Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry


Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry, is something you should think strongly about, if you live in a state that allows both methods of carry. This is a complex issue with strong points and weaknesses to both carry methods. There are several key things you must consider. As we talk about personal protection as a civilian (sheep dog) or someone else’s protection as a law enforcement (sheep dog), we must think about what is and what is not tactically advantageous.

Open Carry:

When thinking about Open Carry there are advantages in certain situations, that usually only apply to you. (1) If someone is planning to rob, harm you or make you a victim, they see you are armed. They think more than likely you will put up a fight and they may not have a weapon equal to your firearm (i.e. knife or blunt force object). (2) They may think you are a law enforcement officer, ex-military, or trained citizen and would rather not have a trained person, or the police force coming down on them. (3) Location is a big factor, are you in a rural area? Possibly hunting or hacking and you are worried about predators (i.e. mountain lions, wolves, bears). Open Carry of a personal protection firearm would be best in this scenario.

Glock 19
Glock 19

Concealed Carry:

I personally believe, through my LE experiences and actual deadly force encounters, (that do not involve animals), Concealed Carry offers you the most advantages against a criminal attack. (1) You are not being targeted right of the bat if a criminal sees you are armed and is adamant about making an attack. (2) The element of surprise is on your side and you choose when to press the attack/advantage. The shock of being confronted with an armed individual may force a peaceful outcome to the encounter. (3) I believe the possibility of a concealed weapon on someone is more of a deterrent to a criminal than them knowing who is armed. This forces the bad guys to be on a 360 degree swivel, not you.
I’m not a fan of open carry in an urban environment. The element of surprise is a good thing IMHO. Even when I was an off duty police officer, I went with concealed carry. I more than surprised a few bad guys when I drew down on them and they had no idea someone was carrying. If they had seen me open carrying, I would have been a target right off the bat, as I cannot see everything that is going on around me. This was a tactical decision, to always conceal carry. The bad guy cannot target you first if they don’t see your armed.



In our current political climate, I feel open carry works against us, in an urban environment. I have always lived in very firearm friendly states (i.e. Utah and Tennessee). In rural areas, I have no problem with open carry as most people are on the same thinking page. In urban areas, I feel Open Carry is doing harm to those that might be on the fence regarding firearms. Also, as mentioned above, I feel it is tactically to my advantage to conceal in most situations. Although it is our right to bear arms, I cringe every time I see a guy on the news carrying his AR15 or M1A, in a store or down main street. This draws negative attention to responsible firearms owners. Most of our politicians and left wing citizens see this and try to push more restrictive firearm laws.

Update: Personal Defense Network 6/04/13

After taking with Rob Pincus of I.C.E. training about this issue, he gave me permission to link his Personal Defense Network (PDN) video on,  “Appropriate Open Carry “. In this video Rob states several other reasons that conceal carry is a better option in most cases (not all). Rob’s opinion while his own, is not to be taken lightly, in my opinion.  Rob also can state things more eloquently than I can.

Link:  Appropriate Open Carry


Whatever method you choose to carry, think about all the options and ramifications of your choice. Open Carry may or may not work in some environments and Concealed Carry may or may not work in those same environments. Think hard about what gives you the advantage in the area you find yourself in. If you are in the Alaskan wilderness, concealing a Glock 10mm or S&W 500 probably is not the best choice, if you are worried about bears. On the other hand, open carry downtown in a major city, while it may be your right, probably is not the best idea politically and tactically. Remember, your actions as a responsible firearms owner could sway someone’s decision, criminally and politically.


Authors opinion on CCW and Open carry are his alone and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the rest of the staff or the two owners of


  1. If you follow the dicta of the U.S. supreme court then by defination, any place which does not allow concealed carry, automatically allows open carry, but this is little known or ignored.

  2. Very well stated. Thank you. It mirrors my own opinions. As you said, someone whose is showing their weapon is potentially setting themselves up for an ambush. If your firearm is stolen from you, it may not just be your life that is lost. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, don’t be a stumbling block to your brother by dogmatically asserting your right where discretion is better served.

  3. I have two problems with this article.

    First, open carry of long guns is far different from open carry of handguns. I open carry a mid-size firearm in a city of about 50k in a gun-friendly state. I have not had a single negative or positive encounter. People just assume you’re a cop or something, especially if you are dressed neatly.

    Second, where is the data that shows OC is a tactical disadvantage? Where are the statistics of non-LEOs being disarmed by criminals and killed? Where are the statistics showing that a person OCing a handgun is the first target? Some claims can be made with logical arguments, others require data. Statements like the ones the author makes regarding the tactical disadvantage of OC require data to convince others.

    • RL STYNE

      First: This article is my opinion, from my personal experiences, having actually been involved in deadly force encounters, being confronted with armed assailants and other critical incidents.

      Second: Most of the data you want on non-leo/civilian stats do not really exist. Personally, I have seen an open carry person be attacked by someone. They were mentally unstable and their goal was to disarm the person.

      Third: As the article states, I’m not telling you what is best for you. I’m asking you to think about what is best for you and what gives you the best advantages. There are pluses and minuses with both. Conceal carry is best most of the time (not all of the time) in my opinion.

      Lastly: Nothing is absolute. There is no right or wrong answer. It’s all environmental and situational. You must think about everything. Carrying a firearm for personal defense is a continual thinking person’s game. If you close your mind and refuse to think about all the options and encounters that are possible, you have already set yourself up to fail.

      You must think like the bad guy and ask what would the bad guy do. It’s impossible to ask what would the crazy person do (their CRAZY!!).

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