Concealed Carry vs. Open Carry


In this concealed carry training video we raise an important question in the minds of both open carriers and concealed.

Which one is better and why?

Well, to tackle this question, we first have to take a step back and look at the relative advantages and disadvantages of both.

Advantages of Open Carry and OWB Holsters

Carrying openly is thought to be a deterrent to a potential attacker.

Someone scoping out a place is more likely to see a handgun on the hip of an open carrier than a concealed one. That means he knows there will be resistance – which dramatically changes the game and the incentives.

Most violent criminals aren't looking for a stand-up, shoot-out. They want to hit the target, get what they came for, and get out before police arrive. That means an open carrier, right off the bat, is going to interrupt that. This can be seen as a possible advantage, but it's also spray-painting a big bullseye on your back.

Armed criminals know that you're target A before they get to target B.

That's if they decide to pursue it at all. For armed criminals interested in living to see another day, they'll see open carriers as more than an inconvenience. There may be one – but what if there's more? More importantly, attacking an open carrier outright generally jeopardizes “flying under the radar”. Certainly, those are some factors going into open carry.

The second big piece is comfort and holstering/re-holstering. Open carriers generally like being able to position their handguns outside the waistband and have an easier time drawing, firing, and re-holstering. Plus, with the right outside the waistband holster, it can be easily concealed beneath a jacket or sweater – meaning OWB holsters can still be a concealed carry option.

Advantages of Concealed Carry and IWB Holsters

On the opposite side of the fence, concealed carriers would argue that the element of surprise is theirs.

When armed criminals enter a place, they can't immediately identify a concealed carrier. This gives the concealed carrier the opportunity to draw his pistol from his inside the waistband also called a iwb holster and effectively engage opponents at his pace – not theirs.

Additionally, sometimes armed criminals scout a place before hitting it. This means that a concealed carrier will fall beneath the purview of a criminal scouting a location. Armed criminals can't plan for what they can't see – and you've suddenly turned into that unpleasant surprise.

The biggest hindrance to concealed carry is the comfort and viability of its holsters. Ankle holsters are bulky and have a random track record in terms of retention. Shoulder holsters print badly and tend to provide safety concerns in some models. Additionally, when it comes to speed, the easiest draw point is close to the natural positioning of one's hands – the waistline.

Here is how to properly use and draw from an IWB Holster:

With a good inside the waistband holsters, your response time will increase considerably. But that's also why it needs to be comfortable. If you're able to put your IWB on without having to think of it as an inconvenience or a nuisance, you're more likely to use it.

This is where OWB tends to beat out IWB: comfort. But this can be allayed through using the right IWB holster with a sturdy gun belt.

Ultimately, open carry or inside the waistband – choose a holster that is comfortable, has adjustable retention, and positions to your draw style. This makes your holster an attractive option instead of an uncomfortable liability that you will leave at home after some time. If you go IWB, choose a holster that attaches with clips and has a neoprene back-pad to spread out the weight of the gun on your hip. This will also make it easier to carry while driving – a major obstacle for some concealed and open carriers.

When you drive, your holster and gun should stay on. The reason is simple – when you need it, it's there. If your holster isn't comfortable while driving in your vehicle, consider switching positions (4 o'clock versus 3 o'clock standard).

It's your carry style – you decide. Just remember to carry everywhere, every day.
James England

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.