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!