Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Fine Art of Carrying Concealed and What I've Learned

In my quest to find the perfect CCW (concealed carry weapon) setup, I have learned one thing: It ain't easy for us femmes! HOWEVER, I've finally come up with some options that work for me. They may not work for everyone, but I will share what I've got so far.

When I left off in Taking the First Step to Carrying Concealed, I was testing out my - at the time - new Ruger SR9C. It turned out that that gun was simply too bulky for me to conceal effectively. So let's start with a chart of, just some of, your weapon options and their pro's and con's.
Before I throw down my mega-chart, let me define the categories for you.

Gun: Well that one is probably pretty self explanatory!

Caliber: For this one I will refer you back to SAHM With a Passion for Weaponry, in which I defined most of the popular calibers for you.

Capacity: This is how many rounds of ammunition the gun can hold. This number will read something like "7+1" this means that the particular gun can hold 7 rounds in the magazine or 8 total with one round racked into the chamber. And for further explanation on that, I will refer you back to A Day at the Range, more specifically the "Vocab Lesson" section.
*Capacity marked with an asterisk are for revolvers. There is no "one in the chamber" on a revolver. All rounds are held in the cylinder until fired.
Concealabillity: I will rate it 1-5 (to keep it simple).
Pro's and Con's: These are going to be pretty much based on my opinion and those reviews that I've read online.
The delightful little gun marked in lavender is my baby! This has become my EDC (Everyday Carry) and I couldn't love it more! Noteworthy: This gun is not on the Mass Approved Roster yet, so it takes some work to get your hands on one, but it is NOT illegal to own.

Gun Caliber Capacity Concealability Pro's Con's
S&W M&P Shield 9mm/.40 S&W 9mm: 7+1
.40 S&W: 6+1
3 This is a relatively new gun produced by S&W. The general consensus is that it's a great gun. It's small, reliable and comes in more desirable calibers than most guns its size.  As will be the case for most guns in this list, in order to be Mass compliant (and I'm pretty sure the same goes for anyone hailing from California), you will be stuck with a less than desirable trigger pull (looong and gritty). This means that if you decide to get this gun (in MA or CA) please anticipate spending an additional $125 or so on having a new trigger installed. See the last link for info on the most popular replacement trigger for these guns.
Beretta Nano 9mm 6+1
7+1 (w/ extended mag)
4 Boy do I love this gun! Great size, very reliable, fairly easy to conceal, takes just about any ammo I feed it. Super comfortable to hold and shoot. Trigger is smooth. It's a 9mm which is what I prefer in a carry gun. Good capacity with an option of an even better capacity. All around great gun.  Like all guns, the Nano has it's faults. The trigger pull, though smooth, is long. I personally don't mind this, but a long trigger pull CAN affect your accuracy. A longer pull means more time for user error. Also it has no external slide lock, which isn't a very big deal, just a bit unorthodox. 
Glock 26/Glock 27 9mm/.40 S&W 9mm: 10+1
.40 S&W: 9+1
2 Glocks are notorious for being fantastically reliable guns. I can't say enough about their reliability. Also, look at that capacity!  The Glock 26/27 is on the slightly larger size of the guns listed here. It's going to take a bit more work if you're planning on wearing skinny jeans most days. But it is up to you if the reliability and capacity are worth the trade-off.
Kahr PM9 9mm 6+1
7+1 (w/ extended mag)
4 Kahrs are right up there on the reliability scale, they are really an all around awesome gun. Very similar in style to the Glock except slimmed down quite a bit. Great size and fantastic gun. Biggest issue - the price tag. Kahrs carry a fairly heavy price because of their quality.
Ruger LC9 9mm 7+1 4 I'm not terribly familiar with this gun, I've never shot one, but have spoken with others who have. It's size is a great feature. It's slim and comfortable to hold.  Biggest issue seems to be inconsistent reliability. There are some who say they've never had an issue with it and others who have had nothing but issues. And again, we Massachusetts folks and the Californians will suffer icky triggers.
Ruger LCP .380 ACP 6+1 5 Great size for concealment. From what I've heard is pretty reliable with not too many issues. Has a much more user friendly laser option with the button for the laser being placed directly below the trigger guard where your hand naturally grips the gun. Also the laser is an OPTION, which I think is great.  Again, not a huge fan of the .380, but some people have no problem with it, like my dad, he regularly carries a P230 which fires a .380 round. The difference? He's an avid shooter and competitor. He has the confidence that his first shot will land where it needs to and the caliber won't be much of an issue at that point. 
Ruger LCR .22 LR
.38 Special
.357 Mag
5* 4 This is a revolver. Revolvers are notoriously reliable and super easy to operate, a true point and shoot. Big pro is the AWESOME caliber option of .357 Mag. Now THAT'S some stopping power! Also this gun comes with the same more desirable laser grip option as it's cousin, the LCP. My issues with this gun, and really any revolver, is the limited capacity, the double action only action, and the lack of a quick reload. Yes, speed loaders are available, but they don't match the ease of a magazine change on a semi-auto pistol. Again, these are just my issues with revolvers - it's not the LCR's fault.
S&W Bodyguard .380 ACP 6+1 5 In my opinion about the only thing this gun has going for it is its size.  And the con's list begins: First, it is a .380, not my favorite round. Not a lot of stopping power. Combine that with a not terribly impressive capacity, and you're not off to a great start. Also, it has a particularly terribly trigger pull. Finally is the seemingly "pro" feature, which is the laser sight that is built it. This is a bit gimmicky to me. Take a look at the manufacturer link and observe where the button is located for the laser sight. In a high stress situation, you will never have the time or composure to activate the laser. It's just not practical. That is one BIG gap in the "pro" column

At the bottom of this post, I have put some links to the manufacturer's page and to some reviews of each of these guns.

