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The appendix carry style is no doubt one of the best, if not the best and most convenient way to carry a pistol for concealed carry purposes.
That being said, it’s very important to properly choose an appendix carry holster that would facilitate this timeless carry style. A quality AIWB holster can greatly affect how you draw your handgun, especially when self-defense is in question.
Finding a well-constructed appendix carry holster is very easy, as you have important names like Concealment Express, Galco, Alien Gear, T-Rex Arms Holsters to back you up on that.
However, in that sea of choices, picking the right one is one of the most annoying shopping stalemates a CCW owner can experience, believe me.
I took a long and hard look at over 30 of the most popular appendix carry holsters, and I managed to boil them down into this definite list for your convenience.
I’ll talk about their main features, what they excel at, where they flop, which gun models they work best for, and present a nifty little buyer’s guide so you can figure out what to look for when shopping for an AIWB Holster.
Let’s check them out.
Best Appendix Carry Holster
Our Top Pick – Concealment Express AIWB Kydex Holster
- Straightforward and lightweight
- Durable Kydex construction
- Adjustable posi-click retention system
- Full-length sweat guard
- Ambidextrous models available
- Adjustable cant and retention
- Best value for a concealed carry holster
- Low-profile for concealed carry
- Concealment Express lifetime warranty
- Plastic belt clip might not be convenient for some
- Ride height isn’t adjustable
I put much thought into this appendix carry list, and I must say that the Concealment Express Appendix IWB Holster is definitely the best value appendix carry holster.
Concealment Express is a solid name in the holster business, and for many reasons. They consistently put out well-made products and holster lines, but their AIWB is well worth anyone’s attention.
The Concealment Express Kydex Holster has an undercut trigger guard for easy and fast drawing, a full-length sweat guard for convenience, and a rear sight shield with beveled edges as well.
It’s built for comfort, draw speed, and longevity, and it’s available for all kinds of handguns. Besides appendix carry, this holster can be worn as a cross draw and hip carry.
The Concealment Express is made of high-quality 0.08-inch Kydex layers and weighs up to 3 ounces, which makes this a great lightweight option too.
The cant is adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees, which is more than enough for most concealed carry users. The holster isn’t adjustable for ride height, but you can adjust the holster’s retention via the posi-lock retention system so you’ll know it’s nice and tight.
The plastic belt clip on the Concealment Express feels cheap, but so are the replacement clips for it. Either way, it’s claw compatible, so I believe that evens things out.
Overall, the Concealment Express Appendix IWB holster is an all-around great appendix carry holster. It offers exceptional features and convenience for its price, not to mention the lifetime warranty.
Runner Up – Alien Gear Appendix Shapeshift Holster
- Very convenient trigger guard
- Alien Gear quality and durability
- Comfortable retention lip on the belt clip
- Audible click on the retention lock system
- Adjustable retention
- Comes with an Alien Gear forever warranty and a 30-day test drive period
- Might be bulky for some
- No adjustable cant or ride height
- A bit pricey
It was very difficult for me to put the Alien Gear Shapeshift Appendix Holster on the runner-up spot on this list, but you can consider it neck-and-neck with the Concealment Express.
Alien Gear themselves call it “the safest and most comfortable AIWB holster ever”, and that’s warranted. The manufacturer focused on designing a comfortable appendix carry holster that puts convenience as a first priority.
It has a breathable perforated neoprene base, a.k.a. “alien skin material”, that conforms to any body type and feels very comfortable on the skin. It also has a trigger guard and a backing cushion. I recommend you use this holster at the 3 o’clock position.
The single mounting point of the Shapeshift makes it flexible and super easy to put on, and it doesn’t print, which makes it a great concealed carry option. Appendix carry backers are usually large when you compare them to slim-line holsters, but not this one.
The Alien Gear Shapeshift has a passive retention system and it doesn’t have an adjustable ride height or cant. That being said, somehow it feels just right, and you can loosen it up by turning the nut on the small coupling pieces for the shell of the backer.
It’s hassle-free, and besides the spinning spring core, you don’t have to use any additional tools like most IWB holsters.
Best Budget Option – We The People IWB Kydex Holster
- The best cost-effective option on this list
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Well-balanced retention; not too tight, not too loose
- Adjustable angle and cant
- Audible ‘click’
- Protective sweat guard
- Suitable for 1911 pistols
- Sturdy and stable belt clip
- Lifetime warranty
- Reported loosening after a year of use
Personally, I am a huge fan of We The People Holsters, not because of the low price, not because I own one for my Glock 19, but because they are a brand that listens to their customers’ feedback.
