What is the best compact pistol for appendix carry?

What is the best compact pistol for appendix carry?

Appendix carry is among the most popular CCW positions. It’s a great way to keep your piece accessible but out of sight. With the right compact pistol, you’ll get to experience all the benefits of appendix carry.

Let’s find the right compact pistol for you!

Quick links:

Walther PDP

Glock 19

Taurus G3C

Sig Sauer P320

S&W Shield EZ

HK VP9

How to choose?

Why is compact size good for AIWB carry?

With the Gunzee holster pad, carry your compact pistol with ultimate comfort.

Walther PDP

Feature

Details

Caliber

9mm Luger

Length

7.5”

Width

1.34”

Height

5.4”

Barrel length

4.0”

Weight

21.4 oz

Price

$699.00


The Walther PDP compact packs 15+1 rounds of 9mm into a polymer-framed pistol. A snag-free profile with melded edges makes concealment a breeze and allows for smooth drawing from appendix holsters without printing.

Striker-fired for a clean break, the PDP features a new Performance Duty Trigger (PDT) that delivers a crisp, predictable break with a shorter reset distance. This enhances trigger control and accuracy, crucial for target shooting and defensive applications.

Front and rear slide serrations plus an extended, reversible mag release enhance manipulation. The ambidextrous slide stop and interchangeable backstraps adapt the ergonomic grip frame to hand size. The pistol's steel frame provides a solid foundation for durability and recoil mitigation.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight at 25 oz (loaded)
  • Ergonomic grip fits most hand sizes well
  • The low bore axis helps mitigate muzzle rise for faster follow-up shots
  • Striker-fired with a nice, clean trigger pull
  • Ambidextrous controls
  • Security features like a firing pin block for safe carry

Cons

  • Lack of manual safety
  • Price is on the higher side for a polymer compact pistol

Glock 19

Glock 19

 

Feature

Details

Caliber

9mm Luger

Length

7.36”

Width

1.26”

Height

5.04”

Barrel length

4.02”

Weight

23.63”

Price

$529.00


The Glock 19 packs 15+1 rounds into a rugged polymer frame. A streamlined 1.18” slide prevents printing when carried in the appendix position. The safe action trigger system dispenses rounds with a consistent 5.5 lb pull, while the lack of external safeties makes it simple to operate under stress.

Sights are basic but effective, while aggressive front and rear slide serrations provide ample grip for manipulation. The grip angle points naturally for most shooters. Interchangeable backstraps allow customization for a tailored fit.

The only manual safety is a trigger blade preventing accidental discharge.

Pros

  • High magazine capacity of 15+1 rounds of 9mm
  • Extremely durable and reliable
  • High availability of accessories and holsters
  • Easy to maintain and customize
  • Excellent ergonomic grip angle for most shooters

Cons

  • Polymer grip lacks aggressive texture
  • A lower bore axis than some compacts leads to more muzzle flip
  • Higher price point than many comparable compact pistols

This user carries his G19 appendix in a leather holster and loves it!

UGC

Taurus G3C

Feature

Details

Caliber

9mm Luger

Length

6.30”

Width

1.2”

Height

5.10”

Barrel length

3.2”

Weight

22 oz

Price

$339.99


The Taurus G3C conceals 12+1 rounds of 9mm in a frame weighing just 22 ounces unloaded. A snag-free profile with rounded edges glides smoothly from appendix holsters without printing. 

The striker-fired trigger provides excellent control with a short, tactile reset for faster follow-up shots. Shooters can tailor fit with reversible magazine releases and ambidextrous manual safeties.

Textured polymer frontstraps and backstraps cling securely to hands of all sizes while remaining snag-free for a smooth, rapid draw. Tenifer finish and stainless barrel construction resist wear, ensuring durability. A fiber optic front sight grabs focus instantly, adjusting windage and elevation through the rear.

Pros

  • Slim single-stack design 
  • Lightweight polymer frame
  • Manual safety 
  • Red dot optic ready 
  • Amazing price

Cons

  • Aggressive stippling can snag clothes
  • Trigger reach may be long for smaller hands

“Most would consider the Taurus G3c to be a concealed carry or self-defense firearm. It works well for AIWB and strongside carry. Its thicker profile makes it easier to conceal at the AIWB position but it can work well for strong too.”  Harrison, Harry’s holsters

Sig Sauer P320 Compact

Sig Sauer p320

Sig Sauer p320. Image source: https://www.sigsauer.com/p320-xcompact.html

Feature

Details

Caliber

9mm Luger

Length

7.2”

Width

1.3”

Height

5.3”

Barrel length

3.9”

Weight

26 oz

Price

$499.00


The Sig P320 Compact consolidates 15+1 rounds of 9mm firepower into a nimble pistol. A refined striker-fired trigger delivers precise control with a clean break and distinct reset. A streamlined 1.3" width and melded edges facilitate smooth appendix carry without printing.

