View Full Version : Ow my aching back - CCW problems

August 10, 2005, 10:39 PM
Funny thing happened a few weeks ago. My girlfriend asked me if I was wearing my CCW a particular day. Told her yes and then wondered why she asked. She said she could tell by the way I was standing, walking.

This particular week I was off work and able to avoid gun-free zones so I was able to CCW from morning alarm to bedtime, non-stop for several days. After the first couple of days my back was getting tight, like when you have been doing a lot of physical stuff.

By the day she noticed, I was apparently so sore that I was subconsciously arching my back away from the gun.

This won't do.

My current CCW is a full size 1911 in a Sparks SSII IWB at about 4:00.

I have two options try to come up with a different carry method for the 1911, or trade it for something smaller and lighter.

I'm calling on the expertise here.

For those of you that carry a full size gun everyday, have you experienced this problem before? Were you able to solve the problem? How?

All input is welcome on my two possible choices.

August 11, 2005, 08:25 AM
Let's start with some more details. Type/make of holster, exact position, type/size of belt, even the brand & size of pants can all add to either comfort or pain.

I'm no expert, but I have learned that adjusting one element can create a completely different experience.

Just to give you an idea, I moved my IWB from 3 to 3:30 and then to 3:15 bewfore I found a place to keep the stocks from rubbing the heck out of my side-impact body molding. That was after learning that if I wore pants 1 size larger than I really was two things happened - more comfort and when not carrying I can do a great "look at the weight I've lost" impression.

stay safe.


August 11, 2005, 08:30 AM
I've never had the problem. I wonder if you have another problem and the gun has made it worse .Ever been to a chiropractor ? Smaller gun, lighter gun, different holster may all help. Is the problem when you are carrying or from how you sit ?

Hunter Customs
August 11, 2005, 08:51 AM
I know everyone is built a little different so what works for one person may not work for another. I have four different guns I carry; 90 percent of the time it's an all steel custom commander that's on my belt. I might add I carry everyday from when I get dressed in the morning until I retire for the evening. The only other times I remove my gun is when the law requires me to do so.
I've carried the commander some in an IWB holster but I've found that it's not the most comfortable mode of carry for me. Like you it was bothering my back so I started looking around for other ways to carry the heavier guns without the guns printing or hurting my back.
What I found that works best for me is a Don Humes Agent 711 OT hoslter on a 1.5 inch belt. The holster is an OWB holster with what I call an FBI cant that I wear at 4:00; it holds the gun in very tight to my body. With a loose T-shirt, sweatshirt, or button type shirt with the bottom of the shirt outside my pants it's very hard for anyone to tell if I have the gun on. The holster is an open top molded holster which holds the gun very secure but still offers me quick access to the gun if the need arrises. I realize the 3/4 inch in additional length of the full size gun may make it a little harder to conceal using an OWB holster but I do believe it can be done.
Also because I like to carry my guns in tight to my body I prefer to use smooth grips on my guns.
Bob Hunter

August 11, 2005, 09:23 AM
I just lean towards the pain until I get home and have her rub it for me. :D

Seriously, a good belt alleviates the pain & discomfort for all but the most sctive days.

August 11, 2005, 09:37 AM
skidmark, all the info is in my original post except for belt size and pants. Belt is a 1 1/2" and pants at the time were jeans +1 size. I did the moving around thing. The current 3:30-4:00 postion is the only one that has worked for any length of time. Other positions (3-3:30) would bother me quickly.

mete, no back problems except when I forget I'm not 20 yrs old anymore and do something stupid. :p Not sure what you mean by your second question. Sitting actual helps a little because it takes the weight off.

Bob, OWB may be an option.

I wonder if maybe the pants are part of it. I know I do have to pull them up occasionally because the weight of the gun has pulled them down. Maybe I went too large?

August 12, 2005, 08:45 AM
sometimes I find that with certain pants wider belts make my back hurt a little (for me it is the small of the back). I would say experiment, everyone is built different, but here are some suggestions, try a contoured belt. If it is a part of your fashion sense you could try suspenders. Or a different holster.


