I love guys. They’re so adorable. Having grown up with two brothers, I did learn to speak some testosteronian, although I’m not quite fluent as of yet. That skill came in handy once I became one of the few female instructors in the raging dude-fest that is firearms training. Now, there are often times when the guys get to yapping about extractor depressor plunger assemblies (my favorite phrase from Glock Armorer school). And I’ll admit that as a relative newbie, those conversations I often perceive thusly:
However, when guys talk about issues like concealment, I suddenly feel useful again. The guys do make me proud, with their genuine(ly precious) attempts to convince incredulous female newbies that concealing a full-sized handgun is a piece of cake. I applaud their efforts as the women’s eyes glaze over. But then, once the dudes leave, I emit the universal “step into my office” signal, which of course consists of sound frequencies only perceptible to those with lady parts. Once they gather, I can translate the all-important concealment chat from testosteronian to estrogenian:
- Dude Logic: I put my gun on once a day and leave it there. No need to bother it again until I get home that night.
- Chick Retort: That’s because you get to pee through an organic tube and a zipper.
Women are more likely to have to actually handle their gear throughout the day than men are. Obviously guys do sit down to potty now and then, but not nearly as often as women do. And if you’re a woman like me, whose profession lands her in and out of courthouses and school buildings all day, then things can get really tricky. My suggestion to instructors: Have alternate plans available to discuss with your students, whose lifestyles might not mirror your own. Talk about car safes and vehicle gunhandling and all the awkward situations your students will realistically have to navigate as responsible permit holders. Of course there is always the ideal way to do things, but real life circumstances are rarely ideal.
- Dude Logic: Skirts are no problem. Just get a paddle holster.
- Chick Retort: Um, no. Paddle holsters are so melodramatically offset that the gun looks like it’s trying to escape.
I really wish I had a photo of my first attempt to wear a paddle holster. I felt like I had a conjoined twin dangling from my waistline, and that’s probably what I looked like too. Option B: purse carry. Eh, maybe under dire circumstances, like if I were wearing a very formal dress. Otherwise, no. Even assuming I had a proper gun purse (rather than a purse with a gun in it), I’d still give it the side eye for lots of reasons (very slow, less controllable, easily separated, etc.). I’ve experimented a lot over the years, but my solution du jour is Option C: a modified belly band. Bought a plain-jane elastic belly band for 30 bucks or thereabouts, took it to a seamstress for some reinforcements, added a second holster for my double-carry preference, and now I’m good to go, even sans belt loops. The movable elastic hugs the gear nice and close to me, whereas leather and kydex tend to want to bungee jump clean off of my hips.
- Dude Logic: All you have to do is throw on a light vest or an overshirt and boom, you’re concealed.
- Chick Retort: Darn it. I just donated all my fishing vests to the junior debutantes.
Okay, fine, I’ll admit there are some feminine-looking vests out there, so this one isn’t completely testosteronian. Personally, I’d much rather traipse around in a big t-shirt and sweats whenever I can. So usually that’s all the concealment I need. But if I have to teach or give a presentation or go to a meeting, I’d rather not look like a safari tour guide. Here again, the belly band often saves the day for me. Works wonderfully with suit pants. Can be worn either over the pants or under the pants for an IWB-type effect, allowing ladies to wear shorter suit jackets. And the band keeps everything so low-profile that I can even wear it under a fitted shirt. Not that I’d ever wear a fitted shirt. But I am told that women do have occasion to don such garments.
Moral of the Story: Fellas, to those of you who (correctly) believe that we need more female permit holders, more women who actually carry, and more female instructors, keep on keepin’ on. Encourage women genuinely, without patronizing or condescending. When they come into your shop, speak directly to them, not to their husbands about them while they’re standing right there. And if your carry methods work perfectly for you, by all means share them. They might work great for many females too. But they also might not. When women seek out your advice on how they can carry concealed, offer them viable, safe options that accommodate their lifestyles with minimal disruption. That tends to sit better than saying (in effect), “Well you’ll just have to revamp who you are so you can carry.” If I had to become a completely different person that I didn’t even recognize, it would defeat the purpose of carrying, since I’d be much less inclined to defend that stranger’s life anyway.
14 comments on “Estrogen and Guns”
As an aside I sometimes make and sell Kydex & leather holsters to friends and acquaintances. Its by no means a supplemental retirement income. Property management, rare mediation work and adjunct instruction bring in the supplemental monies. Still, if you’d like to try a particular style holster let me know and I’ll see what I can work up. Idle hands and minds and what, right?
