I Carried a Rifle to Work for Two Years and You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened!

For over two years, I’ve carried either an SBR or an AR15 pistol to work. I have consulted at various places, and am now working full-time.

You wouldn’t believe what happened during that time:


Contrary to hand-wringing anti-gunners, none of the following happened:

  • The firearms never “just went off” and hurt anyone.
  • The firearms were never used in anger, or to intimidate co-workers. No one knew what I had in my bag.
  • No one ever got into my bag and stole my firearm, or used it to commit a crime.
  • I did not use my firearms to “play cop” nor did I “look for trouble.”

Conversely, I never needed my PDW (point defense weapons, I’m using that term as a catch all for short barreled rifles and AR15 pistols). This is a good thing.

I’ve carried a concealed handgun for the majority of the last 19 years, and I’ve never shot anyone — but I still carry. I also carry a trauma kit in case I need it, and I am not going to stop just because I haven’t used yet.

Here’s what I’ve done in the last two years:

Methods of carry

I have used five bags to carry three different PDW.

Mini Draco AK47 in the Agama backpack by Mountain Hardwear


Mini Draco AK47 in a Samsonite laptop bag


KPOS Glock 19 enclosure in a High Sierra Soak 2.0 Hydration Pack


.300 Blackout AR15 pistol in the Agama backpack by Mountain Hardwear


.300 Blackout AR15 pistol in the Adidas Rydell sling bag


Lessons Learned

  • Weight is a big factor. I went from the otherwise great Mini Draco AK47 down to the AR15 pistol in order to save almost two pounds. When you carry a bag every day, ounces start to add up.
  • Using a laptop sleeve to break up the firearm’s outline (especially were the barrel may press against fabric) was very successful and inexpensive.
  • Without a folding stock, I don’t think it’s feasible to carry a PDW daily in a bag that doesn’t stick out. The Law Tactical folding adapter for AR15 weapons is absolutely critical.
  • When it comes to concealment, I believe that “regular” bags are better than purpose build bags to carry guns. Once someone knows that a bag is made to carry firearms “covertly,” those bags are no longer covert. Since I carry everywhere and carry at work, I don’t want the bag to alert other firearms owners that I have something.
  • No one ever asked to inspect my bag. I have taken it to corporate headquarters, advertising agencies, banks, movie theaters, big box stores, hospitals, and many other places. In the span of over two years, three coworkers have asked what I kept in my backpack, and why I was taking it to lunch. I showed them my trauma kit, and that satisfied them. They never asked what was in the larger compartment.
  • Keep your trauma kit and other daily accessories in a separate portion of the bag from your firearm. This makes it easier to handle questions (see above) but also allows you to lock the firearm portion of your bag without compromising your access to other items.
  • You absolutely have to practice at home. You should practice deploying your PDW at home, as well as accessing your spare magazines. When you do this, don’t just stand there — move around. Doing so may betray weaknesses in your bag that aren’t obvious when you are standing still.
  • You absolutely have to train in a fight focused training class. The added stress of working in a class can reveal other things about your setup, or even the type of bag you’re using. After using my bag-carried PDW in several classes, I changed my lock procedure and migrated away from backpacks to sling bags (backpacks tend to stay where you take them off, and are harder to access off of one shoulder). It was also interesting to see how other people deployed and fired my PDWs, which helped to firm up some of my thoughts.
  • Minimize stuff on your PDW. When I first started, I had a sling, light, vertical foregrip, and a red dot. The quantity and position of these accessories complicated the draw. Practice and training will help you see if your PDW can be slimmed down to make deployment easier, and/or if you need to change your bag.
  • Most situations will dictate handling immediate threats with a tool other than the PDW in your bag. I still carry a pistol and won’t rely on being able to deploy the PDW in time to deal with an immediate threat. I wrote some thoughts about this earlier, and this doctrine is still evolving.


The last two years of carrying a PDW every day have been uneventful. That’s exactly how I wanted it to be.

If you’re already carrying a pistol for self-defense, and you’re already a student of fight-focused training, give carrying a PDW more consideration. They have several advantages over handguns, and everyday carry may be easier than you think.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

33 Comments on "I Carried a Rifle to Work for Two Years and You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened!"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Pachucko says:


    I believed you used PSA components for one of your builds.

    Have you been satisfied with the PSA stuff?


    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there! Do you mean Palmetto State Armory or Primary Arms? If PSA, I have only purchased components from them. I have used several Primary Arms red dot / reflex sights in the past, and think they are a great value but you need to run them hard as soon as you get them. I’ve found that they either work or don’t work and you should do your best to find out very quickly.

