Concealed Carry VS Open Carry

Most folks opt to carry their guns hidden under the concealment of their clothing, which is also my main method of carrying. This means that you're walking past hundreds of people every single day who may be carrying a gun that you don't know about.

Not all people carry this way though, because some opt for a more open approach to carrying their firearms. This article is meant to tackle some of the benefits of each mode of carry, as well as some of the negatives.

The goal is not to tell you which method is best, because that's up to you. The goal is to educate the newcomers. At the end of the day, I stand up for your right to carry a gun, period. The way you carry is on you and I hope this is something we can all agree on.

Concealed Carry:

Concealed carry is for those who like to keep the fact that they have a gun for self-defense hidden. While it may take a moment longer to get the gun out (depending largely on where the gun is) those who carry concealed believe there is a tactical advantage that is held until the very last moment when the firearm is actually needed for defense.

Carrying a concealed gun also gives the wearer more options to carry, in regards to where the gun can be carried. Popular methods range from appendix carry (which is the front of your body right by were your zipper and button would be), all the way around to the small of your back (which is my least-recommended method of carry).

Personally, I tend to carry right on my strong side hip, or just behind it. Everyone is different, however.

Generally speaking, carrying a concealed gun, either inside the waistband or outside, is a little slower because there is the extra step of moving the outer garment of clothing out of the way before you can get the gun. This is a give and take. Concealed carriers give up a little speed for the benefit of hiding their gun better.

Sadly, however, many concealed carriers don't really conceal their firearms all that well as certain positions and movements give away the fact that you're carrying.

Matthew covers this more in detail in our article, here.

Open Carry:

Those who carry a firearm openly for the world to see usually do so as a pro-gun statement (though not everyone does this). That statement is sometimes meant to help de-sensitize people to the sight of a firearm, or to just say that the wearer is pro Second Amendment.

Certainly when I have carried open in the past it was as a statement, and one that I no longer make as concealed carry is my primary mode these days.

Another popular reason for open carry is because those who do it this way tend to believe that a bad guy is less likely to commit a crime if he knows there are armed citizens around.

There may be some truth to this, but there are also those who believe it makes open carriers a bigger target. The thought here, right or wrong, is that the bad guy will target you first because he can see that you're armed.

For those of us who carry a gun on their hip, open carry usually allows for a faster draw because the outer garment of clothing is already out of the way thus eliminating some of the steps for drawing the gun and making it faster.

It is usually recommended for open carriers to use some sort of active retention holster to prevent a potential bad guy from stealing the gun, as has happened in rare occurrences before.

And as with concealed carry, there is some give and take. Here, you have the speed of an open carry draw, but give up concealability.

Hybrid Approach:

Finally, some people do what I call a hybrid approach. The gun isn't completely concealed, nor is it completely open. Instead, people who utilize this method will wear an over garment like a vest or jacket that can be easily moved out of the way.

From the front, someone may be able to easily see that you're carrying. From the back, not so much. Of course, some say that carrying with a vest like this, like the ones we sell in our online store, is suspicious looking unless you travel back in time.

Sometimes I like to carry in an OWB holster on my hip, with an untucked shirt. It's still concealed, but I'm not really trying to conceal it by getting it as close to my body as possible. This allows a me to get a good grip on the gun, faster.


No matter how you carry or plan to carry, the only thing that really matters is that you are taking your personal safety seriously and are training with your carry gun.

Which method have you chosen for your everyday carry? Let us know in the comments below, as well as why you chose this method.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.


  1. nikki93 on November 23, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Seems to me that concealed carry would be best way. Because if someone is going to do something to you they cant see the mistake they are going to make in wanting to hurt you.I have heard that open carry would make some more comfortable seeing and being around guns! Thoughts on this?

    • Whit on November 24, 2020 at 1:48 pm

      I am not convinced that showing folks that you are carrying a gun openly will help our cause by desensitization of the reset of the public.

      What if it scares as many as it desensitized? There isn’t a good way to test this. It could be the case but I feel we are guessing or assuming rather than really knowing the effect.

  2. jacob on November 23, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    I conceal carry. Guns are a pretty touchy topic and having one in the open for everyone to see adds to stress in any situation, plus people judge. Had an instance at the local hardware store a fella walked in with a semi auto on his left hip and a revolver on his right all out in the open for the world to see. First thought in my mind was this guys hoping someone says something. I’d be willing to say that about anyone who open carries everywhere in public. Not saying open carry is bad but it’s in bad taste to do it at the grocery store or at your local bank.

  3. jMes on November 24, 2020 at 7:32 am

    I started as open carry and switched to concealed. It is less strenuous on the uninformed public and I do feel it gives the advantage to me.

  4. Steven on November 24, 2020 at 9:23 am

    I live in Maine and new laws took place 1. You can now have a loaded firearm in the car! 2. You don’t have to have a ccp anymore either! Wow!! 3. Can’t forget you can open carry also,gotta love Maine!!!!!

  5. LostProton on November 24, 2020 at 10:22 am

    To all posters herein and readers herein; most States in the United States require a Concealed Carry permit for concealed carry that entails a thorough background check and a payment of a yearly fee. Also that concealed carry must be truly concealed with the firearm pattern not showing through your clothes. Most official state and federal government buildings have bans of firearms by civilians as well as banks and businesses of healthcare and monetary funds transfers. Many businesses that ban firearms therein will have posted picture alerts, therefore keep your eyes open. Many official state and federal government buildings have bans of pocket knives as well as those in belt sheaves by civilians; so lock your knife in your vehicle before going in, or the guards may take your knife.

  6. Michael Smith on November 24, 2020 at 10:51 am

    I carry concealed and I have a few friends that open carry. They do this to make a statement (guns are not dangerous and lots of people have them). I just don’t like it or recommend it. As far as I can tell, it makes people nervous and (just my opinion), I think it makes people not like gun owners. While it may be a deterrent to bad guys in some instances, it may also make you the first target. It you are going to open carry, make sure you have a locking holster, and that you can operate that locking holster in a heartbeat.

  7. Whit on November 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    My opinion is that open carry is a legal must that should be exercised rarely.

    Watching the hours of active shooter / body cam video / security cam video and analysis by John of the ASP channel on YouTube repeatedly shows that the ability to counter ambush is a necessity for civilians who carry a firearm.

    The bad guys pick and choose and we are always reacting, maybe there are cases where an open carry prevented a crime but those numbers are unknown and unknowable. Better to preserve the opportunity to counter ambush IMHO. Your mileage may vary.

  8. Richard H on November 25, 2020 at 7:01 am

    Carrying concealed provides you with the element of surprise should you be defending yourself or a third party.
    This element gives you the edge on a criminal that probably doesn’t value life and may elect to shoot more readily than you are.
    Hybrid carry to me is concealed while walking or standing and open while seated at a table or in a car. You have quick access to your firearm without broadcasting your carrying.
    Advice: don’t carry with the attitude you want to be a hero. Less risk of getting into trouble or injuring an innocent bystander.

  9. Two Guns on December 2, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    I have open carried for decades, I wouldn’t carry any other way. And I have never had an issue.

    • kratos1963 on November 12, 2021 at 1:20 am

      If you fear carrying an unconcealed firearm, you shouldn’t be carrying one to begin with! Nothing says “if you don’t start trouble there won’t be trouble” like a visible open carry firearm!

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