Concealed Carry

Concealed Carry Gear: 5 Essentials

pocket knife, flashlight and leather shoulder holster

When you make the commitment to concealed carry a handgun, support gear is an important consideration.

You cannot simply load the handgun and stick it in your belt, although some do. You are carrying a handgun in order to be prepared for an emergency.

This means back-up gear. If the hammer is your only tool, every problem looks like a nail, and self-defense scenarios are unlimited.

Some of the tools you may choose to deploy may be used in conjunction with the handgun.

These include spare ammunition and gun-mounted combat lights. Other tools you may need include a standalone flashlight and a folding knife.

Let’s look at my top five things you should always carry.

1. Spare Ammunition

If you carry a revolver, then you should carry a reload in a carrier, or in a speedloader in a carrier.

If you deploy a self-loading pistol, a spare magazine must be carried as well. Don’t drop the magazine in a pocket.

Lint, change or bric-a-brac may invade the magazine and cause a jam.

Most defense shootings are solved within two to three rounds, but all are not, and after the fight, we will wish to reload.

There are so many take-over gangs and multiple offenders during assaults, we just may not get the job done with the ammo in the gun.

Shooting accurately is recommended, but so is carrying spare ammunition. The VersaCarry carrier is light and thin.

Galco offers both single and double carriers and an inside-the-waistband version as well.

spare handgun magazines in magazine carriers for concealed carry
The Galco inside-the-waistband magazine carrier is on the left, the VersaCarry single magazine carrier on the right.

2. Folding Knife

If you carry a handgun, you should also carry a knife. Gun grab attempts are fairly common.

As a rule, these gun grabs originate from the rear or side.

The knife should be carried so that it may be deployed quickly. The knife should feature a strong lock that passes a rap on the table test.

You do not want to use a knife that will collapse under pressure.

Practice quickly deploying the knife and running a defensive slash across the gungrabber’s arm. Some knives are useful as blunt strikers as well.

Don’t confuse the effectiveness of a folder with a true combat knife.

They don’t have the reach or penetration of a true dagger, but they will get a lot done if used correctly.

Take a look at Bear and Sons for effective, but affordable, edged weapons. Here is an article with other options.

folding pocket knife on grey background
A credible defense against an assailant may be mounted with the Bear and Sons folder.

3. Illumination

I am not as sold on a gun-mounted combat light as some.

They have more utility in institutional use than in personal defense, although for home defense, they have merit.

I like to carry a separate light like the Surefire Stiletto. Easily carried and with real illumination despite its small size, the Stiletto is quite a tool.

If you need to take a quick peek in the back seat of the van to be certain a carjacker isn’t waiting for you or illuminate a dark corner of the parking lot, you may do so without drawing a pistol.

three different flashlights on white background
Illumination is important! The Surefire Stiletto, left, is the author’s favored EDC light. 

4. A Less-Lethal Option

A blunt striking force multiplier is a great idea. All problems do not demand lethal force. For many of us, pepper gas is a solution.

For those with training, a blunt striker such as a Kubotan is a good choice.

In some cases, a knife may be used a blunt striker if the mass if sufficient.

self-defense pen for concealed carry
Non-lethal choices are important. The gun should never be the only choice.

5. Cell Phone

Rather hilariously, my wife left her cell phone at home and could not call my grandson during a lunch run for the young fellow.

She managed to set off an alarm on the gate at his workplace. Not having communication can become more serious.

Set 911 on speed dial and practice quickly calling in. Rapid communication can be a lifesaver.

woman dialing cell phone on city street
Having a cell phone on you is important in case an emergency should arise.

Conclusion: Essential EDC Gear

Carefully consider the load you carry on the belt.

Depending on the weather and the covering garment, a shoulder holster may help spread weight about.

A spare magazine carrier may be light and flat and balance the spare gun load well.

The holster must angle the handgun into the draw and allow quick access. Other gear should be accessible as well.

The knife may be drawn quickly under stress. The cell phone not so much, but you should have 911 on speed dial.

When you concealed carry, think ahead and be prepared.                              

What concealed carry items do you carry every day? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. I have a different take on EDC gear from many I know. And I also know that many are confused by what I have to say on the matter. In order for others to fully understand why I do what I do, I will explain. It surprises many when they find that, as a rule, I seldom carry a gun when I go out, but I do not go anywhere without a knife and a tactical pen. And guess what, I have never had a need for the weapon that I did not have with me. There are times when I do carry a gun and the destination is the determinant of that. That is not what I want to discuss.

    Now, going back to around fifty years ago when I was in the Army, it was absolutely a normal thing for me to carry a weapon, frequently, more than one, actually, and a lot of other gear almost all the time. The only firearm I carried was a very trustworthy, if not well-used, 1911. I also carried at least one knife. Because I was in the Army, Uncle Sam had provided me with no small amount of training in the use of said weapons. When I got out in the mid 70’s, I continued to carry a knife, and do so to this day.

