Okay, this is the last part of this series. You’ve decided what method of carry best suits you, chosen a model of handgun that fits that method of carry, and you’ve decided what caliber to get that handgun in. Now what accessories do you need to carry with that handgun? What do you need on your “Bat-belt”? (If you’re like me, you’ll get used to being ridiculed about your “Bat-belt”.)
You need a holster. Whether you’re going to carry a pocket gun or something larger, you’re going to need something to keep that gun on your person and safe from negligent discharges. Holsters come in various materials such as nylon, leather, Kydex, or a combination of these. Get one that fits your gun, covers the trigger, and will prevent your gun from accidentally falling out (yes, it happens more than you think.) I would stay away from nylon. Although it’s light, they usually do not have a reinforced opening, which makes reholstering very difficult and risky. If you’re going to open carry, you may want to think about a retention holster such as a leather holster with a thumb break, a Blackhawk Serpa holster, or a Safariland retention holster. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few holsters until you find the perfect one for you.
If you’re going to carry on your hip, whether IWB or OWB, you’re going to need a good gun belt. A regular belt will stretch and not hold your gun close to your hip as it should. A good gun belt will be stiff enough to prevent the belt from rolling into a “C” under the weight of the gun. Belts are made by Blackhawk, Bianchi, Crossbreed, and many others. My favorite is A&G Custom Gun Leather. Don’t cheap out on the belt. In my opinion, this is where the comfort or pain of carrying comes from.
If you carry a gun and don't carry anything else, you absolutely need to carry a cell phone. This is your lifeline. A gun doesn’t solve every problem. Use this to get the authorities involved to solve a problem instead of trying to solve it yourself. Generally speaking, the first person to call about an altercation of any sort is usually looked upon as the victim. This could come in handy if you ever get dragged into court, especially after a shooting.
You’re going to want to carry spare magazines, speed loaders, or speed strips. These need to be readily available in case you need to reload in the middle of a fight or because of an equipment malfunction. As with any piece of machinery, failures can and will occur, and according to Murphy, they’ll occur at the most inopportune time. A spare magazine affords you the opportunity to dump the old mag and reload a fresh one to keep you in the fight. How many you carry is a matter of personal preference, but generally speaking, if you need more than two spare mags, you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A good digital voice recorder is nice to have in case of a run in with a law enforcement officer or anyone else that you might want to record as either proof your rights were violated or you didn’t start an altercation. I keep mine in a little cubby-hole in the dash of my truck. It’s handy to grab if I’m open carrying, or I can turn it on in case I’m pulled over.
A good flashlight is really handy at times. I carry a three cell Mag-Light in the truck, just in case. I used to carry a mini-Mag-Light on my belt all the time when I was an inspector. I don’t use a flashlight very often, but when I need one, I hate having to go hunt one up. For ease of operation, a flashlight should have a push button to operate it, whether it’s on the tail cap or on the body. They’re just easier to operate this way, especially if your other hand is occupied at the time. Not only is a flashlight for lighting up dark areas, if it's bright enough, it can used to temporarily blind or disorient an adversary.
Lastly, a good knife is mandatory almost anywhere you go. Whether you carry it for defense, opening boxes, or just cleaning the dirt from under your fingernails, if you leave it at home, you’re going to need it at some point during the day.
So decide what you need and what you’re willing to carry along with you every day. You’ll adjust your Bat-belt inventory periodically depending on where you’re going and what you’re going to be doing.