7 Essential Accessories for Your New Defensive Pistol

 

shutterstock_294491978Choosing to carry a gun on a regular basis is a very big decision. You’ve realized, along with a growing number of people, that there may not be a policeman around when you need one, and you’ve concluded that you have the temperament needed to safely carry a gun.

Deciding to take care of your own personal safety is crucial because you are, and always will be, your own first responder. Carrying a pistol with you, concealed or not, allows for more options in defense of your life that not having a firearm gives you. For most of us, the chances are slim that we’ll ever need a gun to defend our lives, and that is a very good thing indeed. It’s not the odds of having a lethal force encounter that matter, but rather the stakes — and the stakes when guns are involved are extremely high for everyone.

So what other things might you need to accompany a concealed carry pistol to help keep you safe?

  1. Safe Means to Store the Gun
    “Safe” is a relative term. If you live alone or with stable, properly trained adults you can trust, you could make an argument that “safe” might mean keeping a loaded pistol on the nightstand if it’s not in a holster on your person. For me, with two young children, this is not “safe” at all, and I keep my concealed carry guns either on myself or in a quick-access safe like this Gunvault. I’ve tested how fast I can get to a gun inside a safe if I really need it, and keeping something in the same place every time eliminates the time you waste searching around for your gun.
  2. Spare Magazines
    Because they get slammed into the gun over and over again or dropped onto the ground, magazines are a disposable item. I consider three extra magazines a bare minimum to have on-hand for any pistol that I own, and I have at least five spare magazines for all of my competition guns.
  3. Ammo
    A no-brainer, but I’m always amazed at how many people buy a pistol and then don’t buy defensive ammunition for it.
    Quick ammo primer: There are essentially two types of ammunition for handguns; solid full metal jacket bullets (FMJ), most commonly used for target practice and plinking, and jacketed hollow-point ammunition (JHP) which expands on impact, typically used for hunting and self-defense. In general, you want to use hollow points in a defensive gun because they increase the wounding power of a pistol round, which then increases the chances of you stopping the threat to your life*. However, smaller caliber guns (less than .380ACP) usually don’t have the oomph needed to penetrate deep enough to cause enough damage to stop a threat, so choose your ammo carefully if you carry a mouse gun.
    Which brand of ammo to choose is the subject of endless internet and gun store debates, but when all is said and done, any modern, bonded, jacketed hollow-point ammunition will work. Me? I like Hornady XTP’s because they do the job and are a bit less expensive than similar brands, but any hollow-point ammunition from Winchester, CorBon, Hornady, Federal, or a host of others will work just fine. Make sure you buy a spare box or two and run them through your gun to check for potential malfunction issues before you trust your life to any ammunition.
  4. Holsters and Gun Belts
    Note that I said “holsters,” not “holster.” You don’t own just one pair of shoes, and you’ll probably soon find that one holster won’t do the trick by itself. Get a good gun belt as well, because a stiff belt that distributes the weight of your gun around your entire waist makes carrying much, much easier.
  5. Less-Lethal Defensive Weapon
    Pepper spray, kubotan, tactical flashlight, sturdy pen, stun gun … the possibilities here are almost limitless. You don’t want face a non-lethal threat with lethal force: That’s a great way for good people to go jail, so the more options you have to defend yourself from harm, the better**.
    Note: A knife is not usually considered “less lethal.” Speaking of which…
  6. Knife
    I have this little CRKT knife clipped to my trouser pocket pretty much all the time. I like it because it’s darn useful and it fits deeper into my pocket than most knives so it doesn’t scream “Knife!” to my co-workers. If I’m out and about, I back that up with an SOG Instinct under my shirt near my belt buckle because it’s easy to grab with either hand at that location, and if I need a knife to defend myself, I’m probably going to need it right quickly.
  7. Flashlight
    Want to avoid becoming a victim in a scary place on a dark night? Have a flashlight and turn it on when it gets dark and dicey. Crooks are not looking to attack a prepared, aware individual; they’re looking to attack someone who looks and acts like a potential victim. Having something in your hand that is signalling to the world that you are watching where you are going tells a crook to look somewhere else for his/her next score. Decent flashlights can be as tiny as this little Photon Micro II, so there is really no reason not to have one with you at all times.

Other than that, make sure you have your smartphone with you: A text can get through when the phone lines are jammed from overuse, and having a camera to document even minor things like a fender-bender comes in handy. Also, consider keeping a first aid kit that can deal with any serious wound nearby (and get training to use it). Self-defense insurance is a good idea as well.

