Concealed Carry

Appendix Carry — Even in a Wheelchair

Springfield Echelon 9mm handgun carried in the appendix position, inside the waistband

I’ve been carrying a handgun (concealed) for nearly 20 years. For most of that time, I’ve carried in the 3 o’clock position, often inside the waistband (IWB). When wearing a long external shirttail, I would sometimes carry OWB. Because I evaluate and write about firearms, I have, and do, carry a variety of handguns. Initially, I carried duty-size pistols — all the time. Then came the micros, most of which I’ve tested. I’m not big on little guns with a lot of recoil, but we now have some double-stack micro nines that have enough grip, so they’re not unpleasant to shoot.

I was a normal able-bodied person for the first 10 years. However, due to injury and arthritis, I’ve progressed through a walker to a powered four-wheel cart, and finally, a powered wheelchair. I’ve also gained a considerable amount of weight. Don’t worry, I’m working on it. Throughout that progression I continued to carry my handgun in the 3 o’clock position, usually IWB. But a new breed of handguns, and a lot of discussion about appendix carry, led me to a change I’ve come to really appreciate.

Man carrying a Glock 43X 9mm handgun in an IWB holster in the appendix position
Appendix carry works for all body styles. Shown here is one of the author’s friends carrying Glock 43X.

Appendix Carry Pistols

As the guns rolled out, and I had the opportunity to test, then buy, the SIG P365, Springfield Hellcat, and Hellcat Pro, Girsan MC-14T, Ruger Max 9, FN Reflex, and other guns of similar size, I began looking for holsters for them, and I began experimenting with appendix carry. Comparing notes with some of my shooting buddies has been illuminating. It showed, what works for me in my wheelchair also works for my able-bodied buddies.

Personal experience, and working as an instructor with various people who have physical limitations, has convinced me of one thing. So long as you have at least one arm and hand that works, and eyes that can see, you can carry and use a defensive pistol. Some of what I’ll discuss here will work for people facing a variety of physical limitations.

For most body types, appendix carry has several advantages. First, it’s comfortable. With the right holster, belt, and gun combination, I don’t feel the gun pressing into me or hanging off me. It’s as if it’s not there. Second, it is not visible to other people. In most cases there is no printing. And for my able-bodied buddies who are now carrying in the appendix carry position, I don’t see their guns either, even when I’m looking for them. Third, it’s an easier draw. Easier when standing, easier when seated in a wheelchair or automobile.

So, how do we make this happen? Let’s start with the gun. The largest guns I’ve carried in this position have been the Springfield Echelon, S&W M&P, FN 509, and H&K VP9. I’ve also carried any one of several 1911 Commanders I own. Stepping down just a little in size, I’ve found the Taurus G3, Stoeger STR9, and Mossberg MC2C quite comfortable and concealable. Easily carried smaller guns in the appendix carry position include the Hellcat and Hellcat Pro, SIG P365, FN Reflex, Glock 43X, Ruger Security 9, Ruger Security 380, and Ruger Max 9, in addition to various S&W M&P Shields and variants, such as the Equalizer and Shield Plus.

Appendix Carry Holsters

My regular mix of IWB holsters weren’t up to the task. When wearing at the 3 o’clock position, most of my IWB holsters were in a canted position to facilitate draw. Simply moving those holsters to the appendix position resulted in the gun being canted out of position for a quick and easy draw. Plus, many of those holsters had some looseness that I didn’t want in appendix carry.

Several pistols in Kydex holsters
Among the firearms that lean toward appendix carry with the right holster are Top Row: Springfield Echelon, SIG Sauer Emperor Scorpion 1911 Commander, and Taurus 856 revolver; Bottom Row: Taurus 3C, Springfield Hellcat OSP, FN Flex, and SIG P365.

Before employing a good appendix carry holster, you must have a good gun belt. Regular men’s’ or women’s’ belts simply won’t work for carrying a gun on your waist. They don’t have the width or thickness to provide good support. You need a good gun belt. For years, I used leather gun belts made by Crossbreed or Bullard Leather Company.

In recent years, I’ve been wearing the NexBelt 1.5-inch EDC. It works great for appendix carry, because it has the stiffness needed to keep the holster secured, and it can be adjusted to the tightness you need depending on what you carry. The first holster I bought specifically for appendix carry was the Safariland Schema holster for SIG Sauer P365. It worked so well, it served as a model for some of the other guns I like to carry concealed.

