I am 6 feet tall, short-waisted and long-legged, and I wear a variety of different sizes, from 8 to 12, depending on the style, the cut, the brand, and the garment itself. One of my very good friends is 5′ 3″, long-waisted and short-legged, and she also wears sizes 8 to 12, depending on the style, the cut, the brand, and the garment. But even though she and I can technically wear the same size, we never wear the same clothes…or borrow anything from one another, for that matter. Our bodies are just so completely different! And these vast differences are some of the reasons why there’s a need for holsters for women since we face unique challenges when carrying a firearm.
When it comes to concealed carry, it was brought to my attention not too long ago that while there are a lot of helpful articles out there for women in general, many of them are geared toward gals who are more “average” in shape and size (whatever those mysterious “average” proportions are, by the way). And while, undeniably, every woman has her own, distinctive set of issues and concerns, it could be argued that the topic of concealed carry for larger women is often neglected or overlooked.
So, besides in a pocket or in a purse, what are the most comfortable concealed-carry options, garments, and holsters for women? I work with many ladies of all sizes, and we know, firsthand, that there is rarely a “one size fits all” solution for anything. That’s why manufacturers now prefer “one size fits most.” But how does this relate to the firearms industry, specifically to the available holsters for women with different body shapes and sizes?
I’ve heard many women with bigger bones, larger hips, or curvier shapes mention that the traditional, inside-the-waistband holsters may conceal well but are not always the most comfortable option. They can pinch and poke and dig into flesh and may end up pointing a firearm in what many feel are unsafe directions (i.e. directly at the leg or into the stomach). And while some people might assume that a bra holster should work perfectly for larger women, who, perhaps, are a bit more gifted in that area, ladies have mentioned that this location can become a bit uncomfortable and sweaty and may create difficulties when drawing. An alternative would be to use a holster, such as an UnderTech UnderCover compression tank, that places the firearm closer to the armpit and at the side of a woman’s chest rather than underneath, or try the open-bust, shapewear camisole from Nickel and Lace that offers cross-draw options at either hip. Both options offer a range of sizes in basic colors. But, again, keep in mind that carrying in these areas can be sweaty and uncomfortable for some women.
The versatile, Lethal Lace holster wrapped around the ankle, calf, or thigh can provide a solution to those with a wider middle or chest, but this location may be difficult to access and often depends on clothing choice. Another solution is to carry the firearm on a holster on the waist, more toward the small of the back, with a loose fitting shirt, vest, sweater, or jacket as a cover. But this option doesn’t work for every climate and may be difficult for those with exceptionally short waists. For this reason, a lot of larger women sing the praises of a bellyband or a corset, such as the concealed-carry corset from Dene Adams or the hip huggers or Big SheBang from CanCan Concealment. Yes, these styles can get hot, as well, since they fit typically against the skin, underneath regular clothing, but they can be worn in a variety of positions, offering several options for the firearm to be placed. Many can also be adjusted so they fit lower or higher around the hips, so each lady can find the ideal location for comfort and accessibility. In addition, for a very non-traditional alternative, there is also the concealed-carry shirt from Silver State Apparel. This tactically designed garment can hide compact firearms in cleverly hidden, ambidextrous holster “pockets” but can be worn like a regular button-down blouse.
Clearly, concealed carry, especially for women, is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so I sincerely hope these tips and ideas help. Ultimately, each woman must choose a holster and a location that she can manage, train with, and use safely and effectively. As they say: to each, her own!
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