And have fun. You’re not carrying a gun because you are paranoid or want to act macho; you’re carry a gun so you can enjoy your life without messy interruptions.

* Remember, we don’t shoot to kill: We shoot to stop the threat. If the bad guy gives up without a shot, congratulations, you win.

** I am an okapi trapped in a zoo, not a lawyer. Consult with a professional about these things, not an incarcerated African herd animal like myself. 

There are 29 comments.

  1. Member

    I picked up an M&P Shield today after a long decision process on which carry pistol I wanted. It’s all cleaned up and ready for the range tomorrow after church. The Aliengear holster is on its way, so I won’t be able to carry it for a spell yet (I’ll probably pick up another Uncle Mike’s for hiking OWB carry.) I’ll keep my USP in the quick access safe, but I think the Shield will be much more comfortable to carry.

    • #1
    • January 30, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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  2. Member

    I think night sights should be on this list. I argue that the ability to accurately fire a pistol in low light in the home is more important than a flashlight.

    • #2
    • January 30, 2016 at 3:48 pm
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  3. Member

    I carry a 9mm Glock with 147 grain hollow points. The same round that is issued to law enforcement in my area. I suggest you don’t carry a 50 Cal Desert Eagle for obvious reasons. Do not be a nice guy and discuss the shooting incident, ask for an attorney. Do not use the phrase double taps. Controlled pairs is more acceptable. I just wanted to stop the threat is another phrase that is acceptable.

    I told officer’s that I trained to get rid of the flashlight that had to be wheeled into court with a hand truck. Juries do not like a flashlight that Thor would carry.

    • #3
    • January 30, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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  4. Inactive

    I second the need for night sights. The majority of deadly force engagements are in night or low light conditions.

    I also recommend a weapon mounted light source. This will probably necessitate a custom holster, but that is a small price to pay.

    • #4
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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  5. Inactive

    The King Prawn:I picked up an M&P Shield today after a long decision process on which carry pistol I wanted. It’s all cleaned up and ready for the range tomorrow after church. The Aliengear holster is on its way, so I won’t be able to carry it for a spell yet (I’ll probably pick up another Uncle Mike’s for hiking OWB carry.) I’ll keep my USP in the quick access safe, but I think the Shield will be much more comfortable to carry.

    Good choice, KP. It’s very similar to my Kahr
    CM40 S&W. Switching to a pocket pistol is liberating, and I tend to carry almost constantly now.

    • #5
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm
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  6. Inactive

    BrentB67:I second the need for night sights. The majority of deadly force engagements are in night or low light conditions.

    I also recommend a weapon mounted light source. This will probably necessitate a custom holster, but that is a small price to pay.

    What’s your opinion about lasers? I have one on my Kahr CM40, hoping for better aim is low light situations.

    • #6
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:08 pm
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  7. Member

    Tom Riehl: Switching to a pocket pistol is liberating, and I tend to carry almost constantly now.

    90% of the time when I leave the house I’m going to a military base and can’t carry, but now I’ll be able to comfortably carry that other 10%.

    • #7
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:14 pm
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  8. Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    I think night sights should be on this list. I argue that the ability to accurately fire a pistol in low light in the home is more important than a flashlight.

    Thankfully, I’ve yet to put the night sights on my defensive pistol to the test in any other than a night time training session. A flashlight, however, I used just last night to help my oldest son find his phone in a theater. Night sights are good, but chances are there will be enough ambient light from streetlights, etc. to get a good index on the target if needed. Tom Givens, one of the few firearms instructors whose students have a proven track record of success, says that there’s no such thing as “street crime”, there’s “parking lot crime”.
    Plan accordingly.

    • #8
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:30 pm
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  9. Inactive

    Tom Riehl:

    BrentB67:I second the need for night sights. The majority of deadly force engagements are in night or low light conditions.

    I also recommend a weapon mounted light source. This will probably necessitate a custom holster, but that is a small price to pay.

    What’s your opinion about lasers? I have one on my Kahr CM40, hoping for better aim is low light situations.

    I have one on my rifles for CQB <15 yards because of the optical offset from the EOTech.

    I’ve not used one on a handgun and so far haven’t felt a need to try.

    My bottom line for this stuff is everything is a tradeoff and personal choice. Whatever you decide to go with as long as you train relentlessly with it you will be equipped.

    • #9
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:32 pm
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  10. Inactive

    We train at night several times each year. Even with the ambient light of the flare this would not be possible without night sights or the weapon mounted light source.

    • #10
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:36 pm
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  11. Member

    A firearm – mounted light isn’t bad in itself. But it must not be your only light source. If it is, then, in order to shine the light on something, you have to point your muzzle at it/him/her. In doing so, you will instantly gain enough wisdom to write your own chapter in “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” Assuming you live to write it.

