How to Appendix Carry Comfortably: Gear and Techniques


AIWB Holsters

What is AIWB Carry?

AIWB is an acronym that stands for Appendix Inside the Waistband, which is commonly known as Appendix Carry.

AIWB is different from a lot of traditional carry methods in that the weapon is positioned more centerline on the body, and it utilizes holsters and techniques that facilitate placing the holster inside the waistband of pants, shorts, etc.

Comfortable Appendix Carry is a System

When we look at any type of concealed carry, appendix carry in this instance, we like to examine them as a system.

These systems consist of several variables including your weapon, holster, belt, clothing, accessories, etc.

You are in control of these variables to a large degree.

All of these variables work together to create a system that should be comfortable (as much as possible), effectively concealed, accessible, and offer good retention.

When all of these are working together you are able to optimize this system to fit your particular requirements based on the variables you are working with.

With all of this in mind, today we are specifically looking at the variable of “comfort” as it relates to appendix carry.

This is in response to a question we often get, which is, “Is appendix carry comfortable?”

The short answer is yes.

Appendix carry is comfortable when you deliberately choose a quality weapon, holster, belt, clothing, and accessories that work together in a system to create comfort while maintaining performance.

Weapon

Smaller may be Better

When it comes to comfortably using appendix carry for your concealed carry method, smaller is sometimes better.

Small in this context is in regards to weapon size. When it comes to males and the male anatomy, you are trying to fill one space with several things. This causes discomfort for a lot of folks.

One way to make appendix carry more comfortably is to reduce the size of the weapon you are carrying (for some folks).

Going from a Glock 17 or even a Glock 19 to something like a Glock 43 will normally make a lot of difference in comfort. If anything, just in weight.

As weapon size reduces, normally your holster size does as well. Again, this reduction in size adds up.

Keep in mind, it has been shown by many that smaller, compact holsters, while being more comfortable, will actually hurt concealability.

Yep, you heard that right. Lengthening the holster on the muzzle end actually aids in concealment. But, again, we are talking comfort and not concealment in this article.

Accessories

Keep your weapon accessories to a minimum. Things like weapon-mounted lights, compensators, etc., add bulk and discomfort.

If you are focused on comfort, these types of things may hinder your efforts.

Holster

Material

Holster material can make a huge difference in comfort, but it’s not always as simple as that.

Yes, one would think that a softer, more supple material like leather would easily be more comfortable. But, that’s not necessarily true.

A properly designed Kydex holster, for example, can be just as comfortable.

There are also hybrid holsters that typically combine leather and Kydex for their concealment solutions.

The design features of the holster have a huge impact on comfort and we will discuss more of those below.

Design Features

I’ve found that holsters that feature radiused and rounded edges, like the PHLster Pro Series, are more comfortable.

This is especially true when it comes to larger frame handguns.

Radiused and rounded edges as opposed to squared or hard lines and edges can make a huge difference in comfort.

Keep this in mind when diagnosing your comfort issues.

Type

When it comes to type, most people are familiar with standard inside-the-waistband holster designs.

However, there is a newer solution on the block that is receiving rave reviews from a lot of folks, me included.

This would be the Enigma from PHLster. In the words of PHLster:

The Enigma is in a category of its own. Enigma is the world’s first concealment chassis, giving you unparalleled concealment, stability and performance. Using high tech materials it turns your favorite Kydex holster into an ultra-low-profile concealment system that’s completely independent of your belt or clothing.

PHLster

We will discuss this solution in more detail below.

Belt

Belts can make a huge difference in concealment, especially as it relates to the type of holster and gun you are utilizing.

There are good options made from a variety of materials in a variety of designs.

Unfortunately, as with most things, you will probably have to do some experimenting to see what works best for you.

My advice is to start with what you have, evaluate your concealment and comfort levels, and then make adjustments or changes as needed.

Depending on what I’m carrying, I will rotate from a quality leather belt to a nylon belt with a ratchet system.

These are are two solutions that work best for me.

Type

Belts, like most things, are super subjective. However, I have found that ratchet-style belts like those from Kore Essentials, make it super easy to tighten and loosen your belt to respond to different factors (sitting, standing, kneeling, etc.) if that is important to you.

Keep in mind, we are talking about comfort so stiff, nylon belts aren’t always the most comfortable option. Even though in some applications they can be.

Also, a quality leather belt that can hug your body can also work well depending on the application and your preferred concealment method.

Depending on what I’m carrying, I will rotate from a quality leather belt to a nylon belt with a ratchet system.

These are are two solutions that work best for me.

Clothing

Pants

Pants with a higher rise will lift the gun/holster combination away from your sensitive areas, typically adding increased comfort.

In addition, staying away from skinny jeans and sizing up when needed also aid in adding comfort.

Check out this article on How to Buy Pants for Concealed Carry.

Shirts

Wearing an undershirt that adds a layer between whatever gear you are using and your skin.

I don’t get fancy in this area. Simple, plain t-shirts can make a huge difference.

The biggest problem is wearing an undershirt in hot climates. If you can handle the heat, give it a go.

Appendix Carry Techniques

Height of Carry

Carry in a higher position to create more room.

