There are many ways to carry concealed. Some people choose inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters, others opt for outside-the-waistband (OWB) models. There are a variety of specialized options as well, but most of them are designed for men — or more specifically, the way men dress. There are not many options designed for female shooters.
Considering the fastest-growing segment of the gun carry population is women, this is changing. When a woman carrying was an oddity, most were told, “Throw a J-frame in your purse and call it good.” Those days are over. Today, many females who carry are competent shooters and know which firearm they prefer. They are not willing to carry in an inefficient manner or to be limited to one type of firearm. This has led companies to explore various options that cater to the female body and the realities of their clothing options. But which are the best? Here are some concealed carry options for female shooters worth your consideration.
Top Carry Options
Let’s begin with the simplest and oldest choice: purse carry. This method has undergone significant changes. In my opinion, it is still off-body carry and thus not optimal. However, today’s choices are better.
There are a plethora of styles to choose from, and most options have a built-in method of retention — and some manner of quick, one-handed access. This is often achieved with either tunnel access to an internal holster or a quick-access external panel.
The Bulldog Hobo purse has a zipper access panel from the front or rear, to allow for either left or right-hand access. These zippers provide quick access to a gun holster compartment.
The days of all IWB holsters being thick leather options with a bulky metal or plastic retention clip are over. Sticky Holsters makes a neoprene-like holster that is super comfortable. It also has a dual sided, tacky external texture that allows for a near infinite positioning between the body and pants with a solid waistline. This holster will stay in place and well-hidden with any non-elastic or drawstring pants.
The thinner, more pliant material aid concealment in the tighter fit of women’s clothing. With the material being soft/spongy, it is also less likely to rub.
Some women who work in a professional environment choose to wear pantsuits or blazers. For these occasions, an OWB holster becomes an option. Many companies, such as BLACKHAWK! with its Serpa line, offer paddle holsters for small carry guns such as the Glock 43, SIG P938, and S&W J-frames. With an appropriately stiff cover garment, these options provide quick access and comfortable carry. They also provide a simple choice for hiking or in regions of the country that allow the choice of open carry.
Most of the above-mentioned options share one aspect: they do not allow on-person carry while in a dress. Can Can Concealment has an entire line of comfortable concealed carry holsters, from its waistline option, the Hip Hugger, to even a mens line. Today, I want to focus on its Garter holster series.
The Garter option allows female shooters to carry a small-to-medium-sized gun while wearing a skirt or dress. The size of the gun that can be carried will depend on the size of the woman, her comfort, and how clingy the fabric is.
For most women, this method does not allow carrying a full-sized 1911, although Can Can Concealment does offer The Big SheBang for that purpose. More realistic options would be the Micro with a SIG P238, Ruger LCP, or the Classic for a Glock 43 or a SIG P365. The larger Shield 380 EZ might be pushing the envelope for some, but would likely work for others.
All Garter holster options are ambidextrous, in that they all feature mirror-image gun pockets. This allows for right- or left-hand draw from either leg and to choose whether the gun rides on the inside or outside of the thigh. The design is based on a 5-inch wide elastic band with added silicone grip strips at the top and bottom of the band. These strips and six layers of hook and eye closures ensure a secure grip on the thigh. If a heavy gun is chosen, there is also a garter belt to assist maintaining the gun in the proper spot. This is most useful in vigorous activity situations such as running. In a normal office environment, it would not be needed, as the base design is quite secure. But, if it helps you feel more secure while wearing your gun, who am I to say no?
Looking for concealed carry gun recommendations? Take a look at our list of the top 15 pistols for concealed carry.
There are multiple choices in the feminine holster category. Companies make bra holsters and other items that fit a niche. (Just think through how that will be deployed and where the gun will be pointing when you draw, under pressure.) For some, they may fit the need; for others, one of the above options may be best. As with men, women have a vast array of choices and will likely end up with multiple holsters. Some will get a lot more use than others, but there are quality choices for female shooters that factor into the way women dress, work, and live.
Do you have a suggestion for concealed carry for female shooters? Share it in the comment section.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August of 2019. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.