CCW: How and What You Should Carry for Self Defense

Have you wondered what you should carry for self-defense or CCW? I’m not talking about just the obvious (the gun). I’m talking about the other things like extra ammo, knife, tourniquet, flashlight, etc. It’s easy to get complacent and not carry anything or the very minimum. The minimum is better than nothing at all, but are you really prepared for the worst? As of this writing, the news is flooded with stories about the most recent mass shooting in the state of Maine.

Shooting the Taurus GX4 9mm handgun.
The Taurus GX4 is a great size weapon for CCW. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
Multiple people have been killed, many more wounded, and the shooter is on the loose. Hopefully, by the time this publishes, the killer is behind bars where he belongs. But, this is yet another reminder that evil people do evil things. Laws and regulations won’t stop someone from committing a crime if they don’t care about the repercussions of that crime. That’s why people in a free country have the right to self-defense and the right to fight back for their life or the lives of others.

I’ve talked a great deal about Elisjsha Dicken and the Indiana mall shooting. What could have been a large-scale massacre was cut short by a law abiding citizen who exercised their right to self defense. But, what happens after the shooting takes place? Or, what if you are notified of a shooter on the loose like those in Maine? You may need to get home or take shelter and there are a few things that could be handy besides just your CCW weapon.

CCW: Weapons and Ammo

Like I said above, the first and most obvious thing you carry for self-defense is a weapon. Selecting the right weapon that works for you is important. I’m not going to give a specific type or caliber and say you should carry it. What works for one may not work for another. I will give a few suggestions that were given to me a long time ago and have served me well. First, carry the largest gun you can comfortably conceal. Smaller guns are not better, just more convenient.

Kimber Rapide 1911 pistol.
Finding the right size of CCW weapon is important for daily carry. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
The smaller the gun, the less ammo they hold and the harder it is to control in a self-defense incident. A full-size gun is ideal for self-defense, but not as easy to conceal. Other factors like your wardrobe, daily activities, job, and more also play a role in the type of gun you select. Once you have something picked out that you don’t mind packing around everywhere you go, select a high-quality holster to carry it in.  Holster selection is just as important as the firearm and should have some type of retention on it.

Next is ammo. How much do you need? A compact gun for CCW typically holds anywhere from 7 to 12 rounds of ammo depending on the model and caliber. With extended mags, you can carry even more, but the longer magazine can make the gun harder to conceal. The next thing to consider is extra magazines. Almost everyone that buys a gun has more than one mag. Most guns even come with two or three mags. Do you have room to carry an extra mag?

CCW: Knives, Flashlights, and Tourniquets

Besides the gun and maybe extra ammo, I believe you should always have some type of light on you. I prefer it to be separate from a cell phone. Cell phones are a great source of light. However, during an emergency, you may be using your phone for other things. It’s doesn’t have to be a blinding 1,000 lumen combat light, just something to help you see in the dark. I carry a small Streamlight on me most of the time. The Wedge, Nano pocket light, or even the Streamlight LOGO keychain light are better than no light at all.

A knife is another tool I never leave the house without. It doesn’t have to be a large dagger or combat knife, but something you can use for self-defense. It also needs to be sharp so you can cut various items during an emergency. You never know when you will need one and it’s better to be safe than sorry. My favorite daily carry is the Benchmade Mini Adamas. It has a CPM D2 steel blade and it’s just the right size for carrying in a front pocket. Even if it’s on the small side for a self-defense knife, it’s better than nothing.

CCW gear.
You can only carry so many things on you all the time. Here are a few I never leave without. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
I also try to carry a tourniquet on me or keep one in my car. You can buy small ones made to keep in a pocket, but my favorite is the North American Combat Application Tourniquet. Because of their size, it must be carried in a backpack or kept in the car, but they work great. You can also mount them on a vest carrier as well. If you want one to keep in your pocket, my Medic Rats makes a great compact tourniquet just for that purpose.

What else should you carry?

For me, the basics are the gun, ammo, light, knife, and tourniquet. There are some other items you may wish to carry with you. A multi-purpose tool that has plyers, knife, and other items in it could be helpful in emergencies. A good watch may be something you already wear daily, but if not, think about getting one. Phones have started to replace watches, but a phone is not attached to you. It is easy to drop and lose when things go bad.

Knowing the time is important for several reasons including placement of tourniquet, marking what time an incident happened, and more. Another thing to consider is the type of shoes you wear. Some other items like ballistic backpacks and jackets are also an option. These get pricey and tend to be heavy, but if you want the maximum protection when out and about, a ballistic panel is a step in the right direction.

Where should you carry all this stuff?

Talking about it is easy. Carrying it is another story. Like I mentioned in the beginning, it’s easy to get complacent and think you don’t really need all that stuff for a quick run to the store. I carry a gun for a living, so I struggle with making myself carry one any time I leave the house. It feels good at the end of the day to take all your gear off. Putting a bunch back on to run to the lumberyard feels like I’m getting ready for work again. This is why I like reliable, compact gear that isn’t too burdensome.

Streamlight Wedge clipped into front pocket
The WEDGE is a great light for daily carry. [Photo: Jason Mosher]
I use an IWB (inside the waist) holster on a medium size weapon. A Glock 48, Ruger Max 9, IWI Masada Slim, Springfield Hellcat, and more are all good options. Just make sure you can conceal it without it being too uncomfortable. With my gun just behind my right hip, I carry my knife in my front right pocket and an extra mag in my left pocket. I prefer jeans with an extra small pocket above the front one because a small magazine will fit in most of them.

When I’m carrying the Streamlight Wedge, I place it on the side of my left back pocket. It doesn’t get in the way here and it’s easy to access. If I am going to be very far from my car, I carry a small backpack as well. I keep a few medical supplies, extra mag, and some water in it all the time. During cold weather, coats and vests are a good place to keep items as well.

Find the Right Balance

In the end, all the gear in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have it on you when you need it. Try a few things out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Again, a larger gun is better in a gun fight, but a smaller gun is much easier to carry. Decide where that middle line is for you with each item you plan to carry. If you find yourself not carrying something, reevaluate the reasons and make adjustments. Just remember to stay vigilant and prepared as you go about your day.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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