If you think there's a wide variety of handguns to choose from these days, wait until you get a load of all the holsters and retention systems folks have devised for carrying them. While it's not possible to review every option on the market, here is an introduction to some of the more common holster types available.
Carrying a handgun in a bag or a purse is one of the most effective ways to conceal a defensive firearm. Few carry methods can hide the presence of a gun so completely. It also frees the carrier to wear any style of clothing he or she prefers. However, this method has two important drawbacks. First, guns in bags are slow to access. That access time is greatly increased if the bag is set somewhere out of easy reach. Secondly, folks tend to be careless with how they handle their bags. Sometimes bags get locked up in a drawer, left in a vehicle or stolen from the person carrying it. Whether through carelessness or deliberate choice, guns in bags and their owners are more easily separated from each other than guns carried on the body. When choosing to use an off-the-body carry system, the user must adopt a set of habits and behaviors that keep the bag (and by extension, the loaded gun) secure and accessible.
A number of companies are now manufacturing sports and messenger-style bags designed to tote daily necessities while concealing handguns. The US Peacekeepers Rapid Deployment Pack (Right) was designed with fast access in mind. The dedicated pistol pocket contains a universal loop-and-hook holster to fit most service-size autos. The exterior pouches are designed to house spare pistol or AR-15 magazines. The RDP can be ordered with the roomy main pocket pre-filled with a tactical first aid kit, and are available in black, tan or OD green.
Hazard 4 offers a variety of bags, but one model that's especially useful for the rigors of life in the urban jungle is the modular Tonto Concealed Carry Mini-Messenger (Left). While this bag may be compact, it has a variety of organizational features, a rugged construction and modular expandability. It’s just the right size to house needful items like cell phones and tablet computers as well as a defensive handgun. Multiple pockets can be adapted for concealed carry using the Stick-Up universal hook-fastener-backed holster. The Tonto is available in black, coyote tan or camouflage.