CNLiveClip

On Colion Noir “CN Live” at NRA-TV

I had the pleasure of chatting with Colion Noir of NRA-TV’s “CN Live” last night about being a relatively new shooter and some of the challenges for women who carry – including purse carry. If you haven’t checked out some of Colion’s work, do so. He’s one of the more thoughtful commentators in the firearms space today.

Colion Noir  CN Live

 

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3 tips to improve your situational awareness

As I noted in my earlier post Do you have the mindset for concealed carry?, I’m really focusing on improving my situational awareness – or in laymen’s terms, simply paying attention to what’s going on around you.

This is a constant challenge for me as I’m not hardwired to think this way but I’ve realized, especially as I’ve been carrying a handgun, t
hat I need to improve my situational awareness.

Woman Walking Dog

Here are  3 tips to improve situational awareness that I’m starting to incorporate in my daily life.

  1. Head Up. This is probably the most important tool in the situational awareness arsenal. Keep your head up. That means not walking and texting or looking at my phone, or fiddling in my purse. It means head up and looking at what’s around me. Not only is this key in improving situational awareness, but it also makes me look like a less tempting target, because my shoulders are back and I exude more confidence.
  2. Note people and exits. When you enter a building or a room, such as a shop or a restaurant, note immediately the location of key people (cashier, manager, patrons, etc) and exits. If there were an emergency you’d want to know how to get out quickly.
  3. Use all your senses. This isn’t just about visual awareness, your hearing is just as important. I’m always surprised when I see women jogging alone with their earbuds in. You will never hear someone approaching you from behind, or a car approaching the intersection. My family and I were in a shopping mall recently when an angry protest broke out on the second floor. We only realized it because we heard the chants and shouting. Rather than walk toward the sound as many others did we promptly headed toward the closest exit and to our car.

Perhaps the most important tip is to practice. Every day. I have to remind myself when in “transition” times such as walking from my office to the car, or leaving the house, to keep my head up and observe my environment. I would love to know your tips for improving situational awareness too – please comment below.

concealedcarrywomanmag

Concealed Carry Woman magazine launches January

I had the pleasure of meeting with Beth Alcazar, editor and senior staff writer at US Concealed Carry Association, to discuss the new Concealed Carry Woman magazine USCCA is launching in January.

USCCA is well known for it’s popular Concealed Carry magazine – this new venture focuses on issues of particular interest to women who concealed carry.


You can get Concealed Carry magazine either though joining the USCCA (and there are a LOT of benefits including their amazing Self-Defense Shield insurance coverage) or by subscribing directly to Concealed Carry Magazine ($37/yr digital or $47/yr digital + print).

* Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission (at no additional cost to you) that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

concealed-revealed-9mm-2

Concealed/Revealed: Flowy top and jeans with IWB Holster

In this series, we show different styles of women’s clothing with different holsters for concealed carry. One of the biggest challenges faced by women who concealed carry is how to effectively carry our handguns while not giving up the clothes we want to wear. Here we’ll present different approaches and options that work with our actual, everyday clothes.

For your consideration today, jeans with a flowy top and an in-the-waistband holster:

Jeans with a flowy top
Jeans with a flowy top

 

IWB Holster in jeans
Revealed in-the-waistband holster

 

IWB Holster
IWB Holster from the Well Armed Woman

 

I don’t normally carry my Sig Sauer P320 9mm on body as I find it difficult to conceal with most of my clothing choices. However, when I have the opportunity to wear a loose and flowy top like the Eileen Fisher silk tank and open front cardigan like I have here, it’s great to have the option to carry my larger handgun on-body. Jeans are NYDJ skinny leg jeans. Heels are old and no longer available. Similar here.

Holster is the Well Armed Woman IWB holster ($50). There are several things I like about this holster. First, it’s molded Kydex with great retention. Second, the hook is set higher on the holster, which allows the handgun to sit lower on the waistband, providing a low-profile. Third, the hook is adjustable so you can readily adjust the position or cant of the handgun grip. What I don’t like about it is the Kydex can be a bit irritating on bare skin if worn for a long time, and I’m not one who typically layers her clothing, so my bad.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

ConcealedRevealedPurseHolster

Tips for Concealed Carry in a Purse

There may be times when your choice for concealed carry of your handgun is either carry in a purse or don’t carry at all. For example, where I work firearms are not allowed. It’s much easier for me on a day-to-day basis to carry in my purse and transfer the handgun to a portable gun safe in my car before heading into the office, than struggling with un-holstering and then re-holstering an on-body carry option in my car.

