Main Tool

Your firearm is the most exciting thing to carry, and can be the most important. I view mine as a life-saving device. It is a tool. It’s meant to get beat up, and should function just fine if it is taken care of a little bit. In today’s market, there are so many good options. By good I mean reliable. That is what is important. You need a gun that will go bang every time you pull the trigger. This is why testing your carry ammo is important. That is the food to your gun.

Today’s ammo is miles ahead of where it use to be. Malfunctions can happen, but you want those to happen at the range while practicing. I buy cheap ammo so that I can practice malfunctions at the range. Carry ammo is made of different materials, and are mostly nickel-plated. Brass ammo expands when it gets hot, and this can induce malfunctions. Staying on the subject of ammo. You don’t know how much you’ll need, so for me, a gun with high capacity is what I want to carry. My carry gun at the moment is a Smith and Wesson M&P9 Pro Series. It fits 17 rounds in the magazine & one in the chamber, plus I carry a 21 round spare mag. This gives me 39 rounds, which I don’t intend to use, but rather top off my gun if I use it. More importantly, the gun gives me a full grip due to it being a full size. It’s designed for competition, so it has a 5 inch barrel, which is about as long as they make pistol barrels with the intended purpose of being a duty-gun. The longer the barrel, the more velocity the bullets will get. The trigger is upgraded from the factory for a lighter pull, which gives me greater accuracy.The only thing I’ve done with the gun is shoot it a ton, and changed out the sights to my preferred sights. While shooting with iron sights, you want to focus on the front sight, so I prefer a bright front sight, and blacked out rear sight.

Another important component of my gun is it has a rail for attaching accessories. For me, I utilize the rail with a weapon mounted light. The Streamlight TLR1 HL gives me 800 lumens. It along with my firearm have solid reputations for reliability, and companies that stand behind their products. It is a pain to conceal a large gun, with the addition of a WML, but a good holster makes this a little more manageable. I’m about 6’1″ 200 pounds, so it is easier for me to carry a larger gun. I also dress around the gun, which usually requires a larger shirt. One other piece of the puzzle that most people get wrong is their belt. You’ll need a rigid belt to support the additional weight of your firearm, and whatever else you’re carrying. My belt is 1.5inches thick, and my holster and spare mag both have 1.5inch clips. This is important because my holster won’t rotate while I move, and I get a solid grip on the gun every time I draw. Like I said earlier, the market today is better than it’s ever been due to technological advances. Just find a gun that is reliable, preferable striker-fired because you’ll get the same trigger press every time, and one that is easy to shoot. Caliber isn’t necessarily a huge deal. I choose 9mm because it has excellent ballistics, capacity, and recoil management isn’t bad with it. It is also not expensive, so you can practice more with it. The FBI just switched back to 9mm along with many other departments. Carrying a gun isn’t for everyone, and you’ll have to find out what works for you, but it has it’s rewards, and responsibilities that come with it.

Ideas

New ideas help people improve and grow. The gun industry really isn’t any different from others. New ideas come from word of mouth, the internet, and through paper media. Newspapers are somewhat out-dated. But give really good content, and in the gun industry, they do an excellent job of trying to keep up with the rest of the community. Online social medias are the way to get the most current announcements and trends. It’s instant access to new techniques, products, and announcements. Gun shops are well known not to give credible information. They are 10/20 years behind everyone else with their products. Most of the time they’ll give bad advice. I try to avoid them anytime I can.

Do or Don’t

I’m currently on the way to a facility that doesn’t allow firearms I’m assuming. I still carry in these places because it’s not illegal, it is just against their policy. Really the only place I won’t carry in PA is federal buildings. I’m okay giving up my gun if they provide security of some sort. You just have to know the laws and where you’ll get in trouble for it. My work establishment doesn’t permit firearms, and if I see it I’m obligated to enforce it. I won’t get into my personal feelings toward the matter nor legal advice. Most places will simply ask you to leave, or put it in the vehicle. The only time problems are caused there is when a confrontation happens. Just use common sense, keep it concealed, be respectful, and make the decision for yourself. Carrying at IUP is good to go, just not in the dorms from my understanding.