Stippling across front and backstraps cling securely through strings of fire. A 3.9” barrel combines with Sig’s intuitive grip angle for a natural point of aim. XRay3 day/night sights acquire targets quickly thanks to high-viz green posts bookending a precise square notch.

Though streamlined in form, integrated safeties echo full-size function. A striker safety and disconnect prevent discharge without a complete pull and trigger release. 

Pros

  • Smooth contours prevent printing
  • Refined trigger with a clean break
  • Quick takedown without pulling the trigger
  • Excellent ergonomics and balance
  • Reasonable MSRP

Cons

  • Aftermarket parts are less common
  • No mag safety

Smith & Wesson Shield EZ

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 EZ

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 EZ.

Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/m-p-9-shield-ez-no-thumb-safety

Feature

Details

Caliber

9mm

Length

6.7”

Width

1”

Height

5”

Barrel length

3.67”

Weight

18.5”

Price

$449.99


Smith & Wesson's M&P Shield EZ reimagines the compact single-stack, optimizing ergonomics for ease of operation to benefit new shooters and aging hands. An ultralight polymer frame secures 8+1 rounds of 9mm ammo with a second extended magazine adding capacity. Texture frontstraps and backstraps cling securely despite the 18.5-ounce unloaded carry weight.

The marquee feature, a crisp light-racking slide, clears jams or loads rounds without cut or abrasion. Ejection ports angle ejection forward rather than to the side, ideal for cross-body appendix carry positions. An optional manual thumb safety model disengages only when firers intend, which is crucial for appendix zones lacking external holster coverage.

Up front, a three-dot sight array draws the eye quickly to the target, while the 18° grip angle points intuitively to human anatomy.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • A thin 1” width prevents printing
  • Easy slide manipulation
  • Intuitive 18° grip angle
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • A shorter barrel reduces the velocity
  • Small 8+1 capacity with flush mag

HK VP9

Feature

Details

Caliber

9mm

Length

7.34”

Width

1.32”

Height

5.41”

Barrel length

4.09”

Weight

25.56 oz

Price

$749.00


Heckler & Koch VP9’s streamlined profile and snag-free contours disappear under light cover garments.  It features flush-fit magazines with 13+1 capacity

The molded polymer frame adapts to the user's hand size via wraparound grip panels and adjustable backstraps. This tailors trigger reach and hones sight alignment for rapid shots off the draw. Generous front and rear slide serrations provide leeway for malfunction clearing and chamber checks.

The light, rolling 5.4 lb trigger pull contributes to accuracy for decisive defensive shots. VP9 has two automatic internal safeties including a firing pin block to provide confidence while carrying in the appendix position.

Pros

  • Flush-fitting 13-round magazine
  • Ambidextrous slide release
  • Customizable grip panels
  • Low bore axis

Cons

  • Exposed charging supports may snag
  • Higher price compared to other compact pistols

Our high-quality holster padding will work wonders for your AIWB holster. It is so comfortable you will forget it’s even there. Grab yours today!

How to choose the right compact gun for AIWB carry? 

While no "perfect" AIWB concealed carry pistol exists, individuals can evaluate options based on their personal needs and preferences. Important considerations include:

  • Size and weight for comfort and capability
  • Ergonomics that allow efficient access
  • Manual safety preference at the hip line
  • Rounded edges to prevent printing
  • Adequate ammunition capacity
  • Efficient control operation from concealment
  • Features facilitating accuracy and manipulation

In addition to these factors, you should also consider your body size. A smaller-framed individual may prefer a smaller gun, while someone with larger hands may need a pistol with a larger grip.

Why is compact size good for AIWB carry?

Appendix inside-the-waistband (AIWB) carry offers easy access to a well-concealed defensive pistol. Though smaller than full-size options, pistol models with a compact design still offer reliable protection, and their compact dimensions allow for daily carry discretion.

