I’ve been a longtime advocate of off-body concealed carrying myself. “But your gun isn’t on your person, it’ll take longer to draw! What if it’s not near you when you need it most?!” You might exclaim. Do a Google search of “off-body carry” and you’ll find articles from supposed experts that say why it’s a bad idea. I’m here to tell you why they’re not necessarily right. Can’t pick truth from fiction, not sure whether to give it a try? Rest easy, we’ve got you covered.
I’ve developed efficient, comfortable concealment and draw methods that make my off-body carry just as reliable as any IWB holster, chest rig or ankle holster – and you can too. We’ll go over the top 5 reasons to consider off-body carry, and how to incorporate those reasons successfully into your own off-body carry method.
1. The need for concealment is too great
Look, there is no magic on-person concealed carry method that’ll guarantee your gun will never print or give itself away. Keep a tucked IWB or ankle holster, and the wrong move in an office chair or restaurant booth could end up showing that shiny tang and grip or barrel. Dress business casual with tucked-in shirts and fitted slacks? You’ll certainly have to find another carry method unless your business colleagues and customers are cool with open carry.
Concealed carrying is most effective when you can keep your weapon with you at all times – regardless of the rules around you (we’re not advocating you break the law) and that’s when concealment matters most. Your place of employment probably has a no-guns policy. You might simply be in a public sphere and don’t want to cause panic or calls to 911. For whatever reason, you just want the most concealment possible: Off-body carry will always edge out on-body carry, time and again.
A well-thought off-body carry method, like a briefcase with quick access, a by-design CCW purse, or even a smart device protective case with a weapon compartment, will always provide more concealment and less risk of exposure than on-body carry. Someone runs into your thigh on the bus or at the mall and they could feel that IWB holster under your shirt. If you’re a smaller guy or gal and you’re rocking an IWB holster or chest rig, know there will be some slight printing without wearing rather baggy clothes.
Someone frisks you at a public event, good luck not getting caught. While frisks usually include bag checks, it’s easy to retain concealment with false bottoms and hidden compartments. No one will bump into your briefcase or pick up your tablet protector and immediately assume you’ve got a handgun in there, that’s just now how we’re wired.
2. Off-body carry means you can carry anything!
Seriously, try carrying a full-frame revolver with an IWB holster – you might as well go Dirty Harry and whip it out in public because the odds of it not printing or giving away are almost nil. That said, maybe you want to carry a bit more (or a lot more) firepower than any on-body carry method would allow.
With some of the firearms available today, your options for protection are nearly limitless. Even a moderately sized backpack can fit that fancy new folding AR or a pistol-caliber compact rifle. We know, that’s the extreme, but you get the picture: You can carry a more effective firearm, extra magazines included, with off-body carry. The nice part here is concealment risks do not lessen – the bigger you go with on-body carry, the more likely it is you’ll print. But a briefcase or purse won’t care whether your handgun’s a compact .380 or a massive X-frame revolver, it’ll hold it all the same.
For smaller frame folks, even subcompacts can just be difficult to conceal on the body. In most office environments, weapons are patently not allowed. Think instant unemployment – in that case, even trying to hide a micro gun may not be worth the risk. So, why suffer carrying a small caliber that you might not be able to hide well to begin with? That’s why off-body carry is so great: Carry any caliber you want with no added risk.
3. Off-body drawing can be just as quick as a holster
It’s true and this writer has tried it. Making a quick draw from an off-body concealed carry method only requires a little experimenting and strategy. In sensitive environments, I carry a soft leather briefcase that uses two magnetically hinged buttons – no combinations, no fidgeting with levers or clips, just a simple tug. With my brief shouldered at my side, standing or sitting, I can access my Walther PPK’s carrying compartment literally in less than 3 seconds (yes, I’ve timed it with a slow-motion camera).
My briefcase carry method makes for a fluid, two-handed motion and super-fast draw: My non-firing hand grabs the flap of the briefcase and raises it. My firing hand forms a “salute” and slides under the flap as I’m raising it, straight into my carry compartment. My Walther sits at just the right angle like it would in a holster. It’s perfect. When I’m sitting and not shouldering it, my briefcase sits right by my firing hand, flap facing me, ready draw just as well.
This soft briefcase in question isn’t even a carry bag by design – I simply strategized my needs and found the container that works best. I tested it, verified it, and it works great for me. You can do the same. Is this faster than a holster? By no mean. But is it just as convenient and easy, is it about the same as a holster if we’re looking at speed? Yes.
Some more food for thought, is it crazy to carry in such sensitive environments where this is necessary? Well, answer that question yourself with another question: Are workplace violence and disgruntled office shootings real things?
4. Off-body carry is more comfortable
This holds especially true for all you lady shooters out there. Today’s fashion, for men and women, typically means low-rise belt lines, fitted thighs, straight-through ankles, fitted tees, yoga pants, athletic dress shirts, you get the picture: Carrying a heavy, metallic object within the confines of this kind of attire just isn’t the most comfortable.
Are there great IWB holsters, chest rigs and other on-body concealed carry methods that provide measurable comfort? Of course! That said, off-body carry will still be more comfortable because the containers we use for off-body carry are first designed for just that: Comfort and long periods of wear. Backpacks have padded shoulders. Smart device protectors use supple leather or cloth. Purses need no introduction. Briefcases have nice straps. All of these things can be placed on a table and taken off momentarily. A holster can’t be inconspicuously removed unless you’re in a bathroom stall or compromising concealment. Holsters also press against your body, they use metal or plastic, or most often, they use a robust fabric material that can chafe or just feel itchy.
5. Off-body carry is not any riskier or less safe
Remember those articles mentioned in the beginning? The ones claiming off-body carry is worse than on-body carry? Let’s dive into why they’re wrong – confrontational, I know, but we’re discussing safety and protection, here. The facts need to be laid bare.
Perhaps the two biggest claimed arguments made against off-body carry (besides claims we’ve disproven here about concealment and quick drawing) are: 1. Off-body carry increases the risk of loss and theft, and 2. It can lead to unwanted hands touching your piece and fatal accidents to follow.
Beyond the “Hollywood” bad guy sneaking up on you, trying to snatch your purse (in which case we say you should have positive control and remain aware of your surroundings, gun or no gun), both of these claimed risks are inaccurate to argue. These are not risks that the carry method itself presents. These are risks that are only made real by the user. Look, if you’re going to carry a loaded handgun with the intent of possibly defending your own life by killing someone else with it, you should be responsible enough to address those two risks.
For starters, don’t leave your off-body carry method out of arm’s reach. Keep it attached to your body in some fashion. Whether it’s a briefcase resting on your lap, or a purse sitting in between your legs, just keep it close. Gotta run to the bathroom? Take it with you. Keep positive control of your carry container, and you won’t have to worry about loss or theft.
Second (which is complementary to addressing that first concern), keep other people’s paws off your carry container. If you’re a parent with a young child, do you think it’s a good idea to lay your purse next to their car seat? Gun or no gun, what do you think the answer is? No, it is not a good idea. Should you leave your briefcase sitting unattended in a public place, or even at the office, where someone else can get into it? Guess the answer to this one. (No).
C’mon, it’s common sense. Off-body carry is not any riskier or less accountable than a holster if you’re a responsible gun owner and you maintain positive control. Practice simple accountability of your personal belongings, just like we all do with our wallets, phones and keys, and you’ll be fine.