Friday, July 13, 2007

Concealed Carry

This is a subject that crops up in my thoughts from time to time, seeing as how I do have a concealed carry permit.

The direction of my thoughts today are not the why, but the how.

See, we setters don't have as many options for concealed carry as the pointers do, simply because of how we're built, and how clothes are designed to fit us.

So far, I've only discovered a few that work effectively, and even those are bound by certain things I just can't do and keep my concealed weapon concealed. A couple of these are listed here, and I'd be glad to hear any suggestions from my readers on expanding or altering these.

Shoulder holster. I don't personally use this one, as I haven't yet found a shoulder rig thats built for women, much less one as small as I am. Custom work is an option, but I haven't had the money, or the access to someone who can do the work, to try it out. The difficulty that I see for the average woman in these is twofold. Fit, and angle. The angle is important, because frankly, no one wants to catch a boob in their gun. This same problem rears its head with hip holsters. Not to mention the boobs getting in the way of the draw in the first place. Also, wearing a jacket or such at all times is just not practical in summer heat.

Inside the waistband holster. I've used this, and its the best method I've found for myself personally, although I do have a few requirements that others don't. I use what I've been told is called a "cavalry" draw. I'm right handed, and as a child I broke my right arm in such a way that I don't have complete movement of it at the shoulder. So when I draw, the options are limited. many carry styles leave me sweeping areas around me with the barrel of my gun that I don't want to. As such, I carry in the small of my back, with the gun positioned so that my right hand goes between my body and the grip, and my draw is out, down to my side, and up to firing stance. However, this carry has dress requirements as well. I have to wear a baggy shirt to cover the imprint of the gun. Not a big thing, in the scheme of things, but annoying enough when I really want to wear something a little cooler.

The major problems for women in concealed carry, as I see them, are the chest and the hips. Hip carry sticks the butt of the gun out, or shoves it into a woman's side, depending on her own build and how low on her hips her pants or jeans ride. Shoulder holsters, and some hip holsters, pose the problem of the breasts simply getting in the way of the draw. No matter how big or small you are in that area, they get in the way. If men wish to understand this, borrow a female friend's bra, stuff it with whatever is handy, and attempt to do the things you normally do. And remember, breasts don't just stick out in front, they stick out to the sides as well, stuff accordingly. Better yet, have said female friend help you make it as anatomically correct as possible.

(From the stories that Farmmom has told me of her classes when she became a posse member on the Sheriff's department, this should be a requirement for male firearms instructors. So should having the skin of their chest right by the armpit pinched in the hammer of their gun.)

Like I said, any suggestions or comments are welcome.

And, if any of the male readers are brave enough to try the experiment I mentioned, I want video!


Anonymous said...

Farm Girl,
check out a site called the cornered cat It is written by a woman who also carries and has,(what I believe), may be some good ideas for your problem.
My being a pointer doesn't allow me to check out her ideas myself.
Sorry I can't give a direct link, but I am the worlds most computer illiterate person.
Hope this helps,

Anonymous said...

Well, I've seen some methods of carry that work for a woman... mostly depending on how a gunbelt is made to custom fit a woman... but no concealed carry equipment that don't draw complaints one way or another from women. Us guys have our complaints too.

That small-of-back holster/carry... yes, that is a type of "Cavalry draw". The Cavalry draw I'm familiar with though is from a strongside holster, usually left-hand, worn on the right side so the gun is butt forward on the carrier's right. You're just packing your sidearm a bit further to the rear. Hickock used this mode of carry, but by the late 1860's he seems to have given up on holsters in favor of tucking the Colt's Navy .36's in his sash.

I'm a guy, but I have shoulder problems too... comes from this artheritic problem I have... my right shoulder doesn't work as well as it used to. Add to that that I'm better off left-handing a sidearm anyway from being left-eye dominant. So I wear my gun for a left-handed crossdraw; the gun's butt forward on my right. But though I have a Georgia Firearms License (aka CCW permit), I don't tend to want to try too much concealed carry because my choices of sidearms are usually too big to conceal... M1911A1 or S&W M28 for example, if I'm not packing a Ruger's 5.5" Vaquero in .45Colt. The Ruger sixgun's usually carried for a Cavalry draw on my left side in a holster I personally made... the holster's riding on a cartridge belt I bought out of Cabela's before I learned how to measure the loops.

