Handgun concealed carry (CCW) is not an area into which MVT has made much of a foray. However, we have just scheduled our first Active Shooter CCW Class on February 20-21 2016, and as such we have begun to create the class page and put in place safety rules and recommendations.
One of our stipulations is that for the class, there is to be no ‘Appendix Inside The Waistband’ (AIWB) carry. This has caused some wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is not the intent of this post to kick off some sort of ‘appendix vs. hip’ carry debate / argument / fistfight. We also do not permit crossdraw and shoulder holster carry in the class. Think of AIWB as front of the belt line carry, so that if your belt buckle is at 12 o’clock viewed from above the handgun (for a right handed carry) would be approximately at the 1 o’clock position. A right handed hip carry would be approximately at the 3 o’clock position.
The reason for the rule is simply safety. During the class there will be a lot of repeated presentation of the weapon, and instructors cannot see what a student is doing to the front of the body. This is simply the reason. It is tied in with the fact that any negligent discharge of the weapon, while holstering or unholstering to the appendix position, is likely to result in far greater (life threatening) damage to the student, from the location of the femoral artery at the front of the thigh, not to mention the genital area.
This does not mean that MVT is ‘anti-AIWB.’ Far from it; whatever means of carry works for you, if you can do it competently and safely, please go ahead (outside of class). It has been said that appendix carry is an advanced form of carry, and I would agree in terms of safety and competency requirements, but I don’t agree with it in terms of appendix carriers being inherently ‘more advanced’ or ‘better trained’ than hip carriers. I also hesitate to say that this ruling is because the MVT Active Shooter CCW class is ‘a basic class.’ Well, it is a basic class designed for those with some familiarity with their handgun to progress to be competent concealed carriers with a higher chance of surviving / stopping the threat in an active shooter scenario. However, in the tradition of all MVT classes, we will start with the basics and move forward on a ‘crawl – walk – run’ methodology and take you as far as we can competently get you in two days. Remember, it all comes down to good solid basics anyway.
Now that has been said, in terms of ‘official policy,’ I’ll take a moment to give some of my personal opinion. This is not all embracing, but some thoughts on the matter.
- I do not use ‘thug carry’ i.e. unholstered carry in the belt in the appendix / groin area, as a standard to base my own carry decisions upon.
- I carry concealed all the time. I carry at the 3 o’clock position, Glock 26, in an Alien Gear holster (Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0 IWB Holster-Glock – 26-RH-Standard Nylon Clips), with a double mag pouch on my support side. I only recently got this holster, because I wanted a smaller one after having moved from a Glock 23 holster, which fit the 26 but was unnecessarily long/bulky for it. I love the holster. It is comfortable, sits solidly without shifting, and is remarkably low profile with a great presentation on the handgun.
- I personally do not do appendix carry, although this is not the reason for the MVT policy (which is purely safety). I find that with constant carry, hip carry at the 3 o’clock is comfortable and practical all the time. In the summer, I wear a tucked in t-shirt with an untucked shirt over the belt line. Because I also carry at the 2:30 to 3 o’clock position on my battle belt, it means that in terms of muscle memory, my hand goes to the same place any time I want to go for the handgun.
- There is talk that in certain hand to hand fighting positions, such as being on your back with a mounted assailant, appendix carry would be easier to reach. That may well be true and is a case of weighing up the pros and cons. It is not such a move of the hand between a 1 o’clock and a 3 o’clock position, with the elbow being turned more to the rear for a hip carry draw – and remember, I am not advocating seating the holster back past the hip, at 4 o’clock, but on the hip. It is not a hundred miles between the two positions, 1 and 3 o’clock.
- Alternatively, for more standing situations, if the gun is situated to the front on the center line, it presents it to an attacker to interfere with the draw, if he is close enough. If he is close enough for that, it is a fistfight anyway, or he is trying to take you to the floor. There is an advantage in this situation in being able to block with the support arm, while turning off slightly to create space to draw with the firing hand from the hip. Either way, don’t forget that this is likely to be a hand to hand fight until one of you is able to draw, and if you do draw, better be certain you have justification in using deadly force. The bottom line here is that there are advantages and disadvantages to both, and that you cannot discount the necessity of being able to actually fight, because you might have to do so to get to the gun. If it is on your hip, and you are on your back, you will need to create space to free your strong hand to draw. (Note: not all hand to hand fight situations justify deadly force, and if you are able to stop the threat with lesser force, you avoid potential arrest, expensive court cases etc. That is a risk for your own judgement, situationally based. If I don’t have to shoot someone, I won’t. Flip side: if in doubt, better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6!).
- For situations such as driving, appendix carry is an advantage over hip carry. I find it effective, if my hackles go up, to uncover the concealment garment from the hip carried handgun, facilitating access – the seat belt buckle is also in the way and may go, depending on the situation. If you road rage me and continue to harass, you will not know that my handgun is ready to go. The next step, assuming warning, is to unholster the handgun and tuck it under the thigh. If you road rage me and I am blocked in for some reason, then as I am assessing the situation I am escalating my posture, with the handgun more and more accessible. Remember, at this time, the vehicle is my primary weapon, which I will use to stop the threat and exit the area, unless I cannot for some reason, and have to use the handgun. Here, avoidance is the key, if possible, because if I have my kids in the car, I do not want to be a sitting duck as rounds are incoming. All of the above has to go hand in hand with solid judgement of the appropriate response. Just because someone is shouting at me and waving their arms around, I’m not going to shoot them. I might want to, but I won’t.
- I say all this to say: Outside of class, make your own assessment and decision on how you will carry your concealed handgun. There are some very competent trainers out there with different opinions, some favor appendix, others hip carry. Also remember, that depending on your situation or work dress, you may have to adopt your carry to something else, such as in a briefcase or backpack. Whatever you have to do is better than nothing – it won’t be as quick on the draw, but if you have some warning, you will have a handgun to go to, rather than nothing.
You should also note that we strongly recommend a quality inside or outside the waistband belt holster specifically designed for your handgun. We do not recommend any floppy ‘Uncle Mikes’ or ‘Walmart Specials,’ both for this class and for your normal carry. It is a gear investment into the comfort and practicality of your everyday concealed carry.