Women’s Best Conceal Carry Gun – Four Options Chambered in .380

By M. Ashley Evans

Many Gun Options

When it comes to concealed-carry gun choices, every gun owner has his own opinion – and usually an enthusiastic one at that.

When I began researching for my concealed-carry gun, the lack of reviews by women was frustrating. I wanted to know what it was like to shoot these guns with a smaller hand and body frame than the male reviewers had.

Having smaller hands does not negate the larger guns – I’ve shot a .50cal Desert Eagle while having a fractured wrist without any problems – simple physics demonstrates that it does make a difference in the felt recoil. It all boils down to the direction of energy through the body. This article explains a little about that: (Here)

Remember, training is vital. Your body stance and grip all come into play with how well you shoot and how the gun feels to shoot. We will go over all of that in a future article.

Most .380 guns are considered pocket pistols – small framed guns that are very easily concealable. Frankly, being a woman makes conceal carrying a lot harder – our clothing typically is cut to a more snug fit and the material is often thinner than is marketed for men. So it’s important to make wise clothing choices when concealed-carrying.

These are not guns that I would recommend for a woman who has never shot a gun before, or who is uncomfortable with the idea of concealed-carrying. I would recommend that woman get a revolver and training. The reason is, these pistols are all semi-automatic. The slide has to be pulled to chamber a round and to clear a jam. That takes a considerable amount of practice for it to be second nature while your adrenaline is skyrocketing – and when a threat is coming after you or your family, you have to be able to clear the jam in time. But with a revolver – you point and shoot. If that round doesn’t work, you pull the trigger again to cycle to the next round. It isn’t as much to think about, which is what makes it ideal for someone who is new to shooting.

Gun Choices

1. Smith and Wesson M&P Bodyguard with Crimson Trace Laser

smith and wesson bodyguard

The Bodyguard is a very common handgun choice for concealed carry. I owned a second generation for quite a while, and I plan to buy one again eventually. The Bodyguard is lightweight, at barely over 12 oz, which makes it very easy to carry. It’s smooth and rounded – very snag free.

It will hold 6+1 in the chamber. The overall length is 5.3″ – it fits into my back jeans pocket without any trouble and wasn’t too heavy for a jacket pocket. It has a steel slide and a polymer frame – which is what makes it so lightweight.

Shooting the Bodyguard is one of the reasons why I liked it so much. The felt recoil is much more manageable than other guns of the same size, for example, the Ruger LCP which is extremely front-end snappy. The Bodyguard has a little snap to it, but mostly the felt recoil is straight back into the center of the hand.

The slide is very easy to pull back, a common struggle for women shooters. The sights are not great – but a built-in laser is a nice tool for low light situations. The Bodyguard has a 6+1 capacity and is double action only. The DAO trigger pull is a little long, which can be comforting knowing that it is very unlikely that it will be pulled by mistake. Like most .380’s this gun requires a bit of break-in time at the range to polish it up.

2. Sig P238 – Alloy Stainless Elite

Sig p238 This beautiful 1911 style .380 features an alloy stainless frame. The weight is 15.2 oz unloaded, which is a little heavier than the previous gun discussed. This tiny bit of weight makes a big difference in the amount of felt recoil. I love the sturdy feeling the steel frame gives.

Even with my smaller hands, I don’t have any trouble with maintaining a good grip. The slide isn’t difficult to pull back and the magazine spring isn’t so tight that I have to use a reloading tool.

Its a clone of the Colt Mustang – which we will be discussing below. My favorite aspect is that it is virtually a 1911 sized down. Its missing a few parts the true 1911’s have, like the grip safety, so there is some debate as to whether or not it can be truly classified as a genuine 1911. Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on – there is no denying the ease of shooting any gun that has that 1911 shaped frame.

The sights on it are definitely better than most pocket pistols – but you’re not going to be relying on them for protecting yourself against a close proximity threat anyways.

