9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 1 Stop The Nonsense!

If it takes you more than several seconds to “gear up” for a trip to 7/11, you probably need to re-evaluate your approach to concealed carry.

It seems like every day in my inbox there are four items that are the new mandatory concealed-carry hotness. And every semi-famous gun dude that has ever been interviewed makes sure to include a glossy spread of the 15 pieces of kit he won’t leave the house without. This constant bombardment of “must-have” products must be overwhelming to new concealed carriers as well as hard on their wallets.

But I have some good news for you; it’s all nonsense! Some of these gun dorks are rolling heavier than actual commandos working in third world combat zones, doing the ultimate level of “concealed carry.” Usually in an Adidos or Puna track suit (Yes, the spelling is intentional. Not all knockoffs are good knockoffs).

Check out all the episodes in this series:

The barrier to entry for a reliable, functional, concealed carry setup is not that high. At no point will you need a thousand dollar ninja star. There are a few things you can buy to make your life easier, but most of what you see as the new latest and greatest is unnecessary — or worse, it’s junk that just gets in the way.

You probably don’t need a street-legal SAW (FN’s M249 S Para) in your carry arsenal.

The same goes for the people teaching concealed carry concepts. I see things preached as gospel all the time that leave me shaking my head. There are very few people on earth I would trust to teach practical gunfighting skills and the first question I always ask is, “Has this person done this in an environment that matters?”

Pretty much anyone with real ground truth on these matters is going to fall into one of three categories: undercover cops, agents, and operators. Anyone else has most likely been playing dress up. And even in those categories, I would want to see a couple of gray hairs.

I’ve done this for real and my gear situation is nowhere near sexy enough to make a good Instagram post. I have four “Levels of Carry” and that has been enough for every environment I have ever been in. Maybe substitute a machine gun and grenade launchers in the trunk of the car for Level 4, but that is about the only change I’d make going from a civilian world to an actual combat zone.

Level 1

Springfield XD-S in a leather holster. That’s it. I like the XD-S because it fits my hands well.  But substitute a Smith & Wesson Shield, Ruger LCP, or Glock 43 as needed. No reload, no pocket full of loose rounds, no nunchucks! This is the ice cream at midnight loadout. It fits in my pajama pants if I need it to and for most problems it is going to be enough. Eight rounds total.

Level 1A– Same gun, and a spare magazine or a Spartan fixed blade in place of the magazine. It’s usually the fixed blade, only because I live in a state where that is legal. Total round count: 15.

Level 2

This is for occasions where I’m going somewhere potentially sketchy and I feel like the possibility of a gunfight is elevated, but still unlikely. If it was likely, I would take a rifle and some see-in-the-dark goggles. Glock 23, spare magazine. Total rounds 28. The spare magazine is a full-size 15 rounder. If it goes that pear shaped, I want a big boy mag!

Level 3

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Also known as the protection duty setup. Glock 34, multiple reloads, fixed blade, and a flashlight. If someone has hired you as a bodyguard at the wages professionals charge, they may very well have a real abnormal threat matrix. This calls for the potential of an above average response. If you are protecting a celebrity or a billionaire or someone that wrote something bad about Islam, you might face ambushes, kidnapping attempts, bomb threats among other unpleasantries. If you are lucky enough to survive long enough to get your gun out, it might be time to hide behind the wall of lead.

This is also the only place I carry a flashlight, and I actually carry two. If my gun is going to be outside the waistband, it might as well have a flashlight on it. I might also need to do trauma management in the dark, probably best to use a flashlight not attached to the gun. This is a borderline absurd level of stuff to carry on a normal basis and not what I need for a 7/11 run. At least not yet. I haven’t been to U.C. Berkeley recently. Total rounds: north of 60.

Level 4

This is the loadout where most people should stay home, including me. But we are also freedom-loving Americans, so if we want to go spectate during a riot, that is our God-given right. This is also a good choice for post-disaster neighborhood patrols if you live in a region prone to looting. This is hard armor, a rifle, and all the stuff from level 3. It’s stretching the limits of what we consider concealed, but with the rifle stuffed in the passenger footwell of your truck, you could still hide it all. Total rounds, a lot!