It’s a pretty simple and straightforward AIWB holster with a thin, lightweight profile and a 1.5-inch belt clip fit. But, what makes it great is the durable, hand-molded Kydex that’s slightly thinner, but more comfortable than your regular Kydex holsters.
The retention is adjustable and the belt clip is repositionable up to 8 positions that allow you lots of carry options. The ride height and cant angle are also adjustable, and I also really like the audible click.
The sweat guard protects your gun from moisture, while the undercut trigger guard offers you a secure positive grip. WTP also offers a separate holster claw that prevents printing as well.
It provides a custom fit for up to 192 handgun models, including those with lights and red dot sights.
Besides appendix carry, I also recommend you try the cross draw carry, strong side, or behind the hip carry position with this holster.
The open end suits all kinds of muzzle devices. It feels very convenient and smooth for concealed carry and I barely notice it while I’m driving.
While I mentioned Glock 19, check out our Gunmade.com article on the discontinuation rumors for the Glock 19X.
Premium Holster (Expensive Option) – Tulster IWB Profile Holster
- High-quality build and accessories
- Audible retention lock system
- Excellent trigger guard
- Durable and suitable for gun sights
- Adjustable retention and cant
- Includes sweat guard
- Durable clip with a soft loop option
- Possibility of magazine ejecting
Here’s a high-end appendix carry holster for you. Tulster don’t mess around when it comes to durability and overall reliability of their holsters with essential features for concealed carry purposes.
The Tulster IWB Profile Holster has a 0.08 Kydex construction with smooth edges and an adjustable cant from 0 to 30 degrees. It’s a great holster for Glock 43 users (not compatible with a Glock 43X) who are looking for a comfortable holster for a 2 o’clock everyday carry.
It’s not specifically made for appendix carry, but it might as well be given its easily adjustable retention with two stainless steel screws and open end for extra comfort when sitting or driving.
The Tulster has a trigger guard, a standard 1.5-inch belt fit, an audible click, and a sweat guard—obligatory features that every holster must have, but doesn’t. The retention feels just right.
Tulster deliberately undercut the trigger guard for a better grip, but this makes it easy for the magazine to fall out.
The additional material between the muzzle and retention screw is removed for a lighter profile and less printing and digging into your body.
If you’re willing to spend more on a holster, go for the Tulster IWB Profile Holster. You’ll quickly learn to appreciate its essential, high-quality features.
Best Lightweight Option – Vedder Holsters LightTuck Appendix IWB Holster
- Highly durable
- 30-degree adjustable cant
- Adjustable retention and ride height
- Suitable for both appendix and cross draw style (forward and reverse)
- Audible click
- Has sweat guard and trigger guard
- Backed by a lifetime warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee
- the holster is a hassle
- Might not clip fully to some belts
For the best lightweight appendix holster, it just has to be the LightTuck Kydex Holster by Vedder Holsters. Vedder is a relatively new company, but they’re making big waves with their holsters for concealed carry purposes.
The LightTuck is designed to be as lightweight as possible, and considering it’s a Kydex holster, expect decent durability and comfort.
It’s perfect for Smith & Wesson Shield owners as an appendix carry, cross draw carry, and the regular 3-5 o’clock carry as well. The belt clip accommodates 1.5-inch belts.
The sweat guard is a great option, especially during the summer heat, and the precise fit and relatively thin holster profile guarantee to fit most gun models.
It’s slim, doesn’t print, has an audible click, and feels comfy when concealed carry or deep carry is in question.
You can adjust the retention, cant, and ride height for zero, forward, and reverse cant. Basically, you can adjust it for the most basic, standard forms. An absolute necessity for any AIWB holster worth its salt.
Additionally, the LightTuck has full sight channels that can fit regular iron sights and can accommodate threaded barrels, suppressor sights, and loaded chamber indicators on your pistol.
Here are some utility options with interesting features if you’re looking for a more specific appendix carry holster.
Best Spare Magazine Holstering Option – Fierce Defender IWB Kydex Holster With Magazine Retention
- Durable 0.08 Kydex build
- CNC-machined construction for unmatched reliability
- Excellent for security and law enforcement units
- Adjustable retention for both the gun and magazine holder
- Flared opening for quicker drawing speed
- Extremely bulky
- Not suitable for concealed carry purposes
- Depending on your magazine end, it can be very uncomfortable when sitting
Want something with a little extra leg-up? Why not try an appendix carry holster with a mag holder?
