With the rising trend towards concealed carry permits, fresh gun owners have “discovered” and embraced the new concealed carry practice called appendix carry. Because the typical placement is often close to the location of the appendix - hence the name - Appendix Carry.In this review, we have suggested several good and fairly mainstream AIWB models on the market. To find the right appendix holster, and make sure it’s the right fit for you and for your activities, check out our top picks and find one that fits your preferences and experience.
Best Appendix Carry Holsters Comparison Chart
BLACKHAWK! Ambidextrous Appendix Reversible Carry
Best Appendix Carry Holster
Advanced Performance Shooting Holster
Best Appendix Carry Holster Runner-up
Alien Gear Holster ShapeShift Appendix Carry
Best Appendix Carry Holster Second Runner-up
Fast Draw USA - IWB Kydex Holster
Best Appendix Carry Holster Third Runner-up
BLACKHAWK! Leather Inside-The-Pants Holster
Best Leather Appendix Carry Holster
Bravo Concealment IWB DOS Gun Holster
Best Appendix Carry IWB Holster
Concealment Express IWB KYDEX Holster
Best Appendix Carry Kydex Holster
What is Appendix Carry?
The “Appendix carry” is a viable and very effective way for armed citizens to carry a firearm.
Appendix carry, also referred to as “center-line carry”, positions a handgun in front of the hip bones, at the twelve to two o’clock position on the body, placing it roughly over the appendix area.
This concealed carry is also known as the AIWB holster, (an acronym for “appendix inside the waistband”). This type of carry has some distinct advantages over the traditional IWB carry.
The AIWB placement is slightly off-center of the belly button near centerline, allowing for more convenient insertion into the waistband and an easier draw from concealment.
Due to the trending popularity of “appendix carry”, a number of holster manufacturers have rebranded their standard behind-the-hip holster designs as appendix carry by simply adding an "A" to the description.
Most behind-the-hip holsters actually should not double as AIWB holsters due to the fact that they are designed be used behind the body and the soft tissue of the front of the body requires a different ergonomic design, available in a true AIWB holster.
What Makes a Great Appendix Carry Holster?
The newly developed designs and innovations of purpose-built appendix holsters are endless.
As the first major concern of any conceal carry is safety, the AIWB holster also must have a completely covered trigger guard and good passive retention.
Besides that, you should look for a few other important features in a good appendix holsters like an adjustable cant, tuck, and wedge.
A cant feature refers to the gun’s tilt to the left or right while remaining flush against the body.
If the appendix holster has a vertical or neutral cant, it will be more comfortable and the gun will be easier to index due to natural body mechanics.
To enhance concealment, a good, purpose-built appendix holster should have some sort of built-in tuck and wedges placed beneath the waistband or somewhere near the muzzle-end of the holster.
Others can use wings, claws, or offset loops, but the only function they have is to angle the grip horizontally into the belly.
Is Appendix Carrying Ideal for your Concealed?
Experienced AIWB carriers find they can reach the gun much faster than from traditional IWB holster.
Appendix carry facilitates speed and ease of access while offering an increase in concealability. Carrying your sidearm in an AIWB position against soft abdominal tissue might also feel more comfortable. Concealment is much easier and more discreet, as the natural drape of even a t-shirt easily covers the gun.
Although carrying a large service handgun is a lot easier at the appendix position than carrying a full-size pistol with an IWB holster around four o'clock position, the best-suited guns to appendix concealed carry are compact and subcompact handguns.
Also, the striker-fired pistols are generally preferred to hammer-fired pistols, which are a little less suited to AIWB.
The smaller frame, hammerless revolvers or six-guns with shrouded hammers will also be a bit more comfortable in this carry position.
Carrying appendix style weapons make discovery a bit more challenging since people typically check the sides, small of the back, chest and ankles. The appendix region is usually avoided and very little attention is paid to this location.
As for comfort, carrying an AIWB holster is quite comfortable when standing up and walking around.
While everyone’s comfort level is different, the most glaring of the drawbacks of CCW appendix carry is the comfort issue when seated behind a desk or steering wheel.
In addition, bending straight down can be uncomfortable depending on the size of weapon you are carrying.
In the following chapters, we will try to help consumers understand what features they should look for in a purpose-built AIWB holster and what drawbacks they should be aware of.
Review of the Best Appendix Carry Holsters
Now that we've covered a little bit of background in regards to appendix carry holsters, let's switch gears and take a look at some of our favorite models. We're going to breakdown each holster's main features, pros, and cons so you have all the details to make a well informed purchase. Let's get started!
Best Appendix Carry Holster: BLACKHAWK! Ambidextrous Appendix Reversible Carry Inside the Pants Holster
The Blackhawk A.R.C. (Appendix Reversible Carry) holster is an inside-the-waistband rig specifically designed for appendix carry, and is particularly suitable for the 1 o'clock position.