  2. billy williams says:

    thank you sir for really trying this out and sharing your experience. A well written update.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Thank you for writing this. It helps to keep me going when I know that people find my stuff useful.

  3. Travis says:

    I don’t believe you, way too many days with evil and nothing happened? I call shenanigans!

  4. Mario says:

    Very well written. I was wondering what you would have done if those corporate HQ’s would have had bag checks and metal detectors?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there, thanks for reading. I would not work at a place where it was against the law to carry, and I would not work at a place that had bag checks / metal detectors. As a consultant it is easier for me to be choosy. I do know some of my readers work in places that make it impossible to carry any tools at all, firearms or otherwise, due to legality or security measures.

  5. Chess says:

    Personal Defense Weapon,not point.

    • CR Williams says:

      “Personal Defense Weapon,not point.”

      It can be called a Point Defense Weapon on two counts:

      He may not be using it to defend himself. He may be defending someone else or have it out covering an area or line of approach. That’s local-area, also called point, defense.

      To make an attempt at humor, it’s a weapon he points for defense. Fits the term.

      In the end, he gets to call it what he wants. I personally kind of prefer the term ‘point defense’ to ‘personal defense’ now that it’s been brought up.

  6. Chess says:

    What kind of bag did you use to carry it discretely? To big for a messenger or laptop bag… or did you break it down to fit a smaller bag?

  7. Patrick says:

    did you also carry things like a full size laptop, power charges notepads, pens, headphones, Wacom tablets? and did you need to change or add/ remove iteams to make your work stuff fit in your system???

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I carried a MacBook Pro laptop until recently. The Adidas Rydell bag is not the best, but it was easy to do with the Agama and the Samsonite laptop bag.

      I also carried one to two tablets and a small bag of accessories. I also carried a laptop power supply when I used the laptop bag. I didn’t need it after that assignment, so I stopped taking one with me.

  8. Jeremy says:

    In the interest of slimming down have you ever trued one of those MFT microlights(not the actual name), i would be interested in your thoughts on them

  9. William Toohey says:


    I really enjoyed this article. Very informative and something I would now consider.

    I do have a couple questions for you.

    What climate do you live in? I ask because I’ve always found it hard to dress to the gun and wear a backpack in a warmer climate. The backpack wants to make my garment ride up. Do you wear jackets or long t shirts by chance?

    Do you just always have the bag within arms reach of you?

    The question comes up of what a law abiding citizen should do if you’re in that situation and have your firearm drawn when the police come out. And in my mind, a rifle might make you look more like the bad guy that a handgun would. What’s your advice for use of this type of rifle and situations that might minimize you being mislabeled in a bad situation?

    Thank you for any help and advice!

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there, thanks for reading, and great questions. Where I live, the temperature ranges from -30F to 105F, although it’s only that hot for a few weeks a year. One of the reasons I like sling bags or laptop bags is because a properly worn backpack definitely puts more heat on the back.

      The bag is within reach most of the day. This is one of the reasons I advocate getting a bag where the zippers can be locked. It is not feasible (or normal) to bring a bag to every meeting or presentation.

      This is another reason I advocate carrying a handgun if feasible.

      In regards to dealing with law enforcement after a shooting, I consider it just like any other weapon. The strategy is to not have ANY weapon in hand when friendlies arrive.

  10. Lenny says:

    Is it legal to carry a weapon in a bag vrs a pistol in a holster. Ohio law for conceal is to carry a handgun in a holster

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi Lenny, thanks for reading. State and local laws vary, but where I live one of the primary attributes of a firearm’s classification is barrel length. It seems illogical, but according to the state I have a pistol, and according to the ATF I have a rifle (or in the case of my AR15 pistol, both consider it a pistol).

  11. bob says:

    One consideration with rifle caliber pdw’s is the concussion from the muzzle blast. Without ear pro or a suppressor it won’t take you too many rounds to be “out of the fight” and unable to hear for a few days. This I know from exp.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Definitely true, we did some informal testing to measure the difference in sound between different calibers and barrel length. Any firearm fired indoors is going to be terrible for hearing loss.

  12. Marcus Wynne says:

    Hey dude — followed your link from Greg Ellifritz’s site. Great blog and this was a very informative post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I’d be very interested in hearing about your experiences in selecting/building/buying/recommending PDW/SBR/AR pistols — I’m considering going the AR Pistol route purely for the lack of paperwork hassle involved. Also curious how much threat assessment went/goes into your tool selection (not that it’s necessary for a free man, just ’cause we WANT to is good enough for me, LOL) and carriage choices.

