There is no one size fits all solution for concealed carry. With different body types, preferences, comfort levels, and competency, finding the right holster and pistol combination can be a challenge. Whether it’s lifestyle, health, or capability, concealed carry is a journey that involves not only progress but compromises as well. When you do find a winning combination, it can be a genuine eureka moment.
Right: The Standard Enigma (left) allows you to choose your preferred compatible holster to pair with it’s chassis.
My CCW Journey
Like many women, my concealed carry journey started with off-body carry in a purse. As a young female in my 20’s, I didn’t want to compromise on clothing or fashion. As a very proficient shooter with numerous national titles, I felt I could protect myself if I had to and I could carry a much larger firearm in a handbag. When I became a mother, my outlook changed. It wasn't just me I needed to care about.
I started expanding my skills with smaller pistols and exploring on-body carry. Initially, I turned to a J-frame for its weight and round curves. Even though I didn’t shoot it as well as a larger framed, semi-auto and it had less capacity than I was used to, its small size made it both easier and more comfortable to conceal for longer durations. I started by carrying outside the waistband (OWB) behind the hip, but it wasn’t long before I transitioned to inside the waistband (IWB) and in the appendix position (AIWB). This location not only gave me secure and quick access but also allowed me to carry a child on my hip.
Then the evolution of micro-compact, striker-fired pistols along with engineering developments to increase capacity changed the game. When the M&P® Shield™ came out, my J-frame took some time off in the gun safe as I transitioned to the new Shield platform. Appendix carry holster options were also increasing, but like with many women, it was difficult for me to have a truly consistent CCW setup. With the different rise options in pants and the locations of belt loops, I felt I was constantly adjusting my clothing and gear to accommodate my handgun.
When I first heard about the Enigma™ holster by PHLster™, I was intrigued by the idea of not having to have to worry about concealing a belt and buckle. This meant I wouldn’t have to search for pants with belt loops large and strong enough to accommodate an appropriate belt. The idea of being able to properly secure a pistol and wear leggings or even a skirt was exciting. I knew I had to try it and purchased one.
What is the Enigma™?
The Enigma™ is an appendix holster chassis system that uses a faceplate to attach a holster. A thin, yet strong belt and a leg leash secure the handgun close to the body and allow for superior concealment. The pistol can be positioned on the front of the body anywhere from 10 to 2 o'clock.
Too many people make compromises in the “concealed” part of concealed carry. For those who are serious about CCW, the goal is not only to be able to defend with a firearm, but we strive to do so as discreetly as possible throughout everyday life. This is where the Enigma really shines. You can adjust where your pistol rides by moving the holster up or down regardless of where your pants sit. You can make changes in how the grip rotates into your body and use wedges to press the pistol grip close. Instead of dressing to your clothing, the Enigma allows you to position your pistol where it’s most comfortable and the best location on your body to avoid printing. Most of all, the Enigma provides a level of consistency that can be tough to achieve for some. With the pistol in the ideal location for concealability, regardless of what you’re wearing, this combined with good training gives you the best chance for success when it matters most.
Setting up a holster takes time. Making adjustments to my competition holsters is a process that can take not only hours at home, but significant time on the range too. Small adjustments can make all the difference in speed and consistency. The Standard Enigma is no different and where other holsters may be simple and easy, they may not allow you to truly maximize your concealment potential in the appendix position. The Standard Enigma from PHLster is the build-your-own option. You assemble and customize it to you. Pairing with a Kydex® shell, innovations in accessories like a wider sport belt and a wedge kit adjust how the holster sits against the body add further options.
The Enigma Express™ eliminates a lot of the legwork. It comes fully assembled and ready-to-wear for select models, including the Shield and Shield Plus. Just put it on, tighten the belt and fit your leg leash to your thigh. The Kydex® shell is already attached and ready for you to make any adjustments in grip rotation and how the pistol tucks to your body.
As someone who carried AIWB for years, with the Enigma, I had my first eureka moment in concealed carry. Not only could I carry a larger pistol, with more capacity and a longer sight radius, but carrying a gun has never been more comfortable and easier for me. Hiking, working outside, driving, you name it, I’m not having to constantly adjust my belt or trying to hide additional bulk from a thick belt and buckle. My pistol is appropriately concealed and now, every time I am carrying, my Shield Plus™ sits on my body where it makes the most sense for me.
Safety is also a major concern for me. My pistol is secure with the Enigma inside a Kydex shell with necessary, true trigger guard protection. With my Enigma and holster in the appendix position, moving my hand on and off of my pistol is discreet. When reholstering, a slight shift forward with my hips allows me to safely reholster without ever pointing the muzzle towards my body. All these things and more increase the feelings of being safe, confident, and ready.
Even if appendix carry or the Enigma holster is not for you, remember that concealed carry is a journey. Making certain compromises in safety and how secure your handgun is on your body are to be avoided. Keep researching and looking for options for better concealment, comfort, and reliable consistency and I hope you find your CCW eureka moment too.
To learn more about the Enigma and the Enigma Express visit phlster.com. Be sure to check out the Enigma Fit Guide and also PHLster's informational tools on concealed carry mechanics. Check out their education resources here.
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