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Fanny Packs and Executive Holsters _ Shooters’ Chic in the New West

September 18, 1995

PHOENIX (AP) _ In the Old West, a man wore his six-shooter on his hip for all the world to see.

Nowadays, many men and women prefer to go armed discreetly, and they’re finding ways to pack a piece in style.

In the New West there are purses with quick-draw gun compartments, holsters disguised as neon-hued fanny packs, even a phony executive organizer that can hide any one of more than 80 makes of guns.

A flood of products for chic shooters has hit the market in the year since Arizona made it legal for the first time for ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons.

Jim Eden, who decided to start packing a couple of months ago after a bullet whizzed over his head while he was on his way to a business meeting, picked up an Anytimer.

The $100 holster looks like one of those executive organizer notebooks. But inside is a foam-padded compartment for a gun.

``I think it’s a gentlemen’s way not to be belligerent or outrageous about carrying a gun,″ says the 62-year-old president of a chemical company. ``It’s something you can carry anywhere with you.″

In the best frontier tradition, it has always been legal in Arizona to carry a gun as long as it is worn in plain sight. While it isn’t an everyday thing, the sight of someone with a holstered sidearm doesn’t raise many eyebrows here.

Since the concealed gun law took effect in October 1994, 30,000 people have taken the required firearms safety course and picked up a permit from the state.

Many of them are toting their guns in specially made fanny packs. The $60 packs come in leather or a range of colors including neon pink.

In the scorching desert summer, it beats wearing a jacket to hide that shoulder holster, says Drew Nolan, an assistant manager at the Shooters World gun shop.

Papago Concealment Systems of Scottsdale has sold about 150 of its Anytimers since putting them on the market a few months ago, says the product’s designer, Daniel Tschudy. For the executive who’s loaded for bear, there are also briefcases and purses with quick-zipper side pockets for guns.

``If you wear a three-piece suit, you’re obviously not going to use a fanny pack,″ Nolan says.

Less elaborate holsters with elastic bands are designed to tuck a pistol inside the shirt, at the ankle or even on the thigh under a skirt

Lt. Tom Clinkenbeard, who heads the Department of Public Safety division that administers the concealed weapon law, uses the fanny pack himself but notes that its growing popularity means a lot of people can spot it for a holster.

``If you’re familiar with some of the different models, the trained eye could pretty well tell if the fanny pack is designed to carry a weapon,″ he said.

Nolan says the drawstring sticking out the top is a dead giveaway.

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