Everyday Carry Means Everyday Awareness

By Dave Dolbee published on in Safety and Training

The new year is upon us, and it’s time to steer people into enlightenment and out of the old ways. While fate looks after some who do not wish to be bored with the facts, the facts are not in your favor if you don’t consider your everyday carry (EDC) gear and learn to use it well. Gear should be chosen after more than a 15-minute investigation.

firing a gun through a coat pocket

If you carry a snubnose .38 in the pocket as EDC, perhaps you should practice firing through the jacket sometimes. Get a beater jacket from Goodwill, and spare the North Face garments.

I am certain some of you are fearless young pagans who wish to see what happens when you pull a tiger’s tail, while the rest of us find comfort in arriving home, starting a fire in the hearth and relaxing in comfort. It takes mental stimulation to enjoy life. After some of the incidents I’ve survived, I find comfort in what I have learned and am able to teach.

While such incidents may do more than lower the golf handicap, I do not jerk and gasp when someone slams the door too hard—but I have not forgotten. There are incidents that come upon you in the night and keep you company until the morning. They are best avoided. So, let’s pull ourselves together, confer rationally and find a skein of thought.

What do you carry every day? What should you carry? Everyday carry means you carry it at the least on a consistent basis. Our needs and world view affect the EDC gear. Our capabilities are not measured by what we carry, but in a real sense the limits of our capabilities are found in the EDC gear. Every day we deal with the mundane. The extraordinary should not be left to deal with us. We should be prepared. We have to consider the available space.

Most of us have about a yard of belt space, some less, some more. We have to use this space wisely with a proper allotment and balance. A good gun belt is essential. This is the primary load-carrying device and not the place for false economy. Next, we have the pockets. All gear should be chosen on a basis of quality and reliability, though a light weight is also important. Just do not lose your life for a few ounces of comfort.

Man pushing shopping cart carrying groceries

How does your EDC gear stack up every day, say, at the grocery store? Go to the range, and find out.

Some vote for versatility, others as much specialization as possible. The knife, as an example, should be dedicated for personal defense and need not be a multitool. For some, a multitool is essential for their daily walk. There is no single solution for everyone, but there are tools and weapons that most of us will be able to use well. There is a balance between weight, effectiveness, and expense. We are dealing with the meanness and sordidness of life and the former or future denizens of the 51st state (the U.S. prison system). Let’s look hard in order to improve our situation.

Do Not Carry Situationally

The bad guys, in my experience, carry situationally. Very few carry a gun every day and every time they leave their home. They do, however, put a handgun in the belt—usually behind the belt buckle without a holster—just before they commit a mugging, robbery or assault. The rub is that we cannot see it coming and must be armed at all times. This doesn’t mean only packing the iron when traveling, going to the corner stop-and-rob or when out late at night. This means carrying the handgun at all times every day, not just when the idea strikes us. Only then will you be prepared to face an assault.

Galco Double Time holster

The Galco Double Time is a great dual-purpose holster. Note the flashlight in the pocket.

What do you carry every day? Your wallet, keys, cash, credit card, perhaps eyeglasses, and a handkerchief most likely. What if you left your wallet at home? How would your day go? Not well, probably. You might miss lunch for want of cash or not be able to badge in to work. A license check would be bad news. Have you ever wished you had brought less gear with you during the day or on a trip? Probably not. A plan and commitment are vital. Start planning today, and make EDC gear second nature.

I recommend researching the daily routine and likely scenario and carrying everything you need and nothing you don’t. As an example, a spare magazine or speedloader is important. Two spare magazines, probably less so. If I felt the need to carry two spare magazines for a Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm, as an example, I would probably think I need a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm compact with a higher magazine capacity than the Shield. (I subscribe to making the rounds in the gun count. The fight will probably be over in the first three shots, and you either got your man or he got you.)

While probabilities of certain problems are low, possibilities are limitless. EDC must become part of the daily routine and the gear and its deployment second nature. You will practice accessing the gear and the items you deploy most often will have the strongest muscle memory for rapid acquirement. You will reach for your wallet many times during the day, and it is thus second nature. The handgun and holster combination must be learned by practice, as you will not be drawing it as a matter of course during the week. Keys, cell phone and other gear also have a high likelihood of strong muscle memory. Consider the circumstance of the typical day, and do not arrange your EDC gear in such a way that it will interfere with your emergency gear.

