A Modern-Day Concealed Carry Briefcase

Side Trip Briefcase Review

Carrying a concealed handgun doesn’t always mean carrying on your person. Sometimes conditions call for carrying in a bag or briefcase of some kind. Unfortunately, many bags and briefcases these days fall into one of two categories: too tactical or too practical. The “too tactical” bags look like they’re right off the SWAT truck—the design just screams that the bag is meant to carry weaponry and ammo. The “too practical” briefcases excel at carrying everything but a weapon and are difficult to access quickly. Somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, and maybe leaning just a bit toward “tactical” is the 5.11 Tactical Side Trip Briefcase, a unique combination of tactical and practical that effectively allows a user to carry not just a concealed weapon but a lot of other useful gear, including pens, papers, and a notebook computer.

Loaded with compartments and pockets and made of 1000-denier textured nylon, the Side Trip Briefcase proved to be a versatile companion, carrying a variety of gear – office stuff, range stuff, whatever – with ease. Moreover, after carrying this particular briefcase for over a year, I am familiar with its strengths and weaknesses related to the concealed carry of a handgun, other gear, and its “look” (how others perceived it).

Concealing a Handgun

The Side Trip Briefcase’s best feature, in my opinion, is the large hidden pocket between the two front pockets and the main compartment. This is where a user would carry a concealed handgun, obviously, as the compartment is hardly noticeable to an untrained eye. Access to the compartment comes via holding one of two small tabs and the handle and pulling apart the hook-and-loop closure. It’s a two-handed operation, yes, but with practice you can learn how to “knife” one hand into the compartment to access whatever weapon you keep inside.

While the interior of the hidden compartment is lined with a special fabric meant to hold other 5.11 accessories such as a holster or ammo pouch, I used it without these, preferring to have the handgun I was carrying just float within. Note, however, that any gun carried in the compartment didn’t really float at all but stayed in whatever place I put it, held in place by the friction of the compartment sides. A reload rode in the compartment, ahead of or behind the handgun.

With a well-made and discreet closure and compartments on each side, the hidden pocket was exactly that: hidden.

Carrying Other Stuff

The practical side of the Side Trip Briefcase afforded numerous compartments of varying sizes. Two large zippered compartments opened up to reveal thoughtful storage for keys, pens, cords, business cards, and a myriad of other items. Or, these pockets could hold ID, tactical lights, spare magazines, and handcuffs. The large main compartment easily accommodated notebooks, papers, file folders, and a few books and offered a MOLLE/ALICE equipped interior panel. Alternatively, it could have been used to store extra clothes. The large side compartment offered a well padded area for a notebook computer, including a movable divider to ensure a secure fit. Each end of the Side Trip Briefcase provided storage for water bottles. In other words, in addition to carrying a concealed handgun, I could store in this bag whatever else I wanted.

The only drawback to being able to carry all that extra stuff is the added weight. Thankfully, the Side Trip’s molded handle and large padded shoulder strap helped distribute the weight and made carrying easier.

Looking Normal

Constructed of black nylon, the Side Trip Briefcase does have a tactical look to it, but not unduly so. In fact, it looks like many other shoulder or messenger bags available today. When carrying it, some friends would comment favorably on its look but more so on its apparent functionality. Still, they never suspected that a concealed gun was inside.

While the Side Trip excelled at carrying a concealed handgun while I toted it to and from the office, I also discovered that it provides a good means of carrying while in a vehicle. When driving, keeping it on the passenger seat next to me or behind the passenger seat afforded fairly easy access to hidden compartment. To anyone who would happen to look inside my vehicle, all they saw was a black briefcase.

5.11’s Side Trip Briefcase retails for $109.99 and provides a good balance between tactical and practical, allowing you to carry a concealed weapon and other stuff and look normal doing so.

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23 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Sounds like (and looks like) a very great bag! Will check this out @ local gun shop!

  2. Where can I buy that briefcase from?

    1. Google it. I found it in 2 minutes direct from the factory.

  3. Could you please give the dimensions of the briefcase and where it can be purchased?

  4. Would it be too much trouble to show us more pictures of this item AND to let us in on what size it is?

  5. Compared to some of the other bags out there for carrying a weapon concealed, I think this one does the trick. I mean, whoes tried to carry their fave in one of those “waist packs”, only to find it was TOO SMALL for the job! Unless you have a hammerless 5-shot revolver, (For the ladies), you need a man-sized bag; I think that this is it: I know that I AM ORDERING ONE!!!

  6. I have one of these units and I love it!! There are a few different ways to carry in this case, and for the most part you can arrange for several different ways to access your weapon. Secondly as an every day use case for work, it is great for that too. I do not work in law enforcement, but most if not all of the features still work for my use too.
    It is well made and has held up for more than a year so far without showing signs of wear. It is worth every penny I spent for it!

  7. Looks like a good case, but I’m hesitant to use one because of the large ‘penalty’ for accidentally leaving it behind. Not only might you lose the expensive gun, but you could face civil or criminal liability charges should that gun be used in a shooting. What mnemonic ‘tricks’ might one employ to make sure you do not forget to take the case with you when you depart the scene. I understand that you could always leave it slung over your shoulder, but that would look a tad strange in a restaurant or classroom, no? Thanks for any suggestions.

  8. Sounds like a well thought out bag.

    Where is it made ????

  9. The padded shoulder strap should be the type that can not be cut.
    I have a “man bag” with a shoulder strap made by Pacsafe that is not cuttable.
    Please investigate.

    1. @ Joel: Thanks for the comment. After viewing the bag & reading Tim’s comments, a non-cutable shoulder-strap is the one point that came to mind. {:{)}

  10. What is the largest computer it will accommodate.?

  11. You can find this 5.11 Side Trip Briefcase at LAPoliceGear.com. This week, it’s $99.99
    Their site has 7 photos of the bag and lots of other specs.

    For folks wondering if their laptop will fit …
    Dimensions: 16.5”X12.5”X5.5” inside main compartment

  12. yeah, I’m afraid of laying one down too, if I went that route, but since I ride a Motorcycle and with an well established association, [CMA] so I always have my vest on, even in T shirt weather so it doesn’t look out of place. I wear my vest with colors “all the time, everywhere”, lol. people ask my wife if I shower, or sleep with it on? :o) just wish I could carry to work, can’t even leave my “puppy” in the car there. feel naked with out it, yes, vest and gun.

  13. Zahal Israeli Tactical Gear makes a number of concealed carry bags. I personally use the medium size and its really nice once you get used to carrying it. I keep my wallet on the outside compartment. Makes it easy when Im shopping or even stopping for a coffee at WaWa. Check it out here. http://www.zahal.org/groups/concealment-bags


  15. It seems to cost to much for a nylon bag with a few pockets and make in China. I believe it is overpriced. I would look for an alternative bag that would do the same.

  16. RyanDrinkhahn

    More info and ordering at this website – http://www.galls.com/cgi/CGBCSTYL?PMSTYL=BG342

  17. where can you get this bag? would like to know thank you


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