Open Carry or Exposed Carry?

By John Farnam

My personal philosophy of appearing in public revolves around always projecting a low profile.
My personal philosophy of appearing in public revolves around always projecting a low profile. Img:
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-( The State of TX has recently authorized “open” (exposed) carry of guns within the state.

Lots of details yet to be worked-out, but the legislation has gone through. AZ and some other states have technically permitted the practice for some time. And, even in states where there is no specific legislation, the practice is commonly noted in some areas.

My advice to students is not to carry openly. When open carry becomes common, even expected, I may join in. Until then, I’ll leave the practice to those far more in need of fame and recognition than me!

To me, it is similar to wearing a T-shirt proclaiming your particular political party. Why do you think everyone who sees you needs to know that? How does that benefit you?

My personal philosophy of appearing in public revolves around always projecting a low profile.

I don’t think it is in my best interests for me to inadvertently, nor intentionally, broadcast important information about myself, information that is no one else’s business!

So, I discretely carry concealed. I am always heavily armed, to be sure, but you can’t tell by looking, nor do I talk about guns, politics, travel plans, et al with people I don’t know. Precious few people have a legitimate need to know any of that!

I do my best to be courteous, polite, and pleasant with everyone, but never chatty with people I don’t know. I don’t want to appear “interesting” nor “beauteous” while in public. I just quietly go my way and conduct my business without fanfare. I believe that philosophy adequately represents my best interests.

Be a “stand-out” when you are so inclined. Just be prepared to garner far more “attention” than you ever wanted!


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

  • 36 thoughts on “Open Carry or Exposed Carry?

    1. I carried concealed in Texas since 1995. Open Carry (I never heard of exposed carry until this Farnam article) went into effect on Jan.1,2016, and I have been carrying open since Jan.1,2016. I don’t really understand why this guy even wrote this article. I guess he wanted us to know his advice to students is not to carry open ! Farnam said when Open Carry becomes common he may join in ? Well, tell Farnam if nobody carried open how would it become common ? This will be the first hot ass summer coming up in Houston that I don’t have conceal my handgun ! Next, Texas will get constitutional carry !

    2. I appreciate your thoughts. I know that there are those that would argue that if they open-carry then no one would dare mess with them. However, open carry does not guarantee that you will be in a position to fire. Also, an assailant knows that they must get the “drop” on you first, and that may mean you take a bullet before you can draw. On the other hand, I prefer the element of surprise. Being older provides me with the advantage that I appear to be weaker than they are. I then have the opportunity to grab my chest faking a heart attack as I conceal the fact that I am drawing my weapon. Looking down the barrel of a drawn gun has much more impact than seeing one on a person’s hip. They know you already have won a possible gun fight. However, I concede that a person can do it however they want to… if you want to telegraph your “punch”, feel free. But my way works and doesn’t draw needless attention to me. I am concerned with defending myself, not in making a political statement about what my gun rights.

      1. “…grab my chest faking a heart attack as I conceal the fact that I am drawing my weapon.”

        Really, gun fights happen in a matter of seconds. If you were up against me, you’d be dead before you could grab your chest. If you want to stay alive forget that fantasy, it will only get you killed. You’d be best focusing on getting your hand under your clothing and pulling your firearm without shooting yourself in the leg.

        I am not going to trust my life on some tiny, plastic firearm that can’t contain enough bullets. I will stick to my 92fs, belted to my side, where I can get my hand on it instantly and have enough accuracy and fire power to get the job done. And as a point of reference, I have personally witnessed bad guys turn and walk away when the noted I was armed.

        And lets not mention interviews of bad guys in prison. The regularly tells us, they don’t the attack armed they look for the weak victims. Carrying concealed is like hanging a gun free zone sign on your neck! But again what do I know I still think DA/SA hand guns are the safest. Arizona rules!

        1. “…I am not going to trust my life on some tiny, plastic firearm that can’t contain enough bullets. I will stick to my 92fs..” WOW. My “tiny plastic” pistol is a Springfield Armory XD9 Mod.2 with a 3″ barrel – and carries 16+1 rounds of Winchester PDX-1 +P JHP rounds. So kiss my bedonk-a-donk, tool. I out gun you with my CONCEALED tiny plastic firearm.

