*Note from Shane: The opinion on off body carry varies from person to person. My short opinion on the matter ; On body is preferred, but off body is an option that I have utilized in various circumstances I wont go into here. I have noticed that alot of the arguments against off body carry center around tragic incidents of children discharging the weapon. I personally don’t consider this an off body carry but rather an education and awareness problem. Regardless of your position the author below points out a few good points on both sides to think about. Enjoy!
I have been imploring people to “carry a gun” for years. I mean really, if you think you need a gun for self-defense, then you HAVE A GUN with you at all times. You see, if you can accurately predict where and when the next attack will come, well, I want to be your friend and hang around with you all the time. Then we can avoid those attacks together and we will never need guns.
Until such time as you become clairvoyant and until such time as the “gubment” creates a “pre-crime unit” as we saw in the Tom Cruise film Minority Report, I will continue to suggest that you carry a gun.
Here is the rub: sometimes it is not really practical or possible to carry a gun on your person. But you still should have a gun. So what is a person to do?
An option, but not the only option, is off-body carry.
Off-body carry is simply defined as carrying a gun in a conveyance that is not attached to your clothing. (A good holster matched with a good belt is a prime example of on-body carry, but pocket carry also qualifies as on-body carry as long as the garment with the pistol in the pocket stays on your person.) Examples of off-body carry options include purses, man-purses, satchels, day planners, backpacks, brief cases, and basically anything else that allows you to hide a gun.
The benefits of off-body carry include comfort, convenience, concealment, and capacity.
A gun in a bag, backpack, or briefcase doesn’t dig into your hip or bang on the arms of your chair when you sit down or stand up. You won’t have a backache from leaning away from your gun side while you sit and you won’t be constantly adjusting because you made the belt tight enough to support the gun but so tight you can’t get comfortable.
Securing a gun in an off-body container is simple. Most such packs come with rudimentary internal “holsters” that attach with Velcro. Several companies are making kydex and leather holsters backed with Velcro that allow you to simply stick the holster in place, insert the gun, and go about your daily business.
There are some rules you need to remember if you’re going to utilize an off-body carry method. First up, use some sort of internal holster that covers the trigger guard. Do not simply let that pistol bounce around in the bag. This is not only a safety issue, but an access issue, too. If that pistol is moving around in there and you have to reach for it, you will not know where the grip is. Secondly, the pocket or location you choose for your gun should be exclusively for your gun. Do not be putting keys, pens, lipstick, chapstick, beef jerky, or anything else in there. Any such items can impede your grip and draw or they could hang up in the trigger, causing a negligent discharge.
Off-body units certainly do provide deep cover for your gun. Most of the time, firearms virtually disappear inside these bags or pouches. You won’t have to worry about “printing” or running afoul of any of those wacky brandishing laws some states have.
You can also carry “more gun” in most off-body options. If you really want a full-sized gun, but you can’t hide it on your hip, a briefcase or satchel works wonders.
Many companies also make off-body carry options that look like real fashion accessories. For years, it seemed that everyone in the gun business thought all things needed to be “tactical.” Black nylon and Velcro, MOLLE loops, and drag handles ruled the day. Now you can get waxed canvas, nice leather, or really nice looking handbags for the ladies. Just look around.
It is very true that you can’t get something for nothing. All those benefits come with some downsides; namely access and acquisition. (Did you see how I did that alliteration thing on both sides of the pros and cons list? Call it creativity.)
On the access side of things, off-body carry is not a quick-draw proposition. You have zippers, flaps, and straps getting in the way of your draw. You will likely have to reposition—or better yet, pre-position—the bag for the draw. All this takes time, but someone with good situational awareness will use those skills to his or her advantage. You also have to be aware that if you have a gun in an off-body carrier, you could potentially set that container down and walk away. Or you could put your briefcase on the floor as you eat lunch or ride the train. If you carry off-body, you MUST keep control of the item that contains your firearm at all times. If the bag with your gun is in the overhead bin on the train, or the back seat of your car as you drive, or the far corner of your office or workspace, you have an access issue.
Acquisition is not about your ability to acquire the gun. It is about someone else’s ability to end up in possession of your firearm. Think about it: there is a whole class of criminal behavior centered on grabbing bags from unsuspecting victims.
If someone grabs your bag in hopes of getting your computer, tablet, smart phone, or wallet and they end up with a bonus firearm, well, that’s just doubly bad for you.
To avoid this, I suggest slinging the bag not just on one shoulder, but instead completely across your chest. This is not a surefire deterrent, but bag snatchers will likely look for an easier target if they feel they can’t quickly separate you from your bag.
Off-body carry is an option. I’m not saying it is the best option, but for places where you really don’t want people to know you have a gun, carrying off-body provides some great benefits.
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