Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry

There is a lot of debate about whether concealed or open carry is better. I’ll talk about some of the pros and cons of each but first let me state my opinion on the subject. There is no way to know what type of situation you will be in when you will need your firearm–so there is no way to know which type of carrying would be better suited to the situation you are going to be in.  You should either be proficient at wearing and drawing from both, or choose the one that fits your situation better–and be trained to draw your firearm from that position.

Concealed Carry: This is usually the preferred method mainly because most people don’t like other people to know that they have a firearm on their person. It draws a lot of attention (both good and bad). A lot of people don’t want to deal with that kind of attention as it may lead you to getting banned from stores, homes, or shunned by people. I personally have a family member that doesn’t like to be in the same house as me when I have a firearm. And since I always have my firearm that makes for some awkward situations.

Open Carry: The open carry person often enjoys the attention/opportunities to talk about guns. They like to use it for educating the public and helping them better understand the laws. This type of person knows the law very well and is usually prepared to discuss the laws with police officers or citizens who may not be as familiar with the applicable law.

Concealed Carry: From a tactical standpoint concealed carry has the benefit of surprise. A criminal that is not aware of your firearm will not pay any special attention to you. That may give you an opportunity to get into a good position to use your firearm to stop a crime.

Open Carry: Open carry has a couple advantages–first is that your firearm may be a deterrent. A criminal that sees your firearm may not be prepared to fight you–and may choose another location that isn’t so difficult. But the opposite may also be true–they may see your firearm and attack you first with the intention of eliminating the biggest threats. Another advantage of open carry is that you can draw your weapon much quicker (that time gap obviously decreases as you train). With your weapon not being covered with clothes you can access it more quickly.

The choice is up to you and the laws of the state that you live in. There are benefits with either, but you have to be able to deal with both sides. You never know what type of situation you will be in when you need your firearm, so make sure that you can draw and use your weapon quickly and accurately from whatever you choose.


Rob is the Founder, Editor, and writer for You Can Carry. He became interested in concealed carry, self-defense, and emergency/personal preparation as he got married and had his first kid. His new-found desire to protect his family and keep them safe led him to getting a concealed firearm permit from the state of Utah, which began an increasing love for firearms and concealed carry. He is a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and a Utah Concealed Firearms Permit Instructor. Connect with Rob on Google+

18 Responses to “Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry”

  1. Esther Says:

    I personally prefer when you CONCEAL carry because I’m still not used to the attention…

  2. jim compton Says:

    i think that most cops get a kick out of trying to inform the american joe who carries that it is in fack ”ill”legal when it is not actually it is perfectlly legal and a given right to everyone who can legally own a firearm[pistol] can carrie conceald or open in plain view. I know that most pepol do nottake the time to inform themselfs of thier own rights and laws of thier state, but i suggest that thats where u should start before thinbking of open carry ,and ask your self am i prepared to inform the police or general public who may see my firearm and ask questions. Well it all boils down to being comfortable to carry iether way and being polite ,making eye contact with all pepole u meet and dont be nervous or look to aware by looking allaround tomuch it draws to much attention to your actions .BE SMART, BE AWARE, BE POLITE, ,AND BE SAFE

  3. Jim compton says, Says:

    I think that most cops get a kick out of trying to inform the American Joe who carries that it is in fact illegal when it is not actually, it is perfectly legal and a given right to everyone who can legally own a firearm [pistol] can carry concealed or open in plain view. I know that most people do not take the time to inform themselves of their own rights and laws of their state, but I suggest that that’s where you should start before thinking of open carry, and ask yourself am I prepared to inform the police or general public who may see my firearm and ask questions. Well it all boils down to being comfortable to carry either way and being polite ,making eye contact with all people you meet and don’t be nervous or look to aware by looking all-around to much it draws too much attention to your actions .BE SMART, BE AWARE, BE POLITE ,AND BE SAFE

  4. Jon Says:

    I know this is an old post, but the previous post by Jim is inaccurate. It is NOT legal to open carry a handgun. There are laws in states either allowing open carry or not allowing open carry. Further, some states require a permit to do so while others do not require a permit, such as Arizona. I just wanted to make this point so people are not getting inaccurate information from a poor source.

