This was originally posted on Reddit by u/SuperPigDots on 08/20/23. It's a great writeup on a subject (female CCW gear) I frankly don't know enough about. I'm reposting it here with the original author's permission. You can see the original post here: https://www.reddit.com/r/CCW/comments/15wb4gp/my_ccw_experience_as_a_super_skinny_female_ccw/
My CCW experience as a super skinny female CCW permit holder and hopefully a help to others with body types like mine
I am a super skinny girl here and also a CCW permit holder. To give an idea, I have about a size 25 waist, and 34 hips. I am 5’11” and my body weight is low 140s. There is about as low of a body fat percentage on me as one could have. I have a super active and social lifestyle which requires me to wear many varied kinds of outfits and therefore many varied kinds of carry depending on the day and the time of said day.
I wanted to make this post because I have found that traditional CCW wisdom has caused me to go through a lot of trial and error in figuring out my CCW options. What works for most people has often not worked for me. Hopefully, this post can help other skinny people like me.
For a TL;DR for skinny/smaller CCW permit holders, please scroll to the bottom.
First, my gun type. I am a Glock lover through and through since childhood. I carried several years back with a Glock 19. I was noticeably larger then than I am now but still on the lean and thin side. Even then, that gun was too much bulk for my small frame and I was doing so because my dad’s love of the Glock 19 and not knowing any better. Nowadays, I use a Glock 26 and it is barely manageable to conceal on me. I would optimally prefer a Glock 43 but I live in California where that is not a legal option for me so that leaves me with the 26. I would not recommend anything larger than the 26 for people my size. In the end of the day, it just doesn’t work for skinny people like me unless someone really wants to go out of their way to alter their entire wardrobe to accommodate a larger gun. I have found the Glock 26 to be very practical for a traditional female wardrobe, being accommodating to various types of carry, including AIWB (Appendix Inside the Waistband Carry), high waist, modular, purse, backpack, and modular.
For gun accessories, I have the following setup. I do not use an extended magazine. I find that it ruins the point of carrying a Glock 26 over a Glock 19 and every last millimeter of surface area counts when you are my size. For the same reason, I do not use holographic sights on my carry gun. I know that people claim that it adds no print etc, but said people have obviously never lived a day in the life of a skinny person like me where, again, every millimeter of surface area counts. Instead, I use the green Trijicon Di Night Sight Set. This allows me to have front sight fiber optic glow in the daytime and tritium glow at night. I prefer green due to it being easier to identify using the human eye (though this factor is minimally important overall imo). I have never struggled with quick front/rear sight acquisition like many claim is the problem with matching color front and rear, though I really wish Trijicon would get with the times and make a set. Still, I prefer them over Ameriglow and Truglow (I have used Truglow) because I have researched and read that they last longer and are more reliable. But any of these three brands are reputable.
Now, moving on to the carry types that I have found to work for me. I have found that I prefer AIWB style of carry when my outfit can afford for me to do so. It is the easiest and quickest accessibility and arguably the safest as well. Years ago, I used to carry in the small of my back but I found it to be too cumbersome, uncomfortable, and I am pretty sure it caused me some back problems that eventually healed (thank God). And again, I am smaller now to the point where I could not carry that way even if I wanted to. That is also a much slower access and draw than AIWB is.
For AIWB, I have found that carrying with the gun tucked right into the curve of the skin at the rotating part of the hip joint on my draw-hand side to be optimum. This has provided me with the most comfort, accessibility, and conceal-ability. For this carry, I have three go-to options.
