Carrying a concealed weapon is much different for a woman than a man. A man finds an ankle holster or an inside-the-pants holster he likes (or both), and that system carries over into every piece of clothing he owns. Men get up in the morning and they know exactly how they are going to carry that day.
Women, on the other hand, have to put a lot of thought and consideration into their carry choice of the day. Do you have a meeting at the courthouse or in a school where concealed carry is not permitted? Are you going to a luncheon or appointment where fashion dictates your wardrobe? These choices directly affect your decisions.
A woman needs a concealed carry method for every scenario. The same firearm you carry in your fanny pack when you are hiking may not be the same firearm you would carry to a business meeting or an executive luncheon. Further, carrying a firearm in a purse makes coordinating your purse with your outfit a fashion decision.
There are a few manufacturers that make very stylish and attractive purses for concealed carry. Galco, Pistol Packin’ Mamas, Coronado Leather and Esther Gear are among my favorites. Many of these manufacturers offer an attaché case, which is perfect for business carry, that includes an easily accessible compartment. You can also purchase a daily planner with a concealed carry compartment.
Just remember that you must never put anything in the compartment with your pistol that might get caught in the triggerguard and cause the gun to fire. Concealed carry purse manufacturers have created these purses with plenty of compartments for lipstick, makeup, cell phones, hairspray, hand wipes, etc., along with a separate compartment for the firearm. Nothing but the pistol should be carried in this compartment.
When carrying in a fanny pack, I prefer the compartment for the firearm to be on the strong side of my body—accessible with my dominant hand as if I were drawing from a holster. I also prefer the compartment the firearm is in to be accessible by zipper instead of Velcro because zippers are quieter.
When drawing, obtain a good grip and draw the pistol out of the pack, clearing it from the holster. Bring both hands together in a solid, two-handed grip with your finger on the trigger. Extend your arms while pushing out and aligning your sights to the target.
Hidden But Ready
Every woman’s body is different. Some women can carry a small holster in the front of their waistband, while others may find it impossible to put an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster in their slacks. I thought that this method of carry would be uncomfortable until I tried on one of Lisa Looper’s IWB clip-on holsters. It is extremely comfortable and after wearing one for three days, I forgot that it was even there.
To wear an IWB holster, you may or may not need to go up a size in your pants to make it work. I found that this type of carry is not conducive to modern tight jeans, but dress slacks, Dockers, pleated-front pants and skirts work well with a small pocket pistol the holster’s clip on the waistband. I clip it onto the waistband just in front of my right hip. It can also be clipped on the other side for a cross-draw method.
Gunsite Rangemaster Il Ling New conceals her pocket pistol in the front waistband of her slacks in a holster with no clip—and no one even notices. Il Ling believes you should always carry your pistol in the same place on your body at all times rather than in an accessory such as a purse. Sharing your pants with a gun is truly different and takes some getting used to. The clip on an IWB holster can also be clipped into a boot and accessed easily from a longer skirt or wide-legged pant.
Galco makes a great holster for ankle carry with one small issue—the taper of a woman’s slacks. Many of the jeans on the market today are straight-legged and make it difficult to access the holster expediently. Dress slacks offer a wider leg from the knee down, and the flared or boot cut (we used to call them bell bottom) pants can be purchased at the Gap, any store that sells Wranglers and Levi’s, or even a fashion store like Chico’s.
In order to access the firearm from the ankle proficiently and efficiently without putting your body in a precarious one-legged position, you must go to one knee, draw the pistol, shoot and “fight your way” up to standing. I have had two ACL replacements on my knees. I can get into a kneeling position, but getting up efficiently is a problem. This means that, for me, ankle carry isn’t an option.
There are many cargo pants you can buy that have large pockets and are made of sturdy BDU material. They make it easy and comfortable to conceal a pistol. Carhartt, 5.11 Tactical and Dickies (to mention a few) make fashionable women’s shorts and long pants just for this purpose. When drawing from a pocket, your presentation should involve a good grip, clearing the pistol from the pocket with your support hand clear of the muzzle, and disengaging the safety if there is one. At this point, your pistol is pointed horizontally towards the target and your hands come together, forming a good, two-handed grip with your finger on the trigger. Extend your arms while pushing out to the target with your visual focus on the front sight.
Lisa Looper has created a bra holster called the “Flashbang.” The holster fastens to the center of a bra with a suede strap and rides horizontally. With this holster you would need a blouse that would lift easily (thus, the “flash” part). Get a good grip and draw the firearm out of the holster with your finger straight until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot (there is the “bang”). Again, this method of carry would depend largely on your body type and size.
At a recent Pocket Pistol class here at Gunsite, we experimented with several different types of carry and realized that there is more to drawing a pistol efficiently and quickly than one would think. One of the first lessons learned was the difficulty in accessing the pistol without covering any part of one’s hand or arm during the action. Drawing from a purse, pocket, ankle holster or IWB holster definitely slows you down. Whatever mode of concealed carry you choose will require that you practice each technique regularly.
Whichever gun you shoot, and however you choose to carry that firearm, dry practice is a valuable tool. Rangemaster Charlie McNeese assured us that shooting is a “diminishing skill.” Without regular practice, you lose proficiency. Charlie suggests that you do dry practice at least 10 minutes per week with your primary firearm and each of your secondary firearms—in the manner in which you will be carrying them on the street. Whenever you buy a new purse or fanny pack, you should practice with the handgun dry before “promoting” your new device for daily carry.
Ladies are generally smaller and (physically) less powerful than most men. Program yourself to be watchful and aware of your surroundings in order to react to a possible lethal situation. If we have the means to defend ourselves, and the gun-handling skills to bring lethal force into play, we can usually prevail against a larger, more powerful aggressor. May it be so for you.