Two months ago, My Life As a Concealed Carry Citizen changed forever. I’m now carrying in an appendix-in-waist-band (AIWB) position. At the risk of sounding evangelistic, AIWB carry in general and the Dale Fricke Archangel holster in particular have improved my ability to carry a gun in concealment and comfort. I’m now carrying a larger weapon, more regularly, for more of the day, more comfortably than ever before. I have found my preferred carry system . . .
I started carrying a gun regularly a year or so ago. Like the legions of concealed carry license holders before me, I’ve gone through many holsters trying to find that elusive combination of fit, comfort, convenience and concealment.
In the process I tried an AIWB position with a Blade-Tech Ultimate Concealment Holster. I didn’t like it. Not one bit. The B-TUCH dug into my flesh in many unpleasant ways and I felt it did not conceal well.
Fast forward a couple months. I decided to give AIWB another chance using the Dale Fricke Archangel holster—a rig specifically designed for this mode of carry.
The Archangel holster is well constructed with thick and durable Kydex. There are no sharp edges. I loved the pull the dot system; I could add or remove the holster without removing my belt. The two loop system is secure. The holster comes with three sets of loops for various belt sizes. The holster secures the gun nicely until it is drawn.
The retention is adjustable, but I never touched my adjustment screws. This is not a retention holster. When the gun is grabbed, the pistol will come out. However, activities short of actually grabbing the gun and pulling it out [see: below] didn’t dislodge the weapon from the holster. And the holster showed no appreciable wear after a couple months.
The complete lack of chafing and poking pain allowed me to focus on the benefits of AIWB carry:
-Less elbow and shoulder articulation required to reach the weapon.
-With the weapon in front of me, I know whose eyes are on the gun. I feel it is safer from a gun grab.
-In church or theaters where everyone is facing one way, I know no one is looking at the lump in my back and wondering if it is a gun.
-Draws faster than 4:30 carry without a doubt.
-Allows for easy drawing from a seated position or in a vehicle.
-Allows for a casual, slow, stealthy draw. From behind, an assailant would possibly not even see you draw, and the motion of your shoulders would not give it away.
-I have heard it said it makes the gun easier to retain and access in a hand to hand situation, but I have not tested this myself.
I lead an active life. Equipped with the Dale Fricke Archangel AIWB Holster, I’ve contorted myself into about every possible position. I have rock climbed (OK clambered), hiked, ridden bikes, cleaned the house, chased the kids around a plastic play-land type obstacle course, worked on the car, etc. without incident. I have no concerns about its safety.
I wore the holster daily to work both seated and standing with minimal comfort issues. The barrel of the pistol rides in the crease of the leg/pelvis when seated. I wore it in the car with minimal discomfort. When driving, the lap portion of the seat belt goes across the belt line in its usual position and across the barrel area of the gun. The shoulder portion either goes across the butt of the gun, or above it. Access in a car is simply a matter of lifting the cover garment which also pulls up the seat belt.
That said, I have some concern about the gun pressing into my abdomen in case of an accident. I found a couple cases of persons carrying in this way who were in accidents and remained un-injured. The fact is, I don’t know what would happen. I imagine one would be sore from a hunk of metal being pressed into the gut, but can’t imagine the pistol firing or that the damage would be any worse than a typical seat belt injury.
Initially I had my concerns about concealment because when I look straight down at my abdomen, I can certainly see the bulge:
In practice this has turned out to be a non-issue. No one notices the lump and or bulge. If they do, it looks like a phone or PDA. If I am concerned about printing, I can shield, the gun if I have anything in my hand: cup of coffee, clip board or the like. It is also a simple measure to keep one’s arm draped in front of the butt of the pistol. If I am standing around, I stand in a “Secret Service” type position with arms crossed. One hand can even be casually grasping the lower edge of the cover garment, ready to go in an instant while the other arm shields view of the weapon. I like that I can keep my elbow/forearm on the butt of the weapon in crowds.
In the course of this review, my usual carry Glock 19 went off line and needed some small parts replaced. While awaiting replacement, I swapped to my Glock 17. Lo and behold I found myself comfortably carrying the larger gun without much difficulty, and have done so for the last few weeks.
I have successfully concealed the gun in this position from my office staff, patients and hoplophobic wife. Hugs can occur—so long as I am offset a little to the right. The only time I was ever “made” was when one of the kids, whose head is about waist high, ran to sneak attack me with a hug and rang his bell on the chunk of metal on the waistband. God knows what he made of that . . .
AIWB carry has another, far more significant downside: the possibility of shooting oneself during a transition.
While shooting oneself always sucks, there are places where bullet wounds are eminently survivable (e.g., the buttocks). The femoral artery is not one of them. By the same token, you really need to pay attention when shooting one’s testicle or penis off is the best case scenario.
The solution is simple. Don’t. I’ve performed several thousand dry and live draws from from the Fricke Holster. I practiced many quick-as-you-can dry draws and re-holsters just to see if I would/could hit the trigger. It never happened, not once, not even close. It is not an issue, for the holster anyway. You are in charge of your finger.
[Note: I always recommend a slow, deliberate, sighted re-holstering. Fast re-holstering is useless and stupid. AIWB allows me to see the holster clearly without requiring me to turn around and trying to see a holster behind my back a bit.]
And one caveat: Dale Fricke Archangel AIWB Holster method of carry pretty much requires that one’s waist is smaller than one’s chest. If you have a gut you can pretty much forget it—which no doubt explains the lack of popularity for this carry style amongst OFWG’s. I am pretty skinny and chest challenged. I’m just barely pulling it off.
I paid for the holster with my own shekels. Unlike the rigs in the [usual] drawer full of failed holster options, this one’s a keeper.
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Comfort * * * *
All day comfort in many positions. This is as good as it gets for me. Only going without a pistol is five stars.
Retention * * *
This is not a retention holster, but will hold the gun for almost any activity without losing it. Retention is adjustable from loose to tight via two screws.
Ease of Draw * * * *
Amazingly fast and easy draw. Full combat grip available prior to draw. No contortions required in AIWB position.
Concealability * * * *
Depends on your body type. Big bellies will have more difficulty concealing.
Overall * * * *
I love this method of carry and I love this holster and recommend them both. I can not see myself moving to another method of carry. The only thing lacking is the ability to tuck. Just take care not to shoot your nuts off.