Purse Carry Considerations

However, if you choose to purse carry, there are a number of additional considerations you should be fully aware of and prepared for.

    1. You have to treat your purse or bag like a newborn baby. That means you can’t do the usual of dropping your purse on the floor or over the back of a chair while at a restaurant or coffee shop (I KNOW you do that, don’t try to deny it!). You can’t leave your bag in the basket of the shopping cart when at the store. You can’t shove it on the floor by your desk when you’re at work. You have to keep your purse on you AT ALL TIMES if you are carrying a handgun. If you think of your bag like a newborn baby, which must be with you and secure at all times, it’s a good mindset to have if you’re carrying in a purse.
    2. You have to have a proper holster and dedicated spot in your purse for your handgun. DO NOT under any circumstances just tuck your handgun into your well-worn pocket holster and toss in the bottom of that pit that’s your hobo bag. That’s a negligent discharge waiting to happen. If you have a good-quality, dedicated concealed carry purse, there is usually a zipper or other compartment that a holster attaches to (usually with Velcro). If you choose one of the purse holster options you can use with your regular purse, it ideally should be in a separate compartment of your bag with NOTHING ELSE IN IT.  The bits and bobs that float around all of our purses can get caught up in trigger guards that are not properly secured and cause a discharge. Your gun needs to have a secure holster with proper trigger guard protection and the gun needs to be in a separate location in your bag without anything else around it.
    3. Reconsider purse carry if you have or are around small children. There are numerous recent stories about women who were carrying in their purses and small children (some as young as 2 years old) were able to access a gun with tragic and deadly consequences. This goes with tip #1 above, but think of situations like in a car, where your purse is either next to you on the seat or behind you – NOT ON YOUR PERSON. Or when you’re at a friends’ house and you set down your bag on the floor and a curious toddler decides to check it out while you’re engaged in conversation. There are just too many opportunities for children to gain access when a gun is off-body that it deserves serious reconsideration.
    4. Be prepared that your purse (and gun) could be stolen in an attack. This, along with the sometimes careless inattention we give to our purses (see #1 above), is one of the biggest risks to purse carry. If you aren’t carrying your purse cross-body (most recommended) and you get mugged or attacked, not only could you lose your wallet and keys but you could lose your gun as well, and/or the gun could be used against you.
    5. Train, train train and then train some more. Most ranges will not allow you to draw from a purse, so that means regular, consistent dry-fire practice at home with your chosen purse holster and handgun. You need to practice your draw from both your dominant side and your non-dominant side (assuming you’re like most of us and sometimes switch the shoulder you carry your purse on). Be forewarned that drawing from a purse of other off-body holster is ALWAYS going to be much slower than a good on-body carry option.  A recent article on LuckyGunner.com actually put the purse draw to the test on the range and in most cases it took more than twice as long to purse draw.
Purse Carry Resources

Here’s a good video from DressedToCarry.com that demonstrates how to draw from one of the more typical side-zipper concealed carry purses.

One of my current purse holster options is the CrossBreed Purse Defender. As I noted in a recent post, I have a few issues with this option but given what else is currently available in the marketplace it’s the best that I’ve found available right now, especially since it uses a molded Kydex holstering system to allow for good trigger coverage.

One of my favorite dedicated concealed carry purse options on the market today is the Been and Badge Olivia Tote. It’s made in the US of very high quality leather, and I like the holstering option with the quick-release Velco pocket rather than the more common side zipper holster seen with most dedicated concealed carry purses (because it’s easy to muzzle someone in those). But as with any holster option, you have to go with what works best for you and your handgun.

I hope this has given you some things to think about if you choose to carry in a your purse. As with any issue around the great responsibility you’ve taken on if you conceal carry a handgun, be smart and be safe.

