Man open carrying a pistol on his hip

Concealed vs Open Carry: What's the Difference?

Man open carrying a pistol on his hip

- ComfortTac Brand Team


Under the 2nd Amendment, Americans have the right to bear arms. However, the ways that you can carry a firearm vary depending on where in the United States you live. The two main ideas in carrying firearms are concealed carry and open carry. Is it better to concealed or open carry? What's the difference? Here, we will explain what these two terms mean and the pros and cons of each.

What is The Difference Between Open Carry and Concealed Carry?

When someone says open carry, they are referring to bearing a firearm visibly. This can mean having a holster on the outside the waistband (OWB) that others visibly see. 

Concealed carry, on the other hand, means bearing a gun out of sight. When a person conceals a firearm, they often keep it either in an inside the waistband (IWB) holster or in a purse or other bag. 

It is important to note that these two terms are legally important, as the rules and regulations for concealed and open carry depend on which state you're in. Concealed carry is legal in all 50 states, but depending on your state, you may require a permit to legally do so. Open carry, meanwhile, is not legal in every state, but in the states it is legal in, gun owners typically are not required to have a permit. 

In the next two sections, we will cover some of the pros and cons of each type of carry to help you decide which is best for you.

Open Carry Pros and Cons

Those who prefer to open carry often point to how it allows them to access their firearm quicker than they could if they concealed carry. With an OWB holster, a person can quickly draw their firearm at a moment's notice.

Open carry holsters are also generally considered more comfortable, as the firearm is not directly touching the body. This may seem like a minor thing, but if you have a firearm on you for most of the day, it can be important.

Another potential benefit of open carry is that the visibility of a gun can provide protection. If a would-be criminal sees that a person has a firearm on them, they may be less likely to try anything. Most criminals do not want to end up in a gunfight, so an openly carried firearm can be a deterrent. 

However, there are cons to open carry as well. To start, the idea that an open carry is a deterrent could be wrong, and the opposite could be true depending on the situation. A criminal may target someone who is openly carrying. They could try to take someone's gun before the gun owner is even aware of what is happening, leading to increased danger.

Open carry can lead to negative attention as well. Some people are anti-gun, and they may feel uncomfortable around someone who openly carries. This could lead to people treating you differently, even if open carry is perfectly legal and you are operating within your rights.

In some cases, this could even lead to having the police called on you. Someone who may be unfamiliar with the law could contact the police if they see someone with an open carry. While the police would not be legally allowed to do anything as long as you are in a state where open carry is allowed, it could still be a hassle.

Concealed Carry Pros and Cons

With a concealed firearm, a person has the element of surprise on their side. If a situation ever were to become dangerous, someone who carries a concealed firearm can surprise an attacker. This can eliminate the issue open carry has of gun owners being potentially targeted for their visible firearm.

Another benefit to concealed carry is that it allows a gun owner to go about their normal day without drawing unwanted attention to themselves. Someone who is anti-gun and could either judge a person or call the police if they see a firearm would never know that a person with a concealed weapon is carrying. 

However, it may take longer to draw a concealed weapon. In the event of an emergency, a person may not have time to reach into a purse or backpack to get their gun. Taking a gun out of an inside the waistband holster could also be slower than from an outside the waistband holster. There are methods to draw a firearm from a concealed holster quicker, though. It just takes practice.

Comfort is another potential downside to concealed carry. Just as open carry holsters are comfortable because they keep a firearm away from a person's leg, a concealed holster could be uncomfortable for rubbing the gun against you. This may not be an issue for everyone, but it could lead to skin irritation.

For some, the permit requirement for concealed carry could be a downside. On the other hand, even if training does take time and could be an inconvenience, it does teach a gun owner valuable skills that can result in carrying being safer and more effective.

Safe Gun Handling Rules

The goal of carrying, whether concealed or open, is to keep yourself and others safe, and proper gun handling can help increase safety. The first rule that you should consider is to never aim your gun at anything unless you intend to shoot. This can prevent potentially dangerous accidents.

Pay attention to your firearm's ammunition, and only use the correct rounds. Additionally, check that nothing is blocking the chamber or barrel of your weapon before loading it. Steps like this can further help to prevent accidents. 

Lastly, before firing your gun, be aware of what is around your target. This can help prevent hitting things other than what you intend.


Is there a clear winner in the concealed vs. open carry debate? As the sections above show, there are pros and cons for both concealed and open carry. This means that the best option for you is to see what is legal in your state and consider your situation. Then you can find a holster for your preferred carry method, get certified as needed, and start to carry.