Friday, January 22, 2016

Beware of Sexy Holsters

Do you remember, in the not-so-distant past when gun manufacturers just painted guns pink and called them "women's" guns without any thought about the functionality of the gun? (Let's be honest, there are still a whole lot of manufacturers continuing to do this - only they offer a wider variety of colors.)

It took a few years, but there are now manufacturers who are making guns that fit a variety of hands. After years of having to "make do" with guns that didn't fit my hands, it makes me very happy to see different sized pistols being offered.

Now that we have more gun options for smaller hands and the number of female shooters joining our ranks has sky-rocketed, holster manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon. I saw several holsters for women that are not only a Bad Idea, but are dangerous. Look people, you cannot just slap together a sexy looking holster and market it to women. Wait ... apparently you can, as evidenced by the holsters we saw on the floor.

Just like with guns, women need the same functionality in their holsters as men do. A good holster should:
  1. hold the gun securely in place (no flapping, or migrating)
  2. cover the trigger (without being able to inadvertently activate the trigger)
  3. allow the carrier fast and consistent access to their gun
  4. not require constant adjusting and re-adjusting
It's really not that difficult, just four basics need to be covered. Of course, there's the ability to conceal comfortably and too many manufacturers - even holsters "made by women for women" - are focusing on the concealability and overlooking the four basics.

One of the holsters we saw was no better than using an ACE bandage to strap your gun to your body. It's got a sexy name (no, I'm not giving the name or a link to this product) and their sales pitch is great. They talk about the versatility of their holster: how you can carry anything from a pocket gun to a full-sized one and how many different places on your body you can wear their holster. If we use the four listed basics as a checklist, it fails on three of the four.
  1. Does it hold the gun securely in place? No, there is nothing to keep a pocket gun from slipping down in the pocket of the holster, or to keep a full-sized gun from flapping over with bending.
  2. Does it cover the trigger? Yes, the trigger is covered, by only by a couple of thin layers of cloth so while it's technically covered, I'm not convinced that the trigger cannot be activated
  3. Does it allow the carrier fast and consistent access to their gun? No, in fact, the manufacturer recommends wrapping the holster over the grip of the gun to get better concealment. If you cannot put your hand on the grip of your gun easily, you might as not wear one.
  4. Does it require constant adjusting and re-adjusting? Yes, which is a bad, bad thing. Have you ever worn an ACE wrap? If so, you know that it needs constant readjusting throughout the day; it shifts and slides around, or gets too tight or too loose with activities of daily living (ADLs).
Another holster was corset-style. It was dead sexy, no doubt. I've seen several different version and each time I just roll my eyes. One of the corset-style holsters places the butt of the gun right under the carrier's breast. Another corset-style holster places the gun in a better place - between the breasts - but still makes the drawstroke difficult. These types of holsters fail in one (possibly two) of our four basics.
  1. Does it hold the gun securely in place? Yes, as long as the corset is made well with good stays.
  2. Does it cover the trigger? Yes, though it's covered with just a layer of cloth.
  3. Does it allow the carrier fast and consistent access to their gun? No. The first type of corset-holster which puts the grip of the gun directly beneath the breast might look sexy as hell, but if you're using your gun to give one of the girls a little "lift", there is no room to draw it. The second type of corset-holster carries the gun in a better place, but is still difficult to access. With both types of corset-holsters, the carrier either needs to pull her shirt up over her breasts or wear shirts that allow access from the collar. 
  4. Does it require constant adjusting and re-adjusting? This depends on the quality of the corset and stays. If it is made properly, there shouldn't be any adjustment required during ADLs. After all, our ancestors settled the West wearing corsets. However, if the corset is poorly made it will slip, twist, and roll with ADLs.
Oh, the yoga pants. I almost forgot those. They're popping up all over the place. I have to tell you, I love a good yoga pant, and I don't even do yoga! However, the yoga pants with built-in holster fail on all four of the basics.
  1. Does it hold the gun securely in place? No. Beware, without a retention strap, too much bending will allow the gun to "walk" up out of the cloth pocket and fall out. 
  2. Does it cover the trigger? Yes, with just a layer of cloth.
  3. Does it allow the carrier fast and consistent access to their gun? Since the gun typically sits in a designated pocket the answer is yes and no. Yes, it might be in the pocket (you know, if it didn't fall out with ADLs); no because the it's just in a pocket and you can't guarantee consistent access.
  4. Does it require constant adjusting and re-adjusting? Yes. Think about how many times a day women adjust their yoga pants. Most women do it unconsciously, so just watch others. Now, add the weight of a gun to the pants and imagine how many times during ADLs the carrier will have to adjust.
Are there good holsters for women on the market? Absolutely! There are a couple of great holster manufacturers out there that are made by shooters who put a lot of thought into their holsters and address all of the four basics while still addressing concealability.

Concealed carriers should examine their carry gear as critically as they examine their carry guns.


Dr. LateBloomer said...

OMG, yes! Thanks for posting this. I too saw the Ace wrap contraption. I just shook my head and kept walking. I was actually muttering an acronym that starts with "Whiskey" LOL. I'm not an expert by any stretch, but I agree that there is a lot of unsafe garbage out there marketed to women just because it's "pretty". Thanks for calling a spade a spade.

GunDiva said...

Dr. LateBloomer - I saw them and made a point to stop and ask. The pitch was every bit as bad as I expected, but I wanted to hear her rationale for making and marketing them. I understand her desire to have a versatile, inexpensive holster, but I find that often those don't work for anything.