Holiday Gift Ideas for your Gun Lovin' Gal

Holiday gift ideas for your gun lovin’ gal

It’s that time of year again, and we’ve got ideas for you to find just the right gift for your favorite gun lovin’ gal.

Concealed Carry Holsters – especially for Women

She’ll love the fact you’re supporting woman-owned businesses, with products that are designed by women, FOR women, and Made in the USA.

Can Can Hip Hugger Holster
Can Can Hip Hugger holster

The Can Can Concealment Hip Hugger holster (various, $76-85) is one of the most convenient, comfortable, secure and easily concealable ways for women to carry on-body. It works equally well under jeans as it does with skirts, and even with sweat pants or yoga pants. Made in the USA of a durable and comfortable ballistic nylon it’s available in a variety of colors and styles to fit micro to full-size handguns, as well as several sizes to fit all body types. Multiple holster and magazine pockets allow for flexiblity of handgun placement. It’s beautiful, high-quality and functional.

Can Can Concealment Thigh Holster
Can Can Concealment Thigh Holster

The Can Can Concealment Thigh Holster (various, $66-75) and optional Garter Belt ($32) offers women the option to carry easily while wearing dresses and skirts.  It too is made in the USA of quality ballistic nylon and available in a variety of colors, styles and sizes to fit micro to full-size handguns. I strongly recommend also purchasing the optional Garter Belt for additional security, as heavier guns in particular can have a tendency to pull down the holster over time. Unlike a lot of other holster options available, this is beautiful as well as functional and would make a great gift.

Concealed Carry Handbags

Honestly, I’ve not seen a lot of beautiful options out there when it comes to concealed carry purses or handbags, with the exception of these:

Been and Badge Olivia Concealed Carry Handbag
Been and Badge Olivia Concealed Carry Handbag

The Been and Badge Olivia Cross-Body Tote ($269-294) is designed by women and made in the USA. It is available in two colors of a beautiful quality leather, and also features an ingenious holster system that both secures the handgun in the much safer muzzle-down position but also effectively conceals the handgun while the purse is opened. The strap is detachable so it can be used as either a cross-body bag or as a tote with just the sturdy handle. If there was one concealed carry purse you wanted to buy, this one is it!

At the Range

Here are some fun options for pistol cases that add style in a sea of black and olive drab.

Leopard print pistol case
Leopard print pistol case

This fun Leopard Print Pistol case ($18-20) by Ace Case is made in the USA and comes in a variety of patterns and sizes, including a pink camo, orange camo and zebra print, although my personal preference is for the classic and goes-with-everything leopard.

Range bag insert in red
Range bag insert in red

These compact and easy-to-use Range Bag Inserts by VISM and NcStar ($10-15) serve dual purposes as both a pistol case and open up fully as a gun-rug when you get to the range. These are available in a variety of colors, including red, navy, black and even pink camo.

Be Prepared

I always think its sweet when someone is thinking about my safety and security in their gift choices. To that end, these two products make great stocking stuffers and tell the recipient, “I’m thinking about you.”

Olight Keychain Flashlight
Olight Keychain flashlight

I cannot begin to tell you how handy it has been to have a powerful keychain flashlight on my keys as part of my everyday carry. Not only for the obvious safety reasons, but practical reasons too (for everything from being able to see the check when we have dinner at the local movie theater, to the lock on the door when I get home now that daylight savings has kicked in). This Olight Keychain flashlight ($10) is a tiny bit bigger than some tiny lights, but has the added benefit of being powered by an easily replaced AAA battery.

 

Ozbourn Tactical Pen
Ozbourn Tactical Pen

This Ozbourn Tactical Pen ($18) not only has the ability to write well and serve as a weapon, it also has a glass window break on the end, which is something that every person you care about should have with them at all times. I also like the fact that it uses the standard Parker ball point pen refill for ink, so you’ll not have to replace the whole pen when the ink runs out.

 

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

Concealed Revealed purse holster

Concealed/Revealed: Dress and jacket with purse holster

In this series, we show different styles of women’s clothing with different holsters for concealed carry. One of the biggest challenges faced by women who concealed carry is how to effectively carry our handguns while not giving up the clothes we want to wear. Here we’ll present different approaches and options that work with our actual, everyday clothes.

