Concealed Carry Purse Test

We put a pistol in 11 handbags and purse inserts specially designed for carrying—then walked around and practiced drawing. Here’s what we found.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
We tested these purses and purse inserts designed for concealed carry. Top row, from left: ShePax Original Basic Black Nylon, Urban Moxie Nicole, Urban Moxie Sharron. Middle row: ShePax Basic Black Vegan Leather, Galco Metropolitan, Galco Carrysafe Gen 2, Man-Pack Spitfire, Gun Tote'n Mamas Cross Body Quilted Sac, Packin' Neat Tactical. Bottom row: Gun Tote'n Mamas Distressed Buffalo Leather Shoulder Clutch, Designer Concealed Carry Uptown Tote, Gun Tote'n Mamas Embroidered Lambskin.author photo

There are times in every lady’s life when your outfit won’t conceal your firearm, and you need to carry it some other way. Purse carry has been around as long as pistols have, but the recent surge in concealed carry licenses for women has created a whole new need for fashionable and durable purses designed for carrying handguns.

Some women love the concept of purse carry, because you can carry whether or not your clothing choice for the day can realistically conceal a pistol. Others feel it’s irresponsible and asking for trouble (say your purse gets stolen with your pistol inside it).

I'm a huge advocate for on-body carry, and have written several articles on various holsters for women, as well as on the pros and cons of various carry positions.

However, there are times when purse carry is your best option, and is certainly better than not carrying at all because your outfit doesn’t permit access to your sidearm, such as when your pants can’t accommodate a proper gun belt, or you’re wearing a form-fitting dress.

Many manufacturers now make great concealed-carry purses in today’s market. Some are recent start-ups; others have been around for a while. For this story, I took a look at many that are on the market today as well as at purse inserts, which will turn virtually any purse into a secure concealed-carry purse.

As with any holster, you must practice drawing your firearm and re-holstering it often. If you need to access your pistol, you want to have the muscle memory to be able to safely and efficiently draw your gun.

Below are my findings, in alphabetical order. I carried each bag and insert for an extended period of time, both with and without my trusty Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P Shield. For clarity’s sake, I’ve put the purses and the inserts into separate categories.

PURSES

Concealed Carry Purse Test
Uptown Tote from Designer Concealed Carry.author photo

MSRP: $339

Dimensions: 10 x 12 x 5 in.

Material: Leather

Color: Plum

Cross-Body Carry? No

Slash-Resistant Straps? Not indicated

Holster in Firearm Compartment? Yes

Locking Compartment for Firearm? Yes. The manufacturer of Designer Concealed Carry bags, Woolstenhulme Locking Bags, sent the purse with explicit, detailed instructions for fitting your firearm to their holster, and securing the holster inside the locking pistol compartment. The pistol compartment, located on the edge of the wide side of the bag, has a hook-and-loop type attachment that firmly secures the holster to the bag.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Uptown Tote in action.author photo

Ease of Accessibility: Vertical zippers are located on each side of the pistol compartment for easy, ambidextrous access. Because the zippers are angled, it was very easy to reach in and draw my pistol.

Overall Impression: The Uptown Tote is a stylish, roomy, designer bag. From its appearance, there's no reason to suspect that this is anything other than a well-made high-end designer purse, because that is exactly what it is. The shoulder straps adjust for the perfect fit, ensuring you can keep this purse close to your body. The zippered main compartment has several organizational features including a cell phone holder, and room for four credit cards. A smaller, zippered pocket adds security to your personal items.

Two elastic loops inside are a great size to secure anything from a flashlight to an umbrella. A pocket on the opposite side of the purse from the pistol compartment secures with a magnetic closure, and each end of the purse contains a flat, deep pocket. The wide base ensures your contents are going to sit securely inside. This purse is stylish, functional and extremely comfortable to carry. Its design and organization is well thought out.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Metropolitan Holster Handbag from Galco.author photo

Manufacturer: Galco Gunleather

MSRP: $299.95

Dimensions: 11 3/8 x 16 x 4¾ in.

