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By Kippi Leatham

To quote Robert Heinlein: “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life”. In my lifetime, I have always tried to carry myself well and when CCW permits became available in my state of residence, I also began carrying myself well-armed. I firmly believe that a community where citizens are armed and legally able to carry a firearm is a safer place to live.

I feel fortunate to live in Arizona, a state that allows open carry and in more recent history, concealed carry; even though my family and I weren’t firearm owners for the first two decades of our life here. Although I did not grow up around guns, I did not have a fear or dislike of them. I respected the second amendment and those who legally owned guns; law enforcement agents, hunters, everyday citizens, sporting men and women.

Once finally introduced to firearms, though, I was immediately hooked – grip, sights & trigger. I began competing in the action shooting sports in 1986, and had guns for home protection soon after.

I’ve had my CCW permit for many years now and with few legal exceptions, absolutely exercised my right to carry concealed.

Choosing to carry for self protection is a very personal decision and one which certainly should not to be taken lightly. There are many factors to consider and scenarios to contemplate. As women, we have other constraints to work within as well.

It’s difficult to always carry on body. Small frames, narrow waistlines and snug-fitting clothing aren’t conducive to the concealment of even the most compact of pistols.

For these reasons, many women opt to carry in a purse, even though it’s not the optimal solution.


When out and about, my purse never leaves my body, never leaves my grasp.

I always try to buy purses that have a strap long enough to carry across my body. When sitting at a restaurant or other location, my purse is in my lap, wrapped at my feet or strapped across a chair in a secure manner. I cannot ever let my guard down regarding the location of my purse, ever.

The pistol I carry in my purse is not the same pistol as I carry on body (when I can) and is definitely not the same as the firearms that we have in our home for self protection. Nor the same gun I take hiking, and not at all similar to the guns that I compete with.

Different guns for different purposes

With that said and without going into another blog topic, for my purse gun, I have chosen the Springfield Armory® XD(M)® 3.8 in .45 caliber. It is the best concealed carry gun for my liking in my purse.


Why I choose the XD(M)® 3.8″ for purse carry:

  • The grip and trigger safeties on the XD(M)® pistols are a must-have for me. I am confident if I use a purse without a built-in holster or separate compartment, the XD(M)® 3.8 can be securely and safely carried.
  • The compact frame and overall length of the 3.8 fits easily in all of my day to day purses even when carried in a holster.
  • The combination of the largest of the 3 interchangeable back straps and the 13 round X-Tension™ magazine fits my large, un-ladylike hands perfectly! If your hands are more petite than mine, the small or medium back strap and standard magazine will most likely fit your grip to the Goldilocks’ standard; just right.
  • .45 ACP is my top-pick caliber for protection.

I shoot my carry XD(M)® 3.8 on a regular basis and love the feel of the .45 since I usually compete with 9 mm.

When I’m done practicing, I stow my 3.8 back in my purse, hoping that I don’t have to grab it again until my next scheduled session at the range.

Better to have and not need than to need and not have.

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  1. I hope you will seriously reconsider ever carrying any gun – open or concealed – without a good holster that covers the trigger. An exposed trigger, especially in a purse without a separate compartment, is a negligent discharge waiting to happen. However unlikely that you would experience a problem with this gun that way, it can happen. If you establish your grip, and something caught in the trigger pulls it when you draw… instant trouble, and maybe lethal.

    I carried the XD compact .45 for many years, and now carry the XD compact 9mm, so I know how they function and prefer them to any other gun I own.

  2. I’m not sure why an intro (complete with cliché quote!) and 600 words was needed for this article when one sentence would have done the job: “It’s difficult to always carry on body.”

    Or even shorter: “It’s haaarrrrrd!” :-(…

    • You know why we have such a problem growing the POTG ranks? Because we have the same issues the “party of tolerance” does. We tolerate everyone. As long as they share our viewpoint to the letter. Seriously, there is no room for dissent or differing opinions with some of you people.

      • Sure. Anyone can violate the rules of safe gun handling. Unfortunately, it isn’t just themselves they put in danger. But I guess that’s ok… diversity, you know.

        • It wasn’t that your point isn’t valid, you just came off as a holier than thou, pretentious, condescending know-it-all.

          I applaud every law-abiding citizen for taking on the responsibility of gun ownership. That said, I hope Kippi is open-minded enough to consider a better holster or compartment.

        • I did? That was not my intention. I thought my comment was respectful, yet cautionary, offering a better option. Why would we bother to read and comment here if we can’t express ourselves and hopefully influence others?

      • Unsafe gun handling is one thing but an article that can’t stop wandering around and away from the point is unforgivable!

        • Hannibal, you should know the article was not meant for da boys. And keeping in mind ladies speak about 20k more words than men EVERY day, the “wandering” is standard deviation, and as much as it crushes our brains plowing through it, (the price we pay for their birthing abilities) they get a pass.