August 12, 2005, 10:10 AM
I looked at the holsters I tend to use, and at the stuff that takes up space in the back of the closet. For me, the most prominent difference is the size of the part that goes against/around the belt and against me. For me, bigger is definately better.

The MS SS2 has what I would call a narrow attachment point. A wider platform gives more surface area to support the weight of the pistol. That may make enough difference for you.

Another thing I noticed was that I tend to position holsters so that there is a beltloop between the two attachment points. That helps prevent shifting, which was causing me pain and a lot of unnecessary wear on the car seat upholstery.

stay safe.


August 12, 2005, 11:56 AM
Interesting ideas guys.

All my holsters are narrow attachment as you described. My thinking was that the more leather you had, the stuff you had crammed in your waistband. I hadn't thought about the offsetting weight balance.

So maybe an OWB pancake style or something like the Versa Max for IWB carry.

August 12, 2005, 04:44 PM
I've carried both Government and Combat Commander models IWB, pretty much daily for about 30 years now. I find it to be the most comfortable and concealable way to carry. It does take a little while to get used to it, but once you do, you will be uncomfortable when its not there. I wear my Commander at about 4 o'clock and a double reload on my belt at about 8 o'clock. I use a 1.75 Wilderness Instructors belt. The belt can make a big difference and the wider and stiffer the better.(this may take some getting used to too.) The Instructor type belts have a infinite adjustment that allows you to get it "just right". You have a lot more leeway with slight weight or clothing changes too. With a normal belt it may be just to tight or just to loose a lot of the time trying to hit that hole. I wear my normal pant size and dont buy bigger to allow for the holster. Its just a tad snug, but this goes a long way at keeping the gun in place without a lot of moving around and your not always pulling your pants up. I lost about 60 pounds about five years ago now, so I know what its like to carry IWB as a fat boy. Its really no different than a skinny one. :) I've worn a couple of other models of pistol's over the years off and on and the 1911's have been the most comfortable for me. They are flat, easy to hide, and really not all that heavy. When you really look at the different sizes of different models, the smaller guns really are not all that much smaller than the full size and the full size usually give you a full size mag and are easier to shoot. Good luck on your search and dont give up, you'll figure something out.

August 13, 2005, 09:49 AM
Do you carry spare mags on the opposite side? If not you may be out of

balance. Also it sounds like this is the first time that you've carried this long

at one time. If so you might be using your back muscles more than they are

used to.

August 14, 2005, 10:09 AM
Steve, yes mag pouch is on the opposite side.

Might be right about the back muscles. Thanks for the input.

August 14, 2005, 11:17 AM
Which back muscles ? The weight is supported at the belt and below.If other muscles are the problem I think other things might be happening.Posture etc. For example,some who carry a very thick wallet ,1"+ thick, in their back pocket have problems because that cocks the pelvis over to one side .That in turn angles the spine and can cause problems.My comment about sitting or standing questioned the fact that when sitting and leaning back, you might be angling your pelvis [gun side forward] and changing the forces on your back.

August 14, 2005, 11:11 PM
Mete, I'm not sure. I'll try and take note of it over the next few days. All I can say for sure is lower back area. Not sure if it is at or below belt line as you mentioned.

Posture is affected by the pain (I end up arching my back and sticking my stomach out like a pregnant woman). It's chicken or egg at this point, I can't say which is occuring first without taking some notes of what is going on.

August 16, 2005, 10:20 PM
I run into the same problem from time to time. I found switching my wallet to the opposite rear pocket every 6 months or so helps. If it`s really bothering me I`ll switch to OWB which seems to be a little better or my Kahr P-40 in a Ken Null SMZ ultralight shoulder rig to give my lower back a rest. A couple days of that and I`m usually back to normal again. Marcus

August 16, 2005, 11:13 PM
Keep the suggestions coming guys. I hadn't thought of the wallet. I measured it right at 1" and stiff as a board. One more thing to try.

