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Should You Carry a Handgun in the Small of Your Back?

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When it comes to the concealed carry of a defensive handgun, there are a variety of acceptable ways to do it and there are some bad ideas. Small of the back (SOB) carry is one of those bad ideas. This is primarily because it is an unsafe way to carry a defensive handgun, but there are other factors at play as well. Let’s look at the reasons SOB carry should be avoided and let’s start with comfort.


Though it may seem like your lumbar region is a great little alcove to hide a handgun, the first time you sit in a chair and lean back your mind will change. Most of us spend our days seated at a desk and having a glob positioned in that area makes sitting uncomfortable. Even those who spend a great deal of time on their feet during the day will have to sit at some time and with SOB carry it will be unpleasant.

On the other hand, if you are on your feet SOB carry can provide deep concealment with the right cover garment. However, at the same time, if you bend over it becomes almost impossible to maintain that concealment unless you’re wearing a trench coat. Additionally, accessing a handgun carried SOB is slower than almost anything but ankle carry.


When it comes to access, when compared to common inside-the-waistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB) carry on your strong side or in the appendix position, it’s slower and harder to access and draw a handgun that is carried in the SOB manner. In fact, drawing from a shoulder holster is easier, faster and safer than drawing from SOB carry. Clearing the cover garment is just one of the problems.

With a shoulder holster it is fast and easy to just reach inside your coat and access the handgun. And, with hip and appendix waistband carry, sweeping aside or tugging the cover garment above your holster is easily done with the support hand. With SOB carry you really have no practical method of ensuring your cover garment is clear for access to the handgun or for the draw. Accessing the handgun is even more problematic if you’re seated or lying on your back.


The biggest reason SOB carry is a bad idea is because of safety and there are two aspects of safety that need to be considered. It’s not uncommon when attempting to defend a violent attack for you to be pushed or knocked to the ground. If you’re carrying in the SOB method and you land on your back with a gun pressing against your L-3 vertebrae, you could potentially end up with an injury without a shot fired—from your own gun! And too, trying to draw a handgun positioned in the small of your back while a 200-pound attacker is on top of you will be difficult.

The above-mentioned comfort, access, and safety reasons should be enough to discourage the practice of SOB carry and they’re all relevant concerns. But let’s talk about what might be the most important reason not to carry a handgun in the SOB position and that’s the safety related to the actual presentation and holstering of the handgun.

Both are almost impossible to do without pointing the gun at important parts of your body. Regardless of if the handgun is carried in the SOB method with the butt pointed up or down, you will most assuredly sweep the muzzle across your hip. Can you draw a handgun from the SOB position safely? Yes, but the process is slow and does not involve motions that are conducive to a smooth, fast, and tactical presentation.

There is a reason that Galco Gunleather, a company that is arguably the foremost manufacture of defensive handgun holsters in the world, does not offer a holster suited for SOB carry. Galco has been making premium defensive handgun holsters for half a century and they do not make an SOB holster because an SOB holster is, well, a sub-optimal idea.

Article by Richard Mann 

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