Every body—and I mean the way we are shaped—is different. Some have more on top, or broader hips, while others stand as straight as a board. Be it the curves, extra padding, hips or breasts—small and large—there is no denying women are shaped differently than men; this means traditional holsters probably won’t fit any of us well. Deciding which concealed carry setup works for you can be time consuming, expensive and just plain frustrating. There are so many choices with little guidance on which holster to choose. It is very overwhelming for the new gun owner or to those new to conceal carry.
There is not one definitive gun and holster that will work for every single shape. What you do on a daily basis and how you dress is a factor for which gun and carry method will work best for you. Fortunately, there are many women shooters out there designing and making holsters exclusively to meet women’s needs. I feel sure you can find one that suits your needs.
However, all holsters have their drawbacks. Depending on type of clothing worn and the season, many of us choose to have a few different conceal carry setups. A thigh holster is no good worn under pants, while your inside the waistband holster has nothing to clip onto when wearing a dress. Additionally, warmer months require less clothing, which makes carrying a larger gun a challenge.
Firearms expert, trainer and instructor Clint Smith said, “Carrying a gun is not supposed to be comfortable; it’s supposed to be comforting.” Us women know something about being uncomfortable—shoes that pinch, jeans that dig, undergarments that bind and bra wires that poke. Though we do sometimes choose fashion over function, our holster and carry gun cannot be like those Manolo Blahnik heels we wear a few times a year. Your daily carry gun and holster must be as comfortable as possible, because as Clint says, “The gun that’s with you is better than the one that’s home in the safe.”
Here are five tried and true carry setups that real women find work for them.
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .38 Revolver and Flashbang Bra Holster
The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard is a double-action only .38 Special revolver made specifically for concealed carry. It is lightweight at 14.36 ounces, 6.6 inches long with a 2-inch barrel and integrated laser. The thin profile and light weight makes it easy and comfortable to carry in a variety of ways. The Flashbang bra holster by Looper Law Enforcement is worn between the breasts and attaches the bra via a leather strap. This set up is comfortable and drawing is quick and easy with some practice. However, the Flashbang works best for C cups and larger.
Pro: Wear virtually any outfit without printing
Con: Doesn’t work for smaller breast sizes
Other firearms to consider for the Flashbang:
Kel-Tec P3AT .380 ACP Semiautomatic and Can Can Concealment Garter Holster
The Kel-Tec P3AT is an incredibly slim, lightweight semiautomatic handgun that lays flat any way you carry it. Ankle, corset, small of the back and bra carry—all done successfully—is easy with this little number. The .380 ACP P3AT has a 2.75-inch barrel, is 5.2 inches long and very thin at 0.77 inches wide. It holds six rounds, has no external safeties and shoots double-action only. The Can Can Concealment garter holster is a thigh holster that does not require a garter belt to keep the holster secure on your thigh. However, a garter belt is optional. For dresses and skirts, it is the perfect set up. Even in a long skirt or dress, the gun is easy to access and does not get in the way when sitting cross-legged, nor does it print when you position the firearm correctly on your thigh.
Pro: Comfortable summer carry, good for skirts and dresses
Con: Holster will slide down slighty toward the knee
GLOCK 23 .40 S&W Semiautomatic and Blackhawk SERPA
Labeled a compact, GLOCK’s model 23 is a .40 S&W semiautomatic handgun with no external safety. Though it is one of GLOCK’s smaller models, it is large compared to many other typical concealed carry firearms with a 4-inch barrel and 7.36-inch overall length. The GLOCK offers 13 rounds of .40 S&W—a larger caliber preferred by some to the .380 ACP. With a barrel swap, the GLOCK 23 will also shoot 9mm or .357 SIG. The Blackhawk SERPA holster has a finger release that keeps the gun securely in place inside the holster and places your trigger finger in the ready position when you draw. Since the SERPA clips to a belt on the outside of the pants, in concealed carry-only states, a cover garment is necessary. This combination is best when carrying in winter.
Pro: SERPA is an incredibly secure holster
Con: Entire set up is slightly bulky; requires cover garment
Other firearms to consider for the Blackhawk SERPA:
Charter Arms Pink Undercover Lite .38 Special Revolver and Belly Band
The Charter Arms Undercover Lite has a 2-inch barrel, simple fixed sights and holds five rounds of .38 Special ammo. It only weighs 12 ounces and has soft rubber grips. Bellyband holsters conceal virtually under any outfit and are extremely versatile in all the different ways you can carry. You can position the bellyband in the middle, top or lowest part of your abdomen. Because of the bellyband’s design, you can also position your firearm on your body where you feel it is the quickest and most comfortable to access. Once used to wearing a firearm, you may find that under your arm is the most comfortable position.
Pro: Comfortable and unobtrusive
Con: Bellybands fit better on flatter stomachs
Another firearm to consider for a bellyband holster is the Kel-Tec P3AT.
SIG P938 9mm Semiautomatic and Looper Brand AVA
The SIG Sauer P938 is a 9mm single-action only 1911-style small pocket pistol. It has a beavertail grip frame, exposed hammer and ambidextrous thumb safety. It has a 3-inch barrel and is 5.9 inches long overall. Despite the all-metal construction, the P938 only weighs 16 ounces without a magazine. The 1.1-inch thickness aids in the ease of its concealability. It has night sights and holds six rounds. Lisa Looper’s AVA belt holster is worn inside the waistband—meaning it clips to a belt or the waistband of your pants and is worn between your pants and your skin or undershirt. The AVA is made of leather and thermoplastic, and designed specifically to mold to a women’s curves. The purple suede back is soft and comfortable enough to wear without an undershirt and does not rub or chafe even during the summer months. Worn with or without a belt, the AVA is good for dress pants or jeans without belt loops. Depending on what is most comfortable for you, the AVA’s clips are adjustable so you can carry where and how you prefer.
Pro: Traditional, preferred inside the waistband carry
Con: Larger guns may print under tight shirts
Another firearm to consider for the AVA is the SIG P238.