    We share the same area of operations; if you’re ever in the Cities and want to meet up over a Surly or a People’s Coffee, I’d be interested in picking your brain.


    Take care and thanks again for sharing your experience and your expertise!

    cheers, m

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I will try to address your questions as best I can :

      1) Tool selection. I believe risk analysis and environment plays a bigger part than just about anything else. Expected engagement distances, your typical manner of dress, acceptable bag choices, interstate travel and other factors will push you towards different solutions. For most of my situations, an AR15 pistol seems to be one of the better choices. Weight was a factor for moving away from the otherwise very dependable AK SBR. Maybe I should write a post with a decision tree.

      If you travel out of state often, the AR15 pistol is a great choice. I am still waiting on transport approval from the ATF, and I submitted the paperwork in January.

      2) After a fair amount of handgun, shotgun, a day rifle training it became clear to me that no one carries handguns because they are powerful, and there are significant drawbacks to the typical CCW handgun. I started exploring SBR and PDW to see if I could make carrying these weapons more convenient.

      If you haven’t already, you may want to read post about terrorist recruiting and threats in the area. I have also studied workplace violence as well as whack job active murderer situations, and most of these engagements occur far outside the typical CCW training distances.

      You may also want to read some of the entries with the philosophy tag.

  13. OngoingFreedom says:

    I thought I was weird until I found this post. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Sometimes I carry my PDW with me, but mostly it is a trunk/get home gun.

    I carry a Kel Tec Sub 2000 .40 S&W in a simple LL Bean nylon briefcase with 22 round Glock mags. I found an old Israeli Uzi mag carrier that holds five of the mags and have one in the mag well. Those Sub2K’s hide nicely, and I can carry my Macbook Air in there as well.

  14. Russ says:

    While it would clearly add a bunch of weight. Did you ever consider adding a piece of either ar500 steel or ceramic armor to your carry bag?

    It’s far from perfect but it would possibly be a good middle ground between no body armor and wearing a vest every day.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Some of my readers carry a ceramic plate in their bag. Of those I have heard from that do this, they don’t carry a heavy (by weight) weapon in the same bag, so it’s a wash. The drawback to ceramic of course is that it can be damaged if handled improperly.

      We are in talks with a company that sells the DKX ultralight armor to get an evaluation unit, but the armor is rather thick.

  15. David Chan says:

    There are great ways to everyday carry, and you have some great ways of doing it. Thank you for sharing, and keep of the good work here.

  16. TC says:

    Great site. Long time reader, first time asking a question. On your AR pistol, who made your barrel shroud?


    • Noodles says:

      Looks like a 1st gen SS from Midwest Industries. Very lightweight, probably the lightest per inch aluminum handguard available, which is why I chose one myself for an ultralight carbine build.

  17. Daniel says:

    I’m curious, when friendlys arrive, how do you explain what happened. I mean it’s good not tp be armed when they arrive, but as soon as they find out you shot back or shot at anyone what happens then?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Part of any serious training covers the “post shooting procedure.” In short, what to do with your tools, how to present yourself, and what to say or not say.

      This might be a good idea for a future post.

      Thank you for commenting.

  18. Jay says:

    I’m also very curious as to what was your thought process on choosing caliber, type of weapon, overall length,and how much is too much weight.

    I am currently doing the same thing and at a roadblock on caliber and overall length. Last Sunday a friend of mine was followed home, and the attacker shot her 10 times with a AK variant while she attempted to flee from her driveway to her backdoor. Then last year my Uncle was killed in a case of road rage whilet driving and was hit multiple times by a pistol (don’t know what caliber).

    What I’m getting at is, I myself am debating whether to get a 9mm, 7.62×39, .223/5.56 or 300blk PDW, to keep in which bag on me. It would be in addition to the Glock 19 and Kahr P380 I normally carry.
    I was highly considering getting a Kriss Vector Gen 2 SDP in 9mm (shares magazines with my Glock 19) or Mini Draco in 7.62×39. I thought about the AR pistol in .223/5.56 or 300blk but the buffer tube is an issue for me, even with the LAW side folding stock (since it can’t be immediately fired before swinging it open). But would reconsider it, if I had too.

    Can you give me some ideas or at least let me know if a pistol caliber pdw is capable of the task vs using my glock. Since here in the great city of Detroit, a lot of my potential issues are while in a vehicle

Post a Reply to Daniel