Why I refuse to use *just* a soft-sided holster
*All the photos used in this post were taken approximately 18-24 months ago. None of these are current holsters I use or recommend (on their own).
Alright, let's get this post started by saying I *USED TO* use all of these holster options when I was new to the 2A world but I have since evolved onto different methods. I do not intend for this post to bash or attack any of the companies that produce these items, I simply want to shed light on the fact that there are safer options out there. That being said, let's kick it off...
Belly band holsters, grippy or sticky holsters, and carry wear type clothing do a really great job at making women feel like concealed carry isn't terribly far out of reach when they're starting out in the CCW world. Heck- how difficult is it to throw your firearm in a small, soft pouch, tuck it into your waistband, then walk out the door? Sounds simple enough (because it is) but what it gains in ease of use, it majorly lacks in safety. I don't know about you guys but I'm all about safety nowadays- its the entire purpose of ThinBlueLifestyle. I look back at the things I used to think were safe (IE: not carrying with a round in the chamber) and I cringe. Unfortunately, using soft sided holsters is another one of my old habits that I hate to admit I took part in.
Let's talk some negatives with these quasi holster options.
-You cannot carry a large firearm (let alone really any size gun) safely. Guns are heavy. They need better retention than just some fabric that causes slight friction or a corset type material that tries to cinch the weapon in close to your waist.
-You cannot holster your weapon one handed.
-You rarely can fit anything larger than a subcompact or "micro" style gun in these pockets. You certainly could not fit them if it had any additional equipment such as a weapon mounted light or red dot system.
-There is no retention. I'll say it again: there is NO retention. If you turn your quasi holster upside down (I'm sorry but I feel ridiculous even calling some of these items "holsters") and your weapon falls out, that's a HUGE red flag.
-The worst part of all- THE TRIGGER CAN BE PRESSED WHILE YOUR FIREARM IS IN THESE QUASI HOLSTERS. Holy liability for yourself and others.
I receive a good amount of DM's from women with children who refuse to purse carry with a solid, hard-sided kydex holster, placed in a dedicated compartment of their bag because they think it's "not safe." These same women have stated they prefer carry wear type leggings without a kydex holster for their firearm. Ladies, if this is you, I do not mean to offend you but PLEASE be better. Children are more likely to cause a negligent discharge of your firearm with the way you're carrying your gun now compared to the lesser preferred purse carry. Little fingers and toes (especially if you're still carrying your children) can easily get caught up in your waistband and squish into your trigger guard- potentially causing catastrophic events. I do not say those things to be mean, abrasive, or offend anyone- I say them because I used to agree with them and after training and experience, I know that I was wrong.
As I stated above, I used to think these methods of carrying my firearm were acceptable until I learned from women (who were further along in their 2A journey than I was) that they are not. Does that mean you cannot use them ever again? No. But it does mean that you should be tweaking the way you use them. If you are going to use carry wear style leggings, use a hard sided kydex holster with a fabriclip or Ulticlip. The clip will secure to your leggings, meaning if you need to draw your firearm you can successfully do so (without taking the holster with you). Some of these clothing brands suggest to use a "credit card or your CCW card" as a "makeshift trigger guard" and I find that beyond unsafe. A friend recently told me, "I hope that company has good insurance because they'll need it one day" and she is right. There should be no "makeshift" anything in the 2A world. These tools have the power to take life away. Give them the respect they deserve with the proper gear. The 2A world is not a place to have makeshift anything.
Also, look at how far out the gun extends from my body when using a bellyband style holster. This can all be fixed by using a kydex holster with a mod wing attachment. The mod wing will push the weapon back towards my body, aiding in printing. I would recommend a kydex holster with a mod wing for this set up BUT the pockets in the bellyband are too small to let that fit AND the material in the bellyband style holster might give me a little bit of "pushback" on the mod wing, but nothing compared to what is capable with an actual sturdy belt.
These products do an amazing job at making women feel more welcome in the 2A world and like they can still be themselves, wearing their old clothing or style of clothing. While that is great and should be applauded, these products need to recognize that new shooters and women to this industry need to have the same safety standards as individuals who have been here longer. Let's start off on the right foot, ensuring that we're using proper AND safe methods of carrying. I'm not saying you need to toss all your soft-sided gear, I'm just sayin', let's be better and more safety conscious to make sure we all stay responsible gun owners and firearm carriers.