Purses with hidden pockets, bright pink tool kits with tiny screws for gun maintenance, and fruit punch-colored magazine loaders: All part of the trend toward fashion-conscious concealed carry for ladies. Carrie Lightfoot, CEO of The Well-Armed Woman, says a woman's body shape and size are important considerations when it comes to open or concealed carry.
Lauren Silverman reports, "More than 800,000 people in Texas have a license to carry a gun, but many have chosen to keep their guns concealed — including many women. As a result, there's a growing accessory industry to meet their gun fashion needs," for NPR's Gun-Toting Women Give Rise To Firearms Fashion Accessories.
There's no accurate count of female gun owners, but a 2015 report from the National Sporting Goods Association found that 5.4 million women said they went target shooting. That's up 60 percent since 2001, according to Silverman.
"There are several reasons women don't openly carry," Silverman explains. "Many of them simply don't want to draw attention to themselves. Then there's the logistics of actually wearing the gun."
"Most concealed- and open-carry holsters are made for men," says Lightfoot. "For example, a 32A bust could not conceal a Glock 19 very well — nor would a 42DD or a larger tummy allow for effective cross-draw carry," she says.
"Lightfoot sells bra holsters, concealment leggings, lace waistbands and leopard print gun holders for cars. She says sales are up 130 percent since the summer."
"Still, the vast majority of women don't openly carry," Silverman writes. "And that means one of the hottest accessories is the concealed-carry purse, which is Kate Woolstenhulme's business."
"In her Plano, Texas, home office, Woolstenhulme unpacks one of her newest designs: a black leather purse with a herringbone embossed pattern. She introduced her first line of concealed-carry bags in 2009, after failing to track down a handbag that was both safe and fashionable for her 9 mm Beretta Nano handgun."
The National Sporting Goods Association report found that women who bought a gun in the last year spent on average $870 on firearms and more than $400 on accessories.
Both Woolstenhulme and Lightfoot warn women to choose new holsters and bags wisely — just because it's made in pink doesn't guarantee it was designed for a woman's body.
Look for this fashion-forward trend to start showing up at gun shows, too. You could even consider featuring some of these items in ads for your gun show advertisers! According to AudienceSCAN, 9% of Americans plan to attend gun shows in the next 12 months. A quarter of them are gals. This could prove to be an excellent opportunity for western shops too – 17% of Gun Show Attendees also intend to purchase boots or western wear this year. 44% of Gun Show Attendees plan on buying guns/rifles/other firearms or ammunition too. Effective ways to reach this audience can be through: TV, newspapers (54% took action) and emailed ad or newsletter ads (33% took action).