Concealed carry is a must for a lot of gun users, not just women, unless you only carry a gun on the range or for work purposes. However, as more and more people opt to carry a gun for self-defence reasons, the need to carry a gun in a concealed manner becomes imperative, with some US states prohibiting ‘open carry’. After all, when you are out and about on normal day, you don’t want to advertise the fact that you have a gun on you (unless, of course, you work for law enforcement agencies). Many holster makers have therefore created a number of different holsters that can conceal your weapon.
Women have particular needs when concealing a weapon. They tend to wear tighter or more form fitting clothes. Also, women in general are more slender then men, and concealed holster makers have to take this into consideration. A holster (containing a gun) may look quite concealed on a man, but far too bulky (and therefore obvious) on a woman. Another consideration is range of clothing. Women generally have many more different types of clothing than men do, so rarely will one type of holster work for every aspect of a woman’s wardrobe. Lastly, a woman’s profile is very different from a man’s profile and most generic holsters are generally created to suit a man’s more angular body. Recently, however, concealed carry holsters for women, in particular, has become a massive growth market as holster makers realise the different needs that women have when carrying a weapon.
Concealed Carry Holsters For Women
Today we take a look at some of the concealed carry holsters for women that have been invented by holster creators. Some are not marketed directly at women, but we have found from experience that they work on a woman’s body. Others are specifically created for women to use only.
OWB holsters (Over the waistband holsters)
These holsters are designed to be clipped onto your waistband or belt. They offer the least concealed option in that you need to make sure you have clothing that covers it e.g. a long t-shirt or blouse. However, when it comes to utility, it’s almost unbeatable in that the gun is exactly where you need it to be for quick draw in dangerous self-defence situations. For women in particular, look for OWB holsters that can clip onto a waistband directly, rather than just onto belts. Men’s pants generally are always designed to be worn with a belt, and therefore pants will have belt loops. However women’s pants are not always designed to be worn with a belt. Unless you find your wardrobe full of pants that are all designed to be worn with belts, then opting for a OWB holster that can clip on ‘freestyle’ will mean more versatility with your wardrobe, especially if you find you wear casual slacks, shorts and thin ‘summer’ pants without belt loops.
For the same reason, consider an OWB holster with a paddle attachment that lays flat on the inside of your pants, as this will not require a belt to secure the holster.
If you find that most of your pants and shorts have belt loops, belt holsters are great. However, some women find the actual belts rather bulky and cumbersome, and simply don’t look ‘right’ on the female form. Look for contour cut belts. These belts form a ‘U’ shape and are much more flattering. Some contour cut belts, such as the Galco concealable cut belt, is thinner and less bulky too.
Remember, with clip on waistband or belt holsters you need to wear clothing that covers your waist, and therefore your gun and holster. Opt for long tunic tops, baby-doll halter tops, banded hem blouses, or layer up with a tight vest underneath a flowing, sheer vest. In colder climates, you have options in sweaters and jackets.
IWB holster (Inside the waistband holsters)
These holsters also clip onto your waistband or belt, but instead they slip inside the waistband or pants. They offer a more concealed option generally than OWB holsters, although you do need to make sure you still have a top or blouse that is long enough to go beyond your waistband and conceal the bulk. These are generally comfortable, although as the holster is touching your skin, some may find it a little uncomfortable. Level of comfort will be dependent on the materials used to create the holster. Opt for materials that you know your skin can tolerate.
Also look for holsters where the height of where it sits can be adjusted as well as the cant. Again, because of the different women’s clothing styles, having the ability to adjust how high the holster sits as well as the cant can only help your holster become more compatible to more of your wardrobe.
A number of these holsters will also feature a slot where you can tuck your blouse or top in between the holster clip and gun. These are sometimes known as “tuckable” holsters. This also offers extra versatility to your wardrobe, especially if you tend to wear strong waistbanded shorts, skirts and pants. We provide an in-depth look at IWB holsters here.
