Last spring, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and attended DTI’s Off-Body
Concealed Carry Instructor course. While I have never been one to tell students to
never carry off-body, I knew there was more to it than just throwing your gun in your
purse and setting out. I learned a lot and had my eyes opened during the first class. I also became much
more comfortable with the practice of off-body carry. Recently, I had the opportunity
to sit through the course again and learned even more. With the huge increase in new
gun ownership, and a great number of those new gun owners being female, I felt it
important to share the information.
If I had to distill down everything I learned in class it is this: off-body carry is a far
more complex and advanced skill than most people believe.
Because of these complexities, please, if you are going to off-body carry, take a course from someone certified to teach it. It is a skill that not many firearms instructors have. I believe that DTI has
(currently) approximately 20 certified instructors. (I’ll provide a list in Part 4).
Having said that, like any other form of concealed carry, it takes education and practice. I’ve found ,after learning a base knowledge of the principles, that there were more facets to consider with off-body carry than with traditional on-body carry.
Here is a list of 10 things you must take into consideration prior to making the
decision to carry in a purse or other personal bag:
1. You must be aware of your bag at all times. When your bag is on your body, it
is a holster. When you remove it from your body, it is a storage device, and a
terrible one at that. If you must take your bag off and leave it somewhere, lock
it up! Having a mental lapse can have catastrophic consequences – do not leave
it at your chair in a restaurant when you run to the bathroom, don't plop it down
in the shopping cart and step away from it, don’t allow children to rummage
through it. It seems that every year we hear of children who either shoot
themselves or someone else while digging in mommy’s purse.
2. The gun compartment must only contain your gun and an extra magazine.
Nothing else. A holster is still required – the compartment does not count as a
holster. Remember that a holster must meet the following criteria:
1. It must protect the trigger and prevent it from being pressed
2. It must securely hold the firearm;
3. It must provide a secure and consistent draw.
3. The gun compartment location and access in each bag is slightly different.
When inspecting the gun compartment, make sure that there is room for both
the holstered gun and for you to obtain a master grip.
4. Take into account how the compartment is held closed. Zippers, magnets,
snaps, or the quick-release loops (designed to yank open a zipper pocket). I
found that some zippers tore up my cuticles, the magnets closures ripped up my
knuckles, and the quick-release loops often were more trouble than they were
5. Additionally, the gun compartment should have a sheet of hook and loop
(Velcro) to hold the holster in place. Make note of where the hook and loop is,
you’ll want it to be on the side closest to you to ensure a good master grip.
6. Sticky holsters are not adequate, your holster needs to be held securely in
7. Cross-body carry, with the bag hanging on your strong side, is the safest and
most effective. Cross-body, with the bag hanging on your support side is the
least safe (hello, muzzling everyone around you) and should be avoided.
8. While inspecting the bag, prior to buying it, make sure there’s a place for a
spare magazine that you can reach with your non-dominant hand.
9. Find and take a class from a qualified instructor. This is an entirely different
skill than on-body concealed carry, so make sure your instructor has taken a
good, quality instructor’s course. Safely drawing from a bag can be quite
complicated – but doable – it takes training and practice to master it, just like
learning to draw from concealment.
10. Use a blue gun or a triple-checked unloaded gun and practice, practice,
practice. Be aware of your muzzle at all times – it’s much easier to muzzle
yourself when drawing from a bag than from an on-body holster.
Shawntel is a certified firearms instructor, shooting enthusiast, and firearms blogger. She blogs on many firearms related products and classes over www.thegundivas.com. The article above cross-posted from the GunDivas.