Starting January 1, 2016, open carry of handguns will be legal in Texas, making us no different from 44 other states in which open carry was already legal.
Based on social media postings and media articles, it appears these things are going to happen:
- Some permit holders who have not been carrying concealed on a regular basis are going to start carrying for the first time, because they can open carry.
- Many businesses that allow concealed carry are going to prohibit open carry.
- The majority of people who have been carrying concealed for years will continue to carry concealed as they have always done.
- Some who have not carried concealed out of unfounded paranoia about getting in trouble for “printing” will hopefully start carrying concealed.
- Some who have been carrying a subcompact or subcaliber gun (again due to “printing” paranoia) will now start carrying a more functional pistol, open or concealed.
- A small number of emotional anti-gun activists intend to call 911 every time they see someone open carrying.
- Police are going to have a challenging time dealing with all of it — particularly the unclear language in the law defining what an acceptable holster is.
The purpose of carrying is not to put on a public fashion show. The point of carrying is to have appropriate equipment for the task of self-defense available, with the secondary goal of having that equipment be comfortable and tolerable to wear every day. We recommend:
- 4″ or 5″ barrel quality semiauto pistol in 9mm, .40 or .45 caliber, holding at least 8 rounds, preferably 10 or more. Pistol should have a standard factory finish and limited modifications for functional improvement only. More about handgun selection here.
- an all kydex or all leather inside the waistband holster that uses real belt loops that wrap around the belt, OR
- an outside the waistband retention holster such as the Safariland ALS or GLS, OR
- an outside the waistband holster that has tension that can be adjusted using screws
- carrying a spare magazine
We don’t recommend:
- Cowboy sixguns, shotshell revolvers (Taurus “Judge”), derringers, HiPoint pistols, AR “pistols”, or any other odd or novelty handgun.
- Pistols with excessive decoration (bright color or exotic finishes, “Punisher” logos, “Wait for flash” markings, etc.). Imagine a prosecutor showing your gun to a jury during your trial for use of deadly force, and choose your carry gun accordingly.
- Holsters poorly suited to daily carry. Nylon “gun buckets”, thin leather holsters that collapse when you draw from them, “gimmick” holsters that do not cover the trigger guard or have to be re-assembled so you can re-holster, holsters with an integral magazine pouch, “drop leg” holsters intended for tactical team use or Airsoft game play, or any other holster that doesn’t hold the gun securely, close to the body, and allow rapid reholstering using only one hand.
- Wearing your holster in a stupid way. One very common mistake is wearing a holster designed for behind-the-hip use too far forward. This video explains the problems that causes. Carrying with your gun behind your back, in line with your spine, is a terrible idea. Access is slow, your ability to stop someone from taking the gun is severely limited, and if you are knocked to the ground wearing the holster, spinal injury is likely. If you don’t understand proper holster placement or selection, seek out a class, like our Defensive Pistol Skills 1 course, that not only teaches that topic but includes access to loaner holsters that you can use, if your current holster is simply not going to work for you.
Many people, when carrying concealed in public for the first time, get the impression that everyone that looks at them knows they are carrying, and is looking right at their gun. In reality, the vast majority of people don’t know what to look for and are too distracted with their own tasks or using their phone that they don’t notice much of anything.
If you open carry, odds are good that people will notice, and it will likely change their behavior in any interaction you have with them. You may get harassed by strangers, or end up in conversations with those in favor of open carry. You may be approached by police.
By open carrying you make yourself a public ambassador for all gun owners. Act like an adult. Move slow, be polite, smile. Assume that anything you do or say in public could end up on YouTube, an anti-gun website, or the news.
Take a cover garment with you
Many business, such as H.E.B. grocery, will allow concealed carry but not open carry. Anyone that plans to open carry should always have a cover garment in their vehicle to switch from open to concealed as required.
The Open Carry Derp Contest
I am a pessimist and expect that the first 30 days of open carry in Texas could very well provide a parade of derp. From today until Jan 29th, send me cell phone pics of any of the derp carry choices listed below, or any I’ve missed that you think qualify. The person that sends me the most pictures before the deadline wins a free slot in the January 30th Open Carry Concepts course. Pictures must show someone carrying the offending gear in public (matches and ranges do not count, but gun shows and OC walks do). I reserve the right to award double or bonus points in cases where the person shown fails in multiple categories.
Oversize: hunting handguns (44 mag, 454 casull, etc.), IPSC Open guns, cowboy guns with 7 1/2 or longer barrels, AR/AK “pistols”, carrying with mags that stick out more than 1-2″ past the gun’s grip, Desert Eagle, two-gun rigs
Bad gun choice: Shotshell revolver (“Judge”), derringers, HiPoint, cowboy sixguns, .22, .25, .32 pocket guns carried in belt holster
Carried wrong: 1911 with hammer down, DA/SA hammer back, belt holster at wrong angle, shoulder holster that causes muzzle to point at people behind you, small of back carry, “holsterless” carry, drop leg holster, mags carried backward (or facing two different directions) in mag pouches, chest rig, more than 2 spare mags, nylon holster, holster with integral mag pouch, any cheap, loose floppy holster or flimsy belt clearly not suited to the weight of what is being carried.
Fashion show: Any gun, holster or clothing item worn primarily for its looks and not its function. Wearing a “carry permit” badge like it’s a police badge. Any item that would cause a jury to think “gun nut” and not “trained professional” when displayed in court.
If you send us pictures for the contest, we reserve the right to re-use them in other content (blog posts, training materials, etc.). Email contest submission pics to email@example.com. Complaints and political rants will be ignored and deleted.
Comments have been disabled for this post. You have the freedom to carry whatever you want, wherever you want, within the limits of the new law. We also have the freedom to point and laugh at you when you embarrass the rest of us in public.