What Do You Need? Some Thoughts on Mindset and EDC…

In this post, I want to talk about what is REALLY needed by the average person that carries a concealed weapon every day, and I want to do so against the backdrop of the ubiquitous “Every Day Carry” (EDC) discussion.

I can actually summarize it in one sentence, and I’m not being flippant. Abide by the 4S Rule, carry your gun, and be careful in parking lots!

Everybody that carries a gun should be familiar with John Farnam’s classic 4S rule. For those that don’t know it, the rule is, “don’t go to stupid places, at stupid times, to do stupid things, with stupid people,” or some similar variation thereof. Following the above guideline eliminates a lot of potential hassle in life. Instill the concept into your children at an early age! Just to reiterate, if you wouldn’t go somewhere unarmed, you certainly shouldn’t go there armed!

Every week on the “Polite Society Podcast,” the hosts discuss defensive gun use (DGU) stories. These all seem to have a common theme in that the intended victim either is carrying a gun or is able to retrieve a gun and fight back. The lesson from these stories is to always carry your gun on your person or have it readily available in your home. Often, when the subjects of these stories are injured in their encounters, it is because they had to fight their way to a gun, rather than having it immediately available.

While anecdotes do not equal data, we are fortunate to have a valuable resource in the form of Tom Givens and his students. Givens has compiled real data with real numbers on civilian defensive gun usage, and without fail, his students that were armed prevailed in their conflicts. Those that were unarmed did not. So far, nobody needed a flashlight, and no one needed to reload.

Regarding my above admonition about parking lots, this is because the parking lot represents a very common transition zone where you may often be distracted and therefore vulnerable to attack. Simply looking around can alert potential aggressors to your heightened awareness and cause them to seek easier prey.

Now, let me switch gears to gear (no pun intended) and outline my own EDC ensemble. There are some items that I ALWAYS have with me where legally permitted. This is my EDC, and not necessarily germane to the discussion of what is absolutely NEEDED. I always carry a compact auto loading pistol, one reload for the pistol, a small flashlight, a folding knife, and a cellphone. I am tempted to carry a small IFAK kit such as this one from ITS Tactical, but I’m not quite there yet.

(Ironically, when I’m working on the ambulance and can’t carry my gun, I actually do carry an IFAK from Dark Angel Medical in my right cargo pocket that I reserve for use on myself, my partner, or law enforcement… I do this because of the potentially violent situations that I occasionally find myself in. Despite the theory that EMS doesn’t enter the scene before it’s safe, in my experience things don’t always work out that way!)

When I’m off-duty, I typically dress casually with an untucked shirt and either jeans or cargo pants. I wear hiking boots almost everywhere. I don’t think this really makes me stand out in a crowd, as I’m hardly the only one sporting Keen or Merrill boots. Obviously, I will be dressed appropriately for conditions, whether it is hot, cold, snowing, raining, etc. Unless I’m specifically going to a gun friendly environment or event, I typically eschew branded clothing with conspicuous logos that would highlight my ideology like a neon sign. I’m sure I may look the part to others in the know, but that’s okay with me, because we’re usually on the same side. Whether it’s a backyard BBQ, a formal wedding, or a business casual meeting, I simply dress according to the occasion and try not to stand out to casual observers.

Specifically, for my EDC, I favor a Glock 19 carried in the appendix position, one reload in a magazine pouch on my belt, with a Streamlight Protac 1L flashlight, a Spyderco Manix 2 folding knife, and my cellphone, wallet, and keys in my pockets. Much like an IFAK, I also sometimes carry a small centerline fixed blade knife on my belt and I should probably consider carrying some sort of OC spray as a less lethal option. With the exception of the second knife, short of committing to always wearing cargo pants, I have no idea where I would add in these extra items, as my pockets are pretty much occupied by this point with what I already carry and I’m running out of real estate on my belt.

Now, let’s combine mindset with EDC in order to establish what you absolutely NEED as opposed to what I personally carry and recommend. What follows (and this post in general) is just my humble opinion. Take it for what it’s worth. My opinion is predicated on the fact that you have made the decision to carry a firearm for self-defense, acknowledging that a firearm is the best tool for the purpose. With that said…

  • You NEED to carry a gun that is reliable, that you can shoot accurately, and that is carried in such a manner that you can access it quickly while under physical and emotional duress.
  • You NEED to have a modicum of physical fitness in accordance with your age and medical conditions. Some disabilities are not negotiable, but most can be improved with diet and exercise.
  • You NEED to cultivate the appropriate mindset, and this encompasses not only the wherewithal to fight back when offered violence, but also the situational awareness to preemptively avoid violent encounters.
  • You NEED some basic first aid knowledge, if only to control life-threatening bleeding from injuries incurred in a fight for your life.
  • Finally, I think you NEED to have some good self-defense training classes beyond that required to obtain your concealed carry permit. The information covered in a required concealed carry class is invaluable, but often has very little to do with actually fighting with a firearm.

That’s it… everything else is pretty much optional. The bullet points above represent the minimum of what you should have. Ask yourself what is possible AND probable in your daily activities and plan accordingly. Carrying more or different stuff certainly isn’t wrong, but also realize that the more you add to your Bat-belt, the closer you approach a point of diminishing returns. If you’re going to carry everything but the kitchen sink, perhaps you should invest in a “Kitchen Sink” to carry it all!

Moving beyond minimums, I think carrying a spare magazine or reload is a good idea for a number of reasons, but I must relegate it to “optional” status based on statistical probability. A flashlight is extremely useful as well, but truthfully; it is not often employed in gunfights involving civilian concealed carriers. Similarly, I use my pocket knife for mundane tasks almost daily, but it is not necessarily mandatory. Having said that, if you can’t carry a gun, at least carry a knife. If you can’t carry a knife, at least carry an improvised weapon of some sort! The possibilities are endless.

