Concealed carry for women is not as easy as it may seem. Finding concealed carry holsters for women, let alone any holster that will work on a woman’s body can be a real challenge. Let’s start with some wise words from a friend of mine.
“Carrying a gun isn’t supposed to be comfortable, it is supposed to be a comfort” – Clint Smith
Clint’s quote above is very revealing and it is important to understand that concealed carry for a woman comes with some changes and some concessions. There may be times that it is an inconvenience or a little uncomfortable but this just comes with the territory. With time, you will feel naked without your gun on you and if you are ever required to use it to save your life, believe me, it will all be worth it. So let’s discuss some issues with concealed carry holsters for women.
How To Find The Right Holster For You
There are some key things that are necessary for optimal comfort and safety. First, is the selection of your gun. It should be the right size for you, your body and your hand. Your gun selection is the most important decision, for it is around your gun, that all things depend on. Here is an article that can help: What Kind of Gun?
What’s Makes A Good Holster?
A good holster is one that completely covers the trigger guard. This is a must! It should properly hold (retain) your firearm securely. Look for one designed for your gun (either specific model or type and size) and one that attaches to your body or clothing securely and comfortably. This is where it get’s challenging as so many holsters are designed for a man’s body. The holsters I carry or have designed WORK on a woman’s body and offer the versatility we need to match our varied wardrobe.
Finally, the clothing you wear to cover your gun must be considered. How it will fit around your gun and how it covers the handgun or the possible bulge it creates. All of these things are necessary and of equal importance as they work together to make a safe and complete concealed and carry system.
What Will You Need?
You will likely need a variety of different concealed carry holster styles that work with different clothing choices and your activities. Carrying your gun in a specially designed concealed carry purse or briefcase is an option that is very appealing to many women. This poses a set of problems that are not ideal for ultimate personal defense or general firearm safety which we will discuss below. We will tackle On The Body concealed carry holsters for women first as this is the preferred method. We suggest you find the one(s) that work for you and use this as your primary method of concealed carry. Note: I have done a series of videos on many of the holsters to show you what they are like and how they are worn. You may find them helpful. You can view them all here. Watch Holster Talk Videos
Concealed Carry Holsters For Women – The Options
Here are the current options for effective conceal and carry ordered by location on the body:
Belt or On The Waist Carry
Belt carry or on the waist carry is the preferred and most common form of concealed carry for women. The gun is close and the grip is in a great position to grasp and draw quickly. For these reasons, it is the first and best choice. Although alternatives are offered here, it is important to know and remember that alternative methods of carry are just that: alternatives to the preferred method. The challenges are having the proper clothing to cover the gun on your waist and keep it adequately concealed. In some states, it is legal to “open carry”, and have the gun entirely exposed. You must check your local laws to see if it is legal in your area.
What Do You Need To Consider?
The larger and wider your gun is, the harder it is to keep concealed. The heavier it is, the less comfortable it is to carry. These are some very important things to consider when selecting your self-defense gun. Not all of these on the waist holster options shown below require a belt. Some have clips that clip on the waistband without a belt and one even has a magnet.
More Benefits of On The Waist Carry
Belt carry or on the waist carry is the most comfortable on the body form of concealed carry of a gun for most women. With a properly designed holster, it also offers a high level of security and easy access to your gun, should you need it. Belt carry also works with clothing styles such as ants of all kinds, skirts, and shorts. As mentioned above, most traditional belt holsters are designed for men and one size does not fit all, especially when curves and wider hips are involved.
Do I Need A Belt?
The belt is key to comfortable and effective on the belt carry. I recommend you purchase a good sturdy belt, preferably one designed for holstering a gun as they have inserts to provide a solid and steady “platform” or base for the holster to be secured. The belt must be wide enough to fully support and distribute the weight of the firearm. There are some great holsters that don’t require a belt but do require a very sturdy waistband
There are many variations of on the waist holsters and your gun can be belt carried on the outside of the belt or inside. Let’s look at outside the waist first.
The TWAW OTB Convertible Holster The two-toned and curved Well Armed Woman OWB convertible holster solves the problems women typically have with on-the-waist carry! Wear it Outside the Waist or Inside the Waist. Comes with all the convertible hardware you need for either location, carry with a belt or without!
