Appendix Carry’s True Strength

When I get asked for my opinion on appendix inside the waistband (IWB) I enjoy sharing my experience and observations. Many times, the students are surprised by my answer.

It’s Not New

This method of carry has been around for a long time, probably longer than most could track. It’s a common response, albeit with some cool pictures of civil war soldiers wearing their single action revolvers in a similar position. Let’s start there, I know this is obvious, but if you can see it then it is not concealed. Carrying in this mode concealed is somewhat new to the concealed carry community. How new, maybe a couple of decades, but again it is difficult to track. Then there are those who will chime in regarding safety. Many are quick to retort with comments along the lines if you can’t handle it then don’t do it or teach it. The problem isn’t the safety concerns, but the outcome should safety be neglected or an accident occur. Then there are those who will say it is faster than any other method. These types of comments are largely regurgitated from other sources who regurgitated them from some other source. I hope everyone is sitting down for this, but it is not really faster and here is why.

Baseline Study For Some Data

I got tired of hearing this comment as a Hail Mary pass to prove their point. These comments can be very subjective so we needed something objective like a study to help truly understand the benefit to appendix IWB. I conducted a study and encourage people to conduct their own so I wanted to share my framework for the study. First, you have to go into this without expecting an outcome. If you want to be objective you start by being neutral, someone in search of knowledge. I honestly expected a different outcome so I kept my thoughts neutral. I did everything the same, put in honest work on all fronts. This study was also fun and very beneficial so there is that as well. In this study we need some control measures to keep everything on an even playing field. I eliminated drawing from concealed and performed all these drills with IWB holsters that were carried in an open condition. This wasn’t about concealing, this was about which drawstroke was faster. Then to eliminate any bias regarding poor posture (see earlier article, Mobility Restrictions) I started each drill with my hands on my head. These control features allowed me to look at each without any bias.

Following Baseline Protocols

The drill was pretty simple, but rather than measure a one round drill; which is often not the best indicator of a skill it was a three round drill. The drill was fired from the 10 yard line versus a 6″ target. The distance and accuracy standards helped to ensure the shooter was skilled enough to have valuable input. The study was conducted following standard baseline protocol. The interval between sessions was approximately 7-10 days to ensure the best cold bore experience. Baseline protocol of 10 attempts to achieve seven clean runs was followed. Then the fastest and slowest times were eliminated to average out the remaining five runs. If in the session I was unable to achieve seven clean runs within 10 attempts the whole session was a wash and I would wait for the next opportunity. The point behind the baseline protocol is to measure performance in it’s purest form. The truth of the matter is many struggle with baselines; which makes it easy to see bias in opinions. This is not an easy endeavor, this takes time to complete properly. I started early fall of 2018 and finished recently. Because I wanted to reduce as much favoritism as possible I opted to use different firearms and holsters. I shot the baselines with Glocks & Sigs from various holster manufactures.

The Tie Goes to the Runner

My results surprised me, what they showed me was there really isn’t much in the way of speed advantage for carrying appendix IWB. I performed these baselines ten times each or 20 total baseline sessions and recorded the first shot and last shot for each. My first shot average for strong side IWB was 1.8 seconds and my first shot average for appendix IWB was also 1.8 seconds. Let that soak in for a little bit. My last shot for strong side was 3.1 seconds and my last shot for appendix IWB was 3.0 seconds. So, if you wanted to declare a winner I suppose you could say by a tenth of a second appendix pulled ahead. For me it only confirmed one thing, it is not about the perceived speed advantage. It is about the ability to conceal better for a lot of people. So, there it is and I’m sure there are plenty who disagree; which is why I posted the study. Feel free to take a shot at it and share your experience.

The point of the study wasn’t to declare a winner, it was to reinforce a major benefit of appendix carry. Whether it is right for you is another story along with your mileage varying.

12 thoughts on “Appendix Carry’s True Strength

  1. Bruce says:

    You should redo your testing with concealment. It would better reflect real world conditions. The intent of IWB is concealment. Perhaps it isn’t just easier concealment, but faster “unconcealment” as well. I recall seeing a study done with draw times from concealment, and appendix had a small advantage. I don’t recall by how much or where to direct you to find it. I do find it interesting in this scenario that the essential mechanics from your starting point are equivalent for speed. Most of us don’t walk around town with our hands on our head either, though. 😁

    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Hi Bruce, you are totally missing the point behind the conditions set for the study. The point was to evaluate both positions from neutral conditions. The study illustrated there is no perceivable speed advantage for either position. In addition, conditions of concealment vary and the majority of those who think they conceal are only covering their loadout.