    3. I agree.
      I’m in favor of open carry, but I won’t carry openly. It gives up an advantage.
      True, it may discourage some, but it may encourage others.
      And of course, the hoplophobes out there…why freak ’em out and have to deal with a rookie rushing to a scene where “there is a man with a gun!”
      Chances are good that if you see my firearm it means either a) we are show each other our carry stuff or b) I’m about to shoot you to stop you from harming or killing someone.

    4. I am not as proponent of open carry and here is why:
      1) It scares the hell out of people and they call 911.
      2) It opens you to being detained and questioned by authorities, who do not know the law …. and you’d be surprised how many do not know the law.
      3) Probably the most valuable item on you is your weapon. I have witness an attack on a man who was open carrying in a grocery store. One of the attackers distracted him from the front while the second clubbed him from the back with a with a baseball bat. they grabbed his gun and ran out of the store. The whole thing took about 3 seconds, and I was too far away to do anything


      1. Baloney. The more it’s practiced the more law enforcement are also trained in handling those calls. We ran through the training problem in VA and it was resolved. As far as your last point, show me the link to the story.

      2. I don’t carry much but appreciate the freedom of open carry, especially since it’s guaranteed by the Constitution. It’s usually hot where I live and I occasionally walk on the public roadway alongside my farm. Not only are there many feral hogs, but other dangerous critters occasionally take exception to my presence. And of course, the worst scenario is the rare bad guy who happens along. Like most others on this forum, I don’t need moronic leftist city folks telling me when, where, how and what I can carry.

    5. “When open carry becomes common, even expected, I may join in..”
      Well, if no one open carries it will never become common so you have now become part of that particular problem. As far as giving an advantage to bad guys, that has never, in a single incident to my knowledge been a factor. Another myth.

      In some States, specifically AZ, it’s not technically (whatever that means) practiced, it’s there, out in the open and you see it everywhere. The same in Virginia where I lived for 43 years.

      John should stop preaching outdated doctrine. Open carry has come a long way in States where it’s legal and has many benefits but only when it becomes commonplace and that’ll only happen when folks start doing it.

    6. I’ve been open carrying for years, as do many others. My best guess is, 90% of the people I encounter don’t even notice or if they do they don’t care.

      Never had a 911 call and rookie cops is a made up issue. People here are mindful of guns they can’t see, other than those they can. How often do criminals brandish guns well before thier crime?

      AZ citizens, like our LOE’s, treat everyone as if they are armed (most are). What we watch for is irratic, suspious behaviour. I would rather know a person is armed than assume, I owe my fellow citizens the same civility.

      1. Doesn’t that all depend on which state you are living in? I live in SC open carry is prohibited and an instant ticket as well as loss of the right to carry because open carry is a felony. Now if we take into consideration how in certain states chicken shit neighbors lie and accuse their neighbors of creating havoc, where the local Yokel respond and then shoot and kill a grandfather carrying his grandchild, hmmm. The only thing loaded there was the diaper…
        Would I open carry? Perhaps if I lived in Texas where it is legal and like Marvin above when I was walking my farm. I DO open carry in South Carolina when I am hunting, one sort of goes with the other. However the police can read that law any way they choose can’t they?
        I see you are from Arizona, I cannot he;p to bring to mind those unarmed persons murdered by the police and often shot in the back… You know like the homeless fellow in Albuquerque. He was not carrying at all. 26 persons in 4 years.
        Apparently in Albuquerque the terms “To Protect and Serve” have an entirely different meaning,

    7. I don’t know why the author of this ridiculous article decided to use the Texas Open Carry law to let us know that he doesn’t like Open Carry ! It’s reassuring to know that he might eventually favor Open Carry if it becomes common ? Farnam must has too much time on his hands ! He needs to educate himself about states that have had Open Carry for decades without any negative issues. Open Carry is not unchartered waters or an experiment in progress !!!!

    8. For those of you not aware of Farnam’s reputation–he is the number one top private firearm instructor in the U.S. and possibly the world and has been at the top of that level for the last 20 of his near 35 years in the game. He travels around the world to teach courses to the rich, famous, governments and just folks. Having said that he is right. Why the hell put a blinking red light on your head advertising you are armed IF you are not in some type of LEO uniform. Macho stupidity!