August 17, 2005, 08:28 AM
I didn't go to +1 sized pants; I'm still using whatever pants I had before I got the CCW. I'm also still using a regular cowhide 1.5" belt (haven't decided on what OEM belt to use, nor what holster style I like the best [shoulder, or IWB]).

In the meantime, I'm carrying at 3:45-4pm with a LW Commander in anAKC ConcealCo IWB w/thumbreak. (I need the thumbreak for retaining the '11 when I get into contorted positions.) http://www.concealco.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=ACL&Category_Code=051IWB
This holster spreads the two loops out at least as far apart as the Sparks Watch Six. I find this type of holster (the AKC and the Sparks WS) with the 2 distinctly separate belt loops are more comfortable and less of a literal "pain in the side" than something like the SS2 or a one-loop retaining system. The bulk inherent in those types of seemed to stab me whether I was standing or sitting.

Also, all my pants are 'cargo' or 'parachute' pants, with extra pockets on the sides. I learned that it's much more comfortable to shift the rock-hard 1" wallet from the right rear pocket to a side pocket; sitting in a bucket seat in my car for hours isn't the straight-jacket experience it once was with the right-rear wallet and Sparks Heritage combo I used to wear.

August 17, 2005, 10:02 AM
Well, I've been keeping the wallet on the off hand side so that I didn't risk revealing my gun if I had to get it out for something.

I'll try moving the wallet to see if that helps.

Byron Quick
August 18, 2005, 04:24 AM
I carry a 1911 in a Galco OWB and a Kahr P9 in a DeSantis holster. 1 1/2" belt. Magazine carriers on the off side. Wallet on the off side. I carry constantly when not at work.

I've had back problems for over thirty years. This doesn't aggravate my back at all.

I'd be looking at my belt and my holsters first. Then I'd be checking out my back.

It's not the weight unless there is a problem with your back that is being exacerbated. It is possible that the holster and/or belt is causing a problem.

How's your posture? When you wear out the soles of your shoes...is the wear even on both sides of your foot?

August 18, 2005, 02:01 PM
Thanks Byron. I know it can be done. I just have to do some trial and error until I find the right combination of belt and holster.

Posture is OK. My shoes wear out evenly between the two feet. On each individual foot the wear is slighty greater towards the outside rear. I was born with slightly turned out feet.

kart racer
August 19, 2005, 07:18 PM
My back problems were helped a bunch by going from a trifold wallet to a bi fold.If you drive a lot it really makes a difference-especially w/a 1911 on the same side as your wallet.

August 19, 2005, 09:11 PM
I suffer from intense hip and lower back pain, due in part to 25 years of carrying. Chances are you are irritating the sciatic nerve and or the piriformis muscle, a small muscle that runs diagonally across the butt. A couple things have worked for me: I no longer carry IWB and I tend to use belts that are pliable enough to conform to the waist, instead of concentrating the weight on the belt edge. For example, for range work I use a Wilderness belt, but the narrower, unreinforced model that isnt as rigid but still supports the gun. There are also stretches you can do, but I couldnt begin to describe them here. I still see a physical therapist on a regular basis. Google "piriformis syndrome" for more info.

FWIW my carry gun is a full-size 1911 on pain-free days, a Glock 19 on bad days.

August 21, 2005, 11:34 PM
I did some experimenting this weekend. Little changes to see what affect they would have.

First thing I did was to move the mag pouch forward, not much probably a half inch or so. My mag pouch has dual belt loops so this allowed me to put a pants loop between the slots in the mag pouch. That let the pants do some of the work and I'm guessing spread the weight out?

The other thing I did was to take an old OWB holster that I had and try it, belt loops are 1-2" farther apart than my usual Sparks IWB, so again I'm guessing I spread the weight out?

Overall, it's still not perfect but was a big improvement over what I had before. So spreading out the weight seems to be the right direction?

sendec, your description is actually pretty close but not exactly the same. In my case it's a general all over ache. It's hard to describe, but you know how you feel the next morning after helping a friend move furniture? It's sort of that type of general soreness.