Material: Microfiber with leather handles and gussets

Color: Black

Cross-Body Carry? No

Slash-Resistant Straps? Not specified

Holster in Firearm Compartment? Yes

Locking Compartment for Firearm? Yes

Ease of Accessibility: The holster compartment is accessed through a vertical zipper on the narrow side of the bag itself. Inside, fixed into position, is an elasticized holster with a Velcro retention strap to firmly secure your pistol into the holster. Since the pistol sits in the center of the bag, printing is eliminated. With a quick tug, the retention strap released, and I was ready to draw. The interior holster section is large. I was able to locate the holster on the Velcro panel so that accessing the gun was smooth and swift.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The handgun compartment is accessed from the side.author photo

Overall Impression: A beautiful, professional-looking, larger sized, tote-styled bag. This bag will take you from the office to a dinner party, and anywhere in between. My 15-inch laptop just fit into one of the two compartments. A smaller laptop or MacBook would fit easily. The firearm is not visible from the top opening of the bag—it's safely tucked between two separate large compartments. On the interior of the bag, a small zippered compartment is on one side, and a generously sized pocket—perfect for carrying a cell phone—is on the other. The interior of the bag is microfiber, and the sides and handles are beautiful, soft leather. Cleats on the bottom of the bag keep it off the ground when set down, reducing wear of the bottom of the bag.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The GTM/QMF-20 Cross Body Quilted Sac from Gun Tote'n Mamas.author photo

Manufacturer: Gun Tote'n Mamas

MSRP: $90.95

Dimensions: 10 x 9½ x 3½ in.

Material: Quilted microfiber with leather trim

Color: Black

Cross-Body Carry? Yes

Slash-Resistant Straps? Yes

Holster in Firearm Compartment? Yes

Locking Compartment for Firearm? No

Ease of Accessibility: The holster compartment is accessed through the narrow sides of the bag. Vertical zippers enable access from either side, depending on your draw preference. The holster is secured by Velcro. Depending on how much you have in your purse, the holster compartment can feel tight. It's important to experiment with holster placement to ensure a smooth draw. Once you're properly set up, accessing and drawing your pistol is simple.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Cross Body Quilted Sac with pistol.author photo

Overall Impression: This cross-body purse is functional and cute. It has a quilted microfiber shell with two zippered compartments on one side. The strap adjusts to your preferred length and easily goes from a shoulder strap to a cross-body length. The slash-resistant strap was a little on the stiff side at first, but quickly softened up with use.

The interior compartment has a small zippered section as well as a roomy main compartment. Inside are two smaller pockets that were properly sized for my cell phone, but may not fit the larger style phones. The outside of the bag is nicely padded to ensure your pistol doesn’t print.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The GTM/CZY-22 Distressed Buffalo Leather Shoulder Clutch from Gun Tote'n Mamas.author photo

Manufacturer: Gun Tote'n Mamas

MSRP: $144.95

Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 3½ in.

Material: Leather

Color: Brown

Cross-Body Carry? Yes, adjustable from shoulder length to cross body

Slash-Resistant Straps? Yes

Holster in Firearm Compartment? Yes

Locking Compartment for Firearm? No

Ease of Accessibility: The pistol compartment is located on the back of the bag. The zipper can be quickly accessed from either side, so it's ambidextrous. The compartment is well padded on the outside to prevent printing. After some trial and error, I found that if I kept both zippers in the top corner of the purse, I could unzip with one hand and reach in to access my pistol. Always knowing where to grab and unzip will allow super stealthy and quick access from this bag.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The clutch with the pistol compartment revealed.author photo

Overall Impression: Recently released by Gun Tote'n Mamas, this pretty, brown, distressed leather bag is buttery soft! I love how the firearm compartment simply zips away from either side for easy access. The pistol compartment is also nicely padded on the outside to ensure your pistol doesn't print. The holster is secured to the bag via Velcro, which enables the user to set it up as a left-handed or right-handed draw, and adjust the cant. The shoulder strap adjusts so you can choose to carry it cross-body or shoulder style.

This cute bag has a studded front flap, which is secured with a magnetic closure. Inside the front pocket are three credit-card slots and deep pouches for items you may want to secure. The interior pocket zips closed, has another zippered pocket inside, and has a roomy main compartment. It’s beautiful and well organized. It’s a great size, too, not too big that you can’t carry it cross-body comfortably, but no so large that you feel like you’re carrying a big bag.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The GTM-10 Embroidered Lambskin purse from Gun Tote'n Mamas.author photo

Manufacturer: Gun Tote'n Mamas

MSRP: $124.95

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 3 3/8 in.

