Concealed Carrie is a women’s concealed-carry handbag manufacturer based in Roswell, Georgia. Concealed Carrie’s story began when Tom and Leslie Deets decided to visit a firing range in the Atlanta area a few years ago. Tom’s prior experience in law enforcement, his strong endorsement of the right to bear arms, and his mission to promote safety through education convinced him that the best protection he could give his family was to equip them to protect themselves.
But there was a problem. While learning about firearms proved to be beneficial for Leslie, she was not impressed with the concealed-carry options for women that were currently available. She wanted the ability to protect herself without giving up her sense of style.
To accomplish both, Leslie founded Concealed Carrie. As a self-proclaimed fashionista, Leslie launched into a self-study of the current trends in women’s high-end handbags and came to the conclusion that there was a demand for a better solution. A concealed-carry handbag that offered the utmost in both quality of material and style was needed.
She first came up with the product line after attending a ladies’ defensive handgun class, and later, a concealed-carry class. In both cases, she said, “I was struck by the women who came to class wearing holsters strapped to their bodies or toting less desirable military-style concealed carry bags that were far from feminine. “Women want to feel more empowered,” she said. “But why should they be forced to compromise fashion for function?”
It wasn’t long before the idea took off. The product line was launched in October 2012 with sales far exceeding initial forecasts. Concealed Carrie sells a variety of handbags that wrap removable and adjustable holsters inside rich leather exteriors. All-leather styles include an ostrich print computer carry-all, $299; a smooth-leather computer carry-all, $289; a fashion-forward leather crocodile-printed Hobo, $269; smooth-leather totes, $249; and the very popular distressed brown leather satchel, $299.
Just before Thanksgiving, the Cheaper Than Dirt! Chronicle got a pre-production sample of the Brown Leather Satchel to examine. We loaned the bag to women from the age of 21 to (ahem), somewhat older, and they were all impressed by the level of quality and style. But our test team also had a few questions for Ms. Deets.
— Cheaper Than Dirt! Chronicle Staff
CTD: As we’ve discussed, the audience for this newsletter is 99.9% percent men, many of whom are solely focused on function when they think about carry solutions. So why will they care about fashion in concealed-carry bags?
Deets: Don’t they want their women protected? In the wake of widespread mass shootings in movie theaters, shopping malls, and other public venues, it’s no wonder that more and more women are looking for ways in which to protect themselves. Firearm sales overall continue to climb at a rate of about 15% a year, and sales to women are even higher. Women are taking the initiative to prepare themselves to defend and protect. Now they can do it in style.
CTD: If a man reads this and is thinking about buying a Concealed Carrie Handbag for his significant other for Christmas, is that overstepping his bounds? Our testers said they would appreciate the gesture, as long as the bag wasn’t schlock. Still, a lot of men have trepidation about venturing into the world of handbags without a guide. Will a Concealed Carrie product make men look smart and thoughtful, or not so much?
Deets: Anyone who wants to promote safety and security for those they care most about looks smart and thoughtful. If handbag selection is overwhelming, then perhaps a Concealed Carrie gift certificate is the solution. Then she can select the handbag that’s right for her.
CTD: Our team was impressed with the quality of the Brown Leather Satchel Handbag. “Smooth, substantial, even color, nice feel,” were among the comments. However, they said that if they’re the kind of women who will worry about the leather, they want the fittings to go with it. They said their other high-end bags have stainless, brass, or aluminum fittings. Our testers looked at the plastic fittings of the pre-production model on the ends of the carry strap and the pewter fittings on the bag itself and wondered if those would be changed to metal in the post-production models?
Deets: The subtle aged-metal hardware is what sets the satchel apart and adds to the distressed feel and look of the leather. All Concealed Carrie hardware is metal and has passed all necessary trade testing.
CTD: Are all the purses set up for cross-draw extraction? That is, right-handed women would wear the satchel on the left hip?
Deets: No, not all of the styles offer cross-body draw. For example, the crocodile Hobo and the smooth leather totes are equipped with shoulder straps only. The satchel and computer carry-alls come with a removable adjustable shoulder strap allowing for cross-carry draw. It’s really a matter of preference.
CTD: When we timed both methods of extraction, we averaged about 5.6 seconds drawing from the top to laser on target and 6.7 seconds to laser on target drawing from the side zippers. Our testers would be more comfortable with laser on target in about 4 seconds. Any advice on how to speed that up?
Deets: It’s great that you really put the product through its paces! My best answer is … practice.
CTD: Our testers said that the Brown Satchel Handbag was heavy, even unloaded. It tipped the scale at 3.25 pounds with nothing in it. Is the weight a trade-off for the great leather quality?
Deets: The Brown Leather Satchel is our most substantial handbag in regards to weight. The soft distressed leather is abundant and richly detailed. Alternative styles are lighter in weight. For example, the tote weighs in closer to 2 pounds.
