Index of Articles

Purse Carry, part 1 On Body Carry
Purse Carry, part 2 Wearing a Gun with Cute Clothes?
Defensively Aware Putting Together Outfits
Accessorize to Conceal

Accessorize to Conceal
April 2013

Just ask my husband and he’ll tell you... I’m in love with jackets. Yes, there’s a closet full in the back room and I still don’t have enough. While I may always end up frustrated when I go shopping for other clothes, every single clothing store I have ever entered contains at least one jacket I want to bring home.  I’m basically a ‘jacket-junkie’, which makes fall and spring my favorite seasons of the year because I can wear a jacket almost non-stop every day! They’re cute, come in shapes that flatter everyone, and can really mix-up and complete outfits like almost nothing else can. They are the variety my wardrobe has always needed.

Accessories, on the other hand, are an entirely different story. I don’t know how to use them. Scarves, necklaces, bracelets, hats, rings ... They’re like foreign objects that don’t belong in my bubble. They look great on other people and I have a sneaking suspicion that they would look good on me too, if only I knew how to pair them up and wear them right.

Jackets may be rather obvious concealers, but you may be wondering what exactly accessorizing has to do with improving your concealing wardrobe... after all, a scarf belongs around your neck, not waist. (Hey, I did tell you that I didn’t know how to use the things!) But besides just prettying up an outfit, my accessorizing will be to intentionally direct people’s gaze away from my gun area. We all know that a small waist calls for a belt to draw attention to it and long eyelashes deserve some mascara to make them stand out. So if we know that accessories grab people’s attention, can’t we use that to our benefit and make our right hip not the center of their attention? Besides our concealing basics, can we add things that will attract people to our faces, feet, or upper body to further decrease the possibility of them guessing that we are carrying?

Quite good questions ... And I’m trying to answer them for myself! So below I’m going to show you some of the outfits I’ve come up with and give a brief run-down of why they work or how they could be improved. Of course, in all the pictures, Bruce is holstered in the right-side appendix carry position.

(Click photos for closeup

Bruce is a Bersa Thunder .380, and he's holstered in my new Mernickle (model PS2APX REF1) leather IWB holster.

This green shirt is... well, an ’OK’ concealer on it’s own. It gathers in the center and the extra material does a decent job of smothering Bruce, but it’s really not enough all by itself. So I toss on my black leather jacket (okay, it’s faux leather) to bury him a little deeper. Presto! He’s invisible. I topped it off a simple grouping of plain silver chains and some dangle earrings to pull the look together. Makes a difference, doesn’t it?

I recently found this top at a thrift store and it is quickly becoming my favorite. How a shape like that can look good on a woman I have no idea, but somehow, I like it. And on top of that, it is SUPER comfortable! And on top of THAT, it has an almost uncanny ability to hide Bruce. Even alone he is invisible, so the jacket and scarf does little more than complete the outfit and draw attention upwards. But they do those tasks well, and the complete look is both fashionable and a highly effective concealing outfit.

For a business casual look, I’m wearing some black trousers and this surprisingly helpful blue blouse. Would you believe that it’s actually sheer? It’s true, and I could not believe how well it worked anyway. I have to wear a black cami over Bruce because he is the black and metal model of the Thunder. But anyone who has an all black weapon could hide it against a black background under this sheer shirt. A black blazer and long necklace complete the look and hide my lump even better.

(photos by Jessica's sister, Jenifer

So have fun completing your basic looks and learning how to use things you’ve never used before!

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Purse Carry, Part 2
January 2013

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping that your Christmas season was a wonderful time of blessed memories and rejoicing with family. I am so looking forward to another year of learning and growing in my abilities along with my OPD family! So much transpired in 2012... I have no doubt that this year will be just as eventful.

It’s been a few months, but do you remember the article about purse carry? Well, I am excited to say that I have found not one but two wonderful concealing purses! A quick walk-through will explain why I selected them out of the piles of purses I liked.

The plaid purse on the right was the first to be welcomed into my CCF (Conceal Carry Fashion). I wanted a casual every-day type purse with some color, since my other ‘every-day’ purse was getting worn out anyway.

