SPD 003 – Essential Personal Defense Items for Every Day Carry

What is “EDC” or Every Day Carry?

Essential Personal Defense Items for Every Day Carry

Your EDC, or Every Day Carry, is a collection of useful items that you carry with you everywhere you go. Think of a uniformed police officer’s duty belt, or an electrician’s tool belt. But don’t get too carried away, your personal defense EDC doesn’t have to be near as cumbersome as what police officers and electricians carry.

What types of items make up an EDC?

  • A EDC is made up of useful items that you carry with you every day.
  • Should be items that serve a purpose, like helping you protect yourself or helping you conduct your activities more efficiently. (In this episode I’m only talking about EDC items for personal protection. There are many more items you could consider for every day carry to make your life more convenient and keep you better prepared for unexpected situations that aren’t necessarily self-defense situations.)

Don’t go cheap with every day carry items.

  • Buy high quality components that you can rely on if you need to use them.
  • “Don’t go cheap” means don’t buy “cheaply made.” A high quality item doesn’t have to be the most expensive.
  • High quality components will last longer and cost less in the long run since you won’t have to replace them as often.

Your every day carry is personalized.

  • Not everyone dresses the same. Nor can everyone in every jurisdiction legally carry the same items. Not everyone is capable of using particular weapons, etc. For these reasons your personal defense every day carry might not be the same as your friend’s. It’s very likely that it may not be the same for you all the time for some of the same reasons.

What are the essential personal defense items for every day carry?

Here are three items that I consider essential:

  • A personal size tactical flashlight
  • A mobile phone
  • A weapon

Tactical Flashlights

  • Criminals like to hang out in the dark a lot; a flashlight can help you illuminate dark areas to see if someone is hiding.
  • Maybe you’ve already perceived a threat lurking in the shadows. A good flashlight will light up the shadows so you can identify the threat.
  • In the dark, an attackers eyes will be adjusted to the low light. Shining a bright tactical light in their eyes is a good way to disorient them.
  • With proper training a tactical flashlight can also double as a striking weapon, and several models are designed with use as a weapon in mind. Also, I don’t know of any place in the United States where it’s illegal to carry a flashlight.
  • Some features you’ll want in a tactical flashlight are:
    • At least 100 lumens output
    • a momentary switch that will keep the light on while you press the switch, and turn it off when you release it.

Mobile Phones

  • You can call for help more quickly with a mobile phone on you.
  • You can use a mobile phone to get directions. Especially handy if you’re trying to quickly get out of the “bad part” of town.
  • Modern smart phones have superior quality cameras that might come in handy to record evidence or suspicious activity.
  • It’s not as good as a tactical flashlight, but modern smartphones have a bright light that you could use if you find yourself without a tactical flashlight.
  • Don’t want to get tangled up with a mobile phone provider? You can get a deactivated phone from someone who’s not using it anymore. As long as you’re in a service area and the phone is charged you can still call 911.


  • If you can legally carry a firearm, I suggest you do.
    • Simple fact – firearms level the playing field. Your attacker is no longer superior to you in might if you have a firearm and know how to use it.
    • If you’re skilled with a firearm it might even tip the odds in your favor in a violent confrontation.
There are other options than firearms if you can’t legally carry one.
  • Your personal size tactical flashlight can double as a striking weapon.
  • Pepper spray
    • Get one made with oleoresin capsicum, this is the most effective type.
    • You’ll want one with at least a 10ft range and a reliable safety that’s easy to operate.
    • Look for pepper sprays that spray streams or gels. They require better accuracy, but are less likely to be affected by wind and the environment.
    • SABRE® and Defense Technology® both make quality products that have hot sprays and are reliable. SABRE® also has inert pepper spray containers that you can use to familiarize yourself and train with.
  • Kubotan key chain
    • Used for striking and applying to pressure points on the attacker to encourage compliance.
    • Tactical pens are available that perform essentially the same as a kubotan.
  • Stun Guns/Tasers
    • Both of these shock your opponent and will more than likely put them down with a good hit.
    • A stun gun delivers the shock by touching the opponent with the device.
    • A taser delivers the shock by two probes that fire out of the device and hit the opponent.
    • I’m not personally a fan of carrying these for self defense. They’re expensive, and in the case of the taser you usually only have one shot. If you miss, or the taser doesn’t penetrate the clothing, you have to go to a backup plan.
  • Collapsible baton
    • Opens with the flick of the wrist and you have yourself a nice baton to use as a weapon.
  • Knife
    • A tactical folder you can open with one hand is a good choice, if legal where you are.
    • A knife is a good utility item to add to your kit even if you’re carrying something else as a weapon. It’s especially useful to carry on the opposite side of your body than your firearm. If you’re trying to keep somebody from taking your firearm you can use the knife in your other hand to help fight them off. This is one of the many techniques you’ll want training in if you decide to incorporate it in your strategy.
    • Knife laws can be unclear and hard to understand. Make sure you understand the law!
  • Another thing you can use is simply the keys on your keychain. You can carry your key chain in your fist with a couple of keys poking out through your fingers. This will give you a bit of an advantage if you have to strike an attacker.
  • Whatever you carry, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy for you to get to, not buried in a gym bag or purse, briefcase, etc.
  • Even if you’re carrying a gun, you should consider getting trained to use some of these other items and carrying them if it’s legal. Not every defensive situation involves deadly force. You may find yourself needing non-deadly solution.