          As for Kippi (lovely name) tell your man you still got it. 🙂

  3. This time the comment area is just for us ladies….

    Trigger guard and Velcro on inside of bag positioned for easy access in dedicated weapon only access area.
    Also my carry bag strap has a hidden cable to help against getting it cut. Very important feature not in regular bags.
    Prefer Conceal Carrie products.

  4. One thing I will never, ever do is purse carry. I just won’t do it. Even if it’s made by Hermès and matches my outfit.

  5. Maybe a pocket-type holster that covers the trigger could be used? It wouldn’t necessarily stick inside the purse the way it sticks inside a pocket, but it could be easily shucked off if it comes out with the gun. Just a thought.

    • Most women I know wear pants that are not fit for any kind of concealed carry. The pockets are too small and form fitting pants do not allow for IWB holsters. On top of that, many women are not built for the Flashbang bra holster. Purse carry is often the best choice.

      • Rambeast,

        You do realize that Another Robert wrote, “It wouldn’t necessarily stick inside the purse …”.

        Sounds like you need another dose of caffeine.

  6. I hear the extra diligence required to purse or backpack carry but with out question, it adds additional risk to the carry equation. I don’t think there is any real easy answer here especially with the purse / child error a couple of months ago. On the body eliminates the mental slip of leaving unattended even for a moment. And I like the steel cable idea to eliminate the bonus of a gun when flash robbed. But no matter how you slice it, there is more risk for mishaps around the table with off-body carry.

    • You raise an important point for purse carry when mothers have young children. In those situations I believe it would be extremely prudent to place your handgun in a retention holster and then place that in your purse. The holster covers the trigger which prevents any chance of an unintended discharge in the purse from jostling around. And the retention holster greatly reduces the chance of a toddler reaching in and pulling the trigger.

  7. Thanks for the post. I try to carry on body, but at times I do wind up purse carrying. It’s good to hear suggestions on that in the post and in the comments.

  8. I applaud AZ on their firearm position. I lived there for a while, and as a transplant from the W. WA progressive left it was quite a shock. Though not a hard left person myself, it was still uncomfortable. Why? Because the AZ residents were NOT uncomfortable around firearms, a societal difference I was not used too.

    Too bad WA has passed an unconstitutional anti-gun law (I-594) and has such a large anti-constitutional population base in the Seattle area.

  9. Was a little shocked by the title “Why I Choose to Purse Carry” by Dan Zimmerman. Thought Dan was making some sort of a statement. It did only take a second to correct my mistake. * grins *

  10. Purse carry is acceptable, IF you NEVER put the purse down. Otherwise body carry is light years better.

    I pocket-carry my S&W 638. As I never take my trousers off in public my weapon is always under my direct control.

  11. A few weeks back, I got a call that a purse had been found at a park playground with a gun in it. Sure enough, G19 with a mag full of hollowpoints and a full chamber.

    After checking the serial number against stolen records, we found the owner’s phone number and got her back to the park. Gave her some advice on holster selection and she was on her way with no legal consequences.

    Could have been a lot worse, but nobody got hurt and I think she learned her lesson.

  12. I hate to bag on ladies who carry guns. I’m so glad they do, but purse carry (or briefcase carry for men) is literally one of the worst possible ways to carry. Purse snatcher 101: Cut the straps. Boop, purse gone, gun gone. Set it down for a quick second. Boop. Purse gone, gun gone. One small lapse in your judgement (which happens to everyone, myself included) and your gun is gone.

    Also, practicing at the range is extremely important, but so is drawing the gun from concealment. Can you get to that gun quickly? Without fishing around? It is very hard to do that with a purse. I’ve tried. Actually tried. For about a month. Even with a trigger guard and keeping it in the same area. Once you introduce a clutch/wallet, phone, keys, receipts, makeup, etc.. it becomes very difficult to draw consistently and quickly.

    Ladies, please examine your options carefully before purse carrying. There are plenty of holsters out there for on body carry that don’t have some gimmick. Alien Gear makes some of the most popular holsters for ladies on-body carry in my shooting community.

  13. I’m with you Mama L. Or carry a smaller gun…Is this lady with Rob Leatham? Because it looks like a very thinly disguised ad for the Croatian gun folks…

    • Ah YES…,married to Rob…Not thinly veiled I guess. Please guys…I’m OK with it but just announce it.

  14. Hells yeah! A lot of guys don’t want to carry .45ACP for EDC, but that’s my favorite caliber too! Only … I don’t have a purse, so I just stick it in my pants (IWB holster). Good read … I like your choice of companies too. I EDC 2 XDs because I love Springfield! Thanks for the article.

