I've been carrying AIWB for coming up on two years now, with two different types of holster. I have been through several training environments AIWB as well. More thoughts in a bit but it has many good qualities, and of course the obvious potentially fatal downside if you get complacent.
I have this "love/hate" relationship with AIWB carry. I love the concept, hate the inability to use this mode of carry in the gun games. I hate to mix it up just to play a game, but what can I say, I like playing the games. So, I remain at 3 o'clock on the belt for consistency reasons.
To date, I've extensively used three AIWB holsters:
Custom Carry Concepts Looper
Extremely low profile, the Looper began life as a traditional behind-the-hip IWB holster. The primary design goal was to avoid the bendable -- and often breakable -- clip-on style attachments that many other manufacturers use. Ernest Langdon had CCC build a straight drop Looper for AIWB which worked great for his tall athletic frame. For people less, um, athletic (like moi) a little more tweaking was necessary to get the pistol butt pulled into the body. This was accomplished by changing some of the angles of the belt loop. However, this places a lot of stress on the loop during the draw. The result is that for people who practice drawing a lot, the belt loop of the AIWB version of the Looper can have a tendency to snap. That area has been reinforced and also redesigned so that the breakage won't completely separate the holster from the loop (and your belt), but for high volume practice it can mean replacing your holster regularly.
Custom Carry Concepts Shaggy
The Shaggy is the brainchild of our own SLG and was designed in part to address the durability issue of the Looper. By making the holster body wedge shaped, the same grip tucking result was achieved without putting torque on the belt loop. The result is outstanding, creating a very concealable, comfortable, and fast kydex AIWB holster.
Garrity Gunleather In-Victus
The In-Victus may be one of the most thought out holster designs in recent history. Almost two years from concept to production, the In-Victus went through a number of prototype stages and was tested by a wide variety of shooters with different body shapes using different guns. The result is, in my opinion, the most comfortable AIWB holster available. Not as fast -- and certainly not as inexpensive -- as a kydex holster, the In-Victus nonetheless answers the bill for even the biggest guns (among the test prototypes were an HK45 and a FNP-45). Using a wedge shape similar to the Shaggy plus an additional wedge (someone coined the term 'ravioli') along the back, the In-Victus keeps the pistol in precisely the right position for maximum concealment and comfort.
The popularity of these holsters in recent months has led to long wait times from both CCC and Garrity. As of this writing, CCC has stopped taking new orders to get caught up on demand, and Garrity is quoting 1yr+ for delivery. Nonetheless, I've seen many students come through classes with less expensive or more easily available AIWB rigs only to find disappointment in their gear choice. In this instance, patience truly is a virtue.
I've also been working with John Ralston of 5 Shot Leather to develop another leather AIWB holster, and the good folks at Cane & Derby recently offered to send me one of their Pardus AIWB holsters for evaluation. So hopefully, there will be more holsters to add to the list soon.
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I tried appendix carry years ago with a sig 225 before it was in vogue, and I found it to be more physically uncomfortable than the traditional behind the hip carry.
Maybe it's just my body type or holster selection/gun, but I couldn't get used to it.
Also, psychologically, I just can't get used to covering myself with the muzzle. It goes against one of the most basic fundamental safety rules that I've indelibly impressed upon my mind.
Even though I’m anal about safety, and could probably handle appendix carry without having a nervous breakdown if I had to, I still prefer behind the hip carry just in case I needed that extra margin of safety, it would be there.
Last edited by David B.; 02-26-2011 at 10:31 PM.
I wish I could appendix carry but I'm yoo fat..started working on that though.I can carry at 2 o clock now
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I personally have come to like AIWB (Appendix Inside-the-Waistband) carry quite a bit. I've found that it is the most invisible way to carry even a very big gun concealed. One of the big worries in concealed carry is printing because traditional strong side carry places the pistol at the narrowest profile of the body. Behind the hip is a little bit better, but you still have to watch out when you're bending over. In the appendix position printing is greatly reduced to the point of almost being a complete non-concern.
Comfort is, of course, a concern. Successful AIWB is, in my estimation, 75% about the holster you buy and 25% about exactly how you place it. As I sit typing right now I'm carrying a P30 in a CCC "Looper" holster that I stole from Todd. I have it positioned in a "sweet spot" I identified after extensive experimentation with the holster. I've spent hours sitting down at a dinner and in the car today all in absolutely perfect comfort, almost to the point that I don't even notice the weapon's presence. Part of that is, of course, getting used to carrying a pistol down the front of my pants. The majority is using the right holster and positioning it properly. When I first tried AIWB carry I thought it was the most uncomfortable thing on planet earth an that only a raving lunatic could ever find it useful. That was because I tried a holster that, to put it kindly, sucked.
It took using one of Todd's test guns for a class for me to try one of the CCC holsters and the difference was night and day. Even during lunch when we were sitting in the Culpepper Taco Hell it was vastly more comfortable than I thought possible. Right after that I ordered the CCC "Shaggy" for my M&P and it took a few weeks, but eventually I was carrying it in perfect comfort.
The really big downside to AIWB carry, as Todd alluded to, is the safety question. The more I used the holster in training with my M&P's the more uncomfortable I became about what I was doing. As a result, I switched to the P30 so I could have positive control of the hammer's movement to prevent disaster. With the ability to prevent the hammer from moving to the rear, I'm comfortable enough to use the holster for training. The pistol does not go near the holster without my thumb pressing down on the hammer.
I still have all my strong side holsters, but I never use them anymore. It's so comfortable to carry AIWB for me that I just don't bother with anything else.
I think I wear my pants too low for AIWB. I think I'd need to wear my pants over my gut, which isn't happening due to too many digestive issues. Otherwise, the part of the gun above the waistband is going to try poking in to my spine when I sit down.