What Do You Consider the Best Everyday Carry Gear?

Aug. 21, 2023
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't always work when it comes to recommending "the best" everday-carry law enforcement equipment, such as handguns. Find out if the best gear is the right gear for you.

Having been a police officer for roughly 40 years, a police instructor for just over 30, and being an author for about 25(ish) now, it’s not uncommon for people to ask for equipment recommendations. What’s the best concealed carry handgun? What’s the best pocketknife? Do you have a favorite multi-tool? What flashlight do you carry every day? What I realized a long time ago is that what’s best for me isn’t necessarily best for someone else. One-size-fits-all is a military outlook with limited application outside of service. With that realization, the answer quickly became more generic and open to interpretation.

All too often, the discussions reveal that what many people feel is “the best,” is actually what some movie or television show says is the coolest. If you chase what’s coolest, you’ll spend a lot of money buying, and lose a lot of time carrying, what doesn’t work for you. Unfortunately, you’ll pay the price in the acquisition and the discomfort of carrying/using what doesn’t work. It’s one way to learn, but you can shorten the process.

What’s the best concealed carry handgun?

That’s always a fun one. To simplify the answer: whatever you are most competent with, confident in and comfortable carrying/shooting. When you think about that for a few minutes, you realize that it’s different for everyone. The gun a 6’4” 240-pound man can conceal, carry and comfortably shoot may be radically different from the gun a 5’2” 130-pound man can manage. The perceived necessary caliber and capacity is different for everyone. Plenty of experienced officers/shooters carry a Government 1911 style handgun with between 7-10 rounds of .45ACP per magazine. Other officers feel that a 9mm with a higher capacity is needed. The “best” concealed carry handgun is the one in the caliber you’re comfortable shooting and confident will stop whatever threat you anticipate. The last consideration is what you can comfortably and properly conceal.

What is the best pocketknife to carry?

Everyone has their own favorite. Plenty of people actually have a knife in their pocket that was a gift from a parent, sibling or other relative. Some officers carry the pocketknife that was a gift to them when they graduated from the academy. It would be hard to count the agencies that have General Orders that delineate what knives are acceptable or not in uniform, but do they apply for off-duty hours? At the end of the day, the knife is a basic utility tool, and the blade only needs to be long enough to perform the majority of cutting chores anticipated or experienced by the person carrying it. Folding knives are convenient as compared to fixed blade knives, but because of the design, blade length is limited. Depending on the work being done, you may need ¼” of cutting edge or several inches’ worth. For most people, a folding knife blade between 2”-3” is sufficient. The handle and grips are going to be roughly ½” longer than that. Clipping a knife that, folded, is between 2.5” and 3.5” in overall length into your pocket is pretty easy and convenient. As far as blade design, edge type, etc., most people don’t know enough about knives to know the difference or be able to articulate why they prefer one over the other. Pick what works for you in size, carry comfort and price point. “Buy quality” doesn’t necessarily mean buy high priced.

What’s the best flashlight to carry every day?

Selecting a flashlight means knowing in advance how much light you require from it, how long you need the batteries to last, and what size it is limited to. Thanks to developments in technology, most quality flashlights today are driven by LED lamps, digital power control and rechargeable batteries. The whole package, for daily carry, can now fit into the space typically taken up by a folding knife. The question of how much light you need depends on what you anticipate doing with it. If all you need is enough light to put your key in the lock at night when you get home, 15 lumens is enough. On the other hand, if you anticipate needing enough light to positively identify a target to potentially engage it with lethal force, you can’t really have enough light. Thankfully, again through the wonders of technology, you can get 250+ lumens in relatively small packages. The important thing to remember is that brighter lights in smaller packages equals shorter overall run times. Lower quality lights can get very hot very fast due to a lack of digital control on the power flow. The key to finding the best flashlight for your daily carry is to know how much light you need and for how long. Find the size that suits your intentions for carry position.

What else should I be carrying?

This depends, moment to moment, on how prepared you want to be for the zombie apocalypse. Yes, that’s a joke but at the end of the day, there are plenty of people who plan their everyday carry (EDC) exactly like that: as if they are planning to face some kind of world collapse every day. Understand, there is no way to be 100% prepared 100% of the time. That said, being ready for 90%+ of your everyday experiences and unexpected emergencies isn’t hard to accomplish. Unfortunately, having everything for that usually means carrying a bag or pack of some sort. It means carrying some basic emergency medical supplies, some type of food and water and maybe a portable recharging pack of some kind. All you can do is reasonably anticipate your needs and equip yourself for them.

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