That red purse that got featured in the Purse Carry article was what I had in mind and, though different in color, this was the shape and size I was looking for. It has three top-opening compartments, one with a zipper and the other two with snaps. Bruce fits perfectly in the near-body compartment and is completely invisible! The only alteration needed on this purse was to punch an extra hole in the strap to raise the purse a bit. It’s been a while, but I believe this purse cost me $30 from Kohl’s.

The black purse is one I am really excited about it, perhaps because I just got it two days ago and have yet to use it. After a while of carrying the plaid one around, it suddenly dawned on me that those times when I absolutely cannot carry on my person often involve slacks or a dress and heels... and deserve a nicer, match-everything, black purse. And since I was given a purse for Christmas that didn’t have all of its carrying credentials it was easy to make a trip back to Kohl’s and use some store credit to make this purse feel cheaper than it actually was.

This one also features the three top-opening compartments, but since it’s so much bigger it is going to need some prep work to be the best it can be. Because I won’t likely have enough stuff to stuff a bag this size tight enough to hold him in place, Bruce is going to need a holster fixed into that center zipper compartment.

I have a tough canvas one that I intend to stitch into place, affixing it in an upright position where he will never move or get his trigger caught. With all that room, even the extra bulk of a holster will never be noticed. And what’s really exciting to me? Those little pouches on each end are the perfect size for extra magazines. Shoot, I could carry six extras with seven bullets each. Really, I could probably fit at least one more Bruce in that middle compartment... Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like this extra space! There goes the open-mind mentality again... I never thought I’d live to see the day that I carried a purse this big. ;)

Happy Hunting!


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Defensively Aware
December 2012

For the last two weeks, this is what I saw in the mornings as I got to work well before the sun rose. And each night as I left well after it set I saw the same... a maze of dark shadowy corners and tight confined places. Dozens of unlocked trailers, to me, seemed open not only to curious shoppers but also lying-in-wait criminals. And how quickly could a girl like me be dragged through one of those doors? To make matters worse, it was illegal for me to carry a loaded gun at any time between my car and the safety of the barns. Welcome to the State Fair Park of Oklahoma, home of the American Quarter Horse World Show.

Even before attending Tammy’s Defensive Awareness class I was bothered by this set-up. Now, having studied more and learning to be prepared at all times, I was thoroughly uncomfortable. When, a few months ago, I had to toss my Fox Labs Pepper Spray going through a security checkpoint, I knew I had to reorder it for just this occasion. No matter what else I was lugging out, my right hand had that can of spray with my finger flicking the cap.

You might think that a show this big involves a lot of people passing through this danger-zone, but the peak time is in broad daylight, like the middle of the afternoon. In the dark, I’d usually spot two or three at the most. At times I could only hear a couple talking somewhere nearby and sometimes I made it without seeing a single soul. In the middle of the state fair park, here was solitude at its finest.

I passed this woman on my way out one night. She didn’t give me a second glance and didn’t even notice the fact that I turned around and snapped a couple of pictures.

I doubt that any of you will face a maze of trailers in the dark as you head to work. You will, however, have to maneuver through dark parking lots filled with cars as you begin your Christmas shopping. You may face parking garages or stairwells. In the business, the planning, the fatigue, it’s easy to let our guards down. Let’s keep it up ladies!

Stay safe, be blessed, and Merry Christmas! 

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Purse Carry, Part 1
September 2012

So you have a special occasion coming up, one of those black-tie events that require you get out of your regular duds and don ‘fancy’ apparel. As you stand in front of your closet staring at your little black dress your hand subconsciously comes to rest on the grip of your carry gun and you know it will be impossible to hide. If some whack-job with a gun storms through those fancy glass doors and opens fire you’re doomed.

Or maybe it’s your every morning routine. You resignedly slip into the slacks and silk blouse for another day at the office, give a passing mournful glance at your gun safe, and walk off unarmed and unprotected. Only your wits will help preserve your safety today, until you get home again and can put on your favorite home security device.

It’s certainly happened to me before and I know it will happen again. So the question is this. When you’re wearing something like this...

...Where in the world is your sidearm?

While it’s not the ideal situation, purse carry is sometimes the best option we have available to us. It is nice that hiding your gun in your purse means it is totally concealed without the slightest chance of being seen, but the fact that it isn’t attached to your person brings a whole new host of concerns.

