Tuesday, July 5, 2011

AIWB Litmus test

Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give Appendix Carry (AIWB) a shot this weekend. Since I don't have a hoster made specifically for AIWB, I had to improvise adapt and overcome using what I had on hand. I decided to use this BladeTech IWB holster with a Glock 17, and I experimented around a bit with concealment and drawing.

The BladeTech had to be set up for a straight draw, as it has been used previously with an FBI can't for IWB at the 4 - 5 o'clock position on my hip. Holsters designed specifically for AIWB carry are made to angle the grip of the gun in toward your abdomen, which the BladeTech does not; and in order for me to make this happen in the short term with this holster meant I had to get creative. A plastic clip from a BlackBerry holster served just fine for the weekend. Clipping it onto my pants so that it was sandwiched between my belt and the holster at the trigger guard made sure the gun's grip was torqued in towards my man-fat so that it wouldn't print.

Bonus points for me using the words sandwich and man-fat in the same sentence!

Here I have the holster stuffed down my britches at the 2 o'clock 12:30 position on my beltline. You can't tell, but I'm sucking in my gut. A picture of my beer belly consuming kydex is not family friendly, let me tell you.

Here's the same shot with the gun resting in the holster. Notice the black plastic clip against the holster at the trigger guard, and that the grip is somewhat flat against my abdomen:

Without that clip there the Glock's grip sticks out. AIWB holsters will probably do a better job at this than the clip, mind you; I had to use something though in the interim or I wouldn't have been very successful this weekend.

This is what it all looks like from the front:

Once you get the gun in the right spot, it's very comfortable, even while sitting or driving. As Terry pointed out in comments, having a gun with a decent sized muzzle (not a sub-compact) is better for AIWB because it provides leverage against your body's tendency to have your belly push the top of the gun out. Also, keep the gun vertical, and make sure nothing gets between the belt and the grip of the gun where it meets the trigger guard. I had to make sure the plastic BlackBerry clip didn't do that as it would screw up my draw.

Speaking of the draw, this is the best part about AIWB carry. After clearing the Glock, I did a couple of hours worth of drawing and dry firing using empty magazines. I'm going to make a bold statement: there is no faster way to draw a gun from concealment. The only method of carry that I can think of that is as fast is competition rig carried openly on your belt at 3 o'clock. For one thing, you don't have to rip your shirt up high with your support hand, which means your support hand is not reaching all the way across your body and is much closer to the grip when the gun clears the holster. Your hands rest naturally near the gun, and it takes only a moment to get your shirt pulled up the six inches needed for your gun hand to get the gun out.

I was simply astonished how fast that I could get the Glock out and have the sights on target from concealment. This has to be why criminals often carry here; although I would not place a loaded firearm in my waistband without a holster. After my practice session with draws, I have to carry AIWB. That's all there is to it. Hip carry is practical and all, but you lose the natural draw that you get with AIWB. I can't stress it enough though that when you RE-HOLSTER your pistol that you do it very slowly and deliberately. If you're one of those who is accustomed to speed holstering after a string of fire, than chose a different method of carry.

As far as driving while using AIWB carry, I never understood how it could be comfortable until I tried it. Once I got the holster placed right while standing and drawing, I didn't have to re-adjust when I sat down; the holster kind of went away. It's also way more accessible when sitting than with hip carry. For all day comfort, that one I'm going to have to wait out. AIWB does favor the svelt folks who don't have a gut, and I noticed that if my pants sagged down to where my belly fat could hang over the top of the gun I would end up with a sore spot there. Placing my pants snuggly on top of my hips alleviates the problem though. An undershirt is a must - if you don't have an undershirt the holster will try to grab skin while you move, especially if the holster has a sweat guard.

I'll have more once I get some real AIWB holsters. A range report will certainly follow, as snapping in on random objects in the home is well enough, but actual live fire will reveal more.
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