“95% of criminals carry their guns on their strong side, mostly stuck in the front of their bodies, inside the waistband without a holster.”
– From a US Secret Service Seminar on detecting concealed weapons
Why are all the thugs carrying pistols in their waistbands in front of the hip? And why do most cops and CCW permit holders carry behind the hip? Are there lessons to be learned from the bad guys? As one of the few cops who actually carries his gun in the front “appendix” position, I say “yes”.
When I started out in law enforcement, my off duty carry gun was a .38 snub nose revolver. Fresh out of the academy and not knowing much, I bought a thin, suede, inside the pants holster with a crappy spring steel clip and started carrying the gun everywhere I went. With no one to tell me how and where to carry, I just stuck the gun and holster inside my waistband in the “appendix” position…strong side in front of my hip. If the circumference of my waist was a clock with the belt buckle being 12-noon, I placed the gun somewhere between one and two o’clock. Why? Because that was where it was most comfortable.
As times changed, I learned more about guns and had some more disposable cash. I upgraded to a semi-auto pistol for my off-duty carry gun and started carrying behind the hip. In the mid-1990s no one made quality appendix-style holsters for most semi-autos and no one carried that way. I just followed the herd and did the same thing as all the other people I saw. I carried my gun behind my hip.
Everything was fine. I carried a large variety of guns that way over the course of many years. I never had any problems. Then one day several years ago I competed in the “National Tactical Invitational”, a 2-day, invitation only shooting match that combines target shooting, IDPA style stages, building clearing tactics, and force on force scenarios. For the force on force scenarios we had to use their guns (Smith & Wesson .38 revolvers loaded with paintball rounds). Before competing, they patted me down to check me for “real” weapons and handed me a .38 snub and a flimsy inside the waistband holster. Without even thinking, I stuck it in the front of my pants, appendix style, just like I used to do and entered the arena.
During the course of the 3-hour run of scenarios in their “town”, I found the appendix style to work very well. I consistently outdrew my competitors and teammates from the seated position and even seemed to be faster than usual in the standing scenarios as well. In one scenario, I even surprised a bad guy by concealing my draw with a large notebook I was forced to carry. I knew trouble was eminent and I preemptively drew my gun, keeping my drawstroke and the gun hidden behind the notebook. The bad guy had quite a surprise when he went for his gun and found himself looking down the barrel of my .38 before he could draw. I was starting to like this appendix position better and better! I knew I couldn’t have pulled off that move if I had carried my gun behind my hip.
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