The first Blackhawk AIWB holster was constructed from soft, yet durable, injection molded polymer material. This material provided comfort similar to leather and a sturdy construction that would not buckle beneath the weight of the body and belt pressing together. As a result, re-holstering the firearm could easily be accomplished one-handed.
Currently, the A.R.C is only made for some Glock and Smith & Wesson models and is touted as a good option for concealed carry.
The BlackHawk Appendix Reversible Carry holster is adaptable to both left and right-handed users, and comes with two cant and ride adjustment belt clips for 1.5” and 1.75” belts.
The holster body has an oversized sight channel capable of adjusting to iron sights of nearly any size and features a passive retention detent with an adjustment screw, making the A.R.C far superior to its competitors.
This inexpensive AIWB holster may be uncomfortable when seated, especially with longer barreled guns.
The versatile Blackhawk Appendix Reversible Carry IWB holster is a popular, reasonably priced holster.
This polymer made A.R.C holster provides gun carriers with flexibility at several different levels, and offers an unexpected comfort that results in a substantially faster draw than other more common concealment positions.
Best Appendix Carry Holster Runner Up: Advanced Performance ELROD, Appendix Inside the Waistband Rig
An appendix carry holster should be a simple accessory, without complicated design features. The appendix carry holster rig from Advanced Performance Shooting is exactly that, slim and most importantly, simple.
The Protective Services ELROD holster is made of sturdy, thick Kydex, and comes with a pair of tuckable hooks that are large enough to manipulate easily, allowing you to use with your shirt tucked in or untucked.
The ELROD holster rig incorporates a built-in magazine pocket, center ventilation for comfort, and features five height adjustment levels.
This two-clip AIWB holster keeps the handgun grip at 90 degrees and high enough to quickly and easily obtain a solid purchase while unholstering.
The Advanced Performance Shooting ELROD holster offers several adjustable positions to achieve a comfortable fit, making it suitable for everyday carry.
The only real qualm with this holster is the inability to accommodate pistols with red dot optics.
This appendix style holster is just as comfortable sitting as it is when standing. Also, the ELROD is a durable, safe holster with a very nice trigger cover.
Superior retention keeps guns in position regardless of conditions, and provides good concealment even in casual type clothes.
Best Appendix Carry Holster Second Runner Up: Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster
The Alien Gear ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster represents a new standard in appendix carry systems. The Alien Gear appendix IWB holster uses a comfortable base made of a new CoolVent neoprene layer, which ventilates the skin while wearing the holster.
Unlike counterparts made of materials that sag and lose shape over time, the ShapeShift Appendix holster base contains a stainless spring-steel core that anchors the holster to the wearer and maintains constant shape after relentless usage.
Although it is designed for centerline carry, the manufacturer states that you can wear the ShapeShift at any position inside the waistband.
The Alien Gear appendix holster has a trigger guard which fully covers the trigger and the locks the firearm into place with a fully adjustable retention. A tool for retention adjustment also acts as a part of the holster. However, besides retention, this holster does not include any other adjustable features.
Like many other holster makers, the ShapeShift Appendix Carry holster comes with a forever warranty and a 30-Day test drive period.
This holster is thicker than other Kydex holsters, and the larger plastic clips also increase its bulk.
The Alien Gear appendix holster is custom-molded for a particular make and model of pistol. It also features a modular design, meaning you can purchase a ShapeShift Appendix Carry Expansion Pack, an affordable option for daily carry and unmatched comfort with an additional retention.
Best Appendix Carry Holster Third Runner Up: Fast Draw USA - Compatible with GLOCK 19/23/32 IWB Kydex Holster
Sunsmirh Holster has released recently their Fast Draw USA Inside Waistband (IWB) concealed carry series holsters molded to specific gun models to ensure a proper fit for any firearm.
Undoubtedly, Kydex holsters are the best for carrying safely, as this rigid thermoplastic is waterproof, scratch-resistant, has low friction resistance, and is practically maintenance-free. F
ast Draw is built from is .08" (2mm) Kydex that is thick enough to maintain rigid structural integrity an adds only 3 oz. in weight. Due to the minimal overall size, the holster is barely noticeable, making it the perfect low profile choice.
Fast Draw IWB holster comes with 1.5” polymer belt clip allowing it to be used in multiple carry positions, including classic inside waistband position, small of back carry, or the trending appendix carry position.
Unlike traditional leather holsters, Kydex does not need to be broken in. It features a full sweat guard, which protects the weapon from moisture and sweat. The ‘Full Sweat-Shield' also helps guide the weapon for single hand reholstering.
The trigger area on each Fast Draw series holster is fully covered for your safety. As another plus, it boasts coverage of the magazine release button, which most counterparts do not have.
The retention pressure is easily adjustable and when your gun is inserted, it gives an audible click, assuring you that your weapon is properly holstered.
Besides the 'Posi-Click' Audible Retention Lock system, the holster`s carry angle (or cant) is easily adjustable from 0-15 degrees to your preference as well. This allows you to carry your firearm in a wide variety of positions, specific to your preference, body type, and/or tactical requirements.