  5. Eric the blu Says:

    Open carry becomes a nightmare for police and private sector (security). If you require a permit to open/conceal carry can you imagine the insanity of trying to determine who to check and who not to check? Extra work load for the private sector, you walk into a business that has security there are two factors. The law gives the right of the proprietor to say no to any carry or yes (requiring proof). A lot of people are going to have to be checked before coming in unless it is a very liberal business. Police will also have to determine if the guy on the bike or the women pushing the baby carriage is legal. Remember, Florida is requiring you to have permit if the open carry law passes. Not just a law that says you can. If I was a bad guy and wanted to rob you and saw you open carry I’m going to walk up behind you and shot you in the head, take your money AND your gun. Most bad guys think twice about robbing someone they can not tell is carrying concealed. What is really scary that most about Florida CCW is the vast majority of concealed carries don’t shoot enough or at all, most of them have no idea what a defense load is, weapon retention to what nomenclature means. A lot stick a gun under their clothes and figure they are good to go. To get a CCW in Florida you take a gun safety course, that’s it. I have mixed emotions about the lack of people’s experience or mind set about concealed carry as it is, but to let them just start open carry make it more that just mixed emotions I must admit scare me a little.

  6. Eric the read Says:

    Eric the blu says:
    If I was a bad guy and wanted to rob you and saw you open carry I’m going to walk up behind you and shot you in the head, take your money AND your gun. Most bad guys think twice about robbing someone they can not tell is carrying concealed.

    So you are saying a “bad guy” is more likely to kill and rob someone who is openly carrying a gun than someone who is not? When a “bad guy” sees someone who is not openly carrying a gun, he is hesitant to rob that person because they may be carrying concealed? By this logic, cops and security guards would be robbed all the time and little old ladies would be safe.

  7. Steve Says:

    Just because someone steals doesn’t mean that they are a murderer. I think it’s stupid when people group all criminals together. ” Oh he’s a criminal, He’ll kill you.” A petty thief isn’t going to start killing people just because he can see that they are carrying a gun. And you cannot assume that these criminals are stupid. I believe any person in their right mind planning on robbing you would instantly be deterred after catching a glimpse of your freshly polished hand cannon. They would pick an easier target, like maybe that old man over there wiping mustard off of his sweater vest. Little does the thief know this old man is carrying concealed and is about to surprise him with a gun in the face. Thats when things can get out of hand. I like to keep all my cards on the table, no surprises.

  8. Dave K. Says:

    Now that I have my Virginia Conceal Carry Permit, I’ve been told by some that I can no longer open carry. Is this true?

  9. Marty Says:

    I’ve had guns most of my life and I still prefer to take advantage of my concealed weapons permit. I don’t feel a need to broadcast that I carry. This way I don’t unwittingly make myself (or my family) a target, but am prepared and able to protect us should the need arise.

  10. Devin Says:

    I enjoyed the article. I particularly liked how you examined both sides thoroughly. There are pros to each, but like you said most people prefer concealed carry (myself included). Love this country!

  11. matt Says:

    Personally I wish that concealed carry would be 100% outlawed and open carry be 100% permitted to any lawful gun owner. I don’t want to deny rights to gun owners but just as I am sensitive to your desires to carry your weapons you need to be sensitive to my desires to never be around a gun ever. Ive had a few former gun nut friends that thought their desire to never be without their gun was more important than my desire to never have guns in my house and brought them in concealed anyway. when I found out I asked them to leave and broke off contact due to their lack of respect.

  12. Joe Says:

    I am going to travel through your state. Can I carry as long as its in sight in my car.

  13. Rob Says:

    Joe–what state are you referring to?