An appropriate purse for carrying has enough compartments for you to be able to devote one specifically for your gun. Ideally, that one compartment is small and tight enough to hold your gun firmly in place so you always know exactly where the grip is. It should hang in such a way that your gun comes to rest in the same position it would be if it were it snug on your belt. Really, there is a considerable amount of leeway as you try to find your niche with this little puzzle. BUT... you must follow the 4 Cardinal Rules at all times, both while your gun is concealed in your purse and in the event that you must bring it into the open.

1. All guns are loaded... always!!!

That gun you’re toting around is a fully-loaded, potentially deadly weapon, so your utmost diligence is necessary to maintain safety for everyone around it! And in purse-carry, that means you’d better be extra careful to never leave your purse unattended. NEVER. More important than keeping your driver’s license, checkbook, or keys safe and in your personal possession, is the need to keep your gun out of the hands of the guy who may misuse it. Don’t leave it sitting in the shopping cart while you peruse a busy aisle or load your groceries into your car, don’t leave it sitting by the door while you visit with your friend in the kitchen and her kids play in the living room, just don’t leave it! It’s like a child... It should never be left unattended and you should always know where it is!

2. Never point the muzzle towards anything you do not intend to kill or destroy.

This is, perhaps, the most difficult rule to follow when attempting to purse carry. It’s way too easy to swing that purse around as you position it, carry it backwards, or potentially sweep a crowd as you draw. Good habits can be hard to form, but in order to safely carry this way it’s going to take some intentional habit-making on your part.

Adjust your purse (or change purses, as the case may be) to make your gun ride in the same location you would have your holster. That means the muzzle is angled towards the ground and the grip is in a similar position. My personal preference is to have cross-body strap so the purse’s weight is not hanging off my gun side. What is not acceptable is to have your gun opposite of your gun hand... for the same reasons that a cross-draw holster position or shoulder holster are unacceptable. In a cross-draw you will inevitably have to sweep a room/crowd in order to bring your gun on target, and with a shoulder holster you are continually pointing the muzzle at the people behind you, which could include your children! And, when drawing from a shoulder holster (or a short-strapped purse hanging on your non-gun side), it would be far too easy to point that muzzle right at your own chest... which is certainly NOT something you intend to destroy!
A top-opening zipper or clasp is preferred to be able to draw in the same style as from your holster. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Your holster doesn’t draw from behind the gun and it would be an easier adjustment if your purse didn’t either. That being said, if you do have a side or rear opening compartment, with practice you can develop a safe draw where you keep the muzzle angled down, in a safe direction.  So when looking at that new purse, if it has that special compartment that fits the ideal, that’s definitely a plus to consider!

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until completely prepared to take the shot.

Obviously, when drawing from your purse you must maintain the same safety you would exhibit in a holster draw situation, keeping your finger in register until you come onto your target. But another thing to consider in purse carry is that there is the very real possibility of something other than your finger coming in contact with the trigger. Keys, lipstick, lotion bottle, etc... They’re all floating around in your purse just waiting to get tangled up on your gun! An accidental discharge is in the works if you don’t take measures to protect that trigger.

If your purse’s interior is made of sturdy enough material, having your gun in a separate compartment may be enough to protect the trigger. (Keep in mind that the compartment needs to be tight enough to hold your gun in place if nothing else is.) Make sure that all the ‘stuff’ that accumulates in your purse’s other compartments doesn’t create bulges inside your gun’s compartment! Even a slight bulge poses the danger of catching the trigger.
If there are bulges, use a fitted-to-your-gun holster that is fixed firmly to the inside of your compartment. Velcro straps can be stitched or glued into place and can be used to hold your holster still while you draw your gun. You don’t want to strap the gun itself down, since that is just one more thing you’d have to undo in the event of a threatening situation.
If there are bulges and you don’t have a way to strap down your holster, go ahead and use the holster to protect the trigger, but realize that you’re going to have an extra step in your draw sequence. When you pull your gun out of your purse, you’re going to have to use your non-gun hand to pull of the holster as well.

4. Be sure of your target and all surroundings.

Just as always, the fourth rule bears mentioning as well. In purse carry, in a defensive situation, be very sure of what you intend to shoot and make sure you know what is beyond your target as well!

