It may be uncomfortable to discuss how our body sizes and shapes can affect the way we need to carry a concealed firearm, but there's something else that's more uncomfortable ... and that is going out unprotected because we can't find a comfortable CCW method. As women, it's common for us to blame our bodies when a garment doesn't look or feel right on them, and sometimes that erroneous attitude can slop over to our concealed-carry gear. That's why our friends at The Well Armed Woman asked 1,500 women who carry concealed handguns those tough questions, and the answers just might revolutionize your concealed-carry comfort.
The survey asked respondents to characterize themselves as either thin, average or heavy before they began answering the survey, and awkward as that can be, it's critical information. Everyone, even the women who model for the catalogs that sell CCW belts, holsters and purses, faces unique CCW challenges that start with our size but include the length of our waist, the prominence of our feminine geography and where we carry our weight. Then, the survey asked respondents to list what has been the toughest challenge to surmount ... reading those answers will no doubt make you feel a lot less alone!
Of course, knowing that you're not the only woman in America who just couldn't get that gun belt comfy no matter what she tried is only half the equation. You'll want advice from women who've been there, too. The survey is designed so you can either read the whole thing, or just go to the body type that best fits your own, and then select from the drop-down menus to get the survey results and advice for that type. Some advice seems to be nearly universal; the top carry method for all body types was an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster clipped to the waistband (versus belted). Belly band holsters were also widely popular, running a close second.
That said, there are some very specific and helpful tips under each category that bear attention. For example, one woman who listed herself as "heavy" had the following advice: "I use the belly band very high so that it is holding my pistol right under one arm and the clips under the other. The band falls right under my breasts," she noted. Another woman who characterized herself as "average" said, "Find pants that ride a little lower on the waist for IWB. You will have more room to draw and position your holster comfortably." There are sure to be some a-ha moments for armed women, new and experienced alike.
Naturally, there are also some terrific gear recommendations. We here at NRA Women are proud to offer concealed-carry gear reviews that will give you a great place to start. You should also know that The Well Armed Woman works closely with various concealed-carry gear manufacturers to produce CCW holsters, belts and purses that meet TWAW's standards. Whatever you decide, remember that it's the job of the gear to fit and protect your body, not the other way around.