Women's wardrobes and body shapes make dressing around a gun uniquely challenging. However, the firearm industry has come to realize that women present a large consumer market and have developed accessories specifically targeted for "girls with guns."
Concealed carry options for women include belt and thigh holsters as well as concealment compression undershorts and handbags specifically designed to accommodate firearms and everyday accessories. Specially designed apparel items including midriff concealment tank tops with built in holsters and "Flashbang" holsters that attach to the middle of the bra are also available.
Shoulder holsters are uniquely challenging, as they can be difficult to conceal underneath close fitting or hot weather wardrobe items. However, according to Sara Ahrens, a Police Sergeant in Illinois with 17 years of experience, "Most holsters are developed for men’s bodies, so when a woman selects a holster that allows her to conceal a firearm, it may come at the expense of comfort. One holster system, often overlooked, that works surprisingly well in bridging the gap between concealment and comfort, is the shoulder holster," reports Personal Defense World
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Here are five shoulder holster buying tips for women:
1. An important consideration is to put the gun before the holster. In other words, wardrobe demands, body size and lifestyle factors should be taken into account when choosing which gun to conceal carry. The size and weight of the gun will affect the size of the holster and the ease of concealment.
2. Comfort is important but realistic expectations are in order. Concealed carry provides comfort in the sense of being protected. While a shoulder holster may be a bit uncomfortable, if it is the most practical and safe holster method for your needs, adapting to a little discomfort is not unrealistic.
3. Concealment shoulder holsters are designed for a cross draw – a right-handed person will carry the holster on their left side and vice versa. Make sure that the holster allows for an easy draw with the understanding that a cross draw takes more time than, for example, from the hip.
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4. Take into consideration whether a horizontal or vertical shoulder holster is the best fit for body and firearm size. According to Gun Digest
, vertical holsters "are very concealable, but because the butt of the gun is pointing toward the back and is on the backside of centerline, they are the hardest with which to achieve a good firing grip." In the case of horizontal holsters, "The gun’s butt is in a position to afford a very natural grip and draw stroke, and the butt is carried the furthest forward of any style," but this style is not the best choice for concealment.
5. Make sure the holster is one that is designed to fit the specific model or size of the gun to be concealed. In addition, holsters come with various retention levels designed to prevent someone from easily taking the gun. "Level I is the most basic of retentions, Level II will incorporate two different retention devices, and Level III will have more. The higher the level of retention, the more difficult it will be to release the weapon from the holster. The more retention devices on a holster, the more practice it will take to draw your weapon quickly," reports The Shooter's Log
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