Thoughts on AIWB


by Paul Howe

Recently a well-known tactical instructor decided not to allow students to carry inside the waist band in his classes. This is his right. I will not bad mouth him for it. Others jumped on the band wagon.

I will continue to teach it and here are my reasons.

First, I am an instructor and use the carry method. I also teach hip carry, inside or out of the belt, ankle carry if needed and off body carry in bag if you so choose. Some instructors don’t know how to teach the proper carry, draw and re-holster and what equipment is needed. It is easier to just outlaw it rather than to learn it themselves. In the end, it is a business decision. It is one less thing they have to worry about. As for me, I will refine my instruction and put more emphasis on how to properly employ the appendix holster.

Recommended Holster for Appendix Carry

I recommend two manufactures for Appendix Carry: Contact Concealment and Comp-Tac. Both make top quality holsters that will not compress and I have personally used both. I will not allow Uncle Mike’s as they compress along with other nylon type. Any holster you have to force the pistol back into is not safe in my opinion.

Position of the Appendix Holster

Yes, the position is close to your reproductive organs and your femoral artery. This is why you must pay attention to re-holstering. It is also the easiest holster to see. You can simply tilt your head down and see where it is and if it is clear of obstructions. Holsters in the back right or left quarter of your body prevent you from doing this. This is dangerous in my opinion, especially in winter with jacket balls and other objects that can fall into the holster and cause your trigger to be depressed. I have watched tactical officers obstruct their tactical holsters with added pouches that caused them to weave their re-holster stroke into the holster, pointing the weapon directly at their pelvic girdle from the side. This is not safe and we correct it in the first five minutes of class. I know of more shots to the upper thigh and calf from improper holstering or draw strokes than I do the appendix position.

Proper Training

By simply training the students to use the holster properly, appendix carry is a great position that I will continue to use. Some instructors do not want to take the time. I will take the time with my students. As a professional instructor I make it by business to know all the holsters and how to use/set them up. For example, I don’t like nor recommend Serpa type holsters, but teach their use and allow them on my range. Why? I had one military group that had them and that was all they were issued. I was not about to let them go and not know how to use their holsters safely. I made equipment recommendations, but in the end, this is what they deployed with. As for teaching the draw stroke, I do it early on in my classes so students know how to properly do it and then get to practice it all day. Next, I also teach to look at your holster when you first learn to re-holster. Also, if you cannot find your holster on the first attempt to re-holster, look at it. We are putting the weapon away because the threat is no longer there and we have the time. Jabbing at where you think the holster is with a loaded gun is unsafe.


I have seen the appendix carry method used for 40 years in my weapons history. The only accident noted was a detective/officer in the 70’s who shoved a Smith & Wesson model 59 series 9mm into his pants appendix without a holster. Under high-stress, he attempted to draw, snagged the front sight and pulled the trigger causing it to discharge. He made several mistakes to include not having a holster, finger on trigger when drawing and pulling the trigger while still in his pants. This is not a carry method issue but rather an operator issue.

Finally, I will continued to use and teach appendix carry because I personally use it and know of many, many people who use it real world, to include those operational in multiple state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Paul Howe

Is the Belly Band Obsolete?

Ahhh the ole’ Belly Band, for some it ranks right up there with the Fanny Pack and the “shoot me first” 5.11 gun vest for out-dated, corny and just plain impractical CCW attire. But, maybe, just maybe, in our progressive, “fashionista” haste we have overlooked some perks the belly band gives us.

I came upon this epiphany the other day when getting ready to go into town on a “wife” errand. Instead of going “heavy” and donning my AIWB Holster and G21SF plus an extra mag in a horzontal carrier, I tried something different. I wanted to go “light” and carry my new S/W “J” Frame Model 340PD I had bought as a BUG last week.

I searched through my closet, finding the ambiguous “holster bag” (we all have one, a bag full of holsters and other gear we insist on keeping for a rainy day). I quickly found my  Desantis Belly Band, which funny enough had been a gift from a member of the family one Christmas.”The guy at the gun store said this was the one all the pro’s use” I remember my relative saying. I had to hold back from spewing my egg nog all over her reindeer sweater. Friggin Gun Store salesman.. some of them are worse than used car salesman if they need to make that sales quota, I swear!

Donning the belly band, I had to wince as I fastened the velcro panel..I absolutely HATE velcro on any CCW or Field gear; (Stay Tuned for the “WHY” on that story next month!) I slid the gun pocket around to the AIWB position (around 1:00) and slid my J frame inside. It fit like a glove. I could tell, the pockets were designed for small pistols or revolvers, it would be a tight squeeze with a full size Glock. The pocket also had enough elasticity to position the grip how you wanted it. I positioned it where the grip was just above my waistline with a slight cant to the left, this allowed my hand to find purchase on the gun without looking; simply clear the cover garment and grip the gun.

Positioning my jeans where about 1/4 of the band was visible at the top, I cinched my belt tight. This put the grip right above my waistline and my T-shirt covered it with no printing. Having learned valuable lessons in the past about guns falling out of holsters at in-opportune times, I did some quick “check” drills to make sure everything would stay put.

  •  Trunk Twist
  •  Toe Touches
  •  Sit down/Stand Up’s

Thankfully, The gun stayed put after my Richard Simmons workout. I then worked on some very basic presentation drills, clearing the cover garment and presenting the gun and then re-holstering. Re-Holstering proved to be awkward, since you are using a pocket of stretch material and not a firm lipped holster, typically one hand has to stretch the pocket while the other hand holsters. I did however manage to do a “hasty holster” where the gun is simply shoved into the pocket and then it perfect? no..will it do in a pinch if you have to have both hands? yes.

The other con I could readily identify with the belly band was sweating and irritation. Being that most bands are made from some sort of polyester to be stretchable, this is an inherent flaw unfortunately. Luckily, it was Fall weather outside (around 55 degrees) so it did not give me many problems that day.

A word about the 2-3 extra pockets on most belly bands. A good friend of mine who worked security for many years used to use a belly band for a way to carry extra mags for his G19, in which he would carry in an AIWB rig. Some food for thought if you are ever going into a place where you think the combat loadout should be more than the standard 2 mags. Also as food for thought, if that WAS the case, it might be worth carrying another pistol, as it is always faster to just draw another gun than to reload one.

In closing, is the belly band a worthy substitute for your AIWB Holster? Overall, I would say NO. Is it something you can use for those quick trips into town when you want to carry a smaller pistol or revolver? Yes, I think it is. Since you are not changing your position of your carry, only the WAY you carry the gun, it is not interfering or changing any training. Yes, it does have it’s cons in regards to re-holstering and overall comfort, but for what we are talking about here, carrying smaller guns for short periods of time; I think the Belly Band deserves another look.

Stay Dangerous!