Nothing New

A good idea is a good idea, no matter when it happens.

posted on April 13, 2024
Sheriff Jim Wilson

This column had its inception when I posted a photo, probably from the 1950s, of a man wearing a revolver in his waistband in what has come to be called Appendix Carry. A reader informed us that appendix carry was a relatively new technique, probably from the late 1990s. Of course, me being a history buff, I just couldn’t let that pass.

You see, in my home state of Texas, the wearing of handguns was prohibited by the state legislature in the early 1870s, with the exception that it was permissible when one was traveling and under certain other circumstances. Elsewhere in the frontier states, many towns and settlements outlawed the practice. The common practice was that, upon arriving in a town, you were expected to leave your handgun at the livery stable, the marshal’s office or your favorite saloon, but you couldn’t pack it around town without facing arrest.

What this means is that folks in the frontier towns did not go around wearing a cartridge belt, holster, a sixgun. Businessmen, shopkeepers, and others who felt the need to go armed would conceal their guns. The most common practice was to simply stuff it in the waistband in front of the right hip and then cover it with the vest that most all men wore at the time. As time went on, holster makers began to design the earliest in-the-pants holsters to accommodate this practice. One design was even an in-the-holster that attached to the suspenders and was then fastened to the waistband of the trousers. And, my friends, if that’s not appendix carry, I don’t know what is.

Texas Ranger Frank Hamer carried an engraved single action his entire lifetime. And, after he quit horseback work, he quit wearing a gunbelt and holster as a common practice. Instead, Hamer shoved Old Lucky into his waistband in – you got it – the appendix-carry position. Charlie Miller was another peace officer who preferred not to wear a holster and is known for carrying his Colt in the same position. And, on that day in October, 1881, I suspect that neither Virgil or Wyatt Earp were wearing holsters, instead their guns were just shoved into the top of their pants.

Whether or not one agrees with appendix carry, the truth is that it has been around for probably as long as people have been carrying handguns for personal defense. The most important point in all of this is that the armed citizen and personal defense have a lengthy history. And the simple fact is that we can nearly always learn something useful, pro or con, by studying history.


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