Backup

Having backup in any emergency situation can be crucial, and definitely aid in safety. This is why it is important to carry two items in your edc. The first, which everyone already carries is a cell phone. One of the only reasons I carry a cell phone is for emergency purposes. I hate texting people, hate the bulk, occasionally use the GPS, don’t use social media or the internet frequently, but in case of an emergency, I want to have the ability to contact help. This isn’t always a guarantee due to locations with no service. Another reality is I can usually just tell someone else to call for help because in most cases, I will be rendering aid, or administering violence. That is what I am hoping for, yet it is not a guarantee. I think I’ve called 911 close to ten times in my life, all for somebody else. It’s also nice to call your mom sometimes.

The second item is a spare magazine. This is firearm related as most of my posts are, and will continue to be. No matter the capacity of your weapon, having an extra magazine can never hurt. The quote, “it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” For me, a spare mag is easy to carry because I carry it outside the waistband in a kydex (plastic) pouch. It’s not against my body so I rarely notice it. I carry two spare magazine at work, which is required. I build consistency by carry it in the same place on the job, and off the job. This is not true for my firearm. Having a spare magazine can also be important for handgun malfunctions. The springs in the magazines can wear over time, so if you’ve been using the same one every day then this could happen, though unlikely. Most malfunctions on modern semi-automatic handguns are ammo or magazine related. Having the ability to swap out a bad magazine for a good one is enough reason in my mind. Notice I’m saying magazine, and not clip because they are two very different objects. Another reason to carry a spare magazine is the increased capacity, especially if you elect to carry a smaller gun. You don’t know what situation you’ll find yourself in with your firearm, therefore you don’t know how much ammo you’ll need. My gun has 17 rounds in the magazine, and one in the chamber. My spare magazine is a 17 rounder, with a magazine extension. This gives me 40 rounds total. I’m comfortable with that amount. Some guns only have 7 total rounds. For myself, I would fire through that within seconds, and I would be left with no ammo afterwards. This makes it even more crucial to have a spare magazine while carrying a smaller gun. I’ve shot and been through enough training to know that after firing a certain number of rounds, it is a good idea to reload my gun to full capacity, or a tactical reload. An speed reload accurs when the gun runs empty, but with a tactical reload you retain the old magazine so you aren’t wasting any ammo. The majority of people who carry a gun also carry with a spare mag, unless they’re being lazy. Don’t be lazy. Don’t find yourself in a pickle.

Modifications

The topic of modifications can come up in court in the unlikely event of a self-defense shooting, specifically speaking about firearms. I will discuss some of the benefits of them, and my opinion on them. Why would someone want to modify their everyday carry handgun. The best reasoning is for increased accuracy out of that weapon platform. Handguns are generally hard to shoot due to a number of factors. By making modifications, it can make the gun easier to manipulate. The most common mod to a handgun is the trigger. Usually making the pull-weight lighter than it comes from the manufacturer. This will decrease the amount of pressure that needs to be applied in order to pull the trigger. The benefits are that there is less movement in the sights during the trigger pull, therefore allowing for a more accurate shot. This can come up in court due to the weight of the trigger being too light. They will try to say that you weren’t ready to shoot, and pre-maturely pulled the trigger because of the lightened weight. My defense to this is simple, and I’ve already explained the benefits to it. It allows for a more accurate shot. How light is too light? In my opinion, anything under 4 pounds is generally viewed as a competition trigger, which is kind of unnecessary because you’re not even gonna feel the trigger due to stress anyways. Training and shooting frequently can overcome this negative effect.

