Concealed carry is not just a right; it’s a responsibility. And women are at the forefront of this paradigm shift. Recent years have witnessed a significant surge in female firearm ownership, challenging the notion that self-defense is a one-size-fits-all concept. The rise in women embracing concealed carry is not a fad but a reflection of the evolving landscape of personal security.

Women are still the more victimized gender. According to the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2015), one out of every five American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. This means that every 107 seconds, a female in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. As well, statistics show that every nine seconds in the U.S., a woman is attacked or beaten.

Every day (for women, especially), there is a constant struggle with disparity of force. Guys are often bigger, stronger and more aggressive than ladies. They’re just made that way. That gives them the upper hand … and more often than not, they know this. They look for “smaller, weaker prey.” They look for the “easy targets.”

Women & Concealed Carry

Instead of supporting women and showing women as strong, empowered and capable of taking care of themselves, the media has told us for decades that women and guns don’t mix. But telling a woman NOT to learn how to use a firearm is far more detrimental than it is beneficial.

In fact, here is what really happens when women learn how to use guns:

  • They feel empowered. Knowledge is power.That initial fear and inferiority that comes with unfamiliarity and inexperience will be fast replaced with a newfound confidence and control.
  • They are able to protect themselves and their families. Instead of relying on or waiting for others to do it for them, women can take action—or take aim—for themselves and make a difference in their lives and in the lives of their children.
  • They may get good at shooting. Women often surprise themselves by how well they shoot and by how much they enjoy it. As well, they may change up their typical girls’-night-out routine to a girls’ night in—at the range!
  • They purchase and carry their own guns. Firearms are not a guys’ thing. They’re an American thing. And women will be just as interested in selecting their own handguns, holsters and accessories so they can train with and carry their firearms.
  • They encourage other women to shoot. Women are experts at getting other women involved in activities they can all do together. It’s not unusual for a well-armed woman to suddenly have a well-armed mom, a well-armed sister and a crew of well-armed friends.
  • They make a difference. According to the NSSF, “A swell in the ranks of women gun owners has enormous implications for the industry both economically and politically. Clearly, women can sway public policy, and their needs, wants and desires for additional firearms, equipment and services will significantly impact the industry’s future as a whole.”

Choosing the Right Firearm for Women

When it comes to concealed carry, selecting the right firearm is a critical decision. It’s not about fitting into a predetermined mold but finding what suits you best. Whether it’s a compact pistol or a subcompact revolver, the key to buying your first firearm is finding a firearm that you are comfortable with and can confidently handle.

As noted, the surge in women embracing concealed carry is not merely a trend but a testament to the diverse and evolving landscape of personal security. Today’s market recognizes the importance of catering to the unique needs of female firearm owners, offering an array of options that span from compact pistols to subcompact revolvers.

A firearm should not just fit comfortably in your hand but should also accommodate your personal preferences in terms of recoil management and ease of operation. For some, a compact and easily concealable pistol might be the ideal choice, providing a balance between firepower and portability. Others might lean toward the simplicity and reliability of a subcompact revolver. The key is to explore various options — perhaps through renting different firearms at a local range — to experience firsthand what feels most natural and effective for you.

Additionally, you will need to consider the practical aspects of concealed carry. How will you carry your firearm? What type of clothing do you typically wear? These questions are pivotal in determining the most suitable holster and carry method, ensuring that your chosen firearm seamlessly integrates into your daily life.

Women’s Holsters and Carry Methods

Women’s concealed carry is not just about the gun. It’s about how you carry it. Since female bodies, garments and style choices are very unique from one person to the next, it’s important to know what possibilities are out there, especially the ones that were created for women, by women or with women’s specific needs in mind. And while you can certainly ask for ideas and recommendations from anyone you’d like, ultimately, the decision is a very personal one, and it will be all yours to make.

Before you start your with list, it’s important to think through the features and the characteristics that every holster must have:

  1. SAFETY: First and foremost, a holster must be safe. It must be safely constructed and safely used. For this, be sure that the trigger and the trigger guard of your firearm are completely covered, so nothing can get caught in or access the trigger while it’s in the holster. 
  2. SIMPLICITY: Another important consideration is that your holster is simple for you to use and that your firearm is easy for you to get to. You don’t want to draw a blank while you try to remember how to draw your firearm during a life-or-death situation.
  3. SECURITY: Your holster must not only be safe and simple, it must also be secure. It should never slip down, move around or cause your firearm to come loose or fall out.
  4. STURDINESS: An acceptable holster must work with just about anything — and just about anywhere — for a long, long time. Of course, nothing lasts forever, and you may have to occasionally check your holster to make sure it doesn’t have any loose, damaged or missing parts. But you should be able to depend on your holster to be durable and long-lasting.
  5. SECRECY: A good holster should also allow you to carry a firearm concealed — fully and discreetly — without any obvious printing. Unless you have chosen to open carry, you need a holster that enables you to have that secrecy and, if ever needed, that element of surprise. This, of course, goes hand in hand with the concealed carry clothes you are wearing.
    A good method for checking if your holster-and-wardrobe combo is effective is to wear the holster with your firearm and your clothing choice and try two different motions: First, raise both of your hands in the air. Next, reach down to pick something up. If your gun is exposed with either movement, you may have to reconsider the holster, the location you are using or your overall clothing choice.

Training and Skill Development: Empowerment Through Education

The cornerstone of effective concealed carry for women is training and skill development. The empowerment that comes with understanding how to use a firearm safely is immeasurable. Regular practice, both at the range and through dry-fire exercises at home, is crucial. Seek out professional training opportunities, connect with female firearms instructors and become part of a community that values education and preparedness.

While men and women can most certainly practice and perfect the same firearms tactics and techniques, it’s important to acknowledge that males and females are built differently and often learn differently too.

The USCCA’s Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals class offers tailored guidance for women looking to navigate the complexities of firearm ownership and concealed carry responsibly.

Situational Awareness: The Power of Presence

Being aware of your surroundings is a fundamental aspect of personal safety. Recent data on assaults against women underscores the importance of developing a heightened sense of situational awareness. Recognizing and avoiding potential threats can and should be your first line of defense.

While physical skills are essential, mental preparedness is equally crucial. Cultivate a mindset focused on self-reliance and quick decision-making. Addressing the aftermath of a self-defense situation is part of this mental preparedness – understanding the legal and emotional implications is vital.

Learn about USCCA Membership

Joining the Movement: Resources for Women

In the realm of women’s concealed carry, community is key. Explore women-centric firearms forums, connect with like-minded individuals and tap into resources like the USCCA, which has guides tailored for women. The disparity of force is real, and women need to be armed not just with firearms but also with knowledge, support and a sense of solidarity.

Concealed carry for women is about embracing empowerment, breaking barriers and taking control of personal safety. The journey involves education, training and a commitment to mental and physical preparedness. Let’s ensure that every woman is equipped to face the world with confidence, skill, and the knowledge that she has the right to defend herself.


This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by Beth Alcazar.