15 Mar 12
Concealed Carry Options for Women:
Our female colleagues experience more formidable challenges when selecting concealed-carry options than do most men.
A “loose,” even “baggy” look is of scant concern to many men, so getting a concealed, full-sized pistol onto their waistband, in a holster (external or IWB), under a vest or similar overgarment, is usually an easy matter, so long as they’re wearing a heavy belt.
By contrast, modern society expects women to look smart, stylish, and “put-together,” even in casual environments. In addition, most of my female colleagues are smaller, shorter, and slimmer than most men. So, with the majority of in-vogue women’s apparel, there is little “undefined” space within/under which to conceal guns. And, on women, heavy gunbelts are rarely considered “chic.”
A concealment belt-holster, carried just to the rear of the ilium, so popular with men, is unsuitable for most women, as this position on the female waistband causes the pistol’s muzzle to protrude outward, and the grip to dig into her kidney. However, when the holster is moved forward, into the “inguinal channel” (just forward of the ilium), the only flat part of the female waist, concealed carry becomes much more comfortable and achievable. Called the “appendix-carry,” this option is the one selected by most female detectives I know. The “Nancy Special,” from Mitch Rosen Leather, is a waist-band holster that sits at just the right angle for an uncompromised draw from the appendix position.
Comp-Tac makes sturdy, usable leather gunbelts in 1 1/4 inch width, narrowing to 3/4 inch in front, in keeping with a feminine look.
In fact, many men opt for the appendix carry also! Thus carried, the pistol is fully accessible when one is seated in a car, and doesn’t “print” when he bends over. However, the appendix carry option requires a closed shirt/sweater over the top, which must be lifted to gain access to the pistol. An open/unbuttoned garment won’t adequately conceal the gun.
When belts are an issue, an elastic “belly-band,” can be used to sandwich the pistol between T-shirt and outer garment. One can look “normal” and still effectively carry in this manner. Though not as comfortable as the foregoing option, the pistol is still readily accessible, yet adequately concealed. Kangaroo Carry makes an excellent rendition.
However, there is a thorny issue with women considering the waist-carry option, in any form: Women have to drop their pants several times a day. We men often forget this vexing inconvenience patiently endured by our female colleagues! When the female waistband is loaded-up with guns and accessories, using the restroom becomes a complicated procedure every time it becomes necessary. Thus, many women prefer non-waistband carry options.
A recent development, and one that has become instantly popular with women across the Country, is a bra-holster from Looper Leather, called “Flash-Bang.” Nestled between bra-cups, a small pistol can thus be carried comfortably, and, with all but skin-tight tops, remain undetected. It works best with shirt and pants/skirt combinations. It will not work with a dress and belted-waist. The holster itself is a kydex clamshell, so both hands are required to reholster.
I’ve seen a number of fashionably-dressed women carrying five-shot snubby revolvers, the Kahr P380, and the Kimber Solo in a Flash-Bang holster, and the pistol is absolutely invisible. No belt required. Gaining access to the pistol requires the top-garment to be pulled up from the waist with the support-side hand, while the gun is simultaneously drawn with the strong-side hand, hence its name! A firm, structured bra is required. Flimsy, “stretchy” bras will not suffice.
Other viable concealed-carry options include shoulder-holsters, ankle-holsters, and off-body carry. All have strong points, and limitations. One strong point is that none of these three options require a belt!
Off-body carry in a handbag will not suit everyone, but represents the only possibility for some. A company called GTM (Gun-Toten’s Mamas) makes a popular line of purses, handbags, and fanny-packs designed to discreetly conceal pistols. They have sizes and styles to appeal to most women, from tote-bags to evening-bags.
Excellent shoulder-holsters for women are made by Alessi Leather and Rusty Sherrick. Vicki wears both. Again, no belt required.
The decision to carry regularly must be made first. Then comes the decision to either find a way to carry with her current style/mode of dress, or modify her style (to some degree) in order to accommodate concealed carry. Her choices are body-carry or off-body carry, as noted.
With all challenges enumerated above, many women still need to start carrying regularly, as quickly as they can be equipped and trained, and we men need to encourage and support them in every way we can.
Here are the people to contact: