Carrying a firearm exposed for all the world to see while out and about in public has been a hot topic for quite some time.

Over at the preparedness blog “Practical Eschatology,” they collected half a dozen of my articles, here.

Give ‘em a look if you are so inclined, and let me know whether today, half a decade on, you think I should change my opinions.


  1. Having recently moved to a much more rural area, I’ve found open carry fairly common. This typically involves holstered handguns carried on ones own or a neighbors homestead, gas stations, hardware or feed store, etc… I have rarely seen it “in town” and have never seen anyone carrying a slung long gun except when hunting.

  2. Mr. Ayoob:

    As soon as my former (Soviet Socialist) State of MN adopted a “shall issue” permit law my wife and I both got MN Carry Permits and have renewed them since. The MN law was written so that concealment was not a requirement, but all of our trainers (our first one actually helped write the law) strongly recommended carrying concealed. For the past 17 years or so I’ve been carrying one or another 1911A1 in a Don Hume IWB with thumb-break holster. I appreciate the extra safety (strap goes between hammer and slide) and retention it offers. Thankfully I’ve never had to draw one of my guns other than at the range.

    When we moved to Wyoming our MN carry permits were not reciprocated. WY law is such that if you have not been resident for at least six (6) continuous months you cannot carry concealed, it must be open carry. So I’ve had six months of experience in a relatively small town (less than 10,000 residents) where almost no one paid much attention to the fact that I was carrying a Condition 1 (cocked, locked, one up the spout) .45. As you’ve mentioned, I don’t think most people even noticed. About the only person who commented on it was a medical technician who asked what kind of .45 I was carrying. It helped that the holster was partially tucked into my pants and that the protruding grips were flat black.

    Now that we’ve been here a couple of years our constitutional carry state allows me to carry concealed without a permit. And as soon as we were eligible we went back to concealment. It’s not required, but I find I much prefer it to open carry. I’ve read all six of your articles linked above (and thanks to that blogger for updating those dead links) and it is my opinion that I’m better off carrying concealed than open even if it slows down my access to the firearm.

    About the only time I open carry here is when fishing and/or hiking in a remote area. This is Wyoming, and bears are a very real potential hazard. While a .45 is probably inadequate for a grizzly, I find that anything bigger (like a .44 magnum) is uncontrollable for me. I’ve found mountain lion tracks on the side of the mountain across the road from our residential area. The local deputy sheriffs, the local police, and the WY Game and Fish guys don’t even blink when the see the open-carry pistol on my hip; they generally regard it as a good idea. But when I go into town I drop a concealing garment (in the winter a sloppy, baggy sweatshirt, in the summer I just un-tuck my shirt) over the grips. I think it’s just a polite thing to do since nobody really needs to know if I’m armed or not.

  3. Great articles, Mas. I think you covered every angle about open carry.

    Unfortunately, I think open carry is only appropriate in an enlightened society.

    We in NJ wish we could carry concealed. In 2019, the population of New Jersey was 8.882 million people. The number of active concealed carry permits? 1,212.

    Solution? Move to a free state. I would do so if I had made better career decisions.

    • Roger:

      I’m sorry to learn you live in the People’s Democratic Republic of New Jersey. I used to live across the river in NYC, but that was back when I was a kid during the Jurassic period, so I understand your pain. “Go west, old man.”

      You are correct in that open carry is only feasible among an honest population. When one can park a brand new Ferrari convertible with top down, on the street in a poor minority neighborhood with bundles of $100 bills, an Apple I phone and laptop, and a nickel plated Glock 9mm pistol next to them on the front seat, and come back several hours later to find everything still there, then I will carry openly, or not even own a gun at all, except for fun.

      • My brother in law moved from New Jersey because the police chief of South River NJ refused him a gun permit because he was an alcoholic loser with inferiority issues. He loved having a gun so much that he left his wife and daughter and moved to Brooksville FL where they were happy to let him have a gun. He got into a dispute at an office took a hostage and committed suicide by cop. Florida, aren’t you happy that you subjected a person to being a hostage and you made a cop do what they dread?

