How Video Games Helped My Carry Selections

Most people are fairly critical of the media portrayals of gun handling, and the related content and behaviors. Everything from “cup and saucer” grips on cop dramas, to the infamous “cocking Glock” on The Walking Dead. TV, movies, and even video games generally give us a pretty unrealistic perspective on how living with and carrying guns generally works. But there are those rare instances where you find something useful:

Ok, so it’s not exactly a direct correlation, but I do find myself configuring my daily carry setup along similar lines to how modern FPS games have you equip your character. Stick with me here, I promise this will make sense in a minute. 

One compliment that modern game designers have been getting is paying more attention to the realism of their games; both in the visuals, but also in the performance of the equipment and how much a character can carry. With the current crop of Ghost Recon/Rainbow Six/Call of Duty titles, you get to customize your character’s loadout. You’re generally limited to:

  • A primary weapon
  • A secondary/backup weapon
  • A grenade or less lethal option (gas or stun)
  • A med kit
  • A gadget or special skill of some kind

Gone of the days of Goldeneye and Grand Theft Auto where you can carry literally every gun, bomb, and attack helicopter that you pick up. And it makes for more interesting game play. As luck would have it, that same basic framework is actually a pretty good guideline for structuring your EDC loadout as well. Here’s how I’ve structured mine:

  • Level 1 (always with me with no exception): MEDICAL. Why is this at the top of the list? Because it’s the solution to the widest scope of problems I might encounter. I can find myself (or someone else) in need of medical aid whether or not a confrontation has taken place.
    • At the bare minimum, this is a CAT tourniquet
    • If my wardrobe will support it, this is augmented by a PHLster Pocket Emergency Wallet (although Jon’s definition of “pocket sized” and mine vary slightly. This is about the size of an overstuffed bifold wallet. Really only appropriate for back or cargo pockets.)
    • I have a more complete trauma kit in my briefcase and in the glovebox of my car.
  • Level 2 (with me wherever possible, unless prohibited by law): LESS LETHAL. Wait what? Not the gun!?!?!?! *unsubscribes intensify* Hear me out. There are plenty of interpersonal conflicts where some level of force might be appropriate, but deadly force may not be necessary. Additionally, there are places I like to go (namely the extensive list of cocktail bars my town offers) where carrying a firearm is legally prohibited. But I can still have
    • POM Pepper Spray. This is my next go-to for a few reasons:
      • It allows me to basically perform the “eye jab” that Craig Douglas teaches during his Managing Unknown Contacts (MUC) block at greater than arms reach. (Literally, after taking ECQC one of the first things I did was buy pepper spray, because the class showed me how easily people can encroach on you, and how unpleasant it is having to go hands on with someone)
      • The legal threshold* (at least where I am) for using OC is dramatically lower than it is for deadly force. It can help dissuade someone that’s not taking “no” for an answer, but not posing a deadly threat. 
      • It offers a solution that’s “between harsh words and a gun” to shamelessly steal the title of Chuck Haggard’s OC class. 
    • A sap. This is an admittedly new (as of 9/1) addition to my loadout, because they’re newly legal to carry in Texas. I took a short form class from Larry Lindenman at Tac-Con back in March, and it showed me the real value of a purpose built impact weapon. The biggest advantages are:
      • Flat and low profile. Easily carried.
      • You can modulate the level of force being applied, depending on if you’re striking with the flat vs. the edge, and where on the body you’re striking.
      • Can be discreetly “staged” during the MUC process, so that it’s ready to use if needed. 
      • I haven’t decided if this will be a constant part of my EDC, or reserved to when I can’t carry a firearm. TDB. 
  • Level 3 (with me wherever possible & when appropriate): FLASHLIGHT. WTF, still no gun!?!?!? You’re “The Suited Shootist for God’s sake!!!!! There’s also those that insist on carrying a light everywhere, all the time. Personally, for me that’s a little excessive. Don’t get me wrong I’ll throw it in my pocket, especially if I’m dressed down and more casual, but I don’t make it a point to bring a light unless I’m going to out past 5 PM. 
    • My current light of choice is the Fenix PD35. I think it’s the best balance of cost and performance for my personal needs. I do have a couple of slimmer Streamlights if needed, but I’ve found that the Fenix isn’t too obtrusive even in the trousers of my suits. 
  • Level 4 (with me wherever legally possible): DEADLY FORCE. Finally, we’re getting to talk about guns!……weeeeeeeeeeell, kinda.
    • Option #1 for Deadly Force is actually a knife. (reader’s twitching intensifies). Why? Again, there are places that my wife and I like to go where firearms aren’t an option. So in those situations, when I still want a lethal option available, I’ll bring along either:
      • Shivworks Clinch Pick whenever I’m more casual and my shirt is untucked or I’m wearing a vest, so I can have something on my belt or
      • Blade Rigs Micro Guppy. This is my regular “dress carry” option, since I’ve got it attached to an RCS Pocket Shield. The angle and configuration of the grip make it easier to access in the slash-style pockets of dress pants. 
    • Option #2: La Pistola. FINALLY!!!!!!. Now depending on my situation, it’s either going to be:
      • Glock 19 in either my KSG Sidekick (now Sidechick) if I need a tuckable option, or my Keeper from Keper’s Concealment.
      • Glock 26 w/ an RCS Vanguard 2 Advanced. 
      • S&W Shield generally in the SmartCarry 
      • S&W M&P 340 J-Frame, either in the SmartCarry or tucked under a vest w/ the Barami Hip Grip
      • KelTec P32 in a pocket holster bolted directly to a RCS Pocket Shield. 

