Unarmed vs Armed Security Guards: Which is Right for Your Business?

armed security guards

The security of your business should be one of your top priorities. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make. You’ll need to decide whether your business needs unarmed or armed security guards.
Security guards can give business owners and customers a sense of security. They’re also an excellent deterrent to criminals who would otherwise commit crimes more easily.
If you’re considering hiring someone to protect your business, you may be wondering which type of security team is right for you. Read on for more information that will help you decide.

Unarmed vs Armed Security Guards: What’s the Difference?

Unarmed security guards do not carry firearms. They may carry other types of non-lethal weapons for protection, such as a baton or pepper spray. In some settings, they may carry a taser.
Unarmed guards are generally hired for jobs where an actual threat is relatively low, such as video surveillance positions, retail establishment monitoring positions, and jobs in school settings.
Armed guards usually carry a firearm, which is considered a lethal weapon. They’ve been through intensive training to prepare for the responsibility of their position.
These guards are hired for businesses with a greater risk for crime, such as banks, large hospitals, technical firms, or courthouses.

Assess Your Business’s Risk

Armed security guards have clearance to use deadly force if necessary. This is a very important distinction.
Assess the risk level of your business. If your business is at moderate or high risk of becoming a criminal target, armed security guards are your best bet. You may benefit from hiring an armed guard if:

  • Your business has expensive assets such as jewelry and other high-end merchandise
  • Your business has large amounts of cash
  • You host highly publicized and large events, such as live performances or sporting events
  • You need to safely transport valuable items
  • Your business deals with sensitive information or large sums of money
  • You are located in an area with a high crime rate
  • Your business houses or provides accommodations for a large number of people, such as an apartment building or hotel

Employees and staff members that work in high-risk areas can also perform their jobs better knowing that they have the protection of a trained security professional.

Unarmed Guards for Low-Risk Businesses

If your business isn’t at high risk for crime, especially potentially violent crime, unarmed security guards are generally the best choice. They’re far more effective than surveillance equipment or security systems alone.
In low-risk settings, the presence of a security guard is usually enough to prevent criminal activity. An unarmed guard is good for:

  • School and church settings
  • Traffic control needs
  • Parks, pools, and other recreation areas
  • Museums and galleries

These settings typically aren’t targets for dangerous criminal activity. The biggest concerns for these businesses tend to be vandalism and theft.
These types of crimes decrease when any sort of security is present. Unarmed security guards provide sufficient monitoring and protection in these settings.

Consider Your Type of Business

As a business owner, you always want customers to feel comfortable in your establishment. It’s vital to your success.
That said, it’s worth noting that the presence of a security guard can either reassure or alarm civilians. The reactions of your patrons can differ depending on the type of business you’re running.

Sending the Right Message

It’s important to hire the right kind of security guard for peace of mind and a sense of safety for your customers.
Consider what kind of message the presence of armed guards will send to your customers.
In some settings, it can make people uneasy because they’ll wonder if they’re in a dangerous situation. In other settings, it can make customers feel more safe and protected.

Armed Guards

Most people feel safer when armed guards are present in places where a lot of money or expensive merchandise is being bought or sold. Customers in these settings understand that crime is a bigger possibility and that they may be a victim if no protection is in place.
This is often the case for banks, credit unions, jewelry stores, and places where expensive tech equipment is sold.

Unarmed Guards

There are plenty of situations where an armed security guard could make customers feel worried or uncomfortable. In these settings, an unarmed security guard is enough to make everyone feel safe and free to enjoy themselves.
Recreational establishments such as parks, pools, and museums can benefit from the presence of an unarmed security guard. Activity can be sufficiently monitored and patrons don’t have to feel nervous about what might happen.
Retail business areas such as shopping malls, shopping strips, and boutiques are not generally high-risk areas. Unarmed guards will deter vandals and shoplifters without upsetting shoppers. Their presence is enough to prevent most crimes.

Consider Cost

There are several factors that affect affordability when you’re hiring a security guard. Generally speaking, armed security guards will be more expensive to hire for several reasons.

Costs Associated with Armed Security

Because they are armed with a lethal weapon, an armed security guard requires extensive training and skill development to qualify for their job. They’ll often cost more per hour than unarmed guards.
Since there is a risk of injury or death in the event that the firearm is used, you’ll need to pay for liability insurance if you hire armed guards to protect your business.

Unarmed Security Guard Costs

Unarmed security guards cost less to hire because they require less training and you won’t need liability insurance.
They can provide protection, make arrests if necessary, monitor surveillance systems, and keep an eye on general activities within your business. They can also assist customers with many activities. These activities include:

  • Escorting customers to their car, especially after dark
  • Controlling access to restricted areas
  • Giving directions to visitors
  • Occupying the front desk of a business, where they greet and assist customers

If your business is fairly small, hiring unarmed guards will be a more cost-effective choice than hiring armed ones.

Making the Right Choice

Once you’ve taken your business type, your location, and your budget into consideration, you’ll be prepared to make a decision about which security team best suits your needs.
OPS Security Group security professionals offer high-level protection for your business establishment. Contact us today for more information, or feel free to explore our blog for more security tips, news, and information.
Security Guard Company Building Security Assessment

About OPS

OPS Security Group has over 80 years of combined experience protecting executives, businesses, residents, guests and government officials throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and New Jersey. As a regional security alternative with a service-first approach, we offer a level of customer service that international providers are too big to deliver. If you’d like to learn more, contact us!

Interested in a career at OPS Security?


and stay up to date with OPS Security Group

Talk To Us About Your Security Needs

Connect With Us