The point here is you don’t need a pile of hardware to carry concealed in your daily life. Gunfighting is a lot like fist fighting, when it comes to training. You can train hard, without a lot of flashy stuff, and learn how to do it well. Or you can spend your time and money on a flashy G.I. and learn to break boards. In my experience, when the chips are down, the results are just what you would think.

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

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  • Jarrod July 5, 2019, 1:39 pm

    I was one of those losers. After a detached retina I got a little scared to move around with limited sight. I went from a full-size iwb mp9 to shield with a couple mags on me. Now I carry Glock 43x with an extra mag in the car.
    In 45 years I’ve been robbed twice. Once the mere reaching for a gun disrupted the robbery. The other I had to draw my gun and they ran off.
    I’m older and wiser and don’t go to places I feel I need a big-ass gun.
    This article was great and thanks for your service.

  • J.R. January 4, 2019, 2:10 pm

    Anyone know who makes that plate carrier???

    • Steven February 24, 2019, 11:19 pm

      Here is where you can find the plate carrier.

  • K.J.T. December 24, 2017, 3:47 pm

    Hey Clay! Thanks for the great vids! I was wondering what holster you are using for that level 3 setup?

  • Russ H. October 29, 2017, 5:03 pm

    I can\’t help but howl with laughter at all the wannabees that carry so much crap – EDC gun, backup gun, backup for the backup, six magazines for each, two flashlights, mace, capstun, couple of knives, expandable baton, brass knuckles and so on… I was a state trooper and a detective for over 22 years, been in the Army for over 39 years, multiple combat zones, SF for ten years, yada, yada, yada. As for these so called \”instructors\” who experience consists of nothing more than a couple NRA certificates, well, better than nothing but stop claiming what an \”expert\” you are in gunfighting and self-defense skills. I carry a G43 with eight rounds – that\’s it. If for some reason I\’m going into a sketchy area, I\’ll bring an extra magazine. I\’ve carried an automatic pocket knife the Army issued me decades ago for as long as I can remember because a pocket knife is a very handy tool. I\’ve carried a handgun since 1986. Meh, carry what you like but you begin losing credibility with each needless \”highspeed\” flavor of the month item you haul around and begin looking like a wannabee operator. Tan tactical vests are absolutely the biggest giveaway.

  • Mike G October 2, 2017, 7:19 pm

    G26 in OWB Kydex paddle on a dedicated purpose-built gun belt, one or two 15 round mags, a belt knife, and a Streamlight AAA light with spare battery.
    No laser, gun light or anything else I have to actually think about using…because I’ll probably be too scared spitless to think and all my fingers will be like thumbs.
    That’s my usual EDC. Even in carry states where you can’t ‘print’ at all this wears well under a typical short sleeve shirt.
    At night I also carry a Surefire or Fenix ultra-bright light. I have it in my hand in areas I’m not comfortable in. One shot of 300 lumens in a bad guy’s eyes and all he sees for the next 30 seconds is stars. (I hope.)
    Massad Ayoob taught me more about carrying a gun than the US Navy did. (I’m only exaggerating a little.)
    The aftermath of even the most necessary and justifiable shooting can be so traumatizing that I’d do just about anything to avoid pulling the trigger.
    If I could share a very educational personal experience about modes of carry:
    For years I carried in a shoulder holster. One night in Macon GA I was switching trucks in a yard when two of the ‘locals’ appeared from nowhere and walked right toward me. I was caught between two trucks with nowhere to go. Fortunately they weren’t up to anything and passed me without incident…but all I could think of is how far away that gun was.
    Now it’s strong side belt carry within a hand’s width at all times.

  • Marc September 6, 2017, 12:38 pm

    Clay Martin, I normally don’t read through an article by one of you magazine article/web blogger know it all double top secret arrogant machines of death and know it alls of tactics and everything else gun related on earth. As a matter of fact I think most of you guys are pathetic and given a real up close and personal situation where fists, knives or bullets might fly, you’d wet yourself and yell for your puppies. This was a GREAT article. Over the last 25 years, I have had to load out with all kinds of “stuff”. I don’t like carrying all of that crap and when someone tells you they carry it on a daily basis for nothing more than going to the gas station I call BULLSH*T. My daily carry is a G26 with Pearce magazine extension. I do carry a backup magazine, usually a Glock 17 Mag with a Pearce extension. If I have to go to an area that I know is more hostile I carry a 7.5″ 5.56 and spare mags in a jump bag. It’s smart to be prepared for trouble (if it comes) otherwise, situational awareness and DON’T GO LOOKING FOR IT!!! Keep it real and everybody stay safe.

