Concealed-Carry Locations for Women
The pros and cons of carrying at all the various waistband positions—with an eye toward the female anatomy.
There are multiple “clock positions” where people carry their firearm, and it’s easy to figure out. From a standing position, 12 o’clock is straight ahead, making a straight line from your belly button outward. So 6 o’clock is directly behind you (hence the military phrase “I’ve got your six,” which means being protected from any threats behind you).
As a woman, I’ve found that some carrying positions work better than others due to my body type. In an effort to clarify what might work well for women, I’ve briefly described each position, along with some issues that ladies with various body types may encounter when carrying at each. Hopefully this will help you find which “time” works best for you!
Get that handgun out, secured, aimed, and fired quickly and accurately with these tips from sweet-shooting pro Julie Golob!
Basic Beginner Info
- Right-handed shooters will generally carry between 12’oclock and 6 o’clock. Lefties tend to prefer carrying between 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock.
- If you prefer to cross-draw—reaching across your body to draw your gun—you’ll want the opposite positions from above.
- Not all positions work for all body types. Even when you find one that does work, you’ll sometimes have to modify how you move while carrying, so as not to print (allow your firearm to be evident or to show through your clothing). For instance, bending forward can be fine if you’re carrying at 3 o’clock, but if you’re carrying at 6 o’clock, the grip of your firearm will protrude.
12:00 is directly in front of your mid-section, below your belly button. When carrying a pistol at 12:00, the barrel aligns with the zipper of your pants. This position is the same for both left- and right-handed shooters.
Pros: While it takes a bit to get used to, I find it comfortable because the gun is located so that your legs don’t get jabbed by the barrel when you sit.
Cons: If you’re wearing lower-rise pants, it may be more difficult to conceal a pistol at 12:00. Also, if you have a little extra padding, the gun will push into your stomach, creating an odd look.
Be Aware: Bending forward may be an issue depending on your holster and gun size. You may need to get used to squatting if you’ll often be reaching for something low! I can lean forward when wearing a bellyband holster, but doing so can be uncomfortable with some other holsters.
Also known as “appendix carry,” 2:00 o’clock carry means the firearm sits where your appendix is located on your body. (A left-handed shooter would carry a gun at the 10 o’clock position.)
Pros: I find this position to be comfortable and concealable, and may be comfortable for ladies with a flatter stomach.
Cons: You have to be check the cant of your pistol when holstered, because an angled position may mean that you’ll jab yourself in the leg with the barrel of the gun when you sit. The barrel may hit the top of your thigh where your leg creases into your hip, which can be very uncomfortable.
Be Aware: Sometimes bending forward can cause the gun to poke you in the gut. Squatting is your best option should you need to reach something closer to the ground. Be aware that hugging someone while carrying here may also make that person aware of your firearm.
Carrying directly on your hip, under your right arm when hanging straight down, is known as 3:00. Many outside-the-waistband holsters work well for 3:00 carry, but there are some inside-the-waistband holsters that can be carried here as well. (If you’re a lefty, the same applies to 9 o’clock carry.)
Pros: The advantage of this location is that it makes for very easy to access your pistol. There’s no reaching around—it’s right there, safely tucked under your arm. Bending and stretching are generally not an issue.
Cons: I find that carrying at 3:00 can make your hips look uneven. Carefully choosing your outfit can help mask your pistol, and I highly recommend a printed-pattern top to break up the lack of symmetry.
Be Aware: I have no problems bending or stretching while carrying in this position because the pistol is on the hip, allowing for unhindered movement.
Although 4:30 is just behind your back, your firearm is still easily accessible. For the southpaws, this position would be 7:30.)
Pros: What I love about 4:30 is that the fluffy area in front, which can sometimes afflict ladies, doesn’t generally affect the firearm! Although it doesn’t sound comfortable, I find I can sit, drive, bend, and stretch upwards with no ill effects.
Cons: If you have limited range of motion, you may have a difficult time reaching your firearm. As with any new carry location, make sure you practice drawing and re-holstering your pistol to ensure you can access it, should you need to!
Be Aware: Bending all the way forward can make the firearm print, because the grip will protrude. To avoid this, you’ll have to get used to squatting!
Often called Small of Back (SOB for short), 6: 00 carry aligns with your spine. This is the same for left or right-handed shooters. People seem to either love or hate carrying at 6:00, and usually have very strong opinions about it.
Pros: I find it easy to conceal at 6 o’clock because that’s where my pants naturally gap a bit, creating room. If I’ll be standing for a long period of time, it’s a comfortable place to carry, although it’s never my first choice.
Cons: I don’t find it comfortable for sitting or driving, but some who carry at 6:00 say you get used to it. I also don’t think I’m flexible enough to draw quickly should I need to access my firearm in an emergency, but that’s just me. Some fear spinal damage if involved in an accident such as falling on your back. It would also be impossible to reach your firearm if you were pinned against a wall during a struggle.
Be Aware: Bending forward WILL make the grip of the pistol stick straight out. Once again, you’ll have to squat to avoid this.
Range 365 checked out the new handguns at the 2017 SHOT Show range in Boulder City, Nevada this week. Here’s a quick and dirty look at them all.
Make Smart Clothing Choices
Recently, in an online forum, I read that many women have issues concealing because they refuse to buy pants size in a larger size than they would normally wear. Adding to the problem, most women generally don’t wear a belt substantial enough to support the weight of a pistol. While this seems simple, it’s actually spot-on. When you’re trying to hide 1.5 pounds of steel between your body and your waistband, a larger size just make sense. Getting over the mental block of wearing clothes one size bigger will not only help conceal your pistol, you’ll probably conceal that muffin-top as well!
As for belts, you can have the best holster out there, but if you don’t wear a good belt, you won’t have anything secure for the holster to clip onto, which will cause your holster to move and slide around, leaving your firearm insecure.
Whichever location you decide to carry, make sure you practice drawing and re-holstering often. There are pros and cons to each location, and only you will know what works best for you! I don’t always carry in the same location; it depends on my outfit and what my activity level for that day is going to be. That’s why it’s an advantage to have a few different types of holsters (see a selection of them here).
The laws of your state may also dictate where you can carry, because as in some states it is illegal to open carry, necessitating inside-the-waistband holsters to conceal your pistol.
Work your outfit around your carry preference and you’ll be fine. After all, it’s a great excuse for another pair of cute jeans and a few new holsters, right?