Carrying a concealed firearm comes with a great deal of responsibility. First, you must be prepared to defend yourself effectively. However, employing lethal force is only a small fraction of what you may need to deal with. Therefore, I’m providing a list of concealed carry essentials to help you deal with any situation and the ensuing fallout — both immediate and long term.
Are you surprised that a firearm isn’t at the top of the list of concealed carry essentials? Well, a gun is only a tool that you employ and is only as effective as the individual who controls it.
First, you need to be trained in how to safely handle your firearm. However, this is more than being able to squeeze the trigger. Additionally, you’ll need to be able to unholster the firearm safely and aim accurately under stress.
Second, you’ll need to be familiar with the laws that apply to conceal carry. You should know the answers to simple questions like “Can I conceal carry in my car?” and “When can I invoke lethal force?” However, these are just the tip of the iceberg and this type of knowledge is essential for concealed carry.
2. Concealed Carry License and Photo ID
Speaking of remaining on the right side of the law, your concealed carry license (CCW, CHP, etc.) along with a photo ID are another concealed carry essential. Even in constitutional carry states, these vital pieces of government documentation will save you many headaches when it comes to interacting with law enforcement.
A photo ID will verify your identity and oftentimes is a requirement when carrying a concealed firearm. Even in states that are gun friendly, you should always carry these items in your wallet.
3. A Reliable Firearm Is A Must Have
Another concealed carry essential is your firearm. However, you shouldn’t carry just any firearm. Choose a gun that is reliable and with which you have trained extensively (see essential item #1!).
Do you know how to clear a stoppage on your carry pistol? At what distance are you confident in your accuracy? Can you operate the firearm with only one hand? Becoming intimately familiar with your gun is essential to concealed carry.
4. A Quality Holster Is A Concealed Carry Essential
A reliable firearm is only one piece of the puzzle. Another essential item in your concealed carry arsenal is a quality holster.
First and foremost, your holster selection should provide the safest experience to you and those around you. Therefore, I tend to avoid “universal” holsters and opt for designs tailored to my specific handgun. However, this is not always an option, depending on my attire and activity level.
Regardless, whatever holster you choose should be one you have trained with at the range (see item #1…again).
In addition to being safe, your holster should also be comfortable. You should be comfortable wearing the holster for extended periods of time and during various activities.
5. Spare Magazine
Carrying a spare magazine provides an additional layer of security. Nowadays backups are essential for all of our data, why wouldn’t this extend to your firearm. Handgun magazines are simple mechanical devices, but even they aren’t immune to breaking.
When your life and the safety of those around you is at stake, the last thing I want to worry about is running out of ammunition. As the saying goes,”by failing to prepare you prepare to fail.” Can you confidently say that the 8 round magazine in your 1911 is sufficient to get you and your family to safety?
I recommend keeping your primary and secondary magazines loaded up with a good quality personal defense ammunition. This will prevent over-penetration of your target and lessen the likelihood of injuring an innocent bystander.
6. Tourniquet & Medical Supplies Are Essentials
Up to this point, I’ve discussed concealed carry essentials for preparation in using your firearm. However, what happens after you use your gun in self defense?
I highly recommend carrying a tourniquet and other medical supplies as part of your concealed carry kit. There are two reasons that I think medical supplies should be included for someone who carries a concealed firearm.
First, you may need to provide medical aid to bystander if you fire your gun. Bullets don’t just stop when they hit the bad guy. Additionally, even the most highly trained individuals miss the target sometimes.
The second reason to carry medical supplies is to render aid to an assailant. I know what’s going through your mind — “What the hell for?!” Although it may be counter intuitive, providing life saving aid to an assailant may speak to your character in the criminal (and/or civil) suits to follow.
Note: I am not a lawyer and the above is not legal advice.
7. Concealed Carry Insurance
Although we don’t like to think about it, using your firearm has consequences. Having concealed carry insurance protects you and your assets.
Unfortunately, after using your firearm there may be a criminal investigation. Concealed carry insurance can provide you with lawyers to aid in your defense. Even if your firearm use is justified, having legal counsel isn’t cheap.
Furthermore, just because criminal charges are dropped does not mean that you are immune from civil suits. Therefore I highly recommend some form of concealed carry insurance.
I personally have USCCA to protect my assets. Not only do they provide insurance but also provide some educational information included with coverage.
8. Cell Phone
Without a doubt, a cell phone is absolutely essential for concealed carry. It provides you a valuable way to take pictures after an event, find your way in unfamiliar territory, maintain a mental record of event timelines, and contact law enforcement or emergency medical staff.
Additionally, you can easily provide a means for others to contact family or friends in the event you require medical attention. Finally, apps like the one from USCCA provide you with the necessary tools to reach your insurance provider should you need it.
I won’t harp on the benefits of carrying a cell phone too much, as many of us already carry our phones religiously.
9. Body Camera
We’ve all seen the news and the spin they put on every story they cover. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion has become the defacto for all situations involving a firearm. Between Facebook Live streams and YouTube uploads some portion of an altercation always gets leaked for public consumption.
Ironically, the instigators (or sympathizers) of an altercation are usually the ones to leak a video. Usually it doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s why I recommend a body camera to capture both video and audio of any event that could potentially escalate.
From altercations about social issues to active shooter scenarios, the more evidence supporting your decision to use your firearm the better. Remember, you should always look for a way to de-escalate a situation. But when diplomacy fails at least you’ll have video evidence of your attempts to avoid conflict.
Certainly, there are other considerations for the list of concealed carry essentials. Things like flashlights, tactical pens, multitools, and knives are all great accessories to consider. However, in lieu of a dedicated backpack, the above list contains items you can easily carry on your person.
Ultimately, what you consider vital is a personal choice. However, please remember that an event doesn’t end when you re-holster your firearm and some of these small items will go a long way to ensure your freedom.