I am not going to do any kind of review of guns or holsters since there are people who are far, far, far more experienced and knowledgeable then me, who have already done fabulous reviews on many different kinds of guns and holsters. If you are interested in viewing some of those videos go to YouTube and search LimaLife Channel, Falia Freedom Channel or just search holsters and you will probably find more info than you know what to do with.
So, no reviews from me. I am just going to share my experience as a neophyte gun owner and as a neophyte, I made a number of very critical mistakes when I first tried to conceal.
Before I bought my first gun, I did a ton of research and talked to lots of people and after doing so I ended up buying a Glock 23. I spent all of my time on the gun. What caliber it shot. How it felt in my hand. Could I shoot it? It never occurred to me to think about how I might “hide” it on my frame.
I knew I would need a holster, but I had no clue that there were so many different kinds or that being left handed would add to the fun.
Our town is not super small, but it doesn’t offer a wide variety of shopping options, so my first outing to find my holster was a bit frustrating. First store did not have any holsters. Second store, does not carry holsters, but the nice kid behind the counter did tell me about a web site where he bought his holster. The third store had quite a few holsters, but none that fit my gun or that did fit my gun, but were not for a left handed person.
I went home empty handed and deflated. I whined a bit to my husband who suggested on Saturday we head down south to the range and then on the way home stop by the mega outdoor/camping/fishing/hunting super store. With new hope I snapped out of my funk and looked forward to the weekend!
So, so excited, I walked into the monstrous store and headed straight for firearms where a very friendly gun guy offered to help me.
I can not under estimate how nice this guy was to me, but the entire helpful session took all of 2 seconds.
I explained my need…”One holster for a left handed person who carries a Glock 27.”
He grabs a holster off the shelf, hands it to me and says this is what you want. I knew nothing and he is the expert, so I bought it, no questions asked. Probably should have asked a few questions, but I was so naive, I didn’t even know there was something that needed to be asked.
A black Serpa outside the waistband holster. Again, all excited, I rush home to try it out. I put it on and holster up with my gun and a sweater as a cover garment…Ugh, no. That was not going to work. It looked like I was trying to hide a giant cat on my hip. I needed to figure something different out.
I spent the next several weeks trying on everything in my closet in hopes I could find something that would conceal what seemed like the BIGGEST gun ever made. When that didn’t work I tried buying new clothes. Clothes that were stretchy or clothes that were one size larger. I tried jackets that were longer and flared at the bottom. When I wasn’t shopping I was Googling “conceal garments for women” and while I found a lot of helpful information I didn’t find anything that told me exactly how on God’s green earth, I was going to conceal this thing from anyone who wasn’t blind. On one rather frustrating shopping trip, I nearly bought one of those 80′s jacket with shoulder pads. I probably would have too, but it was only in orange and I do not look good in orange.
Anyway, since finding clothes that would work, wasn’t working, I was convinced I could solve my problem with a different holster. Once again, I ventured out on shopping trip after shopping trip. I bought several holsters both inside and outside the wasitband and nothing would conceal this thing.
Soooooooooooooooooooo, I decided maybe a different gun was the answer.
In a desperate attempt to get me to talk about anything other than holsters and large clothing my husband drove an hour away, in a massive thunderstorm, at night to buy me a Glock 27. And, yes, that last sentence is entirely, 100% true. But, the good news was I loved the 27 and it was indeed smaller!!
Well, maybe not such good news. I am tall and thin and again no matter what I seemed to do, I could not conceal this gun either.
I had spent several weeks hunting, searching, and shopping with no luck at all and I was running out of time. I had signed up for my first gun training class and strangely enough, I was required to bring a gun that I could conceal and a holster. The class was now a week a way.
I had ordered the holster that was recommended by the cool kid from the second store, but the company is small and delivery time takes several weeks. It had only been a few weeks since I placed the order, so probably not gonna get to me in time.
My last hope was the gun show. If you read my post about the gun show, then you know I did not find a holster there. Actually, I bought 3 holsters there, but they did not work.
