Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.
Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:
- Five Grip Improvements for Your Pistol
- Top Five Most Comfortable Concealed Carry Locations
- Five Ways to Improve Situational Awareness
- Shoot Better with These Top Five Tips for Firearms Training
- Top 5 Ways to Carry Concealed When Dressed Up
EDC, or Every Day Carry, gets a lot of interest these days and for good reason: Carrying a concealed handgun for personal protection is riding a wave of public support. Also, the amount and variety of related portable gear has never been better.
Assuming you carry at least a gun and a folding knife — and probably obvious items, such as a mobile phone, a wallet and keys — you might benefit from carrying a few more items with you. That’s a lot of gear, yes, but a lot of usefulness goes with it. Here are my top five EDC essentials by product category. I actually carry more than this, but usually not less.
1. Spare Ammunition
And not just any ammo but ammo I’ve tested in my carry gun. Whether I’m carrying an extra magazine or two or a speedloader or speed strip, in an altercation, it just makes sense to be prepared to go further than I think I’ll need to.
Generally, I carry spare ammunition in my weak-side front pocket or in a weak-side belt holster of some kind. If I’m carrying an autoloading pistol, I carry at least one but sometimes two magazines; depends on the gun.
With a revolver, I’ll carry two speed strips or one speedloader. (Why not two speedloaders? I have no idea.) With reloads on my person, the load on my belt gets balanced out and I gain a bit more confidence.
2. Pocket Tactical Light
Tactical lights come in all shapes and sizes and plenty exist that are small enough for a pocket. The one I carry isn’t the biggest or the brightest. In fact, it’s relatively inexpensive, so if I lose it, no big deal.
But there is such a thing as “bright enough” and “tough enough” — especially if it’s handy enough that I’ll take it with me wherever I go.
I carry my small tactical light clipped to my weak-side front pocket or clipped to my belt where hardly anyone ever notices it. It takes a cheap, easy-to-find AA battery and has a simple tail switch.
3. Tactical Pen
Residing in my shirt pocket is a tactical pen. Generally, the pen is made from an aluminum alloy and 99 percent of the time it gets used as a pen. But if I need a pointed impact weapon, it’s there, ready for fast deployment.
Sometimes, I’ll carry the pen in my weak hand, just to have it at the ready if I sense a situation escalating and I’m plotting an escape route. Of all the EDC gear I have the opportunity to use, a tactical pen easily gets close to being on my person all the time.
For the record, I’ve traveled by air twice this year with two different tactical pens in a carry-on bag. TSA never blinked. So, I can have at least some kind of self-defense tool if I’m not traveling with a knife or a gun.
These pocket toolboxes have undergone years of transformation and only get better. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be equipped with a myriad of useful tools. When I pick a multi-tool, I couldn’t care less about the type of knife, as the folding knife in my pocket handles virtually all the cutting duties. But I do pay attention to the other tools.
Features I look for include pliers that are as near to needle-nose as I can get, and I also want a wire cutter built into those pliers. After that, I enjoy having a couple screwdrivers, a scraper or pry of some kind and a bottle opener. I prefer the multi-tools that open one-handed and have tools that lock in place.
Multi-pliers get carried in my messenger bag or in my vehicle. I’m not too keen on carrying them in a pocket — too heavy and clunky — nor on my belt in a sheath — too much hanging on my belt already. But they are always within fairly easy reach no matter where I am. (They’re more of a fix-it kind of tool than a self-defense tool anyway.)
5. Backup Knife
Another reason I don’t care a whole lot about what kind of knife my multi-tool has is because I also carry a backup knife. This will be a light duty, lightweight knife that (for me) will be a fixed blade. Folding is fine, but for a backup, fixed is better.
You might find a backup knife in my messenger bag or sometimes on my person — on my belt or carried in an ankle holster.
This is one of those pieces of gear that, if seen, causes people to look at me with a quizzical look. You know the one: “Why do you carry that? You’ve already got a gun…” So, I keep it concealed.
Other gear I carry regularly but not every day includes a length of paracord, duct tape, a space blanket, a first-aid kit, a keychain light and a carabiner. I could get into the outerwear I keep handy for weather emergencies and then get into bug-out gear, but that’s not every day stuff. Watch for an article on that stuff later. For now, however, those are my top five EDC essentials; I’d love to hear about yours.
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.