    By the way, since I started carrying a flashlight all the time, I’ve been amazed how often it comes in handy. Sort of like a pocket knife.

    • #11
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm
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  12. Member

    Laser sights are not standard issue in some police departments. You might want to check what standard issue is in your local area for a police department. You have to remember that the DA is an elected representative. There is a risk that if you carry something that goes beyond what is standard issue for local police departments you might be at risk as a private citizen. I’m not saying it’s right but it is something you should be aware of.

    Tactically relying on a laser sight might not even come into play in a shooting situation. Shooting situations happen within seconds and generally an adversary is within a few feet of you. You are probably better off practicing close encounter with natural point. Think of your index finger pointing at center mass, the pistol acting as your index finger, with the target 2.5 feet to 4 feet away from you.

    • #12
    • January 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm
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  13. Member

    Thoughts on the shelf life of ammo?

    • #13
    • January 30, 2016 at 5:05 pm
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  14. Thatcher

    Thank for the info Kevin. Your posts are helping me decide whether or not to purchase a gun. I easily passed CA’s firearm safety test (missed 1 darn it), took an NRA basic pistol class as you recommended & qualified (not easy, so am thrilled). Storing the gun safely worries me. I have a young child.

    • #14
    • January 30, 2016 at 5:21 pm
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  15. Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Basil Fawlty:Thoughts on the shelf life of ammo?

    I rotate out new carry ammo every other year or so, but other than that, ammo tends to not lie around in my house. ;)

    • #15
    • January 30, 2016 at 5:22 pm
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  16. Thatcher

    Kevin Creighton: I like Hornady XTP’s because they do the job and are a bit less expensive than similar brands, but any hollow-point ammunition from Winchester, CorBon, Hornady, Federal, or a host of others will work just fine. Make sure you buy a spare box or two and run them through your gun to check for potential malfunction issues before you trust your life to any ammunition.

    Not just to check for malfunctions — they feel different, particularly +P ammo. Whenever I go to the range, I start with the magazine of hollow points that’s been in the gun for a few weeks, just to remind myself how they behave.

    • #16
    • January 30, 2016 at 5:32 pm
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  17. Inactive

    Phil Turmel:

    Kevin Creighton: I like Hornady XTP’s because they do the job and are a bit less expensive than similar brands, but any hollow-point ammunition from Winchester, CorBon, Hornady, Federal, or a host of others will work just fine. Make sure you buy a spare box or two and run them through your gun to check for potential malfunction issues before you trust your life to any ammunition.

    Not just to check for malfunctions — they feel different, particularly +P ammo. Whenever I go to the range, I start with the magazine of hollow points that’s been in the gun for a few weeks, just to remind myself how they behave.

    I do the same.

    We have a pistol club here in Dallas and when we go there I draw and shoot whatever is on my hip as though I was at the gas station down the street.

    Gotta make that first shot count.

    • #17
    • January 30, 2016 at 5:47 pm
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  18. Member

    Basil Fawlty:Thoughts on the shelf life of ammo?

    Pretty much forever if you keep it dry… Give or take.

    • #18
    • January 30, 2016 at 8:29 pm
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  19. Member

    BrentB67:

    Phil Turmel:

    Kevin Creighton: I like Hornady XTP’s because they do the job and are a bit less expensive than similar brands, but any hollow-point ammunition from Winchester, CorBon, Hornady, Federal, or a host of others will work just fine. Make sure you buy a spare box or two and run them through your gun to check for potential malfunction issues before you trust your life to any ammunition.

    Not just to check for malfunctions — they feel different, particularly +P ammo. Whenever I go to the range, I start with the magazine of hollow points that’s been in the gun for a few weeks, just to remind myself how they behave.

    I do the same.

    We have a pistol club here in Dallas and when we go there I draw and shoot whatever is on my hip as though I was at the gas station down the street.

    Gotta make that first shot count.

    Same. In fact, every time I go to the range with any gun, the first thing I do is empty the magazine in my carry pistol (then refill it, of course).

    • #19
    • January 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm
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  20. Member

    I recently made a change in what I carry when I carry. I own both a Glock 19 and a Kimber CDP Ultra. The pistol I added to that list is one I would normally consider a mouse gun, a Ruger LCP .380. The reason I went to this little gem is that I spend approximately 10 hours a week on my bicycle riding back roads all over my area. Neither the Kimber, nor the Glock can be reasonably carried in the back pocket of cycling jersey, so I have gone without up until recently. The LCP sits flat and innocuously in my back pocket looking like a large cell phone at worst.

