The Importance of On-Body Carry! Part 2: Belly Band, Corset and Compression Clothing
By Linda M. Gilbertson
Part I highlighted Fanny Pack and Pocket Carry. In summary, I have used the Fanny Pack in my concealed carry career and found it comfortable, convenient and easy. It is now difficult to maneuver the clasps as my arthritis has developed in my hands. Pocket Carry was impossible to draw from, uncomfortable to wear and definitely not stylish. In place of the pocket carry, I recommended the Concealed Carry Shirt by Silver States Apparel in Reno, Nevada. It is fashionable, comfortable and practical. I purchased this shirt as a possible alternative to my concealed carry purse.
This article deals with something a little racier. Belly Band, Corset and Compression Clothing are items worn under clothing and developed as a result of women’s’ desire for something surreptitious. Unfortunately in advertisements, all the models wearing these items are young, slim, and well-proportioned. Very few women, myself included, have these physical attributes. If items are manufactured for the perfect type of body, normal women may not be able to utilize them as they are designed. Therefore I hope my research will help you decide whether these items are for you.
Women don’t wear Belly Bands. The Belly Bands as designed, will not work for women as they are stretched around the belly and the holster holds the pistol into your waist line with the grips lying on your ribs. Because women have shape, it is harder to remove the pistol as it is so firmly held against your body that you have to lean to the opposite direction from the pistol in order to get your hand around the grip, and then you have to pull the pistol up and towards your armpit to remove it from the holster.
The female equivalent to the Belly Band is the Hip Hugger and the Sport Belt. It rides on the ladies’ hips. Made of elastic and polyester, and secured with Velcro or rows of eyelets, when fully loaded I could carry multiple pistols, additional ammo and my cell phone. I wore the Hip Hugger and the Sport Belt for two days under different clothing. The Hip Hugger secured small pistols whereas the Sport Belt was for the larger pistols. Dependent upon how you wanted to wear your pistols, by rotating the belt you could either do an Appendix draw or a Kidney draw.
To comfortably wear either you should have a long torso. When I sat down, the pistol grips stuck me in the ribs. It didn’t make any difference whether I carried the pistol(s) in Appendix or Kidney. It didn’t make any difference as to whether the barrel was 2 ½ inches or 4 inches. If I carried in the Kidney position, I had to sit against a soft backed chair to avoid the customary “clunk” you hear against the chair back. That’s a “tell” that you’re carrying. Also a fully loaded Hip Hugger or Sport Belt required pants one size larger to accommodate the extra bulk around the hips, and the ability to button or snap them, unless you’re wearing low riding jeans, spandex, a skort or a skirt with an elastic waist. Be aware however, that both items are very warm to wear as they are manufacturer with heavy duty material to accommodate the many pistols, and additional pouches.
In order to use the restroom I had to pull both items up my midriff to just below my bra line, or push them down to my thighs. I could also release the Velcro or undue the row of eyelets, but that was time consuming. I was reminded of wearing my service belt with pistol, extra ammo, cuffs, baton, and mace when I was in Law Enforcement. My service belt had to be removed so I could use the restroom. And where do you put it while ‘Mother Nature’ calls?
In their defense, the Hip Hugger and Sport Belt smooth out your hips and actually feels like wearing a girdle. My back did not stress from the additional weight around my hips. Everything felt balanced. Pulling your pistol from the holster is very easy. With training you can easily perfect the draw and presentation to your target. With the correct body proportion you can comfortably wear them. With the correct clothing, your pistols won’t be detected and you’ll have easy access to them.
Corsets come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The version I borrowed reminded me of wearing a vest. The diagrams on the website show the zipper in the front of the corset with the straps on either side of your breasts, like suspenders. Your two pistols lie against your kidneys at the back of the corset. The bottom of the corset covers your hips. It is beautifully sewn with lace, elastic and a very durable zipper.
Sitting was difficult as once more I have a normal torso and found the bottom portion of the corset pushing up and subsequently pushing the pistols into my back and at times out of the holsters. The problem with kidney carry is that if you should accidentally fall on your back, you can bruise your kidneys. I turned the corset around whereby the zipper was in the back and I used the holsters for an appendix carry. For me it was more comfortable and certainly a possibility if you don’t have the perfect body. Once more, the challenge of using the restroom required me to push the bottom of the corset up, which meant I pushed the pistol up from the holster. It concerned me as I was very aware of where my gun was in reference to the toilet bowl. I prefer the Appendix Holster while seated, as the holster sat in my lap.
Compression Clothing consists of a tank top with a holster pocket built below each arm pit for an ambidextrous effect. The concealment shorts have two holsters built into the waistline against your kidneys, for ambidextrous use. These items made of spandex and elastic fit like a glove. I wore them together for two days, with different clothing each day. I was surprised that neither the tank-top nor the shorts pinched or “rode-up” on my body. They were comfortable in cool and warm temperatures.
The Tank Top fit comfortably over my bra and the holster allowed me to carry a compact .45 without notice or discomfort. As a right hander, I chose the holster under my left arm. The grip laid against my left breast with the muzzle facing down, and with a little effort I could reach it with my right hand, unsnap the elastic strap securing it in position, grab the grip, and pull it up into my arm pit to clear the holster. Of course I was slow in the endeavor, but with time and practice I’m sure I could perfect a smooth draw and presentation. I have to be selective however with the clothing I wear over the tank top, so that it is easy access to the holster.
I was able to wear my full size XD9 with the slide pull, and it didn’t poke into my left armpit and I could pull it from the holster. I found that the extra weight, both in pistol size and magazine capacity, pulled the material down from my armpit and my arm laid in the groove of the upper portion of the back strap, with the slide pull against the back of the upper arm.
The Concealment Shorts are actually worn as underwear. If you’re a right hander and utilize the right kidney holster, you can utilize the left kidney holster for spare mags, documents or cell phones. Be aware that the left holster, just like the right holster, has a 2” hole on the bottom for the barrel to stick-through, and I would be concerned of losing whatever I placed in that pocket, particularly money or change. I would recommend sewing shut that 2” gap if you do choose to carry these items. This same information applies to the tank top as well, as the opposite holster under the arm could be used to carry personal items.
This pair of shorts is comfortable with a small 2 ½” revolver and the compact .45. The grip of both actually fit comfortably into my waist and I’m able to sit against the back of a cushioned chair without discomfort. My full size XD9 with the slide pull fit well in this pocket and I could comfortable sit on a sofa or cushioned chair even with its additional inches in both directions. On a hard back chair, all three pistols, “clunked” just like the Hip Hugger and Sport Belt.
Using the bathroom with the Concealment Shorts once more requires manipulating the item and subsequent movement of the pistol. Be aware of the possibility that as the holsters wear, they might possibly weaken and not be able to hold the pistol as securely, particularly if the bathroom manipulation results in the pistol hanging upside down.
As a result of my examination of Belly Bands, Corsets and Compression Clothing, I like the Tank Top Compression Clothing the best. Like the Concealed Carry Shirt in Part I, it did not rely upon the perfect body. It also didn’t require that I manipulate the pistol in order to comply with the demands of “Mother Nature.” The Tank Top is a keeper and definitely a possible replacement for my concealed carry purse.
I want to credit both Gun Goddess, Las Vegas, Nevada and Can Can Concealment, Holiday, Florida for supplying me with loaners to research and evaluate for the purposes of writing this article, and for the pictures which depict the items on attractive bodies.
In Part III we’ll examine the Bra, Waist, Thigh and Ankle Holsters. Once more a racy topic which will be handled with grace, style, and dignity.