Another modification is a adding texture to the grip. Once again, this makes shooting the gun easier, which will give you more accurate shots. You can do this by adding some sort of tape, or by permanently melting the plastic, creating ridges in the gun. It will give you better traction on the gun. The same principle goes for adding extended controls. It is easier to manipulate the firearm. One example this would be a huge benefit is in adverse weather conditions. In the rain, you will have more control of the weapon. It would be similar to adding tape to steps to prevent people from falling. I will discuss sights in another post due to how many variations there are. Same goes for weapon-mounted lights, but for different reasons.

My opinion on modifications to an everyday carry handgun is simple. If you have justification to use lethal force, it shouldn’t matter if you use a strawberry or a gun. At work, my department does not let me make modifications, which is a common practice. I just train with what I have. I think the philosophy behind this is that if another officer has to use my gun, it will feel the same as theres. Outside of work, and in all shootings, I am not required to give a fair fight, and I want every advantage I can get. If I can make a modification to my gun to make me shoot it more accurately and quicker, then I want that modification. That being said, a spoiler alert is my everyday handgun is a competition gun. The only thing I changed are the sights. It comes with a lighter trigger from the factory because it was designed for competition purposes. I simply have the body style to carry a large gun, and it doesn’t have any disadvantages other than discomfort due to size.

Training

I just finished up a course in Virginia that made me a better human being. Training is important because it teaches proper technique in which you can practice those techniques to proficiency. If you don’t get the proper training, then you’re practicing the wrong way, which in my case, could get myself or others injured. I take training very seriously, and think that all should.

It doesn’t just enhance your skills, but it shows you what your weak points are. In my case, my previous training the past weekend showed me just how much further I need to come. Being along industry professionals, it one helped me push myself, but also gave me their lessons, which were valued. You learn so much in a training cycle, however you can’t teach someone to walk a certain way in a 16 hour course if they have been walking funny their entire life. My instructor was amazing, and wanted to simply give us a better foundation and show us new techniques. If the techniques enhanced our abilities, then we would incorporate it in our normal training regimen.

It doesn’t matter to me what kind of training is taking place. It all makes you better understand what you are doing. Good or bad training, you’ll learn from the experience. I’ve now set a goal on taking at least three classes per year. They can be in firearms, cooking, or leadership classes, it doesn’t matter. As long as I am trying to better myself, then I am becoming a better member of society. You should set goals and reach out for help, that is the only way to grow as a person in my opinion.

Violence

This will be centric to those that carry a weapon as part of their EDC. Violence is part of human nature, as it has been happening since our existence. This does not make us immune to it because we do not see it everyday. The media portrays violence as being a huge problem with our country, however it happens a a fairly normal amount. Their philosophy is “if it bleeds, it leads.” This is good for ratings because people like seeing crime for some weird reason. Our mind will react differently if it is personal. Whether that be knowing somebody on television who was a victim, or were a victim themselves. There will be an emotional attachment to those cases, but not to ones where we just see it on television, then forget about it ten minutes later.

Carrying a firearm, although we never want to use it, if we must, be violent. The most violent person in the fight will win the fight. In order to be violent, take a class to learn how the body works, and specifics around gun fights. I do not want to talk about it now. The only point I am trying to make is be prepared to take another life in an ugly way, and if you don’t think you can, nobody will judge you, you may simply need to choose a different lifestyle.

Flashlight

There is a term called “All the Lumens”, and this is a good foundation for anybody who has an edc.

A flashlight is an amazing tool, whether you carry a firearm or not. Every person I know could benefit from carrying one. Instead of using the flashlight on your phone, you should have a handheld light in addition. My reasons are complex, yet justifiable.

The foundation for having a flashlight goes back to basic scientific laws. The sun goes down every single day, that is a guarantee in our part of the world. This means we need artificial light to replicate the sun. The brighter the flashlight, the closer you can get to this. Lumens is the maximum amount of light generated at the most powerful portion of the beam by a flashlight. Candela power is also important. It is a measurement for candlelight power. 15,000 candela is the equivalent to 15,000 candles lit in a room. There is a ton of information and numbers on websites such as candlelight forums, if you want to get super technical there are very intelligent individuals on the site.

