The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Finding Mister Right (Now), Pt 1: A Methodological Approach to Women’s Concealed Carry

Selecting a holster should be simple right? Just seek out something Kydex molded to your particular pistol, secure it to your waistband (or ankle, or chest, or thighs – wait…) and you’re ready to draw! Well, unfortunately, this is by far not the case. Finding your forever concealed carry holster is as effective as meeting the love of your life by swiping right on Tinder. It happens, but you’re going to have filter through a whole lot of Wrongs before you meet Mr. or Mrs. Right. Welcome to Part 1 of Finding Mister Right (Now): A Methodological Approach to Women's Concealed Carry.

I digress. Wishing to be deliberate in my entry into Every Day Carry, I’ve documented my struggle not only to discover the perfect fit for me and my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, including something to slide the subcompact into that is suitable for warm weather. Calling Phoenix, Arizona my home means blue skies and radiant sunshine, so a metal object held close to the body can easily chafe and is a challenge to hide when the weather doesn’t call for covering up – among other things. For many women, clothing isn’t just an option, it’s an expression. Like it or not, it’s hard to convince every lady that she has to choose between wearing her (occasionally impractical) wardrobe or arming herself. Frankly, I think it’s possible to have both: the miniskirts and the arsenal. And I have spent about a year, several events, across a variety of environments, and a spread of quality crafted concealed carry products to try and demonstrate just that.

holster Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry

FOR SCIENCE! And Stuff…

My main target with these evaluations is two-fold: 1: identify which items best work for my needs. And 2: pass on what the resources and knowledge I gain along the way to make other’s process more efficient. Wish me luck.

By tapping into the Scientific Method to prove or disprove my hypotheses, I believe choice holsters paired with the right warm-weather womenswear can easily and completely conceal one’s personal safety equipment without hindering gesticulation. This will include a few unchanging factors and a number of variables listed below.

I’ve handpicked a smattering of holsters and bags based on placement, attachment, how they might work with my size, clothing choices and, lastly, by popularity. They’ll be appraised in everything from outdoor walking and exercising to nuptial crashing and gala schmoozing, from business meetings to remote working to mundane tasks like shopping, driving, lounging, laundry-ing and trying to pee. Whatever odd errand, event or experience which arises, each offers its own set of obstacles for these handgun cradles to endure, revealing the functionality, practicality, and discretion provided by each.

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry belly band

For our method, we will first establish the Control: the few conditions which remain constant throughout the program to help achieve narrowed, accurate results. Following that, we'll identify the experiments through what daily variables we could encounter. Finally we'll take a look at what tools we have at our disposal for this dual-purpose exploration and evaluation of women's concealed carry techniques and equipment for the proper analysis.

CONTROL

Each holster must be crafted for a compact or subcompact sidearm, capable of supporting some sort of trigger guard and will be worn in warm temperatures.

EXPERIMENTS: TRIALS, TRIBULATIONS AND INTANGIBLE VARIABLES

Setting the control is contrasted by the nearly innumerable variables of this test. The manifold circumstances and the many motions, the placement, reflex, and consciousness: all of those things affect our choices, and filtering through holsters is no different. Instead of taking a reductionary approach, the objective of strapping on every item at one point or another is to run through a range of tests and evaluate their proficiency in motion (don’t want the pistol to end up in a toilet), camouflage, and comfort – while, for example, bending forward, squatting, rotating the upper body, reaching, walking, jogging, embracing, sliding between a slender space and so on. I've set a few common scenarios in which someone might regularly find themselves:

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry kyra Sacdalan
  • Shopping & running errands, like grocery, etc.
  • Exercising or some form of light activity
  • Going out at night – casual and cocktail
  • Business place / office (To be up front, I don't normally wear work attire because I work remotely.)
  • Formal or semi-formal special occasions

The study includes recording my observations. For instance, when certain outfits or environments are not feasible for a holster, it’ll be noted. Commentary will also include: 

  • Deliberately running through the listed range of motions
  • Level of comfort in the heat versus the cold and at room temp (if it can be reproduced)
  • Holster and Firearm visibility from multiple positions on the body; also noting which clothing items were worn
  • Ease of drawing (practicing unloaded in an appropriately safe environment or at a permitting range) 
  • Trying alternate versions of compacts and subcompacts in the unmolded carriers
  • Training and education

Getting Started

Stuck in town due to lockdown, much of last summer was spent scouring the internet for “best of’s,” “how to’s,” “top tens and fives and hundreds” – and so on – to sniff out a handy new holster for my Smith & Wesson Shield. Much of the information I initially read was directed at men or for cooler climates or body types that are vastly dissimilar to mine: small, broad, boob-less and butt-less. Needing a way to cover up my sidearm is yet another reminder that my being flat-chested has been a gross disadvantage over the years. I really wanted to love the Flashbang Bra Holster. But I had laid my Smith & Wesson flush against my ribcage and as it turns out, the subcompact has a more impressive profile than my boobs themselves. This same research helped me find contemporary and classic labels to try which endemic media outlets and influencers are clamoring about.

