix IWB holster we suggest.

Obviously we believe that Kydex is the best material to use when making a holster (click here to read more about the material), but a lot of customers have found that the material itself helps make appendix carry easier and more comfortable.

Why?

Because Kydex isn’t porous like leather or nylon, it doesn’t absorb sweat, thus keeping you drier and more comfortable over time.

Imagine carrying around a soggy holster all day…not fun.

With Kydex, simply wipe the sweat off the backside of the holster, and you’re dry. This also helps keep your firearm protected over time, since the material is impervious to the elements – i.e. it doesn’t matter if you get caught in the rain or snow while carrying.

If you expose a leather holster to water (or sweat), you’ll need to take it off and set it aside to dry slowly – otherwise, the chemical composition of the material is compromised, and that causes deterioration over time.

Nylon will dry a lot faster than leather, but not while it’s sitting in your waistline.

Curious how Kydex stakes up against leather and nylon holsters in other areas? Click here for an in-depth review.

7.Adjust the ride height on your holster.

If you ordered from Alpha Concealment Systems, your appendix holster comes standard with adjustable ride height. Playing with those heights can help the holster sit higher in your waistline – maximizing your comfort – or sit lower – alleviating printing issues you may be having.

Already own an appendix holster from Alpha Concealment Systems? Awesome! Click here to read a tutorial on how to adjust your ride height.

8.Stop touching your gun.

If you’ve taken the advice above, your holster is right where you need it to be, and so is your firearm. Stop touching it!

We know it feels funny, but by fooling with it, you’re making it overtly obvious that you’re carrying.

9.Give it time!

As it’s been said many a time, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Don’t expect your switch to appendix carry to be quick.

The more time you can give it, the more likely you are to eventually find it comfortable.

Finding the perfect spot isn’t going to be an instant process – appendix carry covers everywhere from 12 o’clock to 2 o’clock, and the exact position that you find comfortable can be anywhere within that range. You’ll need time to play around with what works for you.

We always suggest that you should give appendix carry a minimum of two weeks.

During those two weeks, you’ll work to find the right spot for you, and you’ll also learn to get used to the feeling of your firearm up front.

When the CEO/Founder of Alpha Concealment Systems, Anthony Tomacchio, first made the switch from hip to appendix carry, he had this to say about the process:

“On day one, you are overly cognizant of the fact that it’s there – you’re constantly touching it, adjusting it and checking it. But on day two, you’ll find yourself touching and fooling with it less and less. By day three or four, you’ll have found that “sweet spot”…and by the end of the first week, your gun is right at home in the appendix position. Give it another week, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not it’s the carry position for you.”

Click here to read more of Anthony’s advice on making the switch to appendix carry.

10. And if all else fails…learn to live with it.

No one ever said it would be easy.

But appendix carry definitely has its benefits, so if you’re determined to carry there, just suck it up and carry there!

You’re never going to find a carry position that is 110% comfortable, concealable, quick to access, and fool proof. There are pros and cons to every carry position, and it’s up to you to weigh those and make an informed decision.

Good luck!

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