Concealed Carry for Women

Concealed Carry for Women of All Body Types

First, thank you all for your responses to the Concealed Carry for Women of Different Body Types survey! We all know that concealed carry can be difficult no matter what size or shape you may be. Because of all of your thoughtful responses, I was able to put together these common issues and tips for women of every shape and size. You can read the whole article and see what all the women are doing to help successfully carry, you can read just the information for your body-type, or you can read the summaries of each size.

WHO RESPONDED TO THE SURVEY

Over 1500 women told us all about their concealed carry lifestyle, everyone had some sort of issue with concealment and many had great tips for success. There were three different body types – Thin, Average, and Heavy. Within each body type, there were options for choosing the greatest challenge their body posed, what they do to overcome that challenge, what holsters they used, and more! Just click on the information you want to read to open the dropdown box. I hope this helps each of you as you make choices for your concealed carry system!

THIN

There were 182 survey responses from thin women and their responses boiled down to:

Why do I have issues with concealed carry as a THIN woman?

THIN ISSUES

  • All the smaller guns that I may be able to conceal are not for me.
  • Drawing with a thin, short waist is difficult when carrying on/around my waistline.
  • Holsters often “flop” and do not keep my gun in place.
  • I’m ok with wearing looser clothing but in the summer months/hotter climates, it becomes too warm and uncomfortable.
  • I cannot find a way to conceal in the summer months because I am small and my clothing does not conceal my gun.
  • I feel like I have to carry in a purse if I carry at all.
  • Have to carry a smaller gun because larger guns dig into my ribs when I sit.
  • I have to wear very loose clothing to avoid printing and it is obvious that my over-sized shirt is out of place.
  • Very little space to conceal.
  • I prefer fitted/structured clothing and don’t wear pants often.
  • I use a wheelchair and cannot find a comfortable position to carry on-body and carrying on my chair is not feasible.
  • It is hard to wear my gun low enough to draw comfortably and conceal easily without it being too far into my pants that the grip is inaccessible.
  • Looser clothing makes drawing more difficult.
  • My bust is small so my shirts don’t hang in a way that creates any extra room that will help hide my gun.
  • My gun digs into me and I have little fat on my body to cushion it so it is very uncomfortable, sometimes painful.
  • Printing is a major issue.
  • The barrel of my gun is long and digs into my pubic bone.
  • The grip of my gun I almost impossible to conceal.

What advice do THIN women have for carrying successfully?

HOLSTER

HOLSTER

  • Belly bands are very helpful because they are so versatile.
  • Carrying cross-draw can help because the grip is on the inside (closer to your stomach) which can help reduce printing.
  • Don’t be afraid to invest ina high-quality holster. It is one of the most important pieces of your concealed carry system.
  • Find a thin holster that will add little bulk to your gun and body.
  • I wear cargo shorts with large pockets so I can pocket carry.
  • If you don’t wear belts, try a Sticky Holster. They are comfortable and you can position them anywhere on your waistband.
  • If you have no other options, purse carry can work if you are willing to train and practice.
  • Softer materials may be the best way to go. As long as they are safe and you practice, using a softer holster can be more comfortable and easier to conceal.

GUN

GUN

  • Choose a smaller-sized gun that you can handle. It will be easier to conceal.
  • Make sure you test any new guns before buying them for CC. If they can’t be concealed, you may want to look at another option.

CLOTHING & OTHER TIPS

  • A cardigan or hoodie can help when the climate/weather is cooler.
  • Ask other women how they carry. You might not think a position or holster type will work for you but you never know!
  • Don’t fall in love with one particular way of carrying, and then try to force it to work. Be open-minded to alternatives.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Experiment and find what works best for you. Try carrying around the house while doing daily tasks to see how comfortable each holster is and how quickly you can draw your gun.
  • Find the holster and position most comfortable for you, then make your clothing work around it.
  • High-waisted jeans and shorts are very helpful!
  • Keep looking until you find something! Even if you have to purchase and return a dozen holsters, keep trying them until you find one that works. Don’t compromise your safety, comfort, or ability to draw because you think there are no other options.
  • Look for video reviews on YouTube. You can look at another woman and see whether she has the same challenges as you.
  • Loose-flowing tops and patterns are your friend.
  • The most comfortable place for me to wear a holster is having the grip of my pistol fall just above the hip bone in the indentation on the side of your belly.
  • Try to find multiple holsters that will work with your body-type and what you’re wearing that day. Having options for different styles is a good idea.
  • Wear a longline bra or under garment that covers the area where the gun sits to protect your skin.
  • Wear black or very dark-colored shirts and unisex tops if you can.
  • With an empty gun, use an ace bandage to hold your gun in different areas on your body to see where you can successfully conceal.