Whew! That’s a lot of information to try to channel into your purse choice. I’m eager to go out and find the perfect carry-purse myself. I’m thinking something like this would suit my needs well.

Happy Hunting!

Q&A With Tammy

Q: I’m really into cute sundresses and wear them a lot, but really want to be able to carry on-body rather than in-purse. I’ve seen ads and demonstrations for thigh holsters that would be easy to conceal. Are they a good option for me?

A. The only thing that makes me cringe more than a bra holster is a thigh holster. At least with the bra holster you'll probably only shoot yourself in the boob – unpleasant, but survivable. Of course there is the potential for shooting a major artery in your arm and bleeding to death. That likelihood goes up tremendously when the barrel of your gun is in close proximity to your femoral artery as it would be if wearing it on your thigh. It's impossible to safely draw from a thigh holster, or bra holster, or shoulder holster. I address this in detail in the Q&A section after Jessica's article in the May newsletter.

But you'd probably never have the chance to draw if you're in an actual attack situation. If you're wearing a long dress as in the first photo, that's a lot of digging just to get to your gun. If you're wearing a short dress, you still have to either bend down (extremely vulnerable position) or prop a leg up to be able to reach it. These are not things you'll be able to accomplish in the seconds it will take Mr. Bad Guy to be on top of you. Tammy

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Putting Together Outfits
June 2012

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned while shopping for concealing outfits it’s this.

“Keep an open mind.”

We all are creatures of habit and understandably so. Habit means regularity, normalcy, the kind of stability we all want in life. And the way we dress is one of the most easily controlled components of our daily routine! But if I went into this whole search for the concealment factor in clothes all the while refusing to change my style then I would have gotten nowhere.

My personal preferences include well-tailored button-up blouses made of sturdy material and plain cotton tees that ride at the waistline. I like wearing camisoles or tank tops that hug my body and then layering a button-up that I can tie a little shorter than the waist. I shop for my size and nowhere else. The junior section isn’t my forte because, frankly, their stuff just doesn’t ‘look like me’ enough, even though I may like it on someone else.

You may be the same way or the exact opposite, but you likely have developed a sense for what you like and dislike. Perhaps you are lucky enough to be starting out without any preconceived ideas about what you want...I am jealous. But regardless of what you think you’re going to want, it’s time to throw it all out now. Because if your goal is to find concealment, variety, and ease of wear, you may have to do a little thinking outside the box.

I want to show you a couple of outfits I have put together with components I found at various thrift stores and, my favorite, Ross. Unless noted otherwise, I am wearing Bruce in the right side appendix position which is my regular carry spot. 

Click photos for closeup

1. Plaid top w/white jacket

When I first saw this spaghetti strap top at Goodwill I thought, “Well.. that would certainly conceal... it’s definitely poofy enough!” Accentuate with a grimace. But it went to the try-on room just because I was trying for the open mind approach as well as prioritizing concealment over the ‘cute’ factor. Much to my surprise, I actually liked it when I got it on. The concealment factors in this top are the extra material in the front (the poof) and the length. The cute factors are the gathers across the chest that keep it from looking like I’m wearing a pillowcase and it ties in the back so I can modify the fit according to my needs.
2. Blue top w/black cami

This top came from the oft-avoided juniors’ section. I jumped on the color... but hesitated at the waistband. It’s a classic example of a fad I had turned up my nose at ever since it came into existence; the whole “Big ‘N’ baggy but w/a Waistband” shirt thing. A waistband on a shirt? Tell me why? But that wide waistband has become one of my best friends. It hugs my waist (and Bruce) but gathers enough to break up his form, while the extra material above it drapes nicely to further smother him. And the black lace peeking out of the neckline? That’s my extra-long camisole that so kindly rides between my holster and skin.
3. Spaghetti strap top

Here’s yet another classically shunned piece. The long, flowy tank top. Now, admittedly, long tops will never be an ideal fashion choice for my short frame. But it’s a much better choice than going short and revealing Bruce to the world. So while I may shorten this top just a tad, keeping it longer is important for such lightweight material. And since it is lightweight and tends to flow, grabbing hips, belt buckles, and guns, the little bit of gathering at the bust is key. That is what allows there to be a break-up of pattern. Anything that breaks up the pattern of an imprint is good! In the left top, that would be the pockets. In the right top it’s the pattern printed on the material. On another top it could be an extra layer, such as a lacy shrug worn over a top that doesn’t conceal well enough by itself. This top is a great summer option and can be paired with shorts for a cute look! 

