While most concealed carry permit holders prefer to carry their weapon on-body, where it can be quickly accessed and not easily taken away by a bad guy, sometimes that’s just not possible. Either your wardrobe doesn’t allow it or the situation dictates that it may not be the most prudent means of carrying. This has long been a problem for women in particular, with form-fitting shirts that might reveal the outline of a gun concealed inside a waistband, for example, but it can be just as problematic for men to carry this way sometimes as well.
That’s why it’s good to have options in the off-body carry world for both men and women, just in case you’re faced with the uncomfortable dilemma of needing to carry but not having an easy method without the gun printing or revealing itself other ways.
For women, the tactical handbag or purse has been an option for years. Manufacturers have made fashionable purses with strategically placed pouches designed to hold a gun in perfect position for quick grip that can be easily accessed through zippers, hook and loop closures or silent magnetic fasteners. But men’s options were severally limited. Aside from carrying inside a fanny pack for casual wear or a briefcase with business attire, there simply weren’t a lot of options that didn’t make it too obvious they were carrying a gun. The drawback to a fanny pack is they’re not as popular anymore, so it can look out of place. Plus, it’s not always the best fashion statement. And briefcases went the way of the big white cell phone with the rubber ducky antenna. The last thing a concealed carrier wants is to draw attention to the fact that they’re carrying. It’s called concealed for a reason.
Backpack and bag manufacturers caught wind of this void in the tactical carrying lineup and have incorporated options that include built-in concealment pockets purposefully designed to allow full concealment and easy access without altering the overall style of the bags or making it obvious that the hidden features are present – which is, after all, the point.
When selecting which style of off-body carry bag is right for you, ask yourself three things:
1. What will I be carrying – type of gun and any accessories, such as spare mags?
2. Where will I be carrying?
3. How fast will I need to access the weapon?
Question #1 is likely the easiest to answer since you probably carry the same gun every day. That’s why it’s called your everyday carry, right? It’s the one you’ve trained with and know the best. You’ve spent hours together at the range. It’s the one you can count on if things go south. Many trainers encourage carrying not only the weapon but also at least one spare magazine. In addition, you might carry a knife and maybe even a few first aid items. Whatever you carry, you need a place to put it.
Question #2 might not be so easy to answer, as each situation is different, so you need to be prepared to carry anywhere at a moment’s notice, with alternatives in case you have to change on the go. While your IWB holster might typically be a good option in most situations, an appropriate bag or backpack can come in handy when carrying on-body simply isn’t practical. We’d all like to think we can carry on-body all the time, but sometimes it’s just not possible. So give yourself an alternative with a bag.
The last question is the one where you need to make some decisions, which is exactly why bag makers offer choices. The biggest decisions here are all about personal preference. Do you like a backpack? A sling? An over-the-shoulder bag? Which one is best for you? There are advantages to each.
A backpack offers a large amount of space and various pockets for your weapons and accessories, as well as innocuous items such as your laptop and other “normal” everyday carry items. It also gives you the added security of two straps and a waist belt to keep it tight against you and harder to rip off.
The sling option is similar to the backpack in that it has tons of room but with only one strap that goes diagonally across your chest. While it’s not as stable on your back, one huge advantage of the sling-style pack is its ability to quickly swing around front without taking it off, allowing you faster access to your weapon. Many slings, such the Bias Sling, include a dedicated conceal carry pouch that presents itself right to you when you slide the bag around to the front. Just unzip and reach in for quick access. The pouch also contains a loop field inside designed to receive an Adjustable Pistol Sleeve that keeps your weapon positioned to your liking. The sling comes in right-hand and left-hand versions.
If backpacks and slings aren’t your thing, opt for an over-the-shoulder bag that places the access along your side without removing from your back or twisting. Our Gen Multipurpose Bag allows for customization to the way you want to carry and includes an Adjustable Pistol Sleeve and 3-Channel Organizer for spare mags.
Whichever option you choose, be sure it fully fits the way you want to carry off-body.