This article on EDC gear is part of a multi-part series on tactical pistol shooting. To read part 1 on the fundamentals of good handgun ownership, click here. To read about the art of shooting itself, click here. For advice on self-defense shooting, click here.
“Without the Second Amendment, we don’t have a country.” These are the words of Sergeant Tim Bulot, a 40 year law enforcement veteran who currently serves the Ellis County Sheriff’s department as a Patrol/SWAT supervisor and heads the Strategic Weapons Academy of Texas, a training facility located just an hour away from DFW which specializes in practical tactical weapons training for both civilians and law enforcement tactical teams. He and others like him believe that the Second Amendment is what keeps this republic from descending into a state of lawless anarchy.
In the sergeant’s personal experience, he finds that there is a lot more citizen interdiction in crime than the media reports. Ergo, there are a lot of “good guys with guns” drawing their weapons on criminal elements, which is usually enough to stop someone cold in their tracks before they can even think of breaking into a house, car, or workplace. The problem with incidents like this, in the eyes of the media at least, is that it doesn’t fit their narrative that America is “the most dangerous country on earth” because of its armed population. The reality is, of course, that Americans can feel safe in their own homes and on the streets because of the Second Amendment. This is not Somalia or Afghanistan, where ordinary citizens without the means to defend themselves can be harassed at checkpoints by local militias with access to illegal weapons.
Sergeant Bulot goes on to say that he deals with armed citizens on a daily basis, and 99% of those encounters have had a positive outcome. In fact, the reason citizens typically trust their local sheriff more than state or federal law enforcement agencies is because the sheriff’s department usually believes in the same principles as the people. In Illinois, for example, numerous county sheriffs refuse to comply with the governor’s new mandate banning semi-automatic weapons. This is because local law enforcement understands that the first line of defense against criminal activity is the citizens themselves, and if every law-abiding citizen had a weapon, it would make every potential victim into a hard target. With that in mind, Sergeant Bulot has some thoughts on what kind of EDC gear people should carry to protect themselves and the people around them.
In the sergeant’s opinion, we are not yet at a point where citizens need to wear body armor for their everyday comings and goings. While anyone can be a victim of a crime, not everyone is a target. However, there are certain people who truly do have people gunning for them, such as security and police officers, business leaders, politicians, and judges. The very nature of their occupations usually require them to wear soft body armor at the very least as part of their EDC gear. For those who are looking for a tough but affordable vest, BulletSafe makes NIJ-certified IIIA armor, perfect for everyday use.
Now, for those who want to be prepared in case of a natural disaster, domestic unrest, or an extended power outage, Sergeant Bulot recommends carrying a “scramble kit” ready to go with a plate carrier and all your gear. Preferably carried in your vehicle, this emergency loadout would include such necessities as a tourniquet, individual first aid kit, and adequate ammo for both your pistol and rifle, which should also be carried in your vehicle for such an emergency.
When disaster strikes and people are left with nothing, looting and armed robbery become the order of the day, and everyone becomes a target.
According to Sergeant Bulot, people – especially those who are new to firearms – should not rush to get a red dot sight on the carry weapon they use with their EDC gear. The red dot may make aiming much easier and allows you to focus on your targets rather than sight alignment, but if a shooter never learns the fundamentals of his pistol’s iron sights before going straight to red dots, he turns his optic into a crutch instead of an aid.
Case in point, there was a time when Sergeant Bulot and one of his academy instructors were training on pistols in the fading light. They were shooting in the direction of the setting sun, and since both had red dots, the glare made it impossible for them to find their targets.
The sergeant warns that red dots, although durable, are another thing that can fail on your weapon. The glass can break, sweat or blood might obscure the lens, and even leaving an air conditioned vehicle to step into a humid environment could fog up a red dot’s lens. While red dot fog could be mitigated with something like Cat Crap™ or PJ1 defogger, broken glass or a bloody lens presents more of a problem.
In this writer’s opinion, a red dot with built in iron sights like the Sightmark Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is the way to go. If your red dot fails due to loss of battery or broken glass, models like the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro have rear sights that you can use with your weapon’s front sight post, so you can get the best of both worlds. What’s more, zeroing your red dot on a sight like this requires you to simply cowitness the dot with your iron sights.
