Some people carry firearms because they want to be a badass. Some because they feel they must. For myself as a "normal Joe", I have been carrying as long as it's been legal for a simple reason: I want to be equipped for many of the crazy situations life can throw your way. In my ninth year of "every day carry (EDC)", I'm still learning how to better make EDC suit me and me suit EDC.
While experienced firearms instructors, LEOs, and servicemen have great perspective for civilians looking to go armed, GTAC figured it might help for a layman to add to the dialog. Here are some of the lessons I've learned and mistakes I've made in my EDC journey.
Deciding what to carry
Most of us think gun, but EDC doesn't have to include guns. Even if you do carry a firearm daily, there are many other items which can be valuable parts of your EDC. For me, it was first a pistol, then pistol + kubotan, then pistol + kubotan + knife, then pistol + kubotan + knife + OC spray, then back down to pistol + kubotan + knife.
For me, it got to the point where it was too cumbersome to have all those tools on my person all the time. Each defender needs to decide what levels of force he/she is willing to use, and what kinds of tools are preferred. But, if you don't carry it EVERY day, and if you don't practice with it regularly, you can't consider it part of your emergency tool kit.
Honestly, my next addition to my EDC will be a small med kit. I need some training on it, but the odds say a medical kit is more likely to be used than a firearm. See our previous post on EDC options for more reference.
Something I quickly discovered when I began to carry a gun is that it's uncomfortable! Not only do you feel like everyone in the World is looking to see if you have a gun (that paranoia goes away with experience), but you have an uncomfortable rock strapped to your hip.
Some of the discomfort I have experienced in EDC:
- sore lower back
- sore hips
- hip spot bruises
There are certainly ways to mitigate this (listed below), but part of it seems inevitable. However, remember that you carry a firearm to be comforted...not comfortable!
GTAC has written an article on this, along with every other dude who has owned a gun in history. With that in mind, I'll keep my personal opinion short and sweet:
If you carry a firearm every day, carry the biggest (size of gun) gun you will properly conceal and carry every day. Additionally, this gun needs to be your primary training handgun.
Caliber wars: my personal favorites are .380 acp, 9 mm, 45 cal, .38 spl, and .357 mag; and really, nothing smaller than .380 is a good idea.
Who says you can only have one gun? I have two EDC pistols based on the way I'm dressing that day. I wouldn't change guns out like shoes, but options are nice given the variety of attire and activities to which we are accustomed.
Based on my build, attire, and training habits, I've stuck with sub-compact 9 mm pistols from popular brands. Yeah, I'm basic.
The forgotten secret sauce: holsters
With all of our obsessing about which firearm is the perfect one, new concealed carriers often neglect to acquire the right holster. My first holster was a universal holster...that I carried on my spine (I know)! During my first GTAC concealed carry course, I was asked to demonstrate something and the pistol fell out of my holster - good times.
In all, I've owned five holsters and have learned the importance of a quality holster/belt duo to ensure accessibility, retention, durability, and comfort. You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good holster, but I would recommend doing your research and making sure you get the right one for your gun and carry-style, and there are many options out there, including carry options that do not involve wearing a belt. Just be sure the trigger is covered and you know how to draw and reholster safely.
Adjusting the way you dress
Gary Glemboski tells me I can conceal a full-size pistol - not with the way I dress. Be it men or women, my personal advice is to make this matter a two-way street. There are just too many options for clothes and too many options for firearms for a citizen to be unable to 1. carry every day and 2. dress the way they want to dress.
In my experience, it has certainly taken some adjusting. Some shirts I can't wear with appendix carry, but can avoid printing with "3 o'clock" carry. When I'm wearing shirts tucked in, waistband carry won't work at all. The Georgia weather rarely provides chances to shoulder carry. In time, you'll figure out your balance between concealment, comfort, and style. (GTAC has a series about this coming up soon, so stay tuned).
Ladies: In 2021 there are so many options tailor-made for women that "attire constraints" are no longer a reason to avoid EDC. Not only are there a large variety of handgun options, but there is an entire sub-industry of women's concealed carry products, and it's about time!
We are way past the Derringer in the garter days.
To carry or not to carry
One thing I've had to work through is where do I carry? Should I only take it to "dangerous" places? Should I turn back every time I see a store with a "no guns allowed" sign (they really hate Berettas)? Over time, let's just say I've fully embraced the Every Day part of EDC.
To each his/her own, but if you only carry places where you need to carry, you shouldn't be going to that place. I got my concealed weapons license in 2012 - since that time I have seen reported shootings at the following places:
- gas station
- shopping mall
- parking lot
- churches and synagogues
- movie theaters (remember those)
- office parties
- music concerts
- night clubs
The list goes on and on. Point being, if it is legal to carry in said place, you should consider carrying. It's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Personally, if I cannot legally protect myself with my tools in a facility, I fully expect the government or entity to provide thorough protection, e.g., metal detectors, armed security, etc.
In my own journey, the 2015 San Bernadino terrorist attacks (at an office Christmas party) really challenged me to think about what I'm willing to sacrifice to be a good sheep who makes other people feel comfortable.
Appreciating the responsibility
Mr. Glemboski talks about it all the time, and I agree wholeheartedly: concealed carriers should be the most exemplary citizens, with strong knowledge of firearms and related laws. I've tried to model that in my journey by keeping my nose out of trouble and pursuing training on state law and combatives (not just guns).
In my opinion, all EDC defenders should be doing the following:
- Snapshot review of related state laws on legal carry and justified use of force (GA example)
- Attend a seminar or course on legal rights and duties regarding use of force
- A routine home practice regime, e.g., SIRT practice, dry fire practice, draw from concealment
- Range reps with live fire multiple times a year
- Train via classes on firearm fundamentals, concealed carry, scenario training, and emergency medicine more than once
"But, that's a lot of stuff! We're just laymen, remember?" Two points:
Having your CWP makes you a gun fighter like having a drivers' license makes you a NASCAR driver (it doesn't).
We Americans are all about our freedoms (when we want them), but freedom goes hand-in-hand with duty.
I'm not an expert driver, but I've been able to avoid injury or death many times on the road because I know the law, I follow the law (yes, I speed sometimes), and I get reps every day as a defensive driver. The concepts are the same when it comes to combatives.
To my second point regarding freedoms + duties, it is imperative for EDC defenders to be exemplary citizens and not dumb-asses with their firearms. It's bad stories like this idiot in Savannah that will be used to take away our rights. Do not become one more statistic that politicians chomping at the bit will use against law-abiding gun owners to chip away at our constitutional rights, turning the vernacular against us until our right to keep and bear arms is no more. Know your duties and be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
Let us learn together and defend with honor
For years before I started working out, I owned fitness equipment, weights, and active wear with the plan to become fit and athletic. It wasn't until I realized that fitness was a lifestyle (not a project or a product) that I started to get the results I wanted and become the person I wanted to be. If you want to be a defender - a sentinel - a protector: every day carry should be a part of who you are.
In reflecting on my EDC journey (still in progress), I see this lifestyle not as mere risk mitigation, but as a source of joy, confidence, and peace. When we "normal Joe" defenders are at our best, we are "salt of the Earth" people - peacekeepers and peacemakers who provide civility and safety to our communities.
In closing, I challenge you this year to join me in this lifestyle of humility, honor, learning, duty, and freedom. Let's have a strong plan, attitude, skills, and a tool kit to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Let us make every day carry one of the many ways we live as exemplary citizens.
BE SAFE • BE EFFECTIVE • BE READY