      1. As a Minnesota permit-to-carry instructor I tell my students the law says you may carry concealed or open, but I discourage open carry. If a bad guy sees you open carrying you will be his first target and you probably won’t know he’s a bad guy until its too late. I prefer to carry concealed because it doesn’t let the bad guy and the rest of the world know you are carrying. The element of surprise is then on your side.

      2. I don’t give a damn about Farnams resume ! He don’t know what he’s talking about as far a real facts concerning open carry ! If he don’t like open carry that’s his business. My opinion about open carry is more important that his all day long !

    9. Never heard of the guy. If all the stories are true about OC making you a target why don’t we hear of it on a daily basis? There are quite a few OC states. I live in one and work in another and have NEVER heard of someone getting jumped just because they were OC. It is a BIG world and things will happen but that does not make it anywhere near “common” or something that should be a big concern. Should I not drive my car because it is expensive and someone might want to steal it?

      1. Well one has to think about it…. Today the problem is not so much, but a day after TSHTF everybody will want to be armed in any way they can especially those who have been on the dole all their lives and could not EBT a fire arm…
        It is more important to think logically and be prepared.
        I would never wear clothing nor place stickers on my vehicle advertising my lifestyle. WHY? Because the one time I has a US Divers license plate on my vehicle it invited criminals to break into my trunk to try and steal my scuba gear.
        Placing a NRA sticker on a vehicle advertises “I AM A GUN OWNER” and in some states that sticker alone will get you pulled over by crooked cops looking to arrest you for having a weapon especially if you are from out of state.

    10. I think Y’all need to calm down a bit; let’s not all get our skivvies in a knot. Mr. Farnam simply pointed out that he suggests to his students that they not carry visibly (and that HE never does so himself) for perfectly valid tactical reasons. He doesn’t want to give up the surprise factor, and he doesn’t want to draw any attention to himself. He is apparently a very private person, and wishes to remain so. How you carry (as long as it’s legal) is a very personal choice, kind of like whether you wear skivvies or prefer to go “commando,” and I wouldn’t argue with anyone’s personal choice. After all, it’s a free country (pretty much, so far anyway). Personally, I usually carry concealed, as I have done since 1996. Now that open carry is legal here in TX, I generally still carry concealed, but sometimes opt to carry openly for reasons of comfort (San Antonio gets really HOT in the summer!). However, since I’ve been carrying concealed for so long here, I have obviously developed fairly comfortable ways to do so, even in the summer heat.

      That being said, we should all recognize that we owe a debt to those folks who carried long guns openly in public as a form of political statement, because they garnered enough publicity to force the state legislature to pass an open carry law last year. It remains a valid point, just as valid as the tactical point, that openly carrying, while it will initially upset some folks, will also accustom most of the public to seeing guns in the public sphere, and this will probably lead to a change in public attitudes about guns, eventually moving them from the “scary” category to the “ordinary” category. This will take a number of years, and we will all owe a debt to those who carried openly for that interim period, because they will ultimately be responsible for the increase in our 2nd. Amendment freedoms. Whether or not you wish to be a part of the group that changes public opinion, at the possible expense of some tactical advantage, is again, entirely your personal choice. No one has to turn up and participate in things like TEA Party rallies, Open Carry protests, etc., but the pro-gun person still benefits from them, even if, like Mr. Farnam, he chooses not to be an active participant himself. For those who wear clothing that proclaims their POV, political party, favored candidate, etc., as I sometimes do, again it is a personal choice, and I would never presume to tell anyone NOT to do so. When I do that, it is because I want to encourage discussion, and if possible, change opinions contrary to my own. In regards to gun laws and anti-gun attitudes, I held my tongue for several decades to avoid confrontation, and that didn’t work out well, either for the country, or for those who believe as I do. So I have stopped being quiet about things I think are important. I now engage in fairly frequent discussions in my local coffee house, and less often at the grocery store, and other places where I might be in public, but the conversation is often instigated by my T-shirt slogans. I’m sure most people would see me as a “pro-gun guy,” although oddly enough, they don’t seem to realize I’m probably carrying. When I carry openly, that part changes. Since I also wear a kilt on occasion, I’m not unfamiliar with getting stared at in public, nor does it bother me. If you REALLY want to start a conversation, just try open carry while wearing a kilt!

