Women today are buying handguns in record numbers.
According to a report in the Kitsap Sun, the number of women obtaining concealed carry permits jumped from 80,016 to 129,428 between 2013 and 2016.
In some cases, concealed carry can present several unique challenges for female gun owners. A number of aspects must be “just right” for concealed carry to work well. Concealment can vary depending on your clothing choice, as well as your day-to-day activities. Gun size, on-body carry position, holster angle, and ride height are all additional factors to consider.
Because women’s bodies and gun preferences vary, the concealed carry method that works best for one woman may not work for another. For that reason, the more perspectives we can get from others, the better.
Let’s Start With the Basics
Along with the wide range of belt holster options available on the market, there are also a lot of places to position them around a woman’s body. Holster options include everything from Inside-the-Waistband (IWB), Outside-the-Waistband (OWB), shoulder, and ankle, to thigh, appendix, and purse carry – they all serve as concealed carry methods.
Once you determine whereyou want to conceal on your body, you need to decide on the belt holster material you prefer. Common OWB holster options include leather, Kydex, and hybrid leather/Kydex which all vary regarding retention and comfort.
Take a Peek Inside Your Closet
While many women have the same options in clothing as men, others — either due to a profession or personal choice — wear dresses or skirts with no belt loops. Also, some female clothing is often lightweight or sheer and does not always support the weight of guns and related gear.
For most women, the best place to start looking for an ideal belt holster is in the closet. The type of clothing you wear on a daily basis is one of the biggest factors in what type of firearm you will be able to conceal and how you can conceal it.
If you tend to wear jeans or shorts on a regular basis, then a solid, belt-mounted OWB holster designed for stability, access and retention may be the best option.
OWB is the preferred and most common form of concealed carry for women, especially as the style allows a gun to be close to the body, and the grip is in an ideal position to grasp and draw quickly.
For women who prefer belt holsters, it is important to consider the “rise” of their pants waistband before purchasing a holster. The term “rise” means the position that a pair of pants sits on a body. Dependent upon the style of pants and its rise, the woman’s choice will determine the difficulty or ease of carrying.
Keep in mind: high rise pants can force your gun poke, and low-rise pants can make the grip start to fall away from the body and compromise concealment.
Ultimately, mid-rise pants that place the muzzle-end of the firearm and holster on the broadest part of the hip seem to work well. Remember, each person’s “rise” is different – what looks and feels great on one woman may not be ideal for another.
A quality belt is often one of the most overlooked keys to comfort and concealment for women. Thankfully, as more women seek out carry options, the market for female accessories has expanded to belts, too.
More stylish belts that contour to the curves of a woman’s body make carrying a firearm a more secure, comfortable experience. A belt should be wide enough and durable enough to support and distribute the weight of a firearm.
Finally, it is important to point out that you can conceal a gun with an OWB holster if you wear a longer, heavier sweater or jacket. The challenge, in some cases, is that belt holsters can be bulkier, making them more difficult to conceal. Cover clothing, such as a roomy coat or a dark-colored vest, can work particularly well for most concealed carry methods, including OWB.
What’s Your Body Type?
Now it is time to take a good look in the mirror. In the world of holster options, different body types impact how a holster may work with regards to comfort and concealment.
For example, if women with “apple”-shaped bodies carry around the waist, the “V-shape” can press the grip of the firearm out and make it difficult to conceal. A durable belt or holster specifically designed to tuck the grip back into the waistband may be a good option in this case.
Those females with “hour-glass” or “pear”-shaped figures often have better success carrying OWB holsters, especially as the curve of the hip can push the grip into the torso for optimal concealment in a behind-the-hip carry.
No matter your body type, you should always be careful to evaluate your chosen method of carry for safety and comfort.
Want to Learn More?
At the end of the day, you can have the best gun and the best holster, but if you cannot draw your firearm safely, quickly, and on target, all of the above means nothing.
At Tucker Gunleather, you'll find great designs, comfort, concealment, and adjustability in our OWB holster line.
We’ve been talking to customers daily for over 25 years, and we get lots of feedback. Contact us today to learn more.