Appendix Carry & Good Holsters

Appendix Carry & Good Holsters
The only place a handgun is really comfortable is in your hand. If you’re going to carry all day, you need a comfortable holster. For example, the Barranti Leather Summer Classic.

Mexican carry can work in a pinch, but a good holster is key to practical and comfortable concealed carry of a handgun.

I sometimes get belittled by so-called “defensive handgun experts” because I’m fond of stuffing my lightweight Browning Hi Power in my waistband without a holster. This is commonly referred to as Mexican—or appendix—carry. I’m often told this is an inherently unsafe practice because the trigger isn’t covered and it doesn’t provide any retention.

Most handguns aren’t configured well for comfortable and secure Mexican carry. The slim and tapered Hi Power, with its wider-than-its-slide grip, might be the most suited to this method of concealed carry. The key to effective Mexican carry is a sturdy form-fitting belt, like this Galco EDC Holster Belt, that holds the gun firmly to your body and covers the trigger and trigger guard.

Well, this is partly true; the only thing that keeps your gun secure is the tension between your belt and your body. This is a variable tension that’s dependent on what activity you’re currently engaged in. As far as the uncovered trigger, if the gun is shoved in behind your belt so that your belt—and pants—are covering the trigger, I’m not sure what’s going to pull that trigger.

Now, maybe you have gremlins roaming around in your underwear, or maybe—like a fool—you plan to, or will accidentally, stick your trigger finger inside your waist band when you intend to draw your handgun. (If your belt is tight enough to hold up your gun, I’m not sure how that’s possible.)

But aside from gremlins or your own stupidity, you should be OK. For what it’s worth, people negligently shoot themselves by accidentally pulling the trigger when drawing from holsters. Also, one of the most common self-inflicted—holster-related—gunshot wounds occurs when inserting a handgun into a holster that covers the trigger.

One of the most comfortable and convenient IWB holsters is the Galco V-Hawk.

Doing It Right

Now, I don’t think holsterless carry is a better option than a good holster. It is, however, sometimes very convenient. I work from home, which is where I spend most of my time. If I’m simply running a quick errand or meeting my wife for lunch, I’ll shove my Hi Power in my waistband and carry on. If I know I’m going to be out and about for longer periods of time, I use a holster. A good holster is more comfortable for extended carry and does provide a higher degree of retention.

Galco’s Royal Guard 2.0 is an excellent, high-quality and comfortable IWB holster that’s offered for many different handguns.

Also—and this is important—a Browning Hi Power, because of its shape and size, lends itself very well to Mexican/waistband/holsterless carry … maybe more so than any other handgun. The Hi Power just seems like it was made to shove in your belt line. Most other defensive handguns, and especially the micro-nines that are so popular today, are just not shaped right for effective holsterless carry.

By Any Other Name

Now, you may be wondering why they call it “Mexican Carry.” Well, as the story goes, in response to Mexican anti-gun laws, they say many Mexicans started carrying without a holster. Should they come into unsuspected contact with the authorities, this allowed them to easily ditch their gun, leaving no evidence of ever being armed. That makes sense, but I’m guessing that practice has been used by all nationalities, for the exact same purpose, ever since handguns became a thing.

The Simply Rugged Cuda holster is a brilliant design that works well for IWB or OWB carry. This one is made of shark skin.

A more accurate description of this carry method is probably just “waistband carry.” Incidentally, during World War II, French resistance fighters often carried guns with what was called the “OSS string holster” for the same reasons. I’ve never seen any evidence that these brave souls—or Mexicans—experienced self-inflicted gunshot wounds at a rate any higher than folks who carry with a holster.

With that little rant and history lesson taken care of, truth be told, I utilize a holster more than not. The key to practical and comfortable concealed carry of a handgun, especially the itty-bitty ones, is a good holster. I’ve tried a bunch of different holsters, and those pictured here are a few I recommend without hesitation.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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  1. This article is giving incredibly bad information. You should never carry without a holster. You are asking for trouble. The holster must allow a complete firing grip to be achieved (thumb can be on hammer or back of slide but better if full grip) WHILE the gun is in the holster. The holster must completely cover the trigger guard. Maybe this article was just to stir up controversy but I am not aware of any reputable instructor recommending Mexican carry as an alternative. Was this published on April 1?

  2. I also work from home but (apparently) the difference between us is that I have a VERY comfortable IWB holster (StealthGear) and I actually wear it and carry every waking minute. No need to stuff it down my pants for a quick errand.

  3. Thank you for addressing this bugaboo that plagues the gun community. Holsterless carry in the waistband has been used successfully by many, despite the pearl clutching response it often brings when discussed in forums. In addition to the advantages you mention, other advantages are: thinner profile (no matter how thin your holster is, it has some thickness that can add to printing), the ability to shift gun position (after long periods the ability to move the gun just an inch or two can lessen discomfort, and a more covert draw is possible when you can peel the gun out without having to do wide motions. The drawbacks are real too, but everyone should give it a try, if only to raise their own awareness of the mode of carry that many of your potential adversaries might be using!

  4. Well, Mister Mann, the soap operas agree with you as I can not ever remember anyone on those soaps using a holster. IMO, crotch carry, appendix carry, or Mexican Carry as you call it, is the most dangerous method of carry, whether with or without a holster. Maybe this piece was all about causing controversy, or getting people to talk, but all I can say is if anything goes wrong, you are a candidate for a gender transition operation. Add to the safety concern, bending, sitting, driving, etc are all a concern. II heard someone say the best way to see if someone is carrying is to leave something on the ground that would make them bend over. The other issue I have is with the philosophy behind it, which is quick draw. In self defense carry, when an attacker already has their weapon drawn, you are not going to outdraw them. Best to get to cover first and draw there.


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