Concealment Express S&W M&P Shield KYDEX IWB Gun Holster Review

Best Appendix Carry Holsters on the Market: A Detailed Guide

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Intro: 

Over the past several decades, appendix carrying has gone from a rarely seen phenomenon in the gun community to one of the most common ways to conceal carry, which is very interesting to us.  Why, you ask? Because appendix carry or appendix inside the waistband (AWIB) carry is one of the most dangerous ways to carry. So has everybody gone mad or is it there a correct and safe way to conceal carry in the appendix position? With anything dealing with guns, you need the right equipment for optimal performance and safety.

Note:  If you do not have time to read our detail guide just checkout the summary table below for our rankings!

IWB Holster 

Rating

Price

Concealment Express IWB Holster

Outdoor Methods Top Pick

 CYA Supply IWB Holster

Tulster IWB Holster 

BLACKHAWK! Ambidextrous

AIWB Holster

Relentless Tactical Defender IWB

Holster 

(Most Versatile)

Vedder IWB holster

Bravo Concealment IWB

ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band

(Most Economical) 

Alien Gear’s ShapeShift Appendix Holster

Guide to Appendix Carry

What is Appendix Carry?....Maybe something to do with a person’s appendix

Appendix Carry is a method of carrying your firearm concealed inside the waistband at the front and towards the center of your body. You will sometimes see carrying a gun in the appendix position abbreviated as AIWB which stands for appendix inside the waistband . Right-handed people that want to appendix carry will carry in 1 o’clock position or between your right hip bone and your belly button. This is right in front of your appendix….. if you still have one that is…..and the reason it is named appendix carry.  Left-handed people will carry at the 11 o’clock position or between the left side hip bone and the belly button.   

Note: In ordered to wear an AWIB holster at the 11 o’clock position some people like to wear their belt backward or move the belt buckle to the far right to make room for the holster.

What are the pros of AIWB Carry?

Seriously what could the benefit to having a pistol pointed directly at some of your most “critical areas” be? Well for one our arms are naturally positions to hang towards the front of our bodies, meaning you should be able to draw your gun faster from appendix position than other IWB carry positions in theory. Also, it allows you to guard your weapon better while carrying. Another benefit to this position is it enables you to conceal your gun better as well. 

What are the cons of AIWB Carry?

I mean the firearm is pointed at some pretty important stuff on your body in this position. There is no way around this fact. More specifically, your groin area and your femoral artery. For some, this means appendix carry is out of the questions, and at the surface, I would agree. However, if you think about it is it really that more dangerous than other IWB carry positions? The answer is no…..before you call the men with a straight jacket for me let me explain.  

Imagine you have your pistol in an IWB holster behind your hip bone or at the 4 o’clock position for right-handed people, and the 8 o’clock position for left-handed people. When you go to draw your gun the muzzle in this position, it will typically come out at an angle facing you.   Even more disturbing, while you pull the gun from the holster to the shooting position, you are potentially exposing a large surface area of your body to the muzzle of your gun. If an accidental firing of your weapon happens during this time, you are looking a considerable potential for bodily harm!

The truth is there is no 100% safe way to carry a gun. When we decide to conceal carry, we must realize we are taking a risk and must educate and train ourselves to minimize this risk. Proper education and training on skills like trigger discipline and holstering and unholstering your firearm until it is second nature are critical.   

Another con is some find it downright uncomfortable to wear in the AWIB carrying position when sitting or bending down. This is common in people with a larger stomach. However, there are few ways that people with a larger stomach can try to counteract these issues with appendix conceal carry.

How to appendix carry with a larger stomach

1

Option 1 

Have an AIWB holster with more of its length below the waistline. You might ask how that helps, and it is pretty simple; usually, a more significant gut will push on top of the holster. This results in the gun and holster being pushed out at the above the waistline. The muzzle and lower part of the holster is then pushed into the body below the waistline. By lowering the top of the holster to the waistline, you lessen the force of the gut on it. In turn,  we see a reduction of the bottom of the holster pushed into the body.  

