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One Year Of Off Body Carry… Lessons Learned

One Year Of Off Body Carry… Lessons Learned

If you want to bypass the set-up fluff in this article and go straight to the “Lessons Learned” portion, look for this headline and start there: Let me now just break down my general thoughts about Off Body Carry and what I experienced and felt during one year.

My experience

I did not grow up in any way shape or form with a background in firearms. Neither combat, self-defense, competition nor hunting.

So when I decided to go buy a gun, I immediately started taking some training classes. This was before Google, YouTube, Facebook and before anyone with firearms related content was even online.

Pretty much there was Gunsite, Thunder Ranch and Front Site. At least as far as I knew and I didn’t really know anyone whom I could ask for advice. In fact I didn’t even know people were out there with ccw permits that were carrying handguns on their hips. I was completely oblivious.

I went through so many phases of this thing we call EDC.

First firearm purchase… got talked into an HK USP Compact .45. Didn’t know anything about it but I was influenced by the sales guy that touted the Navy Seals used HK’s.

Stupid decision. Stupid way to by a gun. In the end… I really didn’t like it.

The fact was, I didn’t really know what I liked. I was still in the “Hey check me out… I can hit the “bullseye”.” Oh, that word “bullseye.” I hate it now.

As I trained some more, I did fall in love with the 1911 platform, and before you slaughter me and condemn me for using an outdated platform and for secretly building a John Moses Browning shrine and worshipping it in the late evening hours after everyone goes to sleep… let me just say, I didn’t have any idea what was important about a self-defense gun.

I thought the gun was good looking, I could change out the grips and pimp it out and it shot well. Not to mention it felt fantastic in the hand.

This was before the Springfield XD was even on the scene, and I wasn’t at the time a fan of Glocks. Especially when you first feel a nice 1911 and then you pick up a Block. When you don’t know what’s important… you just don’t know.

I still love my 1911’s and I have some pretty sweet ones… but my IDC (see other article called “The New EDC”) is my Glock19, house pistol and USPSA gun is my Glock34.

This was my first and second phase of life with firearms.

As I trained more I started taking classes about concealed carry tactics, got my CCW Permit for Texas, Utah, Nevada and Florida. So I had all the contiguous states that shared reciprocity.

I still carried 1911 on a nice leather belt, with a nice leather holster, kydex was nowhere in the picture and the Uncle Mikes stuff was obviously garbage. Any training course with that type of gear proved that before the first day ended.

I carried strong side 3:00. Bought a Kimber Ultra CDP2 for a little better concealment. And honestly, that was probably the best 1911 I actually owned at the time. Even better than my Wilson Combat’s, and STI’s. I never had a failure with that Kimber no matter how many 110-degree desert training days I spent running it.

The Les Baer Thunder Ranch (Yes, of course, I was influenced by Clint Smith. Still think very highly of him) was the only other 1911 that never had a failure of any kind even after 20,000 rounds.

This was back in the day when a brick of 500 Federal .22LR was $8.95 retail and a box of 50 .45 acp 230gr was $9 retail.

At this time, my EDC rig hadn’t changed much, but I was much better trained. I had run shoot houses and spent a lot of time practicing your standard stuff that you would learn at Gunsite. I felt decently confident.

Then Came the Lean Years… Got divorced, lost all the firearms in the divorce. Didn’t know about Firearms Trusts back then. Remember, that this industry was completely new to me. The Majority of my focus was on my young growing family, and my entrepreneurial ventures building one of the largest business consultancies in North America. Shooting was honestly just a hobby.

After my divorce… I didn’t shoot or carry again for a lot of years.

When I was able to start up again... I went back to the same old platform. But this time there was so much information out there on the web it was crazy… not to mention way more striker fired polymer handguns in every caliber, shape and size and brand.

I started buying them all up and shooting them.  In the end, as ridiculous as it sounds… I ended up with Glocks. And now I’m sure the 1911 guys or Springfield guys will persecute me for having the “Boringly Reliable, No Personality” carry gun.