The type of pistol I’ll carry on a given day is not decided by my mood, the alignment of the planets, or some other silly motivation. It’s strictly based on what I’m wearing, what I’ll be doing, and my risk assessment of wherever I’ll be going. Therefore, this is not a carry rotation, but a situationally dependent decision tree. 

  • Level 5: It’s exceptionally rare, almost never, but on occasion I will carry either a spare magazine or backup gun. The spare mag would be if I’m carrying one of the Glocks. The J-Frame or KelTec would serve as the backup gun. But I can think of only 1 instance in the last 2 years where this was actually employed.

That’s right. The firearm is the last item on the list of tools I’ll carry. This is because of a few different reasons: Firstly, my job and interests regularly takes me into places where I’m prohibited from carrying a gun. Secondly, because of how I live my life, there is a greater chance of me encountering a non-gun problem.

There are folks out there that will espouse that “I won’t go anywhere I can’t carry”, and that’s certainly their prerogative, but I think that limits one’s potential life experiences. There are also those that will say “Concealed means concealed. What they don’t know won’t hurt them”, suggesting that they would carry their firearm in violation of posted laws. Again, that’s certainly their call (not that this blog advocates law breaking). But understand the risk you’re taking on. I’ve known people to lose their jobs or suffer other negative social outcomes that could have been otherwise avoided had they carried smarter and more appropriately. 

One of the “catch phrases” you’ll hear regularly within the gun carrying community is “Two is One, One is None” And that’s used to justify carrying 2 guns, extra mags, more than one blade, etc. For some people, depending on their lifestyle, that might be a realistic and appropriate loadout. For most of us that live life with a gun (as opposed to it being part of our job), preparing for the least likely event can prevent us from going about or day to day lives. Everyone likes to gear up for the Hollywood-style, “save the day” type of defensive gun use (DGU). John Johnston of Citizen’s Defense Research calls these “Sentinel Events”, and I think they warrant their own article. 

Ultimately, everyone’s context will be different. What is appropriate for me may not be appropriate for you. I would encourage you to take a long, realistic, analytical look at your lifestyle, and make sure that your chosen equipment list accurately reflects that.

As always, Your Mileage May Vary. Only you know what’s best for you. 

*I’m definitely not a lawyer, and nothing on this blog constitutes legal advice of any kind. You are solely responsible for everything your chosen carry gear complies with all local, state, and federal laws. I don’t know you, so I’m sure as hell not going to jail for you. It’s called being a responsible adult.