Ok so now for holsters...
I have found two holsters that really work for me. Holsters can be expensive so I haven't had the luxury of testing numerous holsters for this little blog of mine.
1. CrossBreed Mini Tuck
CrossBreed Mini-Tuck
 (Picture shown is with horsehide, mine is cowhide and black not tan)

Really excellent holster. Excellent quality, durability, comfort. It's slim and conceals VERY well. My only issue is it can't be appendix (a.k.a. 1 o'clock) carried which means in the front of your pants. My problem is I seem to suffer from chronic plumbers crack (TMI??) and that means that my lower back is frequently exposed if I'm bending or squatting, which with 2 wee ones happens quite frequently. I did remedy this by wearing a long fitted camisole under my shirt and tucking that around the gun as an extra layer of concealment, but it does still print on the cami. I wear my CrossBreed just off center of the middle of my back. This makes the hubby crazy. He says it's not accessible enough. As a man, he has the convenience of wearing almost directly on his hip... why? Because like most men, he isn't curvy (in all the right places) and has the luxury of button down shirts, flannels, overcoats, etc.To an extent he's right. If someone were to grab me from behind, it's fairly likely they'd feel my gun and then I could be at a disadvantage. I'm still working on this.
CrossBreed also makes the "Mini Clip" which I haven't tried, but it was designed for the Ruger LCP and works for other smaller carry guns.
2. Remora RFT No Clip Holster
Remora Holsters
Remora Holster STORE

Possibly the best invention known to man.. ok maybe I'm exaggerating a BIT, but this holster is super cool. It's made of a somewhat clingy/stick material which allows you to tuck it just about anywhere along your waist line - can you say appendix carry?? And you don't need to be wearing jeans or a belt. Let's face it, how often am I wearing jeans when I'm home chasing the two little ones around the house? Not very often. I've worn this holster with sweatpants, yoga pants and of course jeans.

But that's not all folks! This nifty little holster can also come with a thigh/ankle holster attachment! This allows for thigh carry on the summer days when you want to wear a skirt or sun dress, or ankle carry if you're out and in some boot-cut jeans and pumps! The possibilities are not quite endless, but just about! And if you want to be really "tacti-cool", you can carry on the outer thigh, but I'm not sure exactly what situation that would be socially acceptable in!
So even with the wide variety of guns available and some really fantastic holsters, we femmes still need to alter our attire just a weee bit. Here are some tips:
  • Layers are your friend: In the winter, this should be your mantra. I like a cami tucked around and over the gun, t-shirt or whatever, then fleece or sweatshirt or some other semi thicker layer. I am often donning my signature pink North Face fleece, which is an excellent concealer and I'm never too cold or too hot.
  • Think about what you're going to be doing for the day and dress accordingly. For me this means: Supermarket? This will involve LOTS of bending down because my 18 month old loves to throw things out of the cart. This further means it's a Remora appendix carry kind of day.
  • The appendix carry is a bit more difficult to pull off, depending on the gun. With my Beretta Nano, it requires donning my North Face, otherwise it looks like I might have man-parts, if you know what I mean!
  • Spring/Summer can mean a slightly easier carry situation, but choose flowy skirts/dresses. A pencil skirt isn't going to be your best friend. << This is all with regard to thigh carry of course.
  • In the fall I will likely modify my winter carry to have my 2 shirt method plus a flannel or other light feminine button down shirt that I'll wear as an over shirt.
  • White is a TERRIBLE concealer. Black is good, prints are best.
  • If you're going to use a holster that has clips, get a DECENT belt. This is where it's best to sacrifice fashion for practicality. A 1/2" or 3/4" belt is not going to cut it.
I hope this helps some of you femmes take the next step towards defending yourself and carrying concealed. And as always, any questions - feel free to comment below!

Happy Shooting!

~La Femme


Here are some links for each gun:

S&W M&P Shield:

Beretta Nano:

Glock 26/27:

Kahr PM9:

Ruger LC9:

Ruger LCP:

Ruger LCR:

S&W Bodyguard:


  1. Thank You for posting this :)

    I love how informative it was and I love that Remora Holster, I think the Hubs (Fattman) is going to try to get me a Nano, he said it might take awhile, but since I have 6 weeks before I get my LTC I have some time, I always wear layers at work because it's freezing in here 95% of the time. I like that the Remora holster can be worn on the thigh too, that's an interesting idea, trying to figure out how it "sticks" to you but still worth investing in because it's not to exspensive.

    Thank You Again for this post :)
    and we really need to get together and meet in person for some fun are you guys going to the meet up on the 16th of March??

    1. Hi Gina,

      For the thigh carry, there is a strap with velcro that secures the holster to your thigh, sorry I should have been more clear on that!

      I don't think I knew about the March 16 meetup, but I'll check it out and hopefully we can be there! And when the weather gets nicer, we will be shooting all the time in Hopkinton and would love for you to join us!

      I'll see what I can do about helping you out with the Nano!

    2. Also Gina, if you want to meet me at Hopkinton this weekend to try out the Nano and make sure you like it, I'd be more than happy to do that. I wouldn't want you to make the purchase before you're sure it's something you want. I can bring my holsters so you can check them out.