Transforming your Purse or Man Bag into a Life-Saving Kit
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY TATIANA WHITLOCK
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 under prepared 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.
LIGHT & SIGHT 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.
PROBLEM SOLVERS 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.
SURVIVE AND THRIVE 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.
SET UP FOR SUCCESS
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. AmSJ
Better question, do you know about all the options available to help carry extra ammunition?
Even better question, do you understand the differences between the different styles and brands of CCW mag holders?
If you don’t know, I have good news…
We are going to explore the idea of carrying extra ammo and the practical considerations of a concealed carry magazine holder, including what features a mag holder has to have to be a great addition to your carry lineup.
We are also going to suggest a few of our favorite methods of carrying an extra mag or two, and where to buy them to best save your hard-earned dollars
Now, you six gun guys and gals may be feeling a little left out, but don’t worry!
I get it, I really do, but today we are focusing on the folks who carry automatics. Your time will come, and we’ll discuss practical carry of extra ammunition for six gunners soon, but for now, let’s see talk about mag holders.
Why You Need One
Carrying a semi-automatic is generally the more popular option for concealed carriers. With little effort, you can carry a relatively substantial amount of ammunition in a tiny package.
One of the other main benefits of this is, of course, the ability to rapidly reload should you need to
Now, to be completely realistic the likelihood of ever needing to reload your firearm in a defensive situation is very, very low. Clear statistics aren’t really out there, but there is a general consensus that the majority of defensive firearms uses do not involve extensive gunfights.
However, the likelihood of ever really having to pull your firearm is low in the first place.
With this in mind, we all still conceal carry – correct? We carry because it’s a right, and because if we ever fall into that statistical outlier of being in a violent situation we want a means to defend ourselves.
With that in mind, I’ve always found it bizarre that half the gun community seems to think to carry an extra magazine makes you are a mall ninja.
Yes, it is superbly unlikely I’ll ever need an extra magazine. However, it’s superbly unlikely that I, a normal, law-abiding, reluctantly-tax-paying citizen will ever need my gun, but I carry it anyways.
The same goes for an extra magazine. Maybe it’s just from my time as a Machine Gunner in the Marine Corps, but more ammo is always better than less ammo in my simple grunt mind.
That Other Reason
The other big reason to carry an extra magazine is in case of malfunctions.
First and foremost, magazines fail. Some more than others, but it can and does happen. In a situation where you have a magazine malfunction, you don’t have time to try and fix the magazine.
Drop it and reload with your spare.
An extra magazine makes it easier to recover from a malfunction and to get back into the fight and can aid in clearing nearly any complicated malfunction.
If you get a complicated malfunction like a double feed, the best thing to do to remedy the situation is to remove the magazine to clear the malfunction.
It’s quicker to drop the magazine, clear the malfunction, and then reload with a fresh mag. Plus you now have more rounds on tap.
Carrying an extra magazine isn’t hard, it’s much easier than trying to carrying a gun, and not that much different than carrying a pocket knife. Since most guns come with two or more mags anyway it just seems like common sense to carry one extra.
The 5 Desirable Features of a CCW Mag Holder
Concealed carry mag holders, like holsters, are available at really any quality and price point. Some out there are better suited for range use, or to use when shooting airsoft guns. Others are better suited for tactical use.
In the middle somewhere we have CCW mag holders designed for concealed carry. There are 5 features I think every CCW mag holder needs to have to be effective and worth the money.
Easy to Conceal
The key to a CCW mag holder is the big C in CCW. C being concealed of course. Your magazine pouch needs to be easy to conceal.
There are a few options for concealed carry and follow most holster configurations. This includes IWB, OWB, and pocket carry methods. Some systems are more suited for duty belts and are often wider, and easier to access for sure.
However, when worn on the belt they tend to print a helluva lot more than a purpose-built concealed carry magazine pouch. Typically a pocket or IWB option is naturally very easy to conceal carry.
A concealable OWB option is typically designed to be held tight to the body and can ride high if worn vertically. Horizontal is another concealed carry option with OWB that’s a bit odd, but extremely effective.
The last thing you want to happen while carrying an extra mag is for the pouch to break. Especially if you spent hard earned money on it. Concealed carry mag pouches are exposed to everything you are exposed to.
This includes your sweat, rain, varying temperatures, as well as tons of movement, vibration, and stress. So you want to buy one that’s made to last, from a material that’s resistant to these stressors.
The best materials are generally leather and polymers, but a few high-quality synthetic cloth materials options out there.
Ease of Use
Ease of use generally refers to how easy it is to draw the magazine from the pouch. This has to do more with what standard the user is willing to train to. If you want an active retention device you’ll have to train to overcome it.
You’ll need a model that is appropriately sized for your handguns magazine. Take a look at these Glock magazines. They are the same width, but of course, one is way longer than the other.
If your magazine is too long the weight of the ammunition will make it unstable, and easily fall out of the pouch. If it’s too short it will be nearly impossible to remove the magazine with ease. So remember to find an appropriately sized magazine pouch.
We mentioned retention a little above, and there are two types of retention, active and passive. Active retention means there is a physical device you have to defeat to access your magazine. Passive retention means the magazine is retained without an active device.
