The perfect women’s shooting short is hard to come by. If you’re like me, when you do find it, you buy every available color in your size. The chances of finding more of this fabled wearable is extremely unlikely. Some might even consider it short hoarding.
Whether you plan to conceal carry or hit the range for competition, there are many factors to consider when looking for the perfect short for shooting. Three common styles that women turn to for their shooting needs are of the tactical variety, a technical/cargo style short, or women find a casual pair that happens to have the features they are looking for. Tactical shorts are often the most durable and meant for rugged use, but some women do not prefer this look. Technical shorts can be pricey, but offer the bonus of moisture wicking material and modern styling. Casual or fashion shorts are often times the most affordable options, but may not stand up to the demands of a gun belt and can require additional alterations.
1. The Right Rise – With a rise that is too low, your gun and magazines will feel like they are flopping around. High rise shorts force your gun to sit closer to your arm pit and make it tough to draw and reach your magazines. I like my belt to sit right on top of my hips and I look for shorts that fit accordingly.
2. Appropriate Belt Loops – Women’s pants and shorts generally come with flimsy belt loops. The first question when looking at the loops is, can you thread your gun belt thought them? Are they thick and sturdy enough to handle the job? You also need to consider how they are spaced. I once tried on a pair of so-called shooting shorts for women that had so many thick belt loops there was no way for me to fit my magazine pouches or holster. You can, if you have seamstress skills, sew belt loops on to your shorts, but that involves finding appropriate material and a bit more work than I am willing to do.
3. Flattering Fit – Shorts that are too tight or too loose are not only unflattering but, more importantly, uncomfortable. Comfort is key for long days on the range or carrying concealed.
4. Comfortable Inseam Length – How long or short your shorts are is a personal preference. Some women like a bermuda length short or capri, others prefer short shorts. I am somewhere in between. Long shorts, or even pants can be tailored to an ideal length, but that also adds to the cost.
5. Durable material – Do the shorts have easy wash and wear care? Will they shrink or become wrinkly? You’ll want to avoid materials that irate your skin or cause chaffing. Moisture wicking fabric is a bonus for hot summer days and I look for shorts that give and allow me to move well in and out of positions like kneeling and squatting.
6. Pockets – Too many pockets can make a shooting short look baggy or bulky. Do you like the closures? Are there enough? Can you easily access any pockets? I feel that pointless pockets just collect items I will forget about and ultimately end up in the washing machine.
7. Color Options – Are you looking for shorts beyond the color tactical tan? If you’re lucky enough to find shorts that fit all the criteria above and you have color options to choose from, consider the colors that look best with your skin tone. Think about shades that will show dirt easily and remember that dark colors can be very hot in the summer.
If you’re in the hunt for a short that works for inside-the-waist-band (IWB) carry, look for adjustability. Some shorts can accommodate an IWB holster that also allow you to cinch the waist band for the days you don’t carry in this manner.
When trying on shorts in a store, try to bring your belt with you. If that’s not possible, fold a piece of paper the width of your gun belt and keep it with you while you shop. Move around in the dressing room to simulate shooting positions. If you’re able to return the clothing easily, purchase more than one size so that you can test and try out with your gear at home.
Finally, the perfect short fits your personal style. The ideal short is one you can wear comfortably on the range and a trip to the grocery store, a walk in the park or out for coffee. Good luck!
Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world and captain of Team Smith & Wesson. She has won more than 120 championship titles in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in seven different shooting disciplines. Learn more about the champion, author, veteran, hunter and outdoor television personality at JulieGolob.com. View all posts by Julie Golob