Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Handbag Carry

Thanks to ace snapper Oleg Volk’s picture above, it’s easy to see why handbag/murse carry is a terrible idea. The model is perfectly positioned to shoot her leg. Or thigh. Worst case, femoral artery. In which case she’d bleed out and die as the bad guy stole her bag or did something even more horrible. All this life-threatening tsuris with a gun stashed in a handbag specifically designed for the job by Gun Toten’ Mamas. Which brings us to another issue: how DO you draw from a handbag? GTM offers not one not two but three options . . .

Because the gun compartment zipper uses two sliders and encircles three sides of the gun compartment, the purse is fully ambidextrous and provides three basic options for the draw. Option one is to set the purse up for a horizontal draw similar to other concealed carry purses. It’s slow but functional in that configuration. Option two is to set it up for a vertical draw, unzipping the compartment and coming in from the top. This is better and quite natural, especially for those already accustomed to crossdraw carry. But option three—which will be available to the public beginning in mid-June—is the best: using tuckable pull tabs similar to those on the best fanny packs, you can set this purse up for a rip-and-grab vertical draw. That makes the Raven the fastest and most convenient purse draw on the market.

Or will make it. But really, none of these options are what I’d call ideal. The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but sometimes good enough isn’t good enough. Especially when your life is on the line.

Besides, I’m thinking that most women who carry a gun in their handbag don’t use an accessory designed for that purpose. Hello? I’ve known more than a few women who’d rather die than carry a frumpy handbag. Literally.

Equally to the point, have you ever seen a woman fishing around in her bag for, well, anything? Imagine her trying to get a secure purchase on a firearm and then attempt to withdraw it as she’s being attacked.

The best bet here: shoot through the bag. That’ll learn ‘em. And yes, “a” gun is better than no gun no matter how you carry it.

Or is it? Unless the carrier in question has her hand on her gun before the deal goes down, the time spent trying to grip and remove the firearm is time she could’ve used for evasion or an alternative attack.

And then we have the whole gun losing thing. If nothing else, the paperwork required to report a stolen gun (“I left my bag for only a few seconds . . .”) is a bitch. A woman who “lost” her firearm in her handbag could lose her license to carry. Which is why a lot of women who lose their gun due to a stolen handbag don’t report it.

Be that as it may, losing your gun any which way is irresponsible; it puts a firearm into the hands of a bad guy. Or, it should be said, a child.

What’s a woman to do? Our friend faliaphotography has some suggestions on that score. If I may be so bold, my recommendation is simply this: avoid handbag carry like the proverbial plague. Do whatever it takes to keep your gun on your person. And if this post doesn’t apply to you, advise your girlfriend, wife, Significant Other or cross-dressing boyfriend to seek an alternative carrying method.

Don’t be fooled by the idea that compromise is always a good thing. Sometimes you have to stick to your guns.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

26 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Handbag Carry

  1. avatarAPBTFan says:

    What a very well done video. I think the young lady did an outstanding job that will be a benefit to a great many other ladies. Oddly enough what struck me the most were the obstacles women face due to their clothing. Maybe Hoover might have run into those troubles but I think most guys would’ve never considered that. My only nitpick would be that the IWB gun printed like hell when she wore her t-shirts, otherwise she’s got a winning formula.

    I’ll be forwarding that video to my little sister. She’s slowly warming up to guns and this may advance the cause a bit more. She lives in an iffy part of Phoenix and I’d love to know she’s strapped when she’s out cruising, windows down, in her ’53 Kaiser.

  2. avatarCharlie says:

    What is a “tsuris” exactly?

  3. avatarRalph says:

    That’s why I won’t purse-carry. I just won’t do it. Plus, it’s very hard for me to find the perfect handbag to go with my ensemble.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      Oh, me too! I settled on a thigh holster, keeping the gun between my legs where it feels more natural. It’s a cinch for me to ward of any grabbers due to much previous practice. I do worry that putting on a few pounds will make IT (Inner Thigh) carry cause uncomfortable friction, but then a few more pounds would force me to buy new jeans, so that’s not going to happen!