I have found the Phlster Enigma OS holster to be wonderful for concealment. After assembling it and watching their adjustment videos, I fine-tuned mine to where I can now conceal in a semi-loose shirt and yoga pants even with my tiny body. Please do not skip out on testing the screw holes with a push test and adjusting accordingly. This helped it become much more concealable for me. I wear the belt of mine toward the top of the hips and then slant the holster assembly downward to naturally slope down with my fornt-body curvature. The Reduced Size Buckle add-on accessory is essential for skinny smaller CCW carriers like me. I will save the smaller user some hassle by saying that their Pro Holster is a waste of time. It may be great for larger users but I found a few problems with it. First, it extended past my muzzle by over an inch, making the carry of a smaller Glock 26 almost useless. It was unnecessarily bulky as well. It had this bulge on the end that Phlster claims allows for more conceal-ability for most users, a group of which smaller people apparently do not fit into; it just added print for me. Its super hard polymer design was also sooooo uncomfortable for me as well, especially since I have almost no body fat to cushion such a material. For these reasons, I returned it and I opted straight past the Skeleton for a trusted and recommended compatible holster. Luckily, there are many options for the Enigma OS (the OS has many more than the Phlster Express fyi) since Phlster is cool about user flexibility with other brands like that (thank you Phlster!). I went with the JM Custom Kydex wiht the carbon fiber finish and I am very happy with it! It is super comfortable against my skin and it really is as minimal as possible on added bulk/surface area. It is perfect for skinny people like me. I would definitely recommend the full guard option for skinny people because it deters the sights from digging into my abdomen when I sit down, as well as deters sweat from leaking onto the gun on a hot day.
For aftermarket modifications, I initially bought and set it up with the Sport Belt from Phlster, which was a nice modification. I really enjoyed the rear pockets for an extra magazine and for my card wallet when I had an outfit on without pockets and no purse or pack with me. But this preference changed when I bought and received my Levo Designs Conventional Papoose. I found the Papoose to be very essential to making the Phlster Enigma comfortable. The Papoose was also just as comfortable as the Sport Belt to me but with less bulk and surface area on my back. I also tried the Rego Concepts EnigMOD Leg Leash but I found it to be bulkier (and therefore it prints easier) and not much more comfortable than the original Phlster Enigma leg leash. I did find excellent use in the Levo Designs Bumster. It is a regular when I wear short shorts since it eliminates any visibility of the leg leash. This was an essential upgrade for me.
I read around that wedges and claws almost always add to concealment and I researched them. I initially purchased a claw with my Dene Adams IWB (Inside the Waistband) Kydex holster and I found that it was useless for me. All it did was add print and bulk to my setup. I would now think that claws would generally be useless for people of my size and stature, except for the claw on the JM Custom Kydex holster with my Phlster Enigma setup. Always use a claw with the Phlster Enigma. I also tried a wedge from Mastermind Tactics and it was, again, useless for my size and stature. I found that my flat abdomen needed no adjustment for an AIWB setup and a wedge only added print for me because it pushed the top or bottom of the gun offset and outward and added bulk to the backside of the gun, pressing my whole setup further out from my waistband. We are talking millimeters here, which normally do not matter to other users but, once again, for someone of my size and stature, every last millimeter counts. I also tried the Mastermind tactics regular non-wedge pillow and I found it to be a lesser extent of the same exact problems as the wedge for my smaller size and stature. In the end, I have found that the combo of a comfortable material of holster and the the Levo Designs Papoose (when I use the Phlster Enigma) to be the best solution to any discomfort. A plus of my body shape is that hot spots seem to be minimal since the gun naturally sits rather flat against it.
For my high waist carry option, I purchased and I am loving the Comfort Concealment Blackout Belt with Tail Tab. I combine this with the Dene Adams IWB, which I purchased with the Ulti Clip option. I situate the belt at the smallest part of my waist and tighten it till snug but not tight. The Ulti Clip handles retention issues with any belt slack upon drawing. Making it snug but not tight allows for long-term comfort. This is what I use when I can get away with it and not the Phlster Enigma since it is noticeably easier to don and doff, as well as being slightly more comfortable. It really only works with looser tops though and ones that are not too short. It sits higher than the Phlster Enigma. Due to this, it sometimes can tuck into higher-waist bottoms or else it just hangs loose under my top without any tucking in. My breasts with a loose top will hide it well in this area. I sometimes find more conceal-ability with this setup when I place it center waist instead of offset; it depends on my outfit.