Like I say, I'm a guy. As a leathercrafter, I wish I knew how to fix women up with a concealed carry rig.


Anonymous said...

I find this a very interesting topic, given my moderate interest in owning a gun under conceal-carry..

You've got a damn good point, being a woman and finding a good conceal-carry position on your frame is damn difficult.

A bit off topic, but I recently heard that it's completely legal to walk down the street around here with a hip-holster filled, but you can't have a bullet chambered. Does that check with anyone else out there?

BTW, I took your advice on choice of firearm. I'm stepping down to a 9mm model, still Springfield Arms XD model. (it's slightly cheaper and, as you instructed, probably a better first-timer arm.) From a coworker (who happens to work at the best (quality ain't just a matter of price!) gun shop around here) they're doing a "free financing for a year" in mid-august, so I hope to take advantage. I'll ask said coworker if he's heard of any solutions to your particular problem, see what he says.


HollyB said...

I'm tall, but I do have a "generous" bosum. So I've encountered some of the same problems you mention when trying to carry concealed.
The Cornerd Cat is a great starting point.
Have you thought of the Kel-Tec in 9mm with that ultra-kewl clip they make that screws onto the frame? Ten you cam just clip it inside a pocket, your waistband, OR, you're gonna LOVE this one, your sports bra, in your arm pit. I know, I've carried mine there. With the Kel-Tec's stainless steel and composite parts, there's no danger of rust from body "moisture"; there's no danger of printing b/c it's hidden in your arm pit. The close fit of the sports bra keeps it close to your body, and since the clip attaches it to the bra, you don't need a bulky holster.
You can also clip it just behind the wire of an underwire bra.
AS long as you wear a V-neck blouse, access is not a problem. I practice at a private range [read cow pasture] so I didn't have to worry about strange looks from fellow shooters when I practiced my draw from this concealment. It works, girl. Besides, when you NEED to draw, who cares if somebody sees you reach inside your top?

Anonymous said...

"With the Kel-Tec's stainless steel and composite parts, there's no danger of rust from body "moisture"

I'd have to do some looking into the Kel-Tec, but most stainless guns I know anything about, the outside is stainless and the inner workings are not. Rust still ain't your friend.

I don't know about Texas and Colorado, but Georgia law says a sidearm has to be in some type of holster. If TX and CO don't stipulate that, great, but I don't advocate carrying in a less that legal manner and I know ya'll aren't advocating that either.

"Besides, when you NEED to draw, who cares if somebody sees you reach inside your top?"

That's the truth. Better to worry a lot less about being lady-like when things go rodeo and be able to defend yourself in a hurry. If it was my sister bringing this up, I'd still agree.

BTW, Farmgirl, have you ever read Louis L'Amour's Sackett stories? I ask because I recall one comment they made about it being real common in that time period for women and girls in Tennessee, wearing the common styles of dresses, to blouse their waste to carry a sidearm. Also it wasn't unheard of for them to have a slit in the folds of a skirt to get to a full-size holster pistol or revolver which, I guess, was carried in a thigh holster. I'm not certain what they made for that mode of carry back then. Not that it'd seem to matter too much because you don't strike me as one to wear dresses too often.


farmgirl said...

I'll check out the Cornered Cat as soon as I have the time to sit and read, guys, thanks for the tip.

Mustanger-- money, and the fact that I live in BFE tend to put a damper on the whole custom built thing. I'd love to sit down with someone who knows what they're talking about and discuss custom work, but frankly I just can't afford it at this point.
As for dresses... well let me put it this way. The last three times I've worn a dress have been: my junior prom, my brother's wedding, and my best friends wedding. And I wore the same dress to the prom and my friend's wedding. So much for "if I can't wear black at my wedding neither can you." (Hey, its her own fault, she failed to pick out a different dress.)

You knew this was coming... I told you so! When it comes right down to it, the difference between a 9mm and a .45 in personal protection is the amount of kick. If you can't get the job done with a 9mm you're pretty much screwed anyway. But we've been over this. *smile*


Darlin. When I say I'm a small girl, I mean I'm SMALL. Not short, I'm average at 5'7, but I weigh about a hundred pounds. Turn sideways and stick my tongue out and I look like a zipper variety of skinny, here. Hiding a gun, unless its an old fashioned .22 derringer, in any area of my chest just doesn't work. Not sure the derringer would work either, come to think of it.
My personal choice for carry is a Firestar 9mm. Its comfortable for my hands, as hidden as its going to get, and I'm comfortable shooting it.

