How To Choose Between Armed And Unarmed Guards

When it comes to security, one of the hardest decisions business owners face is whether or not to hire an armed or unarmed guard. It can be difficult to decide what is right for your facility since there are many factors at play. When looking to increase the security around your business, you should take into consideration what kind of service each type of guard will provide and whether or not it meets the needs of your business. 

How to Choose Between Unarmed and Armed Security Guards 

Armed Security Guards 


An armed guard is authorized to carry a firearm and therefore will have additional certifications, training and licensure. Because of this, they will provide a higher level of security for businesses who deal with expensive assets or large crowds, have a large budget or operate in high crime areas.  One of the biggest advantages to hiring an armed security guard is that they would be well equipped to handle a higher-level emergency and potentially violent situation should it arise. 


While the presence of firearms and higher security can be a positive, they can also be considered a negative for some businesses. You must take into consideration that the presence of a weapon could potentially make your customers or employees nervous. Generally, armed guards are more expensive and can be outside of the budget for many businesses, especially smaller businesses. 

Unarmed Security Guards


Unarmed security guards do not carry firearms so they are typically a more affordable option for business owners. These guards can carry non-lethal weapons such as batons, so they still can act with force when required. Unarmed guards still act as a visual deterrent and can be very effective in preventing bad actors from attempting a crime. Businesses who face low to medium risk might consider hiring unarmed guards. 


Unarmed security guards cannot carry a firearm; therefore, they are less effective in securing properties that have high crime rates. If you are a business that handles large sums of money, an unarmed guard may not provide you with adequate protection. 

Cost To Hire 

Armed Guards

Since you will be paying for the highest form of security, hiring an armed guard can be costly. The hourly rate for an armed guard is higher because of the additional costs related to licensing, training and equipment upkeep. The price can also fluctuate depending on the risk level of your business, your location and your unique security needs.

Unarmed Guards

Unarmed guards are going to be a more cost effective option for many business owners. They typically cost less because they don’t carry firearms and do not need to acquire additional licensing. If you are looking for less expensive security, unarmed guards are usually your best option. 

Assessing Your Specific Security Needs

What is your risk level?

Before hiring any type of security guard, think about whether or not your business is at a high-risk level. If you sell expensive items such as jewelry, technological devices, automobiles, or other high ticket items, your business might be at a greater risk for theft.  

Likewise, if your business sells less expensive items you may be at a low-risk. However, keep in mind that just because your business may be at a lower risk for crime, it doesn't mean it will not become a target. You should still assess your risk to determine the most appropriate form of security for your specific business. 

What crimes are you trying to prevent?  

You might also think about what crimes concern you the most. Unarmed guards may be sufficient for preventing certain crimes such as trespassing, vandalism, soliciting or theft. However, if you are looking to prevent more serious crimes or have concerns about violent attacks, an armed guard would be much better suited to handle those situations. 

Consider Liability 

Business owners may be liable for the actions of their hired security guards. The liability factor may be greater for armed guards because they will be handling powerful firearms. If guards fire shots which cause injury or fatalities, you could be facing costly lawsuits. 

You know your business better than anyone else. You are most qualified to identify your security risks and needs. However, deciding between an armed guard and an unarmed guard can be challenging for someone who does not work in the security industry. 

When you need help assessing your security needs and deciding on the right amount of security for your business, call the experts at Off Duty Officers. Our team is standing by to help you get the security you need at a price that fits your budget. 

When you need security personnel who aim higher

Call Off Duty Officers, Inc. to find out how we can serve your business.

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