From the perspective of rapidly deploying a firearm in an armed attack, carrying a concealed handgun is best carried on the strong-side of the body in a quality holster. However, this method of carry is not possible, or even preferable, for many people due to physical considerations, dress requirements or even social norms.
Consider the woman who is wearing a dress to dinner. How is she supposed to carry a gun on her waist? She won’t. So, an alternative method must be employed. How about a doctor working at a practice where the accidental flashing of a gun might scare patients? Or the off-duty cop taking classes at the local college?
In all of these situations, off-body carry might be a better choice for taking a handgun with you. Generally speaking, off body carry allows for greater concealment of the firearm. But, there are downsides to off body carry.
When carrying a pistol in bag or briefcase, for example, it will likely take you longer to access the gun when compared to carrying on your hip. Also, a bad guy might more easily notice your moves toward a pistol since you might have to move your whole body to get at the gun.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, when carrying off body, you must be extremely aware of where your gun is at all times. You cannot let your bag or case out of your sight and control, lest someone could walk off with it. Many a woman has lost her purse when turning away from the shopping cart to compare prices on groceries. Thieves can just walk by at take your pack without even knowing what is contained therein.
With those considerations in mind, off body carry can be the best choice depending on the person and the circumstance. Here are a few popular off body carry methods.
purse – The purse is probably the most popular off body carry method. Women who like to dress in some of the more feminine attire have understandable difficulty in concealing a handgun on their person. In these cases the off body carry makes the most sense.
There are a wide variety of purses specially designed for carrying a handgun. Generally, these bags have a dedicated compartment in the middle of the bag, which is accessible from one or both ends of the purse. This arrangement is desirable, as it prevents other items from fouling the pistol.
A decade ago, there were just a handful of people making holster purses, and the styles were pretty limited. Fortunately, the industry has responded to the demand for stylish purses created for women toting a gun.
Galco Gunleather makes more than ten different styles of women’s handbags.
For Christmas this year, I purchased my wife a stylish black leather shoulder purse from the fashion site Silver Hooks Did you ever think you could buy a gun accessory on a fashion site?
Although I’ve never used any of their products, Gun Tote’n Mamas has a lot of trendy bags that seem to be very well designed. I have spoken to several people who really like their products, so you might want to give them a look.
day planner – The day planners that were so popular in the 90’s continue to have a place in some corporate circles. Many people now use their phones to manage schedules and contacts, but a quality clutch notebook does not look out of place in most business environments. So a small notebook that holds a gun instead of appointments might be a very low-profile method of carrying a self defense gun in non-permissive environments.
Several major companies make day planner holsters including Blackhawk and DeSantis Gunhide.
pack – There are a wide range of pack options available for both men and women. These can come as sling bags, fanny packs and even as briefcases. Where you are carrying, what your needs are beyond the gun, and your own personal preferences will dictate what kind of bag you might want to obtain.
The Maxpedition Versipack is extremely popular in this category. There are several styles, sizes, and colors, but essentially the Versipack is an across-the-body gear bag that allows you to easily carry a pistol, extra ammo, and a few other “every day carry” items. They can look tacti-cool or more hiking-chic depending on your color choices.
Maxpedition also makes the Sitka S-Type Gearslinger, which is a slingbag, or one shoulder backpack. The gun rides is a special holster compartment that is accessed when the shooter pulls the bag forward in front of the body. While this draw method may be slightly slower than some other choices, it does have a very low-profile look.
Another benefit to the Sitka Gearslinger, is that when the bag is moved in front of the shooter, it covers the heart/lungs area. If a shooter was to add a kevlar panel or rifle plate to the pack, it would offer substantial protection to the vital areas of the shooter in an armed attack.