But… I love these things and they run all day long.

Enter now the fourth phase of my CCW experience.  The Lazy Days.

I say that because at that time of my life I was building an athletic products company and I was always in workout clothing, which is loose and light, lots of shorts and t-shirts and not really made for carrying a handgun, let alone anything else that I now have as my IDC (Irrespective Daily Carry).

So at that time I went Off Body Carry, and I started buying up all kinds of EDC Bags and began to carry that way.

Yeah, I already know that it was stupid, and I’m not claiming to be smart when it came to making that decision. I’m just saying that I went through that phase.

In fact, part of my decision to carry Off-Body was influenced by some very high-level combative instructors that I saw always carried that way. It was only later than I began to understand how their overinflated ego and confidence in their skill set was a major factor in why they carried in a small shoulder sling bag.

How did I figure that out? Simple… I asked them why they carried that way and why they felt comfortable?

Side Incriminating Note: I also saw one of these high minded individuals leave their OBC Bag more than twice at a restaurant hanging on a chair or under the chair with their Glock19, spare magazine and other such tactical accoutrements, and then had to go back for them…. Praying the entire time that the bag was still there and somebody didn’t accidentally shoot themselves (like a little kid)

It boiled down to the fact that, these instructors felt that they were so good at their defensive skills (Hand Combatives, Edged Weapons, Firearms) that they counted on their personal mastery of those skills as to be able to avoid any of the potential pitfalls of Off-Body Carry (I’m tired of writing Off-Body Carry, so from now on let’s call it OBC) and who have the time and opportunity required to access their tools.

Yeah… that didn’t work for me.

But, I did continue to OBC based on my lifestyle situation, but I did start keeping track of all my thoughts and feeling as I carried this way in every situation that I found myself.

I’m not saying that at this point I wanted to carry this way… I just kept doing it because I was now full swing into conducting an experiment. I wanted to be able to say definitively that OBC is complete and utter crap!

And why so many companies make OBC bags and promote the hell out it, is ridiculous. And then… add to this, that so many companies make and promote the female version of OBC through “CCW-EDC Purses” is to me, totally insane.

I tell the gals all of the time… carry On Body, PERIOD.

If you don’t want to use an on-belt or inside the waistband holster to carry, and before you start shrinking the size of your CCW, go look at the Corset Holsters by Dean Adams. Here’s the link:  https://deneadams.com/

Gals, this will solve all your carry issues right now with one product, regardless of pistol size. I’m for anything that allows people to carry a gun that will actually do the job.

In addition to that, check out Amy Robbins new line of fashionable athletic apparel, Alexo Athletica. She’s got some awesome running tights (Signature Pant or Carry Crop) that are not just designed to be fashionable and sexy, but also made for carrying a firearm legitimately.  Here’s the website link:  https://alexoathletica.com/

BTW… our team has a different definition for CCW. To us, it’s no longer Concealed Carry Weapon. That term has become way too loose of a concept, and we feel it’s now been bastardized.

To our team and students, the term CCW stands for Chief Combat Weapon”.  Meaning... your CCW is your primary combat tool if and when things go sideways. When you think of it like that… take a look at that tiny Sigp238, 6 round, .380acp that you have on you right now and ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to use when SHTF?”

Let me now just break down my general thoughts about OBC and what I experienced and felt during one year.

And let me say… after doing this and really paying attention and playing The “A Game” where someone says “A-Game!” and we start looking at our situation based on where we are right at the moment some yells it out, and we roll play or talk out an A.T.T.A.C.K .

It didn’t take long for me to feel extremely vulnerable with OBC.

It became so obvious that is almost every scenario… OBC would put me on the dead side of the “Action-Reaction Curve”.

