How to Choose Between Armed & Unarmed Security Guards: What Are Their Pros & Cons?

How to Choose Between Armed & Unarmed Security Guards: What Are Their Pros & Cons?

Choosing between unarmed and armed security guards is not an easy decision. But, what’s certain is that unarmed security guards do not necessarily mean less effective security in your building or property. Both are effective methods in deterring criminal activities, thieves, trespassers, vandals, and others. But, there are specific situations where hiring unarmed guards is more practical and cost-effective and vice versa.

To help you make an informed decision when deciding which security services to hire, below are the pros and cons of unarmed and armed security guards to guide you.

Scout Security has dedicated security guards and mobile patrollers who were previous military personnel and law enforcement officers to provide you with the level of security you need. We serve business owners and property managers in the Colorado Springs and Denver Metro areas. Book a consultation now!

Side-By-Side Comparison: Summary of the Advantages & Disadvantages of Armed & Unarmed Security Guards

Summary of the Advantages & Disadvantages of Armed & Unarmed Security Guards

Armed Security GuardsUnarmed Security Guards
Pros– Trained, certified, & licensed to carry and use firearms
– Effective at handling life-threatening incidents
– Best for high-risk businesses dealing with high-value goods and people
– Gives businesses greater assurance
– More cost-effective options for low to medium-risk businesses
– They can perform additional duties to keep your property safe like access control and threat identification
– More approachable and trained in effective conflict de-escalation techniques
Cons– They can make customers uncomfortable
– Greater liability & insurance expenses in case of shooting incidents
– More expensive to hire
– Not ideal for high-risk situations that may require force
– They do not carry firearms and may not be able to defend themselves during serious criminal attacks but are trained to cooperate with law enforcers

Also Read: Static Security vs. Mobile Patrols: What Are Their Key Differences?

Armed Security Guards: Pros & Cons

Armed Security Guards: Pros & Cons


Guards carrying firearms do great in giving business owners and property managers total peace of mind knowing that their property is well-protected.

Armed guards are certified, licensed, and professionally trained to carry firearms. Thus, they are well-equipped to handle violent situations, serious threats, and other life-threatening incidents. They can give you greater assurance and security in dangerous situations. Their extensive training also allows them to take on more responsibility. 

This makes them ideal for businesses that require a higher level of security where using force might be required such as:

  • Businesses operating in areas highly vulnerable to crimes
  • Businesses dealing with expensive assets, large budgets, sensitive information, high-value goods or people, etc. (e.g. banks and high-profile corporate executives)
  • Events and other situations dealing with large crowds

Armed security guards on your premises also command a level of respect. This significantly reduces the chances of criminals targeting your property.

Also Read: How Mobile Patrol Security Can Proactively Deter Crimes on Your Property


Armed guards have a massive responsibility of carrying firearms and need to be highly trained. They can imply that your business is frequently targeted by violent crimes when customers see them. This is not always good for your image.

Guards with weapons can give you total peace of mind. However, your customers, employees, or patrons may not feel the same when they see firearms. These can even cause discomfort. Armed officers who were not properly trained in de-escalation techniques are also more likely to use their guns to intimidate assailants. This can escalate the situation and put other people and themselves in danger.

Moreover, armed guards are more expensive compared to unarmed ones because of the additional licenses they have and firearm maintenance costs. Your business’s risk level and location will also impact the cost. So if you are a small business looking for a cost-effective solution to enhance security on your property, hiring armed guards is not a practical solution.

In addition, you will face greater liability and insurance expenses with armed security personnel. They are expected to use lethal force when necessary. They are carrying dangerous weapons that could cause fatalities and can result in costly lawsuits that you might need to deal with. Regardless if the shooting is justified or not, the reputational damage they have caused is irreversible.

Also Read: 11 Benefits of Mobile Patrol Security: Reasons Why You Need It

Unarmed Security Guards: Pros & Cons

Unarmed Security Guards: Pros & Cons


Unarmed guards are more affordable options for low and medium-risk businesses such as construction sites, parking lots, residential complexes, and others. They are ideal for situations where their mere visual presence is enough to discourage criminal activities.