      • Paul Johnson,

        I’m sorry to hear about your brother’s bad decision-making. America is supposed to be about freedom and freedom is dangerous. Those who cannot handle freedom need to move to a nanny state, and there are plenty of those. By “nanny state” I’m not referring to one of the fifty states but to other countries who believe freedom is too dangerous for average citizens.

        Full disclosure: I am a Christian who believes the best form of government would be for everyone to voluntarily follow the Bible. That has been tried in Geneva, Holland, Scotland, New England and elsewhere. There were too many theological disagreements, so our Constitution was adopted in 1787. America is the most amazing nation in history, probably half of all inventions were invented here, and I can’t argue with our success. So I want to hang on to what we have in this country, which is dangerous freedom. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it allows innovators to rise to the top and make life better for the rest of us.

        I admit that most people really can’t handle freedom. We do need a shepherd, but I want my shepherd to be God, not a king, queen, dictator, congress critter or President. Our system is very tolerant of different world views. If some people make bad decisions because they are free, that is the price we will pay for having a free country, and I am OK with that.

      • Anyone who wants to be killed by the police or someone else can do so by waving around a fake gun, threatening a hostage with a knife or other weapon, or wearing a real or fake homicide vest in public. Remember that it’s the person who decides their fate and not the object they have in their hands. The important thing is that honest and sane people have the means to defend themselves against those who are not.

    • @ Roger Willco – “We in NJ wish we could carry concealed. In 2019, the population of New Jersey was 8.882 million people. The number of active concealed carry permits? 1,212.”

      That is pitiful. That works out to only 1 person in 7,328 having a permit in NJ. That makes a mockery of the Right to Carry and the 2nd Amendment.

      My home State of Tennessee just released (January 2021) an updated report on handgun carry permits (HCP). You can find it on the TN Dept. of Safety web site if you search for it (they don’t openly post it).

      It shows that, as of January 2021, Tennessee has 716,027 active HCP’s issued. This is out of a population of 6.83 million. So, in Tennessee, the ratio is one permit per 9.5 persons. Much better than 1 out of 7,000+. This provides a nice contrast between a freedom-loving Red State and a controlling, nanny Blue State!

      The report also include some other interesting statistics. For example, in 2020, Tennessee issued or renewed 145,237 HCP’s. This was done in despite of it being a media-driven COVID-19 plague year. BTW, my own HCP was one of those renewed in 2020.

      In 2020, Tennessee also suspended 1,175 permits, revoked another 890 and denied to issue (for cause) another 3,639 permit requests.

      So, the number of suspended/revoked permits comes to 2,065 out of a total pool of just over 716,027 permits. That means, on an annual basis, Tennessee has to suspend or revoke only 1 permit out of about 340 issued. Much less than 1%. Truly, people who have HCP’s are among the most law-abiding folks in the entire State.

      Of the 145,237 HCP’s issued in 2020, 94,971 were issued to males and 50,266 were issued to females. I guess that we don’t have an OTHER gender category here in Tennessee for HCP’s yet. According to their report, the TN Dept. of Safety is still “making do” with just two genders. I guess we are a bit behind the times here in Tennessee! 🙂

      Anyway, I thought that you might find some contrasting statistics from a Red State of interest.

      • Excellent post, TN_MAN. That shows the beauty of federalism. We don’t need, and I don’t desire, one set of rules for all the states. While Communism is slowly taking over some states, others are choosing to remain free.

        As for the two sexes, notice how anti-science the Left is. A nurse told me sex is encoded in every cell of our bodies. That means even my finger nails are male.

  4. I think a locked car door in one’s driveway at night is a deterrent to casual theft. I also think that a laptop in view on the front seat ups the “reward” part of the “risk-reward” equation, increasing the chance of theft. And I think an openly carried firearm is analogous to both the locked door and the laptop.

