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  • Red Nichols, Holstorian

Post 19: That ain't AIWB!

Updated: May 14

I took a sort of 'leave' from the gunleather industry when I moved to Australia in 2000 to work with a maker here; and then, for lack of the legal ability to have even the gun molds in the State that I lived in at the time, returned to it in 2010 by changing States where I could have them.

In that time some monumentally stupid practices, unheard of in the 20th century, had become standard! I'm thinking now of what it loosely referred to as appendix carry and while I was struggling with the shift while on forums I finally worked it out: we all were speaking of different things. See above (and wait until you meet my Poster Girl of Stupid Carry)!

This is less a discussion of anatomy (where is my appendix) and more a discussion of holstory (what is appendix carry). My first clash over the matter was with Tony Kanaley who then was heading up Milt Sparks Holsters after taking it over from Milt and then continuing after Milt's death. In that same period the brand, credit to Milt and Tony, had become the benchmark for fine gunleather. Bit of a shock, though, to see the long list of innovations that he had come to claim for him and for Milt, that were accomplished by others!

This clash on a forum was about appendix carry. Or what was being called appendix carry in the thread. My comment was, "I see dead people . . . " because I expected they were speaking of actually wearing the pistol over the appendix. Tony's response: oh, yeah, none other than the great Bruce Nelson wore it that way!!

But . . . he didn't. THAT'S not appendix carry -- he didn't carry with his pistol over his appendix, nor did ANY gunman on the street (he was a narcotics officer for the State of California, where we're both from)(we were contemporaries and both were graduates from the Bianchi Holsters 'academy', as was Gordon Davis) in his or any prior era. Bruce himself called his method 'forward of hip carry' and in modern lingo that is at 2:00 around the waistline AND with the pistol in positive caster (rear sight ahead of the front sight). In that carry Bruce could not ever muzzle himself. Because WHY would an experienced gunman -- he tells the story in one of his articles of being grabbed from behind by a suspect in custody in his car, and shooting the suspect over his shoulder) -- carry in ANY manner that would muzzle him? This from Jeff Cooper:

The misunderstanding is entirely Jeff Cooper's fault. Before the 'clocking' system of verbally communicating body position came to popularity, he was using body part nomenclature to indicate position around the waistline. One can imagine it being done on the phone, or in one of his many magazine articles but without always having the right photograph to communicate the position. He used the terms appendix, spleen, and the left and right kidney positions to approximate the positions. Today we would call those, respectively, 2:00, 10:00, 4:00, and 8:00.

From there people got the impression, it seems, that he was speaking of wearing the pistol directly over those spots; but have a close look at, for example, where the spleen is. Jeff is not ever pictured wearing a pistol on top of his spleen. Instead he meant 'in that general vicinity and as opposed to some very different position'.

Yes, in the 21st century there are LOTS of examples of the brain dead wearing their street guns over their appendix and muzzling their thighs and their gonads in the process. "But it's not pointed at my 'package', it will be missed completely!" Ever seen or felt a flame ball? C'mon. Brain dead. Take all the warning labels off and God will sort it all out, right? THIS kind of carry came, not from the street, but from the pistol ranges in a long, slow evolution from leatherslaps to IPSC to whatever the hijack of that is called today (even Cooper resigned from IPSC). On pistol ranges the environment is so controlled that the pistol is not even loaded while it's being carried; it's only loaded after the shooter is on the line and the line officer gives the command to load. At the end of the string the command is given to unload. But this is the opposite of street carry, where being loaded and NOT being fired is the norm; and therefore exposing the shooter at every_single_moment.

That was compounded by the rise of the safetyless (my spellchecker says I made up a new word) striker-fired pistols. When I was actually paying attention there was only the Glock; but when I returned my focus to gunleather the striker pistol had not only proliferated among pistol makers but also had no safeties -- and now dominated the LEO markeplace. Including, of course, for off-duty use (here in Australia their officers are not permitted to carry their weapons unless on duty; nor are they required to enforce the law when off duty) and for plain-clothes use such as Federal agents. Safariland now doesn't even bother to build its off duty holsters with enough positive caster to carry a Glock at 4:00; apparently they expect the pistol will be carried at 2:00. Without actually so instructing buyers.

So: if one wants to carry a classic pistol such as Bruce's Commander, in .45 ACP caliber and the muzzle to the rear at 2:00, you have 'our' (his and my) blessing. Just don't call that appendix; call it 2:00 carry. If you want to carry the pistol over your belly, which is any position between 1:00 and 11:00, you have my permission to call that 'appendix carry' -- and also to call a priest. "There is nobody posting about shooting themselves while carrying true appendix". Nope, the dead can't post. I've many a story told to me of seeing an LEO partner bleed out after blowing out the thigh. And I know a chap to this day who has only one testicle from shooting off the other one on a pistol range while drawing his pistol with it 'round there.

Let's just call this, 'stupid carry' and be done with it. If it makes you happy, call it 'range carry'. Better yet, just don't do it. Nelson did not give you his implied permission just because Cooper couldn't come up with a better frame of reference that he did. Or Sparks needs the sales.


Oh yes, I promised you a Poster Girl for Stupid Carry. Her post even speaks of 'playing makeup' with a girlfriend. "Take all the warning labels off . . . ". And somebody did!!


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