Behind hip carry
Behind hip carry: AKA, strong side 3 o'clock hip carry's cousin for those who want more comfort at the expense of more printing and possibly interacting with uppity Karens.
First, as has become my custom, I must explain what behind hip carry is. Behind hip carry is a waistline carry position, usually inside the waistband, in which the gun and holster are positioned between 3:30 and 5:00 (for a right handed user, mirrored for left-handed), usually settling near the 4 o'clock carry position. The maximal rearward point is dependent on the person's spine, because if the gun contacts any part of their spine with any part of the gun, then that falls into the SOB category, due to the complications involved. Simply put, for most people with oval-shaped waists/hips, behind hip carry places the gun beyond the vertex point of the oval (the 3 o'clock position) but well before the co-vertex that would be your spine. Behind hip is a mildly disadvantageous carry position, but it remains popular primarily due to comfort while standing.
Advantages And Disadvantages
The advantages to behind hip carry are pretty straight forward:
- Comfort while standing. Many people will judge a carry position's comfort based on a quick assessment when they put the holster on while standing in front of a mirror, and this is an area where behind hip really shines, hence its popularity. The gun isn't on your bony hip nor on your bony spine, rather it's at a comparatively flat (less curved) part of your body. The flatter area aids in concealment, especially when you're twisting your torso to look behind you into a mirror, which creates folds in the fabric of your shirt that make the gun print less and look better concealed than it would normally be.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Appendix carry likewise offers a flat area for carrying, but that frontal carry position provides a constant reminder to the carrier that they're carrying. Many people like behind hip carry because they feel like they can better forget that they're carrying a firearm because it's not visible to them. And for many new carriers, the reminder that they're carrying a gun is a scary thing.
- Behind hip is unusually friendly to overweight individuals and those with ample surplus flesh. For most overweight individuals, fat rolls spewing out from the back is one of the later areas that the body puts on weight. Especially compared to having a beer belly or a muffin top on the sides, fat rolls on the back aren't as common. As such, behind hip offers a comfortable carry method for those with a surplus of volume on their sides and/or front.
- The draw stroke is somewhat easy for those with limited mobility and it remains familiar for those who are used to 3 o'clock hip carry.
However, the disadvantages are many:
- Significantly less comfortable when sitting. Any carry position on the back suffers from significant discomfort issues when the gun is being pushed into your back by a chair back under the weight of your body. This makes behind hip carry far less comfortable when driving, which is a thing that 83% US citizens do frequently [Gallup, 2018], with 89% possessing a drivers license [Hedges, 2023]. And the average American spends 43.6% of their workday sitting [Bureau of Labor, 2022]. The reality is that comfort while sitting is a very real issue, and that's an issue where behind hip carry really suffers, enough that many behind hip carriers will take off their gun when they're going to be driving, which is a problem. As such, behind hip carry is more popular among people who are standing all day long and seldom sit while working. Useful for many tradesmen, not good for most office workers.
- Vastly inferior concealment. Printing is a chronically bad problem for behind hip carry, easily worse than even SOB carry because the grip sticks out more instead of laying against the body, because it's still slightly angled outwards. The problem is the out of sight out of mind phenomenon for behind hip carriers. Because YOU don't see it, you assume that it's well concealed. And when you twist your torso so you can see the gun directly or through a mirror, the folds in the fabric caused by twisting conceal the gun better by reducing printing. But when you straighten out again, it goes back to printing. And all of this becomes heinously prominent when you bend over, move around, or otherwise move such that the gun will print more. Being positioned on your back makes it print so obviously that even random soccer moms will totally notice your gun, and those karens are more likely to raise a stink and get the cops called on you than most other demographics.
- Slower draw stroke than AIWB or 3 o'clock hip carry, but faster than it's geographical neighbor, SOB carry.
