There are times when carrying a gun on your body in a traditional belt or inside-the-waistband holster is tough or problematic—in cocktail or business attire or while jogging or working out for example. Others may not feel comfortable wearing a gun at all and chose off-body carry in purses, day planners or tucked in the glove compartment of their cars.
Though I agree with the experts—it is best to carry your gun on your body in a holster that covers the trigger and retains the gun securely—the best way to carry is the one that makes you feel comfortable enough to stay armed every single day no matter what you are wearing. Even if you wear your gun on your belt, waistband, ankle, shoulder, underneath your breasts or small of the back, you might run into situations where an alternative way of carrying is beneficial. These five alternative carry holsters help you stay armed when you can’t carry conventionally.
Galco iDefense Tablet E-Reader/Holster
Few companies are making iPad cases with built-in handgun holsters. Cases such as the Galco iDefense are perfect for the office, school, commuting, business meetings or when working outside the office. Galco’s iDefense is made of top-quality leather and has two sections: one for your tablet or E-reader and another separate zippered compartment with a sewn-in elastic holster and elastic magazine holder. The design is made to prop up your Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy or other tablet, Nook or Kindle while keeping your handgun concealed in a different compartment. The iDefense fits medium- to full-sized semiautomatic pistols, so this concealed carry alternative is best for those who prefer carrying a bigger gun. The elastic holster secures your firearm tightly and successfully covers the trigger guard, while allowing for a quick and smooth draw.
The Galco iDefense is the bulkiest alternative holster on this list, measuring 10 inches long and 7.5 inches wide. The iDefense has a single zipper, snap close and removable leather wrist strap. What I find most interesting about the iDefense is how well it works for Southpaws—better than for me who is right-handed. It is definitely on the more expensive side at $143.77; however, you can tell the difference in quality, reflecting the higher price.
Pros: all-in-one, accommodates left-handed shooters well
Cons: bulky, price
UTG Discreet Pistol Case
The UTG discreet nylon pistol case offers no bells and whistles—just one zippered pouch with dual zippers. The zipper heads are wide enough to add a small lock to prevent access to your gun. Inside is an integral holster made of elastic and on the other side of the holster is a sewn-in elastic magazine holder. The pistol case is stitched all the way around and reinforced in two places on the spine of the case. The elastic holster successfully covers the trigger guard and firmly holds the gun in place. It fits subcompact handguns with 3-inch barrels or 2-inch barreled revolvers. It will securely hold popular carry guns such as the Kahr Arms CM9 and CM40, Springfield XD subcompact, Kel-Tec PF9, Ruger LC9, Beretta Nano, SIG P938 and P290, as well as the GLOCK 42. Small, pocket pistols with barrels shorter than three inches will not fit properly.
The exterior dimensions measure 7.5 inches long and 5.25 inches wide. The discreet pistol case will easily fit in a purse, messenger bag, briefcase or carry on. I particularly appreciate the padding on both sides of the case. I have tested pistol cases much more expensive than this one that have just a cardboard insert or nothing at all to protect your firearm. For less than 10 bucks, this pistol case is a secure way to carry your gun when you can’t wear a holster.
Pros: compact, nicely padded
Cons: won’t fit handguns with barrels smaller than 3 inches, slightly flimsy
Roma Leathers Concealment Pistol Organizer
For students and professionals, this concealment pistol organizer is ideal. For $40, the top-grain cowhide leather looks more like it rivals the iDefense in price. The stitching is reinforced all the way around. This day planner/organizer stands out from the rest on this list because the leather holster inside is removable and repositionable to whatever suits you best. Further, the holster has a full thumb break that doubles as a Velcro retention strap. There is also an elastic magazine holder. Its exterior measures 9.5 x 6.25 x 2 inches, and the holster inside fits compact, medium and full-sized handguns—even my tiny Kel-Tec P3AT fits, though not ideally.