Going back to the Ulti Clip: this is an essential addition for me. As a woman, I rarely wear a belt. This handy clip has proven itself time and time again. Some of my outfits simply allow me to clip that holster inside of my waistband à la carte and the clip provides 100 percent holster retention every time for me. It is a nice quick and hassle free concealment option on the occasion that my outfit allows for it. I will add here that I prefer the JM Custom Kydex hoslter over the Dene Adams IWB holster. If I could go back and do it again, I would purchase a second JM Custom Kydex holster for non Phlster carry, buy the Ulti Clip separately, and then attach it myself.
Lastly, for when I do wear a belt and want a quick easy option, I have had great success with the Galco Royal Guard 2.0. The horse hide leather is strong and lasts years but it is smooth and soft against the skin, especially on a hot day when sweat is a factor. The only problem is that its angle is not the most ideal for my AIWB position but Galco does not make a horse hide leather vertical or rear cant holster.
For any type of AIWB, as a skinny person, I hate the wind! Omg, it is truly an evil natural phenomenon for smaller CCW like myself. I don’t really have much to say here; sometimes a gun will print in the wind if the wind is blowing head-on. Try to pay attention to high wind advisories and maybe opt for a non-AIWB type of carry that day. Also, a quick save can be to pull on the bottom of my shirt with my hands and slightly outward from my body when wind flares up to avoid printing or at least allow for minimal printing. I have not had this happen, but I always thought a good excuse, if someone saw a partial print and asked about it, would be to say that it is my insulin pump because I am diabetic (I am not diabetic but just to save a potentially bad interaction). It is in the same relative area that people wear insulin pumps and the farce would only be sniffed out by others who are diabetic with insulin pump experience.
For modular carry, I have found it to be completely optional. I could cover all of my wardrobe options all of the time with the Phlster Enigma and purse/backpack carry. Then again, modular is a good middle ground for me where I can still have the safety and draw speed of on-body carry with tighter outfits where even the Phlster Enigma won’t work. I find that the modular carry is less ideal than AIWB but more ideal than purse or backpack carry.
I have found Dene Adams to be good. I really love how this company truly understands and caters to womens’ needs with CCWs. They are expensive but their products are, so far, high quality and practical for me. The expense issue can be limiting though. Considering how I only would want to wear one of their modular holster setups for a few days before washing, this would mean purchasing several hundred or even thousands of dollars’ worth of their stuff to practically have a 7 day rotation. For this reason, they are more of a case-by-case novelty wear for me. Their Nude Outer Thigh Holster Concealed Carry Shorts are an interesting option to allow for better access, conceal-ability, and retention than an inside the thigh holster but they won’t conceal as well on tighter outfits. Their Petite Nude Zipper LITE Concealed Carry Corset Holster works well for tighter outfits but I would have just gotten the Petite Natural Concealed Carry Corset Holster had I known that there is corset clips underneath the zipper which basically make the practicality of the zipper pointless. Their Nude Modular Waistband is also useful as a super comfortable and more concealable option for waistband carry with tight outfits. Please beware though that all of these modular options can be hot. I would not recommend them on a hot day. They are more of a cool evening or winter CCW solution. I will also add here that the Dene Adams Kydex IWB hoslter is advertised as being compatible with their modular products. For someone ordering size xs/s items and using a Glock 26, I found that it just does not practically fit inside of these modular setups. Someone ordering my size would have to use a smaller gun for their Kydex holster to work in their modular products. I have to use their trigger guard card instead, which makes me a bit weary because it only protects the outside of the trigger. But I don't think my body has enough extra material going on to ever risk an internal trigger press through the thick modular system material.
