5 bits of essential kit to round out your EDC loadout

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An example of my everyday carry loadout. If these aren’t on my person they are seldom out of reach. (Photo: Team HB)

So you’ve selected the perfect carry gun and found a holster that fits your lifestyle. If you’re wanting to be a real problem solver though, there are some items that, in most situations, are more useful than a firearm. Why not consider carrying them all, or at least have them handy?

Here are a few of my own everyday carry (EDC) add-ons, and how they fit into my life.

1. Tourniquet

Here’s a lifesaver that virtually anyone can learn to use, including folks who want to be helpful in an emergency but dislike guns. Although there are still some stalwarts that preach against tourniquet use, there should be no controversy between the relatively small risk of losing a limb due to wearing one for many hours (we’re talking two digits; opinions on time vary beyond that), versus death.

There are several different types of tourniquets. The one that lives on the back of my driver’s seat headrest and either inside my front door or in a cargo pocket when I’m on the range is a SWAT brand. It’s just a simple rubber strap, about four inches wide and four feet long. The name describes its application: stretch, wrap, and tuck.

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SWAT tourniquet in place on my arm. (Photo: Team HB)

I choose the SWAT for EDC for a few reasons: First, it’s compact and very easy to carry. It doubles as a compression bandage if need be, and it can be snuggled down on the smallest of limbs if a child or canine is in need. Every choices has a drawback, and the SWAT’s is that it takes extra effort to secure on extremely bloody and bare limbs.

A more popular choice among current and recent military operators is the CAT, or combat application tourniquet. It misses the above-named advantages of the SWAT, but there is no slip factor. Beware of off-brand or aged knock-offs, on which the plastic windlass has been known to break, making it impossible to keep the device tight.

Training, practice, and thoughtful selection of your tourniquet are not to be underestimated. While it’s true that improvised tourniquets made of whatever’s in the vicinity have saved lives, it’s a tough task to secure such a device and keep it tight when hands need to be free to do other things.

2. Extra magazine

There is no guarantee that the five to nine rounds most concealment guns hold will be enough to mount an effective defense. An extra magazine offers more rounds while keeping gun bulk at a minimum.

My extra mag usually rides in my left front pocket, indexed with bullets pointing down and toward the front, ready to retrieve and load. I try to make it the only object in that pocket to keep things simple under stress. Most women wouldn’t be happy with the slight increase in profile. For me, it’s a matter of priority: safety before fashion.

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Yes, I am happy to see you. And that is an extra mag in my pocket. (Photo: Team HB)

3. Blade

I never knew how much I needed a knife until I started carrying one a decade ago. On a near-daily basis, it saves time and effort. While it’s a folder and not ideal for self-protection, it serves as a measure of last resort for that as well.

The Columbia River Knife & Tool Company (CRKT) plain edge Pazoda is my EDC blade. Its slim profile is comfortable to wear and the subtly colored, brushed stainless clip doesn’t scream “knife” across the room. The 2.13-inch blade is long enough for most daily tasks. This inexpensive knife isn’t going to win any cutlery contests, but it’s proven itself serviceable and durable.

There are good reasons to carry a fixed blade. Many people carry the folder for chores and a fixed blade for emergency work. A meticulously researched and field-tested model like the spear point Rat Blade by Harley Elmore of Warrior’s Way is the choice of many professional operators. They’re made to order, so don’t plan on this one as a last-minute purchase.

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The Rat Blade by Warrior’s way, a serious fighting knife. (Photo: Team HB)

Effective knife defense skill development is not unlike shooting. It requires ongoing training and practice, and is a perishable skill. Whatever your blade choice, it’s wise to reserve some time and resources for good training.

4. Tactical flashlight

Most criminal attacks happen after dark. Responsible and effective target identification and shooting require a light source. Lights occupy my vehicle’s console, nightstand, and range bag.

A quality tactical light cannot be bought at your local Walmart or via late-night TV commercials. A pressure switch that deactivates the light if dropped is a necessity. Adequate light output is as well. For indoor use, I prefer 80-150 lumens—bright enough for definite target ID but not blinding. Outdoors, the higher the lumen rating, the better.

My in-car light is the Small Tritac by First Tactical. It’s plenty bright for roadside use, the thumb strap keeps it secure, and the optional bezel end makes it a small but mighty striking tool.

The “house light” is the LA Police Gear Operator EDC. It’s extremely dependable, easy on batteries, and has three settings including a modest 55 lumen output on low, perfect for indoor use.

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A tailcap switch as on this Streamlight ProTac 2AA is a useful feature. (Photo: Team HB)

On the range, the Streamlight ProTac 2AA is economical to keep running since, as the name implies, it uses AA batteries.  It’s only modestly bright with a maximum of 250 lumens, so distance shooting is limited with it.  However, I find its skinny, dog bone shape to be very easy to handle for both firing and reloading.

5. Cell phone

This everyday item that most people already have made room for is, of course, an essential for communication during or after a defensive gun use. I’m no tech expert and won’t make a recommendation here. But not having one is really no longer a tactical option. And what you say when on the line with emergency services can color your legal and literal future.

If you keep a firearm for self-protection, mental practice for communicating with 911 personnel during or immediately following an incident should be part of your routine. You do want to be the first to make that call if at all possible, for the purposes of reporting a crime, the location, and requesting medical aid for anyone in need. Remember to describe the attack, in brief, and not your actions. For example, “A guy just tried to carjack me at the Fill n’ Go at 56th and Broad Street. Please send police and an ambulance right away,” includes the basic nature of the crime, the location, and need for medical help.

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Mentally practice tactical phone communications to make your phone a functional part of your EDC. (Photo: Team HB)

While not all of the items described here ride on my person on a daily basis, at certain times they do, and they are close at hand most other times.  It’s not ideal, but it’s the current state of evolution of my own EDC.

If there’s interest in more discussion of tourniquet selection and use, or flashlight selection and/or techniques, in a future article, please leave a comment below.