A Guide To CCW Positions
There are a number of CCW positions, or the spots on the body where one carries a handgun. There are a few classic positions for concealed carry and they've stayed popular for good reason. Each has benefits and drawbacks and every person's shape is different, so the one that will work best for each individual is something they'll have to discover on their own.
One will have to experiment to find the balance of concealment and comfort when concealed carrying.
Waistband Concealed Carry: On The Hip
The classic carry position is on the hip. It's kind of a default and for good reason: it's easy and it works.
Obviously, the on the hip position puts gun and holster directly on, forward or rearward of the hip. Often, people will refer to the carry position by clock position; directly on the hip is 3 o'clock, between that and the kidneys is 4 o'clock, kidney carry is the 5 o'clock position and the 2 o'clock position is forward of the hip.
The uber-classic among them is the 3 o'clock position. It's the most natural and very easily concealed, especially when carrying with IWB holsters or high-riding OWB holsters. Granted, it's also very popular for open carry as well. Intuitively, it's very easy to carry a gun in that position and train with it.
However, the grip will more easily print at this position, especially when one sits or bends over. Employing a steeper forward cant - say the FBI cant of around 15 to 20 degrees - can mitigate this effect.
Some will find carrying rearward of the 3 o'clock position - say in the 4 o'clock to 5 o'clock (aka kidney carry) position - more comfortable. (This can especially true of those who have a little more of them to love.) Concealability can get a little more complex as well; pistols with long grips print very easily. Steep forward canting of a holster can, just as in the 3 o'clock position, mitigate that effect. Drawing while sitting is difficult with a straight drop, but easier with forward cant.
Sitting with a gun carried in an IWB holster can be less comfortable for those carrying behind the 3 o'clock position, as one can easily sit on their gun carrying in this manner. Drawing while sitting is problematic at best.
Appendix carry is where the pistol is carried on the front of the waistband. Where in this area a person wishes to carry is up to them; some prefer closer to the pocket and others prefer to move it further inward. Some also prefer to appendix carry on the weak side for a cross-draw.
Appendix carry has become somewhat more in fashion in recent years as more holster companies have begun making purpose-built holsters for it. Not everyone is a fan, though. One of the disadvantages is the danger posed by an accidental discharge; the muzzle is pointed at the upper thigh region. Not only is there a danger posed to certain areas that are very sensitive, there is also the chance of wounding the femoral arteries, which can very easily be fatal.
That said, the risk can be drastically mitigated if not obviated entirely by proper handling and employing a holster with sufficient trigger guard coverage.
Despite the above factors making some avoid using an AIWB holster for everyday carry, there are some tangible benefits to the concealed carrier. Appendix carry is one of the best concealment methods; a pistol is often undetectable in anything other than skin-tight clothing.
Additionally, when a concealed carrier draws a pistol, the movement of the elbow can disclose that a pistol is being drawn - except when drawing from the appendix position.
However, appendix carry is not very comfortable for people that have a bit more about the midsection. A gun can easily dig into the flesh, even with a decent sweat guard.
Drawing from a sitting position is also difficult, unless a person happens to wear pants or shorts close to the belly button.
Small Of The Back Carry
The small of the back position, often called the 6 o'clock position, is another wildly popular concealed carry position. It conceals very easily, especially if carried in an IWB holster. However, sitting can get awkward, as one can easily wind up sitting on one's gun. Drawing from sitting can be very difficult indeed, in that instance.
However, this can be gotten around by using a holster with adjustable ride height. Setting such a holster (kind of like an inside the waistband holster) to a more generous ride height can counter this effect.
There are also a number of OWB holsters for small of the back carry, many of which are highly concealable. Some will cant a pistol aggressively for this position, almost to where the slide (or barrel, if a revolver) is parallel to the ground.
Drawing can be slightly more problematic, as drawing from the small of the back may be awkward for some people. A good deal of people will holster a back-up gun in this position, with one's main handgun on the hip. However, a lot of carriers carry at the small of the back for deeper concealment.
These are the most popular of the carry positions. Ankle and shoulder carry also have their devotees, though each presents their own challenges - ankle guns are difficult to get to quickly and many consider shoulder holsters uncomfortable. Also, shoulder holsters are less easily concealed as outerwear is required, without much exception. Ankle holsters likewise can only carry small guns, which is why most people who ankle carry typically holster their backup gun there.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..