Material: Lambskin

Color: Black

Cross-Body Carry? Yes, adjustable drop length from 21 to 25 inches

Slash-Resistant Straps? Yes

Holster in Firearm Compartment? Yes

Locking Compartment for Firearm? No

Ease of Accessibility: The pistol compartment unzips from either side for easy access to pistol. As with the above purse, zipper placement is key for speedy access to your gun. It is not necessary to unzip the entire compartment; unzipping one side is all that's necessary for access. My Shield fit well in this bag, but because of its smaller size, a large handgun may be problematic.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The GTM-10 Embroidered Lambskin purse with pistol compartment exposed.author photo

Overall Impression: This beautifully embossed bag is smaller than the others, very comfortable to carry over the shoulder, or cross-body. The pistol compartment is on the outside of the bag. A magnetic closure on the flap of the opposite side of the bag secures an organized section that holds several credit cards or business cards. Despite the bag's smaller size, it still held everything I usually carry. The pistol compartment is well padded to eliminate printing. It's well organized, buttery soft, and easy to carry.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Spitfire from Man-PACK.author photo

Manufacturer: Man-PACK

MSRP: $49.00

Dimensions: 14 x 9.5 x 4 in.

Material: Ripstop pack cloth

Colors: Black/grey, blue/grey, purple/grey

Cross-Body Carry? Yes

Slash-Resistant Straps? N/A

Holster in Firearm Compartment? Yes

Locking Compartment for Firearm? While there is no key-lock, the neoprene-padded compartment at the bottom of the bag securely snaps closed via a snap at the end of the double zipper, allowing access from either side, depending on your draw preference.

Ease of Accessibility: The bag can be carried in front of you or behind you. If it's behind you and you want to access your gun, you'd need to rotate the bag forward to access the firearm compartment, which can be done very quickly. Dual snaps on either side lock the zipper in place. With practice, unsnapping can be done quickly with one hand. Once unzipped, reaching in to grab the gun is fast and efficient.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Spitfire with pistol.author photo

Overall Impression: Despite the manufacturer's name, this functional pack is perfect for both men and women on the go! Its sling-style, teardrop shape allows it to be worn over either shoulder, depending on your draw. Additional, adjustable straps secure the Man-PACK Spitfire securely around your body, making it perfect for campus carry, biking, hiking, or running. Constructed of lightweight, Ripstop nylon, it's durable, water resistant and sporty. Hook-and-loop material inside the firearm compartment keeps your pistol from moving around during activity. The main compartment is roomy and organized, but the pack is not too large. The cross-body strap contains a zippered compartment that's perfectly sized for a cell phone.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Nicole from Urban Moxy.author photo

Manufacturer: Urban Moxy

MSRP: $79.99

Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 5 in.

Material: Faux ostrich

Color: Green

Cross-Body Carry? No

Slash-Resistant Straps? Not indicated

Holster in Firearm Compartment? No

Locking Compartment for Firearm? Yes

Ease of Accessibility: Because the holster pocket is located in a separate area on the outside of the purse, accessing your firearm is uncomplicated. The pocket is angled to ensure consistent draw, making accessing your pistol quick and easy. I found drawing from this purse to be smooth and efficient.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Nicole in action.author photo

Overall Impression: The styling of this bag is beautiful and is complemented with a removable decorative chain. It's roomy, with two separate interior compartments, multiple pouches that fit a cell phone and wallet, and two separate zippered pockets. Fitting a tablet in this bag would be easy—it's very roomy. A charm-filled zipper pull makes unzipping the holster pocket simple and quick.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Sharron from Urban Moxy.author photo

Manufacturer: Urban Moxy

Style: MSRP: $99.99

Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 5 in.