Ultimately, if you are going to do nothing else, at the minimum carry your gun, know how to use it, and keep your eyes and ears open when out in public! Note that all but one of five mandatory items that I identify above, while not without cost, are nonetheless intangibles that are based on acquiring knowledge and skills. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.

In the interests of full disclosure, some of the hyperlinks in this post lead to EDC items available through our Amazon Affiliate link… Should you wish to support the blog at no additional cost to you, please consider navigating to Amazon for your online purchases via our Affiliate link. We thank you in advance! Any comments on my thoughts on EDC and what is really needed? Leave them below!

8 thoughts on “What Do You Need? Some Thoughts on Mindset and EDC…

  1. Keep packs with tourniquets, trauma bandages, and quick clot, etc in obnoxiously bright colored containers in places you go to routinely.

    -Work desk
    -Work bag/backpack
    -strapped to your car head rest (hat tip to BFE Labs)


  2. I can’t quarrel with any point you have made. And, yet, the thought that jumped-out at me was that your – labeled – generic advice just can’t be applied very well by a large fraction of the population.

    I am “privileged” to live a life where it’s easy for ME to avoid stupid people/places/times. I almost always know the risk profile of where I abide and travel and they are almost always pretty safe. Yet, (here is my quibble) there is a large fraction of the population whose means do NOT privilege them to avoid stupid people/places/times. Imagine the inner-city single mom who needs to work 2nd shift to feed her family. There is nothing whatsoever that SHE can do to manage this aspect of HER every-day preparedness.

    I am “privileged” to have already lived a pretty long life. Although a relatively tall and heavy male (compared to the average) my physical fitness is NOT sufficient to prevail in a physical fight with the sort of person likely to assault me; i.e., a young fit male. There is little I could do to close this gap; and, nothing that I actually WILL do (lack of motivation) in view of the fact that in doing so I will still be relatively powerless in a physical fight.

    I am “privileged” to have taken several courses in self-defense; beyond those that might be mandated for a CWP. Yet, this training was taken out of interest with the leisure time (and discretionary resources) that enabled me to avail myself of such training. Again, think of so many whose circumstances make such training prohibitive.

    I could learn first-aid; I have the time and resources. But not the interest.

    Finally, I am “privileged” to have left NJ and live in PA where my License-to-Carry costs a penny a day and is readily Shall-Issued by my county’s sheriff. So much of the population lives in states or counties where the permitting laws and practices are an obstacle, usually insurmountable.

    Alas, I despair as I contemplate making a constructive suggestion. Avoiding stupid people/places/times and situational awareness seems – to me – to be shifting the cost of assaults from the astute and well-situated (such as myself) onto those who are less astute or less-well situated. The number of predators at-large remains the same; their prey simply redistribute from one subset of the population to another less-well situated.

    The only avenue of hope that I can identify is that Shall-Issue will be mandated nation-wide and carry will become popularized. When 1/3 of adults are carrying routinely, the predators will encounter resistance that they can’t easily overcome. When 1/3 of adults are carrying routinely, training in the readily-acquired skills will gradually become ubiquitous (as is now the case with operating automobiles).


    1. Mark,
      This is Robert replying, so bear with me since it was my blog partner John who wrote the article about which you are commenting.

      I think you are taking this all a little too literally. The rule of 4 S’s is all relative. To some, going to a daytime major league baseball game would not qualify as violating the rule of 4 S’s. However, should an active shooter or terrorist bomber strike that target, suddenly many people will point out that if you avoid large crowds/public events, you are less likely to get caught up in such happenings. Which is a bit true, but unless such horrors truly become commonplace, we all know that statistically we probably will NOT be the victim of such circumstances.

      Now, make that baseball game a weekend night game, and the situation changes. Now there will probably be a slightly different crowd at the game and in the environs of the stadium that might make it MORE of a 4 S’s thing. Drunk people, street cretins, etc. It just depends.

      It’s not about privilege. The single mom you mentioned who lives in the ‘hood and has to work second shift can still do SOME things to mitigate risk. While she may not be able to move (though that should be a priority before buying new 60” televisions, $200 basketball shoes for her kids, etc.), she CAN avoid going to sketchy bars and other places that unsavory folks frequent. I work in the ‘hood and can assure you that the people I work with who live there know how to survive there, the places and people to avoid, etc. It’s all relative.

      I go armed where I can, but I have said many times on this blog that, despite the blog name, I am often NOT carrying a firearm. My job precludes it. And I’m not talking about just losing my job, but my license to do this job ANYWHERE, as well as JAIL TIME. So I utilize other tools, or none at all. Being able to carry a firearm helps, but it is not a panacea.

      Everything else you mentioned is stuff that you fully have control over, but by your own admission you choose to do nothing about. Not sure how old you are, but there is no reason not to be in shape. I just spent two days with Kelly McCann, who is 62, and he can kick the ass of probably every single person I know. Likewise with the first aid. It can literally cost you NOTHING to learn first aid of some type, but you choose not to. That’s a choice on your part (and a poor one, in my opinion). I helped save my wife’s life 5 years and 3 days ago because I know CPR. I cannot imagine standing there impotent watching a loved one die just because I was too lazy to have done my homework ahead of time. Which is why I try to stay in shape, continue to train in various self-defense modalities, know first aid and some trauma aid, etc.

      Thanks for reading.


      Liked by 2 people

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