How Do You Off-Body Carry?

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Off-body carry — carrying a concealed gun in a a briefcase, backpack, purse, whatever — isn’t ideal. It usually makes it more difficult and slower to access your gun. Then there’s the fact that whatever you’re using to carry your gun isn’t attached to you. You’ll put it down at some point and won’t be in control of your gun. That makes it easier for a thief to grab it or for you to forget it.

But whether it’s ideal or not, off-body carry is a reality. It’s the only method a lot of people are comfortable with.

Whether because of the weight or an inability to conceal a handgun given what you’re wearing, tens of thousands of people choose to carry a concealed handgun in something they carry rather than with something they wear.

Holster makers and others have come up with some imaginative ways to do that that do an excellent job of hiding the fact that you’re armed. This is Galco’s Idefense that also holds a tablet.

It’s made of leather and looks exactly like the kind of portfolio that lots of people use on a daily basis. You can sit in a meeting room with your gun right there on the table and no one should be the wiser.

They make a couple of other versions of similar design, one called the Defense Planner and the amusingly monikered Hidden Agenda. All you have to do is keep it with you at all times and make sure you’re in control of it.

Do you off-body carry? If so, in what? With an awful lot of brand new gun owners out there and concealed carry classes busier than ever, what advice would you give to a new carrier on the best way to carry off-body?


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  1. Never! I have a range master friend who can conceal carry when she’s wearing pajamas. With all the new CC holster options there is no good reason for off body carry anymore.

    • I have seen so many people adamantly posting here how there is no good reason for off-body carry. All I can say is that as a disabled person with physical issues, I will NOT allow my weakness and physical condition as a “rob me now” excuse when I go out. Can everyone wear a holster without pain or discomfort? I know I can’t. Where was it that I read somewhere that a firearm was meant to make people equal? All you metaphorical blind folks who think that the whole gun owning community is some tactical ninja with 2 legs, 2 hands, 2 ears, 2 eyes and the speed and stamina of Usain Bolt are sadly unaware that there is a whole wide world of people out there.
      Do I carry? Yes. I deserve to have a means to defend myself.
      Do I carry on-body? No. Not comfortable or feasible.
      Should I take the position that there is no reason to carry off-body? Never.
      To all the ignorant people out there, open your eyes. Gun owners are not a single size, shape, color or sex.

      • Well said. There are tons of situations where off body is better than nothing. The working class understands.

      • I “off-body” carry in a pistol bag, as does my wife.

        Whereas I understand the arguments against it and in favor of on body carry, my wife and I are in the medical field (I’m a research biochemist and my wife’s an RN nurse). The prohibitions against firearms in most medical work stations is absolute unless your job is security.

        We could both lose our jobs, our income and perhaps even our future in the medical field if we were found to be toting on-body a firearm in our work environments. The above article doesn’t seem to consider the outside influences like employer prohibitions against guns in particular workplaces.

        Pity that.

        • I addition, many medical facilities, particularly those which house and treat mental patients, use metal detectors and prohibit firearms on-site PERIOD!. Heck, when I was in medical school getting my Ph.D. they had metal detector screenings at every entrance.

          Essentially, the situation, particularly with respect to employment, matters in whether or not you’re allowed to be armed either on-body or off-body.

          This should not be ignored.

  2. Nope. The only time my gun isn’t on my person is when I’m sleeping or in the shower, and then it’s about a 16″ away from my hand. It’s on my person at home or out. I don’t go anywhere that’s a “Gun free zone”

    • Conversely, when I am somewhere, that somewhere is NOT a “gun-free-zone”, regardless of what is posted or believed by others there.

  3. About the only time I carried a handgun “off-body” was when I was in a bathing suit. In that circumstance, I carried a handgun in a small “technology” case which is about the size of a tablet computer although substantially thicker.

    I have also carried a Kel-Tec SUB-2000 carbine folded in half in a notebook computer case.

  4. I have one of those Berne concealed carry winter coats, where the pockets rip away. I use a holster that adheres to the Velcro strips inside the hidden compartment. Magazines on the other side. It’s a really good solution for outdoors or driving in cold weather but as soon as you get somewhere and take it off it becomes off-body. I usually wear an IWB or belly band and move the gun to that once I’m indoors. That’s the closest to off-body I get.

  5. How do I off body carry?
    I don’t.

    As for everyone else. Your free to do as you wish.

  6. I’ve had my FL CWP for 29 years. During these 29 years, the only times I have not had a handgun with me is when I am subject to a metal detector and/or physical search for entrance to property. I prefer having access to a handgun, and therefore I avoid going places that restrict my ability to carry (I have even refrained from traveling on commercial airlines for over a decade now). In short- I’m always heeled. Additionally, I’d estimate that at least 75% of these 29 years of licensed carry has been off-body.