This is something that may or may not be possible depending on the system you are utilizing for appendix carry.

A standard Kydex AIWB holster may not have the capability to allow you to make any ride height adjustments.

However, something like the PHLster Enigma allows you to easily adjust ride height as it is user-configurable.

You can manually do this by lifting the holster slightly when sitting and repositioning it after you stand.

It should be noted, an increase in holster ride height may also correspond to an increase in printing.

However, in addition, you should be aware that this unnecessary movement and adjustment may unwanted attention.

Yes, I will agree that most people do not pay attention to their surroundings and likely won’t notice what you are doing.

But, there are some that will. Ultimately, it is up to you to make the best decision for what you are wanting to accomplish.

Appendix Holster Position

Carrying exactly centerline does not work for most folks. The most comfortable position is going to be where the holster/gun combo rides in the crease in between your thigh and privates (inguinal crease).

This position can be exaggerated if you sit in a chair, scoot your butt all the way back, and keep a straight back.

This crease is now more evident and is the exact position where you want your gear to ride for optimal comfort.

Holster Cant

I typically carry my AIWB rig with zero cant. But, that’s just me.

Some find that canting the gun slightly can help with comfort while reducing printing from the grip.

However, pretty much everyone agrees that cant is super subjective and it’s best to play around with various cant positions to see what works for you.

The downside to this is that a different cant angle may negatively affect your draw stroke if you are not careful.

Appendix Carry for Bigger Guys

Having a larger belly usually results in discomfort related to the grip/magazine of your weapon being pushed out and away from the body causing the muzzle to dig into the groin area.

There are a few things you can try to increase comfort related to having a larger belly.

The first thing you can try is to rotate further away from your centerline.

You basically want to reposition your weapon/holster to a place where your belly/body is not pushing the grip of the weapon out from your body so much.

Think of starting somewhere around the 2 o’clock position and working from there.

You may have to play around a bit to see what works for you, but you will probably find more comfort in that area.

Some may argue this is not an AIWB, but at this point, we would just be splitting hairs.

Keep in mind, this article is all about comfort and sometimes that comes at the expense of concealment.

If we are just talking concealment, that is a different story.

Also, if your torso is more rounded a stiffer, adjustable, ratcheting style belt may work well for you.

As mentioned above, belts and associated comfort level is very subjective, so you may have to experiment a bit.

Don’t be afraid to adjust your belt/holster before sitting and after standing if comfort is an issue.

Again, the overt nature of these actions will be up to you and you carry them out.

As a bonus, be sure to take the 300th Parallel into consideration.

For an explanation, see the video below featuring John Lovell of Warrior Poet Society and his guest Jacob of the Evolving Daily YouTube channel:

Appendix Carry for Skinny Guys

For skinny guys to carry AIWB comfortably and successfully, you may have to make a few concessions, like most folks do.

Most of the tips and tricks are noted in this article, but the biggest issues skinny guys face are wearing low-rise jeans and using belts that are too stiff.

Try a higher-rise jean (maybe jump up a size) and get a quality leather belt that has “some” pliability.

Fix those two issues then take a look at adding a claw or wing to your holster as well as a wedge.

You may only need one or the other, but that is where the experimentation will come into play.

If all else fails, and you haven’t tried it already, you can always size down your pistol.

Find the smallest size that will work for your application and give it a go. You may be surprised.

If anything, it gives you the opportunity to buy another gun. You’re welcome!

Appendix Carry Holster Recommendations

Below you will find a few of our AIWB holster recommendations for various applications.

We’ve barely scratched the surface as it relates to the number of holsters we have tried compared to what’s out there.

But, we’ve purchased enough bad ones to know a good one when we use it.

Let’s take a look.

Best Appendix Carry Holster for a Large Frame Handgun

PHLster Pro Series Holster

If you want to carry larger mid or full-size handguns, check out the PHLster Pro Series Holster.

I’ve used one for quite some time to AIWB carry a Glock 19 and I’m super happy with it.

As mentioned above, the organic form of this molded holster, to include fully radiused and rounded areas where normal hot spots occur, allows a much more comfortable carry.

PHLster Pro Series Holster

Add in a number of options like the TuckStrut Retrofit Kit, Griphook Hardware Kit, DCC Monoblock Kit, and Discreet Carry Concepts MOD4 1.5 Kit, and you can fine-tune this rig to your preferred style.

Best Appendix Carry Holster with Magazine Carrier (Side Car)

ANR Designs Master Blaster

ANR Designs Master Blaster
ANR Designs Master Blaster

I’ve carried and have had a lot of success with the Master Blaster by ANR Designs.

I’ve carried this holster for a long time and have been super happy with it.

According to ANR Designs, the Master Blaster is the most minimal pistol/mag holster combo on the market.

It features a single belt clip and adjustable bushing for magazine retention.

This is a simple design that works and offers a minimal footprint when concealed.

Best Minimalist Appendix Carry Holster

PHLster Skeleton

For a minimalist solution, I would recommend the PHLster Skeleton.

I’m now running this on my Enigma, but I ran it solo for quite some time.

