Seven Methods of Concealed Carry for Women

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Seven Methods of Concealed Carry for Women

April 22nd, 2024

5 minute read

I’m going to come right out and say it. Carrying a concealed handgun is not as simple for women as it is for men. Men don’t have to give much thought about what they’re wearing prior to holstering a firearm on their person, whereas we ladies have a lot to consider.

Clothing items such as dresses, skirts, athleticwear, skinny jeans, etc. all make us pause and think about just where on our bodies we could carry a handgun that keeps it concealed. For instance, I can’t use an inside-the-waistband holster while wearing a dress, and I can’t get away with an ankle holster if I’m wearing a miniskirt.

AIWB in Alexo Athletica
Fashion and body shapes can create differences between men and women as to how we carry a self-defense firearm. What works well for one segment of the population may not work at all for another.

It’s great to have choices, but it’s important to know the different options for concealed carry and which ones work the best for certain outfits.

Belly Band Holsters

This is my personal favorite method of concealed carry. Being a woman of ample hips, bellyband holsters are both comfortable and discreet. By having the option of wearing a gun around my midsection, I can throw on a shirt — tucked or untucked — and be on my merry way. I can also choose where I want to position a handgun so that it makes the most sense for the situation. One day may be an appendix carry day, and another may require wearing a gun at the small of my back. 

training with CCW pistol
Having the best gun and concealment method is only part of the personal protection equation. Be sure to invest in regular training with your CCW pistol.

Corset Holsters

Like belly band holsters, corset holsters wrap around the midsection, yet function more like shapewear. Corset holsters not only minimize the appearance of a concealed handgun, but they also offer more even weight distribution around your midsection. This type of holster is ideal when wearing tight-fitting clothing such as skinny jeans or a pencil skirt.

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Holsters

IWB holsters are worn inside the pants, securing the firearm against the body. Some IWB holsters possess clips or loops to attach to waistbands or belts. [Ed. note: Read more about women’s gun belts.] Ideally, a wearer would opt for looser clothing and an untucked top to conceal a handgun. An alternative would be to wear a jacket or blazer over the gun if untucking a shirt is out of the question.

IWB carry for women
Concealed carry can be made easier with purpose-built Alexo leggings. These allow you to discreetly carry a pistol without the need for a belt.

Concealed Carry Leggings

If you don’t feel like a separate holster is right for you, there’s always the option of a holster that’s built into your pants. Yes, there are leggings made for concealed carry that have dedicated pockets for your handgun. This means your CCW can effortlessly come along for a jog, bike ride, or a leisurely stroll to a 2A-friendly coffee shop. Nowadays, leggings are deemed acceptable attire for just about anywhere, which means this method of concealed carry can be utilized on a daily basis.

Ankle Holsters

Now that bell bottoms and flared pants are back in style (again!) and “mom jeans” are being worn on purpose (what the heck?!), ankle holsters provide an excellent choice for concealed carry to anyone wearing pants. Ankle holsters are comfortable, easy to put on, and discreet as the day is long.

Concealed Carry Shorts

Concealed carry shorts blend the look and feel of a pair of Spanx with the function of a thigh holster. Concealed carry shorts are especially useful when worn under a dress or skirt during the summer months. Some offer holster pockets inside the thigh to prevent visible bulges created by a handgun. One drawback to concealed carry shorts is that when a wearer sits down, they may be pointing a gun at another person.

Purse Carry

There are many purses available on the market that are designed with built-in holsters and compartments to secure a firearm. Retailers like Gun Tote’n Mamas have an ample selection of concealed carry purses to suit just about any preference.

purse holster
A purse designed with an integrated holster can be appealing as a method of CCW. Like all off body carry methods, it has its own set of pros and cons.

The downside to purse carry is that it’s off your body. Off body carry opens up the possibility of theft, easy access for a curious child, or setting the purse down and forgetting where you put it. Another downside is that loose items such as lipstick or keys can make their way towards the trigger to create the potential for an accidental discharge.

If purse carry is your only option, you have to be 100% aware of where your purse is 100% of the time. You must also keep the gun in an internal holster that protects the triggerguard.

Which One Is Right for You?

Honestly, the best method of concealed carry is the one that works best for you and your needs. Some ladies may find all seven of these methods applicable, while others may only be comfortable with one or two. It’s important to remember that concealed carry is just like one’s own style — it’s not one-size-fits-all, it’s highly personal.

drawing from concealed carry handbag
Training is essential for anyone carrying a handgun for defense. Train safely with unloaded firearms and seek professional assistance with any new skill or technique you want to learn.

Comfort and accessibility aside, regular visits to the range to practice drawing and holstering are critical. It’s not enough to slip a 9mm down the front of a corset holster and go out in the world, you have to maintain situational awareness and know what to do if a dangerous situation occurs. You have a responsibility to yourself and the public to be alert at all times and maintain judicious target acquisition should the need arise. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying a concealed weapon right now, that’s alright. Take classes at a local shooting range and wait until you feel ready to take the next step. There is no such thing as being too prepared or too educated when it comes to handling a firearm.

Lastly, I feel it’s worth stressing that the rules of gun safety still apply even when a firearm is strapped to your body or zipped up inside your purse. Whichever method of concealed carry you choose, be aware of where your gun’s barrel is pointed at all times, survey your surroundings, and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. So please, if you’re going to carry concealed, be safe and be smart.

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Laura Cromwell Starita

Laura Cromwell Starita

Laura Cromwell Starita's passion for firearms started when she was just a little girl. She spent many afternoons playing with cap guns, which later evolved into going to the range to shoot the real thing. After graduating from college with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she managed to pair her love of firearms with her degree by starting her career in the NRA's Publications division. Since then, she has been a product copywriter for outdoor sporting goods, a brand storyteller, a firearm reviewer, and a Search Engine Optimization professional for all things Second Amendment.

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