Safariland Species holster: Appendix and Strongside Carry for CCW

There is a wave of people turning to CCW carry as an additional measure of safety and self-defense. Within that CCW world is an overwhelming number of firearms, holsters, lights, optics, and tactics. I’ve always felt the best firearm for self-defense is the closest to a full-size as you can reasonably conceal. For me, this means different sizes of guns at different times of the year. In cold weather, I can carry a larger gun than I can in the summer.

Shooting the Kimber Rapdie 1911.
The Kimber Rapide 1911 is a perfect size gun for CCW. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
When I’m rocking my dadbod at the lake, I can’t conceal a full-size 1911 pistol with shorts and a tank top. I often prefer an OWB holster during the winter months because my jacket and coat will easily hide it. That leaves me with IWB holsters for the summer months when I need maximum concealability. Safariland is primarily known for military/duty holsters, but they also offer a wide selection of IWB holsters, and the Species holsters are among my favorites.

But even with an IWB (inside-the-waistband) holster, there are multiple carry options. There isn’t a right or wrong carry method (within reason), and some methods work better for some people than others. The two carry methods I use the most are strongside carry and appendix carry. We will talk about both of those carry methods right after I go over the Safariland Species holster.

Safariland Species Holster

Because Safariland is primarily a maker of military and police holsters, it emphasizes quality. What stands out about its holsters is their security and durability. I’ve worn them for years on duty and have seen firsthand how well they hold up, and I even use them for my CCW needs as well.

Safariland Species holster.
Ruger Max-9 with the Safariland Species holster. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The Species holster is constructed from SafariLaminate, an extremely strong thermal-molded polymer. It has a suede lining to help protect the gun and works with multiple optic sizes, including the Romeo Zero, RMR CC, Shield RMS and RMSc, Swampfox Sentinel, and more. I have a Ruger Max-9, a great medium-size gun for daily carry. It fits in the holster perfectly and has a passive trigger guard retention to help keep the gun in place.

The belt clip works with belts up to 1.5 inches wide and can be rotated to accommodate different angles of carry. This holster is affordable and arguably one of the best qualities on the market. Retail for the Species holster starts at $37.99.

Strongside IWB carry

For years, this was the carry method I used for CCW because it was the closest to the duty carry position. It feels normal to reach to my side for a firearm on duty because I train with it so much. I want my CCW weapon to be as close to this position as possible for muscle memory. Strongside carry is one of the most common methods of carrying a firearm, regardless of whether it is an OWB or IWB method. Another style is small of the back, but it’s not as common as strongside and appendix. Having the gun right on your side is not as concealable as other methods, but it’s more natural.

Strongside carry for CCW.
Strongside carry is a common method for IWB and OWB carry. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
As I mentioned before, one benefit of this carry method is muscle memory. If you wear an OWB holster on your side, this keeps the gun in the same general area you are used to. If you carry a full-size handgun for CCW, this is often the easiest way to conceal it. How comfortable this method is will depend on the person. Your overall size, weight, body shape, etc., play a role in what works for you. I know of some people who don’t carry a gun this way because it hurts their back. Others won’t carry it any other way.

If you have multiple layers of clothing on, it takes a lot of practice drawing from this position. The clothing needs to be pulled aside while you draw. This means you need to be able to reach around with your support hand and pull your clothes out of the way. Another method is to use your thumb on your gun hand and push your shirt up over the gun as you reach for it.

Appendix IWB carry

I didn’t even try appendix carry for years because it felt a little sketchy to me. When carrying off-side, there isn’t a lot of your body that can get in the way if it goes off. With appendix carry, the muzzle of your gun is often pointing at the inside of your thigh when seated. Coming from law enforcement, this is also where many untrained criminals like to stick their guns. There is a big difference, however, between carrying a gun in a quality holster and sticking it in the front of your pants.

Appendix carry for CCW.
Appendix carry allows the person to draw their firearm faster than other carry methods. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Appendix carry is achieved by placing the gun just in front of your hip, just above your pants pocket. While it feels awkward at first, this is an extremely comfortable way to carry. It also provides a faster draw than off-side because it’s within closer reach. Moving the clothing out of the way is faster, and the distance from drawing to pointing is also quicker. Even though I’m used to strongside carry, I’ve been using the appendix carry method more and more.

Most modern handguns are reliable and have various types of safeties to prevent the gun from going off unintentionally. Guns with shorter barrels work best with this method of carry. In the past, I’ve carried an M&P Shield, Kimber Micro 9, Ruger Max-9, and other compact guns without issue. If you are used to carrying a firearm on your side, it does take some training to develop that muscle memory. During an incident, you don’t want to reach to your side for a gun that’s in the front.

Which method is best for you?

After carrying both ways for some time, I’ve started to be fond of appendix carry for CCW and off-side carry for OWB holsters. One isn’t better than the other; they are just different. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages that each person will need to consider. If you’re not sure which method to use, try both for a while and see which one is more comfortable. Just remember to do some training on the range with any holster and carry position you choose.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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