By Holly Sullivan
T’was the night before Christmas Eve and I found myself rushing at the local dollar store picking up last minute gift bags and stocking stuffers. I distractedly wandered down an aisle with my phone in hand checking my list. Suddenly, I felt a tingle on the back of my neck and the sudden rush of adrenaline flooding my system. My body was telling my half-conscious brain to pay attention and that something wasn’t right. Without obviously turning, I took about a half dozen steps and stopped. Another set of footsteps followed mine and stopped as well. I repeated the exercise twice without turning around. So did he. When I reached the end of the aisle, I stopped, glanced up to the front corner of the store and loudly called out “Excuse me, where can I find scotch tape?” There were no store employees in sight but it didn’t matter. I had created enough of a commotion to disturb his confidence and he turned the other way. I checked out at the register and made conversation with another shopper as we exited at the same time. I was keenly aware of his presence but regretted my big mistake- I had gotten lazy. I left my firearm at home.
On my drive home, I thought about all the precautions I have taken through the years to be responsible for my own safety. Training classes, gear, alarm system, cameras (oh so many cameras!) Heck, even becoming a firearms instructor to instill that responsibility into others. So why on earth did I not have my firearm on me?
I don’t mean that it pinches or even leaves a mark. It’s just inconveniently less comfortable than going without. You know what’s a lot more uncomfortable? Recovering from an assault. I needed that wake up call to put things back in perspective.
So, I started talking my friends who carry. Was I the only one who had a lazy streak? Unanimously, every single one of the men I asked put their firearm on daily no differently than they would their underwear (boxers, briefs… boxer-briefs? My single girl mind wanders). But, the women I asked said “usually, often, sometimes, when I can.” What’s different for us?
Our shapes. Our clothes. Our responsibilities.
I’m a curvy girl. An IWB holster worn in the rear doesn’t follow the curve of my shape. It juts out where my body bends in. For me, I’ve found that appendix carry in a corset fits my shape best. But it’s not for everyone. Our clothes are tight and form fitted. Our children and children’s friends have questions when we print. PTO moms have questions when we print.
As an instructor and a fairly common face around the gun stores and ranges in my community, I am regularly asked which is the best holster for women. Is it CanCan Concealment? Dene Adams? Hiding Hilda? Lethal Lace? Flashbang? The answer is not simple… It’s the holster that fits your shape. It’s the holster that feels well-made and reliable. It’s the holster that doesn’t pinch or rub. It’s the holster that hides the shadow of your firearm. It’s the holster that doesn’t slip or ride down throughout your busy day at work, at the grocery store, as your swing your little one at the park. It’s the holster that still makes you feel pretty.
The most interesting conversation I had was with another single mom like myself who had recently broken her go-to designed-just-for-women holster. She planned to replace it although she admitted it pinched her. I told her about my all-time favorite holster for the position she preferred to carry in- clipped alongside her bra under her arm. I carried my Seecamp this way for years and still do on occasion in a tight dress. My favorite holster for this position? None of the well-known women’s brands… it’s my dad’s old no-name suede generic holster softened with years of use and one simple clip. It made me realize that in recent years we have become blessed to have so many options for women, we sometimes overlook old faithful methods that weren’t necessarily branded for women’s carry.
Thinking back to the night at the dollar store, the man who followed me was probably just an opportunist looking to snatch my wallet while I was too busy worrying about my Christmas list. It probably would not have gotten physical. Thank the good Lord, I’ll never know. The problem is that we never know anyone’s true intentions nor when a simple errand will go awry. We cannot allow ourselves to get lazy because it’s uncomfortable… so we need to find the solutions that work. Solutions that fit our curves, that are reliable, that make us feel pretty- that fit our lives. That solution may be new designs just for today’s modern woman or that solution may be an old well-crafted bit of leather buried at the back of dad’s old workbench. I’m on a mission to try them all. Along with matching shoes.