Concealed carry for a woman can be a difficult task. Every woman who is an avid gun carrier has felt the frustrations of trying to figure out just where to hide that thing. There are so many choices out there, from purses to thigh holsters, that the options seem overwhelming. Every woman, every gun and every outfit seems to need something different. Here are a few suggestions on how to master “deep-concealment”.
First, choose the right tool for the job. Having a handful of handguns to use for concealed carry can help expand your options drastically. For instance, having a small, thin gun like the Ruger LC9 gives you more flexibility with your wardrobe; not only because it is thinner and flatter, but because there are a wider variety of holster options for a smaller gun. On the other hand, if you are going downtown to get your hair done at the mall where all the gang-bangers like to chill, a full sized gun with a higher ammunition capacity might be a better choice. In a place like that, you are more likely to get attacked by a group of people than just one, and those extra rounds could mean the difference between becoming a victim and staying alive.
Another thing to consider when choosing the right tool for the job is how the tool is designed. If I am going to carry a gun in a purse, for example, I want to make sure that gun has proper safety features so it doesn’t accidentally go “bang” while I’m throwing my purse around. For instance, while a Glock is a super great gun for on the person carry, it probably isn’t a very safe option to be shoving in and out of compartments and crevices in your car. The reason for this is that the Glock’s only external safety is the “safe trigger” which is a little lever on the trigger that must be taken all the way back before the trigger can be pulled. The problem is the “safe trigger” is that it is still very easy to accidentally pull that trigger all the way back if it gets caught up on something with enough tension. If you are looking to carry a gun and be switching its position continually or shoving it into crevasses, I recommend a gun with a few more safety features; such as a grip safety and/or a thumb safety.
Second, choose a carry method. You want to find something that works for you. Think safety, easy access, comfort and functionality.
Safety: Can you draw the gun safely without putting yourself or innocent bystanders at risk? Does the holster completely cover the trigger and protect the trigger guard? As I move around in this holster is anything going to get caught up on the gun?
Easy Access: Speed is crucial in a gunfight. You want to be able to access your handgun as quickly as possible. Whichever way you choose to carry, you should train and be able to draw from that configuration in a fraction of a second. If you have physical limitations, make sure your method of concealment doesn’t conflict with these. For instance, if you have band knees and have a hard time kneeling down, an ankle holster is not the choice for you.
Comfort: You want to choose a holster that is comfortable for you. The worst thing you can do is spend all your time, money and effort on getting a handgun and getting trained and then never carry the gun because it’s too uncomfortable. Just because one inside the waistband holster is uncomfortable doesn’t mean all inside the waistband holsters will be uncomfortable for you. Try the same type of holster in a few different brands. The belly band is a great option for optimum comfort. It allows you to wear the gun pretty much anywhere on your torso. The compression short holster is another option that is also very discreet and great option for deep concealment.
Functionality: Is the holster sturdy? Can you reholster the firearm without putting your fingers in front of the muzzle to rearrange the holster? Do you want a retention holster (where you have to press a lever or button in order to draw the firearm)?
I personally recommend carrying your primary weapon on your person for easier access and more positive control over the firearm. However, I like carrying my Smith and Wesson .38Special+P Airweight in my purse as a backup. Armed in Heels has some super cute concealed carry purses that look like regular trendy handbags.
Last but not least is your wardrobe. Let’s face it; you are going to have to adapt your wardrobe to conceal a handgun on a regular basis. And trust me, I know all about this.
After 3 years of fighting the constant battle between my passion for fashion and my gun-toting lifestyle, I was exhausted. Dressing for concealed carry can be a real headache when the two can't get along (which is most of the time). I was actually angry at myself for the choices the fashionista side of me had made without consulting my practical side. And when the two did meet for a conference, it always ended in me having a mental meltdown in the middle of the store. The tears were not spared. Oh the anguish! bebe vs. Springfield Armory! And so it was, for two years (depending on the day, the store, and my current favorite carry pistol).
One day, a few years ago, I had a revelation. It hit me like a Louisville Slugger to the face. I would keep only the clothing that hides my gun, and I would never purchase another piece of clothing that didn’t follow that same rule. It was that simple! If I didn't have that slinky black dress tempting me to leave the gun at home that night, the mental chaos revolving around simply putting clothing on my body would not exist. I could create a sort of harmony and have the "normal" type of relationship that most women have with their closet. And guess what, it worked!
Once you have chosen your carry method, you need to follow through with it by adapting your wardrobe.
Options for carrying in a dress: If you have a smaller carry gun, some great options for carrying concealed in a dress are the compression short holster and the belly band. For a full size sidearm I simply wear jean shorts with an inside the waistband holster underneath the dress.
Personally I am not a huge fan of the thigh holster or the ankle holster. Considering that most ADs (Accidental Discharges) happen when the carrier is either drawing or re-holstering their gun, the placement of the thigh holster is not optimal. The muzzle of the gun is constantly pointing at your femoral artery. If you accidentally shoot yourself in the femoral artery you will likely bleed out in less than a minute (before the ambulance arrives). The ankle holster takes more training and practice. In order to draw from the ankle, you will need to kneel down. This extra fraction of a second can cost you. All this being said; the ankle and thigh holsters are still viable options for discreet carry.
Of course, the key is to train and become proficient in the techniques and methods you choose to use. This means practicing safely drawing, getting your sights on target and shooting under stress or time limits.