Off body concealed carry is the term most often associated with any portable holster or system that secures the firearm but isn't directly attached to the body. Over the last ten years it has been my own observation that off body carry holsters are gaining popularity and momentum particularly with the rise in the number of women entering the world of firearm related defense.
I do know people who primarily use an off body carry system and do it well, but the challenges are great and in my experience off body carry options should be considered a last resort after exhausting all other options. Here is an overview of some of my thoughts on the idea.
It Is More Than Just the Concealed Carry Purses
While the concealed carry purses do seem to be the most common and popular of all the off body carry systems they are not the only systems that fall into the category. There are also backpacks, iPad cases, briefcases and a variety of other objects that look to be normal and casual that in fact have been manufactured or designed to hold a firearm.
Is That System Really a 24/7 Solution?
The first question I ask someone when they tell me they plan to use, or already do use, an off body carry system is along the lines of:
Do you plan on wearing/carrying that around the house with you as well?
I just don't know anyone who can honestly tell me they keep their purse or backpack on them as they walk around the house in the evening after work. There are also a number of times when the gun owner might be tempted to leave the gun along with it's bag/purse in the car to run into the gas station really quick or to visit the restroom at the restaurant.
If using an on-body concealed carry holster, the gun owner would not be vulnerable in those moments but the off-body carrier is. So inevitably the gun owner either has to accept the fact that they will be without their firearm a lot of the time or they have to switch back and forth between off body and on-body systems as they enter and leave certain environments.
Can You Draw The Same Every Time?
Another significant challenge of off body carry systems is the tendency for that system to be in a different position relative to the body in any given moment. When you enter a life threatening situation your ability to think and make deliberate decisions along with physical movements is greatly diminished. As such your body always reverts back to the most instinctive and practiced mode of movement and thinking. Building that kind of muscle memory is very difficult when the firearm is in a slightly different location on the body from moment to moment depending on how the user is carrying the holster system that day.
Breaking Decades of Bad Habit – Maintaining Control
I carry a backpack (5.11 Covert 18) to our office everyday. It has my laptop, favorite headphones, etc. When I get home in the evening what do you think is the first thing I do when I come through the door? I can promise it is the exact same thing that my wife does with her purse. Set it down. Not a big deal when it only contains a laptop, wallet, or the like. A gun? That becomes a problem because the firearm is no longer in my direct control or in my direct access should there be an emergency at the home.
Do you honestly think you are going to walk around the home carrying that holster system during the evening? If not you better be prepared to either switch to a different holster system when you hit the house or consider a different carry configuration all together.
Also consider what you do with that “carry system” when you are in the car, at a restaurant, at work, etc. Is it always in your control? It has been my own observation that off body carry systems like purses are more likely to be out of reach when the threat arises.
So What is the Solution?
I urge my students to consider off body carry systems as a last resort. That doesn't mean that it can't be done or done well but only that there seems to be more barriers to carrying off body well than there are for any of the other common concealed carry systems. What I want to know, is how you carry your gun. Is it on body? Off body? Let us know in the comments what your preferred method of carrying a concealed gun is.