SUMMARY OF CONCEALED CARRY FOR WOMEN OF ALL BODY TYPES THIN RESPONSES

The majority of thin women said that the biggest issue with their body type was a lack of open spaces or curves to hide their gun and holster. Many had straight hips, a small waist, and a small bust and trying to hide anything without some curves or padding can be a challenge. The best place for thin women to carry was on or in the waistband or with a very low wrap. The second most popular place was off-body in a concealed carry purse. The top holsters for thinner ladies were in-the-waistband holsters clipped to the waistband, belly bands, in-the-waistband holsters with a belt,  and CC purses.

TIPS

Many suggestions were to wear a belly band because you can wear it anywhere on your torso. There are so many different positions this is one of the best options for you to try. Carry cross draw if you can so the grip sits closer to your middle and will be less likely to stick out. Purchase a soft holster made of a thinner material that will add less bulk, like the Sticky holster. If you can, carry a smaller gun. And change your clothing to work with your holster! Add layers (like a cardigan, vest or button-up), looser tops are in style and work to prevent printing, darker colors and patterns are also great.

AVERAGE

Many women, 628 in total, who responded to the Concealed Carry for Different Body Types Survey categorized themselves as having an “average” body type.

Why do I have issues with concealed carry as an AVERAGE woman?

AVERAGE ISSUES

  • A gun and holster are hard to conceal when you have a short waist.
  • Actually putting the holster on my belt is a challenge because I have a large bust that makes it harder to see.
  • Carrying is just uncomfortable.
  • Clearing fabric from a flowy or larger shirt makes drawing more difficult.
  • Curvy hips and a muffin top make on- or in-the-waistband carry impossible for me even though I would prefer to carry this way.
  • Having a softer belly with no hips makes printing a major concern.
  • Heat is a huge factor when choosing clothing but I can’t seem to conceal any holster without extra clothing.
  • I can either reduce printing or be comfortable, I can’t seem to be able to do both.
  • Can’t conceal well in my preferred area (side) so I have to carry in a secondary area (lower back).
  • I can’t find a way to carry on my hip without my holster digging into my hip bone.
  • I don’t like/am uncomfortable wearing a belt.
  • Driving for a living and finding something that is comfortable for long periods of sitting is almost impossible for me so I often don’t carry.
  • I have a larger bust that makes carrying higher up difficult and I cannot find another comfortable area to carry.
  • I have a shorter waist and curvy hips so there is not a lot of room for my gun.
  • My smaller bust makes it so my shirt doesn’t fall in a way that hides my gun if it is worn on or around my waistband.
  • I have a tummy and have to wear unflattering, looser clothing or my gun sticks out.
  • Physical limitations/issues make carrying on-body very difficult.
  • I have to wear low-rise pants to allow for room to draw.
  • Scrubs make it hard to find a good, comfortable way to carry.
  • It’s hard to figure out how to carry when I have my kids around, they like to hang on me, have me pick them up, etc.
  • My bust gets in the way when I draw!
  • My elbow hits my holster when I wear IWB.
  • The gun is always poking into my stomach/ribs/waist.
  • The holster flips over if I don’t wear a tight enough belt.
  • My shape makes my holster ride too high.
  • My stomach sits over my pistol when I sit down making it hard to access.
  • Printing is always a concern and is more pronounced where I can comfortably carry.
  • Sitting with an IWB holster is uncomfortable.
  • The gun I prefer to use is too big to conceal.
  • Wearing wrap holsters make my belly protrude more making my gun more noticeable.
  • When I wear a flowy top to help conceal it tends to ride up on my waist which could lead to showing my gun.

