Being a 'gray man' or if you are politically correct, a 'gray person' is an important component of an intelligent self-preservation strategy.
When we refer to the term gray man, it is about a strategy of being alert and prepared to address things in our environment, while blending in to and not standing out in a crowd. In other words, think of trying to look like an alert, average Joe. Not an off-duty cop or concealed carry enthusiast. There are some important reasons to become a gray man.
First, we should address the major argument people have against the gray man concept. It goes something like, 'when a criminal sees that I am armed or they believe I carry a gun I'm less likely to be targeted as a victim.' There is some truth to this statement, but it isn't universally true. Sometimes it is more dangerous to openly advertise you carry a firearm. The general rule, conceal rather than open carry. Let me explain.
A clear example of criminals not being afraid of people with firearms is the fact that armed Police Officers are routinely assaulted. Sometimes from an unarmed subject who disarms the Officer and uses their firearm against them. Some will argue that incidents like this only happen when Officers are unaware of their surroundings or not skilled, but this is simply false. Furthermore, it is impossible to go an entire day in public without letting your guard down for a moment. We will find ourselves interacting with people at extremely close distances who, if motivated to attack would have an incredible advantage.
Also, it is important to understand that criminals who would be deterred by an armed victim, are typically not extremely violent. Conversely, subjects who are unafraid of an armed victim are more likely to use savage and indiscriminate force to effect their will. These are the people for which we need to be concerned.
Another benefit of being a gray man is that you may be able to carry a firearm or other defensive tool in non-permissive environments where you would not otherwise be able to. We are not advocating breaking any laws, but where 'no carry' signs do not hold the weight of the law, being able to carry your firearm unnoticed is a huge advantage. And this concept extends to open-carry in general. It probably will not be a shock to hear that some people think anyone who carries a gun is a criminal or potential mass-shooter. Some of these people are happy to call the police and report that someone in the local store has an exposed handgun on their hip. Do you want to deal with police or gun-hating people when you are running daily errands?
Additionally, it can be a tremendous advantage to bring a gun into the fight when the attacker does not even know you are armed. Sure, drawing your concealed Springfield Hellcat 9mm from concealment requires training and can be more difficult than an open carry draw. But drawing the gun on an unsuspecting attacker when the time is right may save your life.
Another general concept is not to dress like you are on your way to serve a high-risk warrant and stopped for groceries on the way. In other words, cargo pants are fine. But pair the cargo pants with a Glock polo, 5.11 Tactical hat, combat boots, and a multi-cam, MOLLE backpack may identify you as someone who is likely carrying a firearm. Wearing a t-shirt, hat, etc. from one of your favorite gear or gun companies is not necessarily breaking this rule, but I think you get the point.
Along the same lines as advertising with your clothing, think about how your vehicle looks to others. Gun companies make some cool stickers. It is generally not a great idea to advertise that you may have a firearm in the car. Criminals looking to break into unoccupied vehicles may take a special interest in your vehicle, thinking might score a nice Glock handgun for free.
Blending in is part one of being a gray man. How about the gear to carry.
Concealing an everyday carry (EDC) sub-compact handgun is a great idea; how about an edged weapon like a knife? Not just for utility sake, but for self-defense, a knife is a great tool.
At least one flashlight is important to carry. I have a slick, little 150 lumen administrative light on my keychain and an 800-lumen tactical flashlight discretely concealed in my pocket. The concept is to keep the tactical flashlight always ready and the administrative light for everyday tasks.
You should also consider carrying emergency trauma gear. Tourniquets like the SOFT-T, along with a pressure dressing or hemostatic gauze make a relatively concealable kit. Perfect for an ankle cuff or a cargo pocket.
Lastly, think about carrying a pen and a small notepad. This way you are able to jot down a license plate or other important information. Switch out your Bic for a tactical pen and you have another tool.
In general, blend in and have a plan. As John Lovelle says to ' be the most dangerous person in the room' but do not let others know until it is time.