Why Carrying a Handgun in a Purse or Bag is a Bad Idea
Off the body carry is a popular way to carry a firearm, but it can get you killed.
Many gun companies make purses, backpacks, and other bags for the purpose of concealing a handgun. Why? I’m not completely sure why these products are designed. Bag or purse carry is a terrible choice for conceal carry. There are two main reasons why off the body carry is not a good options.
Reason 1: Speed and Accessibility
For those who carry around a purse, murse, or backpack all day, think about where your bag ends up throughout the day. Is it on your body at all times? Or do you set it down beside your desk at work? Do you leave it in a locker in the break room? Or leave it by the garage door at home? Do you pick it up and carry it with you as you walk around the office? What if you leave your bag in your car while you’re washing it?
Criminals get to set the ambush time and location, so what if you were attacked when you walked away from your bag? Or what if someone stole your purse sitting next to your desk at work? Now you’re being attacked without your bag, which means you don’t have your sidearm available.
The only conceal carry firearm worth a damn is the one that you have with you.
Take a look at this video. The store owner does not have his firearm on him and must run back to retrieve it. While in this case he is able to successfully ward off the attacker, if the attacker had been a little more aggressive or if the attacker had entered the area with concealed firearms and drawn while right on top of the store owner, he would not have even had the option to use his firearm in self defense.
Even in a self defense situation where the defender is able to see the attack coming from far off, purse/bag carry is simply much slower and many more things can go wrong. What if your handgun had shifted in the bag? What if your bag gets caught on something? If nothing goes wrong, drawing from a bag or purse still has several extra steps resulting in a slower draw time. Self defense is fast – having something take an extra few seconds can be bad.
Here’s a compilation video showing how fast self defense encounters can go down. Do you really think waiting an extra 3-15 seconds to retrieve your gun is a good thing?
Reason 2: Purse Snatchers
A very common form of theft is a brute force attack. Thieves regularly pair up to grab a bag, usually from a woman, one grabs the purse/bag, and the other beats the woman/man and they run off with the bag. Some thieves will even use a knife to slice the purse/bag strap allowing for an easier escape.
In most of these situation, the best course of action is to simply let go and let them run off with the purse/bag. But if you are conceal carrying a handgun in that purse/bag, letting the thieves run off with the bag is a bad idea. Furthermore, if the attackers are armed, you have no option to defend yourself.
Watch this poor woman get attacked in just such a purse snatching. Even if she had a firearm in that purse, she would have had absolutely no way of retrieving the firearm and defending herself.
Purse snatches are almost always from ambush and happen very quickly. You cannot retrieve your firearm while you’re in an intense struggle and barely able to hold onto the bag as it is.
“Don’t carry anything in your bag you aren’t willing to lose.”
What is a better alternative?
Without a doubt, on the body carry is the best way to conceal carry. Thankfully there are many conceal carry combinations through different firearm sizes, carry locations, and holster types.
Check out Dene Adams for a wide variety of holster options.
It is very easy to conceal carry a single stack 9mm handgun on the belt, be it at the 4 o’clock, or as an appendix carry. It’s easier to conceal carry a full sized Glock than many people think, it simply requires some wardrobe changes in order to be able to do so, like baggy un-tucked shirts. The Phlster Enigma rig is a great way to deep conceal carry in a lot of different wardrobe choices.
Off body carry tends to be most common among women, given many women’s wardrobe choices. With the proper holster and a compact gun, or even leggings with a built in spot for a gun, it’s very possible to appendix carry a handgun even with some of the common wardrobe choices for women.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to conceal carry with every wardrobe out there. Conscientious wardrobe choices must be made in order to successfully and safely conceal carry – but there are many options out there.
It comes down to a simple question. Are you more concerned with what clothes you wear? Or being able to safely retain and quickly get to your self defense firearm?
Written by Brian Purkiss - always a student, sometimes a teacher.
I don't consider myself a competition shooter - I think of myself as a performance pistol shooter. I am all about performing at as high of a level as possible. Towards that end, I am obsessive about learning how to perform. I spend a lot of my life learning from the best across the entire firearms world and even into other areas of performance and other sports. I am a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster, currently working towards my second GM title in the Open division.