A question of off duty carry for officers in light of recent events

The question was posed regarding best choices for off duty carry weapons for officers in light of recent tragedies. There is no one size fits all.


In light of recent events Officers are starting to carry off duty more and more. While seasoned officers may have an off duty weapon tucked away new officers are now asking, “what should I carry off duty?” 

You are going to get a million different answers to this question because there are that many different views. Weapons are a personal choice and there size no one size fits all. Here is what we have always recommended new officers need to do.

  1. Decide a caliber of weapon you want to carry – I spent a lot of time on this. You should as well. At minimum, .380 though if your area is bad you may want to go higher to say .40 or even .45
  2. If you are accustomed to Semi autos – stick with them.

When people say – go w the same this or that as your duty weapon, you don’t have to go full out. Just stay close. If the weapon you carry is a DA or SA try to go with that because of the training issues and practice.

(If you are an avid shooter and will use both off/duty weapons often, this is NOT an issue – under stress you will perform well with either weapon. If you do not shoot a lot, it may well become an issue.)

  1. Find a comfortable weapon you WILL carry. This is one of the biggest problems that officers have. They buy a weapon then later decide not to carry all the time and you hear:

“it is not what I thought it would be”

“it is too bulky to carry all of the time”

“I’m not comfortable carrying it all the time”

“I don’t like the way it shoots”

You need to find a weapon and then shoot it, a lot. Go to the range with someone who has the same type of weapon you are considering and put 100 rounds through it to determine if you like how it shoots. Then actually carry it on the range as you plan on carrying it when off duty.

If you don’t carry all the time it is no good to you when you need it!

You are making a sizable investment in a weapon financially but also in a piece of equipment that may save your or someone else’s life.

Research the weapon with shooting magazines, periodicals etc. to determine reliability.

Lastly remember, when researching your caliber of choice, ammunition that you will carry may make a difference in the performance of the weapon you choose. Ammunition can also make a difference during an encounter. So when you are in your ‘test fire’ stage, put a box of this favored ammunition through the weapon you are looking at to ensure it works well.

You may well have to change up ammunition depending on where you live and clothing that people wear. For example while a Safety Slugs may be one of the best options to carry as they have low penetration and you do not have to worry about rounds penetrating beyond your target which is great if a suspect is wearing a tee shirt, it won’t work so well if they happen to be wearing very thick biker leather or multiple layers of heavy winter clothing.

While the WBL has no affiliations with either of these two publications, they are a good place to start researching your ammunition.

Gundata.org and Pew Pew Tactical

No matter what you decide to carry, practice with it in a safe location (range) in the same manner you plan on carrying it. If you are going to carry a weapon on your ankle, small of your back, hip, shoulder holster. Practice drills from that position. After practice, immediately practice with your duty gear right after to help in maintaining your muscle memory for the street.

Remember you can always practice drawing your weapon from a holster even if you are not on the range at home with the weapon unloaded.

Good luck and stay safe


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