Great! Thanks, SportPilot!
Law Enforcement equipment makers recognized about 30 years ago that women are built differently than men and began designing duty equipment with women in mind. In using a belly band, did you have to go to a different size in clothes as with IWB users sometimes do? When I cover methods of carry, I remind women that with purse carry a wrestling match over their purse also becomes wrestling match over their pistol. I recommend all students keep a running mental list of businesses that have baby changing tables in a stall for use as a place to park their hardware. I also suggest gunvaults in vehicles when they have to enter nonpermissive locations. I have 1 former female student who conceals a .32 Beretta Tomcat in her bra (in the pocket the cup padding would go in. Like I tell everyone, give it some thought, be creative even and there will be a way. The mistake most students make is thinking concealed carry is going to be “comfortable.” As Clint Smith is fond of saying, it should be comforting. I tell them to find a way that isn’t uncomfortable physically, that the mental comfort of preparation is the goal.
You also might want to contact Dennis at Dragonleatherworks in Oak Ridge. He designed some holsters for the female actors on NCIS. And he’s a great guy, even if he is from New Yawk lol.
Awesome! Thanks! Have any of your students tried the “Flash Bang” holster? I haven’t worked up the courage to order one, but I’m considering it if for no other reason than to post a review. As for the belly band, it depends on the pants/skirt. If they’re the type that have a little give in the fabric, I’m usually able to wear my regular size. If not, I’ll either go up a size or wear the band on the outside.
None I know have tried the flash bang but 1 woman I know has a suede (I think it was originally a cheapo IWB) holster for a NAA .22mag revolver that she uses in the same place. She says it rides in between all day without shifting. I wondered about clothes with the belly band, thanks for the info.
This is an older article so I am not sure if you have tried the flashbang but I thought I would answer. I use the flashbang and love it. It is secure, almost no chance of printing even in the tightest of shirts (and if it does print it looks like anything but a gun), especially if you use the high carry (completely tucked in the bra).
It seems less risky for me for accidental discharge (the kydex plus bra means snug fit). It is at a place that doesn’t bend or move much (unlike the waist). Visits to the necessary are not a problem.
Drawbacks: not good for nursing mothers. If someone hugs you tightly and you don’t have an ample front porch, they might feel a hard corner, wearing a dress means a little finagling on the draw through the neck.
Hi there, Atropine! I continue to hear a lot of good things about the Flashbang, but I still haven’t yet tried it myself. Partly I fear that in my case there might not be enough “bang” in my “flash” to provide much of an effective hiding place, LOL. 🙂 But my other concern is that, based on the pictures on the website, it looks like your pistol is oriented to point directly at whomever is standing next to you. I think that would be preferable to having no firearm at all, and I realize the trigger is protected, but I do worry about constantly breaching Rule #2. Still, one of these days I do need to give it a try. Thanks again for chiming in!
Well you’ve covered everything I’ve been preaching to female shooters and HCP holders for years now. I noticed the omission of thigh and ankle holster illogic too. Pretty good Counselor, you’ve now graduated for the ranks of bloggers I like to those I adore. Well done little sister.
Yaaaaaaaaay! Two points for me!!!
One other thing we do for our classes is go to Goodwill and buy a few purses and let the ladies fire a few rounds through them to get an idea of what it would be like. They quickly see that a hammerless or shrouded revolver is the ticket for such an application and gives them the confidence that they can make hits at the bad breath distances that such encounters would probably occur. They get such a kick out of this little exercise that many men also want to give it a try!
Great article. To be fair, we do spend some time in our course talking about restroom procedure (put the holstered pistol in your underwear and leave it alone!) but I will confess that I am extremely glad that my instructor wife can talk with the members of the fairer sex about methods of concealed carry. A great series of videos on women’s concealed carry is on You-tube by a lady listed as faliaphotography. She is a very slightly built lass who reviews many different types of holsters and carry as well as reviewing the pistols to put in the holsters. Great resource.
I’ve watched her videos! Excellent resource indeed. And kudos to you for including the restroom chat in your curriculum! I will never, ever forget my very first day of carrying. I resisted Mother Nature all day until I got home. It wasn’t pretty.
Counselor, that leaves me with an image of white compressed lips, clinched fists, and twisted legs! LOL!
Oh, you don’t even know the half of it! I will spare the blogsphere any further disturbing details.
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