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What Is The Best Way For A Woman To Carry A Concealed Weapon? 3 Top Choices

concealed carry sweater

The Best Methods For Women's Concealed Carry

The best way for a woman to carry a concealed weapon is safely and effectively. That’s what matters, more than anything else. 

In other words, if the pistol is carried so that it is secured to the person carrying it, and is not at risk for accidental or unintentional discharge.

Also, if the person carrying it can access, draw and deploy the pistol safely, efficiently and repeatably.

Anything that does those two things…is perfect.

The gun needs to be secure and safe, and you need to be able to get it out on demand in short order. That’s it. 

There is more than one way to do that, but there are more ways that don’t do that. 

Ankle carry is too slow, too inefficient for anything but a last-ditch gun. Pocket carry has too many problems, even with a holster.

Off-body carry has such slim margins for error that you should only consider doing so sparingly. 

So what’s left? What are the methods for women’s concealed carry that are reliably safe, secure and effective? Here are three that you should look at. 

IWB Concealed Carry

woman wearing iwb holster

IWB concealed carry is, in the modern era, the standard by which all others must be judged, and for good reason. 

With a holster of decent quality, which there are a good supply of (though few are purpose-built IWB holsters for women) the gun is secure inside the holster. Retention comes from the holster itself, but also from the belt that you have to wear to support it. 

Concealment is easy, really only requiring a suitable shirt to cover the holster and gun. Access is reasonably fast and efficient, as you only have to clear your cover garment to reach the pistol and draw. 

A skilled shooter with ample practice can place a shot on target from concealment in less than 2 seconds, an intermediate shooter in less than 2.5 seconds. That makes it very effective. 

The drawback is that women’s clothes are not always suited to it. Not all pants are made with belt loops that an actual concealed carry belt can fit through. Also, you aren’t always going to wear pants, for that matter; IWB concealed carry is impossible with leggings or dresses. 

If you carry all the time – which you should, otherwise it’s almost pointless to carry at all – it’s the best way to do so. But, as mentioned, it imposes limitations on your wardrobe.

On-Body, Off Waistband: Corsets And Belly Band Holsters

concealed gun belly band holster

Arguably the best balance of all factors, in terms of comfort, convenience, safety and function is holster designs like belly band holsters and – if made correctly – concealed carry corsets. These are ideal for women’s concealed carry as they keep the gun on the body, but off the waistband.

That means you don’t have to worry about a belt or what pants you have to grab out of your closet. They work with just about anything. Given that women’s clothing is more diverse than men’s, that frees you up to dress how you want and still be able to carry. 

However, that doesn’t mean they are without issues of their own. As with so many things in life…there’s no one best of anything, it’s that you’re choosing the set of problems you prefer.

Belly band holsters and corsets aren’t, for one, always created equal. Many just have fabric pouches to retain the pistol. The elastic in the pocket breaks over time, meaning you have to buy a new one every so often. 

Look for a belly band or corset that has either a hard-molded polymer shell or a rigid holster lining to keep the pistol protected. This will ensure safe carry and a more reliable draw than mere cloth, which can snag.

Also, clearing the cover garment takes slightly more effort than with an IWB holster, though this can be gotten around with a concealed carry top designed to work with a belly band or corset. 

The other issue is concealment itself, though it’s not terribly difficult. Since material – the holster and gun – are being added to an area that might otherwise be flat, that means form-fitting clothes won’t work. You’ll need some roomy shirts or sweaters for cover, but that’s easy enough. 

Concealment is slightly more complicated, and you’ll need to put in the work to develop the technique on clearing cover, drawing and presenting the pistol. 

Again, these have some complications, but are perhaps the best compromise when it comes to women’s concealed carry…if you get a corset or belly band holster that’s made correctly! 

OWB Holster: Kicking It Old School

wearing OWB holster under shirt

THE concealed carry holster for most of the 20th century was a high-ride OWB holster, or outside the waistband.

The holster rides high on the belt and tight to the body, making it easy to conceal under an outer layer or shirt with a sufficiently long hem. 

With the right holster, belt and cover garment…you’d be surprised how much gun you can carry! 

However, like the other methods…it isn’t without drawbacks. As with the other methods, you have to pick the set of problems you want to deal with. 

For starters, you need to pick an OWB holster that’s suited to the purpose. The holster and gun need to ride close to the body and high enough for your shirt, sweater, cardigan or what have you to cover it. 

Maintaining concealment is a little harder if you’re wearing an open button-up like a flannel shirt and a stiff breeze comes along. 

You also have to select a concealed carry belt that’s strong enough to keep the gun and holster in place. You also have to wear pants, at all times, that have belt loops that work with your belt. 

Just as with IWB carry, that’s something you have to put up with. 

However, what many people have found over the years is OWB concealed carry is more comfortable than IWB carry due to not having a gun and holster in the waistband. You don’t have to worry about whether your waistband is roomy enough for the holster to fit in.

Then there’s the function. 

OWB holsters are faster to draw from than IWB holsters, as clearing cover is quicker. A lot of people find the draw from an OWB faster and easier than from an IWB or any other type of handgun holster. 

In terms of function, OWB holsters reign supreme…but concealment is a little more of a pain.. You also have the limitations on wardrobe that you don’t have with a belly band or corset holster. 

Again, it comes down to the problems you want to deal with. 

No Matter What Women's Concealed Carry Method You Choose...Train

Ear protection for the range

These are all just methods of doing something, and that something is women’s concealed carry. They’re just ways to wear a gun, that’s it; no less, no more, and not terrifically complicated. 

Also, and this has to be said, that what carry method you use makes no difference if you don’t practice or train with your gun and the holster. 

Whatever or whichever way you find works best for you to conceal and carry with, what makes the real difference is not the gun or gear, though you do have to make prudent selections of them.

What makes the difference is the hands and mind that controls them. 

And those are honed in practice and training, putting in reps drawing from the holster and placing shots on target. If you can’t do that reliably, then it doesn’t matter how you conceal and carry. 

So whatever concealed carry method you choose…you need to train. 

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