  5. I always carried concealed so as not to make myself a target of criminal activity and well meaning but ignorant/stupid people who bother me or call the police to report an armed lunatic on the loose. Bad guys/gals may try to grab your firearm if they see it or shoot you first if they are planning to commit a crime in your presence. Carrying a handgun openly in a security holster won’t help if someone sneaks up behind you and taps your head with a rock. Back when I was in uniform, I was always aware of people around me and looking back often to spot evildoers, something which most non-police people do. I believe in surprising criminals who target me and instead of ending up as a victim, become a self defending survivor.

    • Whoops, I meant most non-police citizens are NOT aware and cautious of people around and behind them.

      • Tom606,

        Most people are not aware of what’s going on around them because they are phony. They are looking at their phones.

      • Roger:

        You’re absolutely right about people and their cell phones. It’s especially aggravating at my gym where members are occupying a piece of equipment and spend more time checking their phones and texting than exercising and preventing others who are waiting to use that machine or weight. I have suggested to the management of the gym to prevent insensitive members from wasting other people’s time by messing with their phones, but nothing has been done so far.

        I carry an old flip type phone mainly for emergency calls and never take it out of my pocket unless I get a call or make one.

      • Tom606,

        I have a flip phone too. It costs me $32 a month. I will buy a smart phone, and a PC, when I rejoin the middle class. But I will be the master of my machines. They will not master me. A self-driving car? Forget about it! I want to be in control.

        When AI tries to take over, I will try to disrupt their power source, or throw water on them. Remember when Rambo returned with the POWs? He shot up Murdock’s computers!

      • Every peace officer and big game hunter should have a hat or a helmet or two with two big, bright eyes printed on the back. That, and an alert partner.

      • S.S.

        With the continuing shrinking in size of video cameras, it’s possible now to mount a miniature unit with wide angle lens, on the rear of a cap/hat showing the wearer what’s behind him/her on a small monitor attached to the front of the headgear. Maybe one of those motion detecting sensors now used on higher end cars would also work to alert a user if there’s anyone sneaking up on them. I could see an enterprising inventor making a device that mounts on the rear of a hat which squirts out pepper spray at anyone attacking the wearer from behind used in conjunction with a rear facing video camera and activated by a wireless remote control switch.

  6. If there is one positive thing about COVID-19 it’s making people more aware of their surroundings and who is nearby. Whether I’m carrying OWB or IWB (but never ‘open’, not in this state) I continually ‘check 6’ and stay away from anyone I don’t know.

  7. I am a non-confrontational person of an age where I want to avoid stress. Therefore concealed-carry is my choice.

  8. Hmm. Ironically this came up last week in my world. I decided to throw some part time work at a small gun store opening up in the area. I showed the store co-owner the rig I carry, IWB 5:30 respectively and he said it’s policy to wear OWB, no argument here.

    In thinking back to Ayoob’s critical thinking during classes, I realized this is for the intimidation factor in the store and complied the next day.

    Out of the store, discrete. In the store, make it known. check!

  9. Hi Mas,
    I used to live in North Idaho, as gun friendly as you get in the USA. you can open carry, carry concealed, with or without a permit. I agree with everything you have said in response to open carry and concealed carry.
    We had to move back to our home state of Nebraska just recently to be near family mostly due to our ages. Nebraska does not recognize Idaho’s common carry permit, only the enhanced permit which is fine but I have to wait 6 months for the residency rule and spend another $100.00 for the permit. I will be carrying concealed, very well concealed until that time.
    Just last year Nebraska recognized several states common permit but no more. Sounds like something political has taken place but can’t prove that. Anyway I agree with both forms of carry. Thank You for the history refresher.

    • South Idaho here. I haven’t done the enhanced one yet but do have a non-resident NH license which covers neighboring WY and UT but not NV or at this writing MT. However, both the latter and UT are about to become Constitutional Carry, hopefully they won’t have a WY style residency clause (I doesn’t sound like UT does, MT unk yet) for this. I wish Trump had kept his word about making universal reciprocity a reality.

