15 EDC Items for Your Self-Defense

Every day carry, just three little words, but they have a huge meaning. Every day carry is referring to items that you keep on your person as you go about your daily life.

The items I carry daily may fluctuate slightly but it’s generally the same. I wear jeans every day, jeans are durable and fit in pretty much anywhere and they are comfortable. In cold weather I wear lined jeans for extra warmth.

A weapon can be any object that can be used to injure another. An ink pen can be a weapon if properly utilized. A shoelace can be a weapon if properly utilized. Your bare hands can be a weapon if properly utilized.

8 inch bowie knife
8” bowie knife made by the author

My Personal EDC Items: On My Person

I wear black tactical style, steel toed leather boots every day, and although they are boots they are as comfortable as any sneaker. I haven’t worn a sneaker in 25 years or more as I find that tactical/military or hiking style boots are much better.

They provide better protection and support for the heel, arch, and toes better than sneakers or dress shoes.

I like steel toes because should the need arise to kick someone that little piece of steel in the toe not only protects my toes but also amplifies the impact on the shin, chest, ribs, coccyx, head, well you get the picture.

My boots also have a steel shank in the sole, this helps support my foot should I need to stomp on something (or someone) like breaking branches in the woods, for example.

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The steel shank also helps protect against stones or any sharp objects that might otherwise go through the sole of my boot. I worked construction for many years and stepping on nails was a serious hazard so I got in the habit of wearing steel shank boots.

I regularly wear a black leather belt, and on this belt I have a leather double pouch that holds a spare 12 round magazine for my Taurus PT845 .45 APC pistol as well as a Buck 110 folding hunter knife.

Sometimes I will switch this to a single mag pouch and wear a fixed blade knife, either one of several store bought knives I have or one of several that I made.

I also always have on me this small knife that I made:

horizontal belt knife
3” knife made by the author

I carry it mounted horizontally on my belt for just in case. I also keep a small pocket knife in my front pocket just for cutting whatever, sharpening a pencil etc.

The knives I carry are very sharp and intended solely for self defense applications. However if I were to find myself in a survival situation they would serve well in cutting and chopping various plant matter as well as skinning and butchering an animal.

Besides the several knives I regularly carry and besides my main defense weapon, I also carry a North American Arms .22 magnum mini revolver:

NAA Wasp .22 mini revolver in holster
NAA Wasp .22 mini revolver in holster

I carry this gun in my chest pocket in my jacket in cold weather and in warm weather I carry it in my front pants pocket or clipped on my waistband or belt via the belt clip on the back of the holster.

It snuggles nicely in a small holster I made for it that also has cartridge loops for carrying five extra rounds of ammo for it:

.22 magnum mini revolver in holster
.22 magnum mini revolver in holster

In instances where I cannot carry my .45 it’s nice to have this in my pocket as a little guardian angel.

For a little revolver that fits in the palm of your hand it’s amazing that it holds five rounds of .22 magnum; and while that may not be the optimum caliber for self defense it sure beats a nothing.

Another item that is always with me is a steel Kubotan which is attached to my key chain. It doubles as not only a self defense weapon but also as a glass breaker.

A handy tool to have in an emergency situation, luckily I have never had cause to use it. But I always say it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Occasional Daily Carry: On My Person

Although not an EDC item, an occasional item I like to carry when we take a walk is a sword cane. It’s a steel tube with a hard plastic handle and a hard plastic ball end.

Inside is a 24” thin, steel blade. It can double as a club as well as a sword and when the sword is drawn I have a striking/blocking tool in the cane tube and a stabbing/slashing weapon in the sword. Even without a sword in it, a good hardwood or steel cane can be a formidable defense weapon.

If the cane has a curved or hooked handle it can be used not only for striking but for grabbing and tripping as well. Punching someone in the chin is one thing, but punching them in the chin while pulling them forward with a cane amplifies the power of the strike.

Also occasionally are a couple of other items I like to carry that require a permit to carry are brass knuckles and a slap jack with a 4oz lead disc in it.

