There has been a fair bit of discussion over the years about viable carry options for women. Our clothing isn’t always conducive to a good belt and holster combination. Yoga pants, skirts, dresses, all create conceal carry challenges. While I firmly believe the belt/holster combination is the safest and wisest, I also know it isn't always possible. So today we’re going to look at the Pros and Cons of Purse Carry.
Pros of Purse Carry
In my humble opinion there are only two pros to purse carry.
The first is basic functionality. As mentioned in the opening, women’s clothing isn’t always conceal carry friendly. Dresses are the most obvious issue. Unless you plan to shock your assailant by hiking up your dress, belly bands are not a reasonable option. I personally have not tried wearing a thigh holster (they are on my “to review” list), but I hear they can be clunky and uncomfortable.
Skirts, yoga pants, and other elastic-waistband items may not be able to support the weight of a holster and gun. Though, the guys on our Discord often talk about carrying while wearing athletic shorts or swim trunks. Pocket carry is an option to consider, assuming you have pockets. There are also several brands of yoga pants being released with built in holster pockets (also on my list to review). Full-sized guns don’t always work well with these options, so a smaller firearm may be needed depending on your EDC choice.
The second pro to purse carry is it can offer a high level of concealability. As long as your purse isn’t too floppy, small, or unstructured, printing should never be an issue. I used to work at an office that didn’t allow guns. It honestly made me extremely nervous because it was exactly the kind of place prone to workplace shootings. To top it off, the building was poorly secured despite being a company that worked in the security industry.
I often carried my Glock 48 in my purse when I worked there. During the winter when clothes were bulkier, I carried on my body, but Spring and Summer clothing is less forgiving. I am not advocating that anyone break company policy when it comes to having a firearm on premises. NEVER carry somewhere that it is explicitly illegal (like the post office or many state and federal buildings). Ultimately you have to make a personal decision about the risks. To me, personally it’s easier to find a new job if I’m caught carrying than get a new life if something ever happened.
There are also a few cons to purse carry, many of them related to not having your weapon on your body. A gun in a holster, especially strong side or appendix carry, is quickly and easily accessed when you need it most. When your firearm is in your purse there is added time to getting it in your hand, ready to use. There are zippers and snaps to deal with. Your purse may be sitting on the floor or hanging nearby on a hook. All of these things take up what could be precious seconds needed in your defense.
Another issue is purses are relatively easy to steal. How often do you see a story in the news about purse snatchers? If your purse is stolen not only do you have to replace your ID, credit cards, and such but you also have to report your firearm stolen. Even if someone tries to take your purse and fails, you could end up in a dangerous wrestling match that could result in a negligent discharge or serious injury to yourself.
Who here has never, ever left their purse behind somewhere? I confess, in a rush I have left my purse in a shopping cart at Walmart, hanging on a chair at a restaurant, and even on the shelf in my lane at the gun range. Luckily, I remembered and returned for it each time before someone else noticed. The first two were before I was a gun owner. I was appendix carrying on the last, but what if my gun had been in my purse? What if someone else, especially a child, had grabbed it before I returned?
Carry it EVERYWHERE
If you decide to purse carry you have to literally take your purse with you everywhere you go. Need a bathroom break? Take your purse because your gun won’t hep you if it’s back in your desk drawer. Taking it to the bathroom is easily explained, but what about taking it to a meeting? Will someone notice you always bring your purse to the conference room for the Monday morning meetings? But again, if you leave it in your desk it isn’t going to help you if something goes South.
Finally, my biggest complaint; once again women are presented with a carry option that completely ignores safety rule #2; Never Point Your Muzzle at Anything You Don’t Intend to Destroy. Most purse holsters, especially those where you access your weapon through a side zipper, have your muzzle pointing to the side. Some are pointing more downward, but rarely straight down like a good belt and holster combination. This leaves you walking around all day with your holster pointing either at yourself or others.
Do’s and Don’t
The decision to purse carry is yours to make. It can be a viable option for those times when you just absolutely cannot carry on your body. It’s also a better option than some on body options we’ve previously reviewed (see the Flashbang Bra Holster review). We hope this review of the pros and cons of purse carry helped you out. That being said, if you choose to purse carry your gun please do so in a safe and responsible manner.
A few important things to keep in mind if you purse carry:
- Don’t leave your purse on the back of your chair in restaurants or other places. Always make sure you have control of your purse. Hold it on your lap, sit it between your feet on the floor, or invest in a purse hook and hang it directly in front of you.
- Never leave your purse unattended, especially where a child could get into it. This includes in your shopping cart, on the kitchen table at home, or even hanging on a hook by the door.
- Use a purse designed specifically for conceal carrying. There are several options out there in a wide range of aesthetics. Make sure the pocket for your gun is big enough for you to get a good grip on your weapon when drawing it.
- Look for a purse that has cross-body straps. This will make it harder for a purse snatcher to steal your purse and gun. Many brands also have wire in the straps making it harder to a thief to cut the straps and run off.
- If you can’t find an appropriate conceal carry purse there is a device you can put in your regular purse that creates a separate pocket for your firearm. Never just throw your weapon unconstrained in a purse.
- Keep your purse zipped up unless you think you may need your weapon. Many a negligent discharge has occurred because a purse fell over and a poorly contained gun fell out.
- Never put anything else in the compartment with your firearm. Gum wrappers, receipts, pens, or credit cards could all become a barrier to a smooth and safe draw. Negligent discharges can also be caused by loose items getting caught in the trigger.
- Finally, make sure you practice drawing from your purse. If you ever find yourself needing your weapon you don’t want to be fumbling with zippers, grips, or poor alignment,