Moreover, they have lower hourly rates but can still perform the same duties as armed guards. The only difference is that they are not carrying firearms. They are also effective visual deterrents that can discourage potential law violators from committing unlawful activities on your property.

The best thing is that they can perform other tasks aside from their key security guard duties such as:

  • Patrolling your premises regularly
  • Access control & traffic management
  • Identifying suspicious activities and potential hazards
  • Monitoring video surveillance footage
  • Customer assistance duties
  • Documentation and report writing

Since they do not carry firearms, they are less intimidating and more approachable. You can use them as a first point of contact for your guests, especially at access points. Unarmed guards are also often trained in verbal judo to effectively de-escalate potentially violent situations through words. This tactical communication style generates voluntary cooperation to avoid making things worse and protect other people and the guards themselves.

Also Read: Types of Security Patrols: Foot Patrol, Mobile Patrol, and More!


Unarmed guards do not carry firearms, but can carry non-lethal weapons such as tasers and batons in case of violent incidents. Most of them are also veterans and former law enforcers who are trained to handle dangerous situations.

However, unarmed guards might not be able to defend themselves during armed assailant incidents when deployed in high-crime areas and situations. This is why you should not use them in securing businesses and properties with high crime rates such as banks.

Despite this, unarmed guards are still trained on how to cooperate with law enforcers during armed threats. They can assist in investigations and evacuations. They can even serve as witnesses in case of criminal incidents.

Also Read: 13 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Mobile Patrol Security Service

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Armed & Unarmed Security Guards

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Armed & Unarmed Security Guards

If you still cannot decide whether to hire unarmed or armed security guards, consider the factors below to help you choose:

  • The type of your business (whether it is low-risk or high-risk)
  • The threats you are facing and crimes you want to prevent
  • The likelihood of criminal incidents happening on your property
  • The specific duties you want the guards to perform
  • Your budget and liability insurance

Determining your business’s specific needs and the level of security it requires through risk assessment is the key to ensuring that you’ll get a comprehensive security plan.

Unarmed security guards are cost-effective solutions for low-risk businesses like construction sites, hotels, recreation areas, and others. On the other hand, more expensive armed guards would be best for businesses dealing with expensive assets and situations prone to crimes. Examples are:

  • Banks
  • Courthouses
  • Technical firms
  • Large events
  • Concerts
  • Courthouses, etc

You can find a more detailed discussion of the factors you need to consider when choosing between armed and unarmed security guards here. We’ve also included the key differences between the two in the attached blog.

Also Read:


What are the advantages of unarmed security guards?

Unarmed security guards, especially mobile patrol guards, do best in proactive crime prevention on your property. They are trained to effectively identify threats and suspicious activities. They know what necessary actions to take to avoid potential damage to your business. Also, they are more affordable compared to armed guards and can take on additional duties based on your requirements.

Why are some security guards unarmed?

Security guards deployed in low to medium-risk locations are often unarmed and are more practical solutions compared to armed guards. They are cost-effective alternatives for businesses that require a 24/7 security presence to deter potential criminal activities without breaking the bank.

What is an armed security guard?

Armed security guards carry firearms and can use lethal force when necessary. They are often found in areas that are highly vulnerable to crimes. These include banks, corporate offices, large events, technical firms, and other businesses dealing with high-value goods and high-profile people.

What is the difference between unarmed and armed security?

Armed security guards are licensed and trained to use firearms when performing their duties while unarmed security guards are not.

However, some unarmed guards are also former law enforcers and veterans who are trained to handle dangerous situations. They carry non-lethal weapons like tasers and batons instead of guns. Armed guards are also often focused on securing valuable assets while unarmed guards are for actively identifying threats and preventing them before they escalate.


Armed or unarmed, take note that the presence of physical security guards on your property does not always ensure the complete elimination of crimes. The first step is to choose the right type of security for your business and you might even need to combine multiple strategies to guarantee maximum security. Also, choose licensed, trained, and insured guards to save you from liabilities and make sure that they perform their expected duties effectively.

Hire our mobile patrol security guards and/or dedicated guards in the Denver Metro and Colorado Springs areas to get robust security solutions. Our guards are licensed and insured so you won’t have to deal with costly liabilities in case of unexpected incidents. Call us now!

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