As a newish concealed-carry holder, I’m doing my best to practice what I have been preaching on this site. One of the golden rules to which I thought I would strictly adhere is to always carry on-body, since it is the surest way to keep my firearm with me at all times, especially in the event of the worst-case scenario. In my mind that would mean having to defend myself or a loved one, and on-body carry would ensure a quicker draw than other methods.
In theory, on-body carry is ideal. The reality, however, as I recently discovered, is that there might be a rare situation when on-body carry is not the most practical method. Sometimes an unexpected occasion arises that forces one into a secondary choice of off-body carry. That could mean a purse specifically designed for concealed carry, a modern waistpack or something like a Ukoala Bag (which I’m still kind of obsessed with, since my alter ego includes a Harley).
I recently experienced the need to turn to a different form of carry when I was traveling out of state and decided on-body carry wouldn’t work well for a certain situation on which I was about to embark. Nor did my Ukoala bag, designed to be worn on the thigh outside pants, make sense. Admittedly I felt a bit defeated when I conceded to a CCW purse (especially since I didn’t even own one, let alone have one with me). I had a holster, but didn’t like the idea of it flopping around in my current everyday purse, making close contact with the variety of pens, lip balms, coins, makeup, wallet, unknown debris … you get the idea.
Fortunately I was traveling by car in a southern state that was home to a Buc-ees gas station (famous for the world's cleanest restrooms). And if you've been to a Buc-ees, you know it’s sooo much more than a place to fuel your car. Once inside there is almost nothing you don’t feel compelled to buy (whether you need it is another story). They literally have everything: clothing, cowskin rugs, candles, barbecue sandwiches—and oh, a small collection of CCW purses that fall into the “that’ll do” category. Not my first choice in design styles, but in a pinch, I was glad for the opportunity to be able to pull off the highway, gas up and run in for a bathroom break and a leather CCW purse. God Bless America! The small cross-body bag worked great for my event, and I felt completely comfortable carrying my firearm. And I will use it again.
But probably like many of you who are far more advanced in your CCW experience, I realized that there is a long period of trial-and-error in this business of concealed carry. I walked away from my recent trip being less judgmental about how one carries, and realize that each woman will have her own reasons for carrying the way she chooses. After all, there are so many CCW purses on the market—an indication that a lot of women are buying and using them.
In my constant research on the topic, I came across a wonderful video from the some of the team at Girls With Guns Clothing—Jen O’Hara, Norissa Harman and Kristy Titus (Pursue the Wild)—in which they are having a casual conversation I could be having with some of my female concealed-carry compatriots.
Watch the video as the three of them discuss in a welcoming manner off-body carry, including the reasons why some women opt for this method, even if for isolated situations. They also demonstrate some of their own GWG carry bag options (and I think I’ve found my next purchase). For me, I am grateful they have confirmed what I have been suspecting about my future in concealed carry, and that is that I will no doubt be in the market for a variety of purses, packs, holsters—and firearms—so I may decide which works best for each situation on which I am embarking. And, of course, through dry-fire practice, I will ensure that I am proficient in drawing from each method. In order for me to be ready for every scenario, no option is off the table.
—Ann Y. Smith, Editor in Chief