Women have multiple challenges carrying a firearm. Many of those challenges are due to the curves and shorter waists of the female body. Concealed carry for larger women has some additional issues that only exacerbate the already challenging problem of finding holsters that can be worn comfortably, discreetly, safely and allow for effective access to the gun should the need arise. Most holsters are designed by men for a man’s body and for clothing styles designed for men. For larger, full-figured women the challenges are even greater.
A large bust makes reaching for the firearm difficult and sometimes impossible if crossing the body is necessary. A fuller middle also interferes with reach and accessibility. Clothing styles and options that accommodate concealed carry are limited, which only adds to the problems and frustrations. For some women, the combination of these challenges makes typical methods of concealed carry so uncomfortable and frustrating that they give up trying.
Common Issues Of Concealed Carry For Larger Women
Each woman will have her own set of challenges. Why? Because every woman’s body is unique. The concealed carry issues faced by larger women are significant and the topic is often neglected. Here, I will attempt to break down the problems shared by hundreds of women. These Women share advice and ideas that work for them. There is no single solution to the various problems larger women have with concealed carry. I hope to offer two things: First – as a larger woman you are not alone and many women share your frustrations. Secondly, here you will find a suggestion or two that will be helpful to you. All women need to push through and overcome their particular obstacles because if your gun is not on or with you – it can’t protect you.
Buxom women shared a few key issues pertaining to full-sized busts and concealed carry. The primary issue is the challenge to reach the holstered firearm. They simply can’t get around their breasts to get to their gun. Whether holstered in a shoulder, cross-body, in or on the waistband holster, even a bra holster. One might assume that a bra holster would work well, given that large breasts create sufficient “hiding space” for a gun. Interestingly, the majority of the women responded that bra holsters didn’t work for them. They said the gun “gets lost” and is extremely hard to draw. Sweat under the breasts was another key negative commonly shared by a larger chested woman.
Wide Around The Middle
Being wide around the middle restricts the ability to reach the holstered concealed carry gun, especially with bra holsters and in/on the waistband holsters (whether appendix or cross body). The need to wear looser stretch pants with elastic waistbands also limits the possible options for in/on the waistband holsters as they need the support of either a sturdy wide belt or a substantial and tight waistband. Having a large middle also makes it tough to access an ankle holster. Another common frustration of concealed carry for larger women is that the grip of the gun digs into them in most on-the-waist forms of carrying.
Many women have a waist shorter than men do. This makes drawing from an on-the-hip holster difficult. There simply is not enough room to fully clear the firearm without running a fist into the underarm or breast. The more of you there is in that shorter distance, the tougher this becomes. The distance is simply not sufficient for an effective draw. Most on-the-hip holsters ride too high, which only makes things worse. When you factor in elastic or weak waistbands and it becomes almost impossible.
Some Suggestions For Concealed Carry For Larger Women from Larger Women
So, what can you do to make concealed carry more comfortable and effective for you as a larger woman? This depends on your climate, and any one of the above issues or a combination of them. There were some common areas of agreement amongst the women we polled. The majority found the belly band to be a very good option. It can be rotated to any position around the middle. Belly bands can be worn high or low on the middle. This allows the user to find the location most comfortable for her and that provides the easiest access to her gun. Unfortunately, a common complaint was that in warmer weather, belly bands can be hot to wear.
An Option for Larger Chested Woman
An alternative suggested by very large chested women was using an inside-the-waistband holster like The IWB by The Well Armed Woman, but clipping it to the top of the bra near the armpit. So the gun lies on the top corner of the breast, not under it. A simple reach through the collar of the shirt allows for easy access.
Carrying the firearm on the waist with a loose fitting cover shirt or in the pants, off the back of the hip, more toward the small of the back was another successful position for many of the larger chested, wider middle women. The middle and the bust do not come into play which allows for smoother access. Whenever holstering on the back, however, a woman must be hyper-alert to her surroundings as she may be more vulnerable to another person gaining access to it from behind.
Options If You Don’t’ Wear a Belt
The Sticky Holster, which will stick firmly in place because the of material and tension of your waistband without the need of a clip was another popular option for in-the-waistband carry. Many women reported to me that because of the non-slip qualities of the material – you can place the firearm in any location and it stays put, making it ideal for stretch waistbands.
Another suggested option is a magnetic outside-the-waistband holster, which instead of a metal clip, uses a very strong magnet that locks shut over the waistband. A belt is not required. The strength of the magnet provides the necessary support. Also available are paddle holsters which slide down the inside of the pants, acting as a brace to keep the holster in place when no belt is available.
For larger women who happen to be long waisted, a very positive solution is to wear low rise pants. The lowered waistband will increase the distance between the grip of the gun and the armpit. Adjusting the location to just off the hip (front or back) and adjusting the cant to a steeper angle for easier access is also effective.
For women whose middles were “in the middle”, the most successful reported option was in-the-waistband, appendix-style carry. With the gun is carried in the fleshy front (in front of the hip bone) it was found to be a very comfortable carry position. Also, providing good access to the waist area.
The ankle holster was suggested by many women who deal with a large bust and shorter waist issues, but this option is reported as ineffective for women who are larger in the middle as noted earlier.
The Last Option – A Concealed Carry Purse
The last and most reluctantly suggested option for most of these women is carrying in a concealed carry purse or fanny pack. Carrying a concealed gun in an external bag takes an extra dose of awareness and responsibility. For many women, it can be the difference between carrying and not carrying. When this is your only option, the gun must be in a holster with the trigger fully covered. The firearm must be in a separate compartment within the bag. There are just too many items in the purse that can get in the trigger guard and contribute to an accidental discharge. The bag must be on you and with you at all times. Having the gun in a separate compartment also makes access easier and faster. No fumbling around – you know right where it is.
The Importance Of Practice
Practice is essential when wearing any new holster or when changing the position of the one you already use. The utmost care must be taken to not “cover” yourself at any time during holstering and un-holstering. Practice with your UNLOADED gun (checking it 3 times) to get comfortable and effective with the new holster and location.
Our ability to carry a concealed gun is a powerful equalizer for women when assaulted. For many large women, running away or running for cover may not be a realistic option. She must be able to access her gun quickly, safely and with the skill necessary to defend herself. That requires at least three things: First, the gun must be with her. Second, it must be holstered in a manner and location that SHE can manage. Third, she must be well-trained and prepared to draw and use it effectively.
A sincere thanks to all the women who bravely shared their stories, challenges, and photos with The Well Armed Woman. Hearing about your struggles and sharing what works for you will no doubt help others.