Carrying in style: Sumter's well-armed women and their concealed-carry purses

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 2/27/19

So, you’ve got your handgun and your concealed weapon permit. The next step, if you’re a woman who likes to accessorize with a purse, is to find the right handbag to keep your firearm at …

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Carrying in style: Sumter's well-armed women and their concealed-carry purses

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So, you’ve got your handgun and your concealed weapon permit. The next step, if you’re a woman who likes to accessorize with a purse, is to find the right handbag to keep your firearm at your side.

Throwing your pistol in a normal handbag is going to cause a number of problems, according to Debbie Brown, leader of The Well-Armed Woman Shooting Sumter Chapter. The least of which is damaging your purse, she said, and the worst is making the gun difficult to access when you need it.

TWAW is an organization that helps women develop the skills to use firearms for self-defense and sport.

PICKING THE RIGHT PURSE

“If you’ve made the conscientious decision to carry a firearm off your body,” Brown said, “you’ll want the best bag you can afford.”

With a range of sizes and materials, concealed-carry purses can range from $75 to $300.

Consider how you wear your purse — over the shoulder or across the body — and how you will be drawing out your firearm, Brown said. Look at how the concealed-carry compartment zips, and pay attention to how many zippers the compartment has and whether those zippers have locks, she said.

Finally, she said, you want to consider the strap of the purse. The last scenario you want is for your purse to be snatched with your firearm inside, she said.

A holster will be included in the bag attached inside with Velcro, Brown said, but a sticky holster, which sticks to many fabrics, is easier to remove and insert into another purse. Each bag will also have information stating the caliber that it can carry, she said.

For herself, Brown prefers to carry a purse with a side compartment because there is a lesser chance of her accidentally pulling the trigger while getting something out. With quite the bag collection, Brown recommends the brand Gun Tote'n Mamas.

“I love the quality of their bags,” she said.

Brown said this brand can be purchased at many places, but www.thewellarmedwoman.com and www.gtmoriginal.com are her favorite sites to order Gun Tote'n Mamas purses.

Simpson Hardware and Sports on Wesmark Boulevard in Sumter also carries concealed-carry purses, she said.

HOW SECURE IS IT?

You always have to unzip something to get to the firearm, Brown said. Bags with locks on the zippers can be secured when you’re at home when there are children around, and many concealed-carry purses come with reinforced straps with a cord that runs down the center to prevent the strap from being cut.

ALWAYS PRACTICE WITH AN EMPTY GUN

Choosing the right bag isn’t the end all be all. You can be separated from your purse, Brown said, so you should always keep a hand on your purse.

After buying your purse, be sure to practice your draw regularly at home and make sure you are comfortable with the bag on your body.

“Anytime you get a new purse, you should practice with it,” she said.

Always practice with an unloaded gun, she said, otherwise, you might shoot your TV.

“I like to carry on my weak side,” Brown said. That way, she can grab the firearm with her dominant hand.

You should pull the bag across the front of your body when removing the firearm in an emergency so you pull out the gun and point it straight ahead instead of sweeping the gun across your body and possibly pointing it at someone other than the bad guy, she said. This will also prevent the bad guy from seeing what you’re grabbing.

If an assailant gets close to you before you can remove your handgun, Brown said, you can shoot through the bag or let the attacker take the purse. You may not want to give the person your firearm, but you don’t want to cause more confrontation.

“You can replace your purse, but you can’t replace your body,” she said.

While your handgun may be your most powerful method of protection, Brown said it would also be helpful to carry other defense items such as pepper spray, a panic button, a stun gun, a Kubaton — a close-range striking weapon — or a knife.

OTHER OPTIONS

Since she started carrying a concealed-carry purse, Brown said she has not had to change her daily routine other than to practice safety.

“My gun is part of me,” she said. “It’s just an extension of my body whether in my purse or on my body.”

But, if purses are not your thing, don’t worry.

The options are seemingly endless for concealed-carry with handcrafted leather holsters, Kydex — a plastic element — holsters, belly bands, bra holsters, corsets, in-the-waistband holsters, outside-the-waistband holsters, thigh holsters, under-the-arm holsters, ankle holsters, sticky holsters that can attach to other fabrics and materials and concealed clothing such at jackets and shirts.

TIPS FOR CARRYING

Always keep a hand on your purse, and always keep the bag on your body when outside.

Position the bag correctly on your body.

Do not carry your firearm into restricted areas.

Know the gun laws because they are always changing.

Keep your purse locked or secured when it is not on your body.

THE WELL-ARMED WOMAN

With more than 300 chapters across the United States, TWAW is an organization focused on introducing women to the world of firearms by educating, equipping and empowering female shooters. TWAW is about women helping women discover passion, develop skills and build new relationships within their communities.