A Few of My Favorite Firearm Things (and More) from 2023

These items may have been introduced throughout the year, but for me they have extraordinary longevity.

by posted on December 18, 2023
Favorite Things 2023 Lede (1)

Ditale Outdoors Adventure Pants
My first hunting pants in 2003 were plucked from the sale rack at a now defunct sporting goods store that sold only men’s hunting clothes. I don’t know the brand, only that they were a men’s size medium in a Realtree pattern and they were about six inches too long. I found a button-down shirt on another sale rack that kind of matched. I added the ensemble to my pair of boots, a camo hat, some generic wool socks and gloves and voila, I was set for my first Texas deer. Fast forward 20 years, after numerous heroic—but often unsuccessful—attempts by many companies to get it right, we have an undisputed winner by new women’s outdoor clothing maker Ditale Outdoors. It seems the secret to success follows the shoe-last model: lots of skews in sizes for everyone. Debuting at the 2023 SHOT Show, the Ditale Adventure pants are offered in 18 sizes from XXS to 3XL, each with a “curvy” option. And in two color ways: Juniper Green and TrueTimber Strata (my choice), which doubles your options to 36. That these were designed by women who hunt is obvious. My pair arrived in mid-summer, in plenty of time to prepare for cold-weather hunting. Three words: Worth the wait! These pants fit perfectly without sucking in the stomach or otherwise struggling to button, cinch or manipulate. They are waterproof, quiet, feature a stretchy adjustable waistband, and offer loads of thoughtful features that women need when in the field and woods. Plentiful pockets, snap-adjustable hems, and tactical belt loops make these pants versatile enough for more than just hunting. I could go on, but check out NRA Women contributor Samantha Mann’s complete review of the pants and more. To get a pair in your own perfect size, visit DitaleOutdoors.com.

Garmont Tactical T 8 Athena Boots for Women
Garmont Tactical
company has been making great strides (pun intended) in men’s boots, so when they introduced the T 8 Athena boots, it was an easy choice to try. I put them through the usual fast paces at a Gunsite event, numerous other range outings and, in September, on a dove hunt on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. So while these boots are, per the company name, tactical boots and not hunting boots, they comfortably accommodated all of the dry-weather events in which I have partaken. Women-specific footwear for both hunting and range work has been slow to market. Years ago, a marketing rep for one brand of well-known boots explained why that was: Simply put, it was just too expensive for companies to create the individual lasts (shoe molds) in all the sizes and widths for what was, at the time, a small women’s market. Well, 20 years later and times have changed, with women being the fastest-growing demographic in all the outdoor pursuits, whether hunting, shooting, camping and more. If you are looking for a great pair of all-around boots, these fabulously accommodate a woman’s foot, with a slightly raised heel to support a woman’s shorter Achilles tendon. They also feature what Garmont calls its Traction Formula outsole for climbing, and braking zones for enhanced stability. Remember, they are non-waterproof, made with a suede leather upper and polyester fabric. So while not for cold-weather hunting, they will serve you well for just about any other purpose—even if to just look great with a pair of jeans! Available in sizes 5-10.5. GarmontTactical.com

Waist Packs
As I reported earlier in the year, the pack is back! Once affectionately called the fanny pack and having fallen out of fashion favor, we finally admit that we can’t live without the practicality of carrying a firearm and other necessary items around our waists. And the number of companies that have added them to their catalogs is exponential. From the Gun Tote’n Mamas Concealed Carry Waist Sling, the Galco FasTrax Pac or Falco Holster’s Drop Leg Bag, the choices are better than ever. It seems every time I open up my e-mails, there is an announcement for a new waist-pack, like the Cougar Canvas Conceal Carry Waist-and-Leg Bag from Jessie James Handbags. Check out our faves here.

Headrest Safe
Unfortunately, there are occasions and places where it’s simply prohibited to carry a concealed firearm, and you might not know it until you arrive. While there are numerous products on the market today that will lock away your firearm in your vehicle, some that tuck in between seats and some that you stow under your seat, some that attach under the dashboard, none are quite as innovative as the one we discovered on the show floor at the 2023 NRA Show. This product from The Headrest Safe Company offers an incredibly discreet vehicle storage system that is defined in the company name—a safe built into a car's headrest. Yes, it's an aftermarket universal headrest that uses a two-post headrest (which is most of the cars on the market). Contents are quickly accessed via a biometric lock reader and keypad. And while gun owners naturally default to the safe as an unlikely place to stash a firearm (it will securely hold a full-size 1911 pistol), think cash, medications and other items you need to keep out of sight of would-be intruders, or the hands of kids or valets when you park your car. This is an incredibly innovative product, and NRA Women love it! Check it out in use it hereTheHeadrestSafe.com

HOIST
NRA Women tested HOIST—an official hydration beverage of the U.S. military—during out 5th Annual Ladies Pistol Project, in which we fired more than 5,000 rounds of ammo. Have you ever had to hold your firearm in a low-ready position for an extended period? Our lady shooters did! Lots of shooting—and lots of holding—means lactic acid buildup. Hydration helps to mediate that, and with a product like HOIST, hydration occurs faster. Even in cooler weather, HOIST is a go-to drink for replenishing your electrolytes faster than most other popular electrolyte-replacement beverages. It’s December as I write this, and I have kept a supply of HOIST on hand for the holidays, which bring with them their own level of activity that results in dehydration. The hustle and bustle of working, shopping, holiday baking and cooking, parties where there might be eggnog a little heavy on the nog—it all takes a toll on our bodies. I have turned to HOIST for big swigs on several occasions already (my favorite flavor so far is blue raspberry), and I can literally feel my hydration level returning to normal within minutes. Have this drink on hand for your next range event or for replenishment after electrolyte-depleting everyday activities. DrinkHOIST.com.

Make Mine a 380!
Call this the year that I fell in love with the .380! And apparently I wasn’t the only one. We at NRA Women could tell it was going to be a banner year for the often underappreciated caliber for carry gun by the quantity of new pistols introduced in 2023. As such, in addition to the 10 9mm pistols we asked our ladies to shoot in the 5th Annual Ladies Pistol Project in October, we decided to include nine .380-cal. models. In late 2022 and at SHOT Show/NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits 2023, more new and noteworthy .380s appeared on the scene. We published a few worthy of a look, along with a handful of some of our favorite existing models that have earned their status as go-to carry guns. New models like the innovative Girsan MC 14 T tip-up model appeared on the scene, offering shooters who have difficulty racking a slide the option of no slide! Other manufacturers like Ruger gave us the new Security-380 LiteRack, proving that our major manufacturers continue to pay attention to the fast-growing market of women handgunners. Check out our entire list of favorite .380s here.

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