  10. Open carry is legal in CT, by default because the gun laws do not define how you carry a handgun, concealed or open. The problem comes in as to where you do it. In my rural town I open carry on my property, walking my dog in my neighborhood, or anytime I am in the woods with no problem. Going into Westfarms Mall that way, you will be arrested (for causing a disturbance or “alarm”), have guns and permit confiscated, spend several hundred dollars on attorneys, go to court, and at the end of the day get everything back and all charges dropped. So I save myself the attorney’s fees and carry concealed where prudent.

  11. Washington state has, so far, managed to avoid the pitfalls of a deeply azure state but it is still ‘polite’ to carry concealed. I have heard opinions on both open and concealed carry but I prefer to walk through life without a target painted on my back. Seattle is right across the Moat (Puget Sound) and ordinary thugs are disinterested in venturing outside of the comfort of their established ghetto. Even so, no need to draw unneeded attention to myself. All it takes is a shirt tail hanging over my belt and all is right with the world.

    • I’ve seen mall security call people out for open carry in the Tri-Cities, where law enforcement is overall pretty real world oriented. IMO concealed is the best bet anywhere there are a lot of people, our new state of Idaho is so much more laid back. Stay safe.

  12. Rabbi. I’d like to agree with Tom who said “I support the right, but not the practice.”
    But ..
    The number of times uniformed cops will be in the war zone outnumbered by locals sporting their bang bling (a good portion of them illegally as they are convicts) with such a law in effect overweighs the minor inconvenience for me of keeping it out of sight in a proper holster.
    As far as law is concerned it’s not impacted your ‘right’ – you are still very functionally armed, just not making a fashion statement.
    Outside the city residential, and retail/business areas, OK. We have, by convention, conceded on machine guns and explosives, managing this at a state level wouldn’t upset me.
    Heck, it’s justification for another year of IDPA expenses to the Mrs.

  13. Many moons ago when I was a youngster growing up in Southern Arizona, open carry was so common that most of us didn’t even take notice or even register it as unusual. It’d be the first thing out of state visitors would notice and comment on “there are so many people with guns here!” My family rarely carried in town, but we never went outside in the rural areas we lived and recreated in without a firearm. (Dad always carried a revolver with the first two rounds loaded with snake shot the rest with hollow points) I think most families had pretty much the same practice.

    It’s still pretty common to see open carry in AZ but the influx of Californians has made it more controversial. I think it’s unfortunately reached the point that choosing to open carry now is a choice to draw attention to yourself. Unless I’m out in the desert, I prefer to conceal. But – I absolutely respect your right to choose open carry.

    • Friend Cactus Dave, as I have mentioned before, I miss the days when many more salty Arizona sourdoughs would help keep the general peace by packing their openly hip-holstered monster revolvers while buying beans and bacon at the grocery stores. Mostly when I open-carry now is yet with my giant single action, long-barreled revolver/clobber-club. Once a pacifistic Canadian tourist couple had a cow together outside a nearby police station over my ferocious symbol of cowboy potency. The local cops are used to such silly complaints. Some of the California-wegians can’t seem to help but look like they just sat on a corncob when they perceive any handgun, covered or not. You just can’t please everybody, but who cares?

      • Strategic Steve,

        I hope the next time a sheeple gawks at your gun a friendly is there to video the fiasco, and put it up on YouTube. That would be hilarious!

        I was once at a machine gun range. A father was ahead of me in line, with his teenage daughter, to shoot a Tommy gun with the fore grip and drum magazine. I was thinking how much fun it would be, to see the reaction of European city-dwellers, to an American father watching his daughter shoot machine guns.

  14. The number rule for concealed carry is that “no one knows you have a gun.” Good rule to follow. I would only carry open as you describe in your article. I have no reason to draw any attention to myself ever. Thanks for giving us these articles to read/reread always good info.