My mindset is I want the most powerful light because I never know what situation I will be in, and never know how bright of a light I will need. Lighting technology has made this far easier with the technological advances in the past few years. Lights keep getting smaller and brighter which is amazing for someone like myself. There are many benefits that come from having a flashlight, one of which comes from a psychological advantage. This makes carrying a light the best self-defense tool, which is relevant for my field. Who would you think would have a flashlight? Police are most commonly associated with using flashlights. This makes it a huge deterrent, and a hard target. People nowadays are not aware of their surroundings, this is mainly due to cell phones. Everyone has their head buried in their phones, instead of looking around. This makes them soft targets for crimes such as robbery. If you have a flashlight, most people will just keep walking. Another advantage is flashlights aren’t frowned upon in our society. If I am using one, people may just think I am looking for something.

A major part of carrying a firearm is responsibility. With this, comes being liable for your actions. It is good to have a handheld light in use with a firearm for a few reasons. The first is positive identification of a target. You want to be sure of your target, and whats beyond it. Therefore you need to be able to see the target, or potential target. You cannot shoot blindly because the risks are too great. What if you shot a family member or a pet? These are ideas that need to be thought about before it happens. Another good reason to have a handheld light with the use of a firearm is being able to control a subject. If your light is bright enough, while shining it into a subject’s eyes, they will most likely follow your commands. It can be the tool that prevents you from having to take a life, which is the goal.

Using a handheld light can also be beneficial for everyday tasks, such as finding keys, or trying to navigate on a dark trail. There aren’t any drawbacks to carrying a flashlight other than the pocket real-estate. Size does matter, and choosing to carry a light, along with every other part of your edc can be a hassle, but necessary sacrifice.

The light I carry is a Streamlight Protac HL-X. It is about the length of an iPhone 7, and half the width of a water bottle. No small light, but the advantages of it outweigh the cons in my opinion. My reasons for choosing this light are it is 1,000 lumens, which is extremely bright. It has an excellent hotspot, which makes it super bright in the center. It has a pocket-clip, making it easily accessible. The final “bonus” reason would be the company manufactures in Pennsylvania, my home state. These lights have a proven track record for being reliable, which I am currently testing on my own, but to this point, I have no doubts that I can depend my life on this light.

Food

Why on earth would food have anything to do with your EDC?

By food, I mean ammo. I view the human body as an incredible machine, well a firearm is the same way. What we put into our body will impact how it functions. The same comparison applies to handguns. This analogy is relevant to a few examples with the handgun.

First, and most important, is feeding your gun a lot of food. I mean shooting it a lot. Whether you’re a gun collector, only have one, or own a few, you want to try and shoot as much as possible. The way I do this is being caliber┬ácentric, or having multiple guns of the same caliber. I choose 9mm for a variety of reasons which I’ll discuss in an upcoming post. But it is cheap to shoot, therefore I can shoot more often. Like anything, practice makes perfect, and the more you shoot, the better you will be. You can dry-fire all you’d like, but nothing mimics felt recoil from live rounds, and it’s important to know how that feels in case you ever have to use your firearm in self defense.

Another reason ammo is important is because there are different types of it. Like I was saying, shooting a lot of ammo is important for your carry gun. In the market today, there are a lot of good choices for handguns. Most will work with good ammo. Well ammo designed for carrying is different from practice ammo. The bullets are designed to expand upon impact for the best destructive results. You want to make sure your carry ammo, or hollowpoints, will work in your firearm reliably. One thing I do with my desired ammunition is shoot 100 rounds of it through my carry gun before I start carrying it. This can be expensive due to increased prices of hollowpoint ammunition, but if I need to use it and it doesn’t work, that is not the time to find out. Another method of testing I do will be shooting at least 500 rounds of ammo, with at least 100 of that being my carry ammo, before I carry that gun. This makes sure there are no problems encountered with that firearm, and it gets me cognitive and physically prepared with that firearm. I know too many people who decide to carry a gun, but don’t shoot it enough, or don’t use the right ammunition. Don’t be one of those people.

