The firearms industry has been very responsive to the concealed carry boom. Fortunately, this boom is taking into account the presence of women. The development of smaller firearms for personal defense makes it easier for women to carry firearms and ensures that those guns are more easily concealed. Holster manufacturers have expanded their variety of holster options, which allows women to carry firearms concealed in places that might make you blush! New concealment holsters now make it possible forwomen who wear fitted clothing to carry firearms undetected.
Also see: Secrets of Concealed Carry
Holsters are not a ‘buy one and done’ product, in my opinion. They are a tremendous investment because most holsters are appropriate for one specific carry situation, but not for all of them. For a woman, selecting an appropriate holster is largely dependent upon her choice in apparel, anticipated activity, and body type. After years of concealed carry, I have found some functional holsters that ensure I’m never unarmed again.
In Waistband Holsters
The most traditional way to carry a handgun is in a holster slung off your hip, like a cowboy or a cop. Yet this lacks subtlety, and the whole point of concealed carry is keeping your gun concealed until it is needed. The most popular way to carry concealed is to tuck your holster inside your waistband. Your clothing needs to completely hide the gun, and allow for easy access.
Beretta makes a variety of options for IWB and traditional carry, like this secure IWB rig for the 9mm Nano. But what if the IWB options aren't sufficient? What if you plan to wear something more fitted, or a dress? Where will you hide your pistol?
Women who wear fitted clothing often face a challenge when trying to conceal a firearm. This is especially true in hot weather, where wardrobe choices include skimpy clothing. For years, I didn’t carry a firearm in summer months because I couldn’t conceal it. The bra holster changed that!
When I first learned about bra holsters, I was a dissenter. I didn’t think a gun could be safely drawn from this position. I steered clear of the holster until my continued frustration of being unarmed in the summer broke me. Last summer I tried one and it instantly became one of my favorites.
Contrary to my initial conclusion, it is possible to draw from and conceal a firearm in this holster without muzzling oneself. The holster (and firearm) is positioned between the bottom band of the bra and the rib cage with the barrel of the firearm pointing to the left (if you are right handed). The holster connects to the bra by way of a strap attached to the holster. The strap wraps around the front center section of the bra, between the cups, and comes in various sizes. To draw the weapon safely, pull straight down and keep the weapon parallel to your chest. For safety reasons, I would recommend removing the holster completely to re-holster a firearm.
Just when I think manufacturers have run out of innovative concealment ideas, something new will crop up. The latest trend is a very effective form of thigh holster. Don’t confuse a thigh holster with the traditional thigh rig worn by tacticians. Thigh rigs and thigh holsters do have one commonality – they both place the holster on the upper part of your leg, allowing for a natural draw. The main difference between them is…well… concealment! Thigh holsters were designed with women’s specific concealed carry needs in mind. A thigh holster allows women to carry a concealed weapon under a dress or a skirt when they don’t access to the waist or upper body.
These holsters secure around the thigh and attach like a garter. Wearing a dress or skirt that flows away from the thigh will prevent firearm printing. It’s important to make sure that the length of the skirt covers the gun when you’re seated as well.
One of my favorite hobbies is road biking, but it’s a vulnerable activity. I always feel like I’m at the mercy speeding cars on the roads, and vagrants on the bike paths. I have ridden miles without seeing another cyclist, and had my share of flat tires in the middle of nowhere. I insist on carrying when I ride, but finding a holster that was comfortable while riding was trickier than it might seem. For years, I carried pepper spray, a knife, and a gun. I figured I could access the first two until I could get my gun, which I carried in my backpack. A belly band eliminated my need to carry anything else but my gun and phone.
Belly bands are designed to be ambidextrous. They secure around the waist, or higher up on the torso. Most secure with hook and loop systems that keep a firearm snug and accessible. The user can carry their firearm cross draw or strong side, making it very comfortable when pedaling. There are also additional pockets in most belly bands for items like a phone or knife.
The variety of concealment holsters available for women allows them to always carry firearms. Holster manufacturers continue to come up with creative solutions for the specific challenges women face. A commitment to carry a concealed firearm will require an investment in a variety of holsters.
***Holsters require training and repetition to become proficient with their use. Without the commitment to practice, the ability to draw a firearm under stress is questionable at best.