Do you often wonder about the key distinctions between armed and unarmed security guards? The difference lies within their level of protection and the potential risks they encounter. Armed security guards possess the capability to carry lethal weapons, offering enhanced protection and deterrence against potential threats. However, this comes with the responsibility of ensuring proper training, meticulous background checks, and strict adherence to law and regulations. On the other hand, unarmed security guards rely solely on their physical presence, communication skills, and surveillance techniques to maintain security. While the decision between the two depends on the specific security requirements of your organization, it is essential to carefully evaluate the risks involved and choose the suitable option to meet your unique needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Armed security guards: These guards are trained to carry firearms and are authorized to use them in situations that require self-defense or protection of others. They undergo rigorous training to handle weapons safely and effectively.
  • Unarmed security guards: These guards are not equipped with firearms and rely on other means, such as communication skills and physical presence, to maintain security. They focus on prevention, observation, and reporting, rather than engaging in direct combat.
  • Duties and responsibilities: While both armed and unarmed security guards share the common goal of protecting people and property, their specific duties may differ. Armed guards may be assigned to high-risk locations or events that require enhanced protection, while unarmed guards often serve in settings where their primary role is to deter potential threats and provide a visible security presence.

Types of Security Guards

Some security guards are armed, while others are unarmed. Each type serves a specific purpose in protecting people and property. Here are the key differences between the two:

  • Armed security guards possess firearms and are authorized to use them if necessary to maintain safety and security. They undergo extensive training in handling weapons and are equipped to handle a wide range of potential threats.
  • Unarmed security guards do not carry firearms and rely on their training, observation skills, and communication abilities to handle security incidents. They are trained to de-escalate situations and alert law enforcement or the appropriate authorities in the event of an emergency.

After reading this chapter, you may want to learn more about What’s the Difference Between Armed and Unarmed Security Guards.

Definition of Armed Security Guards

Armed security guards are highly trained professionals who are authorized to carry firearms while on duty. In addition to their knowledge of surveillance and monitoring techniques, they undergo rigorous weapons training to ensure they can effectively protect the premises they are assigned to. Their primary goal is to deter potential threats and respond swiftly to any security breaches or emergencies using their firearms, if necessary.

Definition of Unarmed Security Guards

Unarmed security guards are skilled professionals who rely on their observational skills, communication abilities, and non-lethal force techniques to maintain security and safety. They are trained to handle a variety of situations, from handling access control to responding to disturbances. While they do not carry firearms, they are equipped with other essential security tools like batons, pepper spray, and handcuffs to enforce regulations and protect individuals and property. Their primary role is to observe, report, and deter security incidents.

Comparing Armed and Unarmed Security Guards

Any person who has dealt with security matters knows that there is a significant difference between armed and unarmed security guards. To help you understand the distinctions between the two, let’s compare and contrast their roles, duties, and responsibilities.

Exploring the Duties of Armed Security Guards

If you are considering hiring armed security guards for your establishment, it is important to understand their specific duties. Armed security guards are individuals who have been trained and licensed to carry firearms while on duty. Their main responsibility is to provide a visible deterrent to criminal activities and, if necessary, use their firearms to protect lives and property. Armed security guards undergo rigorous training programs to acquire the necessary skills to handle firearms safely and effectively. The presence of armed security guards can bring a sense of reassurance and security to your premises.

Unpacking the Responsibilities of Unarmed Security Guards

Although unarmed security guards do not carry firearms, their roles and responsibilities should not be underestimated. Unarmed security guards are an essential asset to any organization as they maintain a secure environment through their presence, vigilance, and observance. These guards are typically responsible for monitoring surveillance systems, conducting security checks, handling access control, and responding to emergencies. While unarmed security guards may not have the lethal force capabilities of their armed counterparts, they possess a wealth of training in conflict resolution, communication, and surveillance techniques to ensure the safety of individuals and property.

Whether you choose armed or unarmed security guards for your establishment, it is crucial to consider the specific needs of your organization. Determining factors such as the level of threat, the potential risks involved, and the desired level of visible security should guide your decision-making process. Both armed and unarmed security guards play a crucial role in maintaining a safe and secure environment, and by understanding their distinct duties and responsibilities, you can make an informed choice that best suits your security needs.

