Women who CCW, or carry a concealed weapon, are presented with new challenges as they evaluate holsters, but they can also benefit from distinct advantages that are not typically available to men. If you are a woman new to CCW, first you need to consider whether you want to carry your weapon on your body or with a conceal and carry accessory. Once you have made this decision, it becomes much easier to decide the right holster or accessory for the job.
On-Body Carry Vs. Carry Accessories
The first and most obvious place to carry is with your purse. While there are a list of reasons why a purse is potentially the wrong choice as a CCW holster, it can still be a prudent choice for many women. Purses offer the highest level of safety and comfort while carrying, and many models are designed with quick draw in mind. However, a purse is usually the first target for an attacker, and if the purse is lost during a struggle, then you can be left defenseless. Women who use a purse should keep one hand on their firearm ready to draw when traveling through potentially dangerous areas like parking garages to avoid being stripped of their firearm.
Galco makes a variety of designer purses with CCW in mind. They look just like a regular purse and most people wouldn’t never be able to tell the difference.
When it comes to maximum control of your weapon, on the body carry is the best choice, and it ensures your weapon will never be taken from you. Yet depending on your typical clothing choices, not every holster is compatible with certain styles of clothing. You need to think about what you typically wear in public and choose a holster based around that style of dress.
Holster Styles For Women
Your selection of an appropriate conceal and carry holster depends on how you dress. First off, those who typically wear slacks or pants in their normal day to day activities can generally speaking use the same holsters as men. IWB (inside the waistband) holsters can be a great option for women, but remember an IWB holster requires a little extra space, and tight fitting pants may not offer enough room for the IWB method. Ankle holsters can be an excellent way to hide a firearm, but quick draw with ankle holsters can be a bit tricky unless you are already sitting down. Handgun weight can also be an issue with ankle holsters, and because of these reasons, we commonly would not recommend ankle holsters as a primary carry method. However, they can be useful for those who want to carry a smaller backup gun.
If you wear pants or slacks everyday, then it is hard to go wrong with an Inside The Waist holster like this one from Galco.
Another great solution for conceal and carry is a pocket holster, and these are versatile enough to be used with pants, coats or jackets. A pocket holster fits inside your pocket, and it is meant to stay inside the pocket while you draw the handgun out of it. Special sticky materials and distinct shapes help keep the holster in your pocket, and when you don’t need it, you can just take it out and leave the whole thing at home. There are a couple things for women to keep in mind regarding pocket holsters. First, they are typically only compatible with smaller self-defense handguns, so make sure your holster matches your chosen firearm. Secondly, pockets in women’s apparel, especially pants, tend to be smaller than men’s pockets, so take this into account before deciding upon a pocket holster.
This pocket holster is designed by Sig Sauer to fit different models of their compact handguns.
For a more exclusive solution, hip mounted or hip “hugger” holsters are designed exclusively for women’s conceal and carry in mind, and many are versatile enough so you can carry the weapon either at your front or behind your back. Hip mounted holsters are hidden by the bottom of your shirt and the waist of your pants, and most times no one but you will ever know the firearm is there. Certain hip hugger models even sport pockets for extra magazines should the situation call for them. Drawing while sitting down can be a little tricky with a hip hugger holster, but it is certainly not impossible.
If you commonly wear a dress or skirt instead of pants, then your approach to conceal and carry needs to change a bit. Garter belt holsters are the popular choice for this style of dress, and they offer secure carry and quick draw capability should the need arise. The only real drawback of garter holsters is support, and if your firearm is too heavy, the garter holster could slide down your leg a bit. However, many garter belt models also have features to prevent against this drawback.
Finally, under the clothes holsters like conceal and carry shirts or bras can be a reliable option for many women, but they aren’t without their drawbacks as well. Bra holsters ensure your firearm is under your complete control, but weight can be a serious issue, and bra holsters are best used with ultra-compact handguns. Some bra holsters can also reveal the outline of your gun depending on your posture. A conceal and carry shirt can be a good alternative to a bra, and they are designed so the outline of the gun doesn’t show through your top layer of clothing. The drawbacks of a conceal carry shirt are few, and as long as your top layer of clothing isn’t too tight, quick draw shouldn’t be an issue.
Many companies manufacture custom undershirts with holsters built right into the shirt.
Diversify Your Options
Even though it can require a substantial investment, diversifying your conceal and carry options is probably your best bet when it comes to a carry every day mentality. If you have holsters for when you wear dresses, pants, and even a purse when your clothing doesn’t accommodate the other two, you stand the best chance of always having your weapon by your side should you need it. But if this is your first foray into conceal and carry, choose the style of dress you use most and select a holster based on that. From there, you can decide what other holsters or options you may need in the future.
You can also read more about the basics of selecting a holster in Get To Know Conceal And Carry: Holster Options.