  15. Purse carry is not my choice but each woman has to make their own decision. Unless designed for conceal carry, could not image purse carry. Cross body with steel cable in strap with built in holster would be minimum criteria. For me, I’ve found Blazers with built in shoulder holster, jackets with built in holsters, cargo pants with pockets that can accommodate a Ruger LCR .38 P+ with trigger block so holster not needed. But even with that nothing ever goes in right hand pocket except my revolver. Bear in mind, I’m retired now, with pet sitting assignments to support my gun habit. Each gender has to dress around concealed carry.

  16. The problem with purse carry is most “carry” purses are just huge gaudy bags with multiple zipper compartments, and maybe a one size fits all gun sock thingy inside.

    So I built one for my wife. She picked out a purse that she can wear cross body, so it would be more difficult for it to be snatched away, like if worn on the shoulder. It has a compartment she only keeps the gun (a Glock 19) in, nothing else. Then I bought bought a Crossbreed Purse Defender for the holster.

  17. I would highly recommend something other than “off body” carry. Please watch some videos on purse/bag snatching and you’ll quickly see why. Never carry anything you can’t live without in your bag. Large bills, ID and credit cards, etc, need to be on body. And esp a gun.
    Firstly , if a thug snags your purse, at best, you’ll end up fighting over the bag that has your weapon in it. At worst, you’ll be tossed to the ground, against a car/wall (possibly unconscious) or drug alongside a car into traffic. That reinforced strap gives your attacker a handle with which to control you with. It’s why most police have gone away from the leather shoulder/suicide straps.
    Secondly, if you absolutely must off body carry, wear a garment(jacket, vest, etc) over the purse strap so as to make it more difficult to grab.
    Stay alert, stay safe.

  18. You have a right to carry anyway you choose. Poor choices are a god given right. However if your purse….and your weapon are stolen….you will share the blame for arming a criminal. And if your weapon is used to harm
    someone else in todays legal climate you might even be held civilly liable for damages. You might wish to reconsider.

  19. Good job on carrying a weapon and training in it’s use.

    I OC a 1911. There are pluses and minuses in every style of carry. But at least you have a gun, which on average, 95% of the population chooses not to do. That is something I now find, after carrying 18 years, incomprehensible.

  20. If you think purse carry is the best option for a woman, even a petite woman, you should check out this video:

    Experienced purse snatchers are going to grab that strap from behind at a full run and be gone before you ever know what hit you. At least with the other carry options demonstrated in the video, you won’t lose your gun when that happens. The young woman in the video shows how even a skirt or sun dress can conceal a pistol ON THE BODY, among other options.

  21. To me, off-body carry is an absolute last resort.

    I guess what I have to comment on is the way so many women say it’s so hard to carry concealed because of the way women’s clothes are made . . i.e, tight and skimpy. So, my question is, why dress that way if you really want to carry?

    Okay, before I started carrying I used to always tuck my shirts in. When I decided to carry I changed my dress habits to generally always wear shirts un-tucked. I also got a belly band and some 5.11 shirts specifically for CC that have velcro and snaps under false buttons so the shirts can be opened quickly for time I wanted to tuck my shirts in.

    Yeah, yeah . . women just don’t dress that way, but if you really want to carry so you will be prepared to defend yourself, then you do what you need to.

  22. For the record, The Heinlein quote comes from his book “Beyond This Horizon” and is often shortened as mentioned in this article. The entire conversation where it appears is very good reading, as is the entire book.

    As a further note, in that society, if you carried a weapon (usually some sort of laser or ray gun) you Open Carried. If you chose not to carry you wore a brassard stating that you were not armed and it was presumed that any armed citizen would come to your assistance if you were molested in any way.

    And the hero of the story, who’s name escapes me at the moment, carried a custom made Colt 1911 replica.

  23. Consider what life was like in earlier times. Men would never leave the house (castle?) without a broadsword and some body armor. They also usually travelled in armed troops for mutual support.

    In later times, the fashionable gentleman would wear a thinner, lighter sword, perhaps with a light shield, or buckler for further protection. Combat would tend to be more like a duel, fighting individually. This required ever increasing skill with the blade to ensure survival. One’s personal honor was always the most important asset, defended by your blade at all times.

    In today’s so called civilized times, we can use personal handguns for protection (although it is against the law where I live), and we have a choice of firearms and methods of carry.
    Many licensed concealed carry holder can do so legally, others must still conceal without the color of law. Although how any government legislates against a basic law of survival is beyond me.

    In all cases the avoidance of conflict or criminal attack is paramount, maintaining vigilance at all times is essential. This is why cell phones are so dangerous, they hypnotise users into a sense of unjustified safety. Without this high level of alertness, any firearm wherever carried is useless. Accessing a firearm rapidly is the next most urgent task. Once in the hand, the ability and will to use deadly force is next. Without encompassing the potential death of a malefactor, no amount of skill will suffice. Remember, it’s them or you. You choose.


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