There are hats on the market today that are slap hats; they have hard weights in them. I’ll bet Gilligan was glad that the skipper didn’t have one of those!

Self-Defense EDC Items

Now please understand, I am not saying that what I personally carry are the best things to carry, I am merely stating what I carry.

There are other items that can be carried for self defense that are non-lethal and may be the only thing legal for you to carry in your area. Again, learn the laws in your area.

Collapsible Baton

Collapsible batons are a common sight on the belts of law enforcement officers throughout America and much of the world. In many places they have replaced the solid and more traditional side-handle baton both for political reasons and for space savings, reducing bulk on a police officer’s gear belt.

The obvious advantage of collapsible batons for concerned citizens is that they are much easier to conceal and carry than a larger club but with a flick of the wrist or press of a button it will expand to its full length, increasing its reach and striking power.

Collapsible batons can be had in a variety of configurations and lengths, with the smallest being barely a foot long, and the longest having a length of almost three feet.

Batons are often convenient to carry, but have some drawbacks. They are fairly notorious for collapsing when you don’t want them to, and are not as durable as solid batons, being made of multiple telescoping pieces.

They also require you to get fairly close to an attacker in order to employ them. What is more, effective use requires training as with any weapon and is dependent upon both speed, coordination and strength, though wailing away on someone with a hefty chunk of metal is effective much of the time!

On the force continuum baton strikes are not considered non-lethal, so you might be facing significant legal charges if you use one against an attacker in anything but a clear-cut life-or-death situation. In many places the carry of a baton by a civilian requires a concealed weapons permit.

US Marines React To Being Pepper Sprayed And Tased - US Marines OC Pepper Sprayed And Tased

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray, or O.C. spray, is an excellent and underutilized self-defense tool that any prepper should have as part of their EDC complement.

Available in gel, foam and aerosol versions, the aerosol types are superior unless you are in an environment where cross-contamination is a major concern (like a hospital).

Also avoid other “flavors” of spray like Mace, C.S. (tear gas) and C.S./O.C. blends since none are as reliably effective under the widest variety or circumstances as good old O.C.!

Pepper spray is one of the only ranged, non-lethal weapons freely available to civilians that maintains an extremely high rate of effectiveness.

Composed of the same if concentrated stuff that makes spicy peppers so burning hot (hence the name) pepper spray targets the eyes, mucous membranes and lungs of the attacker by inflicting burning, searing pain, inflammation, severe coughing and mucus production.

Most folks who get starched with a good dose of the spicy stuff will have all the fight taken out of them in a very short period of time and those who don’t will have their fighting capability significantly degraded.

Those are great advantages but it is not perfect. Because it causes no seriously debilitating damage, the very tough or the highly motivated can fight through the pain to press an attack.

This might be a concern if the attacker is on a mind-altering drug. Additionally, the spicy aerosol cannot tell friend from foe and backsplash from a hit or drift from a headwind could come back on you and affect you just the same.

Perhaps the best advantage of pepper spray for a defender is that it is seen, among all the weapons one might carry, as the most socially acceptable since the worst thing that could possibly happen to someone who has been sprayed by it is that they fall down or trip while under its effects and hit their head, assuming they don’t have a one-in-a-million adverse reaction.

This does not give you legal permission to use it without cause, but you will be facing a much cleaner legal fight if you employ pepper spray versus some other weapon.

Pepper Ball Launcher

Chances are if you have been watching the news coverage of riots and protests for any length of time you have probably noticed police officers on the riot squad carrying what looks to be a sort of paintball gun.

You are quite correct, but these devices aren’t launching paintballs; they are launching pepper balls! Which, as their name suggests, are capsules filled with the same OC solution found in pepper spray.

This allows the shooter to deploy the spicy goodness at greatly extended ranges and with pinpoint accuracy compared to spray or gas.

While these full-sized devices are far too large and bulky for everyday carry in any circumstance, miniaturized versions do exist that are about half the size of one of those classic D-cell Maglites that used to be so popular.