Material: Faux leather

Colors: Royal blue, black

Cross-Body Carry? Convertible strap included

Slash-Resistant Straps? Not indicated

Holster in Firearm Compartment? No

Locking Compartment for Firearm? Yes

Ease of Accessibility: The outside, lockable holster pocket, with a vertical zipper located near the edge of the wide side of the bag, allows for a quick unzip and draw. The key can be kept on the included decorative detachable zipper pull that makes access quick and easy. The pocket is angled to ensure consistent draw.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Sharron with pistol.author photo

Overall Impression: The Sharron features several separate compartments, some of which are zippered. There is also a place for your cell phone as well as business cards or credit cards, all of which aid in keeping contents organized. The bag is very roomy, and I love that it comes with a detachable shoulder strap that can convert the bag to a cross-body, keeping your firearm secure.

INSERTS

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Carrysafe Gen 2 insert from Galco Gunleather.author photo

Manufacturer: Galco Gunleather

MSRP: $49.95

Dimensions: 8 x 5 in. (tested)

Holster in Insert? Yes

Holster Attached to Insert? Yes

Does it Close? No, the insert opens to the inside of your purse.

Ease of Accessibility: The elasticized holster comes in various sizes to accommodate almost any handgun. The retention strap helps ensure your pistol stays put until you need it.

Overall Impression: This insert will fit in almost any purse—it's small, thin and feels sturdy. A heavy-duty clip on the back helps secure it inside your purse. The Velcro retention strap will help secure your pistol in the holster, holding it securely until you need to draw it. If want to purse-carry with the purse you own now, the Carrysafe Gen 2 is a great choice. I like that it also holds a spare magazine—something that can often be overlooked when it comes to purse carry—because knowing exactly where it is can save you a lot of time when reloading. The simple design makes it easy to use in your purse, tote, messenger bag or briefcase.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Tactical from Packin' Neat.author photo

Manufacturer: Packin' Neat

MSRP: $79.95

Dimensions: 8 x 9 x 4 in.

Material: Durable nylon material.

Colors: Black, zebra, tan

Holster in Insert? Yes

Holster Attached to Insert? Yes, with Velcro

Does It Close? A magnetic snap on the flap closes the firearm compartment of this insert.

Ease of Accessibility: A quick unsnap enables you to draw your pistol straight up and out of the insert.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Tactical insert with pistol.author photo

Overall Impression: This insert has several pockets on the outside, a roomy large compartment on the inside, and a separate, isolated holster compartment that snaps closed with a magnetic closure. The holster pocket sticks up higher than the insert itself, for easy access to your pistol. The size and shape is great in most medium-sized purses. This would also work well in a brief case, business tote or other style bag.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The Original from ShePax is available in tan or black leather ($119.95) and black nylon ($89.95).author photo

Manufacturer: ShePax

MSRP: $119.95 (vegan leather); $89.95 (nylon)

Dimensions: 8 x 11 x 4½ in.

Colors: Black

Holster in Insert? Yes

Holster Attached to Insert? Yes

Does It Close? Yes. While the insert itself doesn't close, the holster compartment within the insert has a zipper lock to ensure security of your pistol.

Ease of Accessibility: The pistol holster compartment is located on the inside of the main compartment, against one wall of the purse. The holster adjusts to your preferred draw and cant making it very comfortable to draw from. With the locking pistol compartment zippered, no one would know you were carrying. Because the locking zipper is located on the top, accessing your pistol is simple.

Concealed Carry Purse Test
The ShePax Original with a pistol.author photo

Overall Impression: The ShePax is an interesting concept. I wasn't sure whether to categorize it as a purse or as an insert, because it's actually both! The manufacturer markets it as an insert that will turn your purse into a concealed-carry purse, but it also has two handles that enable you to carry the ShePax by itself. If used inside another purse, the handles push down into the wall of the insert and out of the way. The unit itself is extremely well organized, with a place for everything from credit cards to a cell phone. You'd likely not have to carry a separate wallet, but if you needed to, the main compartment is roomy. There's even a padded compartment for an iPad or tablet. This multifunctional bag is well made, and very functional. Carrying all of your essentials in the ShePax allows you to quickly change purses—you just lift it out of one purse and place it in the other. The Original is also available in [Vegan Leather](Original, Vegan Leather http://shepax.com/collections/shop/products/shepax-the-original-basic-black-vegan-leather) (MSRP: $119.95).