For your consideration today, a work-appropriate dress, jacket and heels, with a purse holster:

Concealed Revealed dress and jacket
Work appropriate dress and jacket
Purse holster
Purse holster
Concealed Revealed inside purse
View from inside the purse
Crossbreed purse defender
Closeup of purse holster

I know there are many strong feelings about the idea of off-body carry in a purse or handbag that I plan on addressing in a future post. There are inherent risks and issues that require extra diligence if you choose to off-body carry. Regardless, I sometimes choose to purse carry, and this Crossbreed PurseDefender holster has been the best option available so far – although I do have some issues with it. While it’s great to be able to carry in any purse I own, the fact that the gun is clearly visible in the bag as soon as I unzip it is concerning for me when I’m paying for groceries or a coffee and I want my carry to remain, well, concealed.

As for the outfit, the dress is the Aditi 2.0 (machine washable!!) dress by MM.LaFleur. The jacket is the Drape-Front Colorblock Jacket by Eileen Fisher. The heels are the Colcotta 100 in black patent by Christian Louboutin. The handbag is the Kate Spade Cedar Street Harmony medium tote, similar here. The handgun is my absolute favorite Sig Sauer P320 9mm in the Carry/Medium size with optional small grip module.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

concealed-revealed-top-skirt

Concealed/Revealed: Top and Skirt with Thigh Holster

In this new series, we’ll show different styles of women’s clothing with different holsters for concealed carry. One of the biggest challenges faced by women who concealed carry is how to effectively carry our handguns while not giving up the clothes we want to wear. Here we’ll present different approaches and options that work with our actual, everyday clothes.

For your consideration today, a work-appropriate long-sleeve top and pencil skirt, with a thigh holster:

concealed-revealed-top-skirt
Concealed: Long Sleeve top and pencil skirt with pumps

Concealed Revealed Concealed Carry Thigh Holster

Revealed: Thigh Holster

This holster is one of my favorites for concealed carry when wearing skirts and dresses: the CanCan Concealment Thigh Holster. I had originally planned on wearing the top untucked and using a belly band, but it looked better tucked into the skirt so I had to regroup and go with the thigh holster.

The top is the Winfrey top in Boysenberry by MM.LaFleur. The skirt is Armani Collezioni in a pink and grey tweed, similar here. The shoes are a Manolo Blahnik t-strap pump in Bordeaux leather, similar here. The handgun is my easily-concealable Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

What to Wear at the Range

What to wear at the shooting range

When I first started shooting, I really didn’t know what to wear to the shooting range. Here are some quick tips on what to wear, and what not to wear, so you can hopefully avoid some of the painful mistakes I made.

Always remember there are several hazards at the range (besides the obvious) that you should take into account when deciding what to wear:

1) Brass is ejected from your, and your neighbors, gun every time they shoot. This brass is HOT and it can (and HAS) caused burns when it touches skin; and

2) there is lead particulate all around the range, including on every surface, on your clothes, skin and hair, on your shoes, bags, etc.

My recommendations are focused on how you can minimize the impacts of both of these hazards with your clothing choices, and always remembering that any range, no matter indoor or outdoor, or how new or “clean” it is, is inherently dirty.

Eyes & Ears & Hair

You should ALWAYS have proper eye protection and ear protection when shooting. No matter what. No excuses. Eye protection protects your eyes from flying bass, debris and particles. Ear protection protects your ears from the extreme noise of shooting firearms repeatedly.

How you style you hair at the range is partly personal preference, partly practical. I have long hair, and I find it easier to concentrate on my shooting when hair’s not in my eyes, so I always pull my hair back into a bun or ponytail. It also helps reduce some of the lead particulate from spreading around after the fact.

Some women, and men, with shorter hair wear a hat (baseball style is great as the brim helps deflect flying brass). Again, it’s recommended, but unlike eyes and ears, optional.

Range Day outfit option
You CAN look stylish and be practical at the range
Tops

For women especially, choice of top is critical, because there’s this thing called the “hot brass dance” that happens when a woman decides to wear a low-cut or v-neck top to the range.

Let’s just say those little suckers have some sort of homing beacon for women’s cleavage, I kid you not. If you remember ONE thing, besides your eye and ear protection, it should be to wear a crew-neck or high-necked top when shooting at the range.

