There is no denying that the concealed handgun is the primary and best tool for dealing with a lethal threat. However, the pistol is not the appropriate solution for every situation, and most of us cannot be armed with it at all times, in all places. There are several tools that I strongly believe most concealed carriers should carry at all times possible for overall preparedness, but there are three tools in particular that should go everywhere with you specifically for personal protection. These three tools are:
1. A Handgun
2. OC Spray
3. A Handheld White Light
Ok, before anyone gets hysterical, I also believe that you should carry a knife and a trauma kit at all times as well. I also promote carrying at least one reload for the gun. For myself I can say that I view the knife as I view the trauma kit; it is a must-have emergency tool. I don’t prioritize the blade as a self-defense tool even though I carry one all the time. Specifically for protection, the three listed tools are my priority and they are probably the three best tools for most concealed carriers. Why these three items?
1. The reason for carrying a gun should be self-evident.
2. OC Spray is an item that many in the self-defense community still see no need for and they view it as a tool for timid people who don’t want to carry a gun. Absurd. OC Spray allows you to potentially short-circuit a simple assault before an aggressor makes contact. Being able to dissuade an aggressor from continuing an assault is a good thing and having a tool that provides a lower level of force than a gun, or even your hands, is valuable.
3. The light is a tool that is exceedingly useful on a daily basis anyway. Pertaining to self-defense it can be used in the unlikely event of supporting the gun for shooting in low light, but more importantly, it is a search tool, and identification tool, and it can be a deterrent in itself. It also serves as a good impact weapon at contact distance, as well as an emergency glass breaker, which can prove vitally important.
Ideally, you should carry these three tools at all times (along with a cutting tool and a trauma kit) but the beauty of embracing this trifecta of tools is that it is a scalable system. In most places within the United States the vicinities that prohibit the carry of a firearm will permit a flashlight and OC Spray. All but the most extreme restricted zones will at least permit the flashlight. One downside of the knife is that in many restricted environments the blade is almost as verboten as the gun (not always, but often) so the other tools are more flexible.
Blades and impact tools are totally viable contact distance weapons (though sometimes more legally perilous than a firearm, stupid but true) and if you are a practitioner of either, I am hardly opposed. Knives are a game changer for the specific niche of contact distance entangled violence but their use as a defensive weapon is often heavily scrutinized. Saps and Jacks can be great, but they are absurdly regulated so legality is a challenge, and they can prove bulky and hard to carry. Either option can be useful but demands significant consideration.
However, I think most concealed carriers are best served with getting training in, and becoming intimately familiar with, these three suggested defensive tools. In conjunction with one another they cover most potential problems, and they offer the flexibility of scaling down to accommodate restricted environments.