Keys and CRKT pocketknife

Typical essential gear includes a ring of keys, a truck key, a good knife and a dog whistle. Do not leave it loose in the pocket.

EDC gear may vary from time to time. Whether you are in an urban or rural environment, traveling or seated most of the day must be considered. Evaluate your needs and make the EDC as simple as possible. As an example, a ring of keys is simpler than a number of loose keys, and if your job demands it, a ring of keys on the belt makes sense. While repeatability is important, the climate introduces variations. Your covering garments affect your EDC carry, at least the mode of carry. Do you leave your gear in the vehicle at times? Is the EDC handgun too valuable to lose? (All are too valuable to lose, but a Glock is more easily replaced that a custom-grade handgun or Grandfather’s Detective Special.) Some tools are an acquired taste, and others are easily used by the majority of trained people.




Every Day Carry

  1. Wallet – This should not be too big, bulky or overstuffed. It should be carried on the opposite side of the gun hand.
  2. Cell phone – This should be kept most accessible; the front of the belt is good. It is essential for emergency communication.
  3. Light – A good, small light is indispensable.
  4. Cash – Credit cards are not useful in an emergency such as a power failure. Cash is a must.
  5. Emergency medicine – If you a condition that requires medication, never leave home without your prescriptions (at least a two-day supply).
  6. A good knife – The CRKT BT 70 and Steel Will Onrush are at the top of the list, though others will suffice.
  7. A suitable handgun and holster.
  8. Keys – Keys to your home and vehicle. Spares are well worth their weight if secreted on the person.

There are other items. Some will add some form of pepper spray. I prefer the knife, from hard experience. Non-dedicated attackers can be dissuaded by gas.

The handgun is often a compromise of weight, caliber, and size. Quality should never be compromised. The Glock 19 is a baseline and a very good one. The Glock is affordable. You can spend more—a lot more—but the Glock is reliable. You can spend less and get a lot less handgun. The Glock is useful by a trained shooter. The 9mm cartridge is the baseline for defense use. The Glock 19 9mm, in the opinion of many, is the baseline for comparison. Compare your EDC carry with this piece, and make an honest appraisal.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~Benjamin Franklin

This isn’t a complete directory of EDC gear, but it’s a beginning. Study your individual needs and situation, and go from there. You may need more or less than I have enumerated. Consider the weight/benefit trade-off. Also, wear the gear in a realistic scenario, bending and walking and performing daily chores. The arrangement must be reasonably comfortable and the balance of speed and access understood.


At present, there are legislators making up bills as pretty as can be with bolstered embroidery on beautiful paper with the desire to deprive us of our liberty. I am one of those who already feel overprotected against myself. If you wish to keep carrying and owning handguns, support the NRA and vote. At present, we seem to have two parties, the democrats and the Americans. Choose accordingly.

What do you carry as your EDC? Share your thoughts and opinions as to the EDC items we should all have in the comment section.


Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (59)

  • indiana steve


    Regarding the previous posts on tactical pens. I worry about the legal ramifications with carrying a “tactical pen”. Instead, I carry a Cross pen. If you are not familiar with a Cross brand pen, you should look into them. They make a nice defensive weapon and have been sold as ball point pens for many years. And they are very nice pens, I might add. Weatherman also makes a nice one.

    I really wanted to post this just to see how long it takes to show up. It seems like it takes 2-3 days for my posts to finally get posted. Does anybody else notice this or is it just me. Maybe I’m just imagining it.

    Another thing. It used to be that when someone else posted on something that I posted on, or responded to me, I would get an email notifying me. I no longer get this. I check the boxes. Does anyone know what I might be doing wrong ?


  • Dennis Goebelt


    I have a friend who broke his back when he landed on his weapon. He spends his days in a wheel chair now. You need to reconsider your carry position.


