A Girl & A Gun has several wonderful vendor partners that offer various options for carry on and off the body. Recently we added a few concealed carry purses to the AG & AG store from three of our vendor partners and wanted to open the discussion on how to decide if this option is right for you. When choosing to carry in a concealed carry purse, here are some questions you might ask yourself:
Am I forgetful about where I leave my belongings?
If you have a tendency to leave your stuff in the bathroom stall, a store, in a friends car, or misplace your purse at home or work you need to seriously consider the following questions to determine if you are prepared for the responsibility of off body carry. For many this is a huge personal shift and brings a higher level of awareness and responsibility into many areas of your life.
Do I have a proper holster for my gun while it is stored in the purse at all times?
This is the first thing everyone must think of when carrying concealed weather on or off body… proper holster selection. Here are 3 important traits to look for:
- Sturdy Material- Leather, Kydex or a thick padded material like Sticky Holster. Avoid nylon as it is flimsy during the draw and re-holstering, it can be great for storage to keep guns from being scratched, but not ideal for personal defense applications.
- Covers Trigger Guard- This is a must have. There is no such thing as an “accidental discharge” of a firearm, only negligent ones. At anytime your trigger is exposed it is vulnerable to having an undisciplined trigger finger or foreign object depress the trigger. In your purse there are an untold number of items that could become lodged in the trigger guard (pens, lipstick, keys)
- Full Grip Exposure- The ability to get a secure grip the first time is essential to a quick and efficient draw. If the material that is covering the trigger guard comes up to high into the frame, it may not be the right holster for you.
Am I willing to keep my purse in my immediate possession 100% of the time while in public?
This means keeping the purse on your body, not in the shopping cart. At a restaurant having it by your side and in your sight, not hanging behind you on a chair. Taking it with you everywhere and never leaving it in the care of someone else while you run to the restroom. Honestly allowing your purse to sit in the shopping cart or be unattended in these few examples is never acceptable. The risks of your wallet being stolen out of your purse is one concern, a greater concern is the entire bag taken with your gun in it.
Am I around children regularly who might have access to my purse?
If the answer is yes, this is not a deal breaker, but does reinforce the previous question of are you will to keep possession of the purse in public at all times, and then go beyond to secure it in other situations. There are options with several styles of purses that lock the concealment pouch. Keep in mind that getting to your gun while in a purse is already putting you at a disadvantage, locking the pouch all the time makes it unusable in most crisis situations. All the same rules apply for keeping the purse on your body 100% of the time while in public, this just allows you another option to secure the concealment pouch in certain situations you my find yourself in while children are present.
Am I ready to carry my purse cross-body to minimize risk of someone taking my purse?
Crossbody is a wonderful option to keep the gun in your immediate possession. It reduces the urge to set it down to free up your hands, or if it is heavy and has a tendency to slip off your shoulder. Crossbody purse carry also ensures that the purse is in a consistent position for you to build muscle memory with your draw. It is NOT recommended to position the purse at the small of your back, that opens the door to pick pockets and will prevent you from accessing your gun quickly and efficiently.
So this brings up the next question…
Am I dedicated to getting the proper training on purse carry and practice the draw techniques?
Kathy Jackson of The Cornered Cat and Training Advisor to AG & AG, is an expert on drawing from the concealed carry purse. At the very least reading her book, visiting CorneredCat.com, watching a video on the subject is strongly encouraged. The ideal situation is to take a class from a firearms instructor who is knowledgeable in purse carry and learn proper techniques. Every year at our National Conference this topic is usually one of the first sessions to fill up!
The fluid draw is just one important component of purse carry, you must also step up your situational awareness 200%. Purse carry already puts us at disadvantage of speed deploying the gun in a crisis. If you can see danger coming you can get your hand on your gun faster.
Side Note: If you really fall in love with a shoulder purse, there are various techniques on how to hold your bag in a more secure fashion, as well as deter those pesky purse thieves all the while keeping your purse in position for drawing your pistol.
I feel good about making these commitments. What features do I look for in a purse?
- Dedicated compartment for the gun- Nothing else gets to “live” in that compartment. The last thing you need to be thinking about when drawing your gun is “where is it” and “what the heck did I just grab… my lipstick?”
- Compartments that allow room for a holster OR are specifically designed with a sturdy padding in the lining to prevent objects from lodging in the trigger- If you have a gun that when holstered doesn’t easily fit the concealed carry purse, you need to consider getting a different purse that fits better… or get a different gun. Having a holster that is attached by velcro inside the compartment is a common feature but not a requirement.
- Wide compartment opening- your hand and the gun should easily exit the compartment without getting hung up.
- Access from the outside of the purse. Ambidextrous access from the outside of the purse to the compartment is ideal which allows you to change which shoulder you use, and different methods of drawing. If the design/style of your chosen purse has a dedicated right or left hand dominance, make sure you choose the direction your compartment is accessible is compatible with the shoulder you prefer to carry your purse on.
If you are considering a DIY purse, meaning you are going to convert a purse you already own, it is extremely important to consider what barriers that will create for safe storage and efficient access to your gun.