I’ve never watched an episode of “Seinfeld,” but even I know about the Soup Nazi. He worked at a food counter famous for its—you guessed it—soup. And any time someone in lined dared to offend him, or break the rules of how to order, his retort was, “No soup for you!”
Well, I’ll never be wearing an appendix inside-the-waistband (AIWB) holster, and it isn’t because there’s a Soup Nazi involved. No, it is my past. You see, I used to be buff. Seriously buff. It took years of martial arts training and weightlifting, but I ended up pretty strong. The years since, and lack of iron afternoons have caused my arms to fade, but my legs are still stout. As a result, when I sit down, the real estate between my belt and the top of my thighs is sparse.
There’s just no room there for a handgun.
There are a lot of other reasons to be careful with, or even leery of, AIWB carry, but for me it just isn’t physically possible. And it’s certainly not comfortable to even try.
Now, there are other gun writers, trainers and subject-matter experts who will tell you that a sidearm should be “comforting, not comfortable.” When I was younger, I believed that. Now that the physical mileage has piled up on me, I’m much more attuned to comfort. A few broken bones, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (which everyone just calls an ACL for good reason), being a pedestrian who was hit by a motor vehicle, and spending too much time in a slew of adrenaline-fueled sports can do that.
“But, you’re the one who says a good holster does wonders, right?” Yes, I am. But wonders are one thing; altering ones anatomy or defying the laws of physics are entirely different matters.
The “lift,”—that is, the distance from your legs to the belt—for me, is so short that I cannot tuck even something as snubby as an officer’s model 1911 there and have it stay. Any movement at all, and the gun gets pushed up out of the holster.
The only handgun I’ve ever been able to fit there is a .38 Special, with a 2-inch barrel—and its cylinder makes it both an uncomfortable and insecure location.
The tiny little .380’s pose a different problem: how to fish such a petite package out of my waistband. With something that small, even the speediest draw is mighty deliberate.
I’m not exactly a fashion maven (friends might even be unkind about my pedestrian choices in “fashion”), but I refuse to hike my belt up like someone’s grandfather. Besides, it would have to rise up over my navel before I could get a Commander 1911 to fit. That just isn’t happening.
So, what is the lesson to be taken from this? Simple: you have to find what works for you. I know people who carry a normal-sized pistol in an AIWB all day long. Good for them. I am fully aware of the advantages it offers. I’m also well aware of the arithmetic that says that a basketball shot from behind the three-point line scores more than ones that are closer to the hoop. I still can’t make the shot often enough that it’s worth the attempt. Thus, I can’t wear AIWB.
If you want to pack your pistol that way for everyday carry (EDC), make sure you know the pluses and minuses. Make sure you know the manual of arms to ensure it is as safe as it can be. But also be truthful to yourself. Ask yourself: Is this comfortable? Does it work for me? Can I take advantage of the pluses this option offers me?
If there’s one lie in the garment industry, it is this: One size fits all. Make your everyday carry holster--and the handgun in it—fit you, not the other way around. It doesn’t do much good to use a holster worn by the “world’s greatest tactical handgun shooter” who is telling you he has the one-and-only, perfect, solution. He’s not you, and you aren’t him.