Whether you choose short- or long-sleeve, whether you choose to wear a button-up shirt or jacket over your top is all a matter of the temperature, the location (indoor or outdoor range), and personal preference.

I do recommend that ALL of your range clothes be machine washable, again because you’re going to want to clean them separately, with a lead-removal laundry detergent, when you get home from the range.

Bottoms

Choice of bottoms is again, mostly personal preference, but with some practical consideration. Shorts and skirts can be worn, but know you will likely get hit in the legs with flying brass (which is not as painful as the “hot brass dance” but you will end up more direct lead exposure through contact with your skin), and depending on what, where and how you’ll be shooting (indoor vs outdoor, handgun vs rifle), you may end up kneeling or laying in the dirt.

My preference is either jeans or tactical pants (even though I am very much a skirt/dress girl in my daily life).

I often wear jeans when we’re going to our weekly range date at the indoor range, because frequently we may stop for dinner out beforehand. I will wear tactical pants when we go for weekend-long training courses, because they can better accommodate an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster and belt, and are more comfortable and sturdy for all-day shooting marathons in the dust and dirt. I personally love 5.11’s tactical pants – they have good sizing and color options for women.

Shoes

Unlike clothes that can be machine washed with lead-removal detergent, my recommendation is to dedicate a pair of shoes to the range, or at a minimum, a pair of shoes that will only be worn outside. You want to minimize your and your loved ones’ exposure to lead, and the bottoms of your shoes are prime sources of tracking lead indoors once you’ve worn them at the shooting range.

The other thing to consider is comfort. If you’re shooting a handgun, you will be shooting standing up, usually for an hour at a time, on a concrete or other hard surface. Doesn’t sound like a lot but your feet can tire quickly.

I’m a big fan of the Merrell Moab Hiking Shoe for when I will be spending a lot of time at the range. I’ve worn these at weekend-long pistol training courses where you are on your feet in gravel and hard-packed dirt for 8-9 hours at a time, and they not only withstand the dust and dirt, they are also quite comfortable.

I also have a pair of “comfort” ballet flats that I wear sometimes when we’re just going for our weekly practice at the indoor range, and I know we’re stopping off for dinner or errands before we go to the range and I don’t want to look all “tactical.” Comfy tennies, like my favorite Chuck Taylors, are also a good and inexpensive option.

Just remember that lead exposure is a real issue when you spend time at the range, which just means you should take precautions.  See my previous post – Lead Poisoning – Shooting’s Hidden Risk – for more tips, techniques and products on how to manage lead exposure.

Be sure you’re washing your clothes after range time separately with a lead-removal laundry detergent, and that you’re removing the shoes you wear to the range at the door and not tracking lead dust through your house.  Just remember to practice often, and look stylish and practical while you’re doing it!

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

Concealed Revealed Jeans T-shirt belly band

Concealed/Revealed: Jeans with belly band

In this new series, we’ll show different styles of women’s clothing with different holsters for concealed carry. One of the biggest challenges faced by women who concealed carry is how to effectively carry our handguns while not giving up the clothes we want to wear. Here we’ll present different approaches and options that work with our actual, everyday clothes.

For your consideration today, jeans with a fitted t-shirt and jacket for a night at the movies with the family, using a belly band holster:

Concealed carry outfit jeans tshirt
Concealed – Jeans with fitted t-shirt and jacket

 

Concealed carry outfit with belly band
Revealed – belly band at hips

 

Concealed carry outfit jeans tshirt
Concealed without jacket to show minimal printing

 

The holster is The Well Armed Woman 4″ Belly Band. The jeans are NYDJ Sheri Skinny Jeans, t-shirt is H&M, similar here, jacket is AG, similar here, ballet flats are COACH, similar here. The handgun is my easily-concealable Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380.

I was really pleased at how well this belly band concealed my .380 even considering my wearing a relatively fitted t-shirt and jeans. One of the nice things about this belly band is the ability to tweak the carry location by moving around the placement of the band’s holster. I normally like to do kidney carry, but since we were going to see a movie I knew I would be sitting for awhile and that can get quite uncomfortable. This worked out quite well, and as you can see, with minimal printing.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.