    11. John, I agree with you. Carry concealed today while people are still on the “OH MY GOD HE HAS A GUN!” train. The automatic vilification of anyone carrying and the instantaneous ASSUmption that all gun owners are inherently bad. All thanks to political leftists and idiots.
      When the time comes to carry openly then I may do that too. However I expect there will be a time in between where those carrying openly will be targeted by the nefarious for their guns as a way of gaining superiority in a SHTF scenario by the golden horde types.
      I am sure in any situation where “after the conflict” that I would pick up and take every loose weapon and ammo if possible simply to keep the weapons out of the hands of the “bad guys”. If we also still had a functioning local constabulary I would turn them over if I had no need for them.
      In the beginning It might even be worthwhile to stay home as much as possible in a Without Rule Of Law (WROL) situation till the dust settles. Or if possible have a Go Pro camera attached to the bottom rail to provide evidence of the interlopers creating havoc.
      it is unfortunate that we the ones whose sole intent is to just keep our families safe will be forced to do things we would never choose to do simply because Wealth Elite and their bought criminal government chose purposefully to disobey the Law of the Land for their own ill gotten gains like the organized criminals they chose to be. The very same leadership that chose to create terrorism and terrorists by pushing criminal foreign policy for their NWO bankster masters.

      1. That ‘Oh my God,he has a gun’ mentality is why you should Open Carry ! How long do you candie asses want to mollycoddle and pander these son of a bitches ? To hell with them !


    13. Well, if nothing else Tex is passionate about his guns. Me I always carry concealed even though my state has open carry. Some of my friends open carry and that is fine by me. I will not demand anyone to carry against their personal choice.

    14. Tex, you sure an opinionated fool. Yeah you can talk all about where you live and there it may be OK but PLEEZE come to South Carolina and open carry. You would not last more time that it takes for the Po Po to respond.
      There are a lot of us who want to open carry but we will just have to wait and avoid being shot in the meantime. I conceal carry 24/7. I do not patronize any place with a come rob us sign.
      I find it AMAZING how you can make comments while completely exposing the fact you have no common sense.
      Are you the guy who walks into a Mosque yelling, “Get your sausage here!”??? Or are you they guy who leans a ladder onto the branch your are cutting with a chainsaw. on the wrong side of the cut?
      I mean with your high opinion of yourself and the idiotic way you seem to preach to everyone else, “The right thing to do is!” makes me wonder why I have not seen you on television in one of those shows that proves Darwin was right.
      I have an idea, how about you learn the gun laws of every state and then make educated comments. Hmmm? That or cut the attitude because I was in Viet Nam and served 22 years in the Military shooting guns that took 16 inch rounds. Ever send off a Tomahawk Missile? How about walk a kill zone? I had my first confirmed kill when I was 17. In order to prove myself as more than just another kid, I wore a necklace of ears that stunk to high heavens till they dried. The real fact is, like me, you know nothing of anyone else here and their valuable experiences. You might find out in the long run you know very little. At least I was paid and trained and qualified and MEDALED as a small arm and long range marksman. 22 years and many live fire situations and I am still here. Yes I am disabled, shit happens but still here.
      I certainly know that I do not know everything.

    15. It is really a matter of personal preference. I like to have the option. If I am concealed carrying and I print or my jacket falls open it is good to know that I am ok. If I am open carrying and I want to put on a jacket I am also ok. I don’t want the government to dictate how I carry.

      With regards to the bad guys. It is good to keep them guessing. If they go after an open carry person the rest of us concealed carry guys know immediately who the bad guy is. For the liberals out there. The bad guy is not the one with the gun. It is the one shooting at innocents.