      • avatarRopingdown says:

        Seriously, this time: Thalia’s hiding her identity? She did her “living in a microbus” videos without hiding it awhile back. I think, though, she did a good job showing (ah, yes, showing) a wide variety of holsters for women who may be considering options. It’s a service. The problem is if hubby comes across it …and says “hey, wifey, this might be the ticket,” well, wifey’s bound to wonder why hub was watching…Thalia. Am I wrong?

    • avatarAPBTFan says:

      The only advantage to a gun in the purse is the extra weight if you get into a purse fight.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Can a Scotsman carry in his sporran?

  4. avatar2Wheels says:

    I once had a class taught by an old school retired FBI agent, he told us a story once about a female FBI agent who had her badge AND gun stolen at a bus stop.

    Guess why? They were both in her purse, the purse got snatched.

    Everyone should avoid off body carry, whether it’s a purse or backpack or whatever.

  5. avatarRAN58 says:

    My wife used handbag carry for a while, but didn’t like it. She was always paranoid about leaving it somewhere. (I even got her one of those alarm sensors that would beep if she got to far from her purse). And her pistol made the purse weigh a ton. She preferred pocket carry. But again felt that the Taurus M85 she carried was bulky and tugged at her dress. So she switched handguns, going to Ruger LCP. She prefers to wear dresses. So thankfully she makes her own clothes so she insures that her dresses have pockets that are correctly sized to to hold a pocket holster for her Ruger.

  6. avatarAaron says:

    Not too crazy about purse carry… or the woman in the photograph.
    I support her right to bear arms, but not her right to “bare arms”

  7. avatarDubya Bee says:

    “Be that as it may, losing your gun any which way is irresponsible; it puts a firearm into the hands of a bad guy.”

    I’ve been wanting to ask about this.

    If someone breaks into my house and steals a gun, am I irresponsible?

    If someone breaks into my car and steals a gun, am I irresponsible?

    Grandpa taught me that someone committing a crime to get my gun is not my problem – in other words, locking the door takes care of my burden of responsible behavior. (children being a separate issue for the purposes of my question).

    Any thoughts?

    • avatarRalph says:

      If someone breaks into my house and steals a gun, am I irresponsible? If someone breaks into my car and steals a gun, am I irresponsible?

      If you secured your gun and car, then you’re a victim. If you didn’t abide by your jurisdiction’s minimum storage requirements for firearms, you may have committed a crime. Check your statutes.

  8. avatarTexas Colt carry says:

    My wife uses the “gun toten mama” purse. She like it very well. But she has also been trained not to draw from the purse, initially. Of course, armed or not, be very aware of who and whats around you and any threat that presents itself.

    The thing is on this kind of defense training is your hand goes into the purse and grasp the gun. The purse has it own holster velcro-ed into position horizontally. Grasp, but dont draw it from the purse. If the situation requires you to fire, shoot thru the purse first. If the attacker takes the purse and you see this coming, grasp the gun and the action of the attacker while taking the purse draws the gun for you.

    She is very adept in this practice. And we have practiced this a lot, with a toy gun of course, and I wont give her an inch when taking that purse from her. She has either shot me first thru the purse or shot me when I take the purse from her. Shot me,,,,,,,,, with the toy that has a very audible CLICK! And the toy is the same size as her semi-auto.

    My brother has tried to take it from her and lost, my sister and her sister lost the same way. And the wife is a smaller person in her 50′s. But she has trained with professionals and we continue at home. She has the advantage over me with my IWB carry. My sister on the other hand, never carries a purse, she does IWB as well. My wife beats her to the draw every time.

    But she never draws vertically, always horizontal with that purse. Something that a common purse is impossible to do. I wish I could video her and post her example of her training, shes quite good at it.

