Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

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We know weirdos who carry 30+ pounds of gear every day; that’s not what this post is about. Though the word ‘minimalist’ may invoke images of Steve Jobs and terrible turtlenecks, this is more about ‘fight for your life’ and less ‘my gadget is neat’.

Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC
Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

Have a gun. Practice as often as possible. Understand your own capabilities and limitations, as well as those of your chosen weapon. Pursue the quest of balancing speed with accuracy. Concentrate on your goals, and work toward them in a logical way.

These are things you’ve heard before, repeatedly, from many good sources and even a few bad ones. Understand that carrying concealed is sometimes a compromise; workplace policies, state and federal laws, and even public places like restaurants restrict your ability to go armed. We all try to work around this best as we can. Some choose to find new employment, avoid traveling to states that don’t honor their carry permit, or choose not to eat at establishments that are scared of the Second Amendment. This is reality for the time being, but progress is being made. Hopefully we will someday see a nationwide carry permit for the average Joe, as long as we keep up the good fight.

Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC
Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

The truly surprising thing is that some people who can legally carry, don’t. They get their permit, learn the laws, and then only carry sometimes. These fair-weather carriers will leave their gun behind while running to the corner store, picking their kids up from school, taking trash out to the curb, even when going out of town. It seems like the more one chooses to leave their gun at home or in the glove box, the more likely they are to stop carrying altogether. If the habit isn’t formed at the start, it’s hard to get someone who’s “been carrying for years” to legitimately do so. They get set in their ways, and are reluctant to see their bad judgment when going unarmed.

Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC
Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

Perhaps worse yet is someone who carries 24/7 until they “take a break” because of a vacation, new job or other reason. They slip into a state of denial because “nothing happened” while they  ran unarmed, and “nothing is likely to happen now”. Maybe their loved ones don’t like them carrying a gun because they haven’t been educated properly on responsible carry. Flawed logic and complacency will dull an otherwise sharp person surprisingly quick.

Personally, I feel naked when forced to go unarmed. It’s not paranoia or just “inconvenience”, it’s something that wears on my mind. I  avoid going without a weapon whenever humanly possible.

Ideally we would all carry a quality, modern automatic with spare mags, a sturdy knife and maybe even less lethal options. But it’s hard to get most people just to carry a gun, any gun, daily and without exception. People go as far as to choose the smallest, lightest, and by default hardest to shoot guns as a matter of convenience.

Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC
Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

Since it’s a “pain” to pack a compact or full size pistol they can shoot effectively, many shooters will haul a .38 snub or pocket sized .380 auto to fill the role. Some argue this is almost as bad as going without a gun, but at least it shows promise. Carrying a gun should not be a matter of being comfortable, it should be comforting. Comforting to know that if/when bad shit slides your way, you have equipped yourself to the best of your ability to fight it. Although I carry a full-size pistol 99% of the time, I see the merit in having a smaller, less effective pistol as an alternative, or secondary backup. When jogging, taking out the trash in your sweatpants or likewise conducting activities where a gun belt isn’t practical, a smaller setup makes sense.

Wanna see some knives?

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When leaving the house I do a physical touch-check of my EDC items, and verbalize to myself as I touch them. “Keys, wallet, phone, gun, mag, knife, light.” I used to start with the gun, but found myself forgetting my wallet, phone or keys! When I leave the house, even if only for a minute, I have my “minimalist” EDC kit. Based on how often my idiot brain tricks me into locking myself out of the house, I always grab my keys even if I’ve ensured the door is unlocked. There have been times I intended to be outside for just a minute to take the trash out, only to find myself trapped outside.

Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC
Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

Or the times my girl comes home from work and tells me to hop in the car for a quick grocery run. If my main blaster is back in the house, I might be temped to say “screw it, it’s just a quick trip” and go without a gun. Since I’m only lucky in one way, and that’s not dying, I try not to tempt fate or Murphy at all. So here is my answer to make it damn near impossible to go unstrapped.

The Gun I Carry When I Can’t carry a Gun.