What advice do AVERAGE women have for carrying successfully?

HOLSTER

  • Concealment leggings add little bulk so they print less and are very comfortable!
  • Concealment shorts have been a lifesaver this summer!
  • A holster that can form to your curves (made of soft material) can make cc more comfortable.
  • Carrying crossdraw can help minimize printing from the grip of your gun.
  • Fanny pack designed for CC works very well for me, even bicycling.
  • Finding the right height and cant of your holster might make all the difference.
  • Get a great concealed carry purse if you are willing to train and practice.
  • I got an ankle holster with a large enough elastic strap to wear it on the inside of my leg, just under my knee, above the bulk of my thigh. It’s perfect for longish skirts and dresses.
  • I love the safety and comfort of a good hybrid holster.
  • The belly band is the best option because you can wear it anywhere on your midsection.
  • I use the Magnetic Waistband Holster. It is slim and comfortable and doesn’t print like my other IWB.
  • I’ve found that the inside the waist band holster with an hourglass figure works best carried at the 5 o’clock or 7 o’clock position
  • If you carry a .380, the bra holster will conceal the easiest, plus it will give you the extra “lift” to make your body proportions appear normal.
  • OWB at a 3 o’clock position with a flowy top is comfortable and allows free movement.
  • Wear a belly band higher up, under your chest. It is comfortable and conceals well.
  • Purchase a sticky holster from TWAW. I have one for each gun that I carry.  They are my favorite way to carry.  So comfortable you forget that you have it.
  • Ratchet belts are really helpful so you aren’t stuck with 1″ spaces! Find a belt that will really work with your shape and style, they are out there.

GUN

  • Carry the biggest gun you are willing to change your wardrobe for.
  • Choose your weapon wisely and fall in love with your gun. If you can’t shoot it, you shouldn’t carry it. Decide what will be your EDC.
  • You might have to buy a smaller gun if you are having trouble concealing.

CLOTHING & OTHER TIPS

  • Be open to trying any carry position with any (safe) holster.
  • Carrying is always better than not. Try and have several different choices of holsters, clothing and cc purses so you’re never tempted to not carry.
  • Consider the outfits you wear most frequently and find a carry style/holster that works with that specific style.
  • Don’t just think about how the holster will feel/look while standing, think about all the positions you will be in, sitting, bending, standing, etc.
  • Don’t let large breasts defeat you. I put my holster on my belt before I pull up my pants.
  • Find pants that have a little give in the waistline and use a secure holster.
  • Find pants that ride a little lower on the waist for IWB. You will have more room to draw and position your holster comfortably.
  • Find pants with deep pockets and try pocket carry. No one will notice the bulge in your pocket is a gun.
  • Give yourself time to get used to a holster before you decide it is wrong for you.
  • Have many different holsters to handle every type of clothing and social situation.
  • I place my holster more to the middle of my stomach so it looks like I have a slightly larger stomach but doesn’t look like a gun.
  • Invest in a good-quality holster that will last!
  • It’s ok to get frustrated but don’t give up!
  • Layer your clothing and realize that most people won’t really notice printing unless it is extremely obvious.
  • Make use of wedges & wings/claws behind the belt to adjust how the holster sits on your body.
  • Never sacrifice safety for comfort.
  • Once you find what works for you, leave your gun alone! Don’t touch it and adjust it and no one will notice it.
  • Patterns and dark colors help to reduce how much printing you can see.
  • See if you can borrow holsters from friends and test them out.
  • Small magazines and large belt buckles!
  • Some fabrics are better for concealed carry (like polyester, a flowy fabric).
  • Strategically placing your purse or anything you are carrying in front of where your gun is/where you’re printing can help minimize it.
  • Talk to other women you know or women you meet at the range to see what they do that works best.
  • Wear looser, flowy shirts. Tunics and peplums are a great choice.