  • Ktcarpentry September 6, 2017, 9:47 am

    Fantastic that someone finally said it. You’re never going to need it, BUT… better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. That said, every single failure to feed has been due to magazine issues. So, EDC is a Beretta Cheetah .380, one or two spare magazines in Sticky pouches in my offside pocket, usually a pocket knife of some kind. The kids always have Legos or candy that needs opening. Sunglasses and my wallet with my Illinois CCW permit and my emergency contact card for CCW Safe. Illinois requires not only that you be permitted, but that the actual card is on your body at all times. If you forgot the card, they treat you as if you never took the class, never received the permit. That’s it. Ready for the barber shop and bookstore.

  • Shawn August 30, 2017, 10:44 am

    J. Gillet. Good call. I wear my rainbow shirt that says, “This is my Killing Shirt”, fits right in. Clay, as always, great vid. Stay human.

  • Stephen August 24, 2017, 1:33 am

    Great video. Can you advise the brand name of the body armor you were showing.


    Semper Fi…..’64 – ’70 Marine Infantry

  • Jack August 22, 2017, 4:56 pm

    After attending a steel shoot, I now carry a Keltec PMR30 as the eyes got older and the hand got shaky, more is better, (Lots More)
    Have a friend ex SAS he tells me to start firing as soon as I get my hand on my weapon, I tell him I get into a firefight I’m calling him.

  • Michael Hawkins August 22, 2017, 12:42 pm

    I also have an XDS for pocket carry and haven’t liked the holsters I’ve seen. May I ask what you’re using? Or what you like? Thanks. Nice video, very informative and realistic.

  • Chuck August 22, 2017, 9:37 am

    Clay Great Video Thanks, Question
    On your level 3 set up who makes the outside carry holster you show in the video for your Glock 43 Thanks

  • JRP August 16, 2017, 4:56 pm

    Thirty two years in law enforcement in a large metro PD. Retired now and now carry IWB concealed a Smith 642 or a small LC9 pro. I use Speer gold dot ammo. I’m consider a great escape is better then a good shoot. I don’t want to be under the scope of a liberal DA somewhere and have to lawyer up so as to continue my freedom / retirement years. #1 – stay out of legal entanglements as much as possible. My best advise to all concerned.

  • NoOneOfConsequence August 2, 2017, 4:55 am

    I thought the whole ‘Levels’ to carrying concealed in this article was and is silly. But, to be fair, many of the commenters here seem to dig it. I will pile on about the lack of white light tool as basic EDC. Having a light aids you to see (duh). 70%-80% of your overall sensory information received is through your eyes. Being able to visually discriminate between a threat and non-threat is an absolute fundamental necessity. If you can’t see, you can’t shoot. Plus, you’ll find a light is useful any other time during your day or night in non-stress situations where it’s helpful to see something that the ambient light doesn’t touch. Lastly, don’t go cheap on a light. Why would anyone spend $300-$1000+ on a gun, but $12 on a flashlight that you intend to count on to save your life (or help prevent you from making the biggest mistake of your life)? Buy once, cry once. Oh, and yes I’ve been shot at and shot back, done this for real for a long time and it makes no difference to me if you’re impressed or not.

  • Slant33 July 27, 2017, 10:31 pm

    Now, THAT is a great tip! 😀 Thank you very very much! :

  • Mark July 21, 2017, 4:25 pm

    What happened to the video? Is there another link?

  • Bobby July 19, 2017, 1:54 pm

    Great article. I try to avoid levels 3 and 4. The rest of the time I carry a GP-100 4, .357 mag with 2 quick strips, total 18 rounds, and ALWAYS

  • Andrew Reagan June 29, 2017, 10:39 pm

    Your already defeated

    • R. Downing August 10, 2017, 11:08 am

      You are what the rest of us are looking out for that make the rest of us look bad, get a life.

  • Sam J June 29, 2017, 10:35 pm

    Very informative article, especially in these days and times, but Dude, where in the hell is your magazine in that picture. Are you unloaded and not ready at all times?