So, here are my thoughts after one year:

  • In & Out… In & Out: Here’s one of the main things I realized very quickly with OBC.  I kept putting things in the bag and then I kept taking things out of the bag and then kept putting things back in again. It started making me crazy.  I was always messing with the contents of the bag because you can’t just leave everything in there all of the time.  Depending on what you were doing and where you going and what you were wearing… the contents of the bag (besides the firearm) kept changing.
  • In & Out Of The Vehicle: Getting in and out of the car is a pain in the butt. I found myself always trying to figure out what to do. Do I… keep it slung over my neck when I get in and then take it off. Or, do I take it off and then get in the car.  Then there’s the fact that I have keys in my hand, I have other things in my hand also.  Then what happens when I have to get out of the vehicle?  Do I put it on before I get out of the car or after?  Total pain.
  • The Lazy Starts Setting In: Start getting lazy because it’s a hassle even though it’s supposed to be easier than putting stuff on your body. Then you just start carrying the bag by the grab handle at the top.  Drop it by your driver's seat when you get into the car. Pick it up when you get out and then strap it on as you start walking towards the store or wherever.  Once you start thinking and playing “A Game” you start to realize very quickly that no matter how you slice it… deploying your CCW from a bag while in a car is beyond difficult.  For so many reasons, firstly it’s in the bag, on the floor or passenger side/seat.  It will fall over, slide away from you… then trying to get it means you’re now trying to find it, get a handle on the bag, open it and access the firearm all while trying to keep you hand on the wheel and an eye on the bad guy(s).  See what I’m saying?  We ran vehicle defense scenarios and each time… the bag carry found us totally screwed.
  • Yes… My Hand In On My Gun: The only way you can really access your firearm is to keep your hand in the bag. Which might be fine looking for a woman and a purse but it’s completely impractical and tactically stupid and irresponsible. Leaves you one handed
  • My Hands Are Always Full: OBC doesn’t work if you are carrying other things. You would think that it does, but it doesn’t. I found that when I got up and got ready for the day or ready to go out… I put stuff in my bag, grab the bag and then everything I needed to bring out to the vehicle, like laptop bag, morning energy drink, keys in my hand, yada yada yada. It’s already tough enough to drop what you’re carrying and access your firearm than to then reach into your bag to do it.  This one year experience made me glad I wasn’t born a girl.  Girls have purses… I don’t know how they do it.  I basically had a tactical purse with me all day.  I only say “tactical purse” because it gave me some kind of comfort mentally because if I’m being honest… I’m really just carrying a purse.  ARGH!  I might as well start drinking Starbucks Coffee, grow my hair out into a man bun, put on some skinny jeans and play the center joke role in a Matt Best-Black Rifle Coffee Company Commercial.
  • Use My Bag Against Me: In all the fighting scenarios we train, any time I had a bag or a gal has a purse, that bag or strap is going to be used against me. To catch or control.  The ability for people to grab your bag and hold onto you or use the strap to entangle you is just a really bad idea. Might as well wear a long scarf around your neck with a sign that says, “Attack Me!  I’ve Made It Easy!”
  • Firearm Totally Unsecured: The way that you would secure a holster in these bags shows that they weren’t really made for carry and real use in a gunfight. The hook and loop straps or even better at least the Vertx panels are still NOT how you secure a firearm in a bag.  Not that much better than a gun in a purse.  Unless you are just used to carrying without one in the chamber.  If that’s the case, why are you even carrying?
  • Too Much Fiddling Around: There’s way too much fiddling around with the bag and its contents.  Every time you need something you need to open the bag. The flap and zipper reach into one of the compartments etc and get the object out and then put it back and zip it back up and put back the flap. So much time and distraction and use of hands. I found that it’s easier to get your wallet out of your pocket and out it back.
  • Not Really Made For Carry: These bags aren’t really created for concealed carry. No matter what they say in the advertising. One example is that there’s no place/feature/attachment to secure the firearms with a minimum of a Kydex trigger guard. Having a pouch, a zippered compartment, etc… for your CCW is just the start.  Having bought the majority of the bags out there, it’s obvious that nobody ran these products in Force On Force scenarios to see if you can actually use them as the buyers are thinking that they can.  Personally I think that’s irresponsible.  Although it’s always Buyer Beware, and you should know what you are buying… the fact is most people don’t have the experience to know the difference.
  • Look At Me… I’m Have A Gun In Here: I’m going to say that every OBC Bag looks like you’re advertising the fact that you have a gun.  But, I will say that the majority of these bags are “tactical” in nature (can’t stand that word tactical because I’m a civilian and don’t feel like I really own the right to use it) and you look a little odd walking around with a tactical bag on.  I mean… look at most guys walking around, I was basically the only dude with a bag on.  What else have I got on me that I actually need a bag?  That’s what I used to think before I got into firearms, every time I saw a guy with a bag or oversized fanny pack.  Then you add the fact that many firearms guys are wearing tactical pants and Solomon shoes, with a knife clip showing on their right side pocket, Oakley sunglasses and topping it off with a “.45 ACP, Because Shooting Twice Is Silly” t-shirt… yeah, walking billboard.
  • What Do I Do With This Damn Thing: This is one of the things I really hated about OBC.  I’d go to a restaurant, sit down and then think, “What the hell do I do with my bag.  My wife has her purse with her and she sets it down on the seat right next to her (her CCW is On Body) and I’m looking like an idiot because my bag is still strapped around my neck.  Que the “Who Does That?” John Wick 1 Russian Mobster quote.   The fact is the bag is very convenient many times but in situations like this, whether in a restaurant or anyplace else, if you have a bag on… it stays on.  And of course, it never stays still.  It slides to the side, it shifts, etc… and you keep playing with it and adjusting it back the entire time.
  • If Speed Is Your Need: If you get ambushed and speed is your need... then OBC will most likely get you killed and probably anyone with you.  The only thing I ever found that helped was one particular Maxpedition Bag that had a magnetic closure in the front that made it easier to open and access the compartment where I had my firearm.  But, it was still slow and clumsy.

