I remember being stationed in Germany, a wide eyed 19 year old who lived in a new country with endless possibilities. Coming out of high school I was never much of a “party animal” and had mainly stuck to sports, JROTC and work. Yet there I was in a land where 18 year olds could get into clubs and even drink alcohol, stationed with a crop of Alpha Males with something to prove and more muscle than sense. I was the new guy until the next new guy came in, at which point I would be ushered into the salty old vet frat and would ridicule other new guys for not getting with the program. You might be wondering where I’m going with this so here it is: the worst thing I could have done while with my group (to mess with their flow) would have been to act unnatural, especially in the club where young Fraulein’s lurked. I would often hear this while walking into a discotek: “Hey PJ, just be cool man and act like you’ve been there before…”
My experiences in the late 90′s in Germany really have nothing to do with Open Carry, but the message that my buddies were trying to impart most certainly does. While carrying concealed many of us act naturally because the weapon is concealed and most people could look right at us and never even know a piece was on our hip. Yet the game tends to change when going open carry because we know AND everyone else knows that we are armed. While not a huge deal at the range or in a gun store what about when we are out amongst the sheeple? This bleating flock who quite possibly could squeal and run from their own shadow, must less someone with a *gasp* loaded firearm.
Here’s the thing, I think open carry and concealed carry both have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m fortunate to live in an open carry state but probably only do so 20% of the time. For the most part I suppose that I like to fly under the radar and draw less attention to myself but there are times when open carry is simply more convenient or even necessary and I don’t shy away from it when that’s the case.
This past weekend my wife and I went hiking with our dog, when we do so I like to carry my Bugout Bag just to stay in tune with the weight and how it feels when moving over uneven terrain. The way the bag is set up the waist strap makes it impractical to use a traditional belt holster so I tend to opt for a drop leg rig. I use a Safariland rig with a hood and primarily carry for three reasons while out there:
1- Because I can
2- Wild Animals
3- Lots of meth heads in the area and you never know…
So here’s how this went down. When we pulled into the parking lot at the trailhead there was a Boy Scout troop on site getting ready to go fishing, some dudes in mossy oak gear and a few other people just milling around. I got out of my vehicle with my drop leg in full view and just proceeded on normally. Strap my pack on, get my dog ready, make sure my wife had her gear and off we go. Say hi to the Boy Scout kids on the way out and wave to the other folks. Act like you’ve been there before and most people will assume you are good to go. l even ran into a few folks on the trail and we stopped to talk, my rig in plain sight and never a glance down. Maybe they saw it and maybe they didn’t, either way my demeanor was calm and collected with nothing to hide. It’s been the same when I’m carrying openly and on my way to the range and I had to make a stop for gas or anything else. Usually I’ll be sporting a Raven Concealment OWB holster and a couple spare mags on the other side, just look people in the eye and carry on normally…things never seem to be an issue.
I suppose it wouldn’t be a complete article if I didn’t list out how things can go badly, or the opposite of acting like you’ve been there before. Constantly touching your weapon when it’s in the holster (open carry), acting nervous or twitchy, slinking around like some sort of weirdo, mumbling incoherently or showing open anger/frustration. Any of those behaviors will most definitely catch the attention of the sheeple and have them reaching for the phone and 911. So with that in mind, keep up the training and resolve to remain as cool as a cucumber in public when carrying in the open, act like you’ve been there before!