Click photos for closeup

4. White tee w/grey shrug

I’m starting to see a pattern here... every single one of these outfits have had at least one element in them that I once despised but have now come to appreciate and, at least for some, love. In this case it’s that ‘shrug’ that stormed the fashion scene not that long ago. And while this one really doesn’t do me much good, since it tends to fall open too far and gets caught behind Bruce, I wanted to use it to demonstrate what it could do for someone who carries on the hip. In these pictures I have slid Bruce around to help display a perfect option for hip-carriers. It also works beautifully for small of back.
5. Ruffled blouse w/belt buckle

Here’s the dreaded “Too-Big-Top” outfit. I almost put this back on the rack when I saw that it was tagged two sizes too big for me. But tying it in the front, like I normally do with my fitted shirts, resulted in a just-right size to hug both me and Bruce perfectly. It is now one of my favorite outfits to carry in, but a word of caution... The length of this top makes it useful only for those occasions and places where physical activity is not going to happen. It’s too easy for it to ride up and show my gun (which Tammy can testify too, since she spotted it when I walked into one of her classes!), so I only wear it when I know I can be conscious of its position. The big belt buckle helps draw attention just a little bit off of Bruce, as well as keeping me true to my country roots.

When all is said and done there’s really only one step to finding your CCF (conceal carry fashion). Grab your gun and go try stuff on.

Remember to look for ruffles, gathers, and ‘poof’. Learn strategic layering. Grab that shirt you despise and give it a whirl.

Who knows... this journey towards CCF may end with you looking cuter than ever before.

Happy hunting!

Q&A with Tammy

Q: I have been putting a lot of effort into building my perfect CCF... and then I turned on the news and saw that the Governor signed the Open Carry bill into law! Now I feel like it was all a waste... are there any good reasons to maintain concealment now that it’s ‘okay’ for my gun to be showing?

A: Absolutely! In fact, under most circumstances I will continue to carry concealed, and I will recommend this for my students.

Openly carrying a gun is not necessarily a deterrent, but it can be. For example, if a man walks into a restaurant bent on killing his soon to be ex-wife (one of the waitresses) and two out of thirty people sitting in the restaurant are openly wearing a gun, he's going to shoot them first. On the other hand, if the same man walks into the restaurant and twenty out of thirty people are openly wearing a gun, he's going to leave.

The circumstance under which I plan to openly carry is when I'm with a group of other trained individuals who are also openly carrying....I actually look forward to going out to eat with the OPD helpers when we're all openly carrying!

Ask an old timer and you're bound to hear about his or her "dress gun." This is a quite functional gun that's extra purty! In times and places where open carry was the norm, I've heard about men wearing their shiny silver cowboy revolver with the pearl handled grips in the ornate leather holster to church. That's a "dress gun." In today's terms, this will most likely be the gorgeous gun that's way too expensive to mess up by wearing it every day...for me that'll be the 1911 Wilson Combat Tactical Supergrade .45 in a Mitch Rosen 5G belt slide holster. The Wilson is my "dream gun" since it costs more than my car is currently worth!

The problem is, bad guys don't legally acquire their guns. This is why gun control is a total joke because only the law abiding citizen obeys the laws! So making laws to prohibit gun ownership (as the current leader of the USA wants to do and will accomplish if re-elected) only punishes the law abiding citizen. So where do criminals get their guns? One place is outdoor gun ranges. In November 2011, a 73 year old man was shot in the head at an outdoor range just north of Muskogee. As per usual, the article talks about how nice the 73 year old was and that family members can't imagine why anyone would shoot him....this is a mindset I attempt to correct in the Defensive Awareness class, it doesn't matter how nice you are, CRIMINALS ARE NOT NICE!! The article also says it's an unusual crime. No it's not, it happens all over the country on an ongoing basis. This is why I don't use outdoor gun ranges.