There are various holster designs which can be worn under your clothes. Many of these are concealed carry holsters for women specifically. One design is the women’s compression concealment shorts. This is a holster especially designed for women to wear under jeans, pants and skirts. Essentially it is a pair of compression shorts with two concealed elastic holsters sewn into it. This means you can carry your gun to the left or to the right, whilst the unused holster can be used to carry extra magazines. And as these are compression shorts, many women will love the bonus shaping and contouring aspects too.
Another design is the pistol pouch. Made from cotton, this is sling style holster you wear under your clothes but over your underwear. Ideal for when you are wearing sweat pants or low-rise pants as the under belly position gives great concealability whilst in a great position for fast draw.
Yet another design is the belly band holster. These holsters are made from elastic and are fastened with Velcro attachments. Most will have 2 holsters sewn into the ‘band’, ideal for carrying more than one weapon, or more likely, using the spare holster to carry extra magazines. Some may also feature sewn in pockets to store credit cards, cash etc. These holsters provide some of the best versatility when it comes to being compatible with the variety of clothing found in most women’s wardrobe. It can be worn high up on the torso (under the breasts) or as low as your waist (and anything in between). Therefore, many women find they can wear these holsters almost at any time. Just make sure you are wear loose fitting tops, such as baby doll tops, or long empire line tunics. Ruffles also help ‘break up’ your silhouette.
The main downside is that the muzzle of your gun is likely to be pointed at your torso, so safety precautions need to be taken. Also, wearing these holsters high on your torso is likely to cause an awkward draw, and in self-defense situations, time is of the essence. A few extra seconds when drawing your weapon can be the difference between life and death. This problem is negated somewhat when these holsters are worn closer to the waist region of your torso.
Lastly, a type of concealed carry holsters for women are bra holsters. There are essentially two designs of this type of holster. The first type clips onto the outside of the cup of your bra. You draw your gun through the top of your blouse or top. The second type clips onto the center of your bra with the handle of the gun and barrel tucked under the strap of the bra slightly. Draw is from under your blouse or top. Top considerations are effective concealability. Generally, the larger bust size you have, the more concealable bra holsters are. So small breasted women will find these holsters can look ‘obvious’. Main concerns here are that both types of bra holsters involve the muzzle of the gun being pointed to your non firing arm when being drawn so safety precautions and practice drawing are essential for these holsters.
Underarm / shoulder holsters
These holsters are designed to be worn under your arm snug against the side of your body. They come in many designs. Most shoulder holsters have straps that can be adjusted, with some even featuring removable straps for extra versatility. There is also the compression tank top which, just like the compression shorts, can be worn under clothing and boasts two holsters on both sides where you can carry your weapon just under your armpit.
For these type of holsters, naturally you would need clothing that cover your arms and shoulders. Look for swing jackets and boxy jackets.
Main issues with these types of holsters is the slow speed of draw. Shoulder holsters have a slightly better speed, but still involve you reaching under your clothes to unholster your gun. The compression tank top as a slower draw speed as it can be awkward drawing from under your armpit.
These holsters strap onto your ankles and are some of the most comfortable holsters for all day wear. Most also boast padding or calf support for extra comfort. So long as the hem of your pants are quite loose (such as boot cut jeans, or wide hemmed office pants), these holsters offer great concealability too. Draw speed is, predictably, compromised if you are stood up, as you need to kneel to get at your weapon. However, if you expect to be sat down most of the time when carrying your weapon, these holsters can be great for draw speed.
These holsters are the ultimate concealed carry holsters for women who wear dresses or skirts a lot. These feature a garter which stops your weapon from sliding down your leg, and most versions will allow for height adjustments so you can adjust the height dependent on the hemline of your dress or skirt. Most women also find them very concealing, even when sat down. Naturally, these holsters are rendered useless when wearing pants as you simply will not be able to get to your weapon when you need it.
A simple type of holster, these hold your gun inside your pocket. Look for versions that cover the trigger area as this will stop any accidental discharge. The main issue with these types of holsters is concealability. Unless you have a very small gun, or have huge pockets, these holsters are difficult to conceal. This would be ideal for any woman who wears loose trouser styles. Cargo pants wearers may also find these holsters useful as they would have a multitude of pockets. Another way to use these holsters is to use them to store your gun in your handbag. The gives the ultimate in concealability as it is not even worn on your body, but the ultimate downside is that thieves wanting to steal your purse can also steal your weapon. Also, purses left out even for just five minutes may attract someone innocently (perhaps a child) reaching into your purse, with tragic consequences.
