Tonight’s post is a bit of both a history lesson and a bit of a rant on one of those esoteric topics I love deep diving into. Between some stuff I have seen on social media the last few months and a valid question that came up today, I felt the time was right. So tonight’s topic is a look into appendix carry for deep concealment work.
I’ll just start with making a bunch of folks angry so they can move on to YouTube videos. Carrying a handgun in the front of the body at somewhere between about 11:00 and 2:30 (for right handed folks) is not new, it wasn’t invented recently, and it is not cutting edge. It is simply something that has sort of recycled like many things in the world of firearms do, and has been helped by some advances in holster ideas and products focused on this mode of carry.
The Buccaneer picture above should dispel the idea that appendix carry is a new thing. Due to an early shoulder injury that was not fixed my rookie year as a cop, I have primarily been carrying my concealed firearms this way since 1988. Let’s take a look at this from the perspective of appendix carry evolution through the last 50 years.
In the heyday of double action revolvers, this was a popular way to carry a small revolver particularly for police officers in plainclothes. It timed well with fashion trends where the constant wearing of suits and more formal clothing was changing. Jeans and t-shirts or pull over type shirts allowed for alternate carry methodology.
Often revolvers were simply shoved down the front of the pants. When secured with a belt, it “worked” but was not a good idea and many people learned the hard way about the drawbacks of what was commonly called “Mexican Carry”. It is used often to this day by many criminals for the reason it may have gotten its name. In places where it is illegal to carry a firearm (like Mexico or in many cities in the United States), or when criminals are illegally carrying firearms, it is really hard to deny you were carrying the recently discarded firearm when you are wearing an empty holster for it.
This did lead to some efficient carry options that became very popular with undercover officers working narcotics or other assignments that required being immersed in criminal culture. One invention was the Barami Hip Grip. This was a set of grips or a single side grip that has a protrusion at the top of the grip that is hooked over the pants to prevent the revolver from sliding down your pants.
I have posted a picture of my “truck gun” that is set up just like a 70-80’s dope cops gun. A S&W K frame Model 12 2” barreled revolver with a clip grip, t-grip and rubber bands. It needs no holster and can be used in anything from sweat pants, board shorts to jeans with no belt. It can also be dropped in a rear pocket but they are normal used placing the gun inside the waistband right above the crease of the leg. It lays the revolver down with just the grip above the belt line and the cylinder below the belt line.
The T-grip helps to establish a good grip by filling in the sinus area of the revolver and the rubber bands help stabilize it. This is actually a very solid carry method for those who need a system that can be quickly just shoved into the pants without a holster or belt. With a double action trigger and a hammer either on a DA revolver or DA/SA semi automatic pistol, this type of carry is viable without the safety issues of a striker fired pistol.
On a historical note, it was critical for many of these folks using these systems to not get “made” as a police officer. Like life and death critical. A big tell dope cops would avoid was wearing a belt, as this was one means that criminals would “make a cop” in that era. The other option was thin holsters with a belt clip. This often were terrible because the clips were not strong enough to hold the pants on the draw. Holsters coming out with the gun was not uncommon.
A good example of this style is a holster used by Pat Rogers with his two inch model 36. It cost 7 dollars and was custom made to carry the small revolver deep below the the belt line and was worn behind the dump pouches on Pat’s uniform duty belt. The same rig also worked for him off duty and working in plain clothes to deep conceal the firearm by eliminating the bulge of the grip that is accentuated the further above the belt line it rides. I used a nearly identical set up a decade later and 3000 miles away to carry a 3” Model 13 revolver behind my speed loader pouches in uniform and off duty to carry it under a t-shirt in jeans or jean shorts that were my normal dress.
I used a light nylon belt and an Eagle Nylon inside the waistband holster with a single loop. The leather versions of these holsters like the Bruce Nelson and later Milt Sparks Summer Specials used to have a single loop that swiveled. When carried in the front of the body instead of the more common FBI carry behind the hip, the muzzle would cant forward and the butt of the pistol would lay along the belt line very low. The goal was concealment versus an efficient grip and the draw was accomplished by using the thumb and inside base of the index finger to pinch the gun to start the draw and the grip finished as it cleared the holster enough to close the fingers around the grip.