We’re big fans of concealed carry, obviously. If you’re comfortable, we want you to carry a gun everywhere it is legal and practical for you to do so. Doing so could save your life or someone else’s one day. But the truth is that while a gun is a life-saving tool, it doesn’t need to be the only tool in your toolbox. Consider carrying adding some of these other items to your everyday carry (EDC) repertoire.
1. An Extra Magazine
Statistically, you’re not likely to ever need to draw your gun in self-defense—and you’re definitely not likely to need one more than one full magazine if you ever do go to the gun. But you never know, and throwing an extra mag on your belt doesn’t cost you much. It takes up little space and adds little weight, and that extra weight can actually help balance you out a bit if you wear the mag on the opposite side of your body from where you carry your gun. Will you ever need it? Probably not. But it’s one of those things that if you ever do need it, absolutely nothing else will suffice.
2. A Non-Lethal Self-Defense Option
You know that old saying that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail? It’s 100 percent applicable to the gun world. Not every uncomfortable or threatening situation you’re in requires lethal force, but if a gun is the only tool you have access to, your options are limited. Maybe that weird guy who’s getting a little handsy needs a face full of pepper spray, but he probably doesn’t need to be shot dead. That panhandler who keeps bugging you for money at the gas station will probably leave you alone if you pull out a Taser, without you having to draw a firearm on him. You’ll have to judge the level of self-defense that’s needed in a given scenario, but less-than-lethal options let you handle those situations where a gun isn’t necessary but a firm “no, leave me alone” isn’t cutting it.
Be sure you know the laws regarding pepper spray, stun guns or Tasers and other less-than-lethal self-defense options in your locale.
3. A First-Aid Kit
Whether it’s gun-related or not, it’s quite possible that someday you’ll be in a situation where you or someone else could use some fixing up. A first-aid kit comes in handy. I keep a travel kit in my vehicle and a small handmade kit in my purse—basically a little pouch with band-aids, blister bandages and individual alcohol wipes. It’s not much, but those blister bandages in particular have doctored up my feet and fingers on several out-of-town trips, and believe me, I was thankful I had them.
You can buy pre-made first-aid kits or put together your own. The Red Cross has a nice list of what to include if you’re building a kit, and it includes things like antibiotic ointment, compresses, nonlatex gloves, Aspirin, tweezers, a thermometer, assorted bandages and gauzes and more. For us gun people, a tourniquet, trauma shears and some QuikClot Combat Gauze are smart additions. Though gun shot accidents at the range are very rare and any gun shot victim is going to need immediate medical care, you can apply life-saving emergency measures until EMTs arrive if you are properly equipped and know what you’re doing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take a basic CPR and first-aid lesson so you have some idea of how to help in a medical emergency.
4. A Knife
No, I’m not advocating using a knife as a self-defense weapon—although if that’s all you have or all you’re allowed, it’s better than nothing. If a knife is your self-defense plan, please get some specific training, because knife fighting is on a whole other level.
I’m talking about a pocketknife, the kind you use for cutting a loose string off your shirt, peeling an apple at lunch, opening a box, or any other one of a million little chores that a knife will come in handy for. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve taken my pocketknife out of my purse or pocket because I was getting on a plane, only to get to my destination and need it for some little task and wish I had thrown it in my checked bag.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to have a million attachments, Swiss-Army style (although those, or a good multi-tool, can be handy). Just a simple folding knife will do, and it’ll come in handy more often than you can imagine.
A few honorable mentions that I keep in my purse and consider part of my EDC: a small flashlight, earplugs (because what if you get to the range and forget yours?), ibuprofen, Immodium and some antacids, and a plastic fork. It hasn’t happened yet, but I keep waiting for an emergency cake situation to present itself, and then I’ll be glad I have that fork!