5 Concealed Carry Essentials
The Must-Haves of Concealed Carry
In our experience, there are five things that you should always have on you if you want to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense. First we’ll share those five things with you, then go over why each of them is vitally important. We’re excluding a concealed carry permit because if you live in a state that requires a permit to carry, then obviously you need to have that with you.
Firearm & Ammunition
These five things are what we consider the bare minimum to carry on you as someone who is willing to carry a gun to protect themselves or others. We have reasons for mentioning each item; let’s get into those now.
Firearm & Ammunition
It may seem exceedingly obvious that a firearm is a necessary thing to carry if you want to defend yourself and practice the 2nd Amendment, but that’s not always the case. In fact, recent research shows that many concealed carry permit holders do not carry their firearms on a regular basis.
Another consideration is getting the right firearm – for you. This is different for everyone, but regardless of what firearm you choose to carry, consistently carrying it is the only way to ensure that you can use it. The more you carry your firearm, the more you’ll get used to it. Many people don’t carry because it’s uncomfortable, which is why we developed the Urban Carry G2 holster.
You also need to train regularly with your carry gun. Getting out to the range at least a few times per year, either on your own or in a class, is the best way to hone your defensive shooting skills. There are some other great training methods out there – the Urban Carry Virtual Reality Trainer is one – that allow you to train in between range visits, but those are to supplement your live fire training.
The second part of the equation is ammunition. Many people new to concealed carry don’t know the different types of ammunition, and all of the nomenclature can get a bit confusing. There’s ball ammunition, wad cutter, jacketed, hollow point, FMJ, and the list goes on. Then you get into grain weight and ballistics data and it becomes pretty overwhelming for someone just looking to defend him or herself.
Using high-quality ammunition that is designed for defensive use, specifically a hollow point bullet, is the way to go. Hollow points increase internal damage to the target while reducing over penetration, so you’re not shooting through walls and hitting unintended targets.
There are different grain weights, which determine the weight of the actual bullet. If we can be a bit blunt and not get caught up into the online ballistics arguments, for the majority of cases, it doesn’t matter what weight bullet you use for defensive carry.
For anecdotal research purposes, go to the range and try out different weight bullets in the caliber and with the gun you’re going to carry with. See if you can notice a difference, and if there’s an appreciable variation in your ability to deliver shots on target in a timely fashion, then go with the round you feel you perform best with. As long as that’s a defensive hollow point round, then you’re on the right track.
The next factor would be how much of that ammunition to carry with you, and again, it’s dependent upon your training, experience and preference. Getting an exact number on how many round are fired during a civilian defensive encounter is pretty much impossible. Reports are so varied and statistics so muddled that it’s seemingly irresponsible to throw out a number that seems right. We’ll leave that research up to you, but here’s our input.
If you’re carrying a full-size firearm that allows you to carry 17 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber, then you may have enough ammunition. If you carry a smaller subcompact gun that only holds five or size rounds, you still may have enough ammunition for a defensive encounter but you may also feel more comfortable with an additional magazine.
Likewise, having an additional magazine gives you the opportunity to quickly change magazines if you have a complete failure in your primary magazine. Some people choose to carry multiple additional magazines, carrying two on their belt, another in their pocket and a third on their ankle, plus the primary in their gun. Other people simply carry a backup gun as a last resort.
All of these hypotheticals are to demonstrate one thing: it’s up to you. Get trained, be aware of your surroundings and what environments you may find yourself in, and adjust accordingly. Carry however many magazines or backup guns you feel comfortable with and are trained on – the choice is yours, thanks to the 2nd Amendment.
Whether you carry a concealed firearm or not, it’s a good idea for every person to carry some basic medical supplies with them. A simple tourniquet can sometimes be the difference between life and death in certain circumstances, and there’s really no reason to not have one.
Our favorite is the R.A.T.S. Medical Tourniquet. It’s inexpensive, very easy to use, and fits easily in your pocket, purse or backpack. With some very basic training courtesy of their YouTube channel, you can have the basic knowledge of how to prevent yourself or someone else from bleeding out due to a gunshot wound in an extremity.
