Within the armed citizen community to only topic that is as contentiously debated as .45acp vs 9mm is the merits of concealed vs open carry. Some people believe that there are tactical reason to carry concealed or open and I see merits in both cases and. interestingly the public acceptance of each has changed over time.
Concealed carriers commonly state that having a firearm concealed gives them the advantage of surprise and that they are less likely to be the first target in an armed encounter.
Open carriers believe that the presence of their firearm may dissuade a threat from committing a crime in the first place or choose a different target because of the high likelihood of armed resistance. It is also a commonly held belief that an open carried firearm can be drawn more quickly; however in my tests I have found the difference with the same holster, covered by a coat to be ~.05sec (obviously deeper concealment increases the time).
While it is true that if there is an attack a concealed pistol could have a tactical advantage in stopping an attacker, it is also true that only the non-observant or determined attacker would choose an armed victim if another target was available. This means that while an open carrier is less likely to face at all.
However, if the open carrier is attacked it will likely be by either ambush or by an overwhelming force, which the attacker believes will negate the pistol. In the case of an ambush the pistol is likely to be a primary target for the initial grab and the reason I believe that open carried pistols should be carried in a holster that has some form of retention device; which will likely eliminate any speed advantage.
Historically, open-carry of a weapon has been more social acceptable because there is no evidence of deceit. The concern over the potential of a concealed weapon may have led to the handshake, which is believed to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon and even the clapping of hands before a sumo competition. The concealed weapon was thought to be tool of card cheats and assassins. This is the genesis of many laws prohibiting concealed carry, but still allowing open carry… Like in my North Carolina.
Today, there are many people that have been raised to fear weapons and would rather not know that they are in the presence of a firearm. Whether this is because of the fear of the weapon itself, denial of any of threats that they may face or because it lets them know that the carrier is capable of exerting a force that they cannot withstand they would rather just not know. In the interest of calming the sheep, states like Texas have outlawed open carry to the point that obvious printing could be illegal.
While I believe more and more people are becoming familiar with firearms and they are not as demonized as they once were, I feel that we are still a long way from open carry being social acceptable in urban environments. I do understand the feeling that this socialization will not occur unless people are exposed to courteous, friendly, non-threatening open-carriers that are willing to educate the public and make the political statement.
I carry concealed because I want to minimize any ostracizing that I may face in the community and to limit the anxiety of my friends, family and those I meet. I am not willing to be the open-carry ambassador in my area. I understand that this may cause me a higher risk of being attacked by a common criminal, but I believe the increased opportunity to de-escalate any arguments and the decreased daily aggravation are worth the risk.
How do you carry and why?