Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sage Dynamics Firearms Training: EDC Part 1 of 2

“EDC” or “Every Day Carry” has become a popular topic of discussion in the past few years, so much so that products have been developed or repurposed to cater specifically to the EDC market, which really created itself just off of the coining of a phrase and an acronym to go with it.  When I first started carrying a firearm, I didn’t know anything about EDC or what was supposed to be part of it according to this person, that magazine or some subject matter expert.  Instead, I carried what made sense to me and I still do.  That’s not to say to that there have not been some advancements in the quality and technology of equipment and gear that falls into the common EDC market, because there certainly has been, but I still pick my equipment and gear based on my needs first. 

Sage Dynamics: EDC
Now, Every Day Carry is largely governed by a few simple realities; legality, purpose, occupation and expectation.  Legality is pretty straight forward; even if we disagree with it, the responsible citizen stays within the law for EDC.  Purpose is also straightforward; we carry items based on their purpose and how they will assist us or make tasks easier.  Occupation can weigh heavily in EDC; as someone who is in LE (law enforcement) may be required to carry equipment they wouldn’t as a citizen, or be restricted by policy to certain equipment, whereas a citizen might not carry certain items you would expect a LEO to have. Occupation may also limit on the job EDC, such as some prohibitions against firearms in occupations such as paramedic or HVAC repair man (obviously this varies by specific employer). 

Lastly, we have expectation; what you choose to carry based on your reasonable expectations of situations you may encounter, commensurate with your training, skill and ability to handle these situations. Expectation is probably the vaguest aspect of choosing EDC because it is totally open to personal interpretation and personal assessment (as it should be).   That’s not to say that you can’t be taken to task for your choices based on expectations, because this is the internet and if you put it out there, someone is going to have an opinion.  This opinion could be helpful, though some people forget we are on the same team and will instead deride someone based on their perceptions of the situation, which isn’t helpful at all. 

So as a caveat before we get into this, I will say that I am writing on my personal EDC and my personal and professional EDC recommendations.  In addition to being the lead instructor for Sage Dynamics, I am also a full time LEO so my EDC may be somewhat different from a non-LEO.  Also, this article covers Every Day Carry, not “Prepping” or “Bug Out” gear.  I consider both of those to be one in the same and a separate topic than EDC.  They are closely connected, but we will only be looking at Every Day Carry on the person, bag and vehicle. 
Off the Grid Holsters
Some might expect me to go into great detail on what handgun you should CCW and why; I won’t.  The choice of handgun is an article in itself, so I will just say this: I carry a Glock 19 EDC/off duty for three reasons.  It’s a quality weapon, has a large magazine capacity for its size and gunfights are won by shot placement and round penetration which is why I choose the 9mm.  The caliber debate is also an article in itself, so I’m not going to address it here except to say that the mope complaint department tells me the bad guy is universally unhappy with all calibers, specifically those they are shot with.  There is a world of statistical data supporting each round; the due diligence is up to you.
On the topic however, spare ammunition on your person is a must.  I generally carry one spare magazine on my belt and have two additional in my bag.  Not having a crystal ball, I don’t know how many rounds it’s going to take to win my gunfight so I bring what I consider to be a reasonable amount.
Your handgun needs a holster.  A quality holster that is comfortable and as simple as possible.  If you carry concealed, a friction lock Kydex or open top leather will serve fine if you are comfortable with no active retention.  If you open carry, do so in a holster that offers at least one level of retention (preferably two) because any confrontation you may find yourself in, there is at least one gun and if you are carrying openly, both parties know it.  I carry concealed in an Off the Grid Concepts Sidewinder model.  My spare magazine on my belt is held in an Off the Grid Concepts magazine pouch.

Ares Gear Ranger Belt
Belts are important for a few reasons; they hold up our pants for one, and secure our firearm and possibly other EDC gear as well.  Just like handgun choice, holster choice and caliber choice, an article can stand alone on belts.  I prefer a semi-rigid belt that carries weight evenly (or as evenly as possible) and is not likely to sag under the weight of gear.  I have a few different belts but overwhelmingly wear the Ares Gear Ranger Belt on a day-to-day basis.  Once you get used to its rigid construction and particulars of feeding it onto pants and through holsters, you will probably wonder how you ever lived without it; some may even write a sonnet on it.