CTD: Our testers uniformly prefer to carry bags like the Satchel and Tote with two handles over the shoulder, and wear the handbag under or behind the arm. And worn like that, it seems like the Satchel is the right height to allow easy access to the front zipper, where you can reach the gun. Is that the best way to use the bigger models?
Deets: I carry over my shoulder as well. I like to know that my firearm is close to me at all times and just a holster draw away. The computer carry-alls also offer a removable adjustable cross-body shoulder strap much like the satchel for those who want options.
CTD: Our testers like to be able to slide the purse onto a shoulder with one hand, but the strap length on the Satchel made that difficult — about 12 inches tall from buckles to the top of the strap. Instead, they had to slide the left arm through the handles, then pull the purse up with the right hand. Are the straps longer on some models than others? Or is clearance between the top of the bag and the handles greater on some models?
Deets: The length of the straps on the satchel have been extended slightly since the pre-production model was completed. All models and measurements are based on current industry standards and the most popular styles.
CTD: Our testers said the detachable strap was too long to allow easy access if worn straight down from one shoulder. Of course, this will vary from person to person, but on all three of our testers, the bag hung too low. So to access the compartments, they had to use one hand to lift the bag and the other to unzip the compartments and grab the gun. So, is the Satchel designed to be worn messenger-style, across the chest? Or would you consider using an adjustable slide strap on the carry strap so that the satchel can ride higher and the strap tail doesn’t hang loose? Also, will you eventually offer different colors? Black, brown, and navy are staples for coordinating with other clothing, our team said.
Deets: Concealed Carrie is always open to input and suggestions as to improvements, especially as we introduce new lines of products. Currently, the satchel and computer carry-alls are designed to be worn cross-body for added comfort and security. You may also carry them comfortably with the adjustable strap removed and over one shoulder.
CTD: Our testers worried that they couldn’t wear the bag where they had a choice of how to get the gun out of the bag. For example, if the front of the satchel is worn facing the leg, that makes getting into the top difficult, because the flap is pinned against the leg. However, the side zippers are exposed. And if the side zippers are worn inward, only the top is accessible. And the gun and holster orientation in the Velcro-lined area has to be adjusted for one or the other. So, in sum, will women have to choose one orientation and train for that?
Deets: It’s always best to train so you feel the most comfortable and most empowered. The removable Velcro holster can be positioned in any direction and will accommodate any sized handgun. All handbags allow for left- or right-handed user preference. That’s what makes Concealed Carrie unique when comparing us to other brands on the market. We’ve tried to think of everything.
CTD: We tried several different pistols and revolvers in the satchel. Snubbie revolvers and small, flat pistols like a Kahr PM9, Springfield XD-S, SIG Sauer P238, and Kel-Tec P-11 seemed to be the right size to pull out the front. On the upper end, our testers also carried handguns as large as a Colt Python 357 Mag with a 6-inch barrel. The bag was also big enough to accept a KG9, but the fit was too tight to remove readily. In both cases, we could only get at the larger guns from the top flap. During your testing, did you find that a certain gun size or thickness seemed to work best?
Deets: Yes, the smooth leather totes and computer carry-alls have the largest firearm compartments and will accommodate most handgun sizes. The brown leather satchel, as you mentioned, is designed to better fit a low to midsize caliber, while the leather printed crocodile Hobo has a slightly smaller compartment and would better service a .22 or .38.
CTD: What’s the largest handgun you’d recommend for the Satchel or Tote?
Deets: I currently carry a Walther PPK .380 in both the satchel and the tote. However, I know of other women who pack their Glocks into the same styles of their Concealed Carrie handbags.
CTD: The Hobo is the only product in the line that has an exterior compartment for the gun? Is that because the handbag is smaller —12.5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide — so there wasn’t room inside for a gun?
Deets: Both the crocodile printed Hobo and computer carry-alls have exterior firearms compartments. The double zipper allows for the carrier to position the access according to her preference. The Hobo’s top flap, while trendy and stylish, made it difficult to effectively draw from the top of the handbag. The computer carry-all keeps the firearm separate and securely stored in an external compartment since the main compartment of the handbag houses a computer, files and personal items that would make firearm extraction cumbersome. It’s all about security and safety and the most effective design.
CTD: Our testers said that, initially, men in their lives urged them to carry, and after training, they were glad they did. And they agreed that they know women who, even after training, would resist carrying because they don’t want to give up a favorite Coach purse or a Michael Kors bucket. Can a Concealed Carrie interlocking “CC” logo someday have as much cachet among women carriers as Coco Chanel’s two interlocked and opposing “C” letters has in haute couture?
Deets: I hope so! Women who are likely to purchase a Coach or Michael Kors handbag are who we believe will want a concealed-carry option that meets the same fashion standard, and they are not willing to compromise.
CTD: The price point of Concealed Carrie compares to styles offered by today’s leading designers. Are they worth it?
Deets: Yes, while you can’t put a price on protection, you will also find that Concealed Carrie compares and exceeds in quality and style to the current all-leather concealed-carry options available. The abundance of function and fashion detail speaks for itself.
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