2

Option 2 

Another method for AIWB carrying with a larger stomach is a foam wedge at the bottom of the holster.   For this to work, place the foam edge at the bottom part of the holster facing the body. This compensates for the force of the stomach on the top portion of the holster, keeps the bottom part of the holster from pushing into your body.

How to Appendix Carry for Large People

Luckygunners.com video goes into detail about each of these methods, and we recommend you watch it below.   

Is AIWB right for you? 

That is a tough question to answer. You are the only person that can decide if AIWB carrying is right for you. To decide, you need to look at the pros and cons specific to your particular needs.   If the pros outweigh the cons, then give it a shot. Ask a friend if you could try their AIWB holster out for a day or two, or make sure to purchase a holster with a decent return policy to try it out with your first time. Then practice practice practice.

Best Types of Guns for AWIB Carrying? 

Again we are looking at a very subjective question. Many people differ on which they think is best for AIWB holster. However, the short answer is any gun that is good for regular concealed carry is suitable for appendix carry. More specifically guns with the following traits are the ones we suggest you look at: 

  • Smaller width- The smaller the width, the less print you will see.
  • Shorter length- Shorter length means the muzzle is less likely to dig into you while going about your daily task. For example, when you are bending over or squatting. 
  • Rounded back profile- A rounded back profile will be more comfortable when pushed up against your stomach while carrying.

Pistols with these features are compact or subcompact (single stacks preferred). You also need to look for striker fire pistols, or revolvers with bobbed or shrouded hammers.

How to train for AIWB?

If you want to try out appendix carrying go to the range and practice with an outside the waistband holster first in the appendix carry position. Check out this video from Personal Defense Network to see this in action.  

Safety Tip: Once you have stopped firing your weapon, take a deep breath and for 5-10 seconds, think about what the process of holstering your gun is. This will minimize the chances of something going wrong when reholstering your firearm. 

What to look for when buying a AIWB holster?

Trigger Guard

The holster needs a secure covering of the entire trigger to prevent accidental discharge

Firearm Retention and Protection

The holster must have enough retention to ensure the holster does not fall out, but not too much that it is a struggle to draw your firearm from the holster. Many holsters have adjustable retention to allow you to determine the setting you prefer.

A good AIWB holster must also offer protection to the gun from wearing regularly. This will come in the form of a sweat guide that will come in handy a lot in the summer months. As far as attaching to the belt, there are two commonly used methods by gun holsters. 

Snap-on clip (seen in a lot of high-quality holsters)

  • Pros
    • Secures your holster better to your belt.  
    • Last longer 
  • Cons
    • Hard to put on and take off 

2 Clips 

  • Pros
    • Faster to put on and take off
    • Could use without a belt if needed to 
  • Cons
    • Easier to holster to come dislodged while wearing
    • Tend to break and not last as long at the snap-on.   

Comfort

No matter how "great" people claim, a holster is, if it is not comfortable to wear, then you will not use it. One way AIWB holster keeps comfort a top priority is by adding a cant feature to the holster.  

Another critical issue many people overlook is if the holster is rounded off at the bottom just below the muzzle. It is hard to explain, so check out the image below, and it should become clear to you.  

By not rounding off this area of the holster can decrease your range of motion with your leg, and if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to use a gun, you do not want your range of motion hinder.

Concealment 

The IWB holster should conceal well under clothes (minimal print). Some appendix carry holster will increase concealment by adding a wedge to the holster towards the muzzle location. Also, the “footprint” or size of the holster plays a crucial role in how well a holster allows you to conceal.  

Ease of Use

The holster allows the gun to be drawn and reholstered easily while wearing. Holsters that enable the person to get a full grip of the handle are the easiest to draw your weapon. You must also take the holster thickness into account because you do not want your holster to collapse once you have drawn your firearm. The most common way people injure themselves with holster is when they go to reholster. If the holster collapses when you are trying to reholster this puts you at a higher risk of injuring yourself.