Early in manufacturing, there was some failure to feed issues – but don’t worry, these have been resolved! This gun is extremely smooth to shoot. I have read some reviews about it being finicky about ammo, but I have not had that experience. The trigger pull is 7.5-8.5 lbs. The Sig P238 has a height of 3.9″ and a total length of 5.5″. The P238 has a 6+1 capacity.

3. Micro Desert Eagle

micro desert eagle At 14 oz unloaded, this tiny pocket pistol feels extremely sturdy. And when I say tiny, it really is. 3.72″ tall and 4.5″ long. This is a gun that I deeply regret selling – and am itching to find another! It fits into both my back jean pocket as well as the front. The edges have all been nicely rounded. There was not any problem concealed carrying this gun!

It’s basically an American-produced copy of the Czech ZVI Kevin. This is an extremely unique gun. It has a delayed blowback system that utilizes two tiny ports. It does not have a single recoil spring surrounded by the barrel. The barrel isn’t attached to the frame, and the frame rail holds the recoil spring and two guide rods. The guide rods reciprocate with the slide during recoil – all of this makes for a great little gun that is extremely smooth to shoot. It is still a bit more felt recoil than the 1911 style guns mentioned in this article – but it is straight back into the hand so that it isn’t painful or snappy.

Magnum Research doesn’t produce the Micro Desert Eagle anymore, so you’ll have to search the used gun shops for this gem.  This gun is such an ideal women’s carry gun that I could not leave it off the list. My hands are small even for a woman’s, and I had no trouble at all pulling back the slide or maintaining proper grip technique. My husband has large hands for a man, and he really had a lot of trouble properly holding this gun – and keeping the slide from eating some meat off of his hand.

It feeds extremely well and was not finicky with cheap ammo. There are several reviews I read before purchasing the MDE of people TRYING to make this gun malfunction – and not succeeding. If you remove the magazine, it will still shoot the round in the chamber. The MDE has a 6+1 capacity. The trigger pull is smooth as butter – with a slightly noticeable stack just at the end.

4. Colt Mustang / Pony

colt pony

My favorite .380 for conceal carry has to be the Colt Pony 90 series. It also is a 1911 style frame. It like the Sig does not have a grip safety, and the trigger revolves around a pin instead of being pulled straight back – so it isn’t exactly like a 1911 mechanically.

The Colt Pony is no longer in production, but you can still find them used pretty easily. Colt still makes a Mustang – which is almost identical. The solid stainless ones are a little harder to come by – but the Mustang Pocketlight is in most gun stores that I frequent.

The Pocketlight has a steel slide and an alloy frame and only weighs 12 ounces. The length is 5.5″, so very easy to conceal carry and it has a 6 + 1 capacity.  Colt Mustang also for a while made an XSP version, made with black polymer, which is an ounce lighter than the Pocketlight. The XSP also has a small accessory rail right under the barrel and upgraded dovetail sights. But, personally, I’m not a huge fan of polymer guns. Maybe it is just aesthetics.

When I was researching for my ideal carry gun I knew that I preferred a 1911 style frame, double action, and a solid steel frame – and the Colt Pony fit all of my requirements.  Colt Mustang is very similar to the Pony, but there are differences. The Mustang has a rondell-hammer and is single action only.

Both boast a trigger pull of a little over 5 lbs with a very clean break. The magazine fits flush, overall the Pony and Mustang are very smooth and rounded which makes them comfortable to carry.

The Pony weighs about an ounce more than the Mustang, which boasts a solid 18 ounces unloaded. That plus the 1911 style frame means felt recoil is extremely minimal. I have yet to find a .380 with less felt recoil! The Colt Pony / Mustang is truly a joy to shoot on the range.

Can Can Holster Review

As a female, conceal carry can be rather difficult. Women’s clothing fits differently than men’s clothing. It’s generally much more fitted and has thinner material. Dresses and the lack of pockets just add more levels of difficulty. Finding the right holster makes it a lot easier. I have several holsters that I use. I prefer a Kydex IWB for days that I am wearing jeans. And I have a Marilyn Bra Holster for when I wear sundresses.

