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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.

Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.
Women in Law Enforcement

Pitfalls of Off-Duty Carry for Female Cops

For women, finding a method to carry wearing casual clothes can be difficult.

February 28, 2013  |  by Patricia Teinert - Also by this author

Many women use purses for off-duty concealed carry. Photo courtesy of Patricia Teinert.
Many women use purses for off-duty concealed carry. Photo courtesy of Patricia Teinert.

It seems no matter what year you went through the police academy there is always one question that comes up over and over between female officers: "How do you carry concealed off duty?" With so many holster options (belly bands, waist, hip, back, appendix, shoulder, thigh, ankle, purse, even bras and other undergarments), you wouldn't think this question would be so difficult to answer.

Over the years my holster preference has changed depending on the weapon I was carrying at that time. There was even a time I did not carry off duty because it was extremely difficult with three small children. My hips were reserved for one or two babies at any given time. If I had a purse I could not be sure that the children wouldn't get into it or I might have to put it down and not have control over it. Even now with the children grown and only having to consider myself, I still ask if there's not a better way to carry off duty.

There are many considerations, one being your agency's policy in regard to carrying off duty. Most agencies require officers to qualify with their off-duty weapon as well as their duty weapon, and I'm OK with that. However, it is difficult to qualify with smaller-frame weapons because of distances required in qualifications.

I have talked to other female officers, looked through catalogs, gone hands-on at the store shelves, watched videos, and visited numerous Websites to find what's new out there and who recommends what.  I did not find a simple answer.

Most holsters have similar drawbacks for women. The problem is our clothing choices do not always make carrying off duty easy. Sure, blue jeans and a T-shirt are easy, but what about a dress, summer shorts, or tank tops? Our clothing is close-fitting, which makes it difficult and occasionally impractical to conceal a handgun underneath it. The bulge makes it much too obvious.

Here's my take on the options we female officers have available to us for concealed carry:

  • Concealed-carry pants, shirts, and jackets are available, although mostly for men. The women's counterparts are the same cut, style, and colors as the men's, which can hardly be called women's fashion.
  • A concealment purse is often the most convenient way, but far from ideal. Purses are thrown around, left unattended, prime targets of thieves, and ransacked by kids. Purses also require a two-handed draw—one to hold the purse steady and the other to retrieve and fire the gun.
  • Shoulder holsters are good for winter or cooler climates when jackets or coats are worn. However, they offer poor muzzle position.
  • Pocket holsters usually do not fit into a female's pocket, due to most front pockets being cut short.
  • Thigh holsters slip and are bulky on the inner thigh.
  • Ankle holsters are harder to access and when sitting down the pant leg tends to rise, exposing the weapon.
  • Bra holsters are usually for a smaller frame gun and can be difficult to access.

I carry a subcompact Glock 27 off duty and have come to the conclusion that I need multiple holsters. Like most officers, I fall back to what I am most comfortable with, my waist and boot holsters.  I am trying out and thinking of adding a belly band. They seem to be comfortable, while versatile and with a trigger guard. They also allow for front appendix carry position. Most contoured/molded waist holsters are too bulky/thick for the front appendix position. I have delayed trying them because I prefer holsters made for my specific gun with some kind of retention and trigger guard.

In closing, because we carry so many different calibers and dimensions a specific brand and product materials used are of personal preference. Here are some important reminders. No matter what you choose to carry, practice with any/all of your holsters. Comfort and easy access are extremely important because your gun is no good if you don't take it or can't get to it.

Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

Alan Mark @ 3/1/2013 7:15 PM

Great Article! When I was an FTO, I had Female Trainees ask about that.. The other thing you didnt mention is the difference in Anatomy from Women vs Men.. With Women, the hips tend to flare wider than Men.. The problem, as I saw it, was that a waist or belt holster tends to shove the weapons GRIP/ FRAME into the ribs or waist of the Woman, which creates additional presentation issues, as well as reholstering problems. Generally, for both Men & Women, the small of the back is the place that Anatomically, has a "pocket" to allow the least noticeable carry of a weapon, although this does not lend itself to good retention techniques and bending over WIL expose the weapon to view(of course, depending on the overall size of the Carrier & the size of the Weapon.. a 5' tall Officer wouldn't be able to conceal a .50 cal Desert Eagle anywhere.. Good discussion, though! Be Safe!

pup @ 3/5/2013 2:52 PM

To all of you but especially the women, think about purchasing a .380 Body Guard. It's small and slim and fits almost anywhere. I (male) bought one and I love it. It fits in my cargo shorts, levis back pocket or even jacket pocket. Take a peek at it. I showed a few women and they fell in love with it. I'm jealous..LOL. If you don't like a .380 then try the M&P Shield 9mm. It's a single stack, slim and very nice weapon. As I own the M&P Compact 9mm (double stack), I found both are great weapons. I'm offering these weapons as an idea for concealment and comfort, not as an advertisment. Be safe and God Bless....

Javier Echevarria @ 3/5/2013 3:24 PM

You might consider checking out, a line of Off-Duty clothing made for off-duty officers & designed by an active, decorated detective (Owner's name is: Joe S., who is a personal friend and overall good guy). He's been doing it for a while (both cop work & his company) and should be able to offer better solutions for those who are tired of of the same ole' products from those who are either out of touch or out of their element.

Will Hux @ 3/6/2013 7:33 AM

I have tried and used many types of holsters but have found the holsters best for concealed carry around the waist in all types of clothes from business attire to running shorts. It has a molded holster for your particular gun, uses a velcro waist band so it is firm and solid no matter what you're wearing (not with a thong, please) and it is a simple and quick to access. view their videos on YouTube.

jason @ 3/9/2013 9:57 AM

I believe that in this world we live in it is just as important for women officers to carry as males. We all play a crucial role in providing safety for ourselves and the public. Good article.

Jack Betz @ 3/10/2013 1:38 PM

I'll put in a plug for Kangaroo Carry. I just got one and I'll swear by it.
And I carry a S&W Model 28 in it.

dan @ 3/11/2013 5:56 AM

While women may have some specific gender related issues, men have the same issues when it comes to having kids around, carrying a child on the hip. These days women are cops and men are single parents to very young children.

As for clothing, these days male officers are keeping themselves in excellent physical shape and also like to wear tight fitting clothes to show off their good shape, which is the same reason a female wears tight fitting clothes.

My point here is that male officers have almost as much difficulty securing and carrying an off duty weapon as female officers do.

j cotter @ 3/22/2013 9:07 PM

you have a commet about tactipac holsters, are they ilget as no phone number or address on web site

pteinert @ 3/27/2013 5:24 PM

jcotter; I have not ordered one. However, I did check out the website and going through the ordering process it is a Google Wallet page.
On the bottom of the confirm page you have to sign into your Google account and accept the terms and conditions. "I agree to the Google Wallet Terms of Service and Privacy Policy."
It also states: "Shop confidently with Google Wallet - Get 100% protection on unauthorized purchases while shopping at stores across the web."

Bettie Muggeridge @ 9/18/2013 6:06 PM

Too obvious, too easy to steal with "grab & run strap," awkward weapon accessibility.

Skyler Dorian @ 10/3/2014 4:51 PM

Get a locking purse for purse carry. There are several brands out there. I tried to list mine that I own but it won't let me (must have tightened up the spam screen). Anyway, keeps the kids out of the purse.

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