Concealed-Carry at the Small of the Back: Pros & Cons

We affectionately call it "SOB Carry," and it may work well for you ... here's how to tell.

posted on June 18, 2024
Sob Carry

If you’ve taken a cruise down the holster aisle, you’ve likely already come to the realization that there are numerous ways to keep your defensive pistol concealed along your waistband. Given that there are as many ways to carry as there are body styles and firearms, naturally, some are going to be the focus of debates. Of them all, the small of the back (SOB) seems to draw the most attention, and rightfully so. When your pistol's at your six, it’s hidden from plain sight and relatively accessible. However, depending on how you look at things, it could be considered hard to grab or even downright dangerous. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.

I’d like to begin with what I consider to be SOB’s greatest asset, and that’s its concealability. Human nature leads us to focus greatly on the front side of another person, with an emphasis on everything above the belt. Therefore, if you’re wearing something a bit tighter than your usual carry-wear, it’s an excellent option to keep from printing. When you are viewed from behind, the grip of the pistol will fall into the natural curve of your back, and an untucked shirt will bridge the gap between your shoulders and rear end.

On the subject of curves, SOB carry can be exceptionally comfortable sitting down, just so long as the proper considerations are taken, and you’re not committed to reclining. This is largely because the same gap that helps you conceal your pistol offers relief against the seat cushion. This method excels in an office setting when you are perched up straighter to view a computer monitor. However, if you’re kicking back and watching a movie, you might experience a little poking. Above all, choose a holster that rides as high as possible and ensure that your firearm doesn’t have a barrel length that precludes this method altogether.

As a left-handed shooter, I probably think about ambidextrous features more than the next person. To that end, small-of-the-back carry is one of the most balanced positions on your body, allowing you to access it with either hand in an emergency. If you dedicate this as your preferred carry method, it’s a good idea to work alternate hand drawing into your routine just to understand the changes that occur should you have to resort to weak-side access.

Just as I’ve stated in the introduction, SOB carry isn’t all sunshine and roses, especially when we consider the greatest issue, and that’s the potential for serious injury. Keeping a chunk of metal or hardened polymer pressed against your spine could be asking for trouble during an altercation, particularly if you land flat on your back. It might sound like extreme advice, but consider enrolling in a martial arts course, as one of the first lessons taught is how to take a fall. This will help mitigate injury not only when you’re carrying a gun, but throughout your day-to-day activities as well.

Holstering in the SOB position is also a bit tougher, as you have no natural visibility of where it’s going. Even with the assistance of a mirror, one has to crane one’s neck to find the holster and align the handgun with it. Be sure to practice this carefully—without ammunition present—before you attempt to do it with a loaded gun. Alternative methods include clipping the gun and holster to your belt as a single unit, or putting everything on your pants and then putting your pants on. If you choose either of these, understand that you’ll be at the mercy of your holster’s retention, so it might not be the best solution in every scenario.

The last downside of this carry position actually stems from one of its positives, and that would be accessing it in an emergency. Yes, it’s one of the more balanced positions to draw from with either hand, but to that end, it doesn’t accommodate either particularly well. Getting one hand behind your back to clear your cover garment and the other to draw the pistol takes an elongated, coordinated effort, one that’s prone to failure under stress.

What’s more, if you did wind up on your back during a preceding struggle, you’ll have even more work to do. Sadly, there is no fix to these issues outside of routine practice. This is exceptionally important because drawing from this area is typically fraught with concerns about muzzling someone (e.g., allowing your gun’s muzzle to sweep your or someone else’s body) in the process. Like all carry options, perfect your draw before you even think about putting ammo in the gun.

Small-of-the-back carry can be the best choice for certain people and certain scenarios. However, like all other ways to tote a gun, it needs to be looked at closely before diving in with both feet. One of the best solutions is to purchase a multi-positional holster, as this will give you a means of testing it without going all in. Consider this method if you spend a lot of time at a desk, on your feet or if you have a dress and body style that will capitalize on this space.



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