Open Carry (OC) versus Concealed Carry (CC) has been a hotly debated topic for years. It’s not my intent to get into that debate here. What you need to decide is if you will open carry (if the law allows), if you’ll concealed carry, or as some folks do, both. I normally carry concealed. Personally, I don’t want the hassle by John Q. Public or the local constabulary. You have to decide what best fits you. I’m going to list some pro’s and con’s to each for you to ponder. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with them, but they may help you decide.
Element of surprise when the need arises
Nobody knows it’s there, unless you tell
Concealed carry can afford you the element of surprise should you find yourself in a store being held up. There are an infinite number of scenarios, but when you carry concealed, it’s your option to get involved and bring a gun to bear or not. This applies whether you carry open or concealed, but if you’re carrying concealed, you can choose to intervene or not.
My favorite reason for concealed carry is that I’m the only one that knows it’s there, unless I choose to let you in on the secret. It was a strange feeling when I first started carrying. I remember going to the car wash one afternoon and sitting outside next to one of our local county police officers while we waited for our vehicles to get done. I sat there occasionally glancing his way as he sat there fairly relaxed, and I just wondered what he’d say if he knew I was armed (and not dangerous).
Slower to draw from concealment
Wardrobe changes may be necessary
Drawing a pistol from concealment will take longer than an open carried pistol. Depending on your holster and amount of training, it may not be much slower than drawing an openly carried handgun. But when every 1/100th of a second counts…
If you’re going to carry concealed, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to carry inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB). If you normally wear slacks, a dress shirt, and a jacket, concealment shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as you never remove your jacket or the wind doesn’t blow it open. You can carry either IWB or OWB. If you’re going to need to remove your jacket, you’ll have to use an IWB holster where you can tuck your shirt in over your handgun. If you normally wear jeans and a t-shirt, you’re definitely going to have to use an IWB holster. Concealment for you is going to be more of a challenge. Some states that do not allow open carry, have laws against printing (that obvious bulge under your shirt that can only be a firearm) so you may need to consider this when selecting a handgun and a holster. Don’t be surprised if you have to change part of your wardrobe to adapt to concealed carry.
I’m normally a jeans and Polo shirt man. I had to buy shirts that fit a little looser, and hung a little longer to conceal my handguns. I’m 5’7”, 165 pounds, and I can conceal a full sized 1911 in a Milt Sparks Summer Special II holster. I can conceal a full size M&P45 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck in the same clothes, but not as well. It conceals better in the winter for me.
More comfortable than concealed carry
Faster draw than concealed carrier
Someone openly carrying a handgun will deter criminals
Open carry is certainly more comfortable than concealed carry assuming you’re using an OWB holster. Open carrying takes the gun off the body, allowing greater comfort and mobility in the hips. I sometimes dream about not having to cram a holstered handgun into the waistband of my already too tight pants, especially after a big supper.
Open carry is faster to draw from since you don’t have clothing in the way of the firearm that must be cleared. I shoot my local USPSA matches and they don’t require the use of cover garments. Now I’m slower than most to draw at these matches, but I’m faster than I am from concealment.
Although there are no statistics to back this claim up, it’s believed by many open carriers that they deter criminals from acting out their illegal plans. However, there are stories out there that will prove this theory. There are two places I always open carry; they are ATM’s and gas stations.
Draws attention by others
Open carry draws more attention because your sidearm is obviously visible to all around you. That does not mean it will be noticed all the time or that anyone will say anything, but they could. It’s even possible that someone will call the police to report a person with a gun, and from that you can expect a visit from your local law enforcement. And if they show up, you better know your rights and the local gun laws.
With open carry, you have to be alert and maintain possession of your handgun. There is always the chance that someone will be willing to try to take it away from you. You have to be willing to fight to retain possession. Open carry shouldn’t really be done without some level of a retention holster.
These are just some of the things you need to consider when deciding whether to carry open or concealed.