  • PA June 29, 2017, 8:45 pm

    Love when he pulls the snubby out of his sock and when he stans up its gaot a 6 inch barrel. Haha!!

  • Andy S June 29, 2017, 5:58 am

    Curious – why do you prefer a G34 vs a G17 for Level 3? the longer slide?

  • Will Drider June 29, 2017, 12:52 am

    OMG! Other gun rag editors and sales/marketing directors are going to go nutz!!! Finally someone has spoken the truth regarding “Practical Carry” and I Salute your effort. I have used the following since the LA Riots:
    1. Gun and knife per your proficiency. Extra mags accessible/staged in vehicle. Add extra mag(s) to carry when desired. Mags at home are worthless when your not there. These mags are always in the vehicle,
    2. Any trip beyond XX (your call) miles add gas piston pistol(*) or folding stock carbine w/sling, 7 mags in carrier, a quality flash light to vehicle. Gear stays in vehicle, gun moves from/to house with you daily.
    * In Fl, a citizen may have loaded handgun in their vehicle as long as it is “encased” (snapped in holster, in a closed compartment (not required to lock) or in a case or box: WITHOUT A CWP! Gas piston pistols are shorter and like folding carbines offer greater mobility inside a vehicle and more concealable when not needed.

  • J. Gillett June 28, 2017, 8:49 pm

    When you come to U.C. Berkeley in Berkeley be sure to have at least one T shirt on under your outside cover with either a rainbow, Unicorn, or some other weirdo symbol on it. All Berkeley police officers are instructed to gather the victim status onto any reports. That is a BPD office shows up to any conflict and the first words out of his or her mouth is; “who is the victim here?”. And nothing proves your weirdo status as well a T shirt with unicorns and rainbows on it, maybe some glitter too. What ever you do, do not stand with good posture or any kind of squared away look about yourself. It is Orwellian in beserkeley now a days with down is up and left is right. So be careful when you are in town here. /// Thanks for the good articles here. James

    • Mahatma Muhjesbude July 4, 2017, 9:01 am

      Good tip, J. Gillet. Last time I was in Berkeley, I wore my T-shirt with the AR-15 on it that said…’Is it because I’m Black?’

  • DBC June 28, 2017, 6:59 pm

    That last bit about wanting to be in a gunfight, mothers milk to DA’s and those representing the bad guys!
    Liked the sporting clay vest doing double duty as a SMF vest!
    Best way to avoid ninety five percent of dangerous encounters, Situational Awareness.., also the most underused!

  • Russ H. June 28, 2017, 6:45 pm

    When I looked at what was in my pockets when I go out I found a super mini maglite on my keychain, an Army issued Gerber switchblade that clips into my pocket (I\’ve always carried a pocket knife) and a Bersa Thunder 380 CC I\’ve done some work on loaded with 9 rds of Hornady ammo. No spare mag, no pepper spray, no handcuffs, no expandable baton, no body armor, no nothing else. After retiring from the state police in AZ I wanted to carry as little as possible. I still serve as an Army Special Agent in the Army Reserve. When I worked as a PI for a few years I carried a Sig P239 in 40 S&W with an extra mag, plus the other stuff previously mentioned (minus the Bersa). I carried the 239 because I had to go into some pretty bad areas – not because I was a PI.I can\’t help but laugh at the mall ninjas that carry everything I\’ve mentioned on this post plus more AND who go looking for a fight! Most of these guys have never shot anyone nor been shot at but they know EVERYTHING about gunfighting and self defense. Some even have the audacity to teach this stuff. Pathetic.

  • CactusJim June 28, 2017, 6:19 pm

    I definitely agree with the concept of “keep it simple”. I usually carry a Kahr 9. six rounds. That’s it for 99 percent of journeys. When I walk my dog in the desert or mountains I carry a Smith & Wesson “Governor” loaded with .410 shotgun shells and (3) .45 long cartridges. If I’m out late in the downtown I’ll have a .44 magnum and something like my Taurus TCP .380 in a calf holster. I’d prefer to avoid the legal hassels of having to shoot someone, but I don’t really like people all that much so I think I could live with it if an assailant perished.