The preferred thickness for IWB holster is 0.08” inches. Some have a thickness of 0.06,” and while this helps with concealment, it has a high chance of collapsing. Some holsters come with a magazine slot. The advantage is you will have more rounds, and the magazine slot can help balance the holster out, making it feel more secure.  

Durability 

The holster must be able to endure daily use without breaking down. The most durable holsters are kydex holster and high-quality leather holster. 

Cost

The price does not break the bank. 

Pro tip: Always adjust the retention of your holster while wearing it. If you adjust the holster outside the waistband, you are not taking into account the natural retention on both the holster and gun while inside the waistband and could result in the retention not being where you need it to be. 

Holster Reviews

1. Concealment Express (Outdoor Methods Top Pick) 

If you are serious about appendix carry, then you need to take a hard look at this holster. Concealment Express IWB holsters are kydex holsters that can proudly say "Made in the USA" with high-quality material. The holster also has a thickness of 0.08”, which means it will not collapse after you withdraw your firearm. However, it is also one of the lightest on our list weighing in at just at 3 oz. The ability to adjust the holster's retention and cant from 0-15 degrees are just a few of the features this holster can offer.

The only downside to this holster is a"cheap" plastic clip that has been known to break.   However, this holster has a lifetime warranty, and Concealment Express is known for its excellent customer service. Therefore getting a replacement clip should not be difficult. What is more impressive is how well this holster performs at such a low price. 

Pros:

  • Easy to Use
  • Sweat Guard
  • Posi-Click Audible Retention Lock System
  • Adjustable Retention and Cant
  • Comfortable
  • Low Profile (less chance of printing)
  • Durable
  • Price
  • Trigger Guard

Cons:

  • Belt Clip
  • Ride Height Not Adjustable

2. CYA Supply IWB Holster 

The CYA Supply IWB Holster just like the Concealment Express Holster is a 0.08” thick holster. Meaning it will not collapse after drawing your firearm. It’s cant is also adjustable from between 0-15 degrees. The CYA Supply IWB holster is rounded off with smooth edges making this an extremely comfortable holster One area this holster is lacking in is the belt clip that has a width of 1.5”. However, you can purchase a 1.75” clip if needed to fit your belt.

Another issue is the holster's lack of ability to adjust the ride height of the holster. This holster tends to ride higher, which may result in less concealment. So if you are looking for a low profile holster, the CYA Supply IWB holster is not for you. However, this is another holster that gives you the quality of a high-end holster at a much lower cost.  

Pros:

  • Audible Retention Lock System
  • Adjustable Retention and Cant
  • Can Handle Aftermarket Sights
  • Sweat Guard
  • Rounded Edges (comfort)
  • Good Handle Grip When Drawing
  • Durable
  • Price
  • Trigger Guard

Cons:

  • Belt Clip
  • Ride Height Not Adjustable

3.  Tulster IWB Holster 

Tulster is a well put together kydex holster with a thickness of 0.08”. Again meaning the holster will not collapse when drawing your firearm. Its minimalist design allows for minimal printing when wearing in the 1 o'clock position. It also has smooth edges that are rounded for maximum comfort. Unlike the first two holsters on this list, this holster has a 1.5 “ injected belt clip with stainless steel screws. Allowing for more exceptional durability of the clip. The clip can also allow for a 0-15 degree cant adjustment. 

It is essential to know you can also upgrade this holster with soft loops.  The holster also has adjustable retention, which allows you to adjust the retention to what feels best for you. The design of the holster gives you the ability to press the magazine release button on the holster while wear.. Some people might like the ability to release the magazine from your pistol while it is in the holster we do not. We believe the risk of the magazine accidentally being ejected without the wearer's knowledge outweighs the benefit of this feature.

