Sierra CCW Blog:
Why Appendix Carry is So Cool, and Why You Should Never Do It.
In my CCW classes, I sometimes like to show students film clips of how NOT to do things. You know, like self-professed CCW experts shooting themselves in the foot. That sort of thing. Many of the unintentional discharges taking place daily in the United States are because of one thing, the CCW holder has his or her finger on the trigger when it should not be there.
Drawing a firearm from a holster is a prime example. You can see film clips on YouTube all day long of people yanking firearms from holsters and firing off a round right into their own knee, or some other obviously not-very-valuable body part. These people are somehow unaware that one’s trigger finger should never be touching the trigger until the moment a shot needs to be launched.
But hey, it’s a free country. Do whatever you want, right? After all, it’s just a foot or a knee, and that means only a few hours in the ER of your local hospital, and just a few thousand bucks worth of medical bills. No big deal.
This brings us to “appendix carry”. Appendix carry is when a CCW permit holster tucks the firearm down into the front of the pants, leaving the grips just above the belt. People love appendix carry. It’s so cool. Superheroes do it all the time on TV and the big screen. Holster makers and gun magazines sing its praises because it sells a ton of product.
What many people fail to comprehend, however, is how appendix carry points the business end of the firearm at some very valuable real estate. For those who always draw their firearm with their finger on the trigger, and even for those who draw safely and correctly, this can present an obvious disadvantage. Plus, because it’s a cross-draw method, you will probably end up pointing your firearm at innocent people before engaging the target.
Even well-versed, well-trained, well-practiced CCW holders put their fingers on the trigger at inappropriate times. Most are not aware they are doing it. Being shot through the lower abdomen or through one’s reproductive bits is likely to sting a whole lot more than just shooting yourself in the leg. If you live through it at all, your life will be forever changed. Oh, and a minor point here, but if you severely injure yourself before stopping the violent threat from the bad guy, you lose, he wins.
Most of us, fortunately, never get to experience what it feels like to have a flood of adrenaline enter our bloodstreams. That stuff has some profound effects on people’s bodies, including loss of fine motor skills. That means the trigger finger may not behave as it always had before. If you are ever viciously attacked in real life, you will definitely have a rush of adrenaline, and you will very likely not preform the same way as you have practiced at the range.
So, believing you can keep your finger off the trigger until the appropriate time is really a best-of-all-scenarios pipe dream. Good luck with that. Concealed carry isn’t about being cool anyway. So instead of appendix carry, for most people, carrying on the strong side hip is the safest, most efficient, easiest to conceal, most reliable, most practical, and smoothest way to carry.
Are Kydex Holsters a Good Choice for Concealed Carry?
Thermoplastic holsters are all the rage. They come in lots of fun colors, and they are molded perfectly for your firearm. Advertisers are spending a fortune in print and TV ads to get you to buy them. From what I see coming through the door of my firearms training classroom, lots of Californians are scooping them up and singing their praises.
I have a Kydex holster that came with my 1911. After using it in the field, and watching so many of my students use them, it has become apparent that plastic holsters may present limitations to CCW permit holders.
Of primary concern for CCW is concealment. An inside-the-waistband plastic holster will conceal about as well as any leather holster, with the exception that the plastic holster may make lots of noise. If a Kydex holster bumps or rubs up against anything solid, like a car door, wall, or even a wrist watch, the bad guy might be on to you packing a pistol. A Kydex holster also makes a ton of noise as you draw and re-holster. Concealment is your biggest tactical advantage. Why have equipment that could compromise that advantage? For my own personal safety, I want a holster that is quiet and discreet.
Something no-one talks much about when discussing an actual attack, is that if a bad guy discovers you are packing a gun during a struggle, it’s a given that he’s going to try to take it from you. All of my leather holsters have thumb breaks for firearm retention. With my thumb-break holster, a bad guy would have an easier time pulling my pants up over my head before he is going to get my firearm. Yet, a thumb-break takes absolutely no effort at all on my part, and no added time, to draw my firearm. Very few Kydex holsters are offered with a thumb break as a retention system, relying merely on friction and fit to keep the firearm from falling out. Any attacker that forcibly yanks on a gun from a low-retention holster is going to now be armed with your gun, while you are left trying to poke him in the eye. Not a good situation.