SUMMARY OF CONCEALED CARRY FOR WOMEN OF ALL BODY TYPES AVERAGE RESPONSES

The biggest issues with ladies who categorized themselves as average were having some extra in the tummy area, a short waist, and curvy hips. Though we love our curves, having all those changes in elevation can be a challenge! A large majority (56%!) of ladies with this body type carry in the waistband area (in- or on-the-waistband, or with a low wrap. The second highest carry place was in the mid-body region which includes underarm, belly, and anywhere above the waistband and below the shoulders and a close third was off-body. The top holsters for average women are IWB clipped to the waistband (31%), belly bands, IWB belted, and CC Purses with concealment clothing right behind.

HOLSTER TIPS

There were a lot of great ideas for successful concealed carry from these ladies! For holsters, find something that is softer (but safe!) that will adhere to your curves. Concealment shorts and leggings add almost no extra bulk to your gun, the magnetic waistband holster is a great in-between material that is rigid but not as unforgiving as a kydex holster. Belly bands, again, are perfect for finding just the right spot to carry. Ratchet belts are a better option than the traditional belt because you can work with 1/4″ changes instead of 1″ changes.

GUN, CLOTHING & OTHER TIPS

Be open to carrying in positions that you haven’t tried out yet. You may think that you want to carry IWB at 2 o’clock, but a belly band in the center of your ribcage might work perfectly for you. Find pants with either a higher waist or a lower waist (mid-rise is less helpful), these heights can help you conceal. Layer your clothing and use a holster with a clip/wing/or wedge that will hold the grip in closer to your body. If you’re worried about drawing attention to your gun, leave it alone! Fidgeting with the gun and moving it around will bring attention to it.

HEAVY

Concealed carry can be difficult when you are carrying a little extra around the middle. Out of all the responses, 754 women proclaimed they were “heavy” and this is what they had to say:

Why do I have issues with concealed carry as  HEAVY woman?

HEAVY ISSUES

  • A larger frame and limited range of motion impede drawing with my strong hand.
  • A lot of shirts are too short in the torso so when I lift my arms, my handgun shows!
  • All of my holsters rub on my skin and cause chafing.
  • Anything I carry on my waist is visible.
  • Appendix carry is my preferred way to carry but it is uncomfortable because of my stomach/hips.
  • Because I have a large bust, my gun is always riding right under my breasts making it hard to draw.
  • Carrying a holster in a crossdraw position is difficult because I can’t reach around my stomach.
  • Carrying extra weight makes concealed carry in hot weather even more difficult.
  • Elastic waistbands don’t work well with most concealed carry holsters.
  • Finding a way to both conceal effectively and draw easily has not been easy.
  • Finding clothing that fits correctly is difficult, add a holster and gun to the mix and it becomes even more difficult!
  • Hard to conceal when walking/jogging. Gun seems to poke out.
  • Holsters roll forward when I sit down.
  • I am not agile enough to have it in the small of back plus my butt would push the gun upwards.
  • Carrying under my arm because my large bust makes it impossible to draw.
  • I can’t find a cc holster that works well with my revolver other than a purse.
  • I can’t seem to find anywhere to carry comfortably on my body so I use a CC purse.
  • I’m not comfortable wearing anything around my waist.
  • I don’t wear a belt because most are uncomfortable for me.
  • I don’t wear pants with belt loops or pockets.
  • My gun does not sit straight.
  • I have to carry a smaller gun than I would like.
  • I have to carry my gun at the small of my back.
  • Very curvy hips but a small waist make getting my holster to sit at an angle where I can draw easily is tough.
  • I need my gun to sit lower at my waist in order to draw.
  • I ride a motorcycle so finding the right holster has been a challenge.
  • Concealed carry is tough because I wear dresses most of the time.
  • It’s hard to find concealed carry clothes and wrap holsters that fit.
  • My belly bands curls as I wear it because the fabric is not rigid.
  • My body shape has no indents to hide my gun in.
  • The grip sticks out when I change positions.
  • My gun and holster dig into my side/stomach/hips/thigh.
  • The gun is heavy and pulls my pants down because I don’t wear a belt.
  • My holster never feels like it fits tightly to my body.
  • My muffin top gets in the way.
  • I have a short, round waist so drawing safely is really hard.
  • OWB is comfortable but hard to conceal. Especially during the summer months.
  • Shirts that are supposed to fit loosely still cling to me.
  • The extra bulk from my holster make my pants tight and uncomfortable.
  • Wearing an IWB holster is just painful.
  • When I change positions (standing to sitting and vice versa) my holster shifts and prints more.

