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Concealed/Revealed: Fitted dress with thigh holster

In this new series, we’ll show different styles of 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 fitted, office-appropriate dress with thigh holster:

Concealed fitted dress
Concealed – work-ready dress and pumps
Revealed thigh holster
Revealed – Thigh Holster

The holster is the CanCan Concealment Thigh Holster. Today it was worn on it’s own (no hosiery), but it also has a separate matching garter belt. The dress is the Etsuko in Crackle by MM LaFleur. Shoes are Donald Pliner, similar here. The handgun is my trusty 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.

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What women can teach men about concealed carry

There are many challenges for women who concealed carry, not the least of which is trying to find a holster solution (or SOLUTIONS more accurately) that will work with her clothing choices, her comfort and her lifestyle.  This is a topic of perennial discussion on women’s concealed carry forums and women’s shooter groups.

I myself have a closet full (literally) of failed and not-quite-there holster choices – everything ranging from IWB (In-Waistband) Kydex holsters, to belly bands, to thigh holsters and everything in between. I even ended up having to buy a new gun (darn!) because my beloved Sig Sauer P320 9mm printed on me no matter what holster I used.

Challenges aside, though, there are some things that women can teach men about concealed carry, as aptly discussed in this article by NRA Family: Concealed Carry: Three Things Women Can Teach Men. Women’s sense of fashion can actually benefit our fashion-challenged better halves.

gundemos

Personal defense drives gun ownership

Gun Demographics from NY Times
New York Times: “Handguns are the new home security”

Women in the US are buying significantly more handguns than men, and overall the shift in gun ownership is geared more toward personal protection than hunting or shooting sports, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

What hasn’t been further detailed as part of this new Harvard gun study, however, is the assertion that, “On average, the gun imperils everyone in the home more than it protects them.” Yet in every article that has previewed this study to date, there is no further analysis of under what conditions that danger occurs.

As a woman who owns and carries handguns every day, this assertion seems foreign to me. I feel empowered carrying my gun, and every time I train and practice I feel I am only improving my safety, and that of my family, not endangering it. And from what I can tell of the community of women shooters and concealed carry permit holders, I don’t think I’m alone.

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Why women should buy two guns, not just one

When I first decided to get a concealed carry permit, I gave a lot of thought as to what I wanted for a handgun. I took several trips to our local gun shop, talking with the very helpful staff and trying a lot of guns in my hands.

I wasn’t comfortable handling the micro- or sub-compact guns that a lot of women tend to get directed to because of their size, and instead found a good balance of size and power in the mid-sized Sig Sauer P320 in 9mm. As an added bonus, the P320 is a modular gun, so I was able to get the medium/compact size frame and swap out the medium grips for the small grips. It feels great in my hand and is a lot of fun to shoot.

After months of training and putting many thousands of rounds through my Sig, I gained some pretty decent gun handling skills and finally felt comfortable enough to start to carry.

I purchased a few different kinds of holsters, but found that both the kinds of clothing I normally wear (skirts, dresses, t-shirts and sweaters) didn’t lend themselves to most holsters, and the holsters that did lend themselves to the clothes I wear didn’t work well with the size of my 9mm. I was printing like crazy (where you can see the outline of a gun under your clothes), and both the belly band and thigh holster I ended up with were just not big enough to allow for a quick draw of the 9mm.

Given that I didn’t want to change the kinds of clothes I wear, I needed to go back to the gun store to find a solution.

The Search for a Small Carry Gun

I went in search of a much smaller gun that I could carry on body in both the belly band and the thigh holster. I was looking for something lightweight and as thin as possible while still being able to have effective stopping power .

I found what I needed in the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. It is the same height and length as my husband’s subcompact Sig P938, but much thinner and much lighter, due in no small part to the fact his is a tiny 9mm and mine’s a 380, which is a slightly smaller round.

There’s a catch though, and that is that I absolutely hate shooting my S&W Bodyguard.

Oh, I dutifully take it to the range every time we go, and I grudgingly put a few magazines of ammo through it, but I can’t wait to finish and pack it back up. Much like when I first went to the gun shop all those years ago and was handling those little subcompact handguns, the small 380 is no fun to handle or shoot.

Small, subcompact guns have a lot of recoil, because there isn’t enough metal to absorb the energy of an explosive bullet firing through it. If I would have purchased this as my first gun, I don’t think I would have ever purchased a second (or third or fourth). I would have never practiced, never trained, and never learned to enjoy the sport of shooting.

And that would have made me much less skilled and confident, and in turn then, much less safe in the handling of any gun.

Women especially may need multiple options for carrying

Unlike most men, who, both through their clothing choices and body structure can comfortably and effectively on-body carry a mid-sized 9mm that they feel comfortable both shooting and training with, for most women, it’s challenging.

What feels most comfortable to on-body carry (small caliber, sub-compact or micro guns), is really miserable to shoot and train with. And we all know that training and regular practice is critical if you take on the responsibility of owning a gun.

That’s why I think most women who want to concealed carry really need two guns – your first gun a great shooter to train and practice with, and, once you’ve built up your skills and confidence, a second smaller gun for on-body carry.