  15. I am very pro Second Amendment rights, but my personal belief is that open carry violates good common sense and good tactical sense for the civilian carrier. I cannot think of a good reason why I would open carry except for hunting, camping, fishing, and other similar outdoor activities – and even then I still think it makes good tactical sense to stay concealed. And yes there are good exceptions. In bear country you want to keep your hand cannon readily accessible because bear attacks can be fast and surprising.

    One advantage to living in an open carry jurisdiction, is that you are not facing legal retribution if your concealed handgun is accidently exposed (wind blowing shirt or vest open).

    However, I respect and defend the the rights of those who wish to carry openly.

    An armed society is an polite society. – Robert A. Heinlein

  16. Small town NV here. Open carry is quite common here even in places like banks. I basically never go to the store without seeing someone. I think Kroger’s has a company policy against but they apparently don’t enforce it here. Too busy with masks. So you don’t have to worry about freaking people out as they are used to it.

    That said, I CC for tactical reasons as noted except for firearms related activities and occasionally in the backcountry. I have never figured out how to comfortably CC with a pack.

    Recently, I discovered another reason to OC though. The state is slow-walking the fingerprint checks on renewals. The permit statute gives them 120 days and they are taking everyday of it and hopefully not more. It has never taken more than 30 days before. So I have been having to do OC for a couple of weeks. Or leave it in the car which also makes me uncomfortable. Why they need fingerprints for renewals is beyond me. I also don’t know where the 120 days came from. I recently renewed my NR permit up in OR and it took 30 minutes. Guess I am going to have to get a NR permit that is reciprocal and on a different renewal cycle.

  17. I prefer not to open carry specially in today’s world. BLM, Antifa come to mind. Some folks scared to death over the sight of guns brings me to personal experience. Working for Loomis Fargo one of our bank deliveries. A employee would shake and tremble when we entered the building because she could see our side arms. So yes folks there are folks like her out there. I prefer not to be a target and like the element of surprise. As things are today I think what does one do when anti- gun folks see you and decide to surround you and you’re backed into the corner. You’ve done nothing wrong, BUT now you’re in a situation that could end very badly for yourself and those around you. Just my opinion here why bring the added attention and scrutiny to ones self unnecessarily.

  18. Overall, Mas’s comments have stood the test of time. I think I’ve open carried maybe 4 times in my life. Two were during gas stops on the way back from hunting and I didn’t take the time to throw the heavy coat on. The other two were tractor parts runs so I could complete pasture mowing and I just flat forgot the J frame, my mind being focused on lost time & inconvenience.

    While dressing to blend the gun into the background works, beware the paddle holster. During Firearm Retention/Disarming Instructor class we found that none of the paddle holsters used in the class stayed on the body. They did retain the gun, the wearer simply didn’t have the gun anymore.

    Personal point of view: if you see one of those few who apparently can’t run out for a quart of milk without jocking up like an extra on Seal Team, leave the area.

    Don P has a valid point. There are an unknown number of folks who are in denial that there might actually be a threat to their lives. While at a “high level target” one time I was approached by a gentleman who wanted assured that “Your guns really aren’t loaded, are they?”

  19. I know the part of NH where Mas worked was not as touristy as where I live in the Great North Woods, but up here both the Quebecois and Massholes would go home disappointed if they couldn’t give a breathless report about the hillbillies carrying guns.

    At my job with a major regional grocery chain, I routinely see open carry. I’d say about once a week on average, but more in the summer. That’s because of weather, but also because my town is home to the Porcupine Freedom Festival, the world’s largest gathering of libertarians.

    Carrying long guns as a political statement (until the Boog came along) was mostly in Texas, where OC of a handgun was banned. Even now, open pistol carry requires a license there. It’s not a gun rights mecca, despite popular perception.

  20. The only times I have carried a handgun openly when not working was at shooting competitions and police training sessions. The police academy where my former agency’s officers attended training is a few miles from a small town and often the cops would go there to have lunch. I went a few times with them and everyone but me wore their sidearms openly with street clothes, when uniforms were not required to be worn. I always put on a plain light jacket during the warmer months to cover my holstered SIG 220 and looked like the only non-LEO among the group.