  • Michael Sitton June 28, 2017, 3:36 pm

    My wife, pastor and his wife know I carry. In fact it was my pastors wife who asked me to cary in our little country church. I am discrete about it as I observe who enters since I know most everyone there. My Smith Airweight is just fine and easy to handle. Yes, I hope that I never have to use it in a situation that will warrant it. Living with the knowledge that I took someone’s life would be hard. I try to find a way out of situations that could lead to disaster. Enjoy your article.

  • Paul DeRidder June 28, 2017, 3:14 pm

    Another great article except for the part about probably not needing a street-legal SAW. That sounds like exactly what I need at all times. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • John Hoglin June 28, 2017, 3:04 pm

    The first carry level is enough. Normal people do not knowingly go places that raise the threat level. So no need for half a dozen CC levels. Not that situations may not dictate a change such as a court decision on a racial case and you live inan urban area. Might want that street legal SAW then.

    • romney dickinson June 28, 2017, 10:10 pm

      Statement not true all the time. I lived in Memphis. Does that tell you anything? Years ago when it was not as wild as it is now I was going home from a venue downtown. Stopped on a ramp to enter interstate due to car in front also stopped. Whoops! Before I could analyze situation a car had blocked me from behind. Both cars had 4 to 5 gangstas inside. Oh God, what am I going to do? Didn’t carry back then. Don’t think it was legal. Did sometimes anyway. No weapon. So…..I exaggerated my movements to mimic retrieving a gun under the seat. They bit for it. Guess they only had bottles, knives, or ?????. Rear car backed up. Then I did and I took off like pure insanity to the interstate. That night I would loved to have had a few grenades. Or a full auto. You don’t have to go where there is trouble. Trouble can find you. Never know when. That is the point of carrying.

  • BRASS June 28, 2017, 1:28 pm

    I agree with Clay. I live where the temps are over 100 every day this time of year and above 70 most of the year. My build is a smaller version of Clays and I hate most inside the waist rigs. I dress casually with an untucked shirt, shorts often in the summer, Jeans or cargo pants otherwise.
    Generally I just don’t go where things are really likely to get ugly and I’m not out running around after dark in clubs, bars, or funky areas if I can avoid it. Common sense allows me to choose my environment most of the time.
    I carry an LCP with attached mini-laser & light in a pocket holster plus one spare mag in a side pocket and a neck knife. That’s it 90% of the time. Occasionaly a G27 w/spare mag in pancake holster plus a 3″ folder clipped.
    On a rare occasion I might add the LCP in an ankle holster to the G27 on my hip and a small fixed blade knife if I get a call to go help someone at night in an unknown area, but that is rare.
    Too much stuff is just not realistic.

    • Marvin Crane June 28, 2017, 2:37 pm

      ” Best way to when win A gun fight is not show up.” Wyatt Earp.
      My EDC changes with the weather. Summertime J frame in the pocket will do just fine .with formal wear or in the winter
      My 9 mm shield with one extra mag in the pocket is good enough. I tend to not go to gun fights. But coming home or leaving home always need heightened situational awareness.

  • Larry June 28, 2017, 12:25 pm

    Absolutely a great column! No BS, just facts. Thanks.

  • Tenbones June 28, 2017, 11:38 am

    Finally, a common sense approach to EDC. I have to shake my head at some of the suggestions from people who must fantasize about getting into gunfights with hoards of badguys.
    Clay’s KISS approach is direct and to the point. People shouldn’t need to EDC to level 3 or 4 unless they’re getting paid for it.

  • Wayne Clark June 28, 2017, 11:29 am

    Good info. I also think a flashlight is an essential edc item, basically because you never know when you may need some light on the subject. I got used to carrying one when I did maintenance work & it just stuck witn me. I only own one gun, a Beretta PX4 Storm Compact in an AG holster, so that is in my edc. Fits my hand & I’m a good shot with it. Also have a multi tool with knife, pliers , screwdrivers, & beer opener…ok…bottle opener. Once again, since I worked maintenance.
    It’s what you’re used to & subjective to preference. Not over the top but more than just a pistol.

    • JoshO June 28, 2017, 12:26 pm

      I agree. I don’t carry much besides a pistol but a small flashlight is something that I do carry and it gets a heck of a lot more use than the pistol!