When I desired to try a bigger gun, I found the Reckoning IWB holster from Crossbreed for the Springfield Echelon. This is the most vertical Crossbreed holster I’ve used, and it manages the Echelon in the appendix carry position quite well.

Taurus Defender 856 revolver in a Kydex IWB holster
The Taurus 856 Defender is one of the revolvers that can be carried in the appendix position with the right holster.

Crucial Concealment holsters was the source for an appendix carry holster for the Hellcat OSP, FN Reflex, and M&P Shields. It has holsters to fit many of the guns you might want to carry in the appendix position. Taurus does a good job of supplying suitable holsters for its guns, including Taurus and Rossi revolvers. For my 1911 Commanders, I went to Incognito Concealment for the right holster.

Train, Train, Train!

Having the gun and holster won’t do you a bit of good unless you’re able to deploy the gun when needed. This requires practice. If you’re in a wheelchair, the best way to practice might be with an unloaded gun at home. You may already be accustomed to practice where you lift your garment with your non-dominant hand while drawing with the dominant hand. Of special concern with appendix carry is keeping your trigger finger away from the trigger until the gun has cleared the holster and is pointed away from your body.

There is also the matter of reholstering. That’s a time when you’re likely to be pointing the gun at your groin area while maneuvering it, and you want to be sure your finger is away from the trigger and the barrel of the gun finds the holster, rather than some other area around your belt.

David Freeman in a wheelchair, drawing a pistol from his waistband
The author has found, as an overweight person in a wheelchair, the best carry method for him to stay armed is appendix carry.

Final Thoughts

One more thing, before I finish. If you own and acquire holsters for several different types of guns (as I do), you may find the holsters start to all look alike, yet the fit won’t be universal. I found that tagging my holsters with a label maker has made the task of matching the right holster with the right gun much easier. The labels stick quite well to Kydex, and they will do pretty well with leather (if you find a smooth surface).

Gentlemen, of my grandfather’s era, carried pocket watches in almost the same place you would carry a gun when using appendix carry. They did this because it was convenient to pop the watch out and easily replace it when they were through. I think you’ll find appendix carry with the right gun and holster combination equally convenient. It sure works for me.

What’s your favorite carry position and why? Do you have any limitations to how your carry? Share your answers and tips for carry in the Comment section.

  • Springfield Echelon 9mm handgun carried in the appendix position, inside the waistband
  • Multiple holsters labeled for the gun they fit
  • Taurus Defender 856 revolver in a Kydex IWB holster
  • Man carrying a Glock 43X 9mm handgun in an IWB holster in the appendix position
  • electric wheelchair in a green field
  • Several pistols in Kydex holsters
  • David Freeman in a wheelchair, drawing a pistol from his waistband

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (16)

  1. Do not reholster appendix carry. After you draw (and shoot), remove the holster and reholster safely pointed in a safe direction then attach holster and gun to your carry position.

  2. Being as I am an amputee of my left leg and wear a prosthetic leg the sockket interferes with my wearing a holster on the left side (being left handed) I carry appendix cross draw on the right side. Works very well for me.

  3. That was a great article about the wheelchair carry. I would like to see more articles in regards about handicap and elderly armed citizens can deal with their problems with concealed carry. I am sure there are a lot of people out there that would be interested. I have physical problems also. Thanks!

  4. if you are practicing good/proper firearms handling procedures there should be no issue.
    i like appendix carry and have done so for probably the last 10 years and still have my junk and my femoral artery has no holes. i also use 3 o’clock for certain situations. appendix carry makes your firearm available if your non-dominant arm/hand is taken out of play, try that with 3 or 4 o’clock position.

  5. Foe about 10 years I used a can for balance (back problems caused that) and I conceal carried comfortably on my right hip or in a shoulder holster. The I had massive back surgery and for the past 6-7 years I have had to use a cane, or crutches, or a wheelchair (depending on distance needed to travel, and moved basically to pocket carry. I hadn’t really considered appendix carry, but now I think I will. Pocket carry requires much more attention, I think, and even with my quite good holster is still somewhat slow and clumsy.