The Magnetic on the waist holster requires no belt and is a great option for slacks and thinner waisted pants and shorts
IWB – In the waistband
Inside the belt with clip (IWB – Inside the Waist Band) has a clip that clips to the waistband and the holster slips down the inside of your pants or waistline.
Carrying the firearm with the bulk of the firearm inside the waistband is a very popular form of concealed carry with women as only the grip or butt needs to be covered and the firearm is very accessible and easy to draw. Most regular women’s shirts will cover sufficiently and most pants can “stretch” to make the adjustment necessary to fit the firearm.
The In The Waistband by The Well Armed Woman solves the problems women typically have with in-the-pants carry. It is ambidextrous and has a recessed clip to minimize the bulge. It has a deep tuck-able and adjustable clip so you can adjust how high or low it sits on your waistline. You can also adjust the cant to your desired angle.
The Mini-Tuck hybrid holster is made to be worn inside the waistband featuring two clips for a broader platform. Typically worn in the small of the back.
In The Waistband Holster Options For Non-Belted Pants
The Sticky Holster is made of a revolutionary material that “sticks” to you and your clothing using the tension created in your waistband.
The location of where you carry is a personal one. What is comfortable and easy for you to draw from are the keys. Most common are on the strong side (the same side as your shooting hand) in the front or towards the back just off the hip with the handle angled properly for easy drawing. Appendix carry is with the gun placed in front, between your belly button and your hip. Many holsters are what is called “Tuck-able” which means it has a “slot” to tuck your shirt into in-between the clip and the firearm itself.
This is practical for women when wearing pants, slacks, or a skirt with strong waistband or shorts. There are options made in leather, plastic and nylons.
Undergarment Holsters For Women
Women’s Compression Concealment shorts are a way for women to carry and conceal a handgun when they’re wearing a skirt, slacks, gym shorts, sweatpants, jeans, or dress pants without a belt. The concealed holster is made from surgical grade elastic and sewn into a pair of authentic compression shorts and holds your firearm securely. They feature two holsters offering ambidextrous concealment and you can also carry spare magazines or other important items on the other side. Because they are “compression” you get a little extra shaping too!!!
The sling style Pistol Pouch is extremely comfortable as it is made from cotton and is worn under your garments but over your underwear. The low below the belly position makes for very good conceal-ability. This is great for when you are wearing scrubs or sweatpants.
Belly Bands and Under-wraps
Belly Bands and under wraps are a versatile and very comfortable method of concealment that many women use effectively. You can wear these in many situations, whether dressed for work or go to the gym. It’s ability to be worn high or low on the body offers incredible versatility. They are made of heavy-duty elastic with a velcro closure. Most have two firearm slots: one for an automatic pistol and one for a revolver. It can have a pocket which conceals important papers, cash, credit cards, as well as a slot for a spare magazine. It works great with medium and small frame revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Wear it “high” under the breasts or low on the hips for added versatility.
The Pistol Wear Sport is designed for an active and athletic lifestyle.
A Word of Caution
These work very well when wearing skirts or dress slacks without belt loops. The belly band allows you to position the firearm high or low, toward the front or toward either side.
Another option is the compression tank top. These “undershirts” have holster pockets on both sides and holds the firearm just under the armpit. You will have to get to the firearm to draw it. This can slow up your draw time considerably.
The Pistol Wear Underarm holster is another under the arm option with removable/adjustable straps for a lot of versatility.
Ankle and Thigh Holsters
When wearing pants, the ankle holster can be a good option and can be worn quite comfortably all day long. These wrap around the ankle with a holster on the side. Many come with an optional calf support and some padding for added comfort. Because of the loose nature of the hem of the pant leg, this keeps your firearm very well concealed without bumps and lumps in your clothing.
There are some challenges with ankle carry. One is that it is impossible to draw your gun while you are moving or running away from danger. It is; however, good in a situation in which you are sitting such most of the time, as at the office. The draw from standing can be awkward and practice is necessary. Thrusting your leg out to the side or front as in a lunge can make drawing faster.