Whatever weapon you carry, or item you’re using as a weapon, make sure it’s legal to carry and that you’ve trained to use it!

All these might be considered offensive weapons, rather than defensive weapons in whatever jurisdiction you’re in. For instance, even though the kubotan is a keychain, it’s recognized as an offensive weapon in some places. So, make sure you know the law and make sure whatever you’re carrying is legal.

You also want to make sure you’re trained to use whatever you’re carrying as a weapon.

Know HOW to use the weapon, and when it’s LEGAL to use it, train to remove the weapon from wherever you’re carrying it and lawfully employ it against an attacker with accuracy.

Weapons training isn’t limited to firearms; if you’re carrying pepper spray, you need to know, for instance, how to take the safety off, how to know that you’re pointing it in the right direction, and how to tactically employ it to gain the most advantage so you can get out of there. The same goes for any other item you’re planning to use as a weapon. There are tactics and techniques that you won’t know unless you get training

Seek out professional training that you attend in person. You can learn a lot from reading, from youtube, podcasts, and from other sources, but nothing, other than street experience maybe, can replace the personal interaction you get with a professional trainer

Now Go Get a Personal Defense EDC!

Now that you know what an EDC is, you need to get one if don’t already have one. The kit we talked about here is for personal defense, but flashlight and phone come in handy for other obvious uses as well. You can always add to it to make it more generally useful. For instance, you might want to add a multitool, a pen and paper, or a watch.

Again, don’t go cheap, make sure you’re legal, and get training!


We’d love to know what you think of the show. We’d also like for you to send us your questions and topics you’d like to hear discussed on the show. You can comment below, or send comments, questions, and suggestions to bruce@smartpersonaldefense.com.

The show is available on iTunes and Stitcher. We’d love for you to rate and review the show. That would really help us out.

Thanks for checking out Smart Personal Defense. Remember, you are your own best defense.

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SPD 002 – The Defensive Mindset

Developing the Defensive Mindset and the Principles of Personal Defense

The Defensive MindsetDeveloping a defensive mindset should be a priority for those inclined to take charge of their own self-defense. Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense is considered by many to be one of the greatest books ever written on the subject of the combat mindset. In SPD 002, Bruce discusses Principles of Personal Defense and Cooper’s ideas on conditioning the defensive mindset.

In Principles of Personal Defense, Cooper theorized seven practical principles to help you develop proper defensive mental conditioning and gain a solid foundation for your self-defense training and readiness.

Bruce talks about the meaning of each of the seven Princples and ways to develop them in order to strengthen your defensive mindset.

If you want to buy a copy of Principles of Personal Defense, you can get one at any of the following links:

*Amazon Affiliate Link Disclosure

Defensive Mindset Tip of the Week

Strengthen Your Observation Skills by Playing “Kim’s Game”

Situational awareness is key to a strong defensive mindset. One of the main ingredients to maintaining situational awareness is the power of observation. Many of us have become so absorbed with what we’re doing that we’ve lost the ability to pay attention to what’s going on around us. This simple game can help strengthen your observation skills, which in turn leads to strong situational awareness a solid defensive mindset, and greater personal security.

I had an instructor once tell me that ‘KIMS’ stood for ‘Keep in Memory Stupid.’ It’s also been said by sniper school instructors that it stands for ‘Keep in Mind Sniper.’ Truth is, neither is correct. Kim’s Game comes from the Rudyard Kipling book, Kim. The book’s hero, named Kim, plays the game to learn observation skills while he’s in training to become a spy.

Now that you know the history of the game, here’s how it works. I like to play against one or more opponents. It seems to me that a little competition makes it more effective. So, here’s how you play:

  • Have someone (we’ll call them the teacher) layout several small items on a tray or small table and cover them with a cloth. 10-15 items should be a good enough number when you’re first starting.
  • All the players gather around where they’ll be able to see the items.
  • The “teacher” will uncover the items for one minute.
  • The players will study the items and remember as much about them as they can.
  • After one minute the teacher covers the items.
  • The players will right down as much as they can remember about what they saw. The winner is the player who remembers the most.

When you first start, you’ll probably end up just naming the items you saw. Take a look at the picture below.