You might question the integrity of the Velcro, however, the holster stays put, even when drawing your gun one-handed. A clear plastic 4 x 2-inch ID holder sits on the opposite side of the organizer. Oddly, a Texas concealed carry permit sticks out at the top.
Like the UTG pistol case, the concealment pistol organizer is only a concealed carry alternative and does not function as an actual calendar, phone holder or daily planner. My favorite feature of this case is the integral YKK lockable zippers. The case comes with two keys and a lifetime warranty.
Pros: adjustable thumb break holster, lockable zippers
Cons: not multifunctional, doesn’t fit tiny pocket pistols well
Leather Fanny Pack
Regardless of how I feel about fanny packs as a fashion statement, I understand their usefulness when hiking, biking and exercising. Made of soft pliable leather, Cheaper Than Dirt’s! leather fanny pack has four compartments, a separate cell phone holder and a hide-away net for your water bottle or sports drink. There are two large main compartments, one in front and one in back. The one in back—the one against your body—measures 8 x 6 inches and will fit a handgun 5 inches tall snugly. Pocket guns and sub-compact semiautomatics and revolvers will fit in the medium-sized zippered pocket in the front. My Kel-Tec P3AT .380 fits perfectly in the front middle pocket without jostling around. If you plan to use the middle, or medium-sized pocket in front, a gun taller than 3 inches will not fit.
The cell phone pocket adjacent to the front two smaller and medium-sized compartments has a Velcro closure and securely holds your phone while running and jumping. I tested the fanny pack with the iPhone 5s and HTC Evo 4G LTE. Both fit just fine. However, current iPhone 6 and other popular larger-screened phones will not fit.
The nylon belt adjusts from 20 to 50 inches and has a quick-detach plastic buckle. The front, small pocket holds cash, credit cards, your driver’s license and concealed carry permit. The one drawback to this particular fanny pack is no built-in retention holster. For a fanny pack with an internal holster, you will have to pay at least double this leather fanny pack’s $20 price tag.
Pros: variety of compartments, fits almost any size handgun
Cons: no retention, won’t fit newer large-screened phones
Concealed Carrie Black Leather Satchel
Targeting women who carry a designer Coach or Michael Kors bag, the Concealed Carrie line of purses match these types of designer purses in quality, leather, construction and price. Many women find it difficult to find the right combination of handgun and carry method to feel comfortable every day, so they resort to carrying their guns in their purse. Many scoff at off-body carry for many reasons—one of them being the dangers of dumping your handgun in your purse without any type of trigger cover or retention. The founder and president of Concealed Carrie, Leslie Deets designed the bags so women don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function. Made of distressed leather and aged hardware, the satchel has a separate, zippered compartment accessible from outside and inside the purse, covered with Velcro strips. A removable and adjustable Velcro holster accommodates different sized handguns and can be positioned inside the concealed carry compartment for right- or left-handed shooters.
Also included is an adjustable 41- to 47-inch shoulder strap that allows you to position the purse for cross draw carry. You may also carry the bag like a traditional purse over your shoulder.
Compact and subcompact semiautomatics fit best in the satchel, but it will fit all sizes of handguns. This is my favorite aspect of the Concealed Carrie purses. These purses are a good alternative for women who prefer larger calibers and larger handguns, but find them difficult and uncomfortable to carry on body. Even a full-sized, 6-inch barreled revolver will fit in the Concealed Carrie holster purses! The downsides to the Concealed Carrie line of concealment alternatives is price, and for me personally, the lack of variety in styles.
For a less expensive purse designed for concealed carry, check out Bulldog Cases Trilogy purse. It comes in four different finishes, has an adjustable strap for cross body draw and carry, fanny pack carry or clips directly to your belt loops. The best part is its less than $25 selling price.
Pros: adjustable Velcro holster, variety of handgun fit
Cons: price, lack of variety in styles
Do you ever carry off-body? Which is your preferred method? Tell us in the comment section.