I also purchased the Womens Concealed Carry Thigh Holster Shorts from Undertech Undercover (a Subsidiary company of GlockStore). So far, their inside thigh holster is an excellent product but only works with longer dresses (which I rarely wear). Having a Glock 26 is at the limit of conceal-ability for an inside thigh holster though. I have read of other women having issues with rubbing in uncomfortable places with an inside the thigh holster but I have found that my taller stature seems to avoid this issue.
For purses and backpacks, there is a lot of debate but a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do. Having a slower to access gun in my purse with a higher risk of theft is better than no gun on me at all and I have lots of outfits that simply do not accommodate on-body carry at all (despite what Phlster or others like them may claim about conceal-ability... due to my scandalous wardrobe, lol). I also don’t really pay much mind to the argument that purses can be misplaced since my purse is like an appendage to my body that I am perpetually paranoid about, a mentality that is on steroids when I have a gun inside of it. It never leaves more than a foot from my body and I always place it strategically when I sit down so as to avoid a purse snatch opportunity and so it won’t leave my sight. I would say that most women have the same mentality hard-coded into their DNA at this point but, if you are not of this mindset, then please don’t carry in a purse or backpack. This can risk losing your CCW, losing your gun, imprisonment, or child/disabled adult deaths.
I just use any purse that I own that will accommodate my gun. My CCW instructor this time around was big on buying specially designed CCW purses, really harping on ones with steel-reinforced straps and/or chains. He was also a man approximately in his 60s with apparently no sense of popular fashion. I found his advice to be a bit exaggerated because:
No matter what people say, they do not make stylish purses for a fashionista name-brand girl like me. I chuckle at the companies that claim to and wonder if they are even headed by women.
Modern-day muggings are more and more rare in this digital age where fruitful fraud is a slap on the wrist and armed robbery is multiple years in prison. I have not even heard of a real-life experience of a criminal running up to someone and cutting their purse strap with a knife to snatch it. Also, which is better, a criminal cutting my strap and running off with my purse (leaving me physically unharmed), or trying to cut it, being unsuccessful, and now a struggle for my life ensues? Reporting a stolen firearm and purse due to a snatch is way better than a fight for my life.
Plenty of stylish non-CCW purses nowadays come with steel rope straps anyway if that is still a big concern.
I have also heard people say they are scared that a purse without a CCW compartment will lead to flashing a gun when opening the purse. I can always maneuver my purse (of any size) when I have to access something from it so that even someone standing right next to me won’t see the gun inside of it. I feel this sentiment is exaggerated.
No matter how I slice this topic, it just makes sense for me to not go out of my way to buy some wazoo CCW purse and just use the ones I already own. On that note, clutches are obviously out for purse carry but small hand bags or anything larger are totally a go with my Glock 26. For purse or backpack carry, I prefer to use this Galco Front Pocket Horsehide Holster. I prefer it because it is compact and it is strong but forgiving horsehide leather. Unlike a polymer holster, it will deter my gun and holster from scratching up my other items bouncing around inside of the compartment and it also deters suspicious hard knock sounds when I set down a soft purse next to me. I also carry a spare magazine in my purse when space will allow for it. If it is a smaller purse, then I opt for another Glock 26 magazine. If I can get away with it, then I opt for a Glock 19 or Glock 17 magazine (high capacity exempt). I use these magazine protectors from Ammo Armor on my magazines when I carry in my purse, backpack, or pocket. I have gone without them before and doing without can let magazines get crap in them rather quickly. I would rather have a slightly slower to access reload than one that jams or has a dead round due to contamination. I also don't want any rounds to unknowingly break free in my purse and it is only a matter of time in a purse without the Ammo Armor cover on them. The reload mag is a backup that hopefully would not be required to begin with. It is also important to insert the gun into the purse so that it faces forward with the purse on the right shoulder and backward with the purse on the left shoulder to allow for the quickest and safest draw from either side with my dominant hand. Don’t accidentally wear your purse inside-out to avoid having an awkward draw situation.