    My attitude on knives goes back to the training we received concerning some of the weapons that have been mentioned in the article. We spent a significant amount of time learning Combatives, which is also called “Hand-To-Hand Combat”, “Close Quarter Combat” and probably has a few other terms that escape me at this moment. Our instructors were well versed in a number of improvised weapons and went into some detail about their use.

    From my standpoint, knives as a weapon are problematic in that many people carrying tactical knives have never considered what will happen if they are the ones who have their blood drawn first. When I have asked some people about their knife, I began to fear for their safety when they assume it is not a big deal to use a knife as a weapon. I have watched many get the deer in the headlights look when asked, “What if you get cut first? What will you do?” Most of the time, those people have never even considered that possibility. Too many assume the knife will do the work for them.

    Now, my reason for engaging them is those Army instructors told us, lo, those many years ago that if we were using a knife for self-defense, the first thing we needed to do is come to grips with the fact that, if it were really a life-and-death knife fight, we were going to get cut and it would be bad. We were told we needed to prepare ourselves for that eventuality long before the situation arose for the, not just, possibility of being cut, but the almost guarantee that we would be cut if we were using a knife in a life or death struggle.

    One instructor went on to say that most people who use a knife as a weapon and has not resigned himself to being cut badly, will probably lose the fight if they are cut first, because, well, being cut like that, hurts like hell and is traumatic, so it generally does not end well at all if one has not prepared himself for that eventuality. More so than a gun, a knife requires considerable training if it is used for self-defense. We were told, more than once, that a knife is a last ditch, there is nothing else to use, self-defense weapon, and a poor one, at that. This is what we were told just before they taught us how to use a knife as a weapon.

    Almost every time, I have asked people what kind of training have they done specifically using a knife as a weapon, the response was that deer in the headlights look.

    Unfortunately, outside of the military and significant martial arts training, reliable resources are, shall we say, limited at best. There are many who purport to be expert, but who is to say their credentials are valid. I will say, I do not consider myself to be an expert in the matter, even though, I have some military experience in the matter, albeit many years ago. I will not attempt to teach anyone how to use a knife for self-defense, even though I have been asked to do so. It requires significant time and rather intensive training to bring anyone up to a minimum level of proficiency. That is the voice of experience speaking. This is not something one can learn over the next weekend or two.

    I recommend anyone who considers using a knife as a weapon to search out real authorities on the use of a knife as a weapon. One such reference is “Cold Steel” by John Styers. Another is “Do or Die: A Supplementary Manual on Individual Combat” by A.J. Drexel Biddle. I want to say that Paladin Press printed both of these books back in the 70’s, I don’t even know where they can be found, and I will not surrender any books in my library. There are other resources, but I have no recommendations for them, one way or the other. Get a rubber knife and a sparring partner and prepare to take some time.

    Also, be aware that if one uses a knife even in self-defense, some authorities will consider the knife to be a weapon of aggression and not self-defense, particularly if that knife is advertised as tactical. I have seen people prosecuted and even sent to prison for using a knife to defend themselves. They were not the ones who initiated the situation, but they suffered more than the real criminal did. There seems to be a bias against using a knife for self-defense on the part of the legal system in some jurisdictions. Be aware of that possibility before you spend any money on a knife.

  2. I retired after 32 years with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. As a Sergeant, I would always go to dangerous, critical, rapidly evolving situations. I completely agree with all the five carry items. I too carry a concealed block with two extra magazines. I carry a tactical knife that has a blade, seatbelt cutter, and a glass breaker. A small flashlight is a must, mine has three modes. One of the modes is an SOS mode. As a habit, I always have a handcuff key in my coin pocket just in case. I don’t smoke, but I too carry a small lighter in my pocket to be able to start a fire if I needed to. Because I was law enforcement, I carry a very small can of OC spray in my pocket too. The last two things I carry are just as important. A small RAT Tourniquet (Rapid Application Tourniquet ) and a handkerchief for first aid. I know you might think this is a lot of bull carrying all this stuff, but I do. My wife laughs at me because I’m supposed to be retired, but I would rather have it and not need it than to not carry it and wised I did. I think most people carry a cell phone. You should look up your local PD and put that number in your cell phone too. I input every PD in the county I live to avoid the delay in calling 911.

  3. All of the above and CCW. Also, survival does not end when the confrontation is over. Research and have the phone number, in your phone’s contact list, of a reputable, experienced use of force defense attorney. Find the biggest law enforcement agency in your area and find out who they use. Their Union manager will have it on speed dial.

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