The thigh holster is a great option when wearing dresses or skirts. The waistband with garter keeps it from sliding down. You can adjust the height to accommodate your skirt and surprisingly, when worn correctly are unseen, even when sitting.
Thigh Holster Shorts offer body shaping and conceals your gun in a sub-layer of the shorts body shaping compression. The thigh holster is made of a soft moderate support Lycra. A high waist smooths the tummy and a clean finish around the base of your thigh prevents rolling or riding up of the short.
These holsters attach to your bra in the center between the two cups. They offer easy access when wearing a blouse, shirt or sweater. There are two forms of bra carry. One clasps the holster to the center of your bra, the barrel and handle tuck slightly under the bra underwire.
To be blunt – the more you’ve got- the larger the firearm you can conceal and the better you can conceal it. For well endowed women, this can be a very comfortable and effective form of concealed carry.
One concern is that the firearm can cover the non-shooting arm as the firearm is pulled from the holster and raised to shoot. Practice and awareness are necessary for this form of holster.
The Flashbang is designed to be worn attached to the middle of the bra and tucked under the underwire of the bra.This holster is made out of Kydex so that the gun can easily be pulled out by lifting up the shirt and pulling down on the handle of the gun.
Carrying your firearm in your pants or jacket pocket is an option. Jacket or vest carry, however, makes it easy to become separated from the firearm. This makes for a serious safety issue. Pocket carry is only practical with very small firearms or very large pockets. There are many pocket holster styles and materials.
The most important thing is that it covers the trigger guard area completely to protect and prevent accidental discharges. The pants you wear must also have enough room in the pockets to comfortably pocket the firearm. If you wear looser pant styles, or cargo pants with multiple pockets this may be a comfortable option for you. A pocket holster is also necessary when carrying your firearm in your purse or any other bag. It must cover the trigger guard to prevent you from accidentally pulling the trigger while reaching in your bag or getting small objects in your purse in the trigger guard area. The Sticky Holster is a great option for this type of holster as well.
Fanny pack style
A Fanny pack holster has the look of an ordinary fanny pack but carries a concealed handgun in a hidden compartment in the back of the pack. This fanny pack style holster allows you to carry a pistol or other protection device like pepper spray. These can be helpful when warm weather dictates dressing in light clothes. The handgun is drawn from the concealed carry position very quickly. You pull the front of the bag with one hand to open the firearm compartment and draw with the other hand.
Fanny pack carry is very comfortable and the look is quite common when walking outdoors and at events. Unlike purse carry, a properly designed fanny pack provides the quickest access to the firearm if you need it in a hurry. The gun is secured to your body and less likely to be lost or have another snatch it off of you.
Concealed Carry Purse/Briefcase
This off body method of concealed and carry is most appealing to women as most of us carry a purse, so there is no added equipment to attach to our bodies. As stated earlier, on the body carry is superior in all aspects, and the recommended form of concealed and carry. Thieves will target your purse for your money and credit cards, which lands them with your firearm too. A firearm carried in a purse is at great risk of a child or other innocent accidentally getting ahold of your firearm. The results could be tragic. A great responsibility that comes with firearm ownership and carrying a weapon is its security and inaccessibility to others, especially children.
Some Additional Considerations
Carrying a firearm in a purse requires the firearm be holstered in an appropriate holster in a separate compartment. The trigger guard must be covered completely. This prevents items in your purse from accidentally levering the trigger. This can happen either on its own, or when you reach in to grasp the firearm. The purchase of a concealed carry purse designed for this purpose is recommended. They have separate, lockable compartments with a holster built in to hold the firearm safely and in the correct position. Most have side compartments. These allow you to discreetly have your hand on the holstered firearm when in dangerous, dark situations.
Naturally, there is not the selection as with traditional purses. So some sacrifices in “style” may be necessary. Finding a well-made purse with a simple design that will work with multiple clothing choices is possible.
Briefcases and planners
These options are the least recommended options as they are very likely to be set down and left unattended. As with the purse, these must have separate compartments with attached holsters. In the planners, these offer discreetness when opening the unit to use as a planner.
As you can see, choosing the right holster(s) takes some thoughtful consideration of a number of things. I have an article on how to properly build your Personal Concealed Carry System