Shooting Industry, Jan, 1997 by Lisa Parsons

Women are constantly searching for a way to carry a concealed firearm comfortably and discreetly. This can mean anything from a purse holster or fanny pack to a standard holster or tucking a handgun into a pocket. While the general consensus is the safest place to have a gun is on your body, this isn\'t always practical giving women\'s clothing styles and general desire to reduce bulk.

Not all women feel the need to carry a purse, preferring to rely on a daily organizer portfolio system. Imagine how convenient it would be for organizer fans to be able to carry their firearm in their organizer.

Papago Concealment Systems Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz., has created just such a system with their Anytimer portfolio and Anytimer Executive Organizer. These systems feature patented interchangeable foam inserts surrounded by reinforced leather, giving the gun plenty of protective padding. The foam inserts can be interchanged to conceal over 80 types of firearm styles, making this a very practical choice for women who carry different types and sizes of guns.

The Anytimer, measuring 7x9 1/2x2 inches, has room for credit cards, identification, CCW permit, a firearm and ammunition. The Executive Organizer, at 1-inch thicker, features space for a firearm and spare ammunition in one zippered compartment, and the Ultimate Organizer by Productivity Plus with a day planner, address book, notebook and \"to do\" list in a separate zippered compartment.

Fans of the 1911 will be pleased to note that an oversized version of the Anytimer measuring 8 1/4x11x2 inches is available for concealment of medium- to large-frame revolvers and semi-autos with barrel lengths up to 5 inches.

Additional convenient features include an adjustable wrist strap and a detachable shoulder strap. The biggest selling point of the Anytimers is no one will suspect they conceal a firearm. They aren\'t dead giveaways like fanny packs and there is no chance for the gun to print.

Another unique and very discreet concealment method called the Confidant comes from Greg Kramer at Kramer Handgun Leather in Tacoma, Wash. This concealment system is a three-quarter length undershirt made from breathable polyester mesh which is brushed on the inside for maximum softness next to the skin. Two surgical elastic holsters, designed to fit most popular firearms, are sewn into each side of the undershirt, making it ambidextrous. A Velcro strip keeps the gun in place.

The undershirt features generous arm holes, a scoop neck bound with soft bias tape and the bottom of the shirt has elastic sewn into the hem, keeping the undershirt snug around the rib cage. The undershirt can be tailored to fit petite frames by adding darts and the holsters can be tightened by sewing the elastic. The Velcro retention strap from the holster (on the side not being used) can be removed and a vertical seem sewn through the holster to form a magazine pouch. This is one very adaptable concealment system!

The Confidant is ideal for women who live in warm climates or who are required to wear dresses in the workplace. A slightly loose, blousey style of clothing completely conceals the gun without requiring a jacket. This system could even be worn with elastic shorts and a loose T-shirt.

The Confidant is sized extra small through extra large, and makes a very small package that won\'t take up a lot of room on your shelves. When selling the Confidant, advise your customers that a tighter fit is preferable to a loose one. If the Confidant is too loose, the butt of the gun tends to flop around. Of course, this can always be remedied by adding darts.

Kramer Handgun Leather also offers a holster designed for women called the Women\'s Belt Scabbard. Addressing the complaint that regular holsters ride too high and place the butt of the gun in a woman\'s armpit, the Women\'s Belt Scabbard drops the gun slightly, placing it in a lower, more accessible position for women.

The belt slot is lined with molded plastic formed at an angle that tilts the gun butt out slightly, preventing the gun from hitting a woman\'s rib cage. The gun is carried strong side in the \"FBI tilt.\" Kramer claims that the holster was designed exclusively for women, so much so that it does not conceal properly when worn by a man.

The Women\'s Belt Scabbard comes in a variety of attractive leathers and must be worn with a stiff belt that can support the weight of a gun. There is no retention strap on this holster, as it is molded to fit a specific gun model.

Mitch Rosen of Mitch Rosen Extraordinary Gunleather, in Dunbarton, N.H., also offers a holster specially designed for women called the Nancy Special. Rosen\'s holster was designed for his wife, Nancy, and works on the theory that a woman\'s hips push the muzzle away from the body. To solve this problem, the Nancy Special rides slightly higher than regular holsters and has a slight muzzle-forward rake. This prevents the muzzle from being pushed out and helps keep the butt of the gun away from the rib cage.

For maximum concealment and comfort, this holster should be used with S&W J-frame and K-frame revolvers with short barrels and shorter semi-autos. The Nancy Special is available in black, brown and a rich mahogany leather.

Both the Kramer and Rosen holsters are an answer to the age-old problem women face when attempting to wear a belt bolster. While these may not be items you can easily stock in your store because of their semi-custom nature, sharing their availability with your customers falls under the category of good customer service. By having custom leather catalogs available in your store, you may solve a seemingly insurmountable problem and create a very loyal customer in the process.

Women who want to carry a concealed weapon face a unique set of anatomical and design problems that can\'t always be solved with a standard holster. By having other options available, you are sending the message that you are an expert in your field and care about the needs of women. There\'s no better way to build good customer relations.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Publishers'Development Corporation
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group