When you first decide to start carrying a concealed firearm, the variety of methods and holsters that are available to choose from can be overwhelming. How do you know which will work best for you? Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure until you try each method, but there are some shortcuts to make the decision easier. By learning all you can about the different methods of concealed carry, you can pick a few that appeal to you while discounting those that are unlikely to mesh well with your personal style and activities.

Steady, Solid Comfort

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An EAA Pavona handgun shown holstered in a D’Wedge system.

Most experts agree that on-body carry is the ideal carry method. The gun is less likely to be lost and more likely to be reachable when you need it. This is undoubtedly true, yet many women (me included) continue to rely on dedicated holster purses to carry our guns off-body. Why? For most, it’s a matter of comfort. Even the best, safest holster in the world is useless if it is left at home because it isn’t comfortable to wear. Since most women already carry purses around with them, it’s easy and natural to carry a gun in there, too. Practices that are already second nature translate well into personal protection because the gun seldom gets left at home.

Of course, it’s not just the ladies who enjoy the comfort and ease of off-body carry. With the introduction of holster briefcases, laptop bags and day planners, men too are flocking to this carry method. Off-body carry also makes it easier to carry a larger handgun and spare ammunition. And it’s no longer even necessary for ladies to purchase a dedicated holster bag.

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EAA Pavona D’Wedge Purse Insert

For those who already have a non-holster purse they love or whose laptop requires a specific case, the Pavona D’Wedge holster system from EAA might be the perfect solution. This is a rigid-framed insert with an attached Kydex holster. The holster can be adjusted to customize the angle at which the gun sits. It works great for bags that need extra support to prevent them from sagging oddly under the weight of a gun. The insert is 5.75 inches tall and adjusts to anywhere from 10 to 14 inches in length, so it can’t be used with small bags but is ideally sized for laptop bags and briefcases.

RELATED: Concealed Carry Tips & Techniques for Dressing Around the Gun

Once you’ve chosen a carry bag, it’s important to practice drawing from it so that the motion feels natural. Unfortunately, many ranges do not allow drawing from purses, since the gun is often momentarily pointed sideways or backwards. Instead, you can practice drawing from your bag at home with an unloaded gun in a safe direction. A holster bag user also needs to get in the habit of holding their bag in a way that gives ready access to the gun. Depending on the particular style of bag chosen, this may mean consistently carrying it so that your strong hand is free and so the holster pocket faces forward. Get in the habit of carrying the bag correctly so that when trouble hits, you are ready.

It should be noted that off-body carry requires a very high degree of awareness of where your gun is at all times. The gun should be carried in a dedicated pocket and not mixed in with other items like keys, money or cell phones, even if it is in a holster. You have to take special care that your purse and gun are not accessible by anyone but you.

Safe And Secure

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Crossfire Edge

Carrying a concealed firearm on-body means getting used to wearing a holster and dressing so that the holster remains hidden. Although this might involve some adjustments to your personal routine, rest assured that this is the safest and most recommended concealed carry method. Holster bags, after all, can be lost or stolen (imagine the delight of the thief who was only expecting to find money!). A gun that’s kept on your person is far more difficult to lose.

RELATED: Revolver Vs. Auto – Which Model Fits Your Concealed Carry Needs?

Wearing a gun used to mean wearing a men’s holster that was designed to be held by a sturdy belt or deep pocket—two features often lacking from women’s fashion. Luckily, there are now holsters made specifically for women, such as the new line of ladies’ holsters from Crossfire Elite. The line consists of four different holster models worn on the waistband or in a pocket. While they come in fun, eye-catching patterns and colors, you’ll soon appreciate the low-profile, less-bulky designs that make them comfortable.

For those who prefer to carry their gun on the waistband, there are a couple of different options. The Edge is the largest and sturdiest of the holster models. It’s also the only model available in a size that can accommodate a full-sized handgun, in addition to sizes for compact and subcompact guns. The Edge has a wider shape than the other models, giving it room for two strong belt clips that hold it very securely on the waistband. The second clip gives this holster a stability that simply can’t be matched by a holster with only a single clip. The clips could also be fastened to a pocket inside a purse. For outside-the-waistband (OWB) carry, the holster adds almost no bulk besides that of the gun itself. The cloth and memory foam construction keep it comfortable and low in profile.

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Crossfire Pulse

The Pulse model is a smaller waistband holster with a single belt clip. This clip can be attached on either side of the holster, making this model completely ambidextrous. The clip can be left off entirely for inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry, if your pants fit snugly. Whether worn inside or outside the waistband, the smaller size of this holster allows it to fit into a variety of positions on the wearer’s waist, including strong side, appendix, cross-draw and small of the back. It comes in three sizes to fit micro, subcompact and compact handguns. Like the larger model, the Pulse has a rigid front to keep the holster’s cavity from collapsing when it’s empty. This does, however, make it a bit bulkier than Crossfire’s other inside-the-waistband design, the Luxe.

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Crossfire Luxe

The Luxe is a slim holster that can be worn inside the waistband or in a pocket. Its clip is reversible. It has a rubberized exterior that holds the holster in place with friction and makes it very smooth and comfortable against the body. A small side clip also allows it to be fastened inside a purse if the owner wishes. The Luxe is sized for micro and subcompact guns with barrel lengths of less than 2.5 inches.

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Crossfire Rebel

The final Crossfire ladies’ holster is the Rebel, a classically sleek pocket holster. It features the same rubberized exterior as the Luxe to hold it in place, but the Rebel has no retention straps or clips whatsoever, leaving its exterior smooth and soft for pocket carry comfort. Its interior is a soft fleece, so the gun slides out easily when drawn and won’t carry the holster out along with it.

Armed And Active

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T-Sholster products are spot on for those with an active lifestyle.

One of the most challenging scenarios for concealed carry is jogging or other types of exercise. Women jogging alone are frequently targeted by criminals, so it’s a very important time to carry your gun. Yet workout clothes are very unaccommodating—there are no purses, no belts and often no pockets. In warm weather, the best solution is usually a belly band under a T-shirt. In cooler weather, a holster shirt underneath a sweatshirt or jacket is also a possibility.

The T-Sholster features an underarm elastic holster and magazine pouches that are mounted onto sturdy Velcro patches. The position and angle of the holster can be customized by simply adjusting the patch. The Velcro is strong enough to hold the gun vertically, horizontally or at any angle without shifting at all. The holster can accommodate most gun sizes and can be easily switched to the other side if you’re left-handed.

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T-Sholster

While the T-Sholster is available in long-sleeved, short-sleeved and sleeveless styles, it unfortunately only comes in men’s sizes, which makes it a bit more difficult for ladies to guess their correct size. I also found that I needed to move the Velcro patches up a bit to compensate for my shorter torso length. Once you’ve made the proper adjustments, you’ll find that these simple black or white Spandex shirts also look great under a business suit or casual clothes.

RELATED: 27 New Handgun Holsters For 2015

Your carry collection might include a couple of holsters, a holster shirt and a holster bag for times when on-body carry just isn’t possible. While experts might recommend one carry method over another, your personal taste and comfort should ultimately guide you. A holster that’s too uncomfortable and is never worn is useless. A gun that’s carried comfortably is the one that is most likely to be with you when you need it.

For More Information

Crossfire Elite
http://www.crossfiregear.com; 208-461-8888

European American Armory (EAA Corp.)
http://www.eaacorp.com; 321-639-4842

Galco
http://www.galcogunleather.com; 800-874-2526

T-Sholster
http://www.tsholster.com

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