I get a lot of questions regarding what exactly should new armed citizens include in their everyday carry gear. I have previously posted updates as my EDC has evolved. The point of this article, however, is not to show you what I carry, but to show you how I choose what to carry. Forgive me if I have covered any of this in my previous EDC posts.

The approach I like to take to my EDC is a systems-based approach. This allows me to identify and address my needs as they change.

First off, let’s touch a bit on firearms. Most professional instructors that I know and/or correspond with share a similar view on good choices for CCW guns. Your best choices are semiautomatic, striker-fired, double action only pistols in a common caliber, made by a reputable manufacturer. Think along the lines of Glock, Smith and Wesson and Springfield. There are many guns that can be a viable option, but what we are looking for is a gun that can save our lives so it must be reliable, accurate, simple to operate, and also must fit your hand. Stay away from guns that require you to manipulate a slide or frame mounted safety to fire.

The size of your pistol is not nearly as much a factor as you will first think, so get something that will fit your hand and points naturally for you (meaning the sights align well with your natural point of aim).  Don’t be afraid to spend some money on your pistol. It is something that you will bet your life on, so don’t cheap out. I highly recommend guns from the three makers listed above because they meet all of those requirements for most shooters. Get a high quality, commonly carried gun so you can focus on training to be at your best without adding unnecessary hurdles such as ammunition limitations, a difficult manual of arms, or limited holster availability to your troubles.

Since most commonly encountered malfunctions in a pistol are related to the failure or wear of its magazines, carry a spare magazine. Make sure that your ammunition is a high quality, modern bonded jacketed hollow point. I really recommend Hornady’ Critical Duty line, Cor-Bon DPX, or Winchester PDX-1. I’m sure there are other good options but those are what I have carried and shot a lot of. Do your research. Ammo selection is critical to your system so make sure whatever you choose functions reliably in your gun and is accurate.

Holster and belt selection is another area that will make or break your CCW experience. I always recommend carrying on your waistline, regardless of gender. The gun carries most naturally there, is easily concealed and accessed, and will be more likely to be accessible for your defense under duress. This means that I absolutely do not recommend any form of off body carry. However, the gun that is with you is better than the one in the safe, so just make sure you practice drawing from your chosen carry method consistently.

Holsters should be made solely of kydex or a hybrid style with kydex shell and a leather backer. The latter is more comfortable but less durable in my experience than a pure kydex holster. Pure leather holsters and nylon holsters are to be avoided. Both break down over a shorter period of time, trap sweat and moisture, and don’t offer the option of adjusting their retention.

Don’t neglect to get a quality gun belt. The belt needs to be made of stout enough material that when you hold the ends together at arms length the belt should stand out on its own. A belt that is too thin or cheaply made will sag or fail at the buckle when carrying a gun.

I personally recommend a quality folding knife and a flashlight as well. You will find a knife more useful on a day to day basis than anything else you carry. A decently bright flashlight is now smaller and cheaper than ever and will offer incredible battery life. I’m willing to bet that you spend more time indoors than out of doors, and you will be surprised at how often your little light comes in handy. Let’s not forget that most defensive shooting takes place in low or failing light.

Because I feel that everyone that is prepared to take a life should be able to save one, I try to carry a tourniquet as well. I prefer the SWAT-T and RATS brand. And since knowledge trumps gear every time, learn CPR and at least some basic first aid. You should be able to treat moderate injuries with whatever resources are available to you.

Finally, consider good footwear. Flip flops, sandals, and Crocs simply do not afford you the mobility and protection that you will want in an emergency, whether it is a fire or a fight for your life.