I’m sure there’s a situation where off-body carry is safer than on-body carry. I can’t think of one, given that carrying your gun in a bag/case/backpack opens the possibility that you’ll leave your firearm somewhere you shouldn’t, someone will gain access to your firearm who shouldn’t, or someone will steal your gun-schlepping bag/case/backpack (who shouldn’t). Gun guru Kevin Michalowski understands the dangers, but reckons carrying a concealed carry bag with the strap over your shoulder makes it OK. Ish. In fact . . .

Strapping a bag to your shoulder transforms off-body carry into on-body carry. The bag becomes a giant holster. Just as a fanny pack is a holster – until you take it off. Unless you’re putting your gat away, starting training, safely sharing your gun with a ballistic BFF, cleaning your firearm or something similar, the second you remove a gun from your person, you’re asking for trouble – one way or another.

WHERE’S MY BAG? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Finding a discreet, comfortable and effective gun and carry system – or various guns and carry systems to suit your wardrobe and lifestyle – is time consuming, difficult and expensive. Off-body carry is a lot easier than on-body carry. But easier does not mean safer. Or faster. Unless you don’t have a choice, and I’d like to hear how that works, don’t carry off-body.

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48 Responses to Guns for Beginners: Don’t Off-Body Carry [VIDEO]

  1. I “off body carried” millions of dollars in cash and valuables when I worked for Dunbar Armored. It certainly is possible to keep track of a bag or a package that isn’t attached to your body. I’m not an off body carry advocate by any stretch, but I’d rather have a full sized gun in a bag at my feet than locked away in a trunk or safe.

    • There is no comparison between what you are doing (moving inventoried packages from one secure location to another) and carrying a bag with you when you go to work, the grocery, McDonald’s, a friend’s house, to the movies and so on. Carry a small book bag or camera bag with you all day and then tell me it never leaves you sight. Do it for a week, a month. I do sometimes “off body” carry, and the bag never leaves my control. I always have the strap looped around my arm or foot if it is not on my shoulder.

      • Not so. My guns are inventoried and serialized (well, mostly serialized) gear that moves from one secure location to the next. I track them regardless of where they are or what container, bag, case or holster they are in. The only time they are “left” is when I’m at a range shooting a different gun or when I’m checking my targets.

    • In the extremely unlikely case you need to defend yourself with your firearm AND you can get to this gun in a backpack in time, yeah, it’s better than no carry. But in the far more likely case of its being stolen, or you leave it somewhere, it’s far worse than no carry. Nothing like making the papers because some kids found your backpack and someone got shot. And for most of us, that’s far more likely than having to defend ourselves.

  2. Or, you could see it like this. Millenials and some Gen Xers think righteousness consists in pointing out the infinitesimal possibility that something could go wrong in countless scenarios and products and that all contrary opinions result in sure death, despite THERE BEING NO SERIOUS EVIDENCE OF THE FACT. Your mothers cupped your n*ts, we get it. People leave guns behind all the time that are strapped on positive retention inside the waistband. They are inattentive. Inattentive people will always be with us. Needled*ckism is neither science nor opinion, but merely a lifestyle choice of a generation raised to fear every possibility. Now go duck your gluten and don’t get any motor oil on your hands.

    • Wow, I actually take some offense to that. I’m what I suppose is called a millenial, born ’89, and I do fear all dangerous opportunity, which is why I carry a firearm with me everywhere I go. Also, I love me some wheat bread, pizza, and beer, and I work on all my sh*t, from V-twin to V8 and everything in between. We’re not all cardigan wearing, man bun sporting, Hillary loving neck beards.

    • Born in 88 here

      Everything you said above is 100% wrong with regards to me and the people of my generation that I associate with.

      As to the topic at hand. I off body carry sometimes when it’s logistically impossible to on body carry. It has a time and a place though and the majority of my time I’m carrying on body.

