Concealed carry is a very personal decision for everyone. From the type of gun (and caliber) to the kind of holster (and location). Each individual must ask — and answer — a host of questions about his or her needs, skills and lifestyles. And then the new shooter must come to terms with the variety of choices that fit those unique parameters. With that, as I have mentioned many times in the past, there is no “one size fits all” solution. In fact, in many cases, the gun owner may find himself or herself settling on numerous solutions. You may have to account for certain kinds of clothing (required uniforms may create several limitations for concealing a firearm), different weather conditions (warmer weather typically invites thinner fabrics and less coverage), or body types (different shapes and sizes create different spots where guns and holsters may rest and hide the best).
I am not a professional researcher (and I do not play one on TV), but I do find surveys and statistics very interesting. Just for my own curiosity, a few years back, I posted some questions on my Facebook page (and via emails and messages) to a wide variety of women about their concealed carry habits. With this, I was able to collect some great quantitative and qualitative data by asking these ladies to share their experiences with choosing a concealed carry firearm and a holster for everyday carry.
Here are some of the findings (out of 177 anonymous female participants):
First EDC Type
I asked the women in my impromptu study what their very first everyday carry gun was. I didn’t include myself in the results, but I would have been part of the semi-auto group!
- 18% said they had/have a revolver as their first EDC gun
- 82% claimed a semi-automatic was/is their first gun
Choosing an EDC
Selecting a carry gun — especially your first — can be a huge challenge. I happened to know exactly what I wanted when I went to purchase my firearm. But many women shared that they had to work through several, with the largest group looking at three to five different guns before one stood out as the winner.
- 31% of the respondents looked at 1-2 guns before making a selection for their first everyday carry gun
- 40% tried 3-5 guns before purchasing a gun
- 29% tested 6 or more firearms before finding the “right” one
- (A few participants mentioned that they are “still looking.” And one participant asked: “Is there ever just one right gun?”)
Buying a Firearm
Many people show up in my beginner firearms classes with brand-new guns that were given to them as gifts (or some have “hand-me-downs” from a close friend or relative), so I was curious to see if the women in this group were given their first firearms or if they bought them.
- 54% of the women purchased their first concealed carry gun themselves
- 39% said husbands or boyfriends bought a firearm for them
- 10% stated that a parent gifted the gun to them
Carrying a Gun
We have seen incredible growth in the number of gun owners over the last decade (and especially within the last two years), so I had to ask the women about their years in the concealed carry lifestyle.
- Close to 12% of the respondents have carried a concealed-carry firearm for less than 1 year or just started carrying
- 30% reported having carried a firearm for 1-2 years
- 38% said they have carried a gun for 3-5 years
- 14% have carried for 6-10 years
- 6% have lived the concealed carry lifestyle for 11 years or more
Holster selection can be just as personal — if not more so — as choosing a firearm for everyday carry. I have a few favorite “go-to” holsters that work really well with a wide variety of clothing options. I also have several “special” holsters that need to come out for certain occasions (or certain locations). They may not be ideal, but they’re good options. I also have a box (or two?) of holsters that no longer get much rotation, due to wear and tear or because I have made different gun choices over the years, or, of course, because I ended up not liking the holster as much as I’d thought.
- Of the survey participants, 13% reported having 1-2 holsters
- 38% said they have 3-5 holsters
- 49% admitted they have 6 or more holsters
- (Some of the ladies explained that they have different holsters for various guns. One commented that she had “way too many to count,” and another claimed, “I have more holsters than pairs of shoes!”)
I could have gotten specific on where, exactly, these ladies choose to carry their firearms, but I went with a more general question. For many years, especially when I first started in the firearm industry, women often chose off-body options to holster a gun. However, various entrepreneurs and manufacturers started to pay close attention to the wants and needs of concealed carry gun owners. As a result, holster options have become much more user friendly, much more comfortable and much more concealable nowadays! Thus, people may be surprised to see these results!
- 53% of the women reported that they choose to carry a concealed carry firearm on body
- 39% stated that they carry both on body and in a purse or bag
- 8% said they carry exclusively off-body in a purse or a bag
Concealed carry will likely continue to be very individual and subjective, but it’s fun to see where people may be represented in these various statistics. Even so, I would be interested in redoing this survey every few years, just to see if there are any potential predictions, a few noticeable trends or even some surprising changes!