Is This EDC Tactic Your Only Option? Would You Do It?

By Mike Boyle
Posted in #EDC
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Is This EDC Tactic Your Only Option? Would You Do It?

June 13th, 2024

6 minute read

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s. The Armory Life always recommends getting competent training before off-body carry and other forms of concealed carry of a firearm for self-defense. You are responsible for the techniques you employ for personal protection. 

Keeping your handgun readily accessible at all times is indeed a challenge. All sorts of factors come into play, including the size and weight of your preferred carry pistol, clothing worn, time of the year, and the social environment in which you operate.

When you might want to carry off body your EDC pistol in a concealed carry bag, give a great deal consideration to the kind of handgun you prefer. Also consider your typical mode of carry when attached to your body.
Off-body carry of a defensive firearm should be undertaken with the same care as any on-body carry of a pistol. In fact, off-body carry may require additional caution.

I consider myself fortunate that I have very little constraint on the type of clothing that I wear from day to day, and most of the time I can get by with some loose-fitting, casual threads that allow me to discreetly carry a handgun. But on occasion, I too find myself in situations where a holstered pistol would send up a red flag or is totally outside the realm of possibility.

When faced with this dilemma, I have two choices. I can take my chances and go about my business unarmed, or I can find another way.

One lesson I learned early on as a career law enforcement officer is that crazy things happen when you least expect it, often in settings perceived to be safe. With that in mind, I carry a firearm every place I am legally authorized to do so. Sure, it’s inconvenient, but I prefer to be in control of my own destiny.

Shown in this photo is a Springfield Armory XD Service Model in 9x19mm Parabellum that is carried in an off-body bag or fanny pack for personal protection by a retired police officer.
A pistol, such as this custom Springfield Armory XD Service Model, can be carried off-body in a specially designed bag with a pouch for a defensive firearm.

So, what remedy might you have if carrying a handgun attached to your person is a non-starter? For example, in the warmer months shorts and a t-shirt are the order of the day, especially when going out on my boat. Year-round, I ride a trail bike where my apparel might include sweatpants and no belt. In both of these situations I have minimal interaction with other people, but there is always that chance of something going amiss.

[Another option for carry during workouts and other physical activity is demonstrated in this Alexo Athletica review.]

In situations that I have outlined above, I have used a fannypack that allows me to keep my pistol close at hand should I have to deal with an unforeseen emergency. I recognize my experience represents only a small part of the total picture, but having the ability to carry a handgun in just about every type of conceivable setting gives me peace of mind.

Off-Body Concealed Carry — Assets & Liabilities

In addition to a concealed carry fanny pack, other off-body carry options could include sling bags, backpacks, mini-attaches, purses and day planners. While I’m not suggesting a carry bag is as efficient as a gun in a holster, off-body carry can work very well in certain circumstances where concealment is difficult. I also like the fact I’m not limited to an underpowered pocket popper and can carry a larger handgun I can shoot fairly well. “Mouse guns” do have a place, but left to my own designs I prefer a compact or micro-size 9mm semi-automatic pistol in the bag.

In this photo, we see the author practicing a draw of his Springfield Armory Hellcat — equipped with a red dot sight — from a unique carry bag. The bag uses Velcro and zippers to secure the handgun while not being used.
Draw times from a fanny pack are often slower than from a belt holster. A slow draw still beats being unarmed should you need to defend yourself.

In addition to my gun, my CCW bag contains a reload and a small tactical flashlight. I doubt if the total package weighs more than two pounds. Heavy, service-size pistols and multiple spare magazines are a bit much for me, but ultimately that is your decision as to how much gear you want to lug around.

If possible, I would avoid bags in black or FDE or with a bunch of MOLLE loops, as that just may shout “gun” to the casual observer. Go with a color or pattern that doesn’t suggest that you are packing heat. Getting in under the radar is a good thing.