Sergeant Bulot admits, however, that including a red dot sight as part of your EDC gear is great for extending the range of your weapon and is also good for people with eyes that aren’t what they used to be. At the same time, they’re not so good for close range shooting and slow down new shooters who might have the bad habit of “chasing their dots” and slowing down their shots. The only remedy for such shortcomings is training, whether when doing dry firing at home, at the range, or at a professional academy like Sergeant Bulot’s.
Pistol Mounted Flashlights
To the sergeant, the pistol mounted flashlight is a useful and practical attachment for one’s EDC pistol. Just don’t use it to tie your shoe or take notes. It’s also not great for looking around for a lost tool in the garage, because it violates the basic firearm rule that states to “never point a weapon at anything you don’t intend to destroy.” If you need to find your lost cat, you don’t want to be searching for him with a loaded weapon only to blast him when he jumps out of the shadows.
Instead, it’s always a good practice to carry a standalone flashlight for everyday use when you’re not in imminent danger. The pistol light, however, is great for when the opposite is true. Even though most associate weapon lights with nighttime use, you might still need them in the daytime. For example, if you find yourself in a dark rom or back alley, places which can be dark even during the brightest morning hours, you’ll definitely need a pistol flashlight such as the INFORCE Wild1 or Wild 2 for checking around those dimly lit corners. It can also be used to cowitness with your weapon, providing a light source bright enough so a shooter can see his iron sights even in low light situations.
Sergeant Bulot considers one of the features of a tactical flashlight, strobe, to be an individual choice. This rapidly-flashing light is meant to disorient threats, but in his experience, it affects every individual very differently. If you strobe a bad guy, a number of situations could occur: it could either disorient him as intended, intimidate him, or send him into a mindless rage. As for the sergeant, he says it bothers him as much as it does the bad guy, something to consider should you ever be in the unfortunate situation when you would actually need to use it. If you activate strobe in a very dark room, not only would you be strobing the bad guy, but you’d also be strobing yourself, especially if the strobe in question was the only light source in the room.
Other disorienting devices such as the laser dazzler don’t have this effect since they can be used in broad daylight at greater distances. Ultimately though, the inclusion of a strobing flashlight in one’s EDC gear is up to the individual’s preference.
Sergeant Bulot uses IR lasers with night vision, but when he and his team enter a building, they transition to white light. Just like a red dot, a pistol-mounted laser must be sighted and maintained. He uses his more for marksmanship practice rather than as an aiming assist. Very rarely do people use lasers with their EDC gear. If used in conjunction with a red dot, that could become confusing, and both the laser and the red dot require zeroing and training. If a weapon is being shot at a target that is further or nearer than what the laser has been zeroed for, shots will be higher or lower than what the laser’s impact point, making its use as an aiming assist rather imperfect. This especially becomes more complicated when a laser is mounted as a canted attachment, where the windage and elevation adjustments are not completely horizontal or completely vertical. Then again, the laser is pretty good for point shooting at short ranges (50yds or less).
Civilians living their day to day lives will hopefully never have to face an armed violent criminal, but in the event they do, they need EDC gear that’s both reliable and ergonomic. Sergeant Bulot personally carries a Glock for both his civilian carry and duty carry weapon, so he’ll retain the same muscle memory for drawing and operating his weapon. Although he admires the workmanship and ergonomics of the 1911, he admits that it’s not for smaller people, and its lack of ammo capacity takes you out of the fight quicker.
A revolver, with an even smaller ammo capacity than a 1911, would not be the best EDC gun for the city, but for rural areas where you’re more likely to encounter a mountain lion than a home invader, the sheer stopping power of a .44 magnum is a good bit of insurance to have against large predators.
The .357 lever action, such as one from Henry Repeating Arms, is also a good long gun to carry in one’s truck when out in the backwoods, thanks to its 16 inch barrel and high caliber ammo. The sergeant keeps one in his vehicle as well, and if it ever got stolen, any anti-gun activists listening over police scanners wouldn’t be able to sensationalize it since it’s not the “scary AR-15” the media keeps mentioning on the news. However, in situations where he expects threats that shoot back instead of wild animals, he can rely on no better weapon than the AR-15.
If you’re in Texas or if you wish to travel from out of state to enroll in one of Sergeant Bulot’s tactical training courses, you can register here.