    In my experience, off-body carry is inherently easier, is more comfortable, more secure, more versatile, and offers me a much greater range of weapon choice and firepower than on-body concealed carry. I have designed my self-defense regimen around off-body carry- it’s what I practice for, and what I’m most comfortable with.

    Interestingly (or ironically), I have been wheelchair-bound for the last 3 years- and off-body carry is immanently applicable to being in a wheelchair. So, I have not had to “retrain” myself at all after becoming paraplegic- how lucky!

    FYI, wheelchairs set off metal detectors, so…

  7. Can’t carry at work so when I leave the house and get in the car my gun is in the ultimate tactical gray man plastic grocery bag.

  8. Off body carry? No.
    If so, how? I said no.
    Advice? Don’t.
    For all the reasons given and more, not a fan and my advice follows suit. I carry every day, either Shield 9mm or M&P9c 4 o’clock IWB, or 642 right front pocket, depending on weather, clothing, activity, and environment. I know advice is given against carrying a variety of actions and operations, but all three are pull, point, and pew.

  9. I never carry off-body unless it is a second firearm. Obviously I am not including such moments as taking a shower or a swim.

    Years past I did EMT and technical rescue work. Learned that having a concealed pistol was something a number of them did. Not everyone, but some and the local deputies knew and approved. Carrying any weapon would get you instantly fired if caught, but I knew one paramedic who kept a piece in an ankle holster. I kept a .38 in my personal jump bag, or my SAR pack. Later that was replaced with a 9mm. All that’s over 30 years ago now.

    A lady I know modified a handbag by cutting up an Uncle Mike’s nylon holster and sewing it inside. Worked for her, and that was before gun hiding lady’s handbags were commonplace.

  10. I would have said ‘No’ too, but then I had laparoscopic surgery that made wearing a belt uncomfortable for a while. Bum shoulder made a shoulder holster untenable. I pocket carried (in a pocket holster) in my jacket when I went out. The question was what to do when attending church? I wasn’t going to wear a coat the whole service and I wasn’t going to pants pocket carry without a belt to hold everything up.

    My solution was a small Drago brand range bag that was only a little bigger than the bible covers everyone used before cell phones. No one even wondered what I was carrying. This was a short term solution to a specific problem and for church carry only. Once everything healed I returned to my usual on body carry.

  11. I’ve thought about it quite a bit as someone relatively new to concealed carry, which is why I read this article and all the comments. My biggest concern has been that a crook is more likely to target your bag for theft, especially if it looks like a tablet or laptop case. Imagine their joy discovering they’d snatched a piece instead of an iPad.

    • Nearly all of my off-body carry rigs have either been secured to me or to something close to me, and many of them were lockable. But, most importantly, as with all self-defense plans- situational awareness is paramount.

      Off-body carry is not conducive to a fast draw ethos, and that’s where mental preparedness, situational awareness, and dedicated practice prove indispensable.

      Practically anything that your firearm of choice will fit into can be used effectively for concealed off-body carry- you just have to be imaginative, thorough. and prepared.

  12. A long-ago boss carried a Glock19 in a false bottom of her purse. Nobody knew about it until we were accosted by an especially aggressive beggar in a parking lot. Standing in the middle of a parking lot, I thought she was going to shoot that guy. He thought better of the confrontation and left.

  13. I still do not understand how women go about their daily business and never seem to leave their purses behind. My women-folk seem to have an intuitive attachment to their purses. They always know where they are… and when my women-folk stand up, they automatically attach their purses to themselves.

    Me, I never even remove my hat because, when I get up to go, the hat won’t go with me. And it will not call out to me. Somewhere, out there….I hope my orphaned hats have found good homes with a parent more thoughtful, and less absent- minded, than me.

    So, off-body carry…no….not a good idea for someone like me.

    • Carry your gun in your hat… that should keep you from forgetting it.

      If that won’t help… good luck to ya. Do you wear a name tag? 😉

    • After reading your comment, I just realized where some of my hats went. Or rather didn’t went.

      • true story: i left my new duncan imperials jagermeister cap at a restaurant called bimbo’s.

  14. Most times, it’s on my hip. Sometimes, it’s in a messenger or sling bag.
    Handy that way. Like the hike last weekend. I was just a regular joe with a sling bag and two water bottles.
    Shorts and a t shirt. Not wanting to cause any ruckus, I just threw the bag over my shoulder and looked like 50 other guys.

  15. In a front seat bag when I’m driving.

    Then back in the holster when I get out.

