It’s been at least 20 years since the firearm industry began sincere attempts to manufacture and market concealed-carry purses for women. I know this because 20 years ago I was an editor at a women’s 2A and outdoor lifestyle magazine, and we had a devil of a time locating enough of an attractive and accessible selection of purses to share with our readers. Aesthetically, most CCW purses back then looked like thrift-store grabs of grandma’s clutches replete with a gold-plated strap, and no sign of an outside pocket for your actual pistol. Based on my memory, only two mainstream companies—Coronado Leather and Galco Holsters (Galco Pandora Holster Handbag shown here)—produced stylish, designer-quality concealed-carry purses comparable in price to many of the Dooneys and Coach bags, among others, of that era. We predicted these high-end classics were ones that women would own for years, and we were right. Many of those purses have stood the test of time and are still being sold, so be sure to check these bags out to learn why they are destined to never go out of style.
Thankfully the industry continued the trend toward modern options more in tune with what women desire in their CCW bags. They are now made in every style (hobo, satchel, tote, crossbody, sling, backpack, even updated waist packs, and so many more), in every material and color, with prices to match every budget. Though the few original classics I respected 20 years ago will always have a place in my heart—especially since I am now regularly carrying concealed—we are in a better place than ever with the quantity of new bags from which we can choose. Like shoes, you really can’t own too many, so I’ll share with you a few new favorites—many of which are no doubt instant classics.
Rugged Rare has dozens of beautiful and interesting trendy new bags, but I am drawn toward two of its more classic but modern styles. First is the Smith & Wesson-branded Flat Tote, which offers professional styling in buttery soft brown or burgundy leather. The tote comes with top handles for grabbing, or an adjustable crossbody strap. Second is the Saddle bag (below) from Rugged Rare's Cameleon line, which can be carried over the shoulder or by hand, if needed it can be switched to a crossbody bag with a detachable strap. The Saddle features a cinnamon or blue genuine leather finish with antique gold-finish metal hardware. RuggedRare.com
GTM Original (Gun Tote’n Mamas)
One of the first companies to pay attention to style, quality and price in women’s CCW purses is GTM Original (Gun Tote’n Mamas). We were first introduced to GTM Original at SHOT Show in 2008, and have watched their incredible growth for 15 years. It’s no surprise that this women-owned company is leading the pack in the CCW space, offering high-quality products at affordable prices. Samples of what GTM Original fans can expect this year were on display at SHOT Show 2023, including its popular 17 CrossBody Mail Pouch in camo ($145.95) and snake ($154.95) patterns, which are also offered on other models. See all the specs and color options, and many more beautiful bags and purses at gtmoriginal.com.
Although its roots are as a leather luggage company, Totare offers a line of concealed-carry bags made with the same attention to detail as its travel bags. Crafted in Calcutta, India, by leather artisans, the company rests on a philosophy of giving back, with each purchase of a Totare handbag providing a week’s worth of meals for a child in need, distributed by designated organizations. Two bags that turned my head at SHOT Show 2023 were the Cinque Terre Shoulder Sling ($180) and the Como Concealed Carry Bag ($115). (Note: the Como bag, constructed from a durable canvas with distressed leather accents, appears pink in photos, but the show sample was actually a purple hue.) Check out all of this company’s leather bags at Totare.com.
Jessie James Handbags
We happily stumbled across the Jessie James booth at SHOT Show 2022 and discovered some fabulous finds—with more added this year. We've been smiling ever since. With dozens of stylish and classic handbags on the market, the Hannah crossbody continues to rank among my favorites, but I am now tempted to add the Ella Concealed Carry Crossbody (top image, $59.99) and the Peyton Sling Shoulder CCW Backpack ($59.99). So handy and so many color choices too. JessieJamesHandbags.com
Tactica Fashion makes an entire line of women's concealed-carry clothing and accessories, and it wasn’t the first to create the concept of the thigh bag, but they’ve embraced this style to make it one of their most versatile offerings. With its three adjustable straps there are at least six ways to utilize the Tactica Multi-Carry Thigh Bag. Take it with you hiking and wrap it around your hip hugging your thigh, then convert it into a backpack. Or sling it across your body as a messenger bag. One major difference from competitors is its low MSRP: $99. Check it out at tacticafashion.com
Warning: This site is dangerous ... to your bottom line! I found soooo many bags from Lady Conceal that I might purchase that I had to stop clicking. Two options I am obsessed with are the Brynn Arched Leather Cross Body ($184.95) and the Kailey Concealed Carry Leather Waist Pack ($101.95). I also discovered these same bags on Etsy in the CobblestoneShoppes.
—Ann Y. Smith, Editor in Chief