Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Is that a pistol in your trousers..?

I tried that paddle holster experiment last Sunday, but it only lasted for a day. The butt of the pistol kept snagging on the bolster of the passenger seat when getting in and out of Shootin' Buddy's SUV, and the final straw was when I sat in the lawn chair on the porch and the muzzle of the pistol collided with the arm of the chair, driving the butt of the gun into my ribcage hard enough to leave a spectacular bruise. (The holster didn't shift, though, so props to G-Code there.)

Monday and Tuesday, then, saw me wearing a Smith 696 in a Galco Speed Master holster, which carries much closer to the body. By this morning, things felt good enough to go back to my usual IWB holster.

One thing that's interesting is how much you get used to things: People ask if carrying a full-size, all-steel 1911 inside the waistband is uncomfortable. It really isn't, given several caveats: I buy jeans a size large, and I use a stiff leather belt and a holster properly sized to it (in other words, the loops are such a snug fit that it takes a bit of force to slide the belt through them.) When you combine this with the fact that I've been carrying the same gun in the same way in the same place for so many years, I often don't notice it's there, and find myself giving it a pat as I leave the house to make sure I'm not forgetting it.

The paddle, on the other hand, is considered to be a very comfortable way to carry, and I couldn't stand it. I was constantly aware of having two pounds of steel flopping around outside my belt; even under a winter coat, it was snagging on things. It felt awkward.

It's all what you're used to, I guess.

At The Way Of The Multigun, there's an ongoing discussion about Appendix Carry. I know my friend Kathy carries her pistol this way, too. I can't figure out how it's done, but I'm probably doing it wrong.


Papa Whiskey said...

Does one need a special holster for appendix carry or is it just a question of location?

Anonymous said...

Appendix carry has one over riding issue for me - "never let your muzzle cover anything your not willing to destroy". No issues about the handgun being in the holster, but the placing for the handgun in and out bothers me. I know two solid gun guys who had true ADs reholstering.

WV - you've got to be kidding me - "codwor" - how apt. Needs an "s" after the "r". :D

Al T.

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to do Appendix Carry, but I might not have tried it with a small enough gun I suppose. I even picked up a clearance Pager Pal, and I'm glad I didn't spend more than $10 on it (ya gotta love buckets full of holsters at gun stores for cheap experimentation)

I have a paddle for range work, if you really heat up the gun, it's more comfortable to keep it outside the waist band in my opinion. It does a pretty good job of mimicking my IWB holster, so it works pretty good for what I want it for.

I have carried it a few times when I tweaked my back, and I've never been happy with the muzzle/holster hang out there uncovered except by my shirt (not wearing a bigger cover garment in Houston in summer)

Frank W. James said...

I've NEVER found a paddle holster I could use/wear comfortably and/or securely. As for appendix carry, well, when you have a 'gut', no matter how slight, I figure it's not the smartest thing to do if a mistake occurs.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

BryanP said...

I don't know if it's because of my fat boy build, but I've never found an IWB carry I like. I've ended up doing pocket carry with either a Kahr PM9, S&W 638, and now a S&W 649. Every once in a while I'll try IWB again, but I always go back to pocket carry.

aczarnowski said...

When Marko got his new auto-chucker and holster I was the commenter whining that strong side IWB wasn't easy. Since then I've put on my big boy pants and kept at it.

Apparently, time and practice do wonders for a new style of carry!

Appendix carry still eludes me though. How does a person sit down without giving themselves a heimlich maneuver every time they move? From ToddG's experience at I get that the holster is a BIG part of the system, but I'm still waiting for my epiphany.

Tam said...

I've used my blue gun to try various cants and angles, and just can't find a comfortable one with a 5" 1911, from near horizontal (where the butt sticks way out past my right hip) to past vertical (where the muzzle jams into the top of my thigh while the gun's beavertail pokes me in the xiphoid process...)

Weer'd Beard said...

The wife carries her J-Frame at 2:00. Let me tell you with the curve of her hips it hides SCARY well, and she like that position the best. even hugging her I can't find the gun without inappropriate contact (hey, who needs and excuse?).