A little too big to fit in most pockets, they are nonetheless easy to carry and concealable, and area promising option for people who desire a ranged non-lethal weapon.

They only carry a handful of balls but that is enough to “season” several attackers before making your escape, or really pour it on to a lone attacker.

These are definitely an EDC option to keep an eye on!

“Brass” Knuckles / Knuckle Dusters

Metallic knuckles, or knuckle dusters, or a notorious and iconic weapon that exist in a category known as fist load weapons: weapons that are worn on or held in the hand and about the fingers when striking in order to add power to a blow while, hopefully, protecting the wielder’s hand and fingers from impact.

Brass knuckles are a viable if dodgy weapon for self-defense as they can certainly inflict grievous damage and strike almost instantly from concealment but they have many drawbacks one needs to be aware of.

Brass knuckles as they are commonly called are not always made of brass, with many cheap mass-produced versions being made of pot metal of some type. This means they might collapse and crush your fingers upon making impact with a solid surface.

Other versions are made out of heavy-duty plastics or other synthetic materials in an effort to evade legal statutes or just reduce weight or metal detector signature. More on that in a minute.

It is crucial that you have a set of brass knuckles properly fitted to your hand if you want to employ them well and safely; an ill-fitting set of brass knuckles is just as likely to mangle your hand on impact as it is to mangle your opponent.

Perhaps most importantly, brass knuckles fit into a category of weapons colloquially known as “bad guy” weapons, meaning most states outlaw them completely from legal use, or have them heavily regulated.

Quite a few states also have a provision describing these weapons as being made from any kind of material, not just metal, so the clever folks trying to use plastic or lexan knuckles fall under the umbrella of the statutes.

Make sure you understand all state laws concerning their use if you plan on using these in a non-SHTF setting, and take the time to locate or purchase or have a set made for you that fits you quite literally like a glove.

Kitty Spikes

Modern spiked knuckles, often times called kitty spikes due to their shape and styling resembling that of the face of a cat with pointy ears, these are a variant of knuckle dusters which enabled the wielder to inflict anything from an extremely painful poke to a devastating penetrating injury using only a punch.

Often designed with a form-factor to enable it to be worn on the key ring as a sort of decorative ornament, the effectiveness of these devices can vary depending on their design, material and weight.

These are not difficult to find but do be warned that these will often fall under the prohibition on knuckle dusters, metallic knuckles and brass knuckles in many cases. Again, they are very common state laws.

Also once again, make sure you do your research before selecting these if you are not putting them away for a rainy day or a shit-hit-the-fan situation!

Tasers and Stun Guns

Electrical discharge weapons are another popular option for non-lethal self-defense. Depending on which type you buy and carry this is another option that might get you a little range to standoff from your attacker.

Common stun guns all those little boxes that have electrodes sticking out of the front and arc and crackle menacingly with electricity when switched on.

When you jam an attacker with one while it is activated, they will get a painful shock, and although they are typically advertised as packing truly enormous voltage and promise severely incapacitating effects, I have never encountered or tested a single version that delivers on its promise.

They might have some value for intimidation or as a surprise attack, but don’t count on these things.

Tasers are different. Tasers are an electrical weapon that fire a pair of dart-like electrodes out to about 15 or 20 ft. depending on the model and then run a fairly substantial current between the probes. When they work as advertised, tasers can temporarily disable an opponent by locking up their major muscle groups.

They also happen to be extremely painful! Many a police trainee will regale with with the story of the time they “rode the lightning”. This can buy you time to escape easily as your opponent is getting fried on the ground.

The disadvantage with tasers is that they require a high degree of accuracy since they contain one or two shots at most, and if anything breaks the wire or dislodges the probe while it is operating the effect on target will be lost.

Despite these drawbacks, and their expense, tasers might make a good option for people who live in places with extremely stringent laws on firearms.

Laser Lights

Laser lights are a fairly new member of the non-lethal personal defense weapon. It is designed so that the bright, flashing lights disorients the assailant thereby allowing the person to escape. These are available as a handheld device as well as versions that fit on the rail of your handgun.