    • Larry June 28, 2017, 12:27 pm

      I agree with the flashlight. You never know when you will find yourself in the dark & there are many small but good clipon models. Beretta Storm 40 cal sub compact in a pocket “sheath” for me. Stay safe out there, Wayne.

  • Jeff Eachus June 28, 2017, 11:13 am

    I look forward to the next update

  • LouisianaMan June 28, 2017, 11:13 am

    Glad to see what I consider “common sense” advice. Probably I should call it, “Come back to your senses!” advice.

    Since I used LBE I guess that makes me a true dinosaur now, but I can’t see trying to wear everything I had on my LBE in my civilian clothes. I live a vanilla lifestyle, so I don’t walk around equipped for a nuclear response accident/incident at any moment. I do carry, however, and know that makes me a much harder target than the huge majority of thugs want to mess with. Of course, I don’t hang out with them, or anywhere else for that matter. Dinner and/or a movie is about as daring as it gets.

    After teaching JROTC 2005-15 following military retirement, I am finally free to carry routinely, which wasn’t possible in a school environment. Since I tend to carry compact, classic revolvers or autos of relatively low capacity, I do carry ammo to reload with. I don’t expect to do any ninja combat reloads in a sustained firefight, but I do want to be able to refill my (possibly) empty handgun while waiting for the police to arrive at a possible incident scene.

    Those ten years in an inner-city school taught me a few things, one of which is the fact that the bad guy’s friend(s) might respond quicker than the police. And I don’t want an empty gun as I stand there over their dear departed, who was “trying to get his life together” and “thinking about college” (although he dropped out in 10th grade with a 4th grade education). Might even have to face one of his several baby-mamas, who are happy to get emotional before the news cameras about the tender care he showed his brood by dropping off a box of Pampers every so often.

    If I’m driving, which is 99.9% of the time, I have more “capability” that I let my Chevy truck haul around for me, but I’m not humping it everywhere I go! I just consider myself “motorized” and in the brief intervals when I may “dismount,” I don’t carry my ruck.

  • Inidaho June 28, 2017, 11:09 am

    I need to comment a bit….I and we would rather be trained by a combat veteran, who has had bullets wiz by his ears, and has had the hands on training to survive, and by the grace of God to return home. Many of these vets have trained other military students, and have probably seen more scenarios than we could ever imagine. We always pick up tips, and life saving tips from those that have survived combat. Thanks again to those that have defended our country, God bless you!

  • Inidaho June 28, 2017, 10:52 am

    Clay, always good to hear from you, and great article and video. I wish I had your combat experience, or maybe some. Again thanks for your military service! I have tried to carry the G43, just doesnt fit my hand, and am not accurate in firing. Both my wife and I carry the Sig legion 226 sao. Larger? Yes, but we train defensively, and shoot if not daily, every other day, and we are both accurate and comfortable with that firearm. Its heavy! The point being, is that I and we get so comfortable firing that particular gun, we cant break away to other firearms. I guess when a person gets in a routine, it is hard to break away. An odity we thought we would share. Keep the articles and videos comming! Thanks again!

  • KCshooter June 28, 2017, 10:38 am

    After reading the comment about wanting to get into a gunfight, and then seeing what is included and missing from his 4 levels of concealed carry, I do not believe you are at all qualified to instruct the civilian concealed carrier. Not by a long shot.
    You yourself need to go seek out some real training.

  • segian June 28, 2017, 10:21 am

    I read a lot of the articles on GA and I will tell you Clay is often the only guy that makes any sense. I read one on EDC recently and had to comment because carrying all the crap the guy writing the article recommended would make me unbelievably uncomfortable. I agree with Clay, this ain’t Afghanistan Gomer. I carry my G26 no spare mag, a pocket folder and my phone which is also my wallet and flashlight. My phone is the most expensive thing I carry and probably the most important (911) for all you wannabe’s. Light and mobile cause I am gonna duck for cover first. Rock On Clay.

  • Roger Norris June 28, 2017, 9:18 am

    Good Class…simple, yet effective. I like the KISS theme throughout. I have a similar belief and try to practice it everyday. I work on a federal installation so carrying for me everyday is not practical. Thanks for the info. Looking forward to the next round of talks. Be Safe.