This well made, sturdy American product is very reasonably priced. Fast Draw USA holsters are built tough for everyday use, available in two finishes, and have left or right draw options.
Best Leather Appendix Carry Holster: BLACKHAWK! Leather Inside-The-Pants Holster
Unlike plastic Kydex, leather has charm and power of appeal. Branded as Leather Inside-the-Pants. This holster offers a typical inconspicuous Blackhawk design making it the perfect choice for a backup weapon or deep concealment.
While this IWB rig features a strap with snap to secure to the belt and can accommodate a variety of belt widths, it is angle-adjustable to accommodate your preferred carry positions including 3 o’clock, behind the hip, middle-of-the-back, or appendix carry while still deeply concealed.
Besides the adjustable cant, the Velcro secured belt loop, and a screw to reinforce upper body stability, it boasts a shirt shield that protects clothing while keeping holster opening unobstructed.
Additionally, it has an adjustable tension-screw to set the level of retention but some users stated that the screw did not function well.
Utilizing quality stitching, the Blackhawk Leather Inside-The-Pants holster is constructed from relatively thin Italian leather that remains rigid, though it may require a breaking in period.
Although less bulky than most leather inside-the-pants holsters it does not conceal larger handguns since the belt loop protrudes away from the body resulting in extremely high holster rides.
Since the Blackhawk Leather Inside-the-Pants Holster is molded for specific pistol models, it creates the perfect compromise between retention, ease of draw, and reasonable concealment.
Best Appendix Carry IWB Holster: Bravo Concealment IWB DOS Gun Holster
Bravo Concealment has designed the IWB series of holsters specifically for appendix concealed carry. This model belongs to the Bravo first generation Drop Out of Sight (DOS) family holsters.
An IWB DOS Gun Holster is built of .08 inch (2mm) thick Kydex, which adds minimal mass to the weapon and does not collapse for efficient one handed re-holstering.
The Bravo Concealment DOS holster is a dedicated appendix concealed carry holster specifically designed for that type of carry and is less comfortable in the 4 and 5 o'clock carry positions. If necessary, this holster can be adjusted to rise higher out of your waistband.
Unfortunately, it does not support angle adjustment. Though not necessary for the appendix carry, it would be useful for other positions. In fact, Bravo DOS holster conceals to its fullest potential when worn in appendix carry position.
The DOS IWB concealed carry holster comes with standard double IWB belt clip configuration, but for more flexibility,can be carried with a single belt clip.
Depending on your carry location, a single clip offers an easy belt line adjustment, as well as quick attachment and removal from your belt.
Whereas, Bravo DOS 1st Gen opened up the option for other carry positions, it is not comfortable for full-size pistols and larger sized people.
Whether you appendix carry or carry around your waistline, a DOS Kydex concealment holster is tough and durable without the added hassles of buttons, thumb breaks, or thumb releases. Also, the manufacturer provides an unlimited lifetime warranty and a 30-Day money back guarantee.
Best Appendix Carry Kydex Holster: Concealment Express IWB Kydex Holster
Florida based Concealment Express Company entered the CCW arena with their minimalistic design Kydex holsters and simple, yet effective, IWB options.
Concealment Express utilizes thin Kydex that stands-out in appendix inside the waistband (AIWB) carry holsters. Made of .08 inch (2mm) thick material, this holster is very light at only 2.6 ounces for the G19 (larger) one.
The Concealment Express holster features adjustments on retention with Posi 'Click' Audible Retention Lock System and an easily adjustable carry angle (or cant).
The cant angle can be adjusted between 0 and 15 degrees by loosening the two Philip screws on the 1.5" ABS belt clip. However, some owners say that the adjustable slant is closer to 0-5 degrees.
Each holster has an integrated Full-Length Sweat-Shield that protects your weapon against moisture and sweat from your body. This shield remains inside your waistband and helps guide the weapon upon reholstering.
The trigger area on each holster is completely covered for your safety, though the magazine release is uncovered. This carrying rig has nicely molded smooth edges with a very deep channel to ensure higher sights don’t get snagged when drawing.
Whereas this small-scale holster is much easier to conceal, there is one small drawback. The top part of the holster that sits against the body was kind of sharp and may be uncomfortable, especially when sitting.
The Concealment Express IWB Kydex holsters are specifically molded to each handgun model and are available for a wide variety of guns.
Featuring the perfect custom fit, they are purpose-built to be worn in appendix position inside the waistband with a belt and with an untucked shirt.
Concealment Express inside the waistband (IWB) carry holsters are great for beginners and they don’t break the bank.
Wearing a single-attachment appendix inside waistband (AIWB) holster with a mid-size gun isn't for everybody, because everyone has a different body shape. You'll have to experiment and wear it around the house for a while to get used to it.
When looking for an appendix carry holster, look for a retailer who offers a trial period so you can return it if you find it isn't for you.