I had my carry permit for less than five months the first time I had a BAD carry day. I was working in an office and was running late for work. I grabbed a flimsy skirt off my bedroom floor, a fresh shirt out of the closet, grabbed a cheap nylon one-size-fits-most clip holster and shoved my Kimber Stainless Ultra Carry inside my waistband clipped to nothing but the side of my skirt. I wasn't even to my car before I wanted to ditch the whole setup. My skirt was digging into my side. The gun was flopping all over the place and on the verge of falling out all day. I was being poked with the muzzle and fighting concealment. If it weren't for my commitment to carry I probably would have given up concealed carry on that day. By the time I got home from work eight hours later I couldn't wait to take my gun off and don't even want to describe the raw meat my waist had been turned into.
I learned how important good gear could be to the carry experience and how bad gear can ruin everything or at least make you want to leave your gun at home or seriously compromise the security of your concealment and carry. So much has changed since that day and now I'm happy to say it's been a LONG time since I've experienced a bad carry day. I have a very good working system for myself that I can count on in a pinch and that is important to everyone who decides to carry a gun.
We all have those moments when we need to get out the door post haste. We're running late, we got a last minute appointment, there's an emergency and we need to gear up.
Finding good gear is a process that often varies by individual, gun, body type, etc, and may take some time to get perfect but eventually we should all get to a point where we have FAST gear that we can count on in a rush.
The gear should fit well with a wide variety of applications, clothing styles and your general lifestyle. Sure, there are always those days and moments where things get mixed up a bit but everyone should have a setup that, for the most part, would work on any given day. For some that could be smart carry and an XD or a shoulder holster with a j-frame. For others it might be an IWB holster and a 1911.
The holster should fit the gun. Spare magazine pouches should fit the spare magazine. I know I'm preaching to the choir here but I've seen (and sold) many holster that "could" fit the gun if these few stitches were let out or if you cut this strap or cut a hole in the bottom for the sight. Ill-fit holsters will cause you nothing but trouble in the long run. Spend the extra money, get yourself a quality, well-fitting holster and spare magazine pouch.
Your belt should be fit to your body and your gear (if applicable). If you commonly wear IWB holsters with your gun you might have to have a belt with a wider range of adjustability. If OWB is your primary carry method you may need a tighter fitting belt. If you carry a heavier gun, knife and spare magazine you may need a more robust belt to support the weight of your equipment. Choose your belt carefully to support you and your needs.
Pocket knives should fit in your pockets or on body in such a way that they are comfortable and you won't be tempted to take them off. The same could also be said of flashlights and other pocket tools. If these things do not fit well into pockets or your clothing doesn't have good pockets (like a lot of female clothing) consider purchasing only those tools with clips that can attack to waistbands or belts. Most flashlights and pocket knives and even many fixed-blade knives have belt or clip attachments available.
What's the point of having stuff you can't find? If you are in a hurry and can't locate a specific item you are most likely going to leave without it. We have a gear chest that sits close to the door. Everything but guns goes in that chest and I know exactly where I can find the things I need from holsters to spare magazines and pouches to knives, flashlights, ammo and even shooting glasses. Don't risk leaving something important behind by not having it accessible.
It should also be accessible on body. Your tools are only as good as their accessibility in a fight and if you have to get through several layers or into bags, etc, you might be forfeiting your use of that tool in the fight. Yes, some of us have to have deeper concealment than others but make it as accessible as possible.
The security of your defensive tools should be paramount. I attended a FOF class where the airsoft gun I was using did not fit my regular carry holster and I had to borrow someone else's one-size-fits-most for the first half of the first day. My airsoft gun fell out of the holster once, ejected my magazine on me once, and often moved around on my waist while I was running or fighting. These things should never happen. PERIOD! Your gear should be secure on your body so that you can run, fight, or even work and play without worrying about it.
Belt loops should be strong. Belts should be sturdy. Holsters should be in good repair. Snaps should be solid. Clips should be well-formed. Locking mechanisms should be fastened. Your gear should be secure on your body.
There is a time for testing your gear and as someone who reviews holsters for various individuals I sometimes take the risk of carrying in "untested" gear as a means to test it. Though I usually have a back up near by. But when it comes down to a moment that I am running out the door not willing to take on the role of reviewer or tester or don't want to make sure I have a reliable backup I will always revert to tried and true and well-tested equipment. I choose guns that have gone through hundreds (if not thousands) of rounds of accuracy and reliability. I choose holsters, belts, flashlights, knives, sheaths, pepper sprays and other tools that I have carried many times before and have proven themselves to work through trainings and experience. There is no (and should be no) doubt that, if needed, my equipment will work.
And it's always a good idea to do a quick test while gearing up. Test that flashlight and make sure it still works. Drop that magazine and make sure it's fully loaded. Check the chamber and make sure it's loaded. Pull on your holster and make sure nothing has broken or ripped. Deploy your knife to make sure the blade comes out smoothly and nothing has broken. Make sure you have disabled any major locking devises like the key-lock on your S&W revolvers or Taurus 1911s.
Having a system of FAST gear will insure you are equipped in those moments of haste.
~~ By Melody Lauer. Shared with permission.