  3. I’ve been considering carrying a sub2000 in a laptop backpack that i could access while wearing. More for large public open air gatherings or work than dark alley or convenience store at midnight kind of stuff. Mainly because I’m far more accurate with a carbine than a pistol and the type of threats I’d expect in those circumstances (terrorists, and wack jobs) mean if i don’t have time to get my gun out I’m probably already dead.

    • I’ve thought the same, maybe with a Scorpion and proper sling, but only for very high-threat spaces where large numbers of people are gathered- soft targets, basically. Especially given as it is legally a concealed pistol!

    • Here in WA you cannot carry a loaded long gun in a vehicle …. the ammo cannot even be in the same bag. It is probably different in your locale, but here it will get you jail time. If you are carrying a Sub2000 with ammo in a bag and then place it in your car, you are committing a crime. You could unload it before stowing, but that might be a little discomforting to bystanders. Certainly it is impractical, so a WA resident should carry a pistol.

      John Davies
      Spokane WA USA

      • “Here in WA you cannot carry a loaded long gun in a vehicle …. the ammo cannot even be in the same bag. It is probably different in your locale, but here it will get you jail time.”

        Wow. And, you accept that as…acceptable?

        There’d be a gazillion arrests here every deer hunting season…

        • Stop putting words in my mouth. The WA law is moronic and I never said it was acceptable, or that I agree with it. John Davies Spokane WA USA

      • These are all from court rulings, mostly USSC at that, just by the way..

        You have a personal Right to defend yourself.
        To do so, you need to have a firearm ON You.
        Said firearm is Useless for its purpose, ie – defending you, if it is without Ammunition.
        A Right cannot be converted into ‘a Crime’. (Not even by vociferously asserted BS.)

        Oh, there’s one more. You can use up to, and including, deadly force to prevent an illegal arrest.

        The reason that so often an officer will say “Alright, I’m going to have to ask you to (do X,Y,Z)” is because that’s literally all they can lawfully do: ask you. If you unwittingly submit to their otherwise unlawful request (thinking that it’s a command), that’s on you. They are not a legal advocate for your rights.

  4. How is carrying a pistol off body, but secured to your body, any different, safety wise, than carrying a slinged long gun?

    Not much, by my reckoning. It is possible to maintain positive control of dangerous things without them being strapped halfway up your a$$.

    • I don’t have a ccw (alameda, county, CA). The last road trip I took with the keeper wife I kept a S&W m10 in a binocular case. I didn’t want to conceal it on me, m10s are a bit much for concealed carry, so I used the case. It worked well for that trip.

        • I live dangerously. I racked a shotgun once and the noise caused an intruder to flee. According to the internet “xperts” I should have been killed by the well trained commando team breaking into my home.

          I must be badder than Bruce Willis. Or the internet “xperts” don’t know shit past their momma’s basements.

  5. Off body carry of a full size gun is an excellent complement to pocket carry. For most people, drawing from an off body method (fanny pack, laptop bag, or faux day timer) can be faster than drawing from a pocket. (It is for me, and unlike 99% of off-body carry deniers, I’ve actually timed both presentation methods on the range in live fire drills.) Off body carry, particularly backpack or laptop bag carry, is a very good way to have a larger, higher capacity pistol available, along with a spare mag and medic response gear.

    A lot of people work at places where they are prohibited from carrying by state laws and/or employer policies. That eliminates all belt-holster and untucked shirt carry options for most of them. Pocket carrying is not a zero print solution. People who pocket carry think they don’t print, but often it looks like the person has a tumor on their thigh. That level of printing is not practical for people whose job requires them to get up in front of large groups of people and talk – like teachers and salesmen and academics presenting at conferences. A backpack or laptop bag looks normal in those contexts, and is the lowest profile way to carry in “non permissive environments” that provides fast access and a firearm of reasonable capability.

    Just like pocket carry, it’s not as ideal as belt holster carry, but as someone who has used off-body carry methods at least 7000 days out of the last 20 years, with none of the negative outcomes or problems some claim are inevitable, my experience has been that it is a way to be armed in a non permissive environment when pocket and belt carry were not viable options.