Improvised EDC Self Defense Tools

Kubotan/Defense Stick

Kubatons, yawara sticks and mini-batons are a type of fist load weapon originally developed for traditional martial arts that would allow the user to employ joint locks, pressure point attacks and modified strikes with the objective being the doling out of significantly debilitating pain but non-lethal damage.

Typically being made of wood or more commonly today acetate plastic or even metal, these miniature sticks often ride-on keyrings inconspicuously and as a rule have a non-aggressive and generally non-threatening appearance.

One major advantage of these devices is that they can go virtually anywhere, typically not even being classified as a weapon in most states and cities.

That being said, their tiny size and sometimes specialized shape means you will need specialized training and practice in order to employ them correctly and the best effect.

Flailing away with a tiny baton or miniature karate stick Will only be effective if you can bring it to bear on target with accuracy!

Non-Violent EDC Weapons and Devices

If you are of non-violent mentality but still wish to have something that may help in case of an attack there are options that are designed to alert others to your situation that are also intended to scare away your assailant.

Most dedicated attackers are not going to be warded off by the blasts of the whistle itself, but one thing bad guys don’t want is attention on their evil Deeds; by raising your profile and potentially drawing attention and helped yourself you could thwart the attack before it starts.


A whistle doesn’t require batteries and so you know it will always be ready when you need it. Keep it on your keychain or around your neck and, like with the previous two mentions, keep it in your hand while walking to and from your vehicle.

Keychain Alarm

These pocket-sized alarm systems, commonly called “screechers”, are exactly what the name says on the tin; when activated they emit a warbling, ear piercing shriek like a conventional burglar alarm that you might encounter at a business or a residence.

Like the whistle, these are intended to draw attention and hopefully help to your plight, and if activated ahead of an attack might ward the attacker off by raising your profile. If you are in a truly secluded area when an attack occurs, these will do no good.

GPS Trackers

Something that you can use as a defense weapon to protect your children is a GPS tracker. This can be sewn into their jacket or put in their backpack so if the unthinkable were to happen and little Johnny or Suzy didn’t make it home from school then you can look on your smart phone and see where they are or last were.

These are just some examples of every day carry (EDC) items that are readily available. Browsing online can help you find items that can suit your needs and abilities. Keep in mind that merely owning one of these items alone is not enough. You must learn how to use them.


A powerfully bright, compact flashlight is a must-have, must-carry EDC item that all preppers should employ. Aside from its obvious utility of illuminating darkened areas, a flashlight is an excellent self-defense tool since it is capable of removing an attacker’s visual horizon when shined into their eyes.

No, it is not truly blinding, as their vision will return once the light goes out or is removed from their eyes, but it can conceal your own movement and distract the attacker, enabling you to seize the initiative in your own defense or just attempt an escape.

Just as important, any lurking attacker that has their hiding-place illuminated is likely to start feeling pretty poor about their chances of carrying off their ambush, and the more doubt and indecision you can introduce into their thought process, the better the chance you have of him calling off the attack entirely.

If push comes to shove, the machined aluminum or steel body of a modern flashlight makes an excellent fist load akin to a kubaton above, and even with minimal training repeated hammer-blow strikes using a metal cylinder will add a significant amount of pop to your attacks and protect your hand.

Tactical Pen

Think of a tactical pen as sort of a modern riff on the kubotan or yawara stick.

These tools are indeed pens and can be used for anything you would use a normal pen for, but they typically have a hardened, machine body made of some kind of metal, be at the aluminum or brass, and are shaped in such a way to afford the user a certain grip.

tactical pen inside green front shirt pocket
tactical pen inside green front shirt pocket

Ending in a substantial point, the pain can be wielded tip up or tip down to excellent effect and driven into an attacker’s soft or hard targets.

Being just a pen, these can go virtually anywhere with no restrictions, although some of the more vaingloriously embellished models look a bit too tactical and might get security after you.

But disregarding that if you stick with a more conservatively styled model this could be your constant companion no matter where you are going and what you are doing.