    16. As a long time resident of Arizona and a 25 year retired LEO from here as well I have been around open and concealed carry sine the early 70s.
      I do not have a problem with either, never did whether working on or off duty. I carried both ways depending on the locations I was going to be at and never gave it a thought as to what method (open carry or concealed) I should be using unless it was in a suit. It is kinda hard to open carry in a 3 piece suit unless you strap in on your shoulder over the suit coat..haha.
      As a LEO here in Arizona we DO take everyone as being armed when we deal with them. Always have and always will. Since the concealed carry without a permit passed a few years back to make us a Constitutional carry state it makes it even more of a(everyone is armed) polite society for police work.
      Many times I had folks tell me on traffic stops,(I was a motor officer for 13 years) that they were carrying concealed or had one close by them in the vehicle. I always told them after visually sizing them up that IF they left theirs alone then I would leave mine alone with a slight chuckle. It always seemed to put them at ease and my stops always went smoothly. Luck, maybe but I truly believe that those who wanted to hurt me would have never told me at the beginning that they were armed so I felt a little bit safer. I know many officers who actually would take the weapon from the stopped individuals until they were done with the contact which is lawfully allowed. Never did that but could have. I only took a weapon if I was taking the person who owned it to the office or jail….
      In our state when you run a person for a drivers license check and warrants check it shows a tip to dispatch or the officer on the computer that the person being checked has a valid Concealed Carry Permit or CCW as we call it in Arizona.
      Carrying open never required a permit here so it is a regular sight wherever it is allowed. Why people do it is their own reasoning. Myself I rarely did it and still rarely ever do it. I want the baddie to not have me picked out or have the upper hand if at all possible. That split second I have to get to my weapon if it is ever needed is the split second that just may keep me and or mine alive in a very bad gone down the hill situation. Having it on me openly only draws eyes to it so it makes me a first target to either disarm or eliminate if the baddies want no response in their actions.
      I have always said to each their own on how they want to carry. Just remember tho, When you come to our state every LEO you meet or pass by will always think of you as being armed. It helps keep us on edge and alive. Come on out and play we have thousands of acres to hunt and shoot on and many sidewalks you can walk on armed the way to want to carry…

    17. It is interesting as it always is to see TROLLS (always garbage experts- who espouse their lines of unproven never been in a gun fight expertise like the two yo-yos using Tex as their name -probably same guy). Personally I have known Farnam for years, he has been in gun fights and has trained every single U.S. secret government and overt agency as we as special operations military, all forms of law enforcement operations both in and outside this country and and many tens of thousands of other folks here and around the world. If you two “Tex” heroes (same guy probably) were to come up against him –just shoot yourself and save the time-’cause you will not win. When Farnam says not to carry open he is not talking about protesting or whatever, he is talking about every day carry and his advice is well heeded by the smart gun owner.

    18. Geez, I must be doing something wrong. The other day I went shopping with my wife, OCed at Wal-Mart, a large supermarket, a big box home improvement store and a major gas station. Nobody peed their pants, no mothers covered their child’s eyes, nobody went screaming for the exits. Someone in one of those places even complimented me for carrying – said it made him feel safer knowing a Good Guy was around.

      Other than that, it was Tuesday.

    19. Open Carry in Pennsylvania. While Pennsylvania has a specific law that requires a License To Carry Firearms for the concealed carry of a firearm, and the carry of firearms in vehicles, the law is silent on the legality of openly carrying a firearm in other situations, making it de-facto legal.

      However in South Carolina the law says NO in no uncertain terms. You carry you lose your right to bear arms.

      We are fighting it.

    20. This, I describe to be the question between the insecticide or the repellent.

      To be an insecticide……………..If you want to walk around as an old person ( I am 72) that looks like a likely mugging victim and not appear to be armed, while you really are, then you need the insecticide. You shoot the bad guy and get to spend lots of money protecting your decision in a court of law or signing up defense attorneys.

      On the other hand, you get the chance to be a repellent………The bad guy sees that you are armed. That in the first degree, implies to the bad guy that you know what you are doing. In the second degree he asks himself if he is smart or quick enough to disarm an informed, practiced, proficient bearer of arms or if he will take a chance.

      Maybe he will look for a more suitable victim……………someone who may be only concealedly armed.

      No Court, No hassles, the other guy (stealthily armed) gets to do the court system.

      I am from Missouri. An open carry state for years.

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