Well, now the bad guy will have another opportunity to steal guns from law abiding citizens...picture a woman walking alone through the mall, oblivious as she so often is and unaware that she's being followed, now feeling a false sense of security because she's wearing a gun openly. Bad guy will simply kill her in the parking lot and take her gun. I sincerely hope this doesn't become the next crime wave in Oklahoma when open carry takes effect. We MUST not let our guard down, nor substitute true preparation (training) with false security (wearing a gun openly)!

Therein lies the key – training. I've written OPD classes in order to advance women level by level in their skill. For example, Girls Day Out gives them the foundation of safety and technique. Between the Threat and the Bang furthers her skill by teaching her alertness, aggressive posturing & commanding, and finally drawing her gun from a holster (safely and properly!). Airsoft puts it all together with scenario drills in which she spots the potential threat and attempts to stop it with the aggressive posture & command. If the threat stops, it's all over. If not, she must draw her gun (safely), come on target, and shoot the attacker – all of this must be done as the threat escalates to an attack and with absolute safe handling (RSOs enforce safety in Airsoft class). This all happens in mere seconds, and students who have been through this class can tell you it's not as easy as it sounds in your head.

Unfortunately most people (men and women alike) get their conceal carry license and stop there. They don't prepare for an attack which may suddenly appear, giving them only seconds to get their gun safely out and on target before bad guy gets to them. Those are the people with false security who think that simply wearing a gun openly makes them safe.

And this is what we work at OPD to correct through all the training available. So those who have been through GDO and BTB and Airsoft may fare quite well carrying openly as they will be alert and aggressive, plus having a gun in plain view...that puts some actuality into the picture.

Potential (all can learn these skills) + Capacity (actually learning the skills) = Reality (you can do it!)

However, the best thing open carry does for women is it eliminates the potential of accidentally brandishing, and it solves the problem so many women have of being able to conceal yet still having a bulge which can be detected as a gun upon close examination. The bulge isn't typically obvious enough because bad guy isn't going to take that kind of time...and if bad guy is staring at you closely enough, and watching you long enough, to figure out what the bulge is, you better notice it!

So yes, keep working on your CCF, concealing a gun is still a tactical advantage.

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On Body Carry
May 2012

Most fashion experts will tell you that, in building a wardrobe from the ground up you must first find your basic components, things that can be used over and over and over again. The same is true in a Concealed Carry Fashion (CCF). But while they may be thinking of trendy handbags and a khaki trouser, that’s not our first concern at all. Before we look good we must be able to carry a gun, safely.

The first and most important item in your CCF is a holster. While OPD highly recommends the Mitch Rosen CLP, the crucial selling points of that holster are these. 1) It is made to fit your specific gun  2) It completely covers the trigger guard with a sturdy material, and  3) It has a steel reinforced opening. The fact that the CLP is made of thinner leather and sits lower on the belt than many other holsters adds to its appeal. Whatever holster you end up with, however, must hold your gun securely (any holster made-to-order specifically for your weapon will do that). There must be no possibility of something catching on the trigger (which is why flimsy elastic or canvas holsters, or otherwise good holsters that do not totally cover the trigger guard just don’t cut it) And finally, you must be able to holster your weapon without having to use your non-gun hand to hold open that holster’s mouth (hence, the steel re-enforcement). And get this... Not all holsters are created equal! While there are many cheap holsters out there, they simply don’t meet all the standards if you want to be as safe as possible while carrying. Pretty much the rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. There are, of course, cases of not getting what you paid for, but you can rest assured that you will NOT get more than you paid for! This is one of your basic components. Divide the cost by the number of times you will wear it and you will see that the cost-per-wear is miniscule!

Once you have your holster you must, of course, have something to attach it to. That’s where you get to go splurge on a new belt! Or you may not... it just depends on what kind of belt you typically wear. I happened to have a plain, thick leather belt that is sturdy enough to support the weight of Bruce. Another option I had already was my ornate western belt with the big buckle. But if your collection consists of skinny belts, or belts too wide, or belts made of flimsy material, it’s time to broaden your horizons. You may find a decent belt just about anywhere... I believe I got mine at Wal-Mart once upon a time. If, however, you want a bonafide gun belt that exceeds the qualities of the average belt, most gun stores keep them in stock. Gun belts, such as the one sold by Looper Leather and Mitch Rosen are more than just thick leather. They actually have a re-enforcing layer of Kydex between two thin layers of leather so that it doesn’t have to be super thick in order to be sturdy enough. A good gun belt will not sag under the weight of your sidearm and will be the right width to ensure a snug fit for your holster’s clip (or slide, as the case may be). The nice thing about shopping for a carry belt is that you don’t have to worry about how it looks... it’s going to be covered up anyway!