My beat-up old Keltec P3AT has been my “last resort” gun for about ten years. For a cheap and simple pistol, the .380 has been been extremely reliable despite a lot of miles and rounds on it. I’ve shot a few “pocket pistol only” EDC oriented matches with it, and know how terrible these little guns are past a few yards. It is what it is: a small, lightweight, limited capacity, short range, terrible DA trigger, little pea-shooter that barely counts as a gun. But the neat thing about it is, it’s still a gun.

I also always carry a full size folder, and often a small Coye fixed blade. And when I can’t have a big blade, I still have a blade in form of a SOG key knife. When I can’t carry a full size surefire flashlight, I still have a blinding single CR123 Fenix on my keychain. I’ve even added a waterproof vial of matches. In one hand, I can hold my gun, knife, flashlight, and means of starting fire. It’s not everything I want, but it’s enough to get by. I kind of look at it as an urban survival kit of sorts. This is my system, and I’ll freely admit it has its flaws. But it’s the only solution I’ve been able to find to keep from violating that most basic rule: Always have a gun!

Brownells (@brownellsinc) is online, obviously, but they also have their own Prime Tactical section; if you’re impatient, as those of us here at Breach-Bang-Clear HQ so often are, then check out the Amazon Outfitters Brownells Aisle

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10 thoughts on “Bare Essentials | Minimalist EDC

  • Pingback:Bare Essentials: Minimalist EDC | Guns Ammo and Tactical Gear Blog

  • February 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    OH YEAH..Thanks for introducing me to the tiny Fenix CR123 single cell pocket torch. Mine should arrive Tuesday!!

  • February 5, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I plan on carrying a lot more when I retire in six years and no longer have to go onto a military base. I would imagine a lot more military would carry on a regular basis if it wasn’t for the CCW ban.

    • February 9, 2015 at 8:04 pm


  • February 5, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    It’s nice to see a break from the normal “gear head” EDC.

    However, there is one thing I consistently see missing from almost every EDC. If we consider it necessary to carry a gun, then we consider it a very real possibility of being in a gunfight. We should also consider that we may be injured in said gunfight. Please…carry a tourniquet! Maybe a tourniquet and some compressed gauze. Definitely carry your gun…but bring a TK along as well.

    Keys, wallet, phone, gun, mag, knife, light…..TOURNIQUET!

    • February 6, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      I haven’t found an effective way (maybe a minimalist way?) to carry a tourniquet yet. My pockets are at their limit with wallet, phone, gun, magazine, flashlight, and knife. Having trouble finding a comfortable spot for keys sometimes.

      Now if it’s summer time and I’m wearing cargo shorts it’s easy to fit all of it in. Still looking for something that works the rest of the time.

      • February 14, 2015 at 10:40 am

        A piece of shirt and your belt make an adequate emergency tourniquet. A couple yards of electricle tape split up and wrapped around you edc light and other items is also a life saver. Always think outside the box for survival, it keeps your options unlimited.

      • February 14, 2015 at 2:12 pm

        I’ve been hung-up on cargo pants since the 60s simply for the reason you sight… rarely do I have too much capacity, but too little is always close with slacks, and this time of the year add gloves, cap and doo-rag at minimum. But we’ve come far since the dark days before transistors, LEDs, printed circuit boards and assisted opening titanium/S30V or ceramic knives.

  • February 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    SELF DEFENSE RHYMES—Fire-Man, February 2015

    Self defense is no state-of-mind fluff,

    it’s street-level, fact-of-life stuff.

    What helps, we all find,

    is a well-prepared mind

    with the gear used to call Hades’ bluff.


    Let’s face it: to rhyme self defense

    one adroitly avoids the tag “dense”—

    Semper Fi ain’t worth spit

    without smart, stocked and fit;

    good intentions go down in past tense.


  • February 5, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Your site has quickly become my favorite every day read.

    You might do this but didn’t come out and say it. I have a pocket pistol that I have with me all the time. I treat it like a pocket knife and carry it everywhere. I add my EDC pistol to that anytime I can.

    So if I can practically conceal a Glock 19 I have two guns with me. If I’m setting around the house or at an NPE where the Glock isn’t practical I have the pocket pistol.

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