Ladies, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in need of a holster (or maybe a second, fifth or seventeenth!). First of all, don’t go online and search for “women’s holsters.” You may never make it through the endless barrage of selections and suggestions. And it’s possible you will be exposed to a number of imposters or second-rate knock-offs.

Secondly, don’t let anyone tell you which holster is best for you. The man at the gun store will probably tell you to get an OWB paddle holster. The lady at your church may recommend a concealed carry handbag. There’s nothing wrong with either of those suggestions, but everyone will have a different opinion and a personal favorite.

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. This is especially the case for 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.

The good news is there is a holster out there just for you. More than likely, in fact, there are probably a few holsters that will make a rotation in your day-to-day life. For example, you may find one holster that works perfectly with your favorite carry gun for just about every day. Then you may have another option that’s suited for colder weather (and for thicker clothes). You may also have a rig for training or for competition … or just because you really like it. What matters most is that you are comfortable using your holsters and that you are training with them so you can be safe, proficient and consistent while carrying, accessing and drawing your firearm.

Of course, before you even begin your wish list of new holster possibilities, it’s important to think through the features and characteristics that every holster must have. Be sure to think through — and check off — each one of the following five “S” words before making your final decision!

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 trigger guard of your firearm will be completely covered (so nothing can get caught in or access the trigger while it’s in the holster). Also, make sure that the holster is something you are confident you can use while keeping all the universal safety rules in mind … and in place.

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 — without any complicated actions or movements. You don’t want to draw a blank while you try to remember how to draw your firearm during a life-or-death situation. You want something that makes sense to you and that you can easily secure, access and manipulate.

Security

Your holster must be not only safe and simple but also secure. It should fit comfortably, fit well and fit securely. It should never slip down, move around or cause your firearm to come loose or fall out.

Sturdiness

An acceptable holster must work with just about anything, just about anywhere and 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 a quality holster to be durable and long-lasting, without compromise.

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 clothes you are wearing. And a good method for checking if your holster-and-wardrobe combo is effective is to put on the holster with your firearm and clothing choice and go through two different motions. First, raise both of your hands in the air. Next, reach down to pick something up. If your gun was exposed with either movement, you may have to reconsider the holster itself, the location you are using or even your clothing choice.