Appendix Carry for Big Guys – Abdominal Fat Distribution

By Jon Hauptman

Abdominal fat distribution relative to pistol placement and concealment:

I see a lot of bigger guys struggle with appendix carry pistol placement when trying to accomplish comfort and concealment. I’ve made this abstract, generalized model to help explain what’s going on, and how to solve it.

It’s very common for excess male abdominal fat to take a kind of pronounced rounded trapezoid shape, where the center section projects outward (this occurs to a greater or lesser degree depending on each body). And this center section grows outward further and faster than most bodies grow sideways.

The abdominal fat deposit generally drops off sharply at the pelvis. This sudden taper winds up pushing belt lines lower, with the belt landing just above the groin, instead of an inch or so below the navel.

Fig 1: Here’s how most people start out.

Figure 1 depicts a common first attempt at pistol placement: front and center and relatively low on the abdomen. Since this is roughly at the “peak” where the abdomen projects, a cover garment will be at its tightest there, with the least amount of space between the garment and body. Also, the muzzle winds up being past the peak, where the abdomen begins to descent into the pelvis and groin, and the abdomen will tip the gun outward.

Fig 2: How most people attempt to correct the problem.

Figure 2 depicts a common second attempt: “I’ll try carrying lower.” Or “My belt is this low, so that’s where the gun has to go.” This causes the pistol to conform to the inward slope of the lower abdomen, with a pronounced inward muzzle plunge. This creates a significant muzzle hotspot, decreased pistol access, and frequently unsafe re-holstering, as well as little if any reduction in printing. This is also where complaints of discomfort related to sitting and bending come from. Users attempting to add a muzzle wedge to their holster will also be frequently frustrated, since the size of the wedge will be significant and is often in conflict with the abdomen counteracting the wedge and increasing the sensation of discomfort.

Fig 3: A step in the right direction, but not quite far enough.

Figure 3 depicts a common step in the right direction, although it’s incomplete. In this position, the pistol rides a less than ideal abdominal curve, but it could be mitigated with the correct wedge shape and size, if it’s not possible to raise the pants or belt ride height beyond this point.

Fig 4: Successful pistol placement for AIWB with a gut.

Figure 4 illustrates what winds up being the optimal pistol placement for males with this typical abdominal fat distribution. At the correct ride height, there’s generally enough clothing gap on the side plane of the belly, the pistol is not riding the sharp descending slope of the abdomen into the groin, and it’s not in conflict with the leg articulation. From here, a smaller wedge is required to fine tune concealment, since more of the gun is already parallel to more of the body.

These models are exaggerated for illustration purposes and might not match your body or pistol size exactly, but it’s a general snapshot of a lot of the kinds of AIWB troubleshooting (and ultimate successes) we’ve worked through in the PHLster Concealment Workshop over the past year, and the guidelines and principles are broadly applicable.

Do you need extra holster length?*

*If you’re carrying a longer-muzzled gun or a revolver, adding extra holster length may not be necessary for you, but for short semiautomatic guns, it’s often helpful.

Guns with short muzzles can be top-heavy and difficult to conceal comfortably. To solve this, some holsters have extra length added to the muzzle end. Like the keel on a boat, the extra muzzle length helps balance the holster, making it more comfortable and easier to conceal. This is especially true if you have a bit of a belly, which tends to push the grip out more and make the muzzle dig in.

Note that while extra muzzle length reduces grip printing, it can increase muzzle printing, which can be a concern with lower carry positions and tight fitting pants such as leggings or yoga pants. 

Learn more about the Keel Principle here.