"We forgot the salsa!” It’s Sunday evening and your barbecue guests are due to arrive any moment. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes!” you yell while grabbing your keys, wallet, cell phone and hurry to the corner store. Speed walking through the familiar sliding glass doors, rehearsing your shopping list, the overwhelmingly loud sound of a gunshot jolts you into reality. In cinematic slow motion you see the hooded figure standing in front of the register turn and point his gun, finger on trigger - at you. There is no time or opportunity to evade or avoid. The moment is now. Are you ready? In your jeans and t-shirt do you, with what you have on your person, have the training and the tools to handle the immediacy of the situation?
The concealed carrier has made a commitment not just to being responsibly armed but to being effectively self reliant for the whole experience of a deadly force encounter. This means considering what essential tools would allow you to respond in the moments before, during and after the attack itself. A carefully chosen collection of truly essential items that you carry with you every day for the purpose of self preservation is called an Every Day Carry (EDC) kit.
Social media is flooded with images of EDC pocket dumps of the “tactically inclined” that cover dining tables with tacti-cool gear and kit that fill cargo pockets utility belts.
The vast majority of us in the concealed carry community aren’t interested in being an Inspector Gadget of personal defense wearing battle belts and gear laden cargo pants on a daily basis. What bare minimum essential tools can we have on us all the time to survive and thrive past a deadly force encounter? What you need is less about constructing a tacti-cool pile of gear more about placing the emphasis on three critical elements: bullets, bandages and brains.
BULLETS: Your gun, everything that makes it possible to carry it on your person, keep it running, and do it’s job.
You have chosen your concealed carry firearm for all of the right reasons. It fits and fills your hand for a solid and strong grip. You can reach and manipulate the controls on the gun successfully and the sights are naturally found with out a struggle to focus. You have invested in a firearm and caliber that you enjoy training with and can afford to practice with regularly. Lastly, the gun itself is one that you are prepared to secure to your person and that you can successfully conceal without a wardrobe overhaul. This single piece of equipment is what will inform the rest of your EDC kit.
Holster and belt
These two pieces of gear establish the foundation of your concealed carry world and determine how well you are able to access and deploy your firearm. The holster must cover the trigger guard completely, have secure retention of the gun, position the gun flat against your body to prevent unnecessary printing and allow you to establish a master firing grip before you draw. There are hundreds of holster options on the market and just like the gun itself is an investment worth making.
The gun can’t be successfully drawn without a quality holster and the holster can’t do it’s job if not supported by a quality belt. Characteristics of a high quality gun belt include a width that equals the loops or clips of your holster, made from a rigid material and have a low profile buckle.
Why carry an extra magazine? Not because you expect the zombie apocalypse but because Murphy’s Law may strike when you least expect it. The cold reality that malfunctions happen at the worst times mean clearing the problem, feeding a fresh fully loaded mag into the gun takes priority over diagnosing the double-feed du-jour. A spare mag allows you to fix the problem with expediency and stay in the fight when bullets are flying.
Additionally, if you carry a subcompact or single stack gun you are all too aware of their limited ammo capacity. Having to engage multiple attackers seems less likely than the reality that today’s bad-guys are coming to the fight more prepared with armor or under the influence of narcotics and the old school double-tap may not be enough to do the trick. Current training standards nationwide teach a minimum of three to five well placed rounds to lethal target areas to neutralize a threat. Should your marksmanship training hold true and your shots do not have the desire result, it may require more than what is in the gun stay alive. Every bullet you have on your person and in the gun is a life saving opportunity.
You wouldn’t put regular gasoline in a race car and expect to take first place at Nascar. When “gassing up” your carry gun choose a self defense load from a reputable manufacturer with documented quality and performance data. Buy one box and take it for a test drive. Your gun will feel very different shooting plus-P loads than it does with ball ammo and making sure your firearm will reliably cycle that brand and load is vital. Yes, this is going to be expensive but it is the cheapest life insurance you can buy.
BANDAGES: Be your own first responder and keep blood in the body when time equals life.
The fact that you are carrying a gun for self defense means you are prepared for the worst case scenario. Translation: a very scary, violent, intense fight where it’s extremely possible that you could be severally hurt or killed. Should the attacker have a knife it is probable you will get cut. Should the attacker have a firearm it is possible that you, a loved one or a stranger could be shot. The goal is to survive during and after a deadly force encounter with critical skills and tools until the blue lights flash and professional help arrives. The good news is you don’t need a medical degree to learn how to effectively apply a tourniquet or a compression bandage. Quality training and gear goes a very long way when time equals life. Having a compact, simple to use one handed tourniquet is a non-negotiable piece of your EDC kit.
BRAINS: Intelligent modifications to every day items that help us work smarter not harder.
Take with you just what you need. Could you skinny down your wallet to just the essentials such as your ID, concealed carry permit, insurance card, key credit cards and cash? The value of decluttering this mini black hole is to allow it to be easily carried on your body not in your hands. Having both hands free provides a significant advantage should you need to draw your gun.
Just because the hands-on portion of the fight is technically over the fight for survival continues well beyond shots being fired. Your ability to quickly access your phone, dial 911 and effectively communicate your identity, location, and the severity of the situation is just as important as being an on-demand marksman.
Your cell phone is also a tool by which to declutter the “stuff” in your pockets and wallet and organize important information. Consider utilizing retailer apps to eliminate the need for bulky membership cards or scan tags on keychains. Organize and prioritize your contacts so that key individuals and service numbers are easily found. For example: Your lawyer, your primary care provider, and your designated In Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts are up to date and easily accessed in one well marked, top of the list, contact file.
The problem with a bulky, jingly wad of metal is that it announces your presence to strangers and leaves you distracted while fumbling for the right key and vulnerable to an attack. A simple fix is to select your high-use keys and organize them in a compact stacking device such as the Key Smart or Key Bar. Gone is the noise and with some strategic set up and practice accessing your house key is just a flip away.
A small accessory such as a pocket clip allows your keys stay where you put them in a pocket or clipped onto a waistband, again leaving both hands free. Additionally there are key-like and stackable pocket knife and multi-tool products that transform your Key Smart or Key Bar set up into your customized multi-tool.
The last thing you might consider adding to your keychain is a light source. As you approach the threshold or car door your keys will most likely already be in your hand. Strategically adding some illumination to control those dark and shadowy spaces is a must. Invest in all of the lumens your budget will allow. The Surefire Sidekick offers 300 lumens in a ultra-compact rechargeable keychain light.
After the retail portion of gun and gear buying is over the next step is a literal blast! Invest in yourself. The tools needed to neutralize a lethal threat, stay alive until help arrives, and get them there as fast as possible can only do their job if you know how to use them.
Train with reputable instructors whose focus is on concealed carry and handgun combative for real world situations. The good news is that training is fun, challenging, and your best opportunity to put your equipment and set up for a test run. No matter your age, fitness or current skill level there are classes available to build your knowledge base and abilities. Taking a minimalist approach based on on-demand survival forces us to identify the key tools and skill sets we really need. Keep it simple, keep it smart, and stay safe.
About Tatiana Whitlock
Tatiana Whitlock is a national recognized firearms and self defense instructor, author and entrepreneur. Her career took a shift nearly five years ago away from plastics manufacturing to peruse a passion for firearms and personal and home defense. She is a dedicated student as well as a nationally recognized instructor and travels the country to peruse training with top names in the industry. She hunts, hikes, and fishes Northern New England and is an active Goruck participant and grad. Tatiana is a NRA BPI, RSO and Refuse to Be a Victim instructor.
Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tatianawhitlock
Follow on Instagram: www.instagram.com/TatianaWhitlock