The Fierce Defender IWB Kydex Holster is an appendix carry holster that offers a separate pouch for your magazine. It’s made of highly durable Kydex, it weighs about 0.6 pounds, and it has extra weight on one side to counter-balance it.
The Fierce Defender makes carrying your heavy double-stack handgun a more than comfortable affair. It doesn’t print and it’s perfect if you have a micro red dot sight like a Holosun on your pistol. I recommend it for Glock 19 users, though it works for other models as well.
The curved design of the Fierce Defender won’t annoy you with sharp edges, and you can easily switch from appendix to a 4 o’clock carry position. It’s also comfortable enough for when you’re driving.
The Fierce Defender holster is secured via two strong, injection-molded plastic belt clips that can be easily removed. It’s suitable for all body types, but if it doesn’t suit your style, you can easily send your order back if you purchased it on Amazon.
It definitely isn’t for concealed carry purposes because of its size, but it’s perhaps the best appendix carry holster that allows you to carry a spare mag.
Left-Handed Alternative – Blackhawk A.R.C. Appendix Carry Holster
- Great for pistols with a red dot sight
- Adjustable retention, height ride, and cant
- Two belt clips (1.5-inch and 1.75-inch)
- Best ambidextrous option
- Trigger guard included
- Feels more comfortable than Kydex
- Passive retention clip with an adjustment screw
- Small and lightweight
- Offers deep concealment
- No sweat guard
- Cant and retention screws can loosen up
Blackhawk are well-known for their affordable holsters with just the right amount of essential parts for comfort and convenience. Their Blackhawk ARC (Appendix Reversible Carry) is one of the most affordable holsters on this list, but its features are more than up to standard.
This appendix carry holster is made of impact-resistant, injection-molded polymer that’s in combination with a comfy, faux-leather surface.
It conceals pretty well, even when deep concealment is in question. Deep concealment is important for extra safety if you have more compact handguns like a Glock 43, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, or a Ruger LCP.
You can adjust the ride height and cant via the two cant and ride height belt clips, and the retention is easily adjusted with a Phillips screwdriver. It takes minutes to install, and you simply attach the belt clip via the single square nut and bolt. The holster can also fit 1.5-inch and 1.75-inch belts.
The Blackhawk ARC can accommodate guns with rear-mounted red dot sights since the back and top of the holsters are open. Sadly, no sweat guard on this holster, and this might be a major downside for some because no-sweat guard holsters can be very uncomfortable.
What I like about this ambidextrous appendix holster the most is that it’s reversible, meaning that it’s suitable for both left and right-hand draw.
Best Leather/Kydex Option – Crossbreed Holsters The Reckoning IWB Holster
- High-quality hybrid combo of leather backing and Kydex surface
- Near-perfect retention
- Can be converted to an OWB holster
- Left-handed model also available
- Lifetime warranty
- Might be expensive for some
CrossBreed holsters are a company that focuses on innovation and always tries out combining different features with different holster models and fits. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the formula down for a classic appendix carry holster.
As stated from their website:
“The Reckoning Holster is the perfect combination of Old-World Craftsmanship meets New-World features.”
The CrossBreed Reckoning IWB Holster is a blend of Kydex durability and top-grain leather comfort that’s designed to fit specific firearms like the Springfield Hellcat, Glock 43, and Ruger LCP.
It’s a top-quality hybrid holster for CCW carry that offers decent ‘Goldilocks’ retention (not too tight, not too loose).
The CrossBreed Reckoning boasts multiple retention points that are easy to adjust and tighten via the screw on the Kydex surface. It also has a retention device for adjustability under the trigger guard.
Besides the appendix carry style, the Reckoning works well if you prefer strong side appendix carry or cross draw. After all, it’s an IWB holster that works as an AIWB.
But, what really sells it is that the holster can also convert to an OWB holster with a little tweaking.
Best Appendix Carry Holster – A Buyer’s Guide
Let’s get one thing straight. It’s very important to figure out how an AIWB carry holster differs with its features from a regular IWB carry holster.
The appendix carry doesn’t exactly fall under the IWB category or the in-between the waistband carry style. It’s different because it’s meant to be carried on the front of your abdomen, while the IWB carry style is usually on your side, more precisely, at the 5 o’clock concealed carry position.
The main advantages of the appendix carry style is that it’s an effective and convenient way to conceal your firearm.
