Holsters in general and the right model in particular is a challenging endeavor for the armed woman.
Holster Options For Women:
Holster selection for women gets dicey because a lot of holster stuff on the market is designed by and for men. Thus, many of the principles in previous chapters need to be looked at differently to ensure comfortable and successful carry. “Concealed carry for women poses some important questions and challenges,” the blog Well ArmedWomen.com declares. “Women have some unique challenges to effective and safe concealed carry such as: holster locations on our curvy bodies, a variety of clothing styles that can make concealed carry challenging and the way a woman lives out her life.”
Overcome the Clothing Challenge
As a man attempting to write generalities about how women should dress I might as well just stick my head in the microwave and hit the popcorn button. But a few observations are warranted, like how tight-fitting, thin materials don’t bode well for concealing things like handguns and extra ammo. Concealed carry is not just about picking a gun and a holster. It entails a radical change in lifestyle, and that seems especially true for females. If you’re a woman you can still be fashionable, but you may need to rethink how you dress. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.
Yes, it’s true there are holsters to cover many of your existing styles. We’ll cover some of the better-known ones here. But also keep an open mind in looking anew at your wardrobes. Surely some of your stuff will work with the right holster, but there may be even better dress options for that holster and gun combo. Concealed carry is an awesome responsibility, so make it central to everything and dress around it, rather than trying to cram it into your existing daily dress.
A few tips on clothing include working a gun belt with jeans or slacks into your daily wear. A belt holster is one of your best carry options, and the gun belt is, well, a necessary part of the support system. Consider a loose-fitting vest or light over shirt as an outer concealing garment. Lower-riding jeans will help offset a shorter torso, giving you enough room to get a grip on a beltholstered gun, and still be able to draw. This is one of the biggest challenges handgun trainers see when trying to teach women in concealed carry classes. A handgun that rides too hide for your body’s length simply won’t leave any room to grip and draw. Men — don’t give your wife (girlfriend, daughter, etc.) your belt holster and gun belt and assume that because it works for you that it’ll work for her. Holster systems are like clothing, they need to fit the individual, or you’ll virtually guarantee she has a frustrating and unsuccessful experience.
Due to the shape and angle of a woman’s hip platform, many of the holsters on the market — which seem to have been designed for men — simply don’t work when used in the strong side position. However, there are a few ways around this conundrum.
“With practice, you will find a place on your figure that is least susceptible to printing a holstered gun,” writes Gila Hayes in Concealed Carry for Women. (Available at GunDigestStore.com). “For women with a less curvy ‘boyish’ figure, this spot may be immediately behind the strong-side hip; for ladies with a very curvy hourglass figure, it may be just forward of the strong-side hip or in cross draw position just in front of the weak-side hip. A short-barreled gun carried at an angle right behind the strong-side hip conveniently allows you to conceal the gun with even openfronted jackets and vests.”
Recently, my girlfriend decided to become armed and we tried several holster options for carrying the Sig P232 — an all-steel single-stack .380 ACP. She is quite petite and very shapely, and likes to wear tight jeans. Ultimately she settled on an outsidethe- waistband holster from Pure Kustom, positioned at about the 4-o’clock position just behind the hip platform. It was mighty comfortable, and with a light shirt over it, completely concealed.
Another good option for women seeking a spot for comfortable belt holster carry is appendix carry. An inside-thewaistband holster located just to the side of the navel in the front is very concealable and many women have found this to be the best solution to comfortable carry.
In the holster type discussion back in Chapter 2, I noted that shoulder holsters are somewhat of a niche application not widely used. However, they do happen to make an excellent choice for armed women. For one thing, they keep the handgun up above the waist and hip platform, the region that causes headaches for so many. For another, they work well with business casual dress.
“Most men, in my experience, don’t have the upper body flexibility necessary to draw efficiently or safely from a shoulder holster,” Grant Cunningham notes in the Gun Digest Book of the Revolver (GunDigestStore.com). “Most women do. The more muscular the man, the less likely it is that he’ll be able to make use of the shoulder holster, while women seem to not be so limited regarding their figure. For this reason I tend to recommend shoulder holsters for women more often than I do for men.”
Best Starter Kit for Concealed Carry:
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Ankle holsters are another option for those women who can’t find any other carry method or position for a given wardrobe. This method should be reserved for a backup gun, as access is less than ideal. But if there really is no other option it’s better to have a piece on the leg than none at all.
Ankle holsters should be carried on the inside of the leg on the weak-side of the body. Experts advise wearing two pairs of socks — one under the rig for comfort and to prevent abrasion; the other pulled over the holster to aid concealment when the pants leg lifts up, as in seated positions. Speaking of the seated position, Hayes cautions that while the ankle holster is virtually impossible to draw from while moving — running or walking — it is a very good choice for vocations where one is seated or driving.
For women wearing dresses or skirts the thigh holster is an option. For men wearing dresses or skirts I can’t help. The thigh-band holster is like a larger version of the ankle holster, and sometimes ankle holsters are actually modified for use on the thigh. They wrap around the leg with either elastic or Velcro to keep the handgun concealed inside the thigh. This is not to be confused with the military or police-style thigh, drop-leg or tactical holster, which attaches to the belt and hangs the handgun in a low position on the outside of the thigh.
In Concealed Carry for Women, Gila Hayes describes this holster as a “a deep concealment option” sometimes referred to as a “garter holster.”
“Most come with the addition of a nylon waist strap and
at least one garter, and often two, attached to the thigh band as insurance to keep it from slipping down,” she writes. “Unlike the belly band, which stops at the hips if it slips down, there is nothing but the tight elastic to keep the thigh band up without the garters.”
You’ll find good thigh band holsters made by Galco, The Well Armed Woman and UnderTech to name but a few.
This idea isn’t new and actually has some historical use
dating back to the good ol’ days. Today, the brassiere scabbard has been perfected by Lisa Looper of Flashbang Holster fame. Looper’s Flashbang rig wraps around the center support strap of the bra and hangs a smallish pistol or revolver just under the breasts in the front. To draw, you simply “flash” — by yanking up the shirt — and then “bang.”
I’ve seen mixed reports about this holster design and, like every other holster for women, it comes down to an individual’s physiology. My girlfriend tested both the Flashbang and the Marilyn (which attaches to the shoulder strap and top of the cup, is accessed via the neck opening of the shirt) and did not like it at first. All holsters take some getting used to, but I reckon hanging a pound or pound-and-a-half piece of steel from one’s bra makes for a very unusual day. Even so, every woman who carries should have a Flashbang and Marilyn in their holster drawer and give it a try because it does open up more concealment options. See more on bra holsters in the next chapter.
For more information on concealed carry holsters check out:
- 5 Things You Must Know About A Concealed Carry Holster
- Buckling Up The Basics Of Gun Belts
- 7 Pocket Holster Options For Easy Everyday Carry
- The Shoulder Holster And Its Carry Angle
- Pros And Cons Of The Appendix Carry Holster
- Essential Gear: Best Concealed Carry Holsters
Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from The Comprehensive Guide to Concealed Carry Holsters.