      • Steven Baine says:

        I can’t agree w/ you totally there Jeff. While I commend your testing fastidiousness…based on the lack of concealment, and the hands at the head start-positioning, this is just another data point. What you illustrated is that there’s not a speed advantage drawing from an unconcealed condition, with your hands starting from your head.
        To be meaningful to the average concealed carrier, I’d love love to see your results under concealment and with with a more natural hand position than on your head. Heck, even if you ran it from an unconcealed condition, the hands should be coming from an average natural position, because that’s where the speed advantage comes from.

        • Jeff Gonzales says:

          Howdy Steve,

          Something to consider is hand positioning, often touted as the reason it is faster. First, can anyone define or describe an “average” or “natural” position. Then, since not two encounters are the same it is far more likely hand positioning will be random. Since we cannot test for random, having the hands on the head is an excellent way to bring about an even playing field. To give perspective that many do not want to consider due to their own bias.

          What this study proved was the belief one is faster than the other is largely dependent on establishing predefined conditions. Since you cannot predict with any sense of accuracy hand positioning it makes more sense to start from a position once could consider worse case.

          The reason I posted the study was to help establish a better understanding of what works for individuals rather than what some talking head says. To give folks the opportunity to test for themselves and make up their on minds.

          Don’t take my word for it, I just another one of those talking heads I mentioned.

          Thanks for posting, I appreciate your view point.

          • Steven Baine says:

            I’d agree that hands on your head would be in the spectrum of worse case (handcuffed, behind your back, probably being THE worst case). 🙂
            Re: “average normal”, given that we spend the vast majority of our time with our hands within the midsection of our torso, a similar test with the starting position within that realm would be another interesting data point for comparison.
            I appreciate the test and the post, and the nudge to test and learn ourselves. Good stuff!

          • Jeff Gonzales says:

            Thanks Steve,

            I hear what you are saying, but the reality is there is no normal position to test. Any position will be a representation of the position only. While your normal activity may have your hands at your side it is far more likely in the lead up to a confrontation your hands will start to move to the high line. If your hands don’t move to the high line it may mean you are surprised by the attack and your hand position is irrelevant or you don’t appreciate the importance behind protecting the head in an unknown encounter through the use of non-violent postures.

  2. Craig Hunter says:

    AppendixCarry advantaged by being able to better control/protect my Firearm in a tussle AS WELL AS better/easier conceal-ability. My real challenge for concealment is having to default to a Calf-Holster for my G43 while working a Front Desk at a Condo. I’m in AZ (so no overcoat), and I wear a tucked in ‘Uniform’ Polo Shirt. I’m concealed and am carrying, but it’ll take me 15m to get a shot on the threat. Seriously, it’s QUITE cumbersome (go down on a knee, pull up the pants leg with TWO tugs since one won’t get leg over the G43, and then snap to my threat). I train with it all, and have improved, but…… I won’t be so quick with that 1st shot to be sure. AT LEAST I’M CARRYING THOUGH, RIGHT?!?! BTW, I can’t wear boots at work so AnkleHolster is not an option.

    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Howdy Craig,

      I agree with you regarding the concealment benefit. For many people, it is a great advantage.

      I sympathize with your work uniform. Many are challenged with policy imposed upon them from command. I feel your pain. I will assume since you are carrying, you are in a permissive enviornment. If you find the interest, you might want to check out this video on ankle holsters. I don’t know why wearing boots would be a requirement for an ankle holster. I have never worn my ankle holster with boots so my experience might be helpful.

      Here is the video;

      Also, in the video I’m using a Glock 26 blue gun and have carried it live countless times. I love that little blaster.

      Good luck

    • Craig Hunter says:

      Thanks… that Vid will make me reconsider the (true) ankle holster. I still think I’ll have a challenge when I sit, cross my legs, whatever… but watching your Vid helps me look for a better working solution than the BugBite (neoprene) Calf Holster 2.0. It works, and conceals very well… which OF COURSE means it’s hard to get to. I’ll see what I can do about investigating a more traditional AnkleHolster!

      • Jeff Gonzales says:

        I hear you Craig, nothing is free. There will always be challenges with every option out there. It gives you a bigger picture to consider and there are ways to “conceal” the ankle holster. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

    • RetDet says:

      Craig-how about a belly band type? I’m looking at the Unity Clutch belt although I haven’t handled one. I have used belly bands and although not as fast as appendix or IWB, it’s faster than ankle. BTW, interesting work Jeff.

      • Jeff Gonzales says:

        Thanks for the comment.

        A belly band is a great option for some in a non-permissive enviornment. The UC belt however is not ideal for the type of activity you will see in the average work enviornment. If you have to tuck your shirt in; which is the case for most work environments this will not be a suitable option for you.

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