  • M Birky


    After reading the article and the responses, pondering on my experiences and watching the security at the super bowl there are a couple of points for consideration.
    1. Clear your weapon and dry fire! While I reload and can afford to purchase ammo, I find I don’t always have the time nor inclinations with bad weather. This goes for both handicapped as well as part-time shooters, know you gun more than the remote!

    2. I do not carry a flashlight. After 21 years in military, 16 on active ODA’s, 12 years as a business man, I am not going to chase down a bad guy at night. I do Agee that night sites are great, crimson trace is very good, BUT, I want to disengage! A flashlight is in a back up kit/bag in the vehicle. Also using a flashlight with a gun is a center target identified by a bad guy, (insert your own description here)!

    3. The point of carrying wallet opposite gun side is very true, I practice that everyday. As the phone, I have a large Samsung, consequently I carry that in my pocket, cargo pants or in the business bag depending on business attire.

    4. Learn something in martial arts that teaches you how to break away if physically attacked-create space to draw, understand how to move off of attackers center line of get low on ground to survive.

    5. Practice what you have learned, create your own scenarios, what if my child is opposite side of house, bad guy get in between us, what will you child do, run out or go flat under the bed?

    6. Be safe and vigilant!


    • Jackal


      The reason to carry a flashlight is to readily identify your target in low light conditions,which is a two dimensional world, and two, a good strong light will affect your opponents vision, momentarily disorienting and throwing them off their OODA loop. (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). As for making yourself an easy target with using a light; you are already part of someone else’s plan at that point as such your already targeted.


  • Larry W.


    “Invading our homes while we can only watch” — it’s pretty much already heading that way in states with restrictive “gun control” laws. No open carry, no concealed carry, and more and more limitations on what firearms can be legally owned.


  • Gerard M. Grabler


    Dark Angel,
    It’s a travesty of justice that they should put a victim in jail while the criminals are just having a fun time with their so called rights. I’m tired of these SOB’s getting away with invading our homes and we can only watch. There is something really wrong with the Administration in place that sides with criminals instead of the victims. This has to change, and change now. I’m wondering what those individuals on the jury would have done if it were them being violated!!


    • Dark Angel


      Many people do not understand the ‘reloader culture’, and consider them as the top of the ‘gun nut’ tree. A friend, now deceased loaded for me. These were wonderfully accurate. Only ‘gun (nuts) people’ will understand this obsession with accuracy. Others see it as wanting to a more efficient killer. Few Law Makers know anything about the subject, or want to learn. So if you are a reloader and carry these for defensive rounds, you should really check your state laws. Don’t become another statistic to legislator, law enforcement stupidity.


    • Mikial


      @Dark Angel

      Agreed. Let’s not give the antis any more ammunition to use against us.

      The truth is a good HP round is very effective. I apologize to anyone who disagrees with this next sentence, but there really isn’t a great need to custom load defensive rounds. HTPs, +P HPs, Cor Bons and most other defensive rounds will stop an attacker very efficiently. I even avoid rounds like the DRT line for EDC because they have a negative connotation with ignorant people since their nickname is ‘Dead Right There.’


    • Dark Angel


      Sometime back, bought about 500 rounds of ammo from an individual. All rounds were factory loads, except 2, 20 round boxes of teflon coated, saw-tooth edged hollow points, so called ‘cop killers’. First, I was surprised to find them in a private individuals collection of ammo, secondly, I took them to the LEO s. I was surprised to learn that the LEO s had never seen such ammo. Would have loved to keep them for a ‘curiosity’, but good sense dictated getting rid of them. I can only imagine the consequences of some fool keeping these and carrying them for defensive loads, then using them in a self-defense situation.


  • Gerard M. Grabler


    I would like to say thank you for your sacrifice, dedication and service to the general public. I always wanted to be a Police Officer, but failed the physical because of a Heart problem. I commend you Sir on your time as an Officer of the Law. I’m sure there are citizens out there that you pattroled believe the same way. Actually 99.0 % of all people believe in Law Enforcement and are really happy to see you when there’s trouble. Now if we can get the laws changed to protect the innocent instead of the criminals, i believe we will have a safer, stronger nation against these demented SOB’s. Also safer for Law Enforcement, God Bless You Grumpy!


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