U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Recently while I was at Petco, a man walked in, and he was quite a sight to see. This man was in his late 50’s to early 60’s, in decent shape. He wore green Condor BDU pants bloused on his black 511 Tactical boots, a black 2A moto tee was tucked into his BDU pants. On his hip was an openly carried Springfield XDS, with extended magazine, jammed into a Serpa holster. He was buying some dog food.
Immediately after paying, his head dives into his smartphone like his neck is a wet noodle. I watch him as he exits, and he remains like this all the way until he gets into his new Chevy Colorado. The man is almost is struck by two vehicles on his way through the parking lot, with him completely oblivious to the world around him. Bad gun, bad holster, bad outfit, bad mindset. Classic. I’ve seen guys like him dozens of times and it’s always something painfully similar to this.
Open carry is legal in my city. Open carry is your right in much of the country. For places where it isn’t, I think it should be. That being said, open carry is often a sign of incompetence, and I almost exclusively advise people against the practice. I’ve never seen anyone publicly open carry with good equipment, nor with any serious amount of awareness or training.
Time and time again it’s been proven that open carry does not deter threats, does not make you a good ambassador for our rights, and doesn’t give you an edge in a fight.
Open Carry As a Deterrent Against Crime
Open carry doesn’t deter people from attacking cops, and they actually have some level of training to defend against that on top of holsters designed to defeat a gun grab. In addition to training and quality retention holsters, police can call for backup in a jam. I doubt many of you, if any, can say the same thing.
Most people struggle to make effective hits on a stationary target or simply operate their gun under no stress. Trying to incorporate weapons retention, in-fight weapons access, and other skills without training doesn’t go well for the average shooter. Your conceal carry class, “been shooting all my life”, or an enlistment as an 11B/0311/3P0 doesn’t guarantee your effectiveness. Do you have the skills and equipment necessary to fight back against someone trying to take your openly carried firearm?
Fighting on Whose Terms?
Open carry also presents issues outside of the gunfight. Now you’re alerting everyone to the presence of your firearm, threat or not. This means it is automatically in play in any defensive encounter, not something you can choose to reveal or continue hiding based on the situation at hand. With the gun openly displayed, you are now someone who can be dealt with quickly, instead of you waiting for your moment to counterattack.
Before someone says it, I know you’re talking out your ass when you say nobody would ever get the drop on you, or you never let anyone within XYZ distance of yourself. You and your Meal Team 6 ninja friends can go back to the land of Make-Believe to scare the children and soccer moms.
Man with a Gun
Don’t forget the potential for Karens or legitimately concerned citizens calling 911 with reports of “a man with a gun” at the sight of your openly carried pistol or long gun. That’s certainly not a situation I want to put myself in, and I live in a fairly gun-friendly area. Especially in light of recent mass casualty events, from movie theaters to grocery stores, schools, and more, concern for those armed in public continues to grow. Do you know what to do if someone were to call you in for a crime you didn’t commit?
Open Carry Exceptions
This piece is regarding open carry in public, occupied areas. Time spent hunting or on your private land is another matter, and not entirely relevant here. There are pros and cons to situations such as those, which is outside the scope of what we’re talking about today. I know someone would bring this up, which is why I’m addressing it here.
Parting Thoughts on Open Carry
Go get good training, read quality resources, and buy good equipment. If you don’t take my word for it, trust people like Greg Ellifritz, who has an awesome piece compiling over 60 recent examples of open carriers losing their guns or being killed due to carrying openly. He then goes on to link dozens of other articles where various experts like Massad Ayoob, Jeff Gonzales, and others give their opinions on the subject. You can read that >>HERE<<.
If you decide to open carry, do it in a Level 2 or 3 retention holster like those from Safariland, with a service grade pistol, and have significant training under your belt. Go take Jiu Jitsu, jump into an ECQC class, and find ways to enhance your situational awareness. Better yet, continue to study and train, but carry concealed in a quality holster like those from JM Custom Kydex, Tenicor, Raven Concealment, and others.
About Dan Reedy
Dan is an Air Force veteran, avid shooter, and dog dad. With a passion for teaching, he holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has trained with Darryl Bolke, Mike Pannone, Craig Douglas, among several other instructors, amassing over 400 hours of professional instruction thus far. In his spare time you’ll find him teaching handgun, shotgun, and less lethal classes.