    • ok, I have multiple guns when driving, in the vehicle, in my pack, and on me. I don’t understand why you would upholster though. That makes no sense. If you are worried about not being able to access it, and have a “front seat bag”, then carry a second gun in the bag. Not saying it should NEVER be done, but unless you are going from a spot where you simply cannot carry into, then back to your vehicle, or from your vehicle to that spot, you should not be removing your firearm and reholstering that often just because driving. Shit, buy a hi-point if you cant afford more than one gun.

      • Can’t draw easily from 3:30 when wearing a seat belt, hence the seat bag (actually a seat organizer from Duluth.)
        I sometimes have a second gun assessible in the truck but it depends on where I knight have to park or if have passengers.
        If I have passengers I carry a gun in a bluestone vest.
        I don’t carry a pack (modern man purse) as I go about my day.
        Normally the holster and gun come out together (FOMI clip IWB) so I don’t see it as overly complicated.
        If I was going to carry a HiPoint, I’d just get another Glock, Ruger, etc.
        As I often drive 5 or more hours in a stretch, it makes sense to me.
        May not be for everyone, but I’m not responsible for them.

  16. I usually tote my hawgleg in a burlap sack. That way if a feller don’t need kilt, I can jest whomp him up side the head a time or two without even reaching in the bag. If I go hunting I can use the bag to haul dead squirrels and possums and such.

  17. I wear an Aerostitch-like oversuit when I bike commute. It’s like a baggy fluorescent yellow coverall with armored joints that goes over my clothes. I can’t get to my belt without getting halfway undressed. The suit has big pockets that could hold a gun, but I take the suit off at my destination, so it would turn into off body then. I use a Maxpedition Fat Boy or a knock-off. With the rest of my getup, a tactical murse isn’t out of place, and it holds my wallet, sunglasses, gauntlets, and the rest of my EDC so I don’t have to half strip to get them. Eventually, I can use a bathroom stall to transitioning from the murse to on body with my street clothes.

    • The Maxpedition FatBoy is a great option. I always had mine when my kids were small. They always wanted soda or snacks. Dad to the rescue with a thermos of water and Clif bars — what? You’re suddenly not thirsty?

  18. The only time I’m really open to off-body carry is when I use the gym at my complex late at night. I have carried one of my mouse guns in its holster inside my fanny pack (facing forward). It feels a lot more secure there than inside my gym clothes, especially on the treadmill, etc.

    Other than that, I really don’t do it. I pocket carry sometimes, and keep a second weapon in my emergency/get-home bag. But that’s about it. YMMV.

  19. How do I off body carry? I put it on a stout string, wrap it around my tail and drag it behind me.
    As much as I hate to admit it these new polymer frames do decrease a lot of the weight. Therefore I can run faster( a dog just about had me tonight) however I’m not using the Glocks anymore, I was about two foot up the trunk of the tree and somehow the death toggle got stuck in a little twig. With the string attached, and me pulling, the damn gunm went off and shot the dog square in the head. Who would imagine? Anyway I’m not using the Glocks anymore, the dogs to big to drag under the house, and somebody, probably a cop , is going to find it and haul it off. I just wasted a bullet. It seems like no matter who does the shooting, in most cases the cops always wind up with the spoils.
    That’s how I off carry.

  20. I am willing to bet 99% of the people who say “don’t” or “never” are writing their keyboard commando comments without a fucking gun on their body. Get real. Tons of people can’t carry everywhere all day. Those of us who “break the rules at work” know there are tons of other workers who simply can’t make it happen. When I got out of the military, I worked retail for around 5 years – on and off different jobs. Then I was a mechanic. Both those professions would be very interesting to always carry in the perfect position to “always be ready”. What is this, a fucking 5.11 add? Get real, for a second time. Some of the guys I shoot with have admitted they simply can’t make it happen at work. Mostly due to the physical nature of their work, uniforms, and what other co-workers would do if they ever so much as saw a fucking print. Would it be worth losing your job for? Oh, wait, that’s another keyboard commando scenario waiting to happen too…

    Cringe ass comment section, as usual.

    • I never carried a gunm when logging, that’s because I had a chainsaw.
      No really I’ve had some jobs where a gunm gets in the way. Same with a wristwatch.
      Carried a .38 derringer in the lunch box at a meat plant I worked at, granted it was in my locker so not on me. However on the floor everyone had a sharp knife, so I guess dont bring a knife to a knife fight?

    • You seem angry….. Lashing out at those who do have your viewpoint.

      There is absolutely no excuse for not carrying all the time.

      Pocket holsters and LCPs are the answer for always armed. So nut up and tote a gun..even if its a 380.

      Sarc off – see I can do it too. And since you’re typing in these comments, you are obviously a “keyboard commando” as well. A real operator would be reading comments on a gun blog.

      • Pocket holsters and LCPs leave you with a firearm that is less capable and harder to get to than a full size pistol in a well designed bag.

