Summer is upon us, and soon (if not already) ladies will be trading their jeans, leggings and, flannel for summer dresses, sandals and, flowy skirts. These softer, cooler fabrics are typically not well suited to carrying a firearm, which is one of the reasons that a concealed carry purse is a great option for many ladies in summer.
When discussing concealed carry bags, one cannot avoid the elephant in the room, the large group of nay-sayers, and instructors who teach that one must never carry off-body. Whilst I understand the reasoning behind their concerns, with planning and forethought, the advantages far outweigh the risks. Bags specifically designed for concealed carry mitigate a lot of the associated risks. One such bag manufacturer is Cameleon Bags.
Gone are the days of faux alligator, gaudy, Rhinestone Cowboy-Esque concealed carry bags. In past years, it has been my biggest gripe (along with exorbitant price point) with concealed carry purses. The way that they stood out in an almost vulgar fashion, made me feel like a bigger target, the same way 2A bumper stickers would on a car. I want my CCP to look like any other bag that I could have selected at any department store, and I want to pay a comparable amount for said bag. I was pleasantly surprised at the offerings from this company, the bags are tasteful and affordable, and I was spoiled for choice.
The bag that I selected easily accommodated a laptop and work essentials, and would function well as a weekend travel tote. It has ample room, and the exterior and interior pockets are a lovely touch for keeping daily essentials easily accessible, and not have them get lost in the abyss of the very spacious interior. I would have liked to see an additional zippered interior pocket, for securing smaller items.
Cameleon bags feature cut-proof wiring in all their straps, for added security. The length of the straps on the Rhea bag was perfect. I could easily clutch the bag under my arm for safe carrying, and more importantly, this allowed me to access my firearm one-handedly.
The CCW compartment is located in the center of the bag and well-padded. Carrying a full-size pistol is one of the benefits of purse carry and the bag still felt well balanced. The reinforced bottom ensures the bag stayed upright. The CCW pocket is accessible from one of 3 ambidextrous zippers making it easy to draw from any direction. As a test, I tried to intentionally dry fire the gun whilst in the interior pocket, I was unable to do so through the secure lining of the compartment. It is unlikely that any loose objects could actuate the trigger through the paneling.
The Velcro-lined pistol pocket allows the user to personalize the placement of a holster. Some of the Cameleon collection come with matching holsters. The Rhea bag did not have a holster included, but there are several options available to suit individual needs. Cameleon holsters can be purchased separately, they are simple hook and loop holsters that would fit a variety of firearms. The holster is inexpensive ($9.99), and for this reason, I think it should have been included with the purchase. Vertx® Tactigami would be a great option if you carry a weapon light, and the off-set roll makes it easier to establish a consistent grip.
I used a Raven Concealment VanGuard 2 Minimalist holster that I affixed to the interior with a short Velcro strap. I like this setup because it gives me the added security of having a Kydex trigger guard. Additionally, if I had to leave my bag in the car or a locker, I do have a holster on hand. It kept my firearm in a secure stable position, no matter how much I jostled the bag throughout the day.
Did it work?
This bag checked all the boxes for me. I could get smooth, consistent draws from concealment in just under 2 seconds. The CCW pocket zippers and pulls are smooth, slightly oversized which enabled me to draw the firearm without needing both hands and while maintaining visual contact with the target. This particular bag is made from Vegan leather, there are beautiful leather options available for Purse Purists. It is well made, comfortable, lightweight, and stylish, a great option if you are looking for a summer tote.