    • Thank you KR.

      I have a pistol caliber carbine in a computer case for just such reasons. I carry it to venues where I believe there is a higher probability of a spree killer or multiple attackers and self-defense ranges extend well beyond 30 feet. (Example: a shopping mall leading up to Christmas.)

      I am prudent enough to live in a state that embraces both open and concealed carry so I have a full size handgun on my side in addition to my carbine in a computer case. The handgun is available for immediate deployment in the event a mugger attacks or I am at “ground zero” for a spree killer or multiple attackers. And the carbine is available if I have four seconds to unzip the bag, unfold the carbine, and charge the action.

      And I can see the utility for people who want to have a firearm available in restrictive environments. Business casual prohibits carry of a full size handgun. Healthcare workers whose bodies (especially their mid section) come into regular contact with patients cannot carry a full size on their hip or even a compact in a pocket holster. For people in those environments, their only option may be to keep a firearm in a controlled container off-body. And if you are going to do that, it might as well be a full size handgun.

  6. Don’t like off-body carry at all. Unless your strong hand is already on the weapon (in anticipation of trouble), two hands are needed to get the weapon out of the off-body carry pouch. One hand to unzip the bag and reach inside while the other hand stabilizes the bag.

    Hell, the damn shoulder strap can be used to choke and control you – especially if you are jumped by multiple attackers. I prefer keeping one hand available to fight, or to push away an attacker, while the strong hand is left free to draw the weapon during the fight from a traditional one-hand accessible holster or pocket.

    The reality is a small caliber (.22, .25, .380) drawn from the pocket during a close physical encounter and fired into a bad guys’ face is more survivable than trying to fight without hands while attempting to remove a large caliber hanging off the body. Holster and/or pocket carry for me….

  7. I can think of one scenario: as a resident of the People’s Republic of Chicago, I can’t legally carry in prohibited areas like the park, but I can legally transport a gun if it’s enclosed in a case. While not optimal, this puts me in compliance with the law while still having a weapon within easy reach and secure (with two straps over my shoulders rather than one).

  8. For the *nth time (on this blog), YES I OFF BODY CARRY. In a bag. Yes. I prefer it. For a bazillion different reasons. Yes I have thought it out. And NO, I don’t give a hoot what others say about it. It’s like Glock vs. 1911 or 9mm vs. .45 again. Give me a break

    • Amen….and way too many open carry advocates don’t use a retention holster….

      I have snatched guns in classes from those who don’t use a retention holster…the smart ones get the lesson.

      • You’ve “snatched” live loaded guns from people in a firearms training class?

        Or you’ve taken plastic training guns from unaware people in a martial arts training environment (as in, NOT a gun range)?

        One is fine, one is grossly negligent.

        Man I hope you’ve never done that with an actual firearm to an unsuspecting person…

        • If you tried that, and failed, it is near certainty you will have earned a perforation. I’d certainly shoot you.

  9. Absolutism is simply not in my vocabulary. It is okay to off-body carry!!! BUT recognize that it brings a whole lot of other concerns and complexities to the table you may not be prepared for. If you understand the complexities of this type of carry, and you are disciplined enough to do it properly, who am I to setup boundaries against it simply because I typically do not off-body carry. Personally, my EDC does not include an off-body carry option, because quite frankly, it is a level of complexity I do not want every day. When I hike and take my Jeep out on the trail, however, I often off-body carry something a bit too large to strap to my belt. You must decide for yourself if it is appropriate. Again, it is okay to off-body carry, but you must have the knowledge, training, and discipline to do it correctly…which is not easy.

  10. It’s fun, the first 500 times or so, to do the whole on body/off body debate thing. After that, like the caliber wars, it becomes tedious.

    All anybody, particular newbies, needs to take away from these discussions is that virtually nobody knows what the hell he’s talking about. This is all opinion. The more certain sounding someone is, the less likely you should listen.

