The number one question I get from women (and sometimes you men, too) is “What gun should I buy?” followed only slightly behind with, “What holster should I carry it in?”

I always shake my head and say, “Do you like my pants?” to which they give a wow-this-chick-is-crazy look and say either “yes” or “no,” but then I say, “Would you be comfortable wearing these exact pants?”

Think about your favorite pair of jeans. Chances are, if some random woman tried on that exact pair of jeans, she probably wouldn’t love them just the same as you do (ladies, you know what I’m talking about here). It takes a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.

What fits right? What complements your shape? Not to mention, what you can afford?

Its the same with guns.

What fits my hand wouldn’t necessarily fit my friend Ginger’s or my teenage son’s. For me, it took shooting a few different guns to see that ultimately, I shot best (and could afford) a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9MM. So that’s what I carry.

Before you purchase a handgun, it’s best to be able to go to a range that can offer several choices for you to shoot before you buy. I was lucky enough to discover Family Shooting Academy in Green Bay offers just such a service. A facility to try out guns, take a concealed carry course, not to mention get out of the Frozen Tundra and shoot year round, and host Ladies Night at an indoor range every Tuesday, is certainly welcome in this neck of the woods!

While I can’t tell anyone exactly what they should carry in their range bag, I will tell everyone what I carry with me. Check out the products I swear by:

Weapons

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My S&W Shield 9MM is always on my hip. This is my everyday concealed carry weapon along with two extra magazines and it is my absolute favorite handgun. It fits my hand, it’s reliable, it’s compact, and it is a highly accurate weapon. Or maybe I’m just a good shot.

 

I love meat. I also love the outdoors. Therefore, I hunt. While I do wish I had more time to hunt, when I do get the opportunity to get out into Northern Wisconsin to harvest some venison for my family, I take my Ruger American .243 Rifle. I dropped a beautiful deer with a double lung shot at 75 yards with this gun on opening day. It’s light, comfortable, and came with a box of shells, a case, and a good scope at my local Gander Mountain. Definitely a great choice for any hunter.

Gear

You can cram a lot of stuff into your range bag and sales people will always try to sell you more than you need, but there are only a handful of things I need to hit the range. Here are my favorites:

loader

The Butler Creek UpLULA™ Univ. Pistol Mag. Loader makes sure I’m not spending all my lane time reloading magazines. This little helper seriously saves your loading thumb, is extremely easy to use, and yes, it even comes in pink.

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I’m blind and wear my Rx polycarbonate lightly tinted sunglasses from EyeMart Express when I shoot, but I really wish I could wear these Radians pink and silver shooting glasses. These glasses have adjustable rubber nosepieces and rubber tipped temples. While comfort is key, you should always make sure your shooting specs meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1 + safety standards.

SoundGearYou don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, guys. I know, I have hearing loss in my left ear from nerve damage sustained in a car accident. That’s why I harp on the importance of hearing protection for everyone. The best I have ever found and is absolutely worth every penny comes from Starkey out of Minnesota. (and that’s saying a lot from a Wisconsin girl) The SoundGear In-The-Canal Instant Fit Hearing Protection is ready to wear right out of the box, suppresses noise at 93dB, and rests discreetly inside your ear to deliver natural wind reduction and superior sound quality. This is one investment you will never regret.

SCHat

Guys, you may think our locks blowing in the wind is hot, but ladies will agree: hair in your face while you’re trying to shoot isn’t sexy or fun. I always keep a handful of hair ties in my range bag, but a baseball cap with a velcro band kept hung on it’s strap is just smart. Caps keep our hair from flying in our face, sun out of our eyes, and let’s face it: they’re cute. I have almost a hundred baseball caps, mad shoutout to my friends at the Sportsman Channel since this one is in my top three, but you can always find awesome gear at the NRA Shop.

chapstick

My friends know that I have a minor major obsession with ChapStick. I don’t wear makeup, but I always have on ChapStick. If you’ve ever shot at an outdoor range in Northern Wisconsin, you know: your lips get chapped! Whether it’s from the sun, wind, or sucking in air through your mouth, it wreaks havoc on your kisser. When I found Cake Batter ChapStick, I bought a few 30 sticks and put them in every purse, and bag I own, my makeup case, desk, nightstand – you get the idea.