The last basic component of your CCF is actually an option, but I don’t know anyone who would voluntarily leave it out. Wearing some type of undershirt greatly increases your comfort level and prevents chaffing from the edges of the holster. Under Armor is a great option and they make it in several different options (short sleeve, long sleeve, no sleeve). Another choice could be a body-shaper type article, and even a long tee or camisole can do the trick!

Getting your basics in place is crucial before trying to jump into the whole fashion journey! It would be just my luck to discover that that cute shirt I was sure would work over Bruce is actually a little too tight after I got the right holster... and of course I already removed the tag... *Sigh* So go get your must-haves ladies! Next month will include pictures of some of my favorite concealers (and I’m not talking make-up!) as well as a few basic shape-hunting tips.

Q&A with Tammy

Q: What about other on-body carry options that are out there? Wearing a shoulder holster would mean I could wear a tight shirt and just throw a short jacket on over my gun. I could wear a BellyBand and not have to wear a chunky belt. And a thigh holster would work with a dress! Shouldn’t I have one of each to have some flexibility and always be able to carry on my person?

A: Shoulder holster, BellyBand, thigh holster, and bra holster are all extremely unsafe options for conceal carry. As I teach in all classes, anytime one or more of the Four Cardinal Rules is broken, there will be an accident. The more broken rules, the greater the risk. With all of these options you're breaking at least three of them at all times because...

1. To safely draw you must keep your finger in register at all times and not sweep any part of your own body. BellyBand points at your stomach, shoulder holster at your boob and upper arterial, thigh at your femoral, bra holster at your boob and upper arterial.  

2. The elastic of a BellyBand cannot keep the gun securely on your person like a leather belt because it’s pliable so the whole thing can move if you grab your gun in a hurry and that will make it difficult (and dangerous) to draw.  It’s extremely easy to get your finger on the trigger if the gun moves at all in the holster or the holster itself moves at all. And when you’re in a crisis you’ve got the added strength of adrenaline so you’ll end up pushing the whole elastic band down or around in trying to get the gun out. You may not even be able to draw it in a crisis. Thigh and bra holster, how exactly will you get to your gun to draw it?

3. It will be extremely difficult to get a solid grip on the gun with finger in register to draw from BellyBand, bra or thigh holster. While you can potentially do this with a shoulder holster, for you moms how do you feel about your child standing behind you as you draw your gun with it pointed directly at their face while you draw?  

4. You cannot get your support hand in a safe and appropriate position and draw from a BellyBand, thigh or bra holster, and you'll sweep various body parts as mentioned above.

5. You’ll never be able to reholster after firing because you’ll burn yourself and burn the elastic material of the BellyBand (melting the elastic onto your skin), burn your thigh and stomach trying to get it back in those holsters.

6. If you can’t reholster, what do you do with your gun if you’ve been in an attack situation and had to shoot someone?  Reholstering is necessary for several reasons which I discuss in SDA, BTB, Airsoft and other classes.

7. While the trigger guard is covered on a BellyBand, it’s covered with soft pliable material so anything that might get snagged on it could also end up pulling the trigger. Same with any of the other three holsters if covered with soft pliable material.

8. The BellyBand relies on elastic to hold the gun in place, whether in a generic holster or just stuck into the band. The other three use generic holsters as well.  Any time a holster generically, rather than specifically, holds your gun your gun is going to fall out eventually because sooner or later you’ll end up in a position (bending over, stumbling, slipping on ice, going to the bathroom) where the gun isn’t upright. When you’re relying on elastic to hold it in place, the likelihood of it falling out are extremely high. Even if there’s a velcro strap across the top that’s not enough to keep it from falling out if you get in the right position. What keeps a gun securely in place is the holster is molded around the gun.  

9. Where will the grip be when you need to draw it in a hurry?  It’s unknown when the gun isn’t held securely by a specifically made holster.

So all four of these holster options are extremely dangerous because there are too many “if” factors. When you're talking about carrying a loaded gun, "if" factors are not acceptable.