While it is true that it is important to “dress to carry” sometimes that means getting a bit creative with layers and sizes. Many women resort to only ever carrying in their purse. This is handy, it is not recommended. If an attacker comes up to you and takes your purse – he then will have your weapon. Also, carrying in your purse is most often not as fast to draw from.

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Two holsters that I use frequently are by Can Can Concealment (https://www.cancanconcealment.com/) In this article I’ll be giving my personal review on the Garter and the Hip Hugger holsters.

Can Can Hip Hugger Holster

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The Can Can Hip Hugger was one of my first holsters. I wanted a holster that could be multi-functional. It can be worn with skirts, shorts, jeans, or even tunic tops with leggings. There are three sizes to choose from: micro, classic, or big she-bang. The width size you choose is based on the size of your conceal carry weapon. I initially made the mistake of buying the big she-bang, because I thought that a wider band would be more comfortable. But I noticed that my firearm would slip down too low in it to where it wasn’t a fast draw.

While holsters don’t have to be pretty to function – it is nice having a pretty holster. I went with the red details. They have several colors to choose from. You can choose tan or black for the base and details can be red, hot pink, black, or blue.

One feature that caused me to go with Can Can over some of the competition was the hook and eye closures. I abhor velcro. It is thick, loud, and I can never get it perfectly lined up; so it ends up scratching me or pulling at my clothing. The hook and eye closures, though it takes a couple of more seconds to attach, is a HUGE draw for me.

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There are little soft little tabs on the edges of the pockets. These are to pull the pocket out so you can holster your weapon. That way you are not fumbling for the edge. I like that the edge of the pocket does not line up with the top of the band.

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Wearing the Hip Hugger Holster is very comfortable. I have not had any issues with it riding up from my hip to my waist.  I do have to adjust it slightly when sitting in my car for an extended amount of time – but the same can be said for wearing a cardigan in the car, you don’t want it pulling from sitting on it. It doesn’t add a lot of extra bulges either, which is nice.

When I measured to purchase my Hip Hugger Holster, I measured around my natural waist and then purchased an extender if I wanted to wear it lower on my hips. This way I can wear it high one day and low the next – whichever is most convenient to draw based on the type of clothing I am wearing. A few years ago, Can Can was offering an extender that was also a pouch for your cell phone, I purchased one and LOVE it. I really hope they bring it back (hint-hint Can Can Concealment!)

Can Can Garter Holster

Sometimes, a waistband holster isn’t an option. I like to wear swing dresses – and while a waistband holster MAY work, it isn’t as fast of a draw as I would like. This is where the Garter Holster is an excellent option. I have worn it with and without leggings under it.

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Like the Hip Hugger Holster, the Garter Holster comes in several width sizes based upon the size firearm you will be concealing. The Micro is for pistols under 4.5″ long, the Classic is for firearms that are  4.5-6.5″ long, and the Big She-bang is for pistols over 6.5″ long.

For my Garter Holster, I went with the hot pink (because the red happened to be sold out that day and I needed it for a trip so I couldn’t wait an extra week.)  Garter Holsters also come in the black and blue detailing or with a tan background.

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I highly recommend going ahead and purchasing the Garter Belt. It comes in a pretty lace pattern, either black or tan. While it isn’t absolutely necessary, I like knowing for certain that it won’t be slipping down too far. The only time I had a little bit of slipping is when I was wearing pantyhose. Since then, I have learned to adjust the hook and eye closures depending not upon only how it feels but also if I am wearing anything under it or not.  The Garter Belt stays securely attached to the Garter Holster with hooks.

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Wearing the Garter Holster isn’t quite as comfortable as the Waist Band Holster, and a bit more cumbersome to put on. Especially when rotating it to get it in just the right place for the garter belt to be worn. But once it is on – its great! I have talked to other women who wear it and they don’t find it cumbersome to put on at all, it may just be me. (I have a lot of nerve damage on the leg I prefer to wear it on because I was attacked by a leopard years ago, so I am sure that is clouding my judgment.)

