There is no doubt concealed carrying as a woman can be difficult. We like to be fashionable, but that doesn’t always translate to functional. With the right holsters, handguns, and some know-how, however, you can conceal carry no problem.
Concealed carry is personal and will slightly differ for everyone based on body type, lifestyle, and clothing preference. There are three basic outfit categories to consider — professional/dress, casual and active.
While there are plenty of great holster options on the market, these are ones I prefer and recommend. For reference, I am 5-feet tall and weigh 100-pounds.
Professional attire can be tough as bottoms often don’t come with belt loops and blouses are thin. For beltless pants or skirts, a belly band is a must. Micro adjustments can be made with a belly band allowing you to find the perfect position for concealment and drawing. Couple a belly band with a flowy top or outer layer, such as a blazer, for the best concealment. Bonus tip: Covertly untuck the corner of a blouse to make the draw easier.
If a loose or cover-up top isn’t an option and you’re sporting a skirt or shorter dress, opt for a thigh holster. Depending on the apparel’s fit and your comfort level, either carry on the outer thigh at the 4 o’clock position or inner thigh at 3 o’clock. The length of your skirt or dress is important — too long and your draw will be difficult, too short and the holster might show. Also, be wary of printing or the holster showing as you walk or bend over. Pro tip: The fit on thigh holsters is incredibly important so make sure to size properly.
With a long skirt or dress consider an ankle holster, bearing in mind the most important aspect of an ankle holster is foot attire — ensure the holstered gun doesn’t rub or interfere with your footwear. Depending on fit, the gun can be worn on either the inner or outer ankle. Before leaving home, it’s a good idea to test an ankle holster set-up by walking around to make sure it doesn’t show, and the gun feels secure. Bear in mind, ankle holsters also require a different draw technique, so be sure to train to that if you choose this method of carry.
For casual dress, again, flowy tops, outer layers, and cover-ups work best to conceal a firearm. Keep in mind that shorter shirts may rise and expose your gun, while thinner shirts might print. That’s why it’s always a good idea to test out the outfit before heading outside. Casual wear often means wearers can choose jeans – with most offering belt loops — so inside-the-waistband carry, even appendix carry, with a Kydex holster is an option.
If a larger gun is just not working with tighter clothing, consider moving it to the 5 o’clock position or step down to a micro-sized pistol. Women possess a natural curve that makes for a great hiding place when concealing a gun. Word of caution, though, avoid placing the gun at the small of the back over the spine as this can result in serious injuries to the back and spinal area if you fall.
For cooler temps, casual outerwear presents an issue in terms of drawing. Digging through layers of clothing is not exactly ideal so a pocket holster is a great solution. As always, test out your jacket as pocket angles, closures, and size all affect this carry method.
The best solution I’ve found for hiking and outdoor activities is a belly band. Belly bands work with a variety of bottoms and are flexible when crawling over rocks. They also allow placement that provides easy access and the least amount of interference with your pack.
Concealed carry specific clothing, such as leggings, are also an option; however, it is essential to select an option with a built-in trigger guard or means to prevent the gun from discharging while inside the holster area.
Test Your Gear
Before heading out of the house, I always recommend testing your outfits by moving in a way that might potentially expose your gun. See if the holstered gun stays concealed and/or how it prints. If you need to make adjustments for comfort or concealment, now is the time to do it. Remember, best practice is to first remove the gun from the holster before making adjustments.
Practice and be familiar with your concealed carry guns and holsters. Also, check your state and local laws to ensure you are compliant.
Belly Band: Can Can Concealment, Sport Belt Micro. I love this belly band! The quality is superb.
Thigh Holster: Femme Fatale, Garter Holster. This one by Femme Fatale is low profile and comfortable. I will say that on a hot day it has a hard time staying up, though.
Ankle Holster: Not sure of my specific brand, but it is possibly a Femme Fatale.
Concealed Carry Leggings: Girls with Guns Clothing, Eclipse Leggings. Compared to other concealed carry leggings these have a lighter weight material and offer different colors.
Kydex, IWB Holster: ANR Designs, Non-Light Bearing IWB, or Tulster, Profile Holster. Both ANR and Tulster are minimalist holsters who don’t leave extra material to cut into you or create more printing.
Pocket Holster: Mika’s Pocket Holsters, Pocket Holster. The pocket holster works surprisingly well, offering proper trigger coverage and helping to position the gun in your pocket.
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