Originally published on Women Outdoor News by Michelle Cerino
Recently I wrote an article about why off body purse carry is OK. Continuing on that subject, I reached out to Claudia Chisholm, president and co-owner of Gun Tote’n Mamas, to find out what you should look for when choosing a concealed carry (CCW) handbag.
Quality leather and fabric
At Gun Tote’n Mamas they use top and full grain leather because it lasts longer and will stand up to abuse. Plus, it has a beautiful patina that appears in time. For the fabric purses, they use luggage-quality, with a fused backing, for added strength and to prevent fraying. The only way to make a purse last and not show wear and tear is by starting with quality materials.
Strong shoulder straps
Look for shoulder straps that are strong enough to carry the weight of the purse when it contains your firearm, an extra magazine and all your other stuff … it all adds up. Gun Tote’n Mamas’ shoulder straps are reinforced with wire for strength and to prevent someone from easily cutting a strap with a knife. Also, if the purse you like has short, attached handles, make sure it also has a long shoulder strap that you can use, attached with D-rings. You want to carry cross-body when the need arises.
Specific compartment for firearm
Keys, pens and other small objects may get caught in a trigger guard if your gun is in the mix. It’s dangerous and this should never be the way you carry. Also, if a gun is in the bag with other stuff, if might cause an unintentional discharge or render it inoperable. Also, check the size of the holster area and make sure it’s sized for the handgun you want to carry, and a holster area should come with extra padding to prevent printing. Putting a large handgun in a purse made to carry a smaller size may cause printing or even make the pistol difficult to draw.
Check for nylon coil zippers on the gun compartment. Metal ones may not open if 1 tooth is missing, which could be detrimental. Also, stage your zippers for an easier draw. You an even rip open the gun compartment with your thumb without having to use the zipper tabs if set up correctly.
Bilateral options for lefties
Consider which shoulder you carry your purse on, then determine how you draw your gun. Find a purse that allows you to draw in a natural way.
I think Claudia said it best at the end of our conversation, “We purchase a quality gun, knowing our lives may depend on it. We should also purchase a quality CCW handbag. Don’t save money on your life … spend what your life’s worth!”