A well-functioning holster must also offer some degree of protection for your expensive firearm. After holstering and re-holstering my brand new 1911 in its Kydex holster, and then examining the marks it left on the pistol, it became obvious that hard plastic wasn’t going to keep the gun in like-new condition. One “gotcha” with Kydex is when grit, sand, or dirt adheres to the inside of the holster. Re-holstering then can leave deep scratches on the firearm. On other other hand, Kydex does rinse off easily enough, and doesn’t retain moisture like a leather holster can. And yes, many CCW owners are proud that their firearms are all marked up, scratched up, and well-used. Well, OK then.
The last three jobs for a good holster on my list involve access, smooth draw, and safety. Access depends on where the holster is worn. I’m not a big fan of appendix carry, or behind-the-back carry, but that’s for another article. The ease of draw is dependent on how well the plastic holster fits the firearm, and how well the holster was manufactured. If your Kydex holster heats up close to 160 degrees, let’s say by leaving it in a hot car, it will start to deform. You’ll probably have to buy a new holster. Severe cold can also cause plastic holsters to crack or shatter.
Many Kydex holsters feature adjustable retention, which is typically just a tightening screw to increase friction. Remember “Smooth is Fast”. If your firearm gets hung up during the draw, that’s not smooth or fast. I’ve also seen some completely unsafe Kydex holsters, and leather ones too, for that matter, where the trigger is left open on the holster, allowing the untrained user to put the index finger on the trigger during the draw. Fine, if you’re into shooting yourself in the leg.
Concealed carry in California is for defending your life, or the life of another, during the most desperate situation imaginable. During a life-or-death encounter, Murphy’s Law will surely kick in, and you will need well-practiced skills, muscle memory, every tactical advantage possible, and a good bit of luck to prevail. Your holster is part of the CCW package. It can’t be the weak link.
The reality is that the majority of CCW applicants taking my classes are doing it because they think CCW is cool, not because they are super concerned about being attacked. If CCW is cool to you, carry whatever holster you want; camo-colored-Kydex, a paper bag, it doesn’t really matter. But, if you are carrying concealed because you have to, then your holster should give you every tactical advantage you can get. For me, anyway, a Kydex holster doesn't measure up to that standard.
Robert G. Scott is the lead instructor at Sierra CCW. Robert was “Top Gun” at his police academy. He has authored two books and published over one hundred articles.
Important Information about CCW Classes at Sierra CCW:
A young woman recently called me to inquire about classes at Sierra CCW, but she had some concerns. “I’m not an NRA member. I'm concerned I may not fit in well.” Her apprehension was understandable. “I get it”, I reassured her. “I have CCW applicants from all walks of life, across the political spectrum. Everyone is welcome, and politics are left at the front door”.
Concealed Carry is not about politics. It’s about protecting yourself or your family when no other option exists. At Sierra CCW, our classes are designed to give you the tools, facts, and techniques that are proven to increase the odds of surviving an attack, surviving the litigation that may follow, and to help you sift through all of the mis-information floating around.
There are CCW instructors that take great care to avoid discussing your personal liability, local CCW laws, the firearms, calibers and holsters that might get you into trouble, what to REALLY do if you get pulled over, and other subjects. However, at Sierra CCW, we believe it is better to offer up complete and accurate information, and let the applicants decide what works best for themselves.
Taking your CCW class from an instructor that provides real information and training may help you in court. You will be able to demonstrate that you took responsibility to get actual training, and did not simply opt to "go out for pancakes" with an instructor that gratuitously hands outs certificates.
There is a lot of information that you need to know about concealed carry in California. Whether you own one firearm or dozens, Sierra CCW will prepare you properly for the exceptional responsibility that comes with your CCW permit.
California CCW Handbook is bigger, better, and bolder in its new Second Edition. Get real-world information on concealed carry, from the permit process, to shooting fundamentals, self-defense techniques, laws, and liability issues. Packed with practical carry facts that all CCW applicants will find indispensable. Don't be a victim. Get your copy today.
Sierra CCW provides concealed carry permit classes and range qualification for original and renewal CCW permit applicants in California and handgun training for shooters of all levels. Contact us today at 530-563-6397.
A CCW class should be more than just buying a paper certificate. It should be fun and challenging, but most of all, it should leave you better prepared to handle a life-threatening emergency. Our classes give you information that just may save your life. The State requires CCW classes, so make your class count. Sierra CCW, Truckee, CA.