MY STERN STANCE
I started Her Concealment because when I was ready for on-body carry I couldn’t find a place to try the plethora of women’s holster options in one place. You could find purses in many local shops, but that was the very thing I was working to get away from. As a result, our holster parties and in-home personal shopping services came to life. Before launching Her Concealment, I very passively carried my Glock 19 in my purse. What position it was in, how I’d access it, and where my purse even was half the time were no where near top of mind. As my training and education progressed, so did my thoughts about purse carry. For over 2 years I’d stuck strictly to on-body carry with a negative stance on purse carry.
I was pregnant with my first child. You see, I had grown used to and even comfortable with having belts adorned with kydex stuffed in my pants, and corsets or belly bands clinging to my torso on the daily. What I wasn’t prepared for was how I’d feel about all that as my body transformed through pregnancy. The first month went pretty much the same as pre-pregnancy. For me, shortly after that is when the nausea and gastrointestinal struggles began – I wasn’t putting anything on or around my torso! Belts, corsets, belly bands and my leggings were all a no-go. For a few weeks I was still comfortable in my coveted Dene Adams® Active Bras, and even returned to my UnderTech Undercover® Concealment Tanks though not usually a go-to. By about week 16 though they were no longer a comfortable fit.
MY HESITANT RECONSIDERATION
And so, I decided I might need to reconsider purse carry. In true Her Concealment fashion I did my research. I purchased six different purses online to get a feel for the pros and cons of the different brands. I landed on Cameleon® Concealed Carry Bags. The quality, style options and thoughtful details won me over. Since about week 16 I’ve been carrying their Hephaestus Slim Crossbody. I knew I wanted a crossbody style purse because I could maintain better awareness and control of it simply due to the way it would sit on my body. I’d be able to keep it in front of me, and it was designed in a way I could access and draw my pistol at a similar rate of speed as my appendix carried IWB holsters. The time it takes to lift my garment was replaced with the time it takes to pull down a zipper on the purse.
I honestly didn’t pursue purse carry during my pregnancy with any expectations... other than maybe being reminded why I wanted to get away from it in the first place. Nonetheless, out of necessity I went into it open minded and ready to embrace it as a solution for the next 6 months.
Something was different though. Something had changed since the last time I purse carried back in 2016. It was something I’m absolutely convinced could have never changed had I not practiced on-body carry regularly and consistently for the last 2 years. SO WHAT CHANGED? IT WAS MY MINDSET!
It only took a couple times carrying in my purse to notice an unexpected pattern. Each time that purse went over my head and was put in its deliberately placed position on my body – the awareness of where my purse/pistol was, where I was, what was in my hands, who was observing me, just my surroundings in general - that awareness and mindset I’d never experienced until actively carrying a pistol on my person was all still there. The last 2 years of experience with on-body carry had set me up for what I consider to be a very successful transition into purse carry. It was a pleasant surprise, I honestly never thought about how that experience might influence this one.
I wasn’t passive about where my purse was or how I was carrying it, which were two very risky mistakes I never realized I made until I began carrying on my person. I also realized I wasn’t annoyed by the weight or the space the pistol took up in my purse, which ultimately lead to me to leaving it at home in the past. Kind of defeats the whole purpose, right? The lack of annoyance due to weight and space I contribute to two things. First, I’ve become conditioned to having a pistol as part of my every day carry; I no longer consider it annoying. Second, I’d spent the last two years experimenting with pistols to find a more reasonable concealed carry option. One with less bulk and weight. Remember I was purse carrying my Glock 19 originally. Currently my Sig Sauer P365 is still my go-to, even for purse carry.
I have to admit; I wasn’t expecting I could be swayed on this topic. However, I’ve certainly changed my stance on purse-carry, but only because my on-body carry experience influenced a very different result the second time around.
I know I won’t be able to convince everyone that you need to first on-body carry before you purse carry, however I hope sharing my experience has been enlightening.
If I can’t encourage you to practice on-body carry first, or even at all, then consider the following when choosing to purse carry:
1. FIRST GET TRAINING – Ladies, if you haven’t been trained on how to safely handle and use your pistol, don’t put it in your purse – PERIOD. Once you become competent and comfortable with your pistol, try some dry-fire practice using your carry purse. What works and what doesn’t? Consider your daily routine and do some role-playing or mock scenarios that might normally require you to leave your purse. Ask yourself – what’s another way of handling those situations?
2. YOUR PURSE IS YOUR PISTOL – In order to prevent the passiveness that can come with purse carry you really need to treat your purse as your pistol, rather than simply thinking your pistol is in your purse. We wouldn’t leave our pistols unsupervised in unknown places or draped behind our backs on a chair during dinner for others to snatch. If you wouldn’t do it with your pistol don’t do it with your purse.
3. ACTIVELY CARRY YOUR PURSE – By this I mean carry it as if you are always going to need to access your pistol. Don’t passively throw it to the back so you can bend down to reach something. Always be thoughtful and deliberate with your purse placement. I prefer a cross-body option. It allows me to carry it on my appendix, which is consistent with where I place most of my inside-the-waistband holsters. This makes accessing and drawing my pistol very efficient. When bending over the purse can remain in front of me keeping me in control of it. A cross-body style purse is also great because you can keep it on your body when you might otherwise take it off. I’ve become accustomed to leaving my purse on me while seated at a restaurant or the movies; it allows me to be more aware and in control of it. It’s easy to leave sitting in my lap, even at the dinner table, and as a result anytime I need to excuse myself my purse goes with me.
4. BE PICKY ABOUT THE DETAILS – In addition to picking the purse that allows you to carry it in the most active way possible, look for things like cut-proof straps, multiple points of entry, and dedicated pockets that protect the pistol and allow easy draw. If you have children, an option that allows for the purse to be locked while not on your person isn’t a bad idea. Also look for thick, sturdy straps. Even with smaller pistols, throwing in that extra magazine will add enough weight that thin straps may become uncomfortable.
I'm not expecting purse carry to remain something I can confidently do once I find myself toting around a newborn baby. I'm expecting I'll also become pickier about how I concealed carry on my person, or just in general for that matter. That's another chapter left unturned; one I'll certainly share with you all once I get some experience with it under my belt.
For the best concealed carry options in one place, now including purses, be sure to check out herconcealment.com and feel free to sound off on your experiences, recommendations, and thoughts on purse carry.
Author: Mindy Charron - NRA Certified Instructor, Range Safety Officer, A Girl & A Gun A-Teamer, Founder of Her Concealment, and Mommy-to-Be.
"What you can't see empowers me." -Mindy Charron