What advice do HEAVY women have for carrying successfully?

HOLSTER

  • A good quality kydex holster with a claw/wedge/grip tuck seems to work well for me!
  • A smaller CCW and a holster that has multiple canting and placement options will be your best friends.
  • A wider belly band helps with concealment and holds my stomach in.
  • All my holsters were given away once I bought an IWB Kydex from TWAW. I now have one for every gun.  They stay put, no riding or moving; the clips are tight; the holsters fit perfectly.  I wear them on the waist of my pants, no belt, to the right of my belly button.
  • An IWB holder carried cross-draw just to the side of my stomach so the grip of my gun is just under the left breast. I find this method better suited to my rounded stomach area.
  • Buy a really good holster with magnetic retention. It helps with the concern that the gun will slide.
  • Concealment clothing can be a great option because the extra bulk added to the gun is minimal.
  • Don’t freak about off body carry. Just because it’s deemed ‘not ideal ‘ doesn’t mean it’s not ideal for you as long as you train and practice!
  • Fanny packs are a good hybrid on/off-body option.
  • Find a good compression type tank to kind of hold in the love handles
  • Get a corset holster. It is slimming and the gun is invisible with any clothing.
  • I find that my sticky holster is the most comfortable because of my waist size.
  • Get several holsters, eventually you’ll find your favorite. Mine is leather in the waistband cross draw.
  • I love the TWAW Lace Belly Band. It can hold many of my guns and is great for daily use and hiking! Though it can be hot in warmer weather.
  • I use the belly band very high so that it is holding my pistol right under one arm and the clips under the other. The band falls right under my breasts.
  • I wear my IWB in a 4 or 5 o’clock position.
  • Magnetic pocket/waistband holsters seem to work the best if you have curvy hips & a belly
  • The adjustable ratchet belt sold on this site is a real lifesaver when dealing with bloating, hormonal issues, weight gain, swelling, etc.
  • Use a firm belt and leave it free around your body for your IWB. (don’t use belt loops)

GUN

  • Don’t be afraid to try different locations. Everybody is different. I’ve also found that a more compact gun makes a huge difference.
  • Semiautomatics are easier to conceal than revolvers.
  • Smaller gun and soft holster

CLOTHING & OTHER TIPS

  • Ask shooting friends what their preferred carry holsters they prefer and, if possible, try on some different types.
  • Be flexible and have an open mind about options. It’s most important to carry every day and if you’re uncomfortable carrying you may leave your firearm at home just on the day you need it most!
  • Be picky about what type of shirt to buy. There are shirts that are great for CC but one must sometimes hunt for them.
  • Carrying close to my midline conceals easier and draws easier than a true appendix carry.
  • Choose tops that are dark, printed or has pleats.
  • Do your research! Read articles, watch videos, ask friends or women’s forums.
  • Don’t be so self conscious about printing.
  • Get creative with vests, overlays and flowy (but not clingy) tops. Number one goal should be carrying in the position you’re most comfortable drawing from.
  • I carry crossbody just past the appendix position in a slant position. It allows me to sit and get in and out of my car without major adjustments
  • I go high waisted bottoms with my IWB carry and a loose, easy lift shirt.
  • If you wear a lot of dresses, I have good luck with spanx-like shorts with a place for gun on inner thigh.
  • IWB with a great belt and looser tops.
  • Keep trying to find what works for you. Getting advice is great but your holster has to work for YOU.
  • Keep trying! Based on other women’s posts, I’ve found that high waisted jeans do work better. Also, I am currently shopping for a more concealable gun.
  • I like to wear a button up or longer cardigan over a shirt that allows access to my EDC.
  • Realize that you may need to modify your wardrobe to be able to conceal effectively.
  • Think about the gun and concealing it before purchasing the gun
  • Try as many holsters as you can. Most places will allow you to try them out and return them as long as the holster isn’t a custom-made item.