  9. avatarAharon says:

    “The best bet here: shoot through the bag”.
    — Might be a bit difficult to do if the slide needs to be pulled back.\

    I’ve been looking at some of the Maxpedition shoulder bags/day packs/back packs as an alternative to a CC holster. They seem somewhat better designed for such use.

    • avatarTexas Colt carry says:

      If you have to pull the slide back in any situation, you loose anyway. She carries condition one. She carries a Bersa .380 so it has a safety thats easy to operate. The Bersa is double action as well so you dont have to pull the hammer back if you have to fire. She also has a Taurus .357 mag snub 5 shot revolver double action. The revolver is usually her truck gun thats tucked away and fast to get to not having to get to her purse.

      She very rarely goes anywhere alone anyway, but there have been a few times that she had no choice and I was to meet her at a store, for example. Once I have caught up with her in the store, I have observed her with her hand in that pocket with the gun as she goes about her thing. Not on the gun itself, but within a micro second of grasp. Once she does grab it, and as she does, flicks the safety off, she has a grip on it with finger along side the trigger guard, she is ready.

      Our kids are grown and gone and armed. So we live alone and talk, point out a potential bad situation, observe and practice. We walk our dogs in the neighborhood and practice all possibilities. Some would say we practice to the point of obsession. We believe that constant practice makes the difference between a DGU and a ND. Also between life and death, our life and the BG death if it comes to that.

      We know that being in our 50′s, we have become a larger target than that of younger people. If you train like this, it becomes second nature. And as always, be KEENLY aware of your surroundings, and where we live, you have to.

      How ever you decide to carry, and no difference between male or female, get trained, practice practice PRACTICE! Talk, observe and practice. I am only describing our preferred methods, not arguing against other methods if those work for you. But we practice ours and take very seriously the carrying of firearms. I have been around all kinds of fire arms all my life, owned my own since was 16. We have been married to each other since we were teenagers and introduced her to the firearm before we got married. To this day, a ND with either of us has not happened. Both of us can pull and shoot a 5″ group or less at 50ft. You dont want to be in her sights!

      Guys and gals, choose the method that works for you and practice, practice PRACTICE! And not only with the firearm, but with observation and situations. Eyes and ears always alert. Avoid any potential bad situation, its not worth being there. And train with a pro when you can, not IF you can, WHEN you can and soon.

      • avatarAharon says:

        Thanks for your reply. You two are really thorough. I know what you mean by becoming more of a target as we age.

    • avatarSig says:

      I have a Maxpedition Fatboy clone by UTG that I carry as my tactical diaper bag. There’s room for two sizes of diaper, wipes, extra infant pants, formula, bottle, and a Sig Sauer with extra magazine. This is my carry option for summer trips to the park, etc. Nobody looks twice at someone with such a bag when they have two small kids in tow. When I’m IWB carrying (normally), the bag will fit my water bottle, netbook, and associated gear.

  10. avatarJJ Swiontek says:

    Typo in the first line: “handbag/murse”

    No need to keep this comment after you fix the text.

  11. avatarboomenshutzen says:

    That’s my purse! I don’t know you!

  12. avatarDavid says:

    This whole discussion, and the photo which incited it, are no more than, ‘a tempest in a teapot’. I know a lot of women who carry; and I’m going to guess that better than 70% of them carry inside a handbag. My own wife carries inside her handbag; and will NOT carry on a belt. So ……. you teach her how to move and draw the gun. The other thing you can do is insist that she carry a revolver.

    We just got back from an afternoon at the range. My wife and her revolver outshot more than half the men on the line. I used to shoot IDPA with an older woman who used a revolver – Same thing there, too.

    Ain’t nothing wrong with purse carry, per se. If a woman knows how to correctly: handle, use, and shoot a pistol then there really shouldn’t be a problem. (Staged photos aside, of course!) :D

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