About Can Can Concealment

Can Can Holsters uses compression holsters. The material is thick enough to prevent printing, and still very breathable. The back of the holsters has built-in silicone grips to prevent slipping. They also have their very own (patent pending) reholstering grip tabs with Neodymium rare earth magnets to help with firearm retention.

I really love getting to tell others about this fantastic company. Not only are their products of phenomenal quality, AND made in the USA, but their customer service is top notch. I have had to call them a few times with questions about sizing, and to send back the wrong size that I ordered. Their customer service is so personable and they really go out of their way to help you find just the right holster for your body shape – even if it means doing a custom order. You can tell they truly believe in their product!

I would love to review their Corset Holster but have not purchased one yet.

If you have any suggestions for any holsters that you would like for me to review – send me a message!

Women’s Best Conceal Carry Gun – Four Options Chambered in 9mm

By: M. Ashley Evans

First published here

Gun Choices: Caliber Differences

Two of the most common calibers of ammunition for concealed carry guns are 9mm and .380. Side by side, they look a lot alike. They both are the same diameter but 9mm is just a little longer.  But which one is better? That is up to debate, and there are a few other factors to consider.

The .380 ACP is also known as a 9mm Browning. It was first introduced by Colt in 1908 as a self-defense round  – hence ACP for Automatic Colt Pistol. Its also called 9mmX17, 9mm Short, etc.  It is rimless, straight walled, and designed to have less felt recoil. The .380 can hold a maximum of 5.3 grains (that’s grains of water, which is a more accurate measurement than solid grains).  Its velocity is 1050 FPS and a penetration depth of about 9 inches.

In contrast, the 9mm is known as 9mmX19 Parrabellum. It was introduced in 1902 by DWM, a German weapons manufacturer. It was designed for their Luger pistol for the military. The most popular weight is 124 grains, but there are several weight variations available. It can hold a maximum of 10 grains of water. It is rimless and tapered. The 9mm has a velocity of 950-1400 FPS and a penetration of around 13 inches.

The 9mm doesn’t penetrate a lot more than the .380, because the extra energy causes it to expand a bit more – which slows it down considerably. That expansion causes a lot of tissue damage, and that helps to stop the attacker. This isn’t to say that the .380 isn’t a qualified candidate – the differences between the .380 and the 9 are extremely small compared to the differences between a .380 and a .32.

Here is an excerpt from a great article found here

“(About the .380) A typical load carries roughly 3 grains of powder that propels a 95-grain bullet at 845 fps to produce 151 ft.-lbs. of energy from a 2.75-inch barrel. It produces about 2.76 ft.-lbs. recoil energy from a 1-pound firearm… A typical 9mm Luger load contains about 6 grains of powder used to propel a 115-grain bullet to 1,000 feet per second (fps) out of a 2.75-inch barrel. (Velocities increase along with barrel length.) This produces approximately 255 ft.-lbs. energy while generating 5.36 ft.-lbs. of recoil energy from a pistol weighing 1 pound….

“While 255 ft.-lbs. of bullet energy from the muzzle of a 9mm Luger is not a lot in the firearm world—consider that an average .30-06 deer rifle produces around 2,500 ft.-lbs. energy—a 9mm’s energy is far greater than a .22 LR’s piddly 105 ft.-lbs. and many other smaller calibers. It has about 68 percent more energy than the .380 Auto.”

So while the 9mm does have a lot more power, the .380 has 94% less felt recoil when fired from a gun of equal weight. That makes it a lot easier to accurately shoot multiple rounds. But 9mm guns are typically a little larger and heavier than .380 guns, and the extra weight helps to reduce the felt recoil. So when choosing a concealed carry gun there are a few steps to consider:

  1. Make sure it fits in your hand well
  2. Be sure you will be able to conceal it properly
  3. If it comes in multiple calibers, choose the largest one that you can rapidly fire with accuracy.