  14. Terry Says:

    I prefer facts of baseless opinions and emotional supposition.
    Fact: 45 states already have open carry of hand guns
    Fact: The sky has not fallen in any of these states
    Fact: There is NO evidence/data to support the ridiculous argument that you become a target if you open carry. As a matter of fact, the lack of data supports the argument to the contrary.
    Fact: Open carry is an automatic deterrent (hint; why to LE open carry?)
    Fact: LE gets called or shows up AFTER something has happened
    Fact: Texas is one of five states that does not allow open carry of a handgun
    Fact: It used to be considered cowardly to conceal your handgun. Of course that was when integrity meant something too.
    Fact: Shall not be infringed means what it says.
    Fact: Law enforcement not seeing the handgun vs. seeing the handgun is irrelevant. Emotional fiction again.
    Fact: MOST criminals are cowards and go for the easy targets not the armed ones. (there are expecptions but you look foolish making an entire argument on the exception to anything.) This is data derived from interviewing said criminals by the way.
    Fact: Whether you like open carry or not is irrelevant as well. Who cares what you like or do not like. It is a right not a privilege that your opinion has absolutely zero input on.

    The fact that there is even a debate among gun owners or carriers shows just how sheepish society is and just how little people care about inalienable rights. Get a grip for pete-sake and please deal with facts and not fiction.

  15. Levi Says:

    I am with terry on this, If everyone open carried than the people who conceal carried would be the ones being judged. I think its about time to turn the tables and have pistol owners stop worrying about printing, and start worrying about everyone who doesn’t have a gun on there belt

  16. Ricky Barker Says:

    I agree with the last two comments. first though let me say that what Eric said above I think doesn’t hold much water. he says that if a criminal see’s you carrying a gun he is more likely to come up behind you and shoot you in the head to take your money, I don’t think there are too many criminals out there that are willing to shoot somebody in the head just to take their money. I think it would be more of a deterrent than anything. As for open carry I think it is the best thing in this climate of criminal and terrorist activity in this country for all responsible gun owners to carry openly. it will go a long way to show that we are an armed society and that we are ready and willing to stand up against those who would try to intimidate us.

  17. Andy Says:

    This is a great question however I figured there would be more responses.
    Self disclosure, I’ve been in law enforcement (IL) for over 20 years. I believe most officers are getting a bad rap from the concealed carry forums. I have trained four 40 hour firearms courses a year for 14 years at a academy. The officers I have trained are your neighbors, friends and family members. They all swore an oath to uphold the Constitution which includes the 2nd amendment. I just don’t see these young officers in my class portraying themselves as gun grabbers, anti 2nd amendment or anti gun. However, the newer officer is an inexperienced, nervous officer and that is human nature. Add into the mix the “Guy” who likes to correct, question, razz and give shit to young officers because he can, to prove a point and we all know things go south. That’s when you get the “because I said so” response that everyone hates.

    So as a 20 year officer I don’t have a preference whether you open carry or concealed carry. Either way I treat you the same. If dispatch sends me to shots fired, and you have a gun, tactically I treat you as a criminal until proven otherwise. If its a man with a gun call, your not shooting when I get there, and your holstered, I will treat you like the average citizen, until proven otherwise. Your attitude at this point in the contact goes a very long way. Older guys like myself know the game. Young, new officers are still trying to figure out if an individual is an asshole, crazy, suicidal or the average law abiding citizen

    I chose to conceal carry, just my personal preference. I do believe that open carry in the state of Illinois would decrease crime drastically however you will never get it past Chicago.

    So these are my thoughts, based on my 20 years.

  18. Berke Says:

    Indiana requires a permit to open carry and conceal carry. Kentucky requires a permit to conceal carry ONLY. I sat down with Kentucky state police in Ashland Ky and it IS 100% legal to carry a loaded handgun on your person as long as it is in plain view, can not be covered by your shirt or jacket. You may also carry it in your car but ONLY in plain view or in glove box. Again, this came from a Ky State Trooper in Ashland Ky while we set together and spoke in the Ashland State Police Station. Please feel free to call your local police department, knowing the law and thinking you know the law are always to different things. Be safe and always know your local laws.

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