  • Swordfish June 28, 2017, 8:29 am

    Damn Clay,
    Really freaking good to see you…an experienced operator actually have the balls to say and show this information.
    I subscribe to nearly identical “tool up & go” philosophy. I routinely go to town with just my revolver or Glock or SW 457 with just what’s in it…maybe and I say maybe..depending on where I’m going in town…I carry speedloader and or addition mag. I ALWAYS…ALWAYS…carry sharp folding knife that’s well made and serious enough to fight my way out or use for defensive situation of I may ever need too do so. Is just to easy to carry a good folder and I see no good reason not to have it. And yes,,, it’s gotten me out of some situations that I didn’t need to pull my gun and deal with the “social media hysteria”, that will certainly follow once that gun comes out…however, I don’t advocate everyone do this. Great info, great topic,, and darn good to have some reality back in the discussion of what to carry and what’s just in the way. Fishing lures catch way more fisherman than they do fish….

  • Justin Barnes June 28, 2017, 8:27 am

    Nice to see a simple straight forward article. The only thing I question is why not flashlight until level 3? You say level 1 is the “ice cream at midnight” loadout so why not add a flashlight to it? I know multiple people will say they are too big or inconvenient to carry but those people must not be aware of what newer lights from companies such as Fenix, Olight, or Eagtac are like. If you don’t trust Chinese brand gear no matter how good it is than get an Elzetta alpha: small, still packs enough light and can survive WW3. I can understand not carrying a bunch of ammo all the time or not carrying you favorite hand cannon but as someone said previously, there are dark places everywhere and in most places on Earth at least a 100% chance of it being dark for part of the 24 hour day.

  • Gary June 28, 2017, 8:19 am

    All those “commenters” who have actually been “shot, or even “shot at”, please raise your hands. It adds validity to your opinion.

  • SantaWalt June 28, 2017, 7:54 am

    I am so glad to hear some common sense from a gun toter. I read all these articles about EDC and wonder how they keep their pants up. Must have both belt and non-stretch suspenders. One word I never hear for most is “retreat.” Stand your ground is necessary in some situations, but if I need more than Glock 23 and a full mag, I going to get out as soon as I can, as quick as I can, if I possibly can. Thanks for a great, common sense article.

    • Pete July 19, 2017, 2:25 pm

      SantaWalt, I applaud your good sense. I generally carry my LCR in my pant’s pocket and sometimes my 9mm Shield. They’re both equipped with clips that hook over the outside of my pocket so the grips are exposed and ready. I wear t-shirts and shorts year round and all this other stuff folks are talking about would move my britches to my knees. I don’t carry flashlights, hand grenades or RPGs. We have really weird people in this town that like to stab and rob old dudes like me, too old to effectively fight and way too old to run very fast. My wife also carries a S&W 340SC IWB. We practice on a regular basis and hope not to have to use our weapons in a defensive manner, but we’re ready I’ve been shot at and hit, stabbed, blown up and shot down. `nam was not a friendly place!

  • Dwight55 June 28, 2017, 7:43 am

    Could not agree more on the comment about “leather holster”, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I have a small business making them. I make them because they are needed, same reason I am a local, country-boy, pastor: it is needed.
    I do disagree on the emphasis on Glock, however, as I personally think they should be banned, as an unsafe alternative firearm, the supposedly “safe” trigger system is in my opinion, an accident waiting for a location to happen.
    But otherwise, a good article, we could walk side by side with no problems whatsoever.
    Looking forward to future editions.
    May God bless,

    • Wilson Lanue June 29, 2017, 7:14 am

      1. ALL firearms are always loaded
      2. Never SWEEP anything you aren’t willing to destroy
      3. Keep your FINGER outside the trigger guard until ready to engage
      4. Be sure of your TARGET, everything behind, everything around

      (I call it “ASFT.”)

      If you can’t or won’t follow those rules, don’t own a firearm. If you can and will, a manual safety is unneeded on handguns whose triggers have some weight and takeup. (That is, I still wouldn’t carry a 1911 any way but locked.)

      Glock’s “trigger safety” is a silly marketing thing; I don’t care about having it one way or another.

      (Rifles are another matter. Where a handgun is meant to be carried in a holster – and for the love of all that is holy, look at your holster before/as you stow a firearm there, to be sure nothing’s getting caught in the trigger guard – where nothing can get to the trigger. A rifle is meant to be carried slung, trigger exposed. Lock that trigger out until ready to fire.)