For backpack carry, I just use my gym bag backpack for workouts and active wear situations. It has an outer pocket that I combine with the Galco pocket holster. I also have a casual/work backpack that is a multi-pocket JanSport where I reserve the larger outer pocket for my gun with Galco pocket holster and a spare mag with the Ammo armor cover.
Lastly, for holsters and carry options on my body, I always opt for the closest to skin-tone as I can get since that will match against my skin the best in any color of outfit. Black holsters don’t hide well under white and etc and this is particularly important for skinny people like me, where there is minimal space between the gun setup and outer garment.
I hope that this extensive commentary can save other smaller skinnier CCW holders some headache and research. Please take some wisdom from my endless hours of research on the internet, my hassles with trial and error, and a noticeable amount of my wasted money.
Gun Type -
I use a Glock 26. Do not use larger than this. I would prefer a Glock 43 but California.
Gun accessiroes -
Do not buy: a holographic sight or extended magazine due to added surface area.
Do buy: Trijicon Di Night Sight Set or other reputable tritium fiber optic sights.
AIWB waistband tuck carry -
This is my preferred method with the gun tucked right into the curve of the skin at the rotating part of the hip joint on my draw-hand side. It is the safest and fastests system imo.
Do buy: Phlster Enigma OS, Reduced Size Buckle add-on accessory, Levo Designs Bumster, Levo Designs Conventional Papoose, and JM Custom Kydex in carbon fiber finish. Make sure to adjust the Phlster Enigma appropriately, including use of a push test.
Optional buy: Sport Belt from Phlster
Wedges, claws, and pillows: useless for my body type except that a claw is always necessary for the Phlster Enigma. Use a comfortable holster and the Levo Designs Papoose (if you are using the Phlster Enigma system).
Do buy for belt use: Galco Royal Guard 2.0. Not an ideal positioning but has multiple advantages as a product for a skinny person.
Appendix mid-waist carry/partially AIWB -
The JM Custom Kydex and UltiClip combo can also be used AIWB standalone in many cases because the UltiClip is that badass as retention.
Wind is the enemy of all AIWB as a skinny person. Pay attention to weather patterns and opt for other options on windy days, pull shirt down and out during gusts to avoid printing, and use the excuse that you have an insulin pump if a partial print is seen and questioned.
Modular carry -
Modular carry is completely optional but a good middle ground option to have between AIWB and purse or backpack carry. Dene Adams is a great female-tailored company.
Do buy: Nude Outer Thigh Holster Concealed Carry Shorts, Petite Natural Concealed Carry Corset Holster, Nude Modular Waistband, and Womens Concealed Carry Thigh Holster Shorts from Undertech Undercover (a Subsidiary company of GlockStore). Be advised that the last item may have issues with the gun rubbing in uncomfortable places for shorter women and/or women carrying a larger subcompact like the Glock 26. Also be advised that the Kydex holster will not really work well for the Dene Adams modular products if you are ordering size extra small/small while using a gun the size of a Glock 26.
Do not buy (unless the Petite Natural Concealed Carry Corset Holster is sold out): Petite Nude Zipper LITE Concealed Carry Corset Holster.
Purse/backpack carry -
Don't bother with CCW purses or backpacks unless your heart is really set on it; just use a regular purse or a regular backpack. Don't carry in a purse or backpack unless you are not at all prone to forgetting or losing sight of the bag. Purse/backpack is still a better option than no carry at all if you are not forgetful/complacent.
Lastly, always opt for as close to skin tone on CCW products as possible so that they won't show through your outer garment as easily. This is especially important for skinny people.
Please be aware that I am not responsible for your liability in how you choose to carry a concealed weapon and I am not aware of all the specific laws on what can and can't be used for carry in specific states. Do your own research and take your own risks. This is simply my input that you should utilize with the understanding that it all has risks and drawbacks and that you should seek expert advice when in doubt.