        • A mouse gun .380 with the proper ammo and some TRAINING with a proper pocket holster is not going leave you outgunned. Desantis and Sticky come to mind.

          Load that up with Underwood Xtreme Defenders and if you want a laser on the LCP or TCP. With practice and an empty gun you are going to go into your pocket, leave the holster in the pocket and have the laser on someones chest or head in about 2 seconds. The bullet has a tendency to hit within a couple of inches of where the laser is aimed. You have 7 shots to get it right and a head shot ends the confrontation immediately.

          If it’s 95-100 degrees out and you are wearing shorts you really aren’t going to be able to conceal anything much larger. If you live in a state that allows open carry I suppose you could just strap a 92 to your leg but if carrying is uncomfortable then people have a tendency to not carry, which is bad.

          The moral is I can easily draw faster from a pocket holster then a lot of people can from IWB. It’s definitely faster then from a fanny pack by A LOT.
          Plus it looks like a wallet in thin sweat wicking shorts, it’s 100% concealed.

          If you or anyone else can walk off a .380 head shot then kudos to you, I have shot some of this ammo into 2X4s (the long way, 3 1/2″) and it utterly destroys them. A 2X4 isn’t gel or a human but since this stuff makes it into toothpicks I would fathom it’s more then adequate for a two legged attacker.

          The .380 gets little respect in the USA but is very popular in other countries. It’s as effective as any other pistol caliber up to .45.

        • respectfully disagree. front pocket recluse/ p938 is more accessible than tucked iwb.
          an individual can appear fairly nonchalant with hands in pockets.

      • Commenting in the comments and commenting the way you do are the difference between a commentator and a keyboard commando. It’s not surprising you don’t understand the difference. Glad to see the fudds coming back to TTAG tho…

  21. Depends. Sometimes in a wagon. For example my 9mm Tippmann Armory Gatling gun (that sucker is way to heavy to carry any other way).

  22. I push a baby jogger with a realistic but hollowed out baby doll, inside which I keep a single shot 6.5 CM derringer. I don’t actually have kids, so in order to keep up the ruse in the future, I have a hollowed out toddler doll that will be pulled in a wagon.

    • Oh hell, story time.
      My wife and I were moving and she had a large doll, it looked life like. As we were going down the highway approaching
      oncoming traffic I would start beating on the doll. Oh people really stared. It wasn’t to long before I was pulled over by the highway patrol, he didnt think much of the joke. Made the wife angry but I thought it was funny.

      • Ah, you’d like this then. I took a plastic travel mug and attached an antenna magnet to the bottom so it would stick to the roof of my truck. Then drove around and watched the people waving at me and pointing that my coffee was on the roof. It got crazy. For safety though, I used a piece of heave fishing line from the cup to the center of the truck bed. This way if there was enough wind to knock it off it would end up in the bed instead of on the road. I had it up to 70 mph and people are still passing me and pointing, as if an actual coffee cup could hang on like that.

  23. Actually this something that off duty Chicago woman cops do and did all the time.
    You could buy a purse especially made for this at a PD supply store.
    The middle of the purse was a empty compartment secured closed by Velcro.
    There was a strap that also had Velcro on it that secured a handgun inside.
    You can stick your hand in there and fire w/o even having to draw.
    A purse/G17 combo. You screw with the wrong woman and bam!
    I believe they got them from a place like Ray O’Herron.
    The beauty is was no draw so they were as quick if not quicker then a holster.

  24. I off body carry every time I have to go into a school as there is no way to be 100% concealed 100% of the time and the potential penalty is so high. It is slower to access but I practice it and have spent money to make sure my set ups are as good as they can be.

  25. Yep. On body, in a bag, in the truck, in the house, at friend’s houses, hunting cabins, outbuildings, everywhere and pretty much every way.
    And I have been for the better part of 30 years. Apparently this will surely get me killed… any minute. Any minute now…any minute now….

  26. “Do you off-body carry? If so, in what?”

    Well, I live in New Jersey, so my off-body carry is called a gun safe.
    Any other type of carry here is called an “indictable offense” (New Jersey’s term for felony).
    New Jersey simply does not grant CCW permits to ANYONE except cops and politicians (the ruling class). Hopefully the current SCOTUS will change this, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Those of you living in free states don’t realize how lucky you are. I do have a Florida CCW permit, but it’s not recognized in the tri-state area (New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania), so I’ve never had an opportunity to use it. It used to be recognized in Pennsylvania, but the laws are constantly changing, and your permit may be good one day and illegal the next day. We desperately need 50-state reciprocity, including for out-of-state permits like Florida permits because they’re the only kind of permits New Jersey residents can get!

  27. There are only two times when I off body carry due to necessity, one of which is when I’m working out in my home gym (it’s in a barn). Usually just carry my pistol with my log book and drink.

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