BULLSEYE Concealment Holster Options for Female Officers
By Sara Ahrens
Holsters that work for female officers off-duty.
The explosion of concealment holsters for women, coupled with the development of firearms small enough to allow for women to carry a concealed weapon, has led to major advancements in both. Prior to this explosion, large and bulky firearms deterred women from carrying because they were so hard to conceal. Concealment holsters can be a struggle for women since small figures and fitted clothing can make concealment almost impossible.
Several years ago, concealed carry holster choices for women seemed nonexistent and impractical. The ones on the market required women to wear oversized or baggy clothing. Several companies have finally developed solutions that allow women to carry a weapon comfortably and without detection.
For female law enforcement officers, carrying a concealed firearm should be a priority. Those who choose not to risk the chance of being recognized in public by unforgiving criminals. Female officers who have children should make carrying a weapon off-duty a priority. It is instinctive for mothers to protect their young and they need a means of doing so. Failing to protect one’s children would be an unbearable burden from which most women could never recover. The rise in school violence should also serve as motivation for remaining armed on duty or off.
Law enforcement agencies should encourage their officers to carry off-duty by enacting policies that allow officers a variety of firearms that can be carried. Strict policies on approved firearms and calibers may result in deterring female officers from carrying because it is difficult to properly conceal large firearms. There may, however, be policies regarding maintenance requirements, prohibiting major modifications, and permitting officers to carry specific firearms from reputable manufacturers.
Giving female officers the ability to carry a compact or pocket-sized pistol chambered in .380 or 9mm will encourage more of them to carry off-duty. It is now easier than ever to carry a concealed weapon. Having invested a tremendous amount of money in holsters, it didn’t take long for me to recognize that all holsters fill a niche and few, if any, are suitable for all situations. Selecting an appropriate holster is largely dependent on weather conditions and occasion because each one influences a woman’s apparel choices.
Some of the best holsters on the market include Lisa Looper’s Flashbang® Holster, Galco’s ankle holster, Galco Underwraps® bellyband, DeSantis inside-the-pants holster and their new thigh-high holster. For women who are comfortable carrying firearms in a purse, Galco and DeSantis (as well as other manufacturers) offer excellent purse holsters.
Having invested in so many holsters, there are some that have been found to work better than others. Only the holsters that worked well will be discussed in this article. Hopefully this information will save time and money while meeting concealment needs. Check with individual manufacturers regarding availability for specific firearms. Every holster carries a responsibility for the user to train and become proficient with its use.
The Summer Solution
A major challenge for women when concealing a firearm is doing so during the summer. Many women have wardrobes that consist of shorts, tank tops, and fitted T-shirts, all of which make concealment extremely difficult. The holster solution for this dilemma is Lisa Looper’s Flashbang® Holster.
The concept of a bra holster is different and sometimes uncomfortable. But don’t rule this holster out. Contrary to other online reviews, it is possible to use this holster without muzzling oneself. Pulling straight down draws the weapon, which keeps it parallel to the chest. A word of caution: Do not re-holster a weapon without removing the holster, as it is extremely difficult. Even for those who don’t consider themselves well endowed, this holster will probably work well.
The holster is constructed of thermoplastic and the firearm is seated in the holster with the barrel pointing to the left if you are right-handed. The holster connects to the bra by way of a suede strap, which is attached to the holster. The strap attaches around the front center section of the bra, between the cups. The holster tucks up between the bottom band of the bra and the rib cage. The Flashbang® holster is surprisingly comfortable to wear and stays in place.
The Dress/Skirt Solution
Recently DeSantis released a holster that rides high on your thigh. It is designed to allow women to carry concealed when wearing a dress or a skirt. This holster fits like a thigh rig, which is a very comfortable method of holstering and drawing a firearm.
As far as attire considerations, this holster requires the user to wear a skirt that is loose, flowing, or A-shaped. A dress or skirt that is not tight and allows the lower section to flow away from the thigh prevents profiling of the firearm. Equally important is to make sure that the length of the skirt is sufficient to cover the firearm. This holster places the firearm in a natural draw position and the firearm remains snug in the holster. DeSantis fills a unique niche with this product
The Pant/Jean Solution
Another popular holster is Galco’s Ankle Lite® holster. This holster is great for use on duty and off. It conceals best when used with straight legged or boot legged pants. Tapered or skinny pants will cause the firearm to profile. The use of smaller firearms may also be necessary for this and many holsters.
Galco offers a calf strap, which is a highly recommended addition to their ankle holster. This accessory is a wise investment because, unless boots are worn, the Ankle Lite® will slide down the ankle (since they are smaller than calves). If the firearm slides down far enough and the pants are too short, the firearm may be exposed when walking or when crossing your legs.
DeSantis and Lisa Looper also have inside-the-pants holsters for pants and jeans. This type of holster is not a new concept, but with jeans and jackets or baggy shirts, these are also quality options. The draw is natural and similar to your duty rig’s draw, which is a big benefit.
The Fitness Solution
For women who enjoy outdoor activities, carrying a concealed firearm provides security in desolate areas. It is important to be able to easily access a firearm when it is needed. One option that fills this concealment dilemma is Galco’s Underwraps® Belly Band. It is useful for running, bicycling and any other physical activity you can imagine.
The Underwraps® Belly Band is designed for right- and left-handed individuals. It secures around the waist or higher up on the torso (correct sizing is dependant on carry location). It secures with a hook and loop system. This holster keeps the firearm snug while allowing the firearm to be drawn easily when needed.
If All Else Fails…
If the aforementioned holsters still do not meet your needs, there is one other option—the purse holster. Many companies, like Galco, make purses with built-in holsters to secure a handgun. Galco’s purse holster has a locking mechanism for the holster pouch. Not that this locking mechanism will prevent a determined adult from accessing the firearm, but it appears to be adequate for keeping small children from getting inside.
For those women who are unable to find a purse holster that they find attractive, DeSantis offers an alternative. DeSantis recently released the Bag-Packer®. This holster allows women to use their own purse or bag to conceal their firearm. It clips into a purse or bag, thereby converting it into your very own concealed-carry custom outfit. Special responsibility accompanies any holster option that is not worn on the body. The user must keep their purse close to ensure their firearm doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Having a firearm reassures women by enabling them to protect themselves and their children. All women deserve this opportunity but for female officers, it is especially important since they may be more likely to be exposed to more danger than the average woman. The continual development of concealment holsters encourages females to carry concealed. Fortunately, the firearms industry is recognizing that women are consumers worthy of the investment. PM
Sara Ahrens is a Patrol Sergeant with 17 years of service and a US Army veteran. Sara has held a variety of positions within her agency to include: Range Master, Master Firearms Instructor, Training Sergeant, Armorer, and SWAT Team Supervisor. Additionally, Sara participated in Season 3 of the History Channel’s Top Shot. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.