To step your medical prep game up a bit, the MyFAK by MyMedic is a fantastic addition, specifically the “Advanced” version. They have different med kits at different price ranges, so get the one that fits your budget – but get one. The MyFAK can be carried in your car, purse or backpack and will give you the tools necessary to render self-aid or buddy aid.
If you’re going to carry medical supplies, you also need to know how to use them. The days of self-reliance and preparedness are generally gone, so learning and practicing these skills makes you a very valuable member of society (even if that society never knows it).
Medical training is just as important as firearms training, because the simple fact is that if you’re in a situation where you’re required to use your firearm, there may be damage done already and you may be the only one able to save a life.
There are also many more incidents like vehicle collisions, insect bites/stings and, if you’re a parent or guardian, scraped knees than there are shootouts, so be prepared for all types of medical emergencies.
There are a ton of great courses out there, but a good place to start would be a basic First Aid and CPR class with the Red Cross. Many instructors for these classes are first responders themselves, and you can ask them what type of advanced training they would recommend. If this is something that you enjoy learning, you may then even want to go on to an Emergency Medical Technician or Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course.
Your cell phone is such an important tool, and in more ways than one. It’s important that, if involved in a self-defense scenario (whether a firearm is used or not), that you call the police, and preferably you call them before anyone else.
Unfortunately, we’ve heard of many cases where people were treated as a criminal simply because someone else called the police first. Sometimes, the criminals themselves will call the police just to spin the story and at least cause enough confusion that they can either get out of the situation or avoid prosecution down the line.
You must serve as your own advocate, and you should expect no one else to do so. This is not to say that people will not step up as eyewitnesses, but simply that you should not expect them to. At the very least, expect that no one will give accurate testimony.
The police may or may not write an accurate report, and there may not be cameras in the area that were able to capture the incident. It’s up to you to document everything around you once you’re safe. Take pictures with your cell phone, and take lots of them.
Photograph everything in the area: the crime scene, the people, the vehicles, everything you can, and then send those pictures to multiple people and upload them to a cloud storage system (like Google Drive) to circumvent any nefarious tampering of evidence. You can turn this evidence over to your attorney when you meet with them.
Conveniently, that brings up to the next necessary item.
If you’re a concealed carrier, then you are also a target of anti-gun lawyers and legislators. It’s an unfortunate truth, but there are people (attorneys, judges, politicians, etc.) who will target you based on their personal & political agendas if they have the opportunity.
We would recommend a multi-pronged approach to ensuring good legal protection before you ever need it. First, get in touch with the USCCA. They are our preferred self-defense insurance (learn why here), and will stand behind you in the event that you have to defend yourself or others, whether you use a firearm or not.
They also have a massive network of attorneys that they can set you up with to act as your legal counsel and representation. Once you’re a member of the USCCA, you should take the time to find one of their recommended lawyers in your local area and meet with them to discuss what your legal plan is in the event of a self-defense incident.
Then, just like you will always carry your government issued identification and concealed carry permit with you, you should have your USCCA card and a few of your lawyers’ cards with you at all times. If you’re ever involved in self-defense situation, you can then give that card to the officer and let them know you will not be making a statement until your attorney arrives.
The USCCA has a number of videos about their members being treated like criminals after defending themselves and their families. Hear their stories.
Last but certainly not least is an illumination source that is not attached to your cell phone or your gun. A small, powerful flashlight with an easy-to-use on/off button is the best option.
Our favorite would have to be the Coast PX1. It provides a really bright, adjustable beam, is small enough to fit in your pocket, has a clip for easy attachment, and it is very well built to withstand daily use. Coast has a lot of flashlight options, including rechargeable lights, headlamps and area lights, as well as knives and multi-tools.
Your flashlight can be used for a variety of purposes, from simply needing some extra light to search for Buster’s toy he dropped under the couch again, to lighting up a suspicious individual hovering around your neighbors house. When you need it, a flashlight is an invaluable tool.
As you may already know, this list is certainly not exhaustive in its scope nor is it the end all, be all of concealed carry items. This list is just our opinion of what we think is necessary to be prepared, and you may have a different conclusion.
There really are an incredible number of choices out there, from different firearms and calibers, different insurance options and sure, plenty of different flashlights. It really comes down to your personal preference based on your training and experience.