More often than not I encounter women who have their concealed-carry permit yet leave their gun at home. During the first six months after receiving my permit I did too. Just like so many, I was almost more fearful of being underprepared to bring the gun than I was about my own safety. I had the gun, holster, belt and more than a few hours spent down range, but had no idea how to transition from the range to carrying every day. What was missing? The tools and the knowledge to address the moments before, during and after the critical seconds when shots are fired. I had never heard of an EDC (every-day carry) kit until the desire to be fully prepared brought me back to the store to accessorize appropriately.
For many women, having an understanding of what key tools and skills are essential to avoid, survive and thrive past a deadly-force encounter makes the difference in living the concealed-carry lifestyle.
Selecting the essential items for your EDC kit is about choosing purpose-specific, quality, functional items that give you as much advantage in a fight as possible. Tools that help you avoid or evade an attack are a good place to start.
Without proper vision you are compromising your situational awareness and therefore giving your potential attacker a significant advantage. Simply put, what you can’t see can hurt you. This goes for dark places as well as extremely bright ones. A carefully chosen handheld light source and polarized glasses allow you the most visibility and the greatest opportunity to avoid a potential attack.
Selecting a light from the hundreds on the market can be a bit overwhelming. Choose a quality metal light that fits comfortably in your hand and in a coat pocket. How bright does it need to be? The highest lumen output you can afford is the best option to go with. The goal is to simulate high-noon daylight in the darkest of places so you can avoid a problem as far away from it as possible. A handheld light with an aggressive crenulated bezel can also serve as a less-lethal striking tool if things get up close and personal.
Sunglasses are an every day item we take for granted. You probably already carry a pair with you, or at least have a pair in your car. Sunglasses maintain your ability to comfortably see your surroundings and prevent limited vision caused by squinting. I wear Rudy Project Rydon glasses. They are stylish, kid-proof, have flexible lenses, are polarized and very comfortable.
Hopefully, you will never have to use your concealed-carry pistol to defend your life. You realize that bad things can happen, and you have chosen to be prepared if they do. Carrying concealed means you have taken responsibility for your own safety regardless of the crime statistics in your hometown. Why then would you carry an extra magazine if the odds are you wouldn’t even have use your gun? For the very same reason you carry in the first place: you’d rather have your gun and not need it than need it and not have it. I would rather have a spare magazine, especially when carrying a subcompact with limited ammo capacity, than need those additional life-saving rounds and not have them. Whether to stop multiple attackers, if you’re a poor shot under stress or possibly suffer a nasty malfunction, that extra magazine could mean the difference between having a functional gun or a fist full of useless metal in the fight of your life.
A few simple tools at your fingertips allow you the empowering ability to solve your own problems without having to ask for help from a stranger. A knife that is legal in your state and a multitool are essential EDC items. The knife has a utilitarian function, as well as a last-resort fighting option if you have some training to accompany it.
The multitool is arguably the most overlooked piece of EDC kit you can carry. You can “MacGyver” minor mechanical issues on your own, fix kids toys no matter where you are, and be every Boy Scout’s hero. The best part is they come in all sizes, from as small as a tube of chapstick to the size of your palm, so finding one that fits your needs is a Google search away. The MultiTasker multitool is a gun-specific design, yet versatile enough for every-day use. Carrying this mini toolbox helps eliminate the opportunity for someone to see you as easy prey for a minor fix.
The big “no-kidding” item in your kit is your cell phone. Beware the trap of “phone focus” in public spaces that eliminates your situational awareness and gives an attacker the ultimate advantage of surprise. The phone is your means of letting family know where you are with a quick text and is your lifeline to law enforcement and emergency medical care. Strategically, it needs to be located somewhere in your purse or on your person that you can access quickly, and preferably with your non-firing hand.
Knowing that your phone will likely be taken into evidence when the police arrive, have your attorney’s business card in your wallet. This card can be handed over to the authorities without jeopardizing the investigation if you haven’t committed your lawyer’s number to memory.
What happens after shots have been fired and you are no longer in danger? Your immediate action is to conduct a self check and make sure you aren’t critically hurt. A wound to an artery can be fatal if not treated appropriately and quickly. Having the tools and skills to render aid for different types of injuries is absolutely critical to carrying concealed.
The time it takes from sustaining the injury, making the 911 call and police rendering the scene safe for EMTs to come find you, can be as little as a few minutes or as long as a few hours. Having a med kit on you and the ability to keep blood in the body no longer makes you seem paranoid. Dark Angel Medical offers the Pocket D.A.R.K. Mini that has everything you need in a small compact package. Whether the injury is yours, a stranger’s or loved ones, you are the first one on scene and it is up to you to take action, stay in the fight and stay alive until the professionals arrive.
Just like your phone, the med kit should be staged in your bag or on your person in a place you can get to quickly and easily. Invest in the training to know how to use the life-saving materials in your med kit. The good news is you don’t have to be a Harvard med grad to learn how to apply a tourniquet or a rocket scientist to know how to identify a wound.
Blending the gun and all of its supporting gear into a daily routine discretely, seamlessly and effortlessly is empowering. Unlike our male counterparts, most women don’t wear baggy cargo pants with ample pocket space to hide a pile of gear. We do carry purses, pocketbooks, backpacks and clutches almost every day, however. Just like your gun, you need to access these tools quickly. Combining the Raven Concealment Moduloader Pocket Shield with a Blueforce Gear double pistol mag pouch, for example, makes an efficient and modular carrier.
Fill the pockets or clip-on items so that they are in the same place every time. Position the kit in an outer pocket that you can get to quickly without having to unbuckle or unzip if possible. Not only does this setup keep your tools at your fingertips, it is easy to move from one bag to the next. Changing out your day bag for an evening bag no longer means having to leave key EDC items at home.
Strategically invest in quality equipment and functional tools. Ultimately, the concealed-carry lifestyle goes beyond the retail investment and requires an ongoing commitment to learn and train. Sure, there are other items that can be incorporated into this kit such as pepper spray and tasers, and there are both on- and off-body carry options in addition to your pocketbook setup. It’s all in the training.
In the moments before, during and after the gun is drawn there are only a few pieces of kit you will be reaching for or wishing you had. ASJ