Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Guns.com.
As a micro warrior, a.k.a. a petite concealed carrier, people often ask me how I pack away a Glock 19 on my midsection without qualms. The art of concealment is definitely elevated when you’re working on a smaller canvas, but using some creativity and good gear, petite gun owners like myself can make it happen. Though my journey has been fraught with a decade of trial and error, I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks along the way to better help my fun-sized friends.
INVEST IN A QUALITY HOLSTER
A holster will either make or break the concealed carry experience, so it’s important to choose wisely when investing in a holster. Though a bevy of options exists on the market, it’s important to note that all quality holsters will have the same basic concepts. A good holster will safely retain the gun, safely cover the trigger area and allow efficient access to the firearm when needed. Most importantly, a good holster will help you, the concealer, keep the firearm tucked out of sight when not in use.
Selecting a holster can sometimes be a daunting task as there are many to choose from but keeping in mind where you want to carry can narrow the field. If AIWB is your preferred path, focus on holsters that offer a claw or wedge design to help angle the gun’s grip into the body. If IWB is the mode of carry, invest in an option with an adjustable cant so you can play with the angle of the holster and gun.
The women’s market is chock full of stylish deep concealment holsters promising to help women carry on with their fashionista lifestyle without the impediment of a gun. When researching holsters, focus on what makes a holster a quality one – retaining the gun, covering the trigger and allow efficient access to the firearm – and don’t get bogged down with lace, frills or empty promises. There’s a reason instructors, RSOs and those who’ve carried for decades forgo frilly fabric holsters in favor of Kydex.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BELT AND PANTS
In what might come as a surprise, the single most important aspect of successfully carrying when you’re fun-sized comes down to belt and pant selection. As the attachment point for guns and gear, the belt is crucial for maintaining a flawless, streamlined look when carrying. There are some solid options on the market, like the Volund Gearworks belt I choose to carry my Dark Star Gear Orion AIWB holster and Glock 19 with, but petite concealers don’t have to spend $100 on a belt. So long as a it offers enough stiffness to carry the weight of the gear, that’s all that matters. A tip for those with prominent hips: nab a nylon holster in lieu of a leather. Nylon conforms to the hips better and won’t leave bruises or marks, a win for any woman carrier.
In addition to choosing a solid belt, pants also play a part in the concealed carry equation – specifically, the rise. Pants rise is the height of which the pants sit on the body. Usually, it comes down to three choices – low, mid and high. For the sake of concealed carry, I have found that mid-rise provides the best platform in which to concealed carry.
Low-rise forces the gun onto the boniest parts of my hips creating a jutting of the gun outward. In short, it’s really hard for me to conceal in low-rise jeans without a sweatshirt. High-rise jeans situate the gun further up my abdomen, causing an odd-looking protrusion. Mid-rise pants place the gun in a sweet spot around my hips, the naturally bulkiest part of me, allowing the gun to nestle where I need it in order to be inconspicuous.
While each and every person has a unique build all their own, investigating the rise of the pants you intend to carry with might make the difference between sporting a cardigan to carry or wearing just a t-shirt.
DRAW ATTENTION WITH JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES
Misdirection is the magicians most valuable tool and petite carriers can apply the same concept to introduce a little magic into the concealed carry setup. The introduction of jewelry or other fashion accessories into the carry equation yields some interesting effects. It may seem silly but a well-placed necklace, some bling, or even a scarf will often turn an iffy outfit into a do-able one by using the concept of misdirection.
A chunky necklace or dangly earrings may not seem like an obvious concealed carry accessory, but fashion accessories help draw the eyes of a passerby up to the face and away from the waistline where most guns lurk in holster. Keeping the gaze focused up helps alleviate the anxiety of wondering whether others will notice the gun nestled on your belt.
A word of caution though. While a fashion accessory is a great way to keep the gaze nearer to the face, it’s important that whatever your décor it doesn’t interfere with drawing the firearm. A long scarf draped down the body might help conceal the gun, but it is one more article of clothing that must be moved in order to get to the gun. In short, if you go the way of the scarf make sure to practice drawing and ensure clean access to holster and gun.
USE PATTERNS, DARK CLOTHING TO AVOID PRINTING
Take a peek into my concealed carry themed closet and you’ll notice two themes – patterns and dark colors. Florals, polka dots, plaid and stripes are not only fashionable, they also provide an efficient means to conceal a firearm. For those worried about printing, patterns are your go-to.
It might seem like a simple solution, but patterns remove the anxiety of printing simply by breaking up the outline of the gun. The most common complaint I hear from other concealed carriers in the micro category is that the gun in holster looks bulky or blocky through the clothes. Using patterns, though, the gun’s outline is broken up and the blocky appearance disappears off the waistline. Voila! No more printing.
It’s been my experience that with a pattern, I am able to wear more form fitting form fitting outfits simply because of the effect it has on the eye. Paired with some jewelry to draw the gaze up to the face and printing is passé. While patterns break up the outline of a gun, dark colors help better conceal that gun’s contours. Sticking with darker hues like blacks and blues ensure a sleek and streamlined look that aids in the overall concealment. Besides, black is always in vogue.
Simple modifications of one’s wardrobe can yield big results when concealing as a petite person. Starting the concealed journey with the right holster, belt and pants then moving into pairing patterns, darker colors and accessories fellow micro warriors like myself can achieve flawless carry no matter what gun they’re packing.