    There are no absolutes in self-defense. You can do everything “right” and still die. While there may be pros and cons to various forms of carry, they don’t all unnecessarily apply to your circumstances or in every case. So just figure out what works for you, being mindful of the general limitations, and go with that.

  11. I’ve found the fanny pack to be a great option for the gym and the occasional home-carry scenario (usually weekends) where I’m lounging in sweats (otherwise if I have pants that accept a belt then my gun is on anyway).

  12. ugh, the off-body vs. on-body carry argument is the new 9mm vs. .40 argument that keeps the keyboard commandos all wound up. Yeah we get it, TTAG people hate off-body carry. Just please stop preaching about it already.

  13. I off-body carry 5 days a week. I have no intention of wearing a gun all day in my office. Not practical. I have a small bag that also holds my insulin and is non-conspicuous. It never leaves my reach at the office and never leaves my hold when elsewhere (fits on my belt). I practice drawing from the bag just as I practice drawing from several holsters which I wear at night and weekends depending on the situation.
    Opinions are like a**holes…….everybody has one and they all stink.

  14. The video is ok.

    Off body carry is generally is bad idea for all the reasons he says. But there are situations it makes sense. I do the Maxpedition thing when hiking in the woods or camping and I want a gun around. Or travelling to non-gun relatives where it can be more discreet.

  15. Best off body carry in my opinion is a fanny pack around the waste but directly in front of you. Problem is the younger men think it’s looks, well, never mind.

    I pack 2 firearms front pocket and one tucked underneath.
    But I’m going to a fanny pack cause my underneath is getting bigger and I’m packing enough ammo for Armageddon.

    If your out on the street like I am everyday not just in a car or office you better get
    your SHTF routine planned cause it ain’t getting any better out here. And the thugs are coming out of the wood work. If you are an older person like I am they had you peg the moment you moved into the neighborhood.

    Situational awareness is key in any situation in life but it starts to get loss as you grow older. I’ve gotten out of some harry situations in my life but I also had better legs and more awareness. Not looking to hurt anyone just survive. Feet & running my mouth and possibly if possible my pepper spray first, to get them off of me and or to cover or buy some time my .38.

    If I go deep I come up out with over a 100 rounds of .45 acp.

  16. “Unless you don’t have a choice, and I’d like to hear how that works, don’t carry off-body.”

    Allow me:
    I am 5’6″, 125 pounds. I don’t wear baggy clothes. The only time I can carry outside a bag(on my body) is while I am wearing a bulky jacket during cold weather. IWB during summer prints, even with my single stack Ruger LC9s(this is true even when I carry in the small of my back). Shoulder carry prints even worse, and ankle carry looks absolutely absurd. My ONLY solution- outside of cold weather- is to off-body carry in bag with a quick release latch on an outside pocket.

    I have my draw-time down to about 3 seconds[1.5 seconds too slow, if you ask me], but no other options exist.

    While I have never actually had to employ a fast draw, I have found myself in situations that gave me enough pause to position myself for a quicker draw. This action seems to have given potential attackers reason enough to turn 180 degrees post haste. I’ll never no for sure, and frankly I don’t care.

  17. I am researching off-body carry. Have long carried expensive work laptops with considerable information on them (encrypted, but still highly uncool to lose track of); it is deeply ingrained for me to stay glued to my laptop bag. It looks like some of the modern not-to-tactical-looking bags could be an efficient draw. So I am not concerned with wandering away from the pack. Having it strong-armed, maybe.

    • Same here: more years than I want to admit of “never leave your electronic devices behind” ingrained into habit. I prefer pocket carry, but that extra compartment in most satchels and messenger bags is awfully tempting. The pocket .380 is for surprise situations. The full-size 9mm in the bag with extra magazines would be in case we hear gunfire down the hall. Haven’t tried that method of carry yet, but I’ve been giving it some serious thought.

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