The benefits of off-body carry include comfort, convenience, concealment, and capacity.
A gun in a bag, backpack, or briefcase doesn’t dig into your hip or bang on the arms of your chair when you sit down or stand up. You won’t have a backache from leaning away from your gun side while you sit and you won’t be constantly adjusting because you made the belt tight enough to support the gun but so tight you can’t get comfortable.
Securing a gun in an off-body container is simple. Most such packs come with internal “holsters” that attach with Velcro. Several companies are making kydex and leather holsters backed with Velcro that allow you to simply stick the holster in place, insert the gun, and go about your daily business.
There are some rules you need to remember if you’re going to utilize an off-body carry method. First up, use some sort of internal holster that covers the trigger guard. Do not simply let that pistol bounce around in the bag. This is not only a safety issue, but an access issue, too. Secondly, the pocket or location you choose for your gun should be exclusively for your gun. Do not be putting keys, pens, or anything else in there. Any such items can impede your grip and draw or they could hang up in the trigger, causing a negligent discharge.
You can also carry “more gun” in most off-body options. If you really want a full-sized gun, but you can’t hide it on your hip, a briefcase or satchel works wonders.
It is very true that you can’t get something for nothing. All those benefits come with some downsides; namely access and acquisition.
On the access side of things, off-body carry is not a quick-draw proposition. You have zippers, flaps, and straps getting in the way of your draw. You will likely have to reposition—or better yet, pre-position—the bag for the draw. All this takes time, but someone with good situational awareness will use those skills to his or her advantage. You also have to be aware that if you have a gun in an off-body carrier, you could potentially set that container down and walk away. Or you could put your bag on the floor as you eat lunch. If you carry off-body, you MUST keep control of the item that contains your firearm at all times.
Acquisition is not about your ability to acquire the gun. It is about someone else’s ability to end up in possession of your firearm. Think about it: there is a whole class of criminal behavior centered on grabbing bags from unsuspecting victims. If someone grabs your bag in hopes of getting your computer, tablet, smart phone, or wallet and they end up with a bonus firearm, well, that’s just doubly bad for you.
To avoid this, I suggest slinging the bag not just on one shoulder, but instead completely across your chest. This is not a surefire deterrent, but bag snatchers will likely look for an easier target if they feel they can’t quickly separate you from your bag.
Off-body carry is an option. I’m not saying it is the best option, but for places where you really don’t want people to know you have a gun, carrying off-body provides some great benefits