Understanding the Laws in Your Area

I should point out here that all of these items are perfectly legal for me to own and carry in my state. I have a CCDW, which is a Concealed Carry Deadly Weapons permit. With this I can carry pretty much anything I want that people without this permit cannot carry.

In my state we do have rather lax laws on knives and we have open carry laws. Open carry laws allow a person to carry a firearm or other deadly weapon on their person as long as the weapon is visible and not in a prohibited area like inside a school or courtroom.

With the open carry law the brass knuckles can be worn as a belt buckle, but to carry it in a pocket a person must have this permit.

You should always know and understand the laws in your area as violation of weapons laws can carry a hefty fine and even prison time in some instances. In some countries a screwdriver in your pocket can be construed as a deadly weapon.

The Key to Self-defense Is the Mindset

The key to self-defense is the mindset to defend yourself and the will to learn methods of doing so. Hopefully you would only do this in self defense and never in an offensive act of violence.

That being said let’s examine some EDC defense weapons in the vehicle. Not always, but sometimes I carry a rifle in my vehicle. For short trips around town to the store etc. my sidearm is sufficient.

However, if I am taking a longer trip, say driving 100 miles away to buy/sell/trade a firearm, or taking a trip to go fishing or hunting, and then I will absolutely take a rifle with me.

The Best Personal Defense Tools and How to Use Them

Final Thoughts

A final thought on EDC weapons, if you are healthy enough, is for you yourself to be the weapon. Studying and practicing a martial art for self defense is good advice for everyone. Everyone should learn at least basic methods of defending themselves.

Whether it’s teaching your wife, mother, sister, or friend to gouge an attacker’s eyes with their nails or keys, or to kick them in the groin and run, any kind of chance to defend yourself is better than none.

If you want to exercise and stay in shape, rather than taking that spin class or hot yoga, go study Wing Tsun, Krav Maga, or Jiu Jitsu, you will learn some valuable information that could save your life and you will always be able to carry it with you.

self-defense edc items pinterest 2

updated 07/30/2020

4 thoughts on “15 EDC Items for Your Self-Defense”

  1. I like your last idea the most: be the weapon. Bad guys choose the time and place, and look for someone not paying attention, or someone who looks easy. Don’t put yourself in that situation. If you are attacked, usually there is no time to reach in your purse or pocket for a weapon.

    There is some good training available. I took Cobra Defense Training. I like Tim Larkin’s system.

    One point that raised my eyebrows was regarding the knife. I, too, carry a knife every day. I carry it as a tool, not as a weapon. I’d prefer the pepper spray that I also carry, or some kind of club that gives me more reach. I don’t have faith that stabbing or slashing someone is going to stop the attack, and the bad guy can still do a lot of damage while he bleeds out. I’ve seen the “winners” of a knife fight, and it wasn’t pretty.

    1. Well, having been on both the losing and winning side of a knife fight I can say with 100% certainty that when a blade goes through you your fight is pretty much gone. My results, d.o.a to ER. Lost 12″ if I testing, got a small nick in my heart, went in below my right ribcage. Went through the liver, intestine, diaphragm, nicked my heart, missed all major arteries and nearly exited my back. Missed my spinal cord by one half inch. Wore a cholostomy for two months, had reconstructive surgery to reverse the cholostomy. took several years to fully recover. Knives are viscous…the guy I hit ran, dont know what happened to him. Was a stranger trying to strong arm rob me. These were separate occasions a few years apart. When I got stabbed I was jumped by four guys and tried to fight. I have carried a gun ever since.

  2. I am partial to the Kitty spikes myself, also they make a brass knuckles disguised as 4 diamond rings that I love! This was a great overview of everyday things (EDC) you carry already that can be used in all kinds of emergencies as a tool or weapon.
    I hadnt thought of the collapsible baton in the car, but went out and checked and yep, that man of mine had. Frying some pork chops for him tonight, as Valentine’s chocolate and cute gifts are fun but a man who shows love in making sure you are protected and everything is well maintained, etc is tops in my book. Love you too!

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