Another recent addition to the tactical lexicon is the acronym EDC which stands for Every Day Carry. A variety of manufacturers have already pinned the EDC moniker to products intended to be carried on a daily basis by armed professionals, high speed types and well prepared citizens alike. All of which begs the question, how much tactical gear do you really need to carry on a daily basis?
In today's modern world, we often leave the house with little more than the clothes on our backs, some money and our keys. If one is to take responsibility for their own safety, they will greatly benefit by regularly carrying a few useful tools. But what items are really needed and what gadgets are just dead weight? With the exception of military, police and other high risk operators, what does the average citizen really need to carry to prevent them from becoming a statistic?
Here is a short list of the most common EDC items and my thoughts on them.
- Handgun: If you are legally allowed to do so, carry a handgun daily. It is by far the cheapest life insurance policy you will ever own. While there are those who would argue that handguns are only good for fighting your way to your long gun, unless you live in Kabul or Mogadishu, slinging an AK-47 over your shoulder when you leave the house is going to bring you some unwanted attention. The handgun is the best low profile tool for self defense. Low profile equals less attention to you and that equals less time explaining yourself to law enforcement. When it comes to self defense EDC, get a handgun, learn to use it and follow concealed carry etiquette.
- Reloads: If you carry a handgun, carry at least one reload. Honestly, your odds of having to reload in a defensive encounter are pretty slim. That said, it does happen and then there's the fact that handguns malfunction (even revolvers can misfire). Without getting too deep into technique, often the easiest way to get a malfunctioning handgun back into the fight is to reload. As an added bonus, most reload rigs can be worn opposite your handgun thereby providing a counterbalance to the weight of your handgun.
- Knife: Knives are like pants. You might get away with leaving the house without them but soon, you're going to wish you'd remembered to bring some. Knives are indispensable for mundane tasks like opening boxes and trimming string. However, there are times when you might find yourself in rather extreme situations such as having a meth addict sit atop you while attempting to crack open your favorite head with a brick. In such extreme close quarters, even pistols can become cumbersome and you could find yourself wishing you'd brought a box cutter instead of that customized 1911. While knives are not my favorite defensive tool, their inherent usefulness and consumate versatility makes them a necessity for EDC. As always, check local laws and ordinances before choosing a blade for EDC.
- Flashlight: Of all the items in my personal EDC kit, the flashlight is the one I use the most. Whether poking around behind my computer, blinding a would-be assailant or clearing the backyard of trespassers, it is always close at hand. Tactical lights have an insatiable appetite for batteries but they tend to be compact, extremely bright and have cool features like strobe functions and glass breakers. The price for tactical lights has come down in recent years but for EDC, even the lowly Mini Mag should prove adequate.
- Less-than-lethal devices: This broad category includes everything from Tasers to OC spray to collapsible batons and a few gadgets of questionable utility. A less-than-lethal device gives you the ability to keep your distance while not resorting to deadly force. Less-than-lethals are also great for discouraging creeps who get too close for comfort without crossing the line into physical assault. These aspects make less-than-lethals perfectly suited for those gray areas when an attack is imminent but lethal force is not justified.
- Things to avoid: Carrying brass knuckles, straight razors, switchblades and/or exotic "ninja" type weapons is a practice typically frowned upon by law enforcement. Along those lines, avoid guns or knives with death related themes. It's just awkward to try and explain how you had no choice but to defend yourself when your pistol has Punisher skull grips and the words "Widow Maker" engraved on the slide.
- Knowledge: Before you choose the first item in your EDC kit, learn the local laws regarding weapons and self defense. Being the owner of the finest weapon in the world is little consolation behind bars. Once you know what you are going to carry, get trained in the proper use of that weapon whether it be a firearm, knife, less than lethal device or just your hands. The knowledge you carry in your head is far more important than what you carry in your holster.