Woman concealed carry gun in purse
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Off-body carry is a bad idea. I suspect you already know that. But maybe you know someone who off-body carries. Or someone who’s thinking about concealed carry who doesn’t like the idea of carrying on-body.

1. Off-Body carry makes it hard to get to your gun

Presentation — bringing your gun to bear on the bad guy — is the reason most defensive gun uses end without a shot fired. Getting your gun on target quickly and efficiently also enables your best chance of winning a gunfight. The first combatant to land shots on target usually wins.

The hardest way to access you gun? From a bag (or briefcase or backpack). Yes, I know, there are some very good handbags, satchels and the like designed for easy access, complete with gun pockets. But under stress, without any prior warning, getting to your gat is going to be an issue.

Not to mention the fact that bad guys like bags. The first thing you notice in an attack could well be the violent removal of your off-body carry bag. Then what?

2. Off-body carry increases the risks of loss and theft

Ever lost your keys, wallet or bag? It happens. Can you imagine the stress of losing a briefcase, backpack or satchel with a gun inside? If you live in a gun-unfriendly state — perhaps one with where reporting a lost or stolen firearm is mandatory — it will be a hassle on an epic scale.

Chances are a lost gun will be “donated” to a potential perp. That’s not good, either. And as mentioned above, bags are bad guy bait. Even if you maintain a watchful eye on your off-body carry method, unless you handcuff it to your person, there will come a time when you’re not paying attention — and someone else may.

3. Off-body carry can lead to fatal “accidents”

Kids are curious. There are numerous examples of small children “finding” a gun in a bag and harming themselves or others. And don’t think your teenager won’t know where you keep your gun, should they decide to do something really, really stupid.

Obviously, all children in your care should be taught gun safety. I have no problem with parents providing well-trained, responsible minors access to a firearm. But there’s access and there’s access, and other people’s children are everywhere. You don’t want a “one in a million” oversight leading to tragedy.

There are dozens of good on-body carry systems for hundreds of firearms, all of which provide quick and effective access to your gun, no matter what you’re wearing. Find one or two or three that suit you and use them for concealed carry. And nothing else.

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  1. If that is the ONLY way to get a loved one to carry…I’m all for it. Beats the hell out of leaving their protection at home.

  2. Regarding the video: Not every woman has enough room between her thighs to carry the way she was.

    Just sayin’.

    As for the rest of the arguments, well, it all depends. Walking through a deserted parking garage at night, my wife can have her hand in her purse, finger on the trigger of her .357, before a threat even presents itself. And it’s usually not the only gun she carries. She has options.

    Rule #1: Have a gun. The rest is details.

  3. Most women and very skinny males find it more difficult to apply standard carry methods. The handicapped, same deal. Off-body carry, despite its drawbacks, may be the best option in certain circumstances. Adjust your technique to the style of carry that best suits you to minimize any problems. For example, off-body carry combined with surreptitious draw and heightened situational awareness is very effective.

    • Being skinny or a woman is not the issue. Wearing clothing that does not allow for concealment is the issue. There are plenty of clothing options that allow a skinnier person carry comfortably and concealed, but fashion takes the top choice instead.

      • It is somewhat difficult in some places in south Florida. Flip flops tshirts and board shorts are common where I am in South FL. But since I found out printing isn’t a real crime as long as I try to conceal I’m less worried and just wear fishing style cargo shorts with a belt and a baggy shirt.

      • Unfortunately for the non-land-whales, attractive clothing is by definition designed to conceal less & show off the bod; go figure. Cover garments are a sort of workaround in that they can be looser for both men & women than the base layer and still look good, but are wildly inappropriate in warmer climates (both because of comfort, and because there will be *no one* else bothering to wear similar so you’ll stand out badly to anyone with a clue)

        Spoiler alert: carrying anything larger than a wallet inside your clothes will either show to some degree or require non-ideal choice of dress (which also stands out)

        • Absolutely.
          Here in Phoenix, especially for us land whales, it is very difficult to carry concealed in the summer.
          For those “normal-sized” people in non-tropic climes, concealed carry is much easier. Saying those in other situations must do as they do is extremely parochial.

