So after much soul-searching, you’ve decided to carry a concealed firearm. You’ve counted the cost and believe it’s the right thing for you to do. But how? All your helpful male buds have told you that you really shouldn’t carry a firearm in your purse. Or maybe you just don’t enjoy carrying a purse at all, let alone an oversized one with funny zippers. So that’s out. But are there any other concealed carry options for a fashionable woman?
You betcha there are! Here are five classic carry methods you might consider.
5) Ankle Carry
What it is: This carry method places the firearm on your lower leg in a wraparound style holster.
Why it’s great: Carrying on the ankle works particularly well for the fashion-conscious, because it allows you to hide the firearm on a part of your body that—let’s face it—men rarely stare at. You needn’t add bulky layers of clothing to cover the lump, and you can enjoy carrying a firearm securely without the hassle of wearing a belt.
How to carry it off: This carry technique works best with a well-padded holster, such as Galco’s Ankle Glove, positioned on the inside of your non-dominant ankle. You’ll need pants with wide legs, such as boot-cut jeans or comfortable office slacks, and you’ll find it easiest to conceal while wearing pants with slightly too-long leg lengths. Avoid crossing your legs at the knee when seated, choosing instead to tuck your crossed ankles discreetly under your chair. Be aware that you won’t be able to draw while standing or running, because the draw from an ankle holster requires the user to crouch, sit, or fall to the ground for access. This makes it a good choice for those who would choose to shelter in place (behind a desk, for example) rather than running for distant doors.
4) Kangaroo Pouch
What it is: Kangaroo-pouch carry places the firearm in a soft fabric pouch fastened around your waist and carried below the waistband.
Why it’s great: Using a product such as SmartCarry or Thunderwear, the firearm rides comfortably and discreetly below your waistband. It’s intended to be worn front and center, directly below your belly button but decidedly lower. To be brutally honest, since women’s pants are typically worn more snugly than men’s pants, this carry technique usually works much better for men than it does for women—with one critical exception. Because it places no strain on the waistband and requires no belt, it’s an ideal method for carrying a firearm beneath a skirt. And most find it surprisingly comfortable.
How to carry it off: Although the product is “supposed to” ride front and center, if you find it more comfortable you can easily move the firearm to ride in a different spot. To draw, simply reach into your waistband and pull the firearm out of its fabric pouch. If you choose to carry with this method underneath a dress, the draw becomes a bit less modest, requiring you to pull the dress up until you can reach the pouch.
3) Belly Band
What it is: A wide, elastic belt rides underneath the clothing, positioning the firearm in an elastic pocket somewhere on the upper torso.
Why it’s great: Flexibility is the key to the belly band’s appeal. Sure, it can be a bit uncomfortable at times, but the payoff is huge. With this carry method, you can position the firearm anywhere on your torso that works with your physique and your outfit. As an added bonus, the elastic band often provides a waist-narrowing effect.
How to carry it off: With undergarments in place but before getting completely dressed, wrap the elastic band—such as the DeSantis Belly Band or the Galco Underwrap—around your torso, choosing where the gun will ride based on comfort and style. Be creative, noting that the gun may ride high or low, positioned to the right or the left or even directly in the center (just under your “shelf,” perhaps). Pay attention to access; will you be able to draw the firearm from its intended hiding place with your outer clothing in place? Cultivate an upright posture to avoid rolling or curling of the band. Although most belly bands provide good comfort, some women benefit from an extra layer of cushioning between delicate skin and itchy elastic. If you find that’s the case for you, consider picking up an old-fashioned “tube top” to wear as an undergarment directly underneath the belly band, which avoids the discomfort of an extra layer while providing protection where it’s needed.
2) Behind the Hip – OWB with Extreme Cant
What it is: With this method, the gun is worn behind the hip in an angled holster which rides outside the waistband on a sturdy belt.
Why it’s great: This is the traditional and standard carry method for good reason. It provides fast access and good security, and most firearms classes require this type of carry for safety’s sake. With a minor tweak for feminine physiology—deeply canting the holster to prevent the barrel from digging into the hip curve—it works especially well for slender, athletically-proportioned women.
How to carry it off: With the gun outside your waistband, you definitely need a cover garment. But it needn’t be the stereotypical (and ugly!) photographer’s vest. Look instead for a tight, form-fitting tee paired with a loose, unbuttoned “boyfriend” shirt, or consider a cozy turtleneck topped with a warm winter sweater. Wear a snug henley shirt under a matching polar fleece vest, or a basic tee topped with a layer of structure followed by a pretty scarf. You’re already wearing layers to follow the fashions, so put those layers to use! Just be sure that at least one of your layers provides enough length to consistently cover the gun.
1) Appendix Carry – IWB
What it is: An appendix-carried holster places the gun inside the waistband in front of the hip, where it snugs into the “sweet spot” between belly button and hip bone.
Why it’s great: Bringing the firearm to the front of the body provides great security and fast access, but that’s not the primary benefit. The primary benefit? It allows curvy women to comfortably carry the gun on the belt, without allowing the hip curve to drive the muzzle outward and grind the grips uncomfortably into tender ribs.
How to carry it off: Choose a sturdy, contour-cut belt for comfort, and select a firearm with a reasonably short barrel (ideally, under four inches) for best success. Cover garments need not be as long as those needed by people who carry their firearms in outside the waistband holsters, but unless you opt for a “tuckable” holster design, you will need at least one closed-front layer. Again, remember that gun-covering clothes don’t need to be ugly! Try a tight, concealing layer followed by a sheer layer designed to disturb the gun’s outline. Speaking of outlines, notice your silhouette in the mirror? Done properly, appendix carry never ruins the pleasingly feminine hourglass shape.
The Bottom Line
Women’s clothing tends to be a lot more variable than men’s, with more possibilities for concealing a firearm in different places. That’s a huge plus, if you’re flexible enough to see it. The nice thing about all these methods is that you needn’t be locked into using just one. You can experiment with all of them, choosing your carry method to suit your outfit and your plans for the day.
Editor’s Note: We have had a lot of questions regarding concealed carry for women. Thanks to Kathy Jackson for writing this article. Please take a moment to visit her site www.CorneredCat.com