 

Gun Choices

1. Kimber Micro

kimber micro 9

This is one of my favorite carry guns. Its overall length is only 6.1″ and it has a height of 4.01″. So while it doesn’t fit into my jeans pocket, it is extremely easy to conceal in a holster. It is definitely one of the easiest 9mm to conceal in my opinion.

The Kimber Micro 9 comes in several variations. I like the stainless one. It has a weight of about 15.6 ounces unloaded. The 1911 style frame and the heft of this pistol are definitely something required – a +P round of 9mm can have a pretty steep felt recoil. But it was absolutely manageable with this gun. It isn’t my first go-to for a fun time on the range, but I can put a lot of rounds through it without any trouble.

The Kimber Micro 9’s dovetailed, dotted sights are fantastic. Its single action trigger is crisp and clean and will break between 5-6 lbs.  To safely clear a malfunction, you can still engage the safety and then pull the slide back. It can hold 6+1 and there is an optional magazine extension available.  While Kimber can be a little finicky about ammo, I have not noticed any problems with this one.

 

2. Sig P938

sig p938

This Sig and the Kimber Micro 9 are often considered the best of the mini-1911’s. The 938 looks just like a slightly larger 238.

The night sights are very nice – but there is not as much light on either side of the front sight as I prefer, but that may be because I have short arms. This too holds 6+1 unless you buy the extended magazine plate. The trigger reset is much better than many other 9mm’s and is about 7.5 lbs.

The Sig P938 weighs 16 oz unloaded. It is 5.9″ long and 3.9″ tall. It is almost identical to the Kimber Micro 9, just a TINY bit shorter. Sig uses a Nitron coating which helps to prevent the moisture from your skin from rusting it. All in all, it is a beautiful little gun that would make an excellent carry weapon.

 

3. Springfield EMP

springfield emp

This is probably one of the most enjoyable guns I have ever shot. The frame is a forged aluminum alloy and the slide is forged stainless. It is heavier than the other 9mm’s mentioned so far – weighing in at 27 oz. The EMP 9 is 6.6″ long and 5″ tall. The 3 dot Tritium sights as standard make for very easy target sighting.

The EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol) is the smallest TRUE 1911 created so far. From barrel bushings to the trigger traveling straight back and even the back strap safety – its a 1911 through and through. Everything has just been scaled down to fit the 9mm. It is a beautiful gun – the Cocobolo grips, satin finish steel slide. The trigger is very clean and only about 3.5 lbs. This gun is a bit pricier than the other two options.

The earlier models (until 2009) were prone to failure to feed problems, but all of this has been resolved. I have read a lot of reviews from people who were not very happy with it – and each review is by a man who said that the gun felt a little small. It all goes back to how the gun fits in your hand. The EMP is my first go to for a fun day at the range and definitely what I reach for when competing.

 

4. Dan Wesson Valkyrie

dan wesson 9mm

This is a gun that I can’t wait to get ahold of but have done a lot of research on. It is absolutely on my must-have list. Its price is a little more than the Springfield EMP, but everyone who has shot one that I’ve talked to says that it is worth every penny.

The Valkyrie is top quality and every part is tight fitting, which makes for some very accurate shooting. A lot of people are crazy about the finish – but the Duty Finish actually something that I’m not extremely crazy about the looks of. However, I do love the concept for a conceal carry weapon. Moisture will rust a gun extremely quickly – so a ceramic coating that will do a great job in protecting the gun from the moisture and salt in your skin is the way to go.

The Valkyrie is 8 inches long and 5 inches tall. It weighs 28 ounces unloaded. It is a little longer than the EMP, so as a short woman I would probably open carry or use a Can Can holster around my waist as opposed to an IWB holster. The trigger is shorter than a  lot of other guns of this size – which is why my small hands fit around it so well. The trigger is light, at about 4 lbs. The Tritium night sights are a little different than what is on the other guns listed. These are a stacked two dot system – you line up the dots to form a figure 8. If you’ve never shot a gun with those type of sights, takes a little getting used to, but it is really great for low light situations.

 

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