Concealing a firearm is more difficult for women than men. Aside from obvious physical differences, women tend to wear a variety of outfits, including form-fitting clothing, whereas men usually stick with some combination of pants and a shirt.

I experienced this struggle firsthand 15 years ago when I dove into concealed carry. My husband carried on-body at the time, making it look so easy. Our bodies are very different, and he couldn't really help me. I searched for information online, which wasn't as readily available as now, and I was left frustrated.
 

Related: Three Reasons Why Women Don’t Carry Concealed


Ultimately, I bought a gun belt and about 18 different holsters, and eventually, with a lot of trial and error, I arrived at the coveted everyday carry. Over the years, I've tweaked my setup and tried all the latest and greatest stuff. Now, I have choices for any outfit I want to wear. Let's look at the best options for both on-body and off-body carry.


Table of Contents

On-Body Carry Options
Alternative Carry
Off-Body Carry Options
Conclusion

On-Body Carry Options

 

woman with handgun in IWB holster
Don't be afraid to move the position of your holster to get better concealment. (All photos: Elizabeth Bienas/Guns.com)


Let's start with on-body options, because I believe it's the safest and most effective way to carry. 
 

Appendix Carry with IWB Holsters


An inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster with a gun belt is an easy setup if you wear jeans often. These days, there are thousands of IWB holsters in all shapes, colors, and prints. I prefer a minimalist style that's slim and contoured while still providing full trigger protection. Adding a concealment wing is a great way to tuck the grip and reduce printing.

 
Blacksmith Tactical Standard IWB holster
The Standard IWB holster from Blacksmith Tactical is minimalist and comfortable. 


One way to make an IWB holster work better with a variety of outfits is to choose a more versatile clip. The typical polymer clip works well for belts, but that's about it. For the past few years, I've been buying my holsters with the DCC MonoBlock Clip. It's a metal clip that works with or without a belt. I use this type of clip when wearing rigid jeans without a belt or when using a bellyband.
 

Bellybands


A bellyband may be a good option if you don't want to wear a belt. Anchoring your holster to the band instead of your pants can open up better concealment options. Depending on the outfit, you can wear a bellyband low on the hips, on your waist, or higher up on the torso.
 

Related: No Belt? No Problem. Here’s How to Carry Without One
 

Bellybands like the Liberty Band by Crossbreed Holsters work great with athleisure.


A word of caution: stay away from bellybands that have soft pockets masquerading as holsters. You need hard trigger protection regardless of how you carry.

My favorite bellyband is the Liberty Band by Crossbreed Holsters. You can use it with your current Kydex holster, but I've found it works best with a holster with metal clips. The band has a reinforced fabric panel with an edge for the holster clips to catch on to so it doesn't shift around.
 

The Enigma


The Enigma was a game-changer for me. I resisted it for a long time because it seemed gimmicky and uncomfortable. Although it took me close to a year to get used to it, the Enigma is in my regular rotation now. I have modified mine with a sport band and a softer leg leash to make it more comfortable while carrying all day.
 

The Phlster Enigma makes concealment a breeze in soft, stretchy pants or shorts. 


I spend a lot of time in soft-waisted athleisure, so having a holster that attaches to my body instead of my clothing is key. I wear it with jeans when I don't want to wear a belt. And it works well under dresses and skirts, too. Overall, it's my most versatile holster setup.
 

Alternative Carry


Bra Holsters


When I first heard of bra holsters, I was very anti-them. They seemed unsafe and uncomfortable to wear. After trying the Flashbang bra holster, I've changed my mind. I spent several months wearing and practicing with it and now see the Flashbang as a viable option for women. Yes, it's a niche product that requires a specific type of draw, but this can be done safely with practice. 
 

Flashbang Bra Holster
The Flashbang Bra holster is an option when you want to move the gun off your waist.


Using a bra holster is not my main carry method, but it comes in handy for many types of outfits. If you're wearing a top that's cropped or tight-fitting, it's a viable option. Also, the bra holster works well if you can't carry IWB due to clothing choices or health issues. 
 

Related: How To Make Concealed Carry More Comfortable
 

Thigh Holsters

 

Thigh holsters are an option when wearing a dress. 


A thigh holster may be your best friend if you wear dresses or skirts often. They come in many forms, but my favorite is the Dene Adams shorts that feature an inner or outer holster pocket. Traditional thigh holsters tend to slip during the day unless you wear a garter setup, which can be uncomfortable. The shorts help to keep your firearm in place, and the pocket, although considered a soft holster, has some rigid trigger protection sewn in.
 

Off-Body Carry Options


Off-body carry is a polarizing topic in the gun community. Many women who are beginning their concealed carry journey are told to just throw it in their purse, and that's advice I disagree with. It's unsafe and suboptimal for a newbie because it's surprisingly more difficult to draw from a bag than your waistband. 
 

Related: Pros and Cons of Off-Body Carry
 


Still, I'm not totally against off-body carry, but it's something I reserve for a last-resort option. Some outfits and situations call for it. And as long as you're doing it safely and practicing regularly, it's a viable option. If you decide to carry off-body, be sure to follow a couple of extra safety rules. Use only holsters that provide hard trigger protection, practice your draw regularly, and stay situationally aware when in public. 

 

Concealed Carry Bags


A safe and effective off-body setup starts with a bag especially designed for concealed carry. A good choice will include a separate compartment for your firearm, a zipper or magnet closure, and plenty of room to get your hand inside and draw cleanly. Never put any loose items in the pocket with your gun, as it could cause a negligent discharge should you need to draw. 
 

5.11 Tactical LV8 Sling Pack
A separate pocket for your firearm is a must, like the one on this 5.11 Tactical LV8 Sling Pack.


Many concealed carry bags come with flimsy Velcro holsters that accommodate various pistols. Ditch these and get a Velcro-backed Kydex holster from a reputable company like Crossbreed Holsters. You can also attach Velcro to a current holster.

It's best to find a bag that can be worn crossbody instead of on your shoulder. This will mitigate the opportunity for a snatch and grab. A strap that's made of cut-resistant material is a nice bonus.
 

Fanny Packs

 

concealed carry fanny pack
Fanny packs worn crossbody put your gun in an optimal position to draw.


I'm calling out fanny packs specifically because I think they are the best option for off-body carry. Whether worn crossbody or on the waist, it puts your firearm in an optimal draw position. A fanny pack stays close to the body, reducing the amount of movement compared to a traditional purse. This helps should you need to draw and makes it harder to snatch off your body. 
 

Converting A Bag For Carry


If you have a bag that you like, you can convert it by adding heavy-duty Velcro inside and on the back of your holster. Make sure it's strong enough not to detach when you draw. Ideally, you'll be practicing this repeatedly. 
 

Crossbreed's Pac Mat comes in several different sizes to accommodate any bag you like.


Crossbreed Holsters' Purse Defender and Pac Mat systems are also great options. They come with a hook-and-loop lined Kydex panel and modular Velcro holster. Crossbreed offers many sizes to accommodate various bags, purses, and backpacks.
 

Conclusion


It's true women face unique challenges when it comes to concealed carry. However, with the increased number of choices on the market today, there is a solution for everyone. If you're new to carrying or struggling to conceal, try a few options above and see what works for you. And remember, it doesn't matter if you choose on-body or off-body. The important thing is that you're protecting yourself.

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