Depending on your preferred style, it also offers a slightly faster draw rate than your regular IWB carry. Moreover, it can be very comfortable if you’re built slim and you’re driving around a lot.
There are many different types of concealed carry and open carry holsters, including:
- IWB holsters (inside the waistband)
- OWB holsters (outside the waistband)
- Appendix IWB carry holsters
- Pocket holsters
- Shoulder holsters
- Belly band holsters
- Ankle holsters
The thing is, appendix carry isn’t exactly for everyone, especially if you’re on the bulkier side of life. This carry style really does require practice and thought.
The reason why the appendix carry style isn’t popular is that, in its regular position, it’s pointed at your private area. God forbid you purchase a holster with a poor-quality trigger guard that snags.
That’s where this buyer’s guide comes in handy.
What to Look For in Appendix Carry Holsters
Finding a suitable holster for you depends entirely on your preference. There’s no universal formula for everyone, but here are four crucial things you need to worry about:
By ‘durability’, I mean the longevity of the holster. This is a simple explanation, but let’s check out the details of what to exactly look for in an appendix carry holster.
When you think of holster material, you need to consider three main types: Kydex, leather, and nylon.
I’ve never been a fan of nylon and I haven’t come across a quality one, so I recommend you stick to either Kydex or leather.
Kydex holsters are the popular material for holsters nowadays. It’s an innovative and versatile holster material that uses special thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride.
It’s practically built for custom-molding certain handgun models, especially if we’re talking about handguns with a red dot sight or optics.
When compared to leather, Kydex is more durable, waterproof, easy to clean, and doesn’t need maintenance.
The downside is that a Kydex holster isn’t as comfortable as a leather holster, and it can scratch your handgun’s finish.
Leather holsters are the cowboy’s preference. They’re arguably more comfortable than Kydex, offer a more silent draw, and break in more easily than Kydex.
While leather holsters are far more aesthetically pleasing than the modern Kydex, they require extra care with special leather-care creams and lotions for their surface to prevent it from degrading over time
Additionally, they can also be really sticky in humid and warm climates.
I suggest that you wash your leather with warm water and glycerine soap once every 3-4 months, and you’ll be fine.
Appendix Carry Retention
Holster retention means the strength of how the holster holds your firearm nice and tight. The purpose of a holster is not just to hold your handgun, but also to make sure it stays put.
There are two types of retention:
- Active retention; which uses an active mechanism like a strap or thumb breaks on leather holsters that keeps your gun in place. They are a lot safer than passive retention holsters. However, they’re slower, and it’s a hassle to unbutton the straps just to retrieve your handgun.
- Passive retention; which accommodates your handgun and relies on friction to keep it tight. This is the old-school retention system with a faster draw speed, but it loosens up over time, depending on whether it’s Kydex or leather. That’s why they make them with retention adjustment screws.
Remember that drawing speed, convenience, and durability are very important, and these criteria go hand-in-hand with retention, but safety is—above all—your number one priority.
Essential Features of an Appendix Carry Holster
A sturdy appendix carry holster might be durable, but it can scratch and rub the finish off your handgun.
This is more for the ‘material’ department, but you need to consider what the holster’s features offer for your convenience. Some folks really like the Fierce Defender IWB Kydex Holster because they need a separate pouch for their magazines.
Besides durable claws and belt loops that aren’t plastic, you need to make sure your holster has a nice and sturdy sweat guard.
When sweltering heat happens, you’ll wish your holster had a sweat guard. Believe me.
A holster with an audible click is a nice touch as well. You also need to make sure that the trigger guard is covered to prevent accidental discharges.
Holsters that offer deep concealment are also a good idea if you value safety over draw speed.
If you really want to use AIWB carry holsters, ask yourself if you really want to go for this effective, yet dangerous carry style.
Keep in mind that this carry style can be very uncomfortable if you’re on the broader side, and if that’s the case, I would definitely recommend you go for an IWB holster, but you can also try different holster positions as well.
For a do-it-all appendix carry holster, I would definitely recommend you try the Concealment Express AIWB Kydex Holster or the We The People IWB Kydex Holster, simply because their edges are beveled for comfort and they’re pretty much no-nonsense, straightforward holsters.
Still, it’s a very personal decision, and some concealed carry holsters might need some breaking in. I strongly believe in “try it before you buy it,” and this rings true, especially when holsters are in question.
Once you convince yourself that AIWB is the way to go, visit your local gun shop, ask for appendix holster brands that you can try, and then decide whether or not it’s for you.
Stay safe and shoot straight.