The topic of carrying your gun on or off body elicits very strong opinions. The discussions surrounding it can get downright nasty! Typically, those that desire or have no choice but to carry off body are hammered by those that believe it is a mortal sin to do so. Here’s the bottom line, owning a gun but not having it with you in the moment you need it must never happen. So, is one method better than the other? Can you carry off body safely? I’ll dig into these questions as we move through this article.
Let’s talk basics…
Question: What is on-body carry?
Answer: Carrying your gun on and attached to your body. Even though it sounds and seems very simple, carrying your gun attached to your body or clothing is not. Your gun must be holstered and securely fastened to a part of your body or a piece of your clothing (that will not be taken off at any time) to successfully carry on-body. It must be done so it cannot be seen by others, with the trigger fully covered and protected, will not fall out during normal daily activities, and be easily and quickly accessed should you need it.
Question: What is Off Body carry?
Answer: If your gun is being carried in anything other than a holster attached to your body or clothing, then this is considered off-body carry. It could be a purse, a briefcase, backpack, a jacket that will be taken off, or even in your dog’s harness (Yes, I have seen this). If what is containing your gun is something that can be taken off of your body then I would consider it off body carry.
Question: Is one better than the other?
Answer: Yes, carrying your gun attached to your body is better and safer. Why? Because your gun is not and will not be accessible to anyone other than you. You have complete control over it. It is on you no matter what you are doing, no matter where you go. It is not possible to leave it behind or within reach of anyone other than you.
Read my article on In the Waist Carry
Read my article on On the Waist Carry
Here is why people get so heated about this subject – a gun carried off body is vulnerable to an unauthorized person, heaven forbid a child, gaining access to it. The article carrying the gun could be forcibly taken away from you or once you put the bag carrying your gun down, hang it on the back of a chair, lay it in the basket of a grocery cart, put it under your desk at work, lay it on the kitchen counter after work, someone else, anyone else can get to it. You have now lost control of the gun. This creates a HUGE risk. There are way too many horror stories with unimaginable outcomes of children and others gaining access to guns carried off body.
Question: Can You Carry Off Body Safely?
Now that we know that on-body carry is safer. There may be times, however, for a number of reasons when you must choose whether to carry off body or not carry your gun with you. As I shared in the opening paragraph, having your gun with you is better than not having it at all. Understanding the risks associated with off-body carry and taking responsibility to eliminate these risks is the key to safe off body carry.
Where to Carry Off Body
The item you use to hold your gun is extremely important. It must have a compartment dedicated to holding the firearm and only the firearm. Nothing else! Why? Any item loose in this compartment can wedge itself within the trigger guard. If this happens, it could result in a negligent discharge. If the “bag” does not have a built-in holster, the gun must be holstered in the compartment. This is to prevent a negligent discharge when reaching into the compartment to draw the firearm. Use a holster with Velcro or another attaching system to hold the holstered gun in place in the compartment. Read my article on carrying in a concealed carry purse.
I believe it’s necessary to commit to a number of Do’s and Don’ts if you choose to carry off body.
- DO carry the bag/pack in a manner that it can’t be easily taken from you. If it has a strap, carry it crossbody.
- DO keep it on you at all times. Even when shopping, using public restrooms, and socializing.
- If you must take it off i.e. At work – you must have a locked, safe place to put it.
- Don’t take off the jacket or sweater if you are carrying it in a pocket, even if it’s uncomfortable.
- NEVER leave your gun in ANY vulnerable location.