On days when i can't rock my shoulder-rig, or my pocket holster, I carry my own J-frame in a Belly-band appendix style. This leaves the mag pouch at 6:00 where I can still get to my speed strips with my strong hand, and it seems to work pretty well.

Jay G said...

Who carries a gun in their appendix? I mean, I knew it was superfluous, but it seems like a lot of work for deep carry.

Oh, wait...

I've been a fat guy, and I'm currently on the thinner end of things and I have never been able to do anything closer than 3:00. I find now that 4 - 5 o'clock are the most comfortable positions depending on holster.

Or pocket carry. Gotta get one of them PM9s...

Boat Guy said...

Been using paddles for quite a while now since I'm still fuller-figured than I'd like to be/intend to be. Ordering a paddle for my 4" XD .45 from Milt Sparks as soon as I get a "round tuit". Currently using Galco plastic but while it's good enough I'm not mad about it. Galco was the first outfit to have a straight-drop paddle for the XD when I started carrying it in place of my Delta Elite.
Perhaps gals like the wife cited above can do the appendix thing but for me it's a blatant violation of rule #2.
I ditched my Serpa paddle for a number of reasons, it's sole virtue being that it would NEVER come loose once in place. That "virtue" quickly became an annoyance when I started having to take the thing off even once a day. That, coupled with the rest of the detrimental features has made Serpa "non-grata" in my world.
The Galco has never come loose EXCEPT when I wanted it to do so and retains the gun nicely.

Sport Pilot said...


Have you ever tried a cross draw set up? I have my Tazer set up as a cross draw for my strong hand but can easily do a cavery draw with my weak hand.
Given that a cross draw is often a better option for a vehicle driver it might be something to consider as cross training.


Anonymous said...

AIWB is like any other carry method. You need to know how, where, and which gear works best. The vast majority of AIWB holsters on the market are junk, trying to take a holster for a snubnosed revolver and simply enlarging it for a full sized gun. That won't work.

The concern over an AD is perfectly legitimate. If you frak up, you can die. This is especially true with guns that lack either an exposed hammer you control during the holster process or a positive locking manual safety.

Most folks who find AIWB uncomfortable with a full-sized gun either have a canted holster or they're trying to wear the pistol too far towards the hip.

AIWB placement


perlhaqr said...

So, is the paddle holster on a second belt, under the jeans? (Well, presuming you wear a belt through the beltloops on the jeans in the first place.)

As for the stiffness of the belt, is that for fighting pitch, roll, or yaw? I'm guessing yaw isn't much of an issue with the beltloops in the holster fitting the belt snugly, and roll seems like it would be dealt with via contact with the body and proper belt tightness.

But I could be wrong. I mostly conceal with a regular old open carry holster on a police duty belt, under a coat, so I don't have a lot of experience.

Tam said...


That position simply Will Not Work for me and a 5" 1911. If I sat down with the gun there, the end of the muzzle would be over an inch deep in the top of my thigh.

og said...

Mr James nails it. Guys with less than svelte physiques have issues. IWB at 3:00 is barely possible and 4:00 painful, sometimes.

Of course I'm built so I can just about conceal an M1 carbine under my man-boobs.

I know, I know. Brain bleach all around.

Revolver Rob said...

IWB? Forget it, a size in pants too big and a size in belt too big and all I ever get is muzzle digging into my hip so hard it hurts to sit or walk. I finally gave up for OWB or bust. Right now, I'm sitting comfortably with a 4" Ruger GP100 in a kydex paddle rig at right about 3:30-3:45. If I stand up and put on my winter jacket it hides fine, but if I wore only a sweater, it would not hide.

For that, I have to go to a belt slide or pancake rig. After experimentation and lots of searching, I've finally settled on a traditional pancake style for semi-autos. For large frame, long barrel revolvers, I still haven't settled. I really want a high rise to get the cylinder above the belt line, because I have a fairly long torso, but short legs.

Just too many variables for any one person, in my opinion.


Anonymous said...

Reposted from the comments section in Way of the Multigun (I first found the discussion through you Tam)

I’ve been carrying AIWB for about nine years (gov’t model 1911s and Glocks) and the worst problem was finding the right holster. The proper cant and height (from the belt) are very individual dependent.

