Here are some excellent suggestions and things to consider for conceal carry options, particularly for women.
Adventures in Appendix Carry is a fantastic Facebook page dedicated to showcasing ways people can conceal carry effectively, with an emphasis on how women can conceal carry. This page has an excellent library of photos showcasing conceal carry wardrobe options. If you conceal carry, doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, this is a great Facebook page to follow. Each photo is accompanied by some very useful tips and considerations for training.
One of the most common questions that came from the why carrying a handgun in a bag/purse is a bad idea is how can women carry a firearm on their person given common women’s wardrobe choices. The blunt answer is that not all wardrobe choices can conceal carry a firearm, and that is true for men and women. When accepting the responsibility of carrying a firearm daily, some sacrifices must be made.
Adventures in Appendix Carry is a Facebook page focusing on exploring these options, particularly for women. So naturally it has lots of excellent examples and insight into ways to conceal carry.
Conceal carry examples
Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, I asked Adventures in Appendix Carry some questions to provide some insight that some photos couldn’t provide.
What’s your favorite belt?
My favorite belt is the 5.11 Tactical Trainer belt. I wear it with the buckle offset towards my strong side hip to better accommodate appendix carry. I like it because it is infinitely adjustable (I don’t have to settle for where someone arbitrarily put belt notches). I also like it because I can loosen it, but keep the end secured for when I need to use the restroom. This allows me to slide pants, belt, and holster down all at the same time, while keeping tension on the belt so the gun/holster can stay in place and not flop around. This is a nylon belt that has enough give to be comfortable, but enough structure to support a gun/holster.
What’s your favorite holster?
My favorite holster for quite some time has been the Velox model from KSG Armory. This is a holster made specifically for appendix carry. I ordered mine with a foam wedge behind the muzzle, which tips the grip of the gun into the body to aid in concealment. It also comes with a wing/claw that protrudes out from the trigger guard area directly under the belt line and uses the belt to also pull the end of the grip into the body. This particular model includes a spare mag carrier. It is a little bigger than most holsters due to having the mag carrier included, but I actually find that this conceals much better for me than even similar holsters without a mag carrier included. And it conceals much better than when I’ve tried using a separate mag carrier altogether.
Do you stick with one holster and belt, or do you change it up based on your wardrobe choice for the day?
The vast majority of the time, I stick with the same holster/belt. I’ve adjusted my wardrobe to include primarily pants with belt loops to accomplish this. I do have a belly band contraption that I created that includes a length of nylon gun belt. I wear this when I’m wearing leggings that don’t have belt loops. So, that is a different “belt” that I sometimes wear, but the reason I created it is so that I can still use the same holster that I typically use every other day. The holster and the position of the holster remain consistent 99% of the time.
Do you always stick with your VP9? Or do you change it up based on your wardrobe choice for the day?
I would say I carry the VP9 over 50% of the time, probably closer to 75% of the time. For a while, it was the VP9 pretty much all the time. I do also have a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield that I like to carry, but I lost my favorite holster for that gun (a Velox) for several months, and so didn’t carry it much. Then I got a VP9sk. This is a compact version of the VP9 that has the exact same shape of trigger guard and frame (the barrel lenth/slide is a bit shorter and the end of the grip is a bit shorter), so the VP9 holsters actually fit the VP9sk pretty perfectly.
That gave me the option of carrying a slightly smaller gun (still a 10+1 capacity) in my favorite Velox holster, which was easier to conceal and opened up more wardrobe options. I also recently found my Shield Velox, so that’s back in the game too. I like to show the VP9 demonstrated on my Facebook page to show others that it’s very possible to carry a duty-sized gun on a regular basis, but now that I have these other options, I want to start creating some new content to highlight those as well.
I still try to carry the biggest gun my outfit allows for to maximize capacity. And no matter the gun, I still carry in the same kind of holster in the same position 99% of the time.
How do you conceal carry with a dress?
That is a fabulous question. Let me first address skirts (since I’m assuming that the questioner, as a guy, might be lumping skirts and dresses all together).
I try to buy skirts with beltloops if possible. Then I can carry like I always do. It is also possible to add belt loops to skirts if a skirt doesn’t come with them. I generally just use my belly band/nylon gun belt contraption if a skirt doesn’t have belt loops.
Dresses (actual one-piece garments with no open waist) are more complicated. A thigh holster is probably the best option in most cases, but I haven’t found any yet I’m super happy with. I have a Can Can Concealment thigh holster, and it’s okay, but I don’t like fabric holsters with no kydex trigger guard. This option also has basically no retention, and so it is possible and actually quite easy for the gun to become dislodged if you’re not careful.
I know some women were excited when the Dene Adams thigh holster shorts came out. And I was intrigued at first too. But the more I looked at them, the less excited I got. I don’t like that the grip of the gun is buried in the pocket. I don’t like that it appears the pocket is big enough that a gun could shift inside of it. I also don’t like that retention is accomplished via a retention strap that has to be unfastened to draw. Retention straps are notorious for fouling up a drawstroke. And while it says there is some sort of universal trigger protection, I understand it is just a somewhat flexible, flat piece of plastic, and I just don’t trust that. It’s certainly not ideal.
Undertech recently came out with their version of thigh holster shorts, which may be slightly better, but still have problems out of the box. With these, the grip is not buried and is available, but there is still a problematic retention strap that is centered so as to land just under the slide (where the web between your thumb and pointer finger need to drive into the grip during your drawstroke). This retention strap would be very difficult to open up one handed, which would be essential because your other hand will be holster your skirt up and out of the way.
I have purchased some molded kydex inserts from Concealment Solutions (the SHE or “Soft Holster Enhancer”) to try to make the Undertech shorts work. I’m going to sew in some Velcro for the SHE to attach to inside the holster pocket (I don’t trust the adhesive Velcro strip that is provided). I’m also going to either remove the retention strap altogether (assuming the molded kydex provides enough retention), or at least move the retention strap, repositioning it so that it goes over the end of the slide and can just be pushed off of the gun with a thumb on the draw, allowing for a one-handed draw.
But I haven’t actually tried this yet to see how it works, so the jury is still out.
There are many conceal carry options for women
As the number of people conceal carrying continues to climb all across the nation, it is important to conceal carry in a safe and easily accessible manner. In order to retain control over the firearm and have it quickly accessible, on body carry is critical.