Anonymous said...

Here I go again, but to a point, the more gets talked about, the more I think of.

Farmgirl, I know what you mean about money for custom work. I'm not loaded either. And I don't know why so many holster makers gear their stuff just for men and seem to expect women to deal with it or forget it. Oh, and your size... you're the same height as my sister, but at 100lbs., you're a good bit lighter.

9mm vs. .45ACP... I've seen so many discussions/arguements over this... and the .40S&W fans will tell us why were both wrong... and the old guy at the end bench has an old S&W Model 10 in .38Spl and he'll just shake his head and smile and put another six rounds through the B-16. Personally, I like .45 and haven't had issues with the recoil, but that's me and how the M1911 fits my hand. My Daddy had a Firestar in .45 once so I can say it's a great sidearm; one in 9mm should be pleasant to shoot. My current 9mm is a Walther P-38 and I'm liking it real well too. The problem with P-38's is availability isn't constant. As for the "old fashioned .22 derringer", it beats nothing but I wouldn't recommend it. American Derringer or Bond Arms derringer in anything .38spl or bigger would be my recommended minimum, but those sound to be to big for you to conceal too.


farmgirl said...


The 9mm vs .45 discussion is on the round size in general, and its been going on for a while. Josh is just beginning his "serious" shooting, and got the macho idea that bigger is better, for a while. I recommended that to start off with he'd probably be better off with a 9mm, is all it is. I just like giving him crap about it.

As for the Firestar... I like mine. I've heard a lot of people say that any Firestar sucks, but I haven't had problems with mine.

Oh, and the derringer? That was sarcasm. If I'm reduced to that I'll just toss my work knife in my pocket.

Valerian said...

Hey Farm Girl - nice blog :) I came on the recommendation of Lawdog, and stayed 'cause I like what you say and how you say it.

Living in a country with no guns allowed, other than range shooting, I have zero experience but being a girl, with some curves and bumps, I can imagine what a problem this might be (wince and ouch at the chest pinching comment).

I wondered whether a shoulder holster could be let down some, so that it hangs by your ribs just above elbow height, but below the bumps ;) It still only works under a jacket or waistcoat, but frankly, given the way women's clothes are cut to fit, there is nowhere to hide it, other than using the Purloined Letter method. Do you carry a bag or satchel of some sort? Is it possible to adapt a pocket on the outside of that?

Don't know that I've been helpful, but thought I would pass on my musings. Keep up the blogging :)

Anonymous said...

I know what you're saying about the size of the rounds. And the standard comeback is "I don't want to get hit with any of them". That, of course, goes without saying. I recall Bart Skelton wrote a collumn titled "Real Men Shoot Rimfires". That article resonated with me because my handgunning started out with .22LR/Mag revolvers and still includes them. They're great for anything but self-defense... small game and plinking come to mind. I can understand the sarcasm with the derringer comment.

Thing about Firestar pistols is they were made in Eibar, Spain. From what I've heard, some of the best, as well as some of the worst, pistols came from there. Every Star model I've had anything to do with or heard anything about... those have been good to excellent. They made good military pistols too; the Model B comes to mind and it's also a 9mm. Other namebrands from Eibar have been good or bad depending on when they were made.

I'd thought of that lowered shoulder holster too, but with my being a guy and knowing women vary so much one individual to the next, plus how it'd still have to be under a jacket, I'm afraid there's no "across-the-board" solution. Each individual woman who's tried it could give us a more educated opinion.

The thing I've heard about if a woman carries a purse, bag, or satchel... the problem there is if your purse gets snatched, your gun is in your purse. Everything I hear is that off-body carry, aka purse carry, is never nearly as good an idea as on your person. But then, if no on-body equipment works, purse carry may well be better. I won't presume to speak for Farmgirl, but I know my sister has never liked to carry a purse ever since she was a little girl and lost her purse in a restraunt... good thing she wasn't packing. So my sister has tended to have a small wallet sort of thing to carry in her hand if she didn't just load her pockets the same way any guy such as myself would do.

mustanger (again, still, and hoping I don't get annoying)

Pop said...