Concealed carry purse holster
Another option instead of buying a pocket holster to go inside your purse, these concealed carry holsters for women have a built-in holster within the purse. Look for holsters fitted with safety measures, such as separate, locked area for your gun, as well as holsters that cover the trigger guard completely to prevent accidental discharge. An added feature to look for are side compartments where a gun can be kept in the correct position and you can find it even in the dark. These holsters offer much more protection than simply using a pocket holster and putting it into your purse. However the drawback is that styles are limited. And many women love having a variety of purses to suit their wardrobe.
Fanny pack style purse holster
These are exactly the same as the concealed carry purse holsters, but are designed to look like fanny packs and are worn low on your waist. These offer all the same protection as purse holsters, but offer a faster draw simply from the position these purses are worn. Also, fanny packs are less likely to be left somewhere accidentally, like a purse may be. The main downside is that fanny packs tend to be worn during the day and with casual wear. Some women would baulk at the idea of wearing fanny packs to work or somewhere where they expected to be dressed more formally.
These also offer the same features as the purse holders, and offer great concealability. However, these are the worst when it comes to speed of draw out of all the holsters, as it involves you unlocking the briefcase to get to your weapon. Hardly ideal when in a life and death situation. Also, briefcases are easily left unattended accidentally.
Tips For Choosing Concealed Carry Holsters For Women
So there you have it! There is a whole world of concealed carry holsters for women out there, but as you can see from above, there is no one holster that will work for all outfits. Some offer fast draw speed, important in self-defense situations, but may not be the most concealable. Off the body holsters, such as purse holsters, offer complete concealability, but there are issues with draw as well as safety. Undergarment holsters, thigh holsters, underarm / shoulder holster and ankle holsters are highly concealable, but are very dependent on what garments you are actually wearing, and some versions may also hamper draw speed. So how do you choose? Read our tips below for choosing concealed carry holsters for women:
- Concealment versus comfort versus utility: To expect one holster to be able to completely conceal your weapon, as well as be so comfortable that you barely notice you are wearing it, as well as positioning your weapon so perfectly that you have an almost immediate draw (necessary for self-defence) is like asking for the Holy Grail! There will need to be concessions, and we recommend that before you buy a holster, you work out which aspect should be given priority (concealment, comfort, or utility).
- The best holster in the world can’t make your gun magically disappear. For concealed carry, the gun needs to be the right size for your hand and your body. If you are particularly slender, even a medium sized gun may be difficult to conceal. Instead, look for small guns.
- Go through your wardrobe and look at what you tend to wear most of the time. Also, consider at what places and events you would want to carry a weapon, and then think of what types of clothes you usually wear. This will help you to work out the best kind of holster for you. For example, a woman who tends to wear dresses and skirts nearly all the time will have different holster needs to a ‘jeans and t-shirt’ kind of woman who would want to carry a weapon out and about during the day, but only wears dresses for special occasions where she does not feel the need to carry a gun.
- Be prepared to end up buying more than one holster. Because of the sheer breadth of styles that women’s clothes come in, asking one holster to suit your whole wardrobe is usually asking for too much, unless you have a very definite ‘style’ which you always adhere to e.g. always wear vest tops and skirts, always in t-shirt and jeans etc.
- Last but definitely not least, safety is paramount. Whatever option you go for, ask yourself how safe you and others around you would feel. If you are prone to leaving your handbag unattended, are purse holsters the best option for you? If you are not prepared to spend time learning how to draw correctly, are bra holsters the right option? Be honest with yourself as keeping others and yourself safe is the most important factor.
What Do You Think – What Is The Best Concealed Carry Holsters For Women?
What do you think is the best concealed carry holsters for women? Everyone has different tastes and different requirements, which means each woman will have an opinion on what is the best concealed carry holsters for them. If you have some thoughts on concealed carry holsters for women, please share your thoughts in the comments section below as we would love to hear from you!