One of the big concerns I have with off-body carry is the fact that you can be more easily separated from your gun in a retention scenario as opposed to on-body carry of a gun in a holster. The risk may not be as high with a fannypack worn around the front as with a purse or bag with a shoulder strap, but it is something to ponder.

Of late, urban bandits operating in tandem on mopeds have ripped bags away from pedestrians on sidewalks and made off with their goods. No doubt they are looking for wallets, gold chains and phones, but a handgun would be a real bonus. For any number of reasons, I strongly feel off-body carry requires even greater vigilance.

This full color photo shows the Galco Hidden Agenda for off body carry. It looks like a Dayrunner or other planning calendar meaning you can carry it into the office without upsetting anyone.
The Galco Hidden Agenda appears like any number of office products and passes as a standard planning calendar and organizer. However, it holds a concealment pocket for your handgun.

There is just no getting around the fact that drawing from a bag of any type is considerably slower than from a holster. This can be especially problematic if the threat manifests itself inside of your personal space. Stay switched on, try to spot potential danger sooner, and get comfortable with a few, solid empty-hand techniques to buy you some time to escape or draw your higher power.

CCW Carry Option — Galco Hidden Agenda

Do you find yourself in settings where a fanny pack or a shirt worn outside the pants is a no-go? A suit jacket or sport coat might help you hide the gun, but that too may be outside the realm of possibility in certain environments. One remedy that just might work in those situations is a day planner.

In addition to their extensive line of quality holsters, Galco Gunleather also turns out a number of alternative products that will enable the user to discreetly carry a handgun. In the business or professional environment, no one gives the innocuous day planner a second look, and Galco offers a few different options.

The Defense Planner is a compact leather case that masquerades as a day planner and is capable of carrying a handgun along with spare ammunition. Another possibility is the iDefense, which accommodates a small tablet along with a pistol. This analog guy trapped in the digital world went with the Galco Hidden Agenda, which is in fact a true old-school day planner with a notepad and datebook plus a separate compartment for carrying a handgun.

The Galco Hidden Agenda measures 9½”x6” and is crafted from full-grain, glove-tanned leather. To prevent ready access from the curious, the compartment that the handgun is carried in can be secured by a lockable zipper. A removable wrist lanyard is included.

Shown here is the Galco Hidden Agenda which is very low profile and can be taken into environments where a pistol in a holster would put up a red flag. It is the best holster for off-body carry in many circumstances.
The Galco Hidden Agenda is very low profile and can be taken into environments where a pistol in a holster would put up a red flag.

The holster compartment of the Hidden Agenda accommodated both my Springfield Armory XD Compact with a 4” barrel and Hellcat OSP with room to spare. There is also an adjustable elastic loop for carrying a spare magazine. Be advised that the elasticized holster will not accept a pistol with a weapon-mounted light, but I had no issue with my Hellcat and red dot optic. While a quick draw from the Hidden Agenda is not on the menu, you can take comfort in the fact your firearm is with you and accessible.

Pick Your Spot

In the grand scheme of things, off-body carry can never be as efficient as getting into action from a belt holster, but it certainly beats no gun at all. Although I live in a quiet little village off the beaten path, my travels often take me into town or even the Big City where interaction with other people is a given. In those situations, rest assured my firearm is carried on my body. Low risk activities, particularly when you might be attired in athletic or casual clothing such as going to the gym or hiking, might be a spot where off-body carry might work.

Ultimately, you will have to decide what sort of situations you would be comfortable carrying a firearm in this manner. As for me, if I anticipate being in close proximity to a lot of people, I will find a way to legally dress around my gun and holster.

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Mike Boyle

Mike Boyle

Mike Boyle has been a firearms and use of force instructor for 39 years. Although retired from active law enforcement service, he is active as a law enforcement training specialist for both his agency and the police academy. He has been a featured presenter for ILEETA and IALEFI and has written numerous articles for firearms and law enforcement periodicals. Mike is also the author of the book, Combative Shotgun, by Looseleaf Law Publications.

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