    The first rule, when going to a gun fight, take a gun, holds. The LCP is a close range weapon. I am not going to get into any conflict other than one that takes place at close range. I am not a police officer, and I strive to avoid conflicts of any nature and places where such can take place.

    I have been a participant for many years in what we humorously refer to as caliber wars. I am also well aware of the consequences of the use of deadly force. I would only use my weapon in an in extremis situation, and that would more than likely be at very close range. Given that, I have taken to carrying my LCP all of the time. There are now available very effective .380 rounds.

    • #20
    • January 31, 2016 at 6:25 am
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  21. Member

    Basil Fawlty:Thoughts on the shelf life of ammo?

    What Ryan M and Kevin said. Kept in a dry, relatively temperature-stable place, it will keep, and remain reliable for a really long time.

    My training sergeant had us first shoot up everything we were carrying at the first range qualification of each year.

    One thing to keep an eye on though: If you carry a semi-auto, be mindful of the rounds going into the chamber any time you reload after, say, having to unload to store the firearm, clean it, or sumpin’. Repeated cycling a round from the magazine and into the chamber will, over time, drive the bullet back in the casing. This reduces the space for the powder, which can dramatically increase the chamber pressure, which, in turn, can have spectacular consequences to your firearm, your hands, and who knows what else.

    • #21
    • January 31, 2016 at 6:43 am
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  22. Member

    This is obvious, but if you’re new to firearms invest in decent eye and ear protection. Makes range time more comfortable and efficacious.

    • #22
    • January 31, 2016 at 7:46 am
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  23. Member

    Boss Mongo:This is obvious, but if you’re new to firearms invest in decent eye and ear protection. Makes range time more comfortable and efficacious.

    I (unthinkingly) opened the car door at the range before putting on my ears last time and was reminded of how shockingly loud gunfire is at close range. I’ve taken to using double hearing protection lately because age is reducing my tolerance for noise. Well, age or having teenagers…

    • #23
    • January 31, 2016 at 8:51 am
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  24. Member

    The King Prawn:

    Boss Mongo:This is obvious, but if you’re new to firearms invest in decent eye and ear protection. Makes range time more comfortable and efficacious.

    I (unthinkingly) opened the car door at the range before putting on my ears last time and was reminded of how shockingly loud gunfire is at close range. I’ve taken to using double hearing protection lately because age is reducing my tolerance for noise. Well, age or having teenagers…

    KP, recommend you look at Peltor ears with active noise enhancement/active noise defeat. You can be in a middle of a firefight, everybody shooting every damn where, turn to your ranger buddy and say in a normal tone “hey man, throw me a mag.” They’re awesome.

    Also, that just sounds cool, so I typed it out on Peltors. I have never spoken at normal tone/volume in a firefight.

    • #24
    • January 31, 2016 at 1:25 pm
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  25. Member

    I love the electronic hearing protections that muffle the bangs but allow you to hear someone talking to you. We consider it a safety requirement since only one of us shoots at a time and the other monitors for safety. I like Walthers. I was also advised to keep a record of all my training time/rounds fired. The instructor said it would give you credibility as a serious gun owner rather than a reckless one.

    • #25
    • January 31, 2016 at 6:44 pm
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  26. Member

    EHerring: I was also advised to keep a record of all my training time/rounds fired. The instructor said it would give you credibility as a serious gun owner rather than a reckless one.

    Not bad advice, but:

    Don’t record time training v. rounds fired.

    Record rounds on v. rounds off target.

    Record rounds off vertical v. rounds off horizontal.

    Record whatever data you need to in order to ensure you come out a better shooter at the other end.

    • #26
    • January 31, 2016 at 7:27 pm
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  27. Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    And document your training: What the class was, how long was it, who taught it, etc. George Zimmerman had one person testify on his behalf that he was competent with a firearm. At this point in my career, I’d have at least a dozen.

    Knocking down the testimony of one expert witness is not that hard for a prosecutor to do.

    Knocking down the testimony of twelve or more expert witnesses is something else.

    • #27
    • February 1, 2016 at 9:37 am
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  28. Member

    Good advice-better way of doing things than what I have done in the past.

    • #28
    • February 1, 2016 at 2:55 pm
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  29. Member

    Posting this video below. It’s long, but it’s an education and good investment. A law professor gives an articulate statement on why you should not talk to the police, then cedes his time to a police officer going through law school. Well worth the watch.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

    • #29
    • February 1, 2016 at 5:03 pm
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