I’d estimate that I’ve got right around 5,000 hours of experience carrying a Glock 19, almost all of it in the appendix position. That’s an average of 8 hours a day, 4 days a week, for 3 years.
I’m not former (or current) military. I’ve never been a police officer, and have no real interest in working in private security. I’m just an average person that carries a gun most of the time, and here’s the gear I use, and what I’ve learned along the way.
A Good Belt Makes the Difference
I have committed a tactical sin here… I use a regular belt. And by regular belt, I mean a regular belt that’s unusually stiff. It’s stiffer than many so-called “gun belts” that I’ve tried. I don’t remember where I bought it, but I know it was made in China (it says so, right on the back face).
It’s outlasted many other leather gun belts that I’ve owned. Normally, I find that the adjustment holes are the first thing to go on a belt, followed by the buckle attachment point. Everything on this one is still holding strong, after 3 years.
I can’t kill this stupid belt. It just works. I’m sorry.
Also, I found that carrying a gun and spare ammo in the appendix position is far more secure and comfortable with the belt buckle positioned at 10 or 11 o’clock, instead of on the body centerline. This presents a smooth, interruption-free surface for the gun stuff to ride on.
Statistically, you’re never going to need more than the 16 rounds packed into your Glock 19. I’m a big believer in statistics, and don’t walk around under any delusions that I’m going to solve any major problem with a G19 while carrying four spare magazines. That being said, I do carry one spare mag… because of statistics.
Guns jam. Even Glock pistols. It’s just a fact of life—if you shoot long enough, you’ll experience some type of weapon malfunction. And the vast majority of semiautomatic stoppages are ammo or magazine related. I minimize the first problem by carrying good self-defense rounds. The second is taken into account with a backup magazine.
So, I don’t carry a spare mag because I think I’ll need the extra ammo. I carry it because magazines are a common failure point, and I try to plan for common catastrophes. As a side note, it’s a 17-round magazine originally designed for the Glock 17. It’s no trouble to conceal, and gives me more ammo. What’s not to like?
Home-Brewed Magazine Pouch
I didn’t always carry spare ammunition. I just couldn’t find a good way to tote a spare mag while concealing a handgun in the appendix position. Then, one day it hit me.
Looking down, I saw that the pistol created a small gap in my waistband, right along the top of the slide. It seemed like a great place to stow a magazine…but where to find a pouch? I didn’t have to look far.
I’ve made a handful of mag pouches from heavy Kydex sheeting (0.125 inch) available for some informal IDPA-style matches at my local gun club, and had a Safariland ELS belt full of them. Taking one off and flipping it 180 degrees into my waistband was a perfect solution to my spare-mag needs. I simply made a mirror image pouch so that the ammo would face the correct way for a weak-hand reload (to the right).
After a month or so of carrying spare ammo this way, I noticed that the gap at the bottom of the pouch would occasionally pinch me. I solved the problem with a short section of bicycle inner tube stretched around the mag pouch. As a bonus, this material proved to be very slip-resistant, and kept everything nicely in place.
Did I mention that it only cost a couple of bucks to make?
You Need a Good Holster
After careful consideration, I chose to carry with the Raven Vanguard II. This is anything but a traditional holster; rather than encapsulating the entire firearm, in seats around the trigger guard. A soft loop with a “pull-the-dot” snap button keeps everything secure.
It’s unbelievably thin—thinner than the gun, in fact—and is relatively inexpensive. Retention is strong enough to keep the pistol under control while running and jumping, but not strong enough to impede a quick draw.
It’s a great, comfortable and secure way to appendix carry a gun. But here’s the one bad thing about the Raven Vanguard II—you can’t quickly reholster. Well, I mean, you could, but then you’d be trying to clip a loaded handgun back into a tiny holster, while it’s pointed at some very important anatomy.
Proper use of the Vanguard II dictates that you first remove the holster from your belt, install it on the pistol, then clip the whole thing back in place. In theory, you should be able to sheath your handgun quickly and safely, and with one hand. You may need your mitts for other tasks, while the presence of a threat still exists outside of your immediate vicinity.
I’m willing to sacrifice that capability in order to take advantage of the low profile and comfortable use that the Vanguard II provides. Everything is a trade-off in the end. It’s a carry holster, not a going-to-the-range-and-doing-tactical-drills holster.
Pros of the Raven Vanguard II
One thing that I really, really like about the Raven Vanguard II is the fact that I can load and unload the pistol while the trigger is still completely covered. Try that with a standard-style holster.
I firmly believe that dry firing should be a part of every serious shooter’s daily routine. There are far too many examples on how correctly dry firing improves your gun handling skills to ignore it as a training tool.
But, if you want to dry fire daily with a pistol that also happens to be your carry gun, you’re faced with having to load and unload that pistol…all the time. Mistakes happen. Increase the number of times that you perform a task—such as handling a loaded firearm—and the chances of a mishap occurring—negligent discharge—increase proportionally.
The fact that all basic administrative tasks can be performed with the trigger totally protected by the Raven Vanguard II is incredibly valuable to me.
I can’t think of a better general-purpose handgun than the Glock 19. Small enough to conceal, yet big enough to fight and compete with, it’s been my near-constant companion on many adventures. It’s been completely and naturally absorbed into my everyday carry kit over the months and years, and is no more noticeable to me than a set of keys or smartphone.
You learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t when you’ve had 30 ounces of steel strapped to your body for 3 years. And I’ve found a way that works for me.
How long have you carried a concealed handgun? Tell us about what you’ve found works (as well as what flat out doesn’t) in the comment section.