I, did, however, ended up buying a Ruger LCP . I had read that women did like the small size, but that it had a pretty massive recoil and was not a range gun. Too uncomfortable to shoot, but I was desperate and I needed something smaller. I took it to the range, shot it and to my surprise, I loved it. I did not find that it was difficult to shoot or uncomfortable. I shot about 150 rounds and felt great. Thought the little thing was darn accurate too. The only problem was that I could not rack the slide. I went back to the trusty internet and Googled racking the slide. Lots and lots of info on that too. All of it tell me, it was not a strength issue, but a technique issue and with practice I could master it. These fine folks severely underestimated me and my abilities. I could rack the slide on every single other gun I tried. Both my Glocks, my son’s Bersa .380 a variety of guns at the range, but not my Ruger. I was absolutely paranoid that I would not be able to rack the slide in the event I would ever need my gun. I was not carrying with one in the chamber at this time and plus even if I was, in the event that I had to reload, the slide does not lock back, so I would have to rack it when I put in a new magazine. Days a way from my training with guns that didn’t work for me and no holster, I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel.
As luck would have it, the day before I was to leave town for the training, the holster I ordered from Crossbreed came! It looked huge, but I thought what the heck, let me get out my gun and give it a shot. It was very comfortable and for the purposes of the training, I could kind of hide it under a open button down shirt, so that is what I did.
The next morning I headed off to my training with my Crossbreed holster and my Glock 27.
At the training i brought it up how I loved this gun and this was the gun I felt the most comfortable with it, but didn’t see how I could conceal it on a day to day bases. The instructor had me stand up, put my gun just behind my hip at basically 8 or 830 and put my shirt down. The whole class was like yeah you can hide that. I said, hide that, you can see it under my shirt. They said, “no, you can see something under your shirt, but no one is going to think it is a gun”.
I took them at their word and became far less conscience that I was “hiding” a gun.
Here is what I learned:
First, the clothes you already have, the ones that fit you are the ones that will probably work best. I wear my same size jeans that I always wear with shirts I always wear. Jeans, in particular, have a way of stretching to fit the holster. Even my skinny jeans.
Second, most people are not going to assume whatever is under your shirt is a gun. Especially if you generally blend into the crowd. Even though I know this to be true, I still don’t feel super comfortable carrying my gun with out some kind of cover garment, so since it is the summer months, I usually will pop on a sleeveless vest over the top of whatever I am wearing. It looks casual, is not hot, and works well with jeans or shorts or even skirts.
Third, you can probably wear a much larger gun than you think even if you are tiny…with the right holster, and maybe even more important, the right belt. I can not tell you what a difference it made when I had a belt made specifically for the size and weight of a heavier gun. You probably don’t need a “gun” belt, but certainly one that is pretty wide and sturdy. The belt was the final key for me to successfully carry and conceal. My pants no longer sagged to one side. My hip bones are no longer black and blue from the pull of the gun. I don’t constantly feel the jab of the holster on the left and the poke of the side buttons of the pants on the right. While no one will ever confuse me for someone that is hip, the sagging pants look did nothing to up my cool factor.
Fourth, knowing where you are going to carry is also key. The first few people that advised me, advised me that I should carry in the small of my back because that spot has the most room to hide something. However, the more I shot and practiced drawing from the holster, I didn’t feel comfortable with the gun all the way in the back. I didn’t like it directly on the hip either because it really is to bulky in that spot for my frame. This really impacted my holster buying because, if I carried in the small of my back, I actually needed a right hand holster. Had I known where I wanted to carry and what worked best for my body and preferences, I could have eliminated about half of the holsters I purchased.
Fifth, not every expert is an expert and not every helpful person is helpful. When you know nothing, it is pretty easy to not know when the information you are getting is less than ideal. The only cure for this is experience and that takes time, which brings me to my next point.
Sixth, take your time!!! I think because I had an incident that scared me and much of the reading I did consisted of using shock tactics, I was in a big hurry to carry. I was afraid to be without my gun and that haste cost me a lot of time and a lot of money. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you take years to figure out what works for you, but chances are you have a few weeks to figure it out.
Seventh, RELAX!! Even without the perfect gun or holster or shirt or belt, all of the time spent shopping and searching and being frustrated and making mistake after mistake helped me to learn. I learned a ton, not only about what worked for me in terms of holsters, but just generally about guns and terminology and the culture that surrounds it. Learning is sometimes painful, but it never ever is a waste.