The Art of Off-Body Carry – How To and Why

You can’t always on-body carry. How do you carry off-body when it’s your only option?


Off-body carry is a very controversial topic in the firearms community. A lot of people instantly discount the option and declare off-body carry a nonstarter for concealed carry. I don’t think absolutes have a lot of room in the concealed carry market. Off-body carry isn’t optimum, but it can be an effective and efficient means to carry a firearm safely and securely. Sometimes you don’t have a choice and can’t carry on-body. When that happens, you need to be ready to carry off-body.

I off-body carry whenever I go for a run. Carrying in running shorts isn’t easy or seemingly possible to do while keeping the gun concealed. Instead, I prefer to carry a small bag with my concealed carry pistol. That’s my reason, and there are lots of reasons why off-body carry might be a choice for you. Today we are going to explore how to carry off body and how to do so safely and efficiently.

Pros and Cons of Off Body Carry

First and foremost, off-body carry allows you to very easily carry a full-sized handgun outfitted with a light and optic without much difficulty. These big pistols are pretty dang easy to conceal when you are shoving them in a bag.

This means of carrying also allows you to carry a firearm in a situation where your clothing doesn’t make concealed carry easy. I run, but other people might have strict dress codes that make concealed carry prohibitive. It might be the safer bet in some situations. Carrying a firearm while riding a motorcycle creates an interesting situation.

Off-body carry makes it pretty much impossible for retention to be an issue. A good bag ensures the gun stays put. In a potentially violent situation, you can put your hand in the bag, access the weapon but not draw it. This won’t draw much suspicion compared to reaching for an AIWB gun.

The downside is a slower draw and less access to your pistol. Another downside is the gun’s in the bag, so that means the bag is on you. Also, it means you have to purchase a bag, and not a cheap one if you are serious about safety and access.

The Art of Off Body Carry

If off-body carry is for you, there are four general roles to ensure your experience is safe and your firearm accessible.

First and foremost, if a gun is in the bag, the bag never gets left behind! Seriously, the only time the bag can even be set down is if you remove the firearm or plan to lock the gun up. It’s not something you leave in the grocery cart as you move from aisle to aisle. It’s gotta stay on you, and that’s it!

A dedicated CCW bag most certainly works best. They are designed for easy access and often have a dedicated CCW pouch for your firearm. Options for Vertx and Tactical Tailor provide you a dedicated pocket that’s hidden but easy to access.

You still need a holster! You have to cover the trigger to ensure an accidental discharge doesn’t occur. Off-body carry doesn’t rid you of the need for a holster. Check out the Purse Defender, the Pocket Rocket, or the Pac Mat rigs for off-body carry options. A well-made holster that fits your firearm ensures not only safety but an easy draw and a reliable draw. You want the firearm-oriented one way every time.

Lastly, you need to train. You need to practice accessing your weapon, drawing it, and getting the weapon into play safely. It’s no different than practicing your normal draw. Don’t disregard your training with off-body carry. Practice drawing from various positions, sitting, standing, in a car, etc.

Practice with dry fire first and if possible, work your way up to live fire. This way, you can hit the ground running and be prepared to use your gun from your bag.

Boom Bang Pow

Off-body carry isn’t for everyone and to me isn’t a primary means of carrying. It’s a secondary means to accomplish a task when my primary means of carrying isn’t possible. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna put in half the work to make it serviceable. It’s a deadly serious subject and requires practice, a good holster, a good bag, and discipline. Anything less is asking for trouble.

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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.

He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.


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