Women’s concealed carry gear usually falls into one of two categories—cute with no functionality or functional and hideous. In an attempt to dig women’s concealed carry out of the dark ages, 5.11 has added two bags and a jacket to their women’s line-up that are definitely worth a female’s attention:
The Sarah Satchel and Lucy Tote are 5.11’s run at the concealed carry purse market. Both bags feature a hidden concealed carry compartment to stow a pistol. The main area of both bags feature organization pockets to stow phones, keys, extra mags, and multi-tools. For quick or tactical reloads, an extra mag can be stored in the front pouch of both bags.
Available in black and brown, 5.11 focused on functionality. While I understand the appeal of these colors, I would love to see future bags from 5.11 with some fun designs or a splash of color.
The bags’ material is water resistant and durable. I lugged these bags around town, to baseball games and to the range and they held up quite well.
The bags do share some similar qualities, but they also have their own personalities setting them apart. 5.11’s satchel style bag is known as the Sarah Satchel. Size wise, I categorize this bag as a medium. I was able to easily fit my tablet, diapers and wipes, wallet, keys, and phone with room to spare. Though the satchel is designed for concealed carry, I found it also doubled as an excellent range bag.
While we’re on the topic of carrying with this bag it’s important to remember that, when bag carrying, the gun needs to not only be accessible but secure. Though both bags have the concealed compartment, there is no holster to keep a handgun from jostling. 5.11 has included a Velcro lining to this pocket; therefore a Velcro backed holster can attach to the lining adding stability. 5.11 does not include a holster, so one will need to be purchased in addition to the bag. If money is an issue, Velcro swatches can be added to the back on an old holster for the same effect.
The satchel’s concealed area is on the smaller side. Sub-compacts and compacts will have no issues squeezing into the allotted space; but a full-size gun might be a tighter fit.
The Sarah Satchel’s handles are durable and sturdy, a plus for this bag. Unfortunately, on the shoulder they are too short. Being right handed, I tend to carry my bags on my right shoulder. I also draw right handed. This combination doesn’t work for this bag. I was usually forced to carry the satchel on the opposite side and cross draw. The few times I managed to get the purse on my right shoulder, it slid down my arm as I drew causing some frustrations.
I understand that satchels are known for shorter handles, but as this is a concealed carry purse I feel 5.11 should have added some length or at the very least included an optional shoulder strap.
The Lucy Tote was more my style and I found myself preferring this bag to the satchel. A little too big for my everyday carry purse, I converted the Lucy Tote into a computer bag. Though it doesn’t have a separate area for a laptop, it did comfortably hold my 13-inch laptop, power cord, headphones, and wallet.
The CCW compartment on the Lucy has more square footage than the Sarah Satchel. A full sized pistol easily fit with room to spare. Similar to the satchel, the compartment is Velcro lined. Again, though, no holster is provided. Use my tip above and invest or make one to secure your pistol before carrying.
The shoulder straps are on par with what I prefer in a good carry purse. 5.11 got the length and width right on this model. Unlike the satchel, I was able to wear the Lucy Tote on my right shoulder and draw with my right hand. The width and design of the straps also secured it better to my shoulder. I didn’t find them slipping off the shoulder while drawing.
Sierra Softshell Jacket
Though it seems 5.11 ignored all notions of color in the concealed carry bag line, they made up for it in the Sierra Softshell jacket. Available in agave, black, and brick (that’s teal, black, and red) the Sierra is a breath of fresh air to women’s concealed carry.
For this review, I received the agave colored Sierra. I instantly fell in love. Though it’s a little more greenish than 5.11’s picture, the jacket is still rich. Even better, the material is weather resistant and holds up under rain.
Styled in the traditional 5.11 tactical flair, the jacket features quick access pockets and even a place for a Velcro patch. My favorite part of this jacket, though, was the built-in, ambidextrous, quick draw pockets.
Situated perfectly for abdomen carry, the pockets have an internal zipper that, when unzipped, gives direct access to a holstered handgun. The pocket is wide enough to get even a full size pistol out and up.
I don’t always abdomen carry, so I was curious to see how the jacket would perform alongside hip carry. Disappointingly, it didn’t work out too well. I first tried to draw with the jacket zipped and ended up in quite the tangle. It was obvious; drawing through the internal pocket from the hip is just not doable. Drawing from the hip can be achieved if the jacket is left unzipped and simply moved out of the way for a traditional draw.
When not concealing, the internal pockets can be zipped up into functional pockets. The jacket also houses two chest pockets with Velcro closures for added storage.
While I wasn’t as impressed by the Sarah Satchel, I found the Lucy Tote and Sierra Softshell made for perfect female concealed carry companions. The Sarah Satchel and Lucy Tote retail for $109.99 while the Sierra Softshell is available for $129.99.
Cover: Jacki Billings