What’s a woman who wants to carry a full-size handgun to do? I spent some sleepless nights thinking about that one. Sure, I have an OWB holster that serves its purpose for open carry. But if I want to carry concealed, it’s a pain—really, though I attribute that to simply not being able to get it to rest in a good place, especially when I’m driving.
Then I looked into belly bands. That sounded like a viable solution, but I wrung my hands over the possibility that the length and weight of a loaded SIG Sauer P320 might be taxing on such a device.
Finally, I happened upon Can Can Concealment, a Florida company that is coming up on five years of doing business that primarily serves a woman’s needs. While Can Can offers what fits the conventional image of belly bands and a thigh garter holster, it also offers a full corset option, which looked to satisfy my concerns about holding up with a full-size gun—or two—in its pockets.
Leave it to an experienced seamstress to come up with an array of designs to serve every purpose. Darlene Cary is the lead “designer,” if you will. Before embarking on this venture, she had been sewing professionally since the age of 14. She is, in fact, an award-winning costume designer and sewing educator on national television.
After she bought a gun for personal protection and completed a training course for carrying several years ago, she went looking for a holster, but she was surprised at how few would serve a female’s purpose or work well with certain attire. So, she went to the drawing board and designed one herself.
Her first offering for the public was the Hip Hugger Classic, which best served small handguns. Not long after it debuted, woman law enforcement officers and military veterans were begging for options that would allow them to carry bigger handguns. Thus was born the Big Shebang, a wider version of the Classic. Since then, the company has been nimble enough to end up with four basic models—the Hip Hugger, the Sport Belt, the Garter and the Corset—with three width variations of each, so you’re bound to find something that fits your body and your gun. (Don’t shy away, men; the Sport Belt line will work for you, too.)
“The struggle was to make a holster that would comfortably conform to a woman’s body while working with her wardrobe,” Cary said. “Our Hip Huggers are tapered at the top to best fit a pear or an hourglass silhouette, and the Sport Belt is cut straight on the side to best fit an apple or banana silhouette.”
Can Can offers three width variations—Micro, Classic and Big Shebang—in each model to cover the full range of handguns. The sizing scheme runs the gamut from XS to 3XL, and the company specializes in customizations.
Now, if that sounds like it makes the choice about which model to buy too complicated, don’t fret. The website offers explanations about each model’s best uses and it provides a sizing chart, and the reps will work with you, as needed, to make sure you get what’s best for you.
The Big Shebang Corset, which is designed for firearms that are longer than 6.5 inches and offers a full-torso camisole style to handle the weight of a full-size handgun better, seemed like it addressed all my concerns. So I decided to give it a try.
I was a little surprised when I received a candy-apple red envelope in the mail, thinking at first that it was something from a lingerie store (well, it is a corset, after all)—but the packaging is in keeping with whole cancan dancer theme that’s at the heart of the name.
“I wanted the holster to be safe and tactical but still pretty, feeling much like sassy lingerie. I had constructed many theatrical cancan outfits in my sewing career as a costume designer and always recognized the sophisticated and alluring qualities of the cancan girl’s lace-up corsets,” Cary said. “Incorporating the flavor of the nostalgic old West into our holsters gave them a distinctive personality and visual appeal.”
The Corset design is more limiting than the others, in terms of what you can wear over it, but it offers a higher level of assurance that the gun will stay secure. And, because the gun rides a little higher than it would in a more conventional OWB holster, driving and sitting are more comfortable. It also plays a little bit to a woman’s vanity, boasting that it will give you sleeker lines. (I’m not a good judge of that, but I like that the gun profile seems harder to detect and that access to the firearm is easy.)
Can Can has been on a five-year journey that has seen improvements, not just in terms of styles, but also in terms of safety, as the company added holster tabs and magnets in the holster pockets along with non-slip grip after consulting with range masters, Cary said.
Can Can sees expanding its “Made in the USA” line of holsters and maintaining a level of superior quality over its competitors as its two biggest business objectives of the future.