Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry


Before getting into the details of concealed carry versus open carry, we must accept a basic premise of folks who choose to carry a firearm (typically a pistol): those folks want the ability to respond to a life-threatening situation at the time it occurs (under the same premise as the bumper sticker: "When seconds count, the police are minutes away.") It is the same premise as having fire extinguishers at various places in your house and garage: dealing with a small (called "incipient") fire immediately instead of waiting for the fire department to deal with it (and by that time, it probably has escalated substantially).

Once you accept the basic premise of why the firearm is carried, we now get into the differences between open and concealed carry. I'll start with a summary of the advantages of each, then move to a list of the advantages of each. (Those lists amount to the reasons for selecting one versus the other.) I'll also list my selection and my reasons.

Open carry

In summary, open carry has the big advantages of the speed of reacting to a situation and making the presence known to those around you. Concealed carry has the advantages of discretion and the only legal way to carry in some situations. Generally speaking, the advantages of one type of carry are the disadvantages of the other type; therefore, we'll go with the assumption that you understand the reverse for the other type of carry.

Open carry advantages

Concealed carry

Concealed carry advantages

Open carry has a notable disadvantage: you must be exceptionally aware of your surroundings and your "personal space" so that your firearm is not taken by someone else.

Concealed carry has some notable disadvantages:

I choose open carry in most cases for all of the reasons above as well as avoiding the downsides of concealed carry; and, since I am an NRA certified instructor, the social aspect matters. Typically, about once out of every half dozen times that I'm out and about on errands, someone will ask me about shooting, my specific firearm choice, or other firearms topics. And, the more I carry open, the more it has the possibility of reducing the stigma about firearms.