first aid

Accidents happen. I once cut my arm on something heading up to the outdoor range, and came in looking like an extra from The Walking Dead. Since then, I keep a little First Aid Kit in my range bag. I have only had to use it a few times (yes, I’m a klutz) but better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, am I right? This affordable little First Aid Kit fits in my range bag and holds everything I hope I never need. Just don’t forget: ointments and medications expire so always be sure to check and restock your First Aid kits! I do mine with my smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries on Daylight Savings.

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This may sound silly, but if you’ve ever had to look down a barrel or chamber, you’ll know that it’s smart to keep a mini flashlight in your bag. You can pick up a Mini MagLite at Walmart that stores in it’s own box and keep an extra set of batteries with it. Plus, it’s red, white, and blue, y’all. ‘Merica.

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I’ve never heard anyone say, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t brought so much ammo with me to the range today!” While most gun ranges sell ammo, I’ve never seen any prices I’ve liked. Be smart, stock up on ammo and take it with you. I stock up on Blazer Brass Ammo when I see them go on sale anywhere and everywhere. They’re great for target practice!

Carrying

If you accept the responsibility and own your self defense by obtaining a concealed carry permit, I applaud you! There are thousands of products out there to help you carry. Some products, like TechnaClip, can make your gun easy to clip on your belt or in your waistband, however it doesn’t cover the trigger, making it an unsafe option and something I would never recommend to my students. There have also been some women who insist that concealed carry purses are the bees knees. If you’ve taken a concealed carry course, you should already know that the best and safest option is to carry on your person.

While carrying can be a challenge, these products make it easy and comfortable for me to do it each and every day. Ranking my top three, I highly recommend the following:

sticky

Sticky Holsters. Fast, efficient, and effective, these products are a great option for convenience in carrying. They are self-securing, modular, state of the art in the waistband holsters and the best thing about them is the more you use them, the better they get. See which Sticky Holster will fit your gun – I highly recommend them them all!

shorts

UnderTech Undercover. These products are high quality, fit well, are really comfortable and these concealment shorts are my favorite when I go biking. They’re made in USA and the MicroPoly/Lycra blend is breathable and durable.

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Can Can Concealment. Now THIS is my number one, hands-down, absolute favorite every day concealed carry item! Darlene and the Can Can crew are fantastic and their products are second to none. The Classic Hip Hugger is honestly the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off at night. It can accommodate up to 4 compact firearms and 3 magazines, is double-edged with silicone non-slip Tacti-Grip to prevent slipping and features a 3-row metal Hook & Eye closure for a secure, adjustable fit. I cannot say enough about Can Can Concealment products, but I can (and do) encourage every woman to try them out for themselves! All of their products are not only extremely functional, but feature beautiful craftsmanship and fantastic styles. Plus, they’re handmade in the USA. I can also testify that the Sport Belt is thee best jogging/runner’s concealed carry belt I have ever tried! Not only can I tuck my phone, keys, and extra magazines into it, but it does not jiggle or slip when I run. It is a must for every active hiking, jogging, running, or rock climbing woman who wants to carry effectively in the great outdoors!

Mentionable unmentionables: 

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Not a necessity at the range, but I do love these pants! 5.11 Taclite Pro Tactical Pants are made of durable Taclite® ripstop fabric, come in a multitude of colors, and have extra pockets sized for tactical use.

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I don’t wear/own/love a ton of jewelry, but these Genuine Labradorite 9MM earrings sure are pretty. Take note, boys: these would make a very nice gift for your special gal.

Conclusion:

Everyone carries differently. Trial and error are the best way to find out what’s going to work for you, but make sure you’re building your gear off the basics of carrying safely. Just because something feels good or looks nice doesn’t mean it will keep you safe and protected at the range, but I hope this list of favorites puts the fun in the functionality in your range bag!