SUMMARY OF CONCEALED CARRY FOR WOMEN OF ALL BODY TYPES HEAVY RESPONSES

Having some extra around the middle, a short waist, curvy hips, and a large bust were the most common issues heavy women have according to the Concealed Carry for Women of Different Body Types survey. Similar to where average women carry, heavy women carry in the waistband area (in- or on-the-waistband, or with a low wrap, in the mid-body region which includes underarm, belly, and anywhere above the waistband and below the shoulders and a close third was off-body. There was a little more variety in carry positions for this body type but the top were still IWB clipped to the waistband, CC purses, and belly bands, but the fifth-place spot was tied between belted IWB and belted OWB.

HOLSTER TIPS

Invest in a good-quality kydex holster with a wing, like the Slim Carry. Get a holster that you can cant! You may not think that it will make a difference but it can make a huge difference in how your gun lays and how much you print. Concealment clothing is a great option for both comfort and reduced printing. Fanny packs are comfortable and a safe hybrid of on- and off-body carry. Belly bands, once again, provide countless options for carry positions and are usually comfortable unless the weather is very warm.

GUN, CLOTHING & OTHER TIPS

Find the smallest carry gun that you can comfortably handle and shoot and carry that, it will be easier to conceal. Talk to your friends about where they carry! Other women will be willing to talk you through their journey and help in any way they can. It’s important that your gun is concealed but most people are not going to notice it so being less self-conscious about printing will help you feel more comfortable.

Choose dark or printed tops and high-waisted bottoms (unless you have a short waist!). Think about how you will be able to conceal your gun if you are looking for a new one. That might be the difference between making one choice and another. Because you are curvy, find anywhere there is space created by your shape or your clothing and try to hide the gun there. As long as you can carry and draw in that position safely and proficiently, you can carry there!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I know this isn’t what you want to read… but finding the right way to carry your gun is so personal it is up to you to find it. All of the women who took the time to respond to the survey had great insights and ideas to try and I really hope that you find some answers in this article. However, the biggest takeaway is, keep trying different holsters in different positions until you find your right way.

The majority of women find that IWB holsters (clipped), belly bands, concealed carry purses, and concealment clothing work the best for them. Carrying on or around the waistband is by far the most popular position with very few women carrying on their ankles or thighs. However, that doesn’t mean that these positions won’t work! Be patient and open to carrying in any position that you find comfortable. Carrying in the “sweet spot” is the most efficient way to carry because there is the shortest draw time, but if you aren’t comfortable enough to carry in the sweet spot daily, you may need to look at other options.

Good luck! You will figure this out!

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7 thoughts on “Concealed Carry for Women of All Body Types

  1. Kim Todd says:

    Just “Thank You” so much for all of the information and options you give to all of us.

  2. Danae Lortz says:

    Thank you so much for performing this survey! I am new to concealed carry and I have struggled. The internet has provided very little disjointed help, but this survey has put a lot of valuable information in one place! Thank you!!

  3. Karen Davidian says:

    Wow! That is so helpful. I am taking my CC class in a couple of days and have been pretty overwhelmed in looking at holsters. I am very excited to start exploring.

  4. Julie Schwalbe says:

    Thank you so much for posting the results to this survey. Even though I’m one of the thin ones and apparently there aren’t as many of us as there are in the average or heavy categories, you still listened to us. It’s nice to see what others do and the suggestions they have.

  5. Gary L. Behr says:

    Excellent compilation!
    Very well done!

    Any chance you might put this into boolet form?
    I’d like to share this info with al my female students.

    Respectfully yours,
    Gary Behr

  6. Carolyn Holmes says:

    Thank you for this… survey and the results… I really appreciate it. You said there were 1500 responses… 182 thin women, 682 average but left off the number of heavy women. I assume it was 680 which is a VERY SIGNIFICANT number!!
    There were no questions about handed-ness which I was disappointed about, as a factor.
    I would like to see some more posts addressing women who are in the “heavy” category…

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Carolyn, there were 754 “heavy” responses! It is included in the heavy section right about the graphs 🙂

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