      The more I have dealt with new or about-to-be gun owners, the more I have come to view the issue of thumb locks as an opportunity for education. I hear variations on “I really want a safety, because I have little kids in the house” all the time, and every time I do I see a dead kid. A thumb lock does not childproof your deadly weapon. A thumb lock should not be a magic talisman that makes proper firearms safety moot. But it is exactly that for a lot of the well-intentioned masses.

  • Benny Teague June 28, 2017, 7:34 am

    My only disagreement is to carry a Ruger LCP. I had one, but the shape of the grip made it uncomfortable to shoot very many rounds at one time. A more comfortable carry is the Ruger LC9S Pro with a good leather belt looped holster and of course a solid belt (I prefer Bullhide Belts). This will keep the pistol close to the body and invisible under a T-Shirt.

    • srsquidizen June 28, 2017, 8:30 am

      Ruger makes a 7-round magazine that gives the LCP a little better grip, though none of the super-thin pocket .380’s are going to be real comfy for pumping a lot of rounds through. Aside from a bit of range practice now and then, which should be done with any carry gun, I don’t think too many pocket pistols are really intended as all-day plinkers. The Glock 43 mentioned is a decent compromise. Hand-friendly but not so big you gotta saddle up with belt & holster to keep jeans from sliding down your arse gang-banger style.

  • Ken June 28, 2017, 7:34 am

    Great advise, to the point and not spewed by the bull shit artist of the day.

  • Guy June 28, 2017, 7:17 am

    This article is a little all over. I personally believe avoiding a conflict is more powerful than a gun. Thou my 38 special tucked in a rubber holster at ready in right pocket is a perfect. Concealed choice. I prefer it loose in my light jacket pocket. I like shooting through the pocket. The criminal never see it coming. No mistakes.

  • Mitch Spence June 28, 2017, 6:49 am

    Don’t over-complicate things and PRACTICE. Better to hit with a .380 than miss with the .500 S&W.

  • Chris Baker June 28, 2017, 5:34 am

    I hope you guys were just kidding about that macho bull crap of wanting to be in a situation where he needs his guns. I hope I NEVER need to draw my weapon. I don’t want to be in that situation ever. Regardless, I will do what is needed. There are exactly 3 people who know whether or not I carry. Me, my wife and my pastor. It takes me zero time to “gear up” when I go out. If I need to take any time to “gear up” it’s because it is some kind of special occasion such as a trip to the shooting range.
    With that said, I’m sure there are several of the men at my church who carry. But being “sure” and “knowing” are two completely different things. Anybody who finds themselves in Kingman, AZ on a Sunday morning is invited to the Hualapai Southern Baptist Church for 8:30 or 11:00 AM services. Bring your properly concealed weapons with you, you’ll be quite welcome.

    • jerry June 28, 2017, 10:40 am

      clearly a little bit of sarcasm is not allowed! of course he was joking about wanting to use his gun.

  • LowKey June 28, 2017, 4:37 am

    Nice looking plate carrier. Who’s the manufacturer?

    • clay martin June 28, 2017, 10:28 am

      S&S Precision

  • Matt June 28, 2017, 4:28 am

    I have great difficulty taking a guy who doesn’t carry a flashlight until “level 3”
    too seriously. Better off studying Massad Ayoob.
    There are dark spaces all over & inside buildings. Poor lighting or blown bulbs can be encountered anywhere.
    Bad things happen in dark places.

    • Chris Baker June 28, 2017, 5:17 am

      So do good things.

    • John Dow June 28, 2017, 6:03 pm

      Agree with carrying at least a small flashlight, as well as some decent knife, always. Those are two defensive tools that I find many ordinary uses for, day in and day out.

  • Rob June 28, 2017, 3:42 am

    Good article. It is always nice to hear from someone who has been in the thick of it instead of the usual “mall ninja” writers.

  • Mark N. June 28, 2017, 12:41 am

    I totally agree. All the load out the average Joe Citizen needs is a reliable handgun, a good holster, and a good carry belt. Extra mag is optional unless you live in a sketchy neighborhood. For me, a pocket knife is mandatory, but that is because I always carry a knife (because it is useful). Except in airports. Usually. (I’ve forgotten it was in my pocket twice.)

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