*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.

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4 Things to Think About Before You Buy Your First Gun

You’ve thought about buying your first gun for protection, and maybe even considered going to a concealed carry class too. Before you take that step, here are 4 things you should think about:

  1. It’s a significant monetary commitment. Buying a gun is not like buying a new sofa or new computer. When you commit to owning a gun you also commit to keeping it safe at home or in your car, carrying it safely, and training, training, training. That means beyond the cost of the gun you need to think about a gun safe, holster, lots of ammo, range fees, training costs and possibly a second gun (more on that in future posts).
  2. It’s a significant time commitment. Training and owning a gun go hand in hand. You don’t just buy a gun and then stick it in a drawer – that’s just asking to become a bad statistic. In addition, gun handling skills are perishable, meaning that you need to practice regularly (live fire at least once a month, and dry fire at least once a week) to build up the confidence and muscle memory to safely and effectively handle your gun when you need it most.
  3. It’s a significant responsibility. Much like owning a car, owning a gun means you are responsible for a tool that could kill or injure someone or cause serious damage. That means you know like your own children’s names the 4 rules of Firearms Safety and you have committed to both safe storage, safe handling and training with your guns.
  4. It’s a significant amount of fun! You may initially start to think about a gun for self protection, but when you realize the amount of practice and training you need to get really comfortable and proficient with your gun, you hopefully will learn to enjoy it as a sport or hobby. Shooting can be really fun! I actually call it a form of “range yoga” because to challenge yourself to shoot well you really need to focus, which can in its own way be quite relaxing. There is so much to learn and the community is so diverse, it’s really a life-long adventure.

We’ll be here with you all the way.

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1 Simple Solution to the “Problem with Leaving a Gun in Your Car”

I’d file this under the realm of the obvious, but the Atlantic recently published a story titled, “The Problem with Leaving a Gun in Your Car,” that surprisingly enough, was about the problem that guns are often stolen out of cars.

If you carry your gun, you also realize that guns are a huge target for thieves. While the Atlantic focused on the fact that the reason guns are bad is because they get stolen out of cars, I prefer to figure out how I can still carry my gun to protect myself (the whole point of having a concealed carry license) and yet still safely deal with the issue that there are “gun free zones” or other restrictions on carrying that would require me to leave my gun in my car. The solution is simple – a portable gun safe.

One of the first things I bought after I decided to carry every day is a portable gun safe. I’m not able to carry into my office, so I have a NanoVault GunVault that I use in my car. It is reasonably priced (generally less than $25-30), has a tether I can attach securely to my car (I have it hooked onto to my passenger car seat frame), uses a combination lock (faster and more secure), is roomy enough to hold my Sig P320 9mm and tucks discretely under the seat.

My NanoVault on the passenger seat
Safe  holding my S&W .380 or my Sig 9mm

There are a number of other alternative small, portable safes that are reasonably priced available on Amazon.com, your local sporting good store or gun store.

The first obligation as a gun owner is ensuring the safety of your firearm. If you are going to carry your gun with you, you have to be prepared for situations where you have to leave it in a safe location on the go. It’s an inexpensive way to ensure you don’t become one of the statistics.

*The GunVault is a product I purchased and use. 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.

NoPolitics

Some initial thoughts on safe gun handling

There are several sets of rules regarding safe gunhandling. All the sets of rules emphasize the concerns of their originators. However, many similar things are said but stated in different ways. Which set of rules you choose to use is less important than picking a set and following it scrupulously. Firearms are instruments of ultimate […]

via Safe Gunhandling Rules — tacticalprofessor

NoPolitics

Well they’re finally starting to pay attention

At least a little bit anyway.

The Washington Times just ran a short piece on how the “Fashion world finally catches on to the pistol packing woman.” They don’t add much by way of new information, and they don’t talk about the fashion world either, but they do at least acknowledge that, (1) there are lots of women who carry guns and like to shoot, and (2) the industry to date hasn’t really paid much attention.

What I would like to see is more of a recognition that women have particular challenges around finding an effective way to concealed carry and some real solutions on how to solve it, other than “shrinking and pinking” products designed for men.

I know we’ll be starting that dialogue here in this forum – be sure to let me know what you think.

NoPolitics

New survey on gun ownership released

The Guardian has just published the results of a new study on gun ownership in the US, and it confirms what several other recent studies have shown which is while gun ownership among men in the US is decreasing substantially, it’s steady and growing among women – increasing from 9% of the female population in 1994 to 12% today.

More guns in fewer hands – The Guardian

I found the demographic details on income level and gun ownership very interesting – there is virtually no difference whether you make $25,000 a year or $100,000 a year as to whether or not you’re a gun owner.

Perhaps most interesting finding was the data on handgun-only ownership and women who by a large margin purchase their first handgun for protection:

“It was “kind of worrying” that women who had no previous experience with guns were buying handguns for self-defense, and that he was concerned “that puts them at greater risk” for gun accidents or thefts.”

It’s the responsibility of any gun owner, and any woman gun owner, to educate themselves about the safe and responsible handling of firearms and self-defense. That’s why we’re starting this conversation now. Join in and let us know your thoughts.