Concealed Carry: Holster Alternatives for Women

Some concealed carry holsters tend to work better for women than others. Here are some guidelines to use for holster alternatives.

If you’re an armed woman with a concealed carry permit you’ve declared your independence from fear. However, holster considerations may be different for you because of the delights of physiology.

The gentle arc from hip to waist is more profound on many women making the top of the gun or holster “bite” when using an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. While many women prefer a tailored look and thin belts, belt carry is prone to “print” or wobble.

This drives many to purse carry. That’s fine if you understand the benefits and risks. Purse snatches are common on city streets but that’s not the only danger. A handgun should never be carried in a purse mingled with other contents because of the risk of objects getting inside the trigger guard and creating an accidental discharge, or fouling the action and jamming the gun.

Many vendors offer excellent concealment purses with dedicated pockets for the gun. Get a revolver with an enclosed hammer for this application because, if the circumstance demands, it can actually be shot through the walls of the purse.

Another option suitable for casual wear is a fanny pack. Although this is a slower option than belt carry, if you keep good defensive space it provides excellent security and is quite comfortable when worn on the strong side just in front of the hip bone. Small revolvers and semi-autos fit easily into belt packs.

The expensive black leather or ballistic nylon ones are guy swag. Colorful nylon offerings from the discount stores work just fine. You can buy several in different colors and match them to your outfits. One tip if you go this route: Tie a three inch loop of cord or yarn through the zipper that opens the pistol pocket so you have something easy to grab.

Editor’s Note: Got a question for Joseph Terry about concealed carry not covered here? Log in and post your question in the comments below.


Concealed-Carry-For-Women-BookEditor’s Note: Concealed Carry for Women, a new book by Gila Hayes, is now available. It takes a comprehensive approach for women who have decided to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. Click Here to Get Your Copy

8 thoughts on “Concealed Carry: Holster Alternatives for Women

  1. mamajane8

    Wow! This struck me as a really old article as you didn’t mention the Flashbang, belly bands, thigh holsters, or a variety of others. I have found the bellyband to be quite comfortable, though going into the summer months I’m going to try some other options. I most often wear the bellyband high, with my S & W, M & P, 9mm sc under my bra, similar to a flashbang. I do like the bellyband, as I can shift it around as necessary, and do not have to remoe my weapon when changing clothes (you know how women like to shop!) The Flashbang is probably the holster I will try next, as I’ve heard good things from a group of dedicated ccw enthusiasts. I have the shorts with integrated pocket, and find that very limiting. It’s difficult to get to, and not very concealable except in the bulkiest of clothing. There is also the concern of spinal damage if you fall back on the weapon, though it is off-centered, so may alleviate that issue somewhat. The integrated shirt holster looks interesting, but finding just the right size always require shipping back and forth a few times, and is likely to be hotter than the belly band, as it looks to be lycra/polyester material. It also only offers one carry position, which makes it not very cost effective unless you know you like to carry in that position. For any ladies that are heavy, probably not an option, as it would be very uncomfortable. I do have a thigh holster, and that is very uncomfortable & just impractical, unfortunately. I only wear skirts & dresses…since carrying, primarily skirts. I bought the thigh holster for wearing with dresses, but only the fullest of skirts will conceal it at all…unless you are one of the few who have bird legs, and a 1 inch hollow between your thighs! I believe the key is to eventually buy one of each holster, and keep trying until you find one you like that works with each outfit!

    1. Joseph TerryJoseph Terry Post author

      Great comment! Do I detect a badge also tucked somewhere? In all your testing, what holster represents the best balance of concealment, access and comfort? Your input most appreciated. Joe

  2. jaketodd

    I’m a female shooter and I tried a colored fanny pack like you suggested and it was really comfortable but my pistol shifted around a lot inside the pack. How can I keep it from doing that?

    1. Joseph TerryJoseph Terry Post author

      Hi “jaketodd”, thanks for the question. When I set up a rig like this for a friend, I gathered the top and bottom folds of the little belt pack and sewed them together with a simple whip stitch. I used a sharp curved needle and carpet thread. This decreased the width of the pack considerably and kept the gun in a stable, upright position. (Don’t forget the loop to make pulling the zipper easier.) Joe.

  3. hollydog

    I’m a female shooter and I want to thank you for the suggestions. I have a revolver and a good holster but I can’t figure out how to carry extra ammo for it. Any ideas?

    1. Joseph TerryJoseph Terry Post author

      Thanks, “hollydog” for a great question. This may surprise many readers but unless you are really well trained in the use of a speed loader for your revolver, I would not worry about extra ammunition on your person. If you can’t get the job done with five (or six) rounds, a reload is probably not going to make any difference. Just focus your training on getting the first three rounds into a 12 inch circle at fifteen feet and you will handle 90% of all lethal threats. Remember… in all things “tactical” get a second opinion. Joe.

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