Essential Concealed Carry Accessories

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Choosing to carry a gun on a regular basis is a momentous decision. You’ve realized, along with a growing number of people, that there may not be a police officer around when you need one, and you’ve concluded that you have the temperament needed to safely carry a gun.

Deciding to take care of your own personal safety is crucial because you are, and always will be, your own first responder. Carrying a pistol with you allows for more options in defense of your life that not having a firearm gives you. For most of us, the chances are slim that we’ll ever need a gun to defend our lives, and that is a very good thing indeed. It’s not the odds of having a lethal-force encounter that matter, but rather the stakes—and the stakes when guns are involved are extremely high for everyone.

So what other things might you need to accompany a concealed carry pistol to help keep you safe?

  1. Safe Means to Store the Gun
    “Safe” is a relative term. If you live alone or with stable, properly trained adults you can trust, you could make an argument that “safe” might mean keeping a loaded pistol on the nightstand if it’s not in a holster on your person. For me, with two young children, this is not “safe” at all, and I keep my concealed carry guns either on myself or in a quick-access safe. I’ve tested how fast I can get to a gun inside a safe if I really need it, it rivals the speed of finding a pistol inside my nightstand drawer. In addition to this, keeping something in the same place every time eliminates the time you waste searching around for your gun.
  2. Spare Magazines
    Because they get slammed into the gun over and over again or dropped onto the ground, magazines are a disposable item. I consider three extra magazines a bare minimum to have on-hand for any pistol that I own, and I have at least five spare magazines for all of my competition or carry guns.
  3. Ammo
    A no-brainer, but I’m always amazed at how many people buy a pistol and then don’t buy defensive ammunition for it.
    Quick ammo primer: There are essentially two types of ammunition for handguns; full metal jacket bullets (FMJ), most commonly used for target practice and plinking, and jacketed hollow-point ammunition (JHP) which expands on impact, typically used for hunting and self-defense. In general, you want to use hollow points in a defensive gun because they increase the ability of a pistol round to cause enough trauma to stop an attacker, which then increases the chances of you stopping the threat to your life. However, smaller caliber guns (typically .380 ACP and smaller) usually don’t have the oomph needed to penetrate deep enough to cause enough damage to stop a threat, so choose your ammo carefully if you carry a smaller gun.

    Which brand of ammo to choose is the subject of endless internet and gun store debates, but when all is said and done, any modern, bonded, jacketed hollow-point ammunition will work. Make sure you buy a spare box or two and run them through your gun to check for potential malfunction issues before you trust your life to any ammunition.

  4. Holsters and Gun Belts
    Note that I said “holsters,” not “holster.” You don’t own just one pair of shoes, and you’ll probably soon find that one holster won’t do the trick by itself. Get a good gun belt as well, because a stiff belt that distributes the weight of your gun around your entire waist makes carrying much, much easier. 
  5. A Knife
    I have a small folding blade clipped to my trouser pocket pretty much all the time. I like this sort of knife because it’s darn useful and it fits deeper into my pocket than most knives so it doesn’t scream “Knife!” to my co-workers and friends. If I’m out and about, I back that up with a fixed blade knife concealed under my shirt near my belt buckle because it’s easy to grab with either hand at that location, and if I need a knife to defend myself, I’m probably going to need it right quickly.

Less-Lethal Defensive Options

  1. A Flashlight
    Want to avoid becoming a victim in a scary place on a dark night? Have a flashlight and turn it on when things gets dark and dicey. Crooks are not looking to attack a prepared, aware individual; they’re looking to attack someone who looks and acts like a potential victim. Having something in your hand that signals to the world that you are watching where you are going tells a crook to look somewhere else for his/her next score. Decent flashlights can be quite small, so there is really no reason not to have one with you at all times.
  2. Pepper Spray
    I’m getting too old to rely on my hand-to-hand skills, and pepper spray gives me more options besides my defensive pistol. Introducing lethal force like a gun or a knife into a situation where less-lethal force could be employed brings the specter of having to introduce yourself to the American legal system. Carry pepper spray, and give yourself a self-defense option other than “BANG!”
  3. A Tourniquet
    A few years ago, 22-year-old Elisjsha Dicken dropped an active shooting attack in a mall in Indiana by making a tough shot when everything was on the line, and he has been rightly commended for his actions. However, his girlfriend was with him at the time, and she also saved lives that day by improvising tourniquets for those wounded in the attack. It worked, but I think we’d all agree that having a purpose-built tourniquet with you  that you can trust is a lot better than jury-rigging something and hoping for the best. In addition to this, a tourniquet (and other trauma gear) comes in handy in any life-threatening situation, not just after the bullets stop flying.

Other than that, make sure you have your smartphone with you: A text can get through when the phone lines are jammed from overuse, and having a camera to document even minor things like a fender-bender comes in handy. Also, consider keeping a larger first aid kit that can deal with serious injuries in your car or somewhere else (and get training to use it). A pre-arranged self-defense legal plan is a good idea as well.

And have fun. You’re not carrying a gun because you are paranoid or want to act macho; you’re carrying a gun so you can enjoy your life without messy interruptions.

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