      • Most skinny people will choose their regular clothing over having to wear a tent to facilitate concealed carry. That’s just the reality. I bought my sister a Smith and Wesson 9mm Luger M&P Shield, a smallish gun, which she never carries, because of the fashion problem. I should have bought her a Ruger LCP instead, which is far smaller. Saying the glass is half full instead of half empty doesn’t change the reality that de facto carry is more problematic for those with certain body types.

      • This, I’m 5’8 135lbs, male, wear mostly suits to work and like to be fashionable always…and I habitually conceal 2 pistols: always a .380 bodyguard AND either an XDs 9, or a G19, or a 1911. Note that 2 of these are awfully big pistols and I always carry not less than 2 spare mags. I don’t think fashion is the biggest problem, ‘comfort’ is. The modern person can’t seem to tolerate the least discomfort, to the point that they seldom seem to wear more than pajamas. Unless it’s hot out, then they wear clothing more appropriate to the deck of a boat than a public street. Generally though people aren’t very serious about much of anything anymore.

        • I’m about the same weight and height. I wear suits to work most days, but it is hot in Texas and often hot in my office (the women fight over the thermostat and I stay out of it), so I keep the jacket and tie on a coat hanger most of the time. I don’t only have to look professional, but I also need to smell professional. Constantly wearing a coat and tie in the heat will hinder both of those.

          Fortunately, I live in Texas where open carry is legal, if not popular, so I don’t have to worry about keeping my gun perfectly concealed, but I do have to have it in a belt or shoulder holster, presumably on body. (As an interesting side not, one interpretation of the law I heard one lawyer proffer was that a belt/shoulder holster is still a belt/shoulder holster when not worn, so still legal to carry off body openly. And that is what the text of the law states when read literally, I just wouldn’t want to have to argue that to keep from getting convicted).

  4. Off body carry sucks, but it’s the only way I can get my wife to carry consistently. She does like to shoot, though, so I make her practice shooting from her purse (actually a Maxpedition bag) every time we go to the range.

  5. I understand the arguments against off-body carry, and for most people it is probably a bad idea. I can think of two exceptions off-hand though.

    One is a friend in a wheel-chair. He says he can draw easier/quicker/safer from a holster concealed in his chair. He physically cannot forget and leave his chair behind. Last I talked to him he was debating upgrading his daily carry to a Scorpion EVO. Not sure if he was joking, but there was plenty of room in a side pocket for larger gun.

    The other guy I know is an IT contractor that does network installs and troubleshooting. He is constantly up-and-down ladders, bending over under, crawling under desks, etc. Getting ‘caught’ carrying by the wrong client could destroy his business. So, he keeps a gun concealed in a tool box. Hasn’t lost it in the ten plus years I’ve known him.

    I agree, it shouldn’t be done lightly. But, under the right circumstances and with proper precautions I don’t see it as a problem. Of course, proper precaution should be exercised during all activities with firearms.

  6. Whatsoever works. My wife is hellbent on carrying in a purse. It’s not ideal but as Curtis related it can be OK. Oh and she taught self-defense to goofy white women so she’s NOT a shrinking violent gal..

    • What is it with you and “goofy white” men / women ? You’re becoming worse than pwrserge and his overused “helicopter ride” shit.

      • And what’s with you troll? She ain’t white goofball. Women who think hurting a rapist /murderer is not something they can manage are goofy. “Just let him rape me and he’ll let me go” types… GOOFY WHITE WOMEN.

        • formerwindowwasher, I know your wife is black. It’s hard to overlook as you seem inordinately fixated upon mentiong that even when it has no bearing on the subject matter.

          You seem to be virtue signaling. Why ?

  7. I knew a guy who worked in a dive shop in S FL he always packed heat in his fanny pack. Not kidding.

    • That’s what Nutnfancy does as well apparently. I’m in S.FL as well, and I can’t wrap my head around these guys that say they pack 2 guns or carry a full size 1911. You would either have to wear a rain poncho or be sweating your ass off in layered big clothes to try to conceal anything of decent size. Proper concealed carry access is a cold weather game it seems like

  8. We often carry on body, off body and car carry all at the same time. Do you wear a holster in your bed? Or do you carry off-body? Argument is silly. The point is, *carry*.

  9. “Most women and very skinny males find it more difficult to apply standard carry methods.”