Hi, Farm Girl;
Just a thought - you might try Blackie Collins' Toters Jeans. I'm not a gal, but these are the most comfortable way to carry I've found. You don't use a holster, so you don't have the extra thickness they add. It may make a difference for you. Plus, the weight is supported by your belt. There is a special fabric in the pocket that keeps the gun dry and clean.
Good luck!

farmgirl said...

As far as the lowered shoulder holster-- again, thats custom work. A nice little fantasy of mine but not one I've been able to make a reality as of yet.

The purse... Number one, I don't carry a purse, as a rule. They just annoy me. They make purses and buttpacks (fanny pack, waist pouch, whatever you want to call it) specially for concealed carry, so its not a problem of finding a way to make it fit. The problem with off-body carry... well, if you carry a purse you've probably discovered this phenomenon... whatever you need *right now* is always at the bottom, at the wrong angle, or disappears entirely until you *don't* need it. Not a good thing to have happen to your gun when you need it.

Pop-- The Toter's Jeans look really interesting, actually. I may try those when I have the money to spare. I like that they do the custom sizing, too. Thanks!

Eric said...

Farm Girl,

Some ladies I know have better luck with their OWB and IWB holsters when they position them a bit towards the front, so they fit in the inguinal canal, the crease made between your leg and body when you raise your knee. I think some refer to this as appendix carry. Don't know if your shoulder will let you draw from this position.



Anonymous said...

Farmgirl, That "appendix carry" Eric just brought up... I'm thinking he's got a good point considering your shoulder and the fit of the gun. There are a good many people, men and women who've used appendix carry successfully. I don't know your shoulder's range of motion, but it seems to me most of the motion for this draw is in the elbow and wrist. And you're right back to concealing your firestar being iffy.


farmgirl said...

I can see that one of these days I'm going to have to break down and post a pic, so ya'll can see just what I'm talking about when I say I'm skinny.

The appendix carry... a cross-draw would probably work for my shoulder, but it raises the problem of concealment, like Mustanger said. Due to personal preference and body build, my jeans ride low on my hips. It doesn't leave a lot of room in front to conceal a gun, but the small of my back is a slight hollow, which gives me much better concealment.

I really appreciate everyone's suggestions! Its been really interesting seeing what everyone has to say about the subject, and really informative. Even if I've thought of things that mean it probably won't work for me, I will try the different carry methods that everyone has suggested, because you never know!

Thanks so much guys!

Anonymous said...

Farmgirl, it seems like the more you comment, the more I think of, and I thought of something else, or at least a clarification.

"The appendix carry... a cross-draw would probably work for my shoulder, but it raises the problem of concealment, like Mustanger said."

The appendix carry is usually a strongside carry. I've stuck a full-size M1911 inside my waistband in that position and, right-handed, it works for me. It's my right shoulder that don't work as well. But I'm not trying to conceal that full-size holster pistol there. The crossdraw is a bit different story and right-handed, it works for me too. The problem is bringing the gun up to use the sights... right-handed, I have to shoot instinctively rather than using the sights.

"Due to personal preference and body build, my jeans ride low on my hips. It doesn't leave a lot of room in front to conceal a gun, but the small of my back is a slight hollow, which gives me much better concealment."

Now, here I go being a 6' tall 200lb. guy, Wrangler Pro-Rodeos and all, but when I said I'm not trying to conceal the M1911 in appendix carry... what I've found that works is an Uncle Mikes IWB holster for a Colt's Mustang .380 at appendix. Now, under a Schaeffer (sp?) "Cattle Baron" vest (cool weather), I can conceal that. I'm thinking a bigger gun could work there too. Now, with your build and the low-rise jeans, you may or still may not be able to conceal a smaller gun.

Now, I just remembered another IWB option... a guy I got aquainted with at a gun shop locally to me; this guy was asking me about modifying a holster he had (I didn't) which was set up with the belt loop and then the holster sat inside the waistband *and* inside the shirt. The shirttail would be between the holster and waistband. I guess the gun could still print depending on the wearer's build and size of the gun. OTOH, it could work, but I never tried it.