The best recommendation I have is something that I practice. There are many oils on our skin which can impede the function of ammunition. If you are always touching your carry ammo, those oils may debunk the primers inside of the shell casing, making the round not fire. What I do to prevent this from happening is any time I take a round out of the chamber, I put it in a pile, and when it adds up I shoot it. First this helps me test my ammo, but it also cycles my old ammo with new ammunition, which has a shorter lifespan than you think. Find out what your gun likes, and what it doesn’t. Different ammo will feel different while shooting, as well as different guns work better with different types of ammo.

Medical Gear

This is the piece of equipment that most people elect not to carry. There could be a couple of reasons for this, but I think my explanation is justified. All of the other items that are included in my EDC are pretty cool to have. They are fun to use, and cool to own. Medical gear is a little bit different. It is the one item that you are most likely to use to save someone’s life, yet people still chose not to carry it. The odds of having to provide aid to a person is far greater than having to shoot someone.

One of the reasons individuals won’t carry it is that it can be large. The one item that I will always have with me as part of my medical gear is a tourniquet. The one I carry is about seven inches long. It isn’t very pocket friendly, but I make due with it. There isn’t anything flashy about carrying it, and hopefully I’ll never have to use it.

Another reason people chose not to carry medical equipment is the mentality behind it. Nobody wants to imagine themselves, or a loved one getting hurt. Thats a harsh reality that is in fact a reality. If you have to use your firearm, or get involved in another altercation, the likelihood of yourself getting hurt is real. I’m under the impression that if you’re willing to put holes in something, then you should be able to patch them up. Like I said earlier, it is the most likely item in my EDC that will save a life. I can’t predict what situation I may find myself in, but I can take precautions to my environments.

A final reason is a lack of training. Training is a big part of my life because it can mean life or death. Knowing how to use gear is important, but knowing when to use it is even more beneficial. Sometimes you can do more good than bad, and can be liable for certain actions. There are laws that will protect you for trying to do the right thing, however there are no certainties. My evolution of carrying medical gear has come a far way over the past two years, and the biggest step came because of training. It was a huge gap in my applications of medical equipment, but training helped that. I feel comfortable applying various types of medical tasks to myself or others, but I am no expert, and will continue to seek help.

So what do I do?

As I stated above, at the bare minimum I carry a tourniquet. I’m issued a CAT tourniquet at work, which I also choose to have on me outside of work. This is simply because to have consistency, and it’s easy to use. The one thing that I did was built my own medical kit. I wanted something small, but something that could have the essentials. There are many companies that specialize in this very field. I researched and found what I needed. A pouch from ITS Tactical to carry everything. It is about the size of a wallet, but thickness depends on the items inside. The other items I put in it is what I think I may encounter in my day to day life. I don’t have any medical problems, but I know people around me might. This is why I carry simple medications like Tylenol and Aspirin. I have a CPR face shield because I am certified in CPR, and if I find myself in that scenario, I want some protection for myself. I carry bandages, and other small items for the little stuff. The last piece I included is a trauma kit to stop major bleeding. I feel comfortable with these items in my life. We live in a world where a medical center is always close, so I think I have enough equipment to help until first responders show up. I work in a hospital yet still choose to carry a tourniquet for a number of reasons. The training I’ve had has also told me this. My medical EDC will continue to change over the years, but is something I won’t draw myself short on.

One other idea to consider is having multiple kits in various locations. Think of the “hotspots” where you may need a medical kit, or places where you spend a majority of your time. A vehicle is a must so I have an larger kit in my truck, which deals with trauma. I put another kit in my range bag in case of an accident. I don’t expect others to save me, or the people around me, therefore I want the power in my lane. It’d be interesting to hear what others carry, and their mindset on this boring topic.