Kim's Game for developing observation and defensive mindset
Items for playing ‘Kim’s Game’

When you first start playing the game, you might remember that you saw a golf ball, a clothes pin, a cigarette lighter, a paperclip, a battery, etc. The goal is to observe more than individual items. You want to remember details. You want to remember the items you saw, but what do you remember about them?

So, you might write that you saw a dirty golf ball, a red disposable cigarette lighter, a metal paper clip about two inches long, a wooden clothes pin with a spring, a ‘AAA’ battery, etc. Obviously, there are many more details that could describe each item. As you become more skilled you’ll remember more details about the items and start describing how they are situated in relation to the other items.

After you learn to play the game, you can translate Kim’s Game into your observations about your surroundings. When you’re sitting at intersections, at work, or in other public places, what do you notice about the people? How are they behaving? What do they look like? What are they wearing? What about the layout of the building you’re in? What about the vehicles around you?

All the little details you want to start observing can seem overwhelming at first. As you strengthen your observation skills it will become habit to observe details and it will get a lot easier. Playing Kim’s Game is a simple and fun way of learning to incorporate observation into your everyday activities.

Defensive Firearms Training Tip of the Week


Beginners often ask what pistol they should buy. There are a lot of opinions floating around about the best answer to this question. In Episode 002, Bruce explains why he suggests a polymer framed, 9mm pistol, without a manual safety.


We’d love to know what you think of the show. We’d also like for you to send us your questions and topics you’d like to hear discussed on the show. You can comment below, or send comments, questions, and suggestions to bruce@smartpersonaldefense.com.

The show is available on iTunes and Stitcher. We’d love for you to rate and review the show. That would really help us out.

Thanks for checking out Smart Personal Defense. Remember, you are your own best defense.

SPD 001 – 5 Elements of a Self-Defense Strategy

Self-Defense Strategy

5 Elements of a Self Defense StrategyA good self-defense strategy includes more than carrying a firearm or learning to fight. In this episode I discuss five elements I believe we need to consider when we’re beginning to think about developing a self-defense strategy. The five areas I talk about in this episode are:

  1. Self-Defense Philosophy and Mindset
  2. Knowledge
  3. Personal Behavior
  4. Tools and Equipment
  5. Training

Of course, many aspects of self-defense strategy are subjective and their level of relevancy are highly dependent on individual situations. Also, the five elements are definitely not an exhaustive list of all the items that you should consider when you work out your self-defense strategy. They are, however, a good start to building your plan.

Self-Defense Philosophy and Mindset

What are your underlying beliefs about self-defense? Do you believe you have the right and/or obligation to defend yourself? Or, do you believe the State (that is, the government) is responsible for the personal safety of its citizens? Your philosophy will determine how you approach your self-defense strategy.

Are you mentally prepared to defend yourself? We need to understand and develop a defensive mindset as part of our self-defense strategy.


What do you know about defending yourself? Maybe you know how to use your chosen weapon. But, do you know how and when it is legal to use your weapon in whatever jurisdiction or situation you find yourself in? Do you know how to identify and avoid situations where you might be unnecessarily put in danger?

Personal Behavior

Our behavior can either discourage an attacker or it can give them confidence that we’re easy targets, and thereby encourage an attack. Does your behavior discourage attackers?

Tools and Equipment

What tools and equipment do you need to discourage attackers and respond to an attack, if necessary? The tools and equipment you need for your self-defense strategy will be largely dependent on your situation.

There are two “must-have” items should be part of your self-defense strategy. You should always carry a mobile phone and a flashlight. Mobile phones can be vital to reaching help in an emergency. Flashlights can be used to find and deter attackers. They can also be used as weapons against attackers.

Most people these days already have a mobile phone. If you don’t have one, and you’re not keen on getting involved in a contract with wireless carrier, you can get a prepaid phone for $10-$25.*

Flashlights can get pricey, but you don’t want to go ultra-cheap here. Look for one with at least 100 lumens output. You also want a momentary switch that will keep the light on while you press the switch, and turn it off when you release it. Here are some decent flashlight options.*

*Affiliate Link Disclosure


Training is an often overlooked element of self-defense strategy. Training helps us gain knowledge and practical experience from people who already know how to do what we want to do. Whether it’s using weapons, legal training, fortifying your home or some other defensive related subject, it’s well worth the time, effort, and money that it costs to get professional instruction.

Developing Your Self-Defense Strategy

I think you’ll find it useful to consider these five elements when you’re developing your self-defense strategy. If you already have a self defense strategy you might want to review it and see if it can be fine tuned.


I would really like to know what you think of the show. Please feel free to comment below, or send comments, questions and topics you’d like to hear discussed on the show to bruce@smartpersonaldefense.com.


Smart Personal Defense supports, and asks you to consider supporting, the following organizations, Click on the links to support and find out more about these organizations. 

The Convention of States Project
The National Rifle Association
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