    Me: 6’2″ 165# male, totally lanky. I have daily carried a 40SW (that’s .9″ wide) IWB at 4 o’clock for 7yrs now. I have never been made either. I reject that skinny is an issue; it’s mostly how one dresses.

  10. Everything has a time and place.

    I would say that the times and places for off-body carry are extremely narrow but they do exist. Doing such means that you have to maintain control over whatever you have the gun in and maintain that control at all times which is another thing to think/worry about while doing it but it can be done.

    The problems with off-body carry arise when people don’t really pay attention or use off-body carry in inappropriate circumstances.

    • Off-body has a few enormous advantages that no one has mentioned.

      1. Deep deep concealment. Backpack or briefcase or whatever can survive printing, collision mischance, and any other situation where you don’t want to be made. “Concealed means concealed” until that cute girl from junior bio “accidentally” bumps into you or the wind catches your shirt the wrong way against you. Anywhere south of Mason Dixon doesn’t do well with heavy clothing.

      2. Plausible deniability. “I didn’t know it was in my bag,” informally dubbed the “Barry Switzer” flies further than the “I forgot I had it in my holster” can carry on. If you’re gonna thread the needle and exercise your rights in defiance of Gods and Men, you need to keep your excuses well-lubricated. Your lawyer will thank you if worst comes to worst.

      3. It is better than not carrying at all, and as long as you know and understand the time it takes to access your firearm and keep decent situational awareness, it will be far superior to being disarmed. With a head on your shoulders, you could even be expected to reach in your purse for your “cash clip” whereas bearing down and sticking your hand down your thigh might evoke suspicion or worse give off the wrong vibe.

      Off body carry does have uses when body carry is impractical for WHATEVER reason. Just ask any paratrooper. However, you should also ask that man about the disadvantages too. There are many.

      • As I said, the applications are narrow, but they exist.

        I considered carried off-body in my backpack right after the Virginia Tech shooting.

        Now, if, hypothetically I did do such a thing, why would I have done it? Simple: Where I went to school carrying a gun on university property was a felony so the risks associated with printing and whatnot that come with on body carry would have been unacceptable if I decided to carry a gun. Therefore, a proper holster, dropped into the right part of a backpack and I would have theoretically been armed and no one would have known unless some crazy person decided to shoot up the university and I was forced to bring the gun out of hiding.

        If that happened, the chances I would be at “ground zero” would have been pretty slim, so absolute immediate access to a defensive pistol, statistically speaking, wouldn’t have been a serious issue.

        Of course, as I said, all theoretical. I would never knowingly break the law.

  11. This is why arguments get so loud and go on for so long: both sides are usually at least partly right, a hand which both sides promptly proceed to overplay.

    On body carry has advantages, but they evaporate if it means hiking up your skirt and reaching deep into a thigh pouch to present a firearm. Instinctively, you’re going to use your hands to defend your face and fend off the attack. You can’t do that while dropping your hands low and relying on fine motor skills to retrieve your firearm.

    Comfortable? Try doubtful. God bless the women with thigh gap, but that isn’t most women. Thus, that style of carry is unrealistic. By the way, if bags are bait to bag snatchers, then what is bait to rapists? Is that really the immediate area where you want keep your firearm, the same area that is a would-be rapist’s focus?

    Carry options, like firearm selection itself, must consider the circumstances. If you’re walking across a parking lot, off body carry with your hand inserted into your purse and gripping your firearm is vastly superior to on body carry requiring a lot of clothing manipulations. Other circumstances might call for a different approach.

    I don’t have a problem conceding that. Carry style debates, like caliber wars, really need to be retired. All that is called for is a straightforward presentation of the pros and cons of each and some insight into the circumstances that play to each style’s strengths. We need to get past this one ring to rule them all mentality.

  12. Appendix carry sux, off body carry sux, open carry sux, anal carry sux, drop leg carry sux….

    Based on TTAG’s opinions its amazing anyone carry’s at all.

  13. Is carrying a gun in a purse actually “off body” if the woman is carrying the purse on her body?

    Yeah, I know what the term “off body” means. I just think that it’s a poor description.

    • Ralph, stop talking sense.

      We’re trying to have an argument here, not some fancy-dancy “discussion” of boring and stupid things like “facts” and “logic”.

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