    Even when on patrol in the fall and winter, I always carried my sidearm under my police jacket as it protects the pistol from the rain and elements, and makes it more difficult for someone to grab as they can’t see which side the gun is on. Besides, I practice drawing both from concealment and open carry all the time, so am used to doing it quickly and smoothly.

  21. I absolutely support the right to carry. However, in my view, one cannot be dogmatic about how to carry. It varies too much by custom and local laws.

    For example, I understand that in some Western States and rural locations, open carry is commonplace. In other places, concealed carry is mandated.

    My State issues a Handgun Carry Permit (HCP). As the name indicates, it is limited to “Handguns” only. It is not a general permit to carry other types of weapons. If you carry a long gun (other than for hunting or at the range) or carry a baton, and you are not law-enforcement, then you will get in TROUBLE in my State.

    There is no LEGAL restriction as to how to carry the handgun if you have the HCP on your person. You can, from the legal point-of-view, carry your handgun openly or concealed. It is your choice according to the current laws of my State.

    However, the CUSTOM is for people with a HCP to carry concealed. Almost always in my State, if you see someone open carrying, then they are law-enforcement and (usually) in uniform. It is rare, rare, rare to see a civilian carrying openly even though it is (technically) legal to do so.

    In fact, open carry is so rare that I would expect someone who engages in it to be routinely stopped by law-enforcement and asked to show his or her HCP so as to make sure they were doing it legally.

    Our legislature is debating becoming a “Constitution Carry” State. If that happens, maybe the custom will change. However, for right now, if you want to carry without continually being hassled about it, then concealed carry is the way to go in my State.

    When one adds in the tactical advantages of concealed carry, then it becomes a “No Brainer” for residents of my State. As a result, I ALWAYS carry when I leave my home and it is ALWAYS concealed. I have had a HCP for more than a decade and I have NEVER openly carried EVEN ONCE.

    So, while the law says one thing, custom may say something else. Carry laws and customs are so different across the USA that it makes it impossible to declare a “One Size Fits All” Rule for open versus concealed carry. Law and custom influence it as much as tactical doctrine.

  22. While I don’t believe open carry should be illegal (it’s not here in Texas) I find it puts the gun owner in a tactical disadvantage. The element of surprise cannot be over stressed. When I was a police supervisor and instructor back in the day, I discouraged my people from wearing “PD” caps, t-shirts, etc. when off duty. I told them if they happened upon a high jacking unawares, the goblin wasn’t going to ask for their I.D. The off duty officer was going to take the first bullet. The legally armed citizen who goes around with their EDC piece exposed for all the world to see is making the same mistake. The goblin won’t ask who’s side your on, they’ll just take you for a threat and you’ll take the first bullet. And yes…I know that we’re all supposed to practice situational awareness. But in the real world, there are distractions, and they happen at the worst possible time.

  23. I live in Oklahoma where we now have “constitutional carry”…concealed or open carry is legal. However, I was recently in a store and noticed the young man walking ahead of me was very obviously open carrying. I saw two separate instances where women, one with her daughter, shied away when they saw his gun. Legal?…sure. Smart?…maybe not so much.
    Those mothers are voters! And we don’t need to scare them.

  24. Just finished reading the first “Open Carry…” article and near the end reminded me of a question I intend to ask at my upcoming CCW class: Just what constitutes OPEN vs CONCEALED? Where is that line drawn? An additional question that articles have made me aware of: What is the LEGAL ramification of a CCW whose concealed weapon accidentally becomes exposed? What if there is both a Concealed and Open state law?

    I’m new to this, but reading (and listening) voraciously to catch up. Thanks for the (generally) perceptive thoughts on your thread.

    • As a general rule, if any part of the gun is visible, it’s not concealed. Case law may vary state to state.

Comments are closed.