  6. Everyone has an opinion and depending on circumstances, have a favorite way to carry a firearm.

    As for me, there is no way I’m Appendix or Pocket carrying any gun that is striker fired and/or has a trigger pull of less than at least 10 lbs or so.

    My pocket carry guns are double action internal hammer revolvers, such as the S&W 351C in 22 Magnum, the Taurus 856 Ultra Lite 38 special, or a little semi auto internal hammer fired LW Seecamp chambered in 32 ACP which also has a long trigger pull.

    Striker fired guns with light trigger pulls can be great guns, but regardless of size, are best on a hip with the barrel pointed down at the ground in my opinion!

  7. After 60 years or more espousing the rules of safety I can’t promote a carry position that points the muzzle of your gun at either your femoral artery or the family junk. I predict there will be many instances (relatively) of people having disasterous experiences with this carry position. I’ll continue to dress for the purpose of concealing my sidearm at 3 o’clock.

  8. I’m a lefty, I carry appendix cross drawing of my Kydex holster on my Taurus G3c 9mm because of 2 rotator surgeries limit the raising of my arm high enough to clear my holster. I practice often unloaded standing and sitting. My biggest drawback is the G3c grip sits low when holstered IWB causing some firm grip concerns when drawing my weapon. It’s still not a matter of fact speed draw because my fingers have to go a little below my belt and pants to feel I have a firm hold as I pull up. I do have a slight cant towards my buckle. I use a Kydex Missions Ambidextrous holster with a solid lock-in feel. I’ve tried to loosen the snug but then I feel it’s too easy to draw. Any suggestions? Currently in cancer treatments and lost 43lbs but still avg 153lbs. Should I consider just an OWB? I do have a full grip before I clear the waist and my trigger finger 👈 is always proper. Thanks for any tips.

  9. The man’s belt in the photo is not made of leather and doesn’t look like it has the width or thickness to provide good support as the author specifies in this article. Shouldn’t a different belt have been used?

  10. I was never a fan of Appendix carry until this past year. I was always a 4 O’clock kind of gal or used a thigh holster when wearing a dress or skirt. But a girl friend of mine swore by Appendix carry and convinced me to try it.

    Well low and behold, she was right. I can’t imagine myself ever going back to the 4 O’clock carry and my days of dresses and skirts are basically over now being retired.

    I was never comfortable “purse” carrying as I felt it was too slow to access my gun regardless of the purse I carried; and as much as “purse snatching” is occurring these days, I did not want the criminal element stealing my gun in the process.

    The author is correct that Appendix carry makes it easy to access one’s gun and works quite well when seated. Plus as a woman, I think it is more comfortable for us to carry AIWB than perhaps a man would find it. I also don’t carry large or heavy handguns while AIWB but prefer my Ruger Security pistol. which works for me very well.

    As always, another great read from this author.

  11. I do not teach or recommend IWB appendix carry. I agree with Ken Hackathorn that every pistol you put in that carry position is a potential decocker. There’s also a fair chance that an accidental discharge could hit your femoral artery.

  12. I habitually carry a somewhat larger pistol (revolver) appendix position. 7.5″ Ruger Super Redhawk. Outside the Waistband, of course. Right-hand cross-draw holsters work quite well for for this. I often use such when spending time in the woods frequented by large and furry cohabitants. With or without a backpack, the grip is readily at hand.

  13. as a wheelchair user for the past 15 years and a concealed carrier. I can confirm what the author said about AIWB carry, it takes some trial and error to get it right.
    in the past year I have switched a lot of my holsters to leather holsters (JM4 tactical) to be exact. I have found that they have some give in the leather and a bit more comfortable. an besides being more comfortable they are very easy to pull off and re-holster, which is much safer. I just wish I would’ve known a good instructor that could have saved me some time in learning how to carry when in a wheelchair.
    which is why now I try to assist anyone that is new to ccw and a wheelchair. we need more articles like this for those of us that use mobility equipment.

  14. Rock-solid advice here. Appendix carry offers maximum security of the gun compared to most other methods. Agree with David, if you can keep your fingers and out of the way and re-holster safely, appendix is the way! Glad to see a great selection of kydex holsters that don’t impede the gun on re-holstering.

  15. I picture a black leather flap holster belted around a field gray greatcoat, and holding something nicely blued by Walther.

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