The Concealed Carry Purse Debate
The Concealed Carry Purse, people either love them or they hate them. Carrying your firearm in a concealed carry purse is your decision to make and there is no right or wrong answer. So why is there such a debate?
The reason is the difference between the two modes of carrying
On-body carry – wearing your gun in a holster on your body such as in a IWB holster or belly band
Off-body carry – such as in a purse, backpack, briefcase, etc.
On-body carry is always preferred, let’s see why.
- Safety – your gun is nice and close so no one has access to your gun but you.
- Ease of access– your holstered gun is always right there on you so you have quick access to it ALL the time.
- Gun choice – You have free reign (dependant on your local laws of course) to choose the type of gun that you prefer. This means semi-autos which means increase magazine capacity which means more chances to protect your life.
- Safety is compromised – a purse is easy to set down, or could be taken from you. This means you gun can easily get in the hands of unauthorized users.
- Your access may not be so easy – In time of need, you will need to get to your gun quickly. Most purses have zippered pouches that will need to be undone before access and then you proceed with your draw. As you can see this will add precious time which you may not have. This may make you rethink locking concealed carry purses.
- Gun types – It is recommended that if you will purse carry, to use a revolver, I’ll explain further down.
This doesn't mean you should never off body carry
There may be times for a variety of reasons that you are unable to carry on your body. If this is your case, it is important that you understand all you can about carrying your firearm off of your body holstered in a purse, bag or planner.
My Personal Opinion
First, I must tell you that I believe my role is to provide information and resources and let you make your own decisions. My opinion is just that, my opinion. What do I know? I know that awareness and practice are key. Do I carry in a concealed carry purse? Yes, sometimes I do. Why? Because there are times that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have my gun with me. That is not an option for me. (As long as it is legal)
I know myself – I know my capabilities – and I practice.
Having your gun holstered somewhere ON your middle is BEST. It is close, it is safe and it easy to get to. You really can’t argue with that. On the body is the safest and best way to carry your gun, Period! Can you carry safely in a concealed carry purse? Yes, you can. The proper purse, meticulous awareness, and practice drawing/shooting from one is the key.
The Decision is yours, and yours alone
You are an intelligent woman who can consider all of the information and risks and make the decision for yourself on whether a concealed carry purse is right for you. In an attack, every fraction of second counts! These are very real issues that must be considered and consciously accepted by you when making the decision to holster your gun in a concealed carry purse. I trust you will do this.
When choosing to carry in a concealed carry purse, here are important questions to ask yourself.
- Am I forgetful?
- Have I left my purse behind in the last 6 months, in the restroom, a restaurant or store?
- Am I around small children regularly who might have access to my purse?
- Am I willing to carry my purse cross-body to minimize the risk of someone taking my purse?
- Can I keep it on me and store it properly when it must be off my body?
- Will I vow to always have my gun in a holster in a designated compartment of the purse?
- Am I willing to keep my purse on my body while in the grocery store?
- Am I disciplined enough to practice the draw and use of my gun from the concealed carry purse? (yes, you may very likely need to shoot through the purse to not lose the precious seconds)
If you can’t answer these questions with confidence than carrying your firearm in a purse or other off-body option is not a good choice for you.
A Revolver is Best For A Concealed Carry Purse
Something not often discussed is that during an attack you may not have the time to draw your firearm from the purse. You may be forced to shoot through it. In this situation, a semi-automatic firearm may not have the room inside the purse to fully cycle itself and load the next round. This will result in the gun jamming. This is an important consideration.
IF you are carrying with a round in the chamber, you may only have 1 shot. If you are not carrying with a round in the chamber, you have none.
Whereas a revolver would not have this issue.
Practice With Your Concealed Carry Purse
Learning to draw or fire your gun from your concealed carry purse can only be learned through practice. There is no avoiding it and if you neglect this piece of your decision to carry a concealed carry purse, you are being irresponsible. As with any holster, your ability to remove the gun safely and get into a strong firing position is critical.
Spend some time with your UNLOADED GUN moving and drawing your gun following the Rules of Gun Safety and those of Dry Fire Practice. You will be surprised how awkward it is. When you add in anxiety, fear, and stress, it only gets worse.
Carry your concealed carry purse the same way all the time, with the zippers and/or compartment in the same location and practice this way. Train yourself to always pick it up and put it in the same position on your shoulder. You also will want to attach the holster (typically with Velcro) in the same position in the compartment all the time. You want it in the right position and angle for you to easily grasp the grip once you open the compartment.
Practicing The Draw From A Concealed Carry Purse
When we are under great stress, we are not thinking about our training tips, we default to what we have practiced and what has become a habit. The more systematic your motions in training the better your body will be at just naturally following the same motions.
- Unzip or open the holster compartment the same way every time.
- Turn the purse to safely point the gun in the right direction – the muzzle of the gun should never be covering your body.
- Turn slightly and point the muzzle corner of the purse away from you and in a safe direction.
- Grasp the grip of the gun with your strong hand, keeping your trigger finger straight along the side of the gun and not in the trigger guard, and pull firmly to remove it from the holster while simultaneously pulling the purse away from the gun with your weak hand.
This will clear the gun and allow you to get into firing position.
Here is a video with Il Ling New, master instructor at Gunsite Academy demonstrating this motion.
What and How To Practice
- You will want to practice both safely removing the gun from its holster and bringing it to firing position.
- You will want to practice if you have to shoot through the purse. The gun has to be removed enough from the holster to not only get a good firing grip on the gun but to free the trigger guard so you can fire if necessary. Because the gun is not fully drawn, you are not able to aim the gun as you normally would.
- Learning how to point and shoot from within the purse is required. Point and shoot is the act of simply raising the gun in the direction of your target and using your instinctive pointing ability to aim. Time is not taken to sight the target with the sights on your gun. This, of course, takes practice.
Training Live Fire
Depending on where you do your live-fire practice and what range policies are, (many ranges, unfortunately, do not allow drawing from a holster or purse in this instance) it is ideal if you can practice with your purse during live-fire practice. If possible buy a cheap purse that is similar in style to your concealed carry purse and actually practice shooting through the bag.
IMPORTANT: make sure the bag is empty and that there is nothing that could cause a ricochet or splinter and do harm to anyone or anything. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to use a concealed carry purse that has a specific compartment that is only to hold the gun and nothing else. If you use your regular purse and items in your purse get caught in the trigger guard area or are in the line of fire, it could hinder your aim are cause you or others injury.
I know you are reading this article because you take the responsibility of carrying your gun very seriously and that because of this, you will invest the time necessary to practice the use of a concealed carry purse as well.
Quality Does Matter
One last topic to mention is when shopping for your purse, quality really does matter. We all live on a budget and finding a purse in your price range will be important. However, you need to make sure the quality of the purse will allow it to function properly when needed. If this means spending a little bit more on it, it is worth it. In my article Quality Does Matter, I go over some key aspects to evaluate when searching for a purse – a must-read before purchasing.
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The Well Armed Woman is very carefull with the Concealed Carry Purses we sell. If you will be off-body carrying, browse our selection of strictly designed for concealed carry. Browse our purses here