Leaving aside for one moment the ridiculous bra-mounted pistols that Ursula Andress wore in a deservedly-forgotten spy movie of the 1970’s, there are real problems for women who want to carry a concealed firearm. Do you think that carrying a concealed handgun will stop you from going out wearing your form-fitting Versace dress, or your stretch Lycra pants? Better think again, because there has never been a wider selection of concealment items designed especially for women.
Up to a very short time ago, women who wanted to carry a concealed gun were poorly served when looking for a suitable concealment holster. The vast majority of available designs were made for men, and women were generally ignored. Holster makers also seemed unaware of the fact that women have a different body shape, and curve in at the waist, and out again at the hip. Men, on the other hand, generally go straight up and down, with little discernible waist.
The consequence of this was that a woman wearing a holster on the strong side would find that the butt of the gun would be digging into her ribs, as her shape forced the gun’s barrel outwards. Drawing the gun was not an easy task, and as an instructor, I coined the term ‘the Quasimodo lurch’, after watching female students bend sideways to try and get the gun out smoothly. Nowadays, some companies have recognized this, and build holsters that are built up to conform to the natural curvature of the hips, yet still give an easy draw. Any strong-side holster with an FBI rake (muzzle to the rear), can be made to work quite easily for women. Simply move the holster further to the rear, so that it is not riding directly on the hip. By moving it further back, it will place the holster over the flatter portion of the Gluteus Maximus, (no, he wasn’t a character in ‘Gladiator’) yet can still be accessed quickly in an emergency situation. Experiment with the holster to find the best position for yourself. The holster can then be concealed from view by wearing a jacket, or hanging your shirt outside.
Crossdraw holsters also work well for women, as the holster is placed on the weak side of the body, where usually there is no curvature that can force the gun’s grip into the body. The strong hand can simply sweep down and across to grasp the gun for a smooth draw.
Another holster design that works very well for women is one developed by Andy Arratoonian, the owner of Horseshoe Leather in England. His ‘SOB’ holster is carried in the small of the back, with the grip facing upwards at an oblique angle. This design is very comfortable for extended wear, and concealment is easily achieved if a short jacket is worn, or if the shirt is worn outside the pants. My wife regularly wears one of these when teaching her firearms classes for women, and tells her students that in addition to being extremely secure, the holster is good for the posture, as sitting in a car seat or a chair mandates that an upright body position is needed to avoid the gun digging into the small of her back!
Then, of course, there’s the old stand-by, the fanny pack. Nowadays, with so many different materials and fabrics available, no woman should be seen wearing the all-black, "shoot me, I’ve got a concealed weapon," fanny pack. You can now buy them in various colored leathers or fabric, and I always recommend to my students that you utilize your imagination to give them some form of urban camouflage.
This can range from something as simple as sewing a patch of your favorite ball team on the front, or using the front zipper pocket to half-conceal a set of Walkman or Ipod earphones. The impression you should be trying to make is that your fanny pack is just an extension of your purse, if you are carrying one, and is just a normal container for your personal items.
Another point that should be mentioned about fanny packs is that you should always make sure that it’s the right size for your personal defense handgun. It’s better to buy one a size larger than one that is a tight squeeze for the gun.
Also, don’t try and carry heavy artillery, such as a snubby .44 Magnum, or a full-sized 1911-style .45 Auto pistol. Instead, you should opt for a smaller, lightweight revolver or semi-auto pistol. Yes, we’ve all read about the heavier recoil associated with weapons like these, but you are carrying your gun for defensive purposes, not to a day at the practice range. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an interpersonal conflictive situation, (see – I can talk psychobabble, too!) the fact that your gun is kicking hard won’t even be noticed, as you’ll be totally focused on the threat, and dealing with it.
Women’s concealment purses and handbags are also big sellers these days, with a vast number of manufacturers producing them, in a wide range of styles and materials to suit every taste and/or occasion. Nearly all of them have a hidden compartment for the gun, which is accessed from the side, through a Velcro or a zipper pocket. Excellent concealed carry purses are made by The Concealment Shop, www.theconcealmentshop.com, and other makers like Galco, www.usgalco.com also have a good range of more upmarket purse designs. Accessing the gun is by way of a two-handed movement. With the purse slung over the shoulder, the weak hand firmly grabs the bottom or side. The strong hand then snakes into the hidden compartment and grabs the gun, then pulls it out. At the same time, the weak hand moves the gun away from the gun, which allows a fast and smooth presentation. With practice, quite fast draws can be made.
As can be seen from the above, women who opt to carry a concealed firearm these days are much better served by the makers of holsters and other concealment items. Whether you decide to carry your gun in a holster, a fanny pack, or a designer concealment purse, there’s one thing you have to remember: You have to practice!
Practice drawing your gun – do it at home first, with an unloaded weapon. Then, when your speed has built up, go to the range and do some live firing. Once you are confident that you can access your gun in a hurry, you’ll find that your self-confidence has been given a great boost, and furthermore, your shooting skills could one day save your life.
Thanks to the United States Concealed Carry Association for this article. To get USCCA tactical emails free just click here and sign up.