Here are the benefits of AIWB concealed carry compact guns:

  • Comfort. Compact pistols are smaller and lighter than full-size pistols, making them more comfortable to carry concealed. Get our memory foam padding and you won’t have to worry about uncomfortable carry ever again. 
  • Concealment. AIWB carry places the pistol close to the body, so a compact pistol is less likely to be noticed by others. 
  • Accessibility. AIWB carry allows for quick access and easy draw, which is crucial for self-defense. 
  • Balance. Compact pistols offer a good balance of size, weight, and firepower for self-defense. They are small enough to conceal easily but still have enough power to stop an attacker.
  • Versatility. Compact pistols can be used for different purposes, including concealed carry, home defense, and competition shooting. 

There are also some drawbacks to compact size for AIWB carry. One drawback is that compact pistols may have less recoil mitigation than full-size pistols. This can make them more difficult to shoot accurately, especially for shooters with smaller hands. 

Finally, compact pistols may have a shorter barrel and sight radius, which makes them more difficult to shoot accurately.

Compact pistols FAQ

What is the most comfortable appendix carry holster?

The most comfortable appendix carry holster is typically an adjustable KYDEX holster with a wing or claw attachment to help push the grip of the gun into the body. This reduces printing and increases comfort. A foam wedge can also increase comfort by angling the holster for better concealment. 

Some of the top choice brands are 

  1. Vedder
  2. Tier 1 Concealed
  3. Black Arch

Is a Glock safe for appendix carry?

Glocks are very safe options for appendix carry due to their striker-fired operation, lack of external safeties to forget disengaging, and consistent, manageable trigger pull. Their polymer frames help reduce weight compared to all-steel guns.

Which carry method is the best for micro-compact guns?

The best carry method for micro-compact guns is the appendix position. Their tiny size lets them tuck comfortably into the natural stomach cavity up front. The appendix allows fast access and easy concealment while also keeping the gun accessible.

What are the risks of appendix carry?

Risks include increased danger if you have poor trigger discipline, allow clothing to enter the trigger guard area, or use a holster that does not cover the trigger. 

Sitting can push the muzzle into your leg or groin area if poorly positioned. Drawing requires you to consciously keep the muzzle directed safely while clearing clothing. 

What type of holster is most comfortable?

The most comfortable holsters have features such as adjustable retention, sweat guards, foam wedges for optimal positioning, claw and wing attachments to pull the grip inwards, and quality breathable fabrics like leather or KYDEX.

What is the best cant for appendix carry?

The best cant for appendix carry is a 10-20 degree forward rake/muzzle-forward cant. This tilts the grip into your body for concealment while positioning the slide away to prevent abrasion. A minor sideways/FBI cant also helps guide your draw stroke clearing clothing and holster.

What is the most comfortable IWB carry position?

The most comfortable IWB (inside the waistband) carry position is typically the appendix position, 1-2 o’clock position for left-handed shooters, or 4-5 o’clock for right-handed shooters.

The appendix allows you to see the gun at all times and sits in your natural stomach contour, while 4-5 o’clock disperses weight better on the hip bone while still allowing easy access.

What is the best position for appendix carry?

The optimal position for appendix carry is between the 1-2 o’clock area, with the exact location depending on body type and preference. This position utilizes the natural contour of the stomach for concealment. Slightly past 1 o’clock keeps the grip tucked in best while allowing a full firing grip on the draw.

Can big guys appendix carry?

Bigger guys can definitely appendix carry despite their stomach area protruding more. Adjustable holsters, foam wedges to angle the gun, and the use of an untucked cover garment can allow for comfortable appendix carry for big guys without printing issues.

How can I make my appendix carry more comfortable?

Try these things to make appendix carry comfortable.

  • Make sure the weight is evenly distributed in the bag and adjust the straps accordingly.
  • Consider using a padded strap or adding extra padding inside the bag to cushion the pressure on your appendix.
  • Try to minimize the weight of the items you carry in the appendix to reduce strain on your body.

Can you run with appendix carry?

It is possible to run with appendix carry, although it may be more challenging and uncomfortable compared to other carry positions. It is important to ensure that the concealed firearm and holster are securely fastened to prevent any movement or discomfort while running.

Does clothing choice affect AIWB carry?

Your choice of clothing can significantly impact the concealability and comfort of appendix carry. 

Tighter-fitting shirts with elastic fabrics tend to contour better to AIWB holsters, while looser or thicker materials are more prone to printing. Low-rise pants or shorts also facilitate a smooth, uninterrupted drawstroke. 

Further reading

The best CCW holsters for fat guys

The best deep concealment pistol

Are Tenicor holsters any good?

The best single action 9mm

The best concealed carry firearm without manual safety

The best Springfield Hellcat holster

What is the best concealed carry caliber?

What is the best inside the waistband holster?

What is the best concealed carry weapon for seniors?

How do I choose the right concealed carry handgun?