Disclaimer: I’ve been warned anything without a trigger guard won’t be given a stamp of approval by the editors. Reasonable. Hell, many people I’ve met in the Tactical community consider products generally aimed at the fairer sex to be gimmicks. But quite a few of these opinions come from men. Without a real need for such products, I, again, can understand where they’re coming from. However, this is an article aimed at females looking to weigh the pros, cons, and possibilities of holsters which they might be able to live with – literally, if the worst should happen and all their safety gadgets pan out.

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry classroom

I cut my journalistic teeth in the Motorcycle Industry. What I’ve learned is people, whatever gender, are often willing to sacrifice their well-being for a laundry list of trivial shit, costuming notwithstanding. And what gear manufacturers have been encouraged to do is give the consumer everything they ask for – in the case of motorcycles: fashionable armor with abrasion resistance.

That response likely parallels what I believe the Firearms Industry is also attempting to do with the belly band, corset, concealed carry handbag and underwear, so all should be worth putting through the wringer if nothing else but to confirm them obsolete. Deliberately approaching women's concealed carry from a tabula rasa position, the survey of options begin on an equal playing field: a blank slate.

Alternately, women could end up with a highly functional pair of jeggings – win/win.

TANGIBLE VARIABLES – Holsters & Placement, Wardrobe

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry holsters

In the Waistbelt (IWB)
Location: Appendix, Kidney, hip

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry other

Belly Bands & Corsets
Location: Appendix, Kidney/Small of Back

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry clothing

Concealed Clothing
Location: Appendix, Kidney/Small of Back

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry purses

Concealed Carry Purses

Miscellaneous Holsters
Location: Thigh, Pocket

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry belts

Carry Belts

The environment dictates that clothing be chosen for temperate to hot climates, the immediate and potential surroundings, an event or the task at hand – from workout and loungewear to casual shorts, skirts and light pants; loose shirts, crop tops and blouses; summer, cocktail, and formal attire; even warm weather professional outfits, and more which might apply.

Hotter climates are the focus because they are a tougher domain to carry in. It’s a simple enough task to keep your preferred method of defense under wraps when you’re sealed up tight in wool and flannel and down feathers.

PLAYING IT SAFE

Part of both the journey and the method includes training and education. With each new product, new placement, new outfit, I wanted to be sure to ask: Is your firearm easy to access? Can you draw quickly? What about putting it back? And if at any point I didn’t know the answer, then hitting a range, seeking instruction and practicing in a safe environment were the important next steps. To set myself up for success, I decided to reach out to C2 Tactical in Tempe, AZ. As I began to develop my skills as an “Everyday Carrier.”

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry c2 tactical

I have already attended several of their classes – Pistol 100, 200, the CCW permit and Everyday Carry – with plans to complete their handgun series with Pistol 300, Defensive Shooting Fundamentals and Defensive Shooting Operation. Meanwhile, I’m working with an instructor boasting an extensive set of qualifications to help me create a solid foundation to springboard off of as I simultaneously survey carry options and go through the real-life motions.

This series is meant to address the hurdles females must cross while navigating the vast, complex world of firearms. (And the struggle is real!) So, it was in my best interest to talk shop with as many women as possible who choose to take responsibility for a pistol – the range from novice/neophyte/tyro/apprentice/pupil to maven/master/ace/pundit. This led me to C2’s bi-monthly Ladies of Steel meetup which offers a relevant, impartial environment for attendees to ask questions, offer opinions, share finds and even make friends. There’s also some solid range time sending the group through efficient purpose-built drills to make the most of each shooter’s turn. And as the experiments amped up, I found myself at the steel-reinforced doors of Guardian Training to speak with co-founder and veteran of law enforcement, Karen, about her preferred concealment accessories. But more on that in Part 2…

Finding Mr right (now) Women's concealed carry

The relationships with your holsters are more successful when they’re polyamorous. Ever evolving. Even a bit experimental. At least this is the impression I’m given from the many more experienced gun owners in my circle of friends, the internet, and on-staff at RECOIL Magazine. Yet, I’ve also gleaned that the time it takes to “date” – obtain, test, re-test, and deliberate on the copious products which could ultimately become your sweethearts – would leave you old and grey by the end. It’s up to those new to EDC to do their due diligence in testing multiple items for themselves. But until then, you’re welcome to follow along as I venture deeper into new gun-toting territories. From what I understand, it’s a never-ending cycle.


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Images by Justin W. Coffey


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