There is an endless variety of gear that people carry on a daily basis. Those of us that believe in personal responsibility for our own safety carry weaponry of personal protection as well. If you read my work you probably carry a gun at least occasionally, though I hope you carry at all times possible. While proper mindset, skills, and tactics outweigh the importance of gear, the reality is that self-defense against armed threats often requires the right tools: the best tool consistently being a concealed handgun. But what should we be carrying?
I know that there are guys out there who carry two or three guns at all times. I will take that over the masses that carry no guns. However, I carry significantly lighter than some. I always carry a defensive firearm except when in environments or vicinities when I can’t do so. I occasionally carry a backup gun when traveling, but on a daily basis I carry a single handgun. This is what most find realistic to accommodate. We all have personal preference and personal needs. A listing of EDC items is very common throughout internet blogs and forums and this is nothing new, but here are the things that pertain to self-defense and self-sufficiency in general that I suggest carrying. Note, I don’t include the usual things like a wallet and a phone as those are most likely standard affair for all. As it pertains to defense and preparation:
The Gun. I like to carry a gun that I can fight with should I find myself in such an unfortunate circumstance. My primary carry gun these days is a Glock 26. While this is a very compact weapon that I can carry easily even under only shorts and a t-shirt this handgun accepts full-size magazines and it is surprisingly capable for its size. It carries small but shoots big. While I am settled on the Glock platform there are many good guns to choose from but I am partial to double-stack polymer-framed striker-fired guns chambered in 9mm. My other favorites that I highly recommend are the Smith and Wesson M&P series, Walther PPQ, and H&K VP9 series, but there are a lot of good ones.
A Reload. I always carry a reload for my handgun, no exceptions. While statistically unlikely to be needed in civilian self-defense, the outliers exist and if unfortunate enough to be forced to mix it up with multiple armed adversaries having more ammo is better than having less. The other reason I always carry at least one reload is because some malfunctions are a matter of the magazine shitting the bed and having a second mag available to slam in the gun is the only way to fix some of these issues.
A Knife. If you don’t carry a knife you are wrong. Seriously. Even if you carry a gun but not a knife as well you are wasting your time. Even if the knife does not factor into your defensive plan you need to carry a knife. It is an essential rescue tool. Imagine needing to free someone stuck in a seatbelt while the car is on fire or sinking into a river and you don’t have a cutting tool on your person. A capable individual carries a knife or at least a multi tool with a cutting blade. No exceptions here. As a defensive tool, it is probably the next best option that you can carry on your person after your handgun and it may come into play defensively.
Medical Pouch. After the last 16 years of constant war against terror there have been advances made that not only influence the military but also the realm of civilian self-protection. One such advance is the implementation of life-saving medical gear carried on the body. I carry a very small trauma kit that fits in the hip pocket of shorts or jeans and this kit has a tourniquet and hemostatic gauze to stop traumatic hemorrhaging. I carry larger trauma kits in my carry and vehicle bags but this small kit is always on my person. If you are the kind of person that believes in being prepared and you carry a gun you should be carrying medical gear. You are statistically more likely to need to plug a hole than to make a hole in someone. Accidents happen, yourself or someone near you could need this life saving equipment. Get the training and carry the gear.
A Light. I absolutely believe in carrying a white light at all times. With that said, I am not quite the stickler about it that many in the gun community are. I carry a small but significantly powerful LED light. For civilians the role of white light in a defensive shooting scenario is limited to non-existent. It is, however, important to carry a light so you can see things in the dark, and certainly so that you can identify individuals in low light to see if they are threats. However, shooting with the use of a flashlight? I know how to do it but don’t put too much emphasis on it. When you can show me when this happens in public for civilians I might change my mind. Until then, a small and powerful light, not necessarily a tactical light, works for me.
Less-Lethal. While all the cool guys with beards and sleeve tats walk around with 900 lumen Surefire lights that they will never use the one thing they are much more likely to use they inevitably don’t carry: a less-lethal weapon. Pepper spray or an impact weapon, or both, are valuable assets to have when facing an assault, considering that the majority of assaults that happen are less lethal in nature and do not justify a lethal response. A tool that gives you an alternative to going hands on is good. Less-lethal weapons like spray do not always work but they prove effective much of the time and they can end a heated situation before it escalates.
Cell Phone. The last item that is not a dedicated defensive tool but I still recommend always carrying is your cell phone. You want to be able to call the authorities as quickly as possible if an emergency happens, self-defense related or otherwise. Consider these items as a minimum for a well-rounded defensive carry system.