Emerson Knives
Knives come next.  Part tool, part potential weapon of desperation, a quality knife is invaluable for a few reasons.  It’s there to perform daily cutting tasks, can be re-purposed to act as a pry tool or even a screw driver and in a weapon retention situation, it can be the difference between the bad guy getting your gun or the bad guy getting excited about making it to a hospital. 

I carry two knives at all times on my person, both are Emerson’s and both have Emerson’s Wave feature.  I prefer the Emerson because the Wave feature allows you to open the knife simply by pulling it out of your pocket.  When done with upward and reward (or forward depending on side) motion, the Wave catches the pocket fabric and deploys the blade as the knife comes clear of the pocket, making it ready for use immediately.  In a struggle for your weapon where at least one hand is likely to be occupied grappling to keep your weapon, a free hand and a knife can go a long way towards making someone rethink their motivation.  One knife is for general use, the other (carried in the pocket opposite which side of the body I am carrying my weapon on, as I am ambi and I can and do carry on either side) is strictly to defend my weapon in the event of a grab.  Don’t think this can happen?  Google it.

Streamlight Flashlight
Bad things happen during the day, though more often at night.  Carrying a flashlight is good common sense and can also provide a distinct advantage.  Simplicity of operation and durability first, brightness second, and price third.  A handheld light gives you the common functions of a tool, and can serve you well in the event of a violent encounter in low light. 

Most handguns of the compact size and larger have an accessory rail, which allows the equipping of a weapon light.  There is no good reason not to equip a weapon light if you want one, however a handheld light should still be part of your EDC because, unless you are the world’s largest fecal magnet, you will use a flashlight for administrative tasks far more often than gun work.  Because of this, a handheld light allows you to perform administrative tasks independent of having your weapon drawn to do so.  For me, I carry a pocket Streamlight Pro Tac 1L (pictured).  It has two brightness settings, a strobe feature and is very well built.  In almost all other things I prefer a Surefire or an INFORCE (weapons lights, specifically) but for the size, the Pro Tac is hard to beat.

Magpul iPhone Field Case
Another consideration for the EDC category is a strong cell phone protective case.  I'm sure this gets me a few eye rolls, though consider that cell phones have gotten more valuable in terms of information they allow you access and less durable in terms of construction.  I had a Nokia 3310 that, aside from being a great light source and having the best bowling game of any phone, could survive even the worst of drops (once down a flight of concrete stairs, every one of them).  My iPhone, on the other hand, is skittish and has a fear of falling to the floor from even lap height without an insulated case.  The tradeoff is that my iPhone gives me GPS, maps, Google, and of course, phone calls. 
My Nokia could send simple SMS messages, get a signal anywhere and brush off everything short of ballistic impacts.  In the event that you truly need your phone, you want it to not be broken.  Invest in a good case.  I use a Magpul case mainly because it’s one of the slimmest, yet provides great protection.
Aside from the items of mentioned, there are other items that are very useful for every day carry, though most of them such as a quality watch, good footwear and appropriate cover garment (for your weapon) are going to be wide open to personal preference.  I have no interest in turning this into an over-the-top concentric gear conversation, though if you have a need to carry something, do so every day without fail because it’s not going to do you any good if you need it and don’t have it.  In the next part, we will take a look at a common sense EDC bag that covers the basics.
Aaron Cowan is the Lead Instructor for Sage Dynamics, a reality-focused firearms and tactics training company that provides practical instruction from the fundamentals to advanced skills for the civilian, police and military professional.  Aaron served in the US Army as an Infantryman,  as a private security contractor overseas and as a police officer.  In addition to patrol he worked as a a SWAT team member, SWAT deputy team commander, SWAT sniper, sniper section leader and in-service police training officer.  Aaron holds multiple professional certifications including the National Rifle Association Law Enforcement Division’s instructor training program, California POST certified academy instructor, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Active Shooter Response Instructor and Simunitions Scenario Instructor among others. When he isn't teaching or training, hes writes semi-regular for Recoil (web) and Breach Bang Clear among others."
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