Wrap Up…

There’s a ton of stuff I could write when it comes to OBC.  So many experiences I could detail and describe.  Even breaking down the psychology of what happens to your OODA Loop when things go down and your trying to deploy from a bag… even after training with it for one year two times per week every week for literally one year.  I could write a book just from each of the Force On Force scenarios… not to mention make a library of DVD Videos.

I’m pretty good operating out of a bag.  And after all of that, I still can’t stand OBC and I don’t feel comfortable.  Because I know that nothing goes according to plan and I’m training for contingencies and variable… and OBC, restricts my ability to respond.

After one year of OBC, and training live Force on Force Every Day scenarios with OBC I can easily say (And I’m pretty well-trained drawing and working from a bag, since I also spent this same year doing every training course, running drills on our own range, and combative in our own private school Weapons Institute) each of these situations leaves you unready to actually engage and deploy your firearm the way you really need to.

You want to die?   Carry Off Body as your preferred method.

Now… Critical Clarification…  This doesn’t include BOB’s or RPD’s for tactical situations.  That’s not the same thing.  I’m speaking in this article purely EDCing OBC.

Parting shot... going back to IWB Appendix or Strong Side OTW 2:30 Carry was an absolute joy.

The comfort knowing I can quickly access my tools is calming and brings a level of security.  And, we absolutely pressure test any and all techniques and gear with Force on Force Fighting.

We use UTM’s for both handguns and AR’s… and whether that’s in the combatives studio or in a 74,000 square foot Urban Sims Village.  Where we have everything from a bank, 5,000 sq. ft. school, convenience store, bar, hotels, 2 story office buildings, apartments, small houses, a park, etc…

It’s a Universal Studios for gun guys.  In that situation, we are fortunate to be able to have access to that facility and really get ass close to real gunfighting as possible without the loss of life.  There really isn’t any way else to train once you start doing it.

So… in spending one-year OBCing, I have run the bags live in FOF Sims Gunfight Scenarios versus On Body Carry in hundreds of scenarios that include ground combatives, weapon retention fights, etc… all I can say after this past year is…

If your main method of daily carry is Off-Body… STOP.

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