Women’s Holsters: The Struggle Is Real
I’ll start off with a disclaimer: I am not a competitive shooter. Just a girl who fell for guns.
About 5 of years ago I began my role as audience member of the world of tactical things, firearms and competitive shooting. I’ve lost count of how many matches I’ve been to, how many product review videos I’ve seen, how many top of the line shooter interviews I’ve watched, how many countless hours of conversation about the this and that brand new this and that gadget I’ve heard, how many shiny new guns, knives and flashlights I’ve held in my hands for coolness inspection, or how many steps have been logged on my smart watch at industry events. However, the thought of shooting or owning a firearm myself had never occurred to me until 2 years ago, when after thoughtful consideration and guidance from my resident gun guru, I got my permit and purchased my first gun: A Smith and Wesson M&P9 Shield. Like many women who own firearms, I discovered a tricky thing no one tells you when you fall for firearms…how the hell are you going to conceal carry it? With a holster, duh. Silly
But, as my year and half ordeal has proven, it turns out to not be that simple.
As stated in my disclaimer, I am not a competitive shooter, so carrying with a regular outside the hip, belt holster is never a possible scenario for me. Concealed carry in my world has to mean exactly that, concealed.
I picked up my first holster at a NRA Show, a Flashbang Holster.
I was so excited to try it out! It looked so cool and Lara Croft-y!
Sadly though, when I finally got the whole thing assembled and I tried it on, it was completely visible.
It was then that I realized that I would have to search some more. There are a handful of options for women’s concealed carry holsters, ranging in price from $9.99 to $69.99, made by freelance designers/manufacturers on Etsy, overseas vendors on Amazon, specialized companies such as Can-Can and Miss Concealed and other known brands like 5.11. I chose three holsters to try on out of many and here’s my run with them in hopes to open up the conversation and sharing of experiences in the struggle.
First off, the Flashbang.
Now, before I continue, there are a couple of things to consider if you are thinking of using this holster. Perhaps, in a perfect world, we’d all be one size fits all. However, for good or for bad, that is not the case. As with firearms, us women have different dimensions, to be more specific, bra size. This becomes relevant when you’re factoring in the kind of bra you’re wearing when using the holster, the weight of your gun and the kind of shirt you’re wearing…etc. This is a holster that when assembled properly, is supposed to have a suede strap coming from the Kydex that encases the gun and then loops around the middle portion of fabric on your bra so that you can reach under your shirt and draw.
In my case, I found that even on the longest “setting” the strap was too short around the middle fabric on my regular “t-shirt” bra. A bra with a smaller middle strap than standard, would not provide the right amount of support. Because of the tight strap, the fit ends up barging the muzzle of the gun into one of my breasts (No other way to put that). It is quite uncomfortable to have a thick piece of metal digging into your skin. Then comes the issue of the weight of my gun, which is a bit on the heavy side considering the circumstances, causing it to weigh my bra down and my gun to stick up a bit instead of laying nicely on my chest/upper belly area. Once I got over the poking part, I tried using it and running around my house as I would when I go jogging at night, a scenario in which I usually carry my gun and it concealed pretty well. Unfortunately though, the gun fell out with a plop on my living room floor. Its obvious how this could be problematic, especially in a public place.
Now, perhaps, my gun isn’t the ideal gun to carry in this specific holster or perhaps it would work better for someone with a different body type. For me though, it concealed mostly well, from certain angles…if I wasn’t moving. All in all, I think this design is very smart, but probably more effective for a woman with a smaller gun and/or smaller/bigger breasts combo.
Secondly, the Hidden Heat Lace by Miss Concealed. Gifted to me by the lovely Autumn during Media Day at Shot Show after hearing me whine about not finding a holster to satisfy my needs.
This holster brings on the sexy. The design is a band made of soft, stretchy material covered in lace meant to be worn around the belly/hips with several inserts for mags and other objects such as a cell phone or keys and of course, a gun. It also has a velcro mechanism to help adjust it around your midsection. The gun is meant to go in the back insert which includes a velcro strap to keep it in place.
Aesthetically, its very pleasing, however, I had a couple of issues using it practically. Although its designed to be used for back carry, it was suggested to me try front carry instead. Front and middle (belly) carry didn’t really suit me. My gun seemed to flop around as I moved and was visible under my t-shirt. Not to mention that I had a bit of trouble finding a comfortable place around my torso to tie it around. I using it as it was meant and carry in the back which actually concealed pretty well…comma, but…back carrying isn’t my favorite. First of all, its rather conspicuous in an emergency. Furthermore, the transit between reaching to the back and forward to aiming at a target takes a lot of reaction time in an threatening situation, which quite frankly, makes me uncomfortable. All I can think is, by the time I want to get around to aiming, I’ve either shot myself idiotically as I am not Robert Vogel with crazy fast drawing skills or the bad guy has gotten tired of standing still for me.
Lastly, I tried side front carry, which was pretty comfortable, but again, not very concealing. Again, maybe, I’m at fault once more for not being a certain body type? The main problem seemed to be that the gun wouldn’t adhere to my body close enough to be concealed under my clothes no matter where on my body I wore it or how tight or loose I adjusted it even though I made a point of wearing loose fitting clothes. I love the idea of this holster, but it didn’t work too well for me, much to my heartbreak.
Last, but not least, the N82Tactical Hers Holster from their new 2017 collection and also their first holster made especially for women.
I’m not even going to lie, before I even put this holster on, I spent a good 15 minutes just holding it up to my nose and sniffing it like a total weirdo. Made of 100% leather and suede, it smells like heaven (if you’re into that type of thing) and is oh so soft, it begs to be nuzzled. Seriously, the finishing on this thing is insane. The Nates do an amazing job in creating a high quality, American made product. Now to the wearability…when worn, I found this holster to be the most comfortable. It molds really nicely on any place of my body where I tried wearing it in an effort to conceal my weapon. That being said, I really really wanted this holster to conceal to the level I need, however, unless I was wearing something at least one size bigger than what my clothes are regularly, I could not attempt to carry my gun unseen with this holster. Additionally, perhaps because of the lower rise of my pants I found the lower part of the holster/gun falling considerably low into my body which could be uncomfortable when sitting or when worn in the front. All things aside, I absolutely love the quality of this product and I am continuously looking for ways to make it work but haven’t been too successful yet.
After all this trial and error, research, asking around and reading other women’s articles like Sarah’s over at Well Armed Woman, I can’t help but think that perhaps I am the problem. Maybe its my body type that prevents these different holsters from doing their thing. I have tried with different types of fits of clothing and still no dice. And so, the journey continues… The struggle is real.