Choosing Between Armed and Unarmed Security Guards

After understanding the key differences between armed and unarmed security guards, it’s time to evaluate your specific needs and determine the right type of security personnel for your situation. Evaluating the need for armed versus unarmed security is crucial in order to ensure the safety and protection of your premises, employees, and assets. Let’s delve into the factors you should consider when making this decision.

Evaluating the Need for Armed Versus Unarmed Security

When assessing whether you require armed or unarmed security guards, it’s essential to evaluate the level of potential threats your premises may face. Consider the nature of your business, the value of your assets, and the overall security risks involved. If your business deals with high-value goods or operates in an area with a higher crime rate, you may want to consider hiring armed security guards. These professionals possess the expertise, training, and equipment necessary to handle more dangerous situations effectively. Alternatively, if your business operates in a low-risk environment and you primarily seek a security presence to deter criminal activity and provide a sense of safety, unarmed security guards may be sufficient. They can effectively monitor access points, conduct routine patrols, and respond to incidents by contacting law enforcement when necessary. While they may lack the overt deterrent of armed personnel, their presence alone can greatly decrease the likelihood of criminal incidents and provide a reassuring ambiance for both employees and visitors.

Guidelines for Choosing the Right Type of Security Guard

To make an informed decision on the type of security guard you need, consider the following guidelines: 1. Assess the Threat Level: Evaluate your specific security risks by analyzing your business operations, location, and historical incidents. This will determine the level of threat your premises face and help guide your decision between armed and unarmed guards. 2. Cost-Effectiveness: While armed security guards may be more equipped to handle dangerous situations, they typically come at a higher cost due to their specialized training and equipment requirements. Be sure to compare the cost against the perceived level of threat to determine the most cost-effective solution for your organization. 3. Legal Considerations: Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding armed security personnel. Some jurisdictions have specific licensing and training requirements for armed guards, and it’s essential to comply with these regulations to avoid potential legal issues. 4. Risk Mitigation: If your business deals with valuable assets or operates in a high-crime area, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks and vulnerabilities. Armed guards can provide a higher level of protection and response in such scenarios, minimizing the chances of loss or damage. Remember, the ultimate goal is to choose a security solution that aligns with your specific needs and mitigates potential risks effectively. By carefully evaluating the need for armed versus unarmed security personnel and considering the guidelines provided, you can ensure a safe and secure environment for your business operations, employees, and stakeholders.


On the whole, armed and unarmed security guards have essential roles in maintaining security and protecting people and property. While unarmed security guards rely on their presence and communication skills to de-escalate situations, armed security guards have the added advantage of carrying firearms to confront and neutralize potential threats. The main difference between the two lies in the level of force they can exert to maintain security. Choosing between armed or unarmed security guards depends on the specific needs and risks associated with your establishment or event. Evaluating the potential risks and consulting with security professionals will help you make an informed decision to ensure the safety and security of your premises.


Q: What is the difference between armed and unarmed security guards?

A: Armed and unarmed security guards differ primarily in terms of the level of force they are authorized to use to protect people and property. Armed security guards are licensed professionals who carry firearms as part of their duties, while unarmed security guards do not possess firearms.

Q: Are armed security guards more effective in preventing crime compared to unarmed security guards?

A: The effectiveness of security guards in preventing crime depends on various factors such as the nature of the environment, training received, and the specific tasks assigned. While armed security guards can provide an additional deterrent to potential criminals, unarmed security guards are trained in conflict resolution, surveillance techniques, and communication skills, allowing them to intervene and de-escalate situations effectively.

Q: When would it be preferable to hire armed security guards?

A: Hiring armed security guards may be preferable in certain situations where there is a higher risk of armed threats or valuable assets require enhanced protection. This can include high-target locations like banks, jewelry stores, or critical infrastructure facilities. The decision to hire armed security guards should be made considering the specific security needs, potential risks, and the legal requirements of the jurisdiction in which the security services are provided.