I have been carrying a self-defense handgun for about 25 years now. Many of those involved compulsory open carry because Arizona did not enact its concealed carry law until the mid-1990s, despite the best efforts of the NRA to get it done earlier. Whether I was carrying openly or concealed, I almost always carried in the 4 o’clock position just to the rear of my strong side hip. It is the place for my handgun that made the most sense to me then, and it still makes the most sense now.
The devotees of the relatively recent appendix carry craze disagree with me. To say that they are somewhat vehement in their beliefs is putting things lightly. They turn a suspicious eye toward me and all of the other daily gun carriers who don’t choose to carry a gun in the most uncomfortable place on our bodies possible. The joke is that appendix carriers are becoming more like a cult than a group of gun owners concerned for their safety and that of others. If you don’t roll their way, you don’t roll at all.
As soon as I tell an appendix carrier that the form of carry is tantamount to self-torture, they tell me that I just haven’t given it enough time. Well, there are many other painful things I could do to myself that I don’t give a fair shake, either. Maybe it’s because I don’t much like inflicting unnecessary pain on myself.
The first day that I tried appendix carry was the first and only day I could have thrown my Glock 19 across a parking lot. It was the thing that hurt me, and I wanted it as far away from me as possible. I didn’t go through with it, of course, but my rage was strong.
I had to make a quick trip to the store fairly late in the evening. The day had not been a comfortable one while trying this new form of carry, so I was already irritable. As I left the store and returned to my car, I prepared to sit in the driver’s seat. Just as I got to the point of no return in the downward process, the grip of my Glock grabbed my stomach skin and began to rip at it like a rabid badger trapped under my shirt. The pain was reminiscent of what my older sister used to do to the skin on my arm when I was a small child—she’d inflict her favorite “twist burn” on a regular basis. She loved it, and I didn’t.I swore to myself at that moment that I would never again try appendix carry. I have since broken that promise, but I still don’t know why.
I swore to myself at that moment that I would never again try appendix carry. I have since broken that promise, but I still don’t know why. It’s been nothing but more of the same since. Maybe it’s the shape of my body. Maybe it’s that those who do carry appendix really are masochistic. The idea that the method of carry could ever become remotely comfortable for me is about as realistic as the idea that I might someday make sense of why the antis want to render us all defenseless against the evil who walk among us.
There is no doubt that appendix carry allows for more efficient concealment than the strong side carry that I practice. Too many people around us like to casually touch our sides, but few will attempt to touch the area immediately above the beltline below our stomach. Many around me end up feeling steel or polymer. It’s always a little unsettling when it happens. Also, it’s easier for the end of a handgun’s grip to print out from under a shirt or suit, especially when bending over (at least bending over is possible for me when not carrying appendix).
This newer form of carry also provides for a lightening quick draw as long as circumstances surrounding the draw are perfect. The one, not so insignificant problem with this is that circumstances are usually less than ideal when you are in a fight for your life (why we conceal and carry in the first place).
Some advocates of appendix carry claim that it is hard for an adversary to foul a draw. This claim simply doesn’t stand up to reason or practice, and it’s why I reserve this form of carry for the most extreme of circumstances such as venues where there are large, dense populations with people regularly bouncing off one another. Concealing the presence of the gun in these circumstances is the most critical consideration.
Try this: Get a training partner to come at you aggressively while you are carrying a blue gun appendix style. Let him get fist-fight-close and see how easy it is for him to jam your draw. Then, move the blue gun to a more comfortable spot (4 o’clock on the strong side) and try again. With the latter, you can use most of your body as a shield in order to provide time and space for a draw. It all becomes really evident if you simply try it.
All of this was on display during a training course I attended in California this past weekend. I’ve been looking for a solid reason to shun appendix carry, and I’ve finally got it. It’s no longer my being an old dog unwilling to learn new tricks. There is a legitimate tactical reason that appendix carry is a real disadvantage. I would hope that anyone who practices it on a regular basis takes a realistic look at how difficult it is to draw from appendix against a determined adversary in a physical fight. It can also be dangerous when the muzzle is redirected toward your body during a struggle.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Rifle Association.