- Any carry position behind you strongly encourages grab attempts at your gun. This is because humans, even toddlers, much less anti-gunners, karens, and criminals, understand that grabbing something from behind your victim is easy, while grabbing that thing when it's in front of them is hard. And we're not even talking about hardened criminals, who will jump at the opportunity to swipe a behind-hip carried gun and run away with no fight to get a free legendary loot drop. I can find two verified instances of anti-gun karens in a checkout aisle at a grocery store seeing a man with a behind hip or SOB carried gun, being triggered, and swiping the gun from the legal carrier, holding them at gun point until the authorities arrived. In both incidents, a completely untrained anti-gun karen was able to easily disarm the gun owner. In the first incident, the woman was slapped with assault charges and the carrier had his gun returned to him. In the other incident, the legal concealed carrier got slapped with various criminal charges and the women got praised for her heroism.
The issue with people grabbing at guns is very real, and it seems to disproportionately affect carry positions that are behind the wearer, like behind hip and SOB carry.
- Not only does behind hip encourage grab attempts psychologically, the printing lets people behind you know that you have a gun and where it is.
- Not only does the printing let them know where your gun is, and not only does the position psychologically encourage grab attempts, but the position also makes it easy for people behind you to grab the gun.
- People behind you have easier access to the gun than you do, and that's a problem.
- People behind you have better visual access to your gun than you do.
- If somebody is eyeing your gun behind you, you likely won't know it. (>inb4 all the people who think they have ESP abilities to know when somebody is looking at their gun from behind).
- You are less aware of your gun than other people are. For you, it's out of sight out of mind. For others, it's in their face and in their minds. And for most non-gun-carrying people, the concept of there being a firearm near them lives rent-free in their head as their compulsion to do or say something slowly builds up.
- Because of the body mechanics of how your elbows and shoulders bend, you have few good options for defending from a grab attempt. In the event of a grab attempt, you are mildly screwed. The human body is not designed to adequately fight opponents who are behind you.
- If you get pushed to the ground (many real world fights end up as a scuffle on the ground), it will be VERY difficult to access your gun. If you are on your back, facing up on the ground, then you have to lift or rotate your torso to get your gun, which is a difficult draw that is easy for the threat to stuff, fight, block, or frustrate. And that draw becomes even harder, prohibitively difficult, if they are on top of you and hitting you, as you have to lift your body mass AND their body mass in order to access your firearm. If you are pushed down with your belly to the floor, and thus your back facing the threat, then the bad guy has easy access to your gun. And with how much behind hip carry prints, they will definitely see it. The exceedingly obvious printing (or the gun being actually exposed by your shirt lifting a little) could easily escalate an otherwise minor non-lethal scuffle into a life and death fight for your firearm, one that will be an uphill battle for you.
- Small gun.
Bad printing, little real estate to work with, and the comfort issues make most SOB carriers settle on carrying a much smaller gun than they could have otherwise carried with a different carry position.
It's pretty common to find an LCP, G42, or G43 sized carry gun for behind hip carriers, with a P365 sized gun being about the largest common size for behind hip carry. Even something like a no-frills G19 is pretty uncommon, and the resulting printing is usually pretty bad. It's exceedingly rare to find somebody who carries a larger handgun with a light and optic, and that's usually because they decided to not care about printing, concealment, or comfort in order to carry a more capable gun.
And this isn't just about capacity or having an RMR and a light to be tacticool and gain brownie points on the internet. Far more important is how shootable the guns are, as far as how much they facilitate accuracy for the shooter. Not many people can shoot an LCP accurately, but shooting a G17 accurately is far easier. And shot placement really is what stops threats, not caliber debates.
- For all the excuses of "but muh situational awareness," you simply aren't always aware of what is behind you, so you might not notice somebody going for your gun.
- Prohibitively difficult to look into your holster to verify that it is clear of obstructions.
- Asymmetrical carriage can lead to spinal problems, an altered gait, and long term discomfort. And obvious printing.
- Holsters and lack thereof.
There aren't many options for purpose-designed behind-hip holsters like you get for appendix carry and 3 o'clock hip carry, and the few there are aren't very good.
Overall, I would give behind hip carry a B- or C+.
It's like hip carry but gaining standing comfort while also gaining most of the problems that the small of back position carries. It's not a bad or negligent way to carry, unlike SOB, purse carry, backpack carry, or having a vehicle gun, it's just not as advantageous as 3 o'clock hip carry or appendix carry. At any rate, I hope you have found this article to be helpful and informative, even if it's merely my meaningless opinion and I'm not an expert at all, especially on the carrying while overweight part.