The holster is open at the muzzle section which is perfect for threaded barrels. While Tulster dose make an excellent holster for appendix carry, it is not higher our list due to pricing and the ability to eject the magazine of the firearm while holstered. Still, we recommend you take a serious look at this holster if you want to buy a high-quality holster. 

Pros:

  • Audible Retention Lock System
  • Adjustable Retention and Cant
  • Can Handle Aftermarket Sights
  • Sweat Guard
  • Sturdy Clip (option of soft loop)
  • Good Handle Grip When Drawing
  • Durable
  • Trigger Guard

Cons:

  • Price
  • Magazine can Eject While Holstered

We recommend you checking out Tulster's IWB Mag Carrier as well.  

4.  BLACKHAWK! Ambidextrous Appendix Reversible Carry Inside The Pants Holster 

 An Injected molded polymer material that is softer than most kydex and plastic holsters is used to make the BLACKHAWKS! ARC Holsters for two reasons. The softness of the polymer allows for a comfort level close to that of a leather holster, and softness helps with retention of the gun while in the holster. The ARC holster is just as durable as any holster on the market, and will not buckle after drawing your pistol from the holster. Retention of the holster can also be adjusted using the retention screws on the side of the holster. 

Unfortunately, the retention screws have been known to loosen due to the soft characteristic of the polymer used in creating the holster. The ARC holster allows for both the cant of the holster and ride height to be adjusted, giving you a variety of different setups to choose from for this rig. However, the cant angel does not always stay in place while wearing. To help combat this issue, check your clip screw routinely, and adjust when necessary. 

Another problem with the ARC holster is how low the holster comes up on the pistol. The lower profile of the holster does not act as a guide to the gun while reholstering making reholstering more difficult than other holsters.  Also, the lower profile of the holster does not protect against sweat and does not protect the magazine release button, which can result in the magazine accidentally being ejected while wearing. You also, However, ever with the holster shortcomings this a great holster that you can get at a reasonable price.

Pros:

  • Designed for Pistols with a Rear Red Dot
  • Adjustable Ride Height and Cant
  • Can Handle Aftermarket Sights
  • Two Belt Clips for 1.5 “ and 1.75” Belts
  • Ambidextrous
  • Durable
  • Trigger Guard
  • More Comfortable Than Kydex
  • Adjustable Retention

Cons:

  • Clips Feel Cheap
  • Cant Changes While Wearing
  • Retention Screw Can Come Loose
  • Does Not Guide Firearm into the Holsterlement
  • Magazine can Eject While Holstered
  • No Sweat Guard

5. Relentless Tactical Defender Holster (Most Versatilely)

The only leather holster on our list made by Relentless Tactical and is a force to be reckoned with. The Relentless Tactical IWB Holster is a high-quality holster made for real leather and has a firm metal clip that has proven to withstand the test of time. It is also very versatile, unlike a lot of holsters on our list, and will fit many concealed size guns not just one. 

However, its real claim to fame is how comfortable it is. Unfortunately, it not higher on our list due to its tendency to collapse when the gun is drawn from it, making it difficult to reholsters. If you want a leather AIWB holster, this holster is hard to beat. 

Pros:

  • Retention of the Gun
  • Strong Belt Clip
  • Well Made Trigger Guard
  • Very Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Lower Ride Height

Cons:

  • Holster May Collapse After Gun is Drawn
  • Concealment
  • Cannot Adjust Cant
  • Cannot Adjust Ride Height

6. Vedder IWB holster

Vadder struck gold with LightTuck IWB Holster. It is made from 0.08” high-quality kydex that is very strong with minimal flexing. The sides of the holster are very smooth with edges that are rounded off.  These features help with comfort and concealability. The holster has two options for the metal clip. Option One is for a 1.5” and option two is for 1.75” belt. Yes, you heard that right a metal clip, not a kydex or some cheap plastic clip. The clip also gives you the ability to tuck your shirt while wearing 

Pros:

  • 30-degree Adjustable Cant for Appendix and Cross Draw (Forward and Reverse)
  • Strong Belt Clip
  • Adjustable Retention
  • Adjustable Ride Height
  • Trigger Guard
  • Durable
  • Sweat Guard

Cons:

  • Does Not Clip Well to Belt Due to a Gap
  • Challenging to Take Holster Off
  • Screws Seem Cheap
  • Slow Customer Service

7. Bravo Concealment Torsion IWB Gun Holster

The Torsion IWB Gun Holster is Bravo Concealment's 2nd generation IWB holster. This new generation is designed with a what Bravo Concealment calls," torsion technology," meaning the holster has a 10-degree inward angle. This 10- degree inward angle allows for better concealment, especially for a bigger pistol like the Glock 19. The Torsion IWB holster is very impressive with its trigger guard, firearm retention and protection, comfort, concealment, durability, and ease of use. For many, this is their go-to holster for appendix carry. 

Pros:

  • One-Handed Reholstering
  • Adjustable Retention
  • Solid Polymer Injection Mold
  • Adjustable Rise and Cant
  • Durable
  • Sweat Guard
  • Trigger Guard
  • Price
  • Integrated 10-degree Inward Slant of the Holster for Better Concealability “Torsion Technology”

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable in the  Appendix Position
  • Cheaper Clips
  • Polymer Material is not as Durable as Kydex

8. ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band Holster for Concealed Carry (Most Economical)

No belt? No problem, the ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band Holster for is in a league of its own due to it not requiring you to wear a belt while wearing the holster. It also has an ambidextrous design, which allows you to draw your gun with both your right and left hand. Additionally, this belly band holster is a joy to wear owing to its soft, neoprene material craftsmanship that provides the right amount of ventilation, allows it to breathe easy, is lightweight and doesn’t break a sweat. The ComfortTac Ultimate Belly Band Holster is designed to accommodate most handguns up to a full size 1911 and is perfect for people with up to a 44” waist size.  

Pros:

  • Made from Non-Itchy and Thick Neoprene Material
  • Can Fit Many Sizes and Brands of Handguns
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to Adjust Holster’s Position
  • Great for Multiple Different Dress Occasions
  • Pouch for Magazine
  • Can Wear Without a Belt
  • Price

Cons:

  • Potential to Stain Clothes
  • Can Cause Perspiration and Itching if Wearing for an Extended Period
  • Awkward Position of the Retention Strap
  • Smaller Guns May “Sink” into the Holster, so it is Hard to Retrieve
  • No Trigger Guard
  • No Way to Adjust the Cant

9. Alien Gear Holsters ShapeShift Appendix Carry Holster

Now, this holster for appendix carry is out of this world… Just like with everything they do Alien Gear’s ShapeShift Appendix Holster is a masterpiece. Alien Gear goes as far as calling it “the safest and most comfortable AIWB holster ever.” The ShapeShift Appendix Holster has your standard “advice alien skin material” to retain the firearm in the holster. It also comes with a perforated neoprene back of holster that goes against your skin. The neoprene is soft and allows the skin to vent, minimizing sweating. The holster also has just a single mounting point to your belt which allows for some flexibility in the holster. Another feature unique to this holster is the metal core that maintains the holsters shape while drawing. 

Pros:

  • Retention Lip on Clip
  • Trigger Guard
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Audible Retention Lock System
  • Adjustable Retention

Cons:

  • Bulky 
  • No Adjustable Cant
  • No Adjustable Ride Height
  • Price

Conclusion

So there you have it.  The clear winner is the Concealment Express Kydex IWB Holster for appendix carry.  These holsters are a very simple but brilliant designed. It’s trigger guard, concealment, cost, comfort, ease of use, and firearm protection and retention are best in the class.  The only area it scores lower but is still respectable is in durability due to its belt clip. However, the Concealment Express Kydex IWB Holster sets the standard for as far as a great appendix inside the waistband holster that will not break the bank.  Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments section below!  

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