Off-body carry is appealing for several reasons, but planning and practice are the keys to carrying off-body without compromising safety.

For new concealed carriers, the idea of carrying your gun in a bag sounds pretty dang easy compared to trying to hide it under your clothes. I know, because I did just that for my first two years of concealed carry. I took my Ruger LC9, popped on the manual safety, and threw it in my purse to mingle with my keys, wallet, and four tubes of lipstick.

A decade later, I cringe at the lack of awareness and trigger protection. These days, I carry on-body 99.9 percent of the time, but I also know there’s a much safer way to carry off-body. Is it the best option for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons of off-body carry.


Table of Contents

Safer Off-Body Carry 


Comfort and Concealment

Concealed Carry Purse
Certain outfits may not allow for on-body carry, so carrying in a purse is the next-best option. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Carrying off-body is way more comfortable than carrying on-body. There’s no giant piece of plastic and metal in your pants, and you don’t get hotspots or chafing. Think of all the time you’ll save adjusting your holster! 

Carrying off-body also makes concealment a breeze. You don’t have to worry about printing, which can feel like a relief in many situations. Maybe you ride a motorcycle to work, or perhaps you want to wear that little black dress that ain’t hiding nothing! Either way, it’s much easier to conceal in a bag.

RELATED: Off-Body Carry – Concealed Carry Purses

Big Guns

If you’re a small human like me, you probably rejoice in cooler temperatures because it means carrying your bigger pistols. I can hide a lot more gun under a hoodie and coat than under a T-shirt. If you carry off-body, you’re not limited in the size of the pistol, because this type of concealment is a no-brainer.

Tactical Advantage


Concealed Carry Purse
Reaching in your bag to be ready is far less conspicuous than lifting your shirt. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Before you think I’ve lost my mind, hear me out. Have you ever been in a situation that didn’t feel right, and you wished you could get your hand on your grip and be ready? That’s not an option with on-body carry without sounding an alarm. But with off-body, you can unzip your bag and get your hand on your grip in a discreet way that would go unnoticed. You can even shoot through the bag if things really get out of control, but that’s an article for another day.


Physical limitations

There are limiting factors people deal with that can make it challenging to carry on-body. Disabilities, chronic pain, or using a wheelchair can make it harder to carry on-body. For women, it may be pregnancy or a fresh C-section scar. That’s not to say these situations make it impossible, but off-body carry may be a better solution.




Concealed Carry Purse
Throwing your gun in a bag may seem convenient, but it’s very dangerous. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Kydex is king when it comes to concealed carry, especially off-body. Don’t throw your gun in your bag, even if it has a manual safety. It’s dangerous to rummage around for it among all your other junk.

Draw Speed

Drawing your firearm from a bag is often slower and more complicated than drawing from on-body. One reason is that the bag moves independently from your body, and probably more so in a harried defensive situation. When this happens, you can find yourself fumbling around for the grip of your gun. Whereas if you’re carrying on-body, you can find your grip in the same spot every time.

Concealed Carry Purse
If I’m going to carry off-body, I prefer a fanny pack worn cross-body to keep it close and draw easily. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

With on-body carry, clearing your garment is straightforward. Yes, it takes a lot of practice, and there are considerations like heavier clothes and coats, but it’s basically the same every time. If you carry in a bag, there are some extra steps like unzipping or pulling a tab and getting your hand into a space that’s designed to be closed. You can draw from a bag quickly with practice, but it’s rare that it will be as fast as on-body.


Bags and backpacks are a purse-snatchers dream because it’s a low-risk crime. While carrying off-body, you need to kick your situational awareness up a couple of notches. Usually, a skilled thief can grab, yank, and run faster than you can react. Worst case scenario? They realize they’re in possession of your firearm now and point it at you, demanding more. This isn’t an issue with on-body carry. If they make off with only your bag, you can consider yourself lucky.

Muscle Memory

Practice is everything when it comes to drawing, and wearing your holster on-body in the same position every time makes that easily repeatable. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for off-body carry. Even if you carry in the same bag, your draw will likely be slightly different each time based on movement of the bag.

Concealed Carry Purse
Even with a built-in holster, your draw may vary from time to time due to bag movement. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/


Accidental Brandishing

Let’s say you open your bag to pull out your wallet, and someone sees your gun. It would be no big deal in some situations, but in others, it might be awkward – or worse. And in extreme cases, it could be considered illegal. You can avoid this by keeping your holster and gun in a dedicated compartment.


Ever set down your purse to hold up a cute sweater at Target? If you’re a guy, you’re shaking your head, but the same goes for leaving your bag in a gym locker or setting it down while visiting a friend. Anytime your bag is off your body, you have given up control of your firearm. We all get busy or complacent and find ourselves in “life happens” situations, but with off-body carry, you cannot set down your bag unless you’re able to watch it like a hawk.

Safer Off-Body Carry

(Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

If you want to carry off-body, making your setup as safe as possible is essential. Look for a bag that is made for concealed carry with a built-in holster. And no, I don’t mean one of those flimsy Velcro straps marketed as “holsters.” You need hard trigger protection.

If you have a bag that you like, you can use heavy-duty Velcro to attach your current Kydex holster to the inside. Make sure it’s strong enough to stay attached through repeated drawing and re-holstering. Avoid bags with flimsy construction, especially the straps. Carry it on both shoulders or across your body to mitigate a snatch and grab. 

Off-body Concealed Carry
A modular holster system like this one by Crossbreed Holsters allows you to carry in all types of bags. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/
Concealed Carry bag
This backpack came with a Velcro panel inside, making it easy to attach a holster. (Photo: Elizabeth Bienas/

Another option is to buy a modular setup like the Purse Defender and Pac Mat systems by Crossbreed Holsters. Both options feature a hook-and-loop lined Kydex panel and modular holster. The panels come in various sizes and fit securely inside purses, bags, and backpacks.

Once you’ve got a good setup, practice your draw in different situations: stationary and walking, seated and standing, and with the bag moving around. Take the time to get to know all of this before venturing out in public. And don’t forget; the bag always stays attached to you.

RELATED: How to Set Up Your Concealed Carry Purse


To sum it up, off-body carry has pros and cons. If you plan to try it, stick with hard trigger protection, lots of practice drawing, and increased situational awareness. I’ve found it to be a suitable last-resort option for myself in certain situations where I cannot conceal on-body.

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