With CCW mag holders the only real retention device is an overhead flap. These are typically secured via a button and hold the magazine in place effortlessly. The mag is highly unlikely to accidentally fall out of this style pouch.
The downsides to active retention holsters are they are slower to utilize and take more training time to learn to effectively use.
Passive retention is most often friction based. The magazine pouches are slightly smaller than the magazine, but can still fit the magazine. The tension and friction from the magazine pouch keep it in place.
Passive retention devices are easier to use and are often sufficient to retain the magazine. It is more likely you’ll drop a magazine, but still unlikely with a well-made mag pouch.
When it comes to passive retention it’s critical you choose a magazine pouch designed for the magazine you are using. Glock 19 magazines, for example, are wider than CZ 75 magazines. So you need to pay attention to the width of the magazine the mag pouch is aimed at, or passive retention is useless.
Lastly, like any gun holster, a mag pouch needs to be comfortable while being carried concealed. Sharp corners and abrasive materials are a big no-go, as are ill-placed seams. You need something comfortable if you are going to be carrying it tight to your body.
If it’s not comfortable then you won’t carry it. If you don’t carry it, it’s worthless.
IWB, OWB or Pocket?
So there are three main ways to carry an extra magazine. Just like a firearm, you can carry it inside the waistband (IWB), outside the waistband (OWB) and Pocket carry. There are additional options, like the mag pouches built into certain shoulder holsters or attached to IWB Appendix holsters.
Today, however, we are going to talk about the magazine pouches that are independent of holsters. The most common CCW Mag holders are the styles listed above.
IWB magazine holders offer the most concealment, especially mag pouches that can be worn with a tucked in shirt. These are called tuckable options. Since they sit in the waistband they often have incredibly effective passive retention devices.
The downsides to IWB carry is a lot of people find it uncomfortable in general. I’m incredibly picky about IWB carry and only trust a few companies to really give me a comfortable option. That might just be the price I pay for a tactical fat guy.
Your mileage may vary.
OWB is my preferred style of concealing an extra ammo pouch, and my gun, and my knife. I find it to be the most comfortable and quickest to access. Of course, to do so I have to say goodbye to a tucked in shirt.
Outside the waistband, carry is the most popular option for magazine pouches and what you’ll traditionally find the most options in. OWB options need to be made to conceal since many are made for tactical applications.
You’ll also find both active and passive retention choices in this category. As far as I’m aware this is the only category that features active retention options.
Like a handgun, you don’t want to throw a magazine in your pocket and call it a day. The dirt, grime, and lint in your pocket will make you instantly regret that decision. It’ll gum a magazine up pretty fast without a popper pocket carry mag pouch.
This method of carrying is gaining steam due to convenience. Unlike a handgun, almost all magazines can be pocket carried. There are a wide variety of pocket carry options and it’s a very comfortable way to carry.
The downside being reaching into your pocket is not as always possible in some positions. Trying to dig into my left-hand pocket while kneeling simply isn’t gonna happen.
Some Modest Selections
If you are looking to for a concealed carry mag holder I have a few suggestions. I’ll suggest specific models, but the companies I’m suggesting in general produce very high-quality mag pouches, so feel free to explore the other options they produce.
Gould and Goodrich
If you are a classic leather lover you can’t go wrong with Gould and Goodrich. They produce awesome holsters and awesome magazine pouches. They do have a focus on OWB mag pouches and offer models with both active and passive retention.
For Concealed carry, I’d suggest the Gold Line Single Mag case. This leather mag pouch is very versatile and comes with an adjustable tension device that will allow you to carry almost any double stack magazine. This is an OWB device and is cut low enough to access a compact magazine.
This simple little case is quite affordable, easy to use, and simplistic.
The Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed Single Mag Pouch
I as a rule generally stay away from most synthetic cloth based anything when it comes to concealed carry. I’m not a big fan of universal nylon gear. However, Blue Force Gear does it right with just about everything they do, so I trust them.
Blue Force Gear Belt Mounted Ten-Speed Pistol Magazine Pouch
Their Ten Speed Single Mag pouch is made from a combination of ULTRAcomp and ten speed elastic. The Elastic front allows you to utilize nearly any magazine, be it a single stack, or a double stack.
It’s an OWB option and can be worn vertically or horizontally. Horizontal carry is very easy to conceal, and quite intuitive once you train with it. Blue Force Gear makes great stuff and this CCW Mag holder is no different.
Desantis Mag Pack
Desantis makes some pretty awesome pocket holsters for guns. When in my day job work attire I utilize one to conceal carry my little Walther. The Desantis Mag pack is made from the same synthetic material they make their holsters from.
This material is textured to keep it in the pocket when you draw the magazine from. This mag pouch fills your front pocket and presents the magazines at an excellent angle for easy drawing. The Desantis Mag pouch is also quite affordable, and the design naturally breaks up the outline of the magazine.
Carrying a little extra ammunition isn’t a difficult thing to do. With the right mag pouch, it’s comfortable, easy to do, and concealable. Just remember, like a holster you want a quality option, not the cheapest option.
If you’re want to learn more about CCW, take a look at ourDefinitive CCW Guidefor all of our reviews and recommendations.
We want to hear from you, do you carry spare ammunition? If not why? If you do, how do you carry it?