On Tactical Tool Tuesday I will share with you a tool aimed at improving your life as a Woman Who Shoots. I’ll always give you my honest opinion, regardless of how I obtain the item. If you know of something you’d like me to review or discuss, please drop me a line or leave a comment below.
A little tidbit about me: I’m unlikely to concealed carry all the time. I was raised in the land of “If my pants are on, I have my .45 with me” but I believe there is a time and place for everything and I just don’t want to have a firearm on me at all times… at the moment. I reserve the right to change my mind. And I certainly advocate applying for a concealed carry permit in your state if it is possible to do so. Not just so you can exercise this right but also to make things easier for you if you are stopped on the way to and from the range. It’s never a bad idea to have a permit, going through the process of the background check (and perhaps training depending on your state), will indicate to any law enforcement officer that you take firearm ownership seriously.
With all that said, I think every person must make the decision of how and when to carry for herself (or himself). The most critical thing to think about if you decide you’d like to carry a pistol with you is how you want to carry it. Do you want to have a holster? If so, what kind? Where on your body do you want it? Can you effectively get to it there? We’ll talk more about those options in other posts but when discussing concealed carry, I think some women imagine they will carry their pistol in their purse. But is this practical? In my opinion, the answer is Yes. And No. And Yes.
Is it practical? Yes, it can be. If you are well trained, not planning to be in a larger crowd, and carrying on your person isn’t possible, purse carrying can absolutely be a solution for you. The reason I don’t suggest purse carrying in a crowd is that an external bag can be grabbed and taken or someone can potentially reach into it without you knowing in an overwhelming atmosphere. While some people have the awareness to pull off purse carrying in these circumstances, most people can’t. I don’t think I would want to do so. There are many considerations when thinking about a decision to purse carry including if you will be able to keep that purse in your control at all times. But if you are out and about in your fancy clothes, which are notorious for having insufficient pocket or breathing space, I get that a holster might not be the best option, so a purse might work.
Can you just throw your pistol in your Birkin Bag? Well, no. Actually, if you have a Birkin Bag you can pay your (wo)man servant to carry for you… but that might be the jealousy talking. The point is that your “normal” handbag is likely not a safe place for your pistol. First of all if your purse is like my purse, it would probably be rattling around in there with your keys, five lip glosses, some balled up tissue, and an entire medicine cabinet of other “necessities.” This is not a safe place for your pistol. Not only is it unsafe, but it makes it inaccessible to you if you need it. And honestly, why carry if you don’t want to be able to use your firearm in an emergency? You could leave it at home and save yourself space and excess weight in your bag, and then you’d worry. You need to be able to reach for, find, and potentially use your pistol. In this case, regular, non-modified handbag would not be my suggestion.
Do they make purses for concealed carry that are useful and fashionable? YES! YES THEY DO! And I have a favorite. Not just a “eh, I like 4 or 5 and this one might just be my favorite,” but a hands down, no doubt, most awesome concealed carry purse I have ever seen and I dare you to convince me otherwise.
Ladies (and gentlemen), I introduce you to the Ukoala Bag. This bag is practical, spacious, multi-tasking, attractive, and some (like Mr. SiL) might even say sexy.
I personally have the Shadow in Slate Blue which is really more of a grey. I purchased mine in Hillsville, VA last Memorial Day while visiting their twice annual Giant Flea Market and Gun Show which is really a lot of fun if you find yourself in Hillsville, VA on Memorial or Labor Day. I love this bag. I often wear it when I need to be hands free even if there isn’t a firearm in sight.
Now that I think about it, the Ukoala is like a modern day, socially acceptable fanny pack. The bag can be worn dangling from your hip, over your shoulder, or secured around your thigh. It comes in multiple sizes, allowing you to carry up to a 6” x 8.5” pistol. Not shabby at all. My carry guns are either an M&P Shield Performance Series or a Springfield XD 9 Sub-Compact and either will fit fine. I could likely get my Walther PPQ in there if I really wanted. In other words, this bag has room for what you need. The pouch closest to your body has magazine pouches built in, which is also nice. And there is still room for your wallet, mirror, and lipstick.
On some models, the back of the back is lined with a breathable mesh that makes the bag comfy even when you are wearing it strapped to your thigh. Mine does not, but I have worn it for many hours, including sitting, standing, and walking. It is plenty comfortable. This is honestly one of my favorite purses regardless of my carry status. You can put all of your stuff in it and still keep your hands free for the other things you need to do… from chasing dogs and kids around to shopping. This is a very handy bag to own.
For the practical aspects of concealed carry, this bag has what you need to make sure you are safe, secure, and still able to access your firearm. Each pocket has a magnetic closure that securely keeps everything closed but also allows you to get your hand into the bag without having to fumble with buttons, snaps, or latches. There is also a velcro panel inside the holster compartment that allows you to slip in a holster that covers the trigger for additional safety.
I’m separating this next part for emphasis, ya’ll. You NEED to have a holster to go inside the purse. Even with a special pocket and/or a safety on your pistol, you want to keep it steady. Ukoala offers a compact nylon holster on their website for this purpose. You can also pick up something like this as most of these in pocket style holsters will adhere nicely to the velcro. If not, a strip of velcro is cheap and you can easily add one. I have several of these little holsters around that I pick up cheap at stores when I see them. They are useful for keeping the pistol safe.
In the very back pocket closest to your body there are also elastic loops for your extra magazines. This is also helpful so you can have your backups with you in a place close to your body that is easy to reach.
There are also two pretty large zipper pockets on the front where you can keep your non firearm purse “stuff”. According to the Ukoala website, the back pouch will hold an iPad mini, Kindle, or Nook. Useful. I recommend you check out their website for some really awesome ideas on what to carry in which configuration. Below is a helpful video I’ve watched more than once for ideas.
The bag is well made and comes with an expander strap to allow women of all sizes to get maximum use of out the style. You can also buy a backpack rig for some of the models, which allows yet another method of carrying this bag (although maybe not for the concealed carrying days as it is hard to access your pistol when it is behind you). The hardware is well made and sturdy. The back looks good, feels good, and holds up well to use. This is a really great tool.
The bag retails at $139.99 – a very fair price point for the quality of this bag. They have other models starting at just over $100 and some higher end models closer to $300. There are options for many tastes and styles and I think there is something there to please even the pickiest person on your shopping list.
This gets an A+ for me as it is sexy and fun. Have you tried purse carrying? What do you think? Are there other concealed carry purses I should be trying? Let me know in the comments.