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Wearing a Gun with Cute Clothes?
April 2012

I’ve heard the question asked many times. In fact, I’ve been the one asking it in many instances and, unfortunately, I have yet to hear an exhaustive, visual answer that lays my concerns to rest. Anyone who has tried to combine safe, on-the-belt holster carry with the fashion trends of the day knows that it can be difficult. ‘Fitted’ rarely mixes with ‘bulky’ like many of us have found our guns to be, and many ‘cute’ trends just don’t go well with having a sidearm securely attached to your waistline. Therein lies the challenge.

This is me. And I’m going to tell you what I learn about fashion.

I know, I know... Yes, I see the slack in my jeans. Yeah, you’re right, that belt is awfully skinny and obviously riding too high for the pants it is attached to. And my shirt is tucked in. The goofy expression is just to add to the effect. I am glad the photographer was gracious enough to at least cut off my feet so you couldn’t see those nasty leather clog things I hadn’t yet kicked off. Can you believe that it was during this stage in my life that my handsome husband fell for me! Obviously the old saying that “love is blind” is based on nothing but truth, and perhaps someone’s personal experience, similar to mine.

In my defense, a few years have gone by since this incriminating picture was taken and my wardrobe has undergone some change. Mind you, I’m still not a fashion plate or trend-setting model, but I do at least know the slimming effect of properly fitted clothes and the style of an un-tucked shirt!

As I grew up and entered the world I took note of the people around me and suddenly realized that there was such a thing as “cute” and “stylish” that didn’t totally betray my personality, country-girl lifestyle, or tendency to take a total of 5 minutes to wake up and get ready for the day. So slowly, over the years, as quickly as my thrift-store and garage sale budget could locate better clothing, I grew in taste and sense.

Eventually, that up there turned into this down here. I like this one a little better. Of course, give another ten years and I’ll think my hair is hideous and everything else totally out of style! Why can’t fads last a little longer than they do? I don’t know, maybe like eighty years would be good, then what you grew up with you could still be wearing on your death bed. I think that since more trends have been set since the turn of the century that would mean that I still wouldn’t be wearing deerskin leggings, right? Of course, being stuck in the 40’s is an interesting prospect as well... Ahhh well, it was a nice thought!

Alas, all those years of morphing into what I am now must change again, because an important article of clothing has been added to the picture. My .380 carry-gun, aka ‘Bruce’, has joined me and I must hide him to the best of my ability. Apparently the world doesn’t want to see him or know he exists. The easiest thing to do would be to go back in time to my baggy jeans and over-sized shirt, minus the tucked-in part. But as a woman whose husband’s job has tossed her under the public’s critical eye that simply isn’t an option. I’d hate to think of all the smear ads that could arise from a photo shoot from a wardrobe of my past! You haven’t even seen the polka-dot shorts and green cowboy boots.

No, somehow, I am going to have to wear ‘Bruce’ under my cute, fitted clothes. I’m going to have to find articles that hide him and his holster well when I am in business attire and find a good purse for those formal occasions that require even fancier get-up. Daily life will see me trying to find shirts that combine concealing shape with the desire of avoiding the “trying to hide a belly” look. And besides being cute and hidden, these elusive clothes must also be easily swept out of the way in the event of having to get ‘Bruce’ out.

In talking with other gun-toting women, the obvious fact of varying body-shape has also been brought into focus for me. Of course, I will only personally discover what works for my short frame. However I hope, in consulting with others who share your personal shape, to be able to pass along their discoveries and favorite finds. Whether you are blessed with a long torso or a short, if you have monkey arms or t-rex arms like me (my sister likes to call me “Rex” from Toy Story), whether you be an ‘apple’, ‘pear’ or an ‘orange’, help is on the way.

We at OPD are looking forward conferring with one another on the topic of good clothes to hide your on-body weapon. However, in the end, you must strap on your gun belt yourself and spend hours in the fitting room of your favorite store. When it comes down to it and you’re ready to carry, you are going to have to do a little exploring on your own!

So here’s to all of us girls out there searching for those sneaky, concealing fashion articles. May our hunt be successful and fun, and may the end see us all blending in wherever we go, never once raising an eyebrow or question from curious by-standers!

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