For me (6′3″ and 195lbs), a longer gun like a 5″ 1911 works very well if the grip is about 1 1/2″ to 2″ above the belt (helps getting a proper master grip on the gun rather fast). If the gun is shorter (or higher), it tends to stick out and thus print.

The best holster for what I’ve just described has been for me, the Garrity Changeling (

Presently, I’m using a rig that Lou Alessi made at my request some five years ago. It’s basically, a NY Talon with belt loops set at an angle where the front strap is basically parallel to the belt and seats about 1/2″ above the belt. It works very well with the G19/23 but I wish I had asked for a G17 model (longer gun means it seats deeper IWB and is thus more stable). Lou told me he based my request on a variation of a Talon (with the clip) made for AIWB that was once requested by some members of the DEA sometime in the early 90s. Interestingly enough, I had gotten the idea to try AIWB from seeing one such DEA agent during a John Farnam class in that same time period; it turned out that Lou knew that agent personally, small world huh?

Anyway, all forms of carry are highly personal and we have to adapt to our body type as best we can. AIWB works for me but I wouldn’t recommend it above other systems to everyone.

P.S. Drawing strong hand only from a closed front undegarment can be done and quite fast too but it takes time to master the technique.

Anonymous said...

Tam -- I've got a 5' 5" friend who carries his issued, railed 1911 AIWB. But, he's been carrying AIWB for a long time and has a properly designed holster for it. If it's the muzzle that would push into your thigh and not the holster (most AIWB holsters have too much extra material between the trigger guard and muzzle), the best solution I can offer is to try moving the gun more towards your centerline. On most guys' pants, putting the holster between the zipper and the first belt loop is usually a good "zone." It's also important that the holster have either no cant (ideal) or a slight reverse cant (aids comfort, slows the draw).

Weer'd Beard said...

Todd, what Holster is that?

Anonymous said...

I’m somewhat of a fat boy myself, (6 foot, 240), but don’t have any issues with IWB carry. I carry a Glock 19 all day every day. I use a homemade hybrid holster like a Crossbreed Supertuck at about 3:30 with a 20 degree cant. Hides so well my wife can’t tell under an untucked T shirt, comfortable even while driving. It does ride high with about a third of the trigger guard cover portion above the top of the belt.

Ed Foster said...

Blackie Collins Toters. If you're going to carry in your jeans, get a pair of jeans deliberately designed to carry. The work, and are suprisingly comfortable with my 1911.

Moriarty said...

While I dislike shoulder holsters generally (sweeping everything in sight with the muzzle is just one drawback), I find myself wearing one routinely, including right now.

I wear scrubs at the office (no belt) and don't usually change when I head out for lunch, which is when I'm around and about in town. At home, work around the farmstead often involves driving tractors, mucking around in barns, hopping barbed wire fences and other things that expose a traditional strong-side carry to snagging. An IWB is uncomfortable and impractical when you're doing a lot of manual labor that involves bending, lifting and occasionally crawling around.

Under a coat, a shoulder rig keeps the bloody thing out of the way, conceals well and protects the pistol. In warmer weather, I'll either switch to a Bianchi military shoulder holster or a Safepacker worn strong side around the farmstead or a strong side IWB for town.

I've tried "appendix carry" but it doesn't work well for me in a 5" 1911. Besides, I never liked the muzzle drifting toward my contralateral femoral artery whenever I sat down.

I hate the idea of switching from strong side to cross draw, but it's the best I can manage.

Ritchie said...

Recently tried a conventional OWB around the house for a .45 GM and was a little surprised at how it felt loose and dangly. At 6 ft. and 172 lbs before cooking I think I do pretty well with a no-name IWB, but will be shopping for a LW Commander just as soon as I trip over $US800 with no other use. And mad props to the folks who figured out anesthetics and antibiotics, my appendix will no longer trouble me.

Gewehr98 said...


Your link to the Galco Speed Master holster shows it's for 2.5" K-Frame Model 19. L-Frame Model 696 will still work ok in that? (Been looking for good leather for my own 696, hence my asking...)

Anonymous said...

Weer'd -- It's a Custom Carry Concepts "Looper" set up for AIWB.