The Skeleton has a slim profile and is radiused for comfort, just like the Pro Series.

The short length of this holster can help aid in obtaining additional comfort for those who have issues with the muzzle end of the holster digging into their groin.

Best Appendix Carry Holster for Deep Concealment

Hands down, I recommend the PHLster Enigma. As we mentioned above, the Enigma isn’t a holster, but the chassis your holster mounts to.

I purchased an Enigma in February 2021 and attached a PHLster Skeleton to it as my holster of choice.

I don’t know what to say other than you need to give it a try. The ability to conceal carry regardless of clothing, etc., etc., is a game changer.

It’s fully adjustable, allowing you to fine-tune your system to your specific requirements.

Check out the video below for a quick overview.

Appendix Carry Holster Modifications

Holster Wing or Claw

A holster “wing” attaches to your holster, typically behind where the trigger guard is.

When properly worn, it creates a pressure point by coming in contact with the belt, which in turn presses the grip into the body.

Ultimately, this can create some comfort by balancing out the rig, but more so, it adds concealment and reduces printing.

Holster Wedges

In a nutshell, wedges will push the muzzle out and away from your body giving you slightly more clearance. When used correctly they can add comfort and concealability, which is optimum.

These can either be purchased commercially or you can make one yourself.

Tier 1 Concealed Wedges

T1C - Wedge Sizing Pack

Tier 1 Concealed offers a selection of wedges you can choose from straight off the shelf. This ranges from individual wedges to a pack of varying sizes.

You can also get oversized (2.25″ wide) wedges if your application calls for something a little wider.

You can check out their options here.

Dark Star Teardrop Wedges

Dark Star is another popular company that offers a couple of different wedge and pad styles.

These can be used to increase concealment and comfort and reduce hotspots on other gear as well.

You can check out their options here.

Yoga Block Holster Wedge

People have been creating homemade holster wedges for a while with good success.

It’s up to your creativity and needs in regards to materials, shape, and size, but the good thing is that it can pretty much be done on the cheap.

One popular method is to use a yoga block as the wedge material for this mod.

Simply get an idea of the shape and size your wedge needs to be and cut out the basic shape. Using something like a hacksaw works really well.

Once the general size and shape is achieved you can use a utility knife and sanding block to further shape and smooth out the wedge.

After you obtain the ideal shape, simply use some industrial strength velcro to attach the block to the holster.

Be sure to adhere the loop side to the holster and the hook side to the wedge.

Here’s a quick video showing how easily you can make a holster wedge out of a yoga block.

Don’t be intimidated by the tools used in the video, simple hand tools can be substituted to get the same results.

Dr. Scholls Gel Insert Holster Wedge Mod

Another homemade wedge option is to use a shoe sole insert, such as a gel insert from Dr. Scholls.

These are easily obtainable and require little to no modification to use.

Usually, you can get away with slapping on the velcro and sticking the insert on the holster.

For a quick and easy tutorial to add some visuals to the process, check out the video below where 8541 Tactical demonstrates the AIWB Holster Gel Wedge Hack.

Enigma Mods

Levo Designs Papoose

Enigma Papoose

The Papoose is designed to fit around your PHLster Enigma and additional comfort to all edges while providing a softer layer between you and your gear.

Feedback from end-users has been very positive. The Papoose can be purchased here.

Deerly Beloved Co. Comfort Cover

This 4-piece system covers the Enigma system increasing comfort and carryability (is that a word?).

Much like the Papoose, it adds comfort to hard edges while provided between your body and gear.

The Comfort Cover can be purchased here.

Clinger Cushion

holster cushion 1

You can also pick up something like the Clinger Cushion, which can pretty much attach to any holster.

The Clinger Cushion is a padded “cushion” that offers a breathable and comfortable solution.

You can pick up the Clinger Cushion here.

FAQ – Appendix Carry Frequently Asked Questions

Can you sit comfortably with appendix carry?

Yes, you can. If you carefully choose your holster and weapon, the position of your holster as it relates to the body, and combine that with the ability to make small manual adjustments to your rig’s position, you can definitely pull it off.

Are appendix rigs comfortable?

Yes, appendix rigs are comfortable. Again, comfort with appendix carry comes down to your weapon, holster, belt, clothing, body type, and position. Once you get all of these variables working together, comfort will come with it.

Is appendix carry worth it?

Yes, appendix carry is worth it. It is as safe as any other carry method and is easily more concealable while providing a fast weapon presentation.

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot in this article and I appreciate you for hanging on until the end.

In summary, you can definitely appendix carry more comfortably.

Keep in mind, we’ve talked about a lot of variables that influence the level of comfort you are going to experience.

The bottom line is that you are in control of most, if not all, of these variables.

Unfortunately, some of this will have to come from testing and experimentation.

It is a process, but you will ultimately have a carry system that is tailored for you and your specific needs.

As we mentioned before, some of the changes you can make to increase comfort will hurt concealment effectiveness.

There is always a tradeoff. But, the good thing is that you will be able to find the sweet that works for you and that’s all that matters.

If you have any additional tips that we haven’t discussed, be sure to drop them in the comments and help share your knowledge.

Recent Posts