Every Day Carry in Non-Permissive Work Environments, by D., Esq.

I’m a lawyer.  I’m a criminal defense lawyer.  Every day I put on a suit and I walk though metal detectors and into a courthouse where guns, ammunition, and knives are not permitted.  Other days I may visit one or more jails, where it should be no surprise that the above are prohibited, as are lighters, flammable materials, and pretty much everything else.

I also happen to be a prepper. I think I have a pretty good idea what may be coming in the not too distant future, and I want to be ready.

How do I balance these two realities?

My goal was to create a simple carry system that is unobtrusive and unassuming.  Something that would blend in and let me carry a little bit of EDC gear without notice.  No major bulges or anything conspicuous that could draw attention—from court security, judges, jurors, or even my co-workers. 

I considered many different systems.  I tried key-ring systems that wound up with 1.5 pounds of metal bulging and jangling in my pocket.  I looked at flat wallet-like containers for my back pocket.

And then I looked around me.  And I realized.  What is less conspicuous than a phone pouch?   I see lawyers with one or even two phone pouches on their belts every day.

I began purchasing. Some were too loose or closed with weak magnets.  Others rode on a single metal hook that jutted out far from the waist and tended to twist.

About 15 purchases later, I landed on the Phone Pouch Horizontal from Tactical Tailor.  It comes in several colors, including khaki and green.  In black, it looks exactly like a standard phone pouch–which it is.  But there are several very helpful attributes–and one drawback.

The first helpful design feature is that this item secures to a belt with two (plastic) clips instead of the standard single clip.  As a result, it hangs tight and conforms to my waist.  Other pouches secure with one clip (frequently steel) in the center, which allows a lot of torque and wiggle.  But make sure you secure both clips!  I broke several clips early on settling into my car seat.  In all instances, I had only secured just one clip.  I now double check myself when dressing to make sure I have properly secured both.

The second useful design is the flap that covers the pouch.  It is perfect for tucking a tactical pen horizontally through the top.    My pen is longer then the pouch, leaving plenty of pen to easily and quickly grab with my strong hand or weak hand.  So far, I have worn this setup daily for over a year and I have not lost my pen yet.  Simply pull the flap tightly, secure the velcro, slip that pen in, and use the pen clasp to hold onto the flap. 

The only drawback to the Tactical Tailor pouch design is that it is not “fully enclosed”. Like many phone pouches, it has elastic on the two narrow sides to allow for expansion and add tension to the phone inside.  And like many carriers, it also has four little openings at the four corners.  This poses a problem for very small items that could work their way down and out.  But for me, it works well along the top, as it leaves a notch for the tactical pen even when the top flap is secure.

The tactical pen model I carry with my pouch is the Operator series by Tuff-Writer.  I normally carry the sanitized matte black because it doesn’t have any markings overtly suggestive of its purpose.  At the same time, I cannot deny that it does have a “tactical” look to it.

With the idea that sometimes the best way to hide something is in plain sight, I have a second pen available when I dress in the morning.  This is the same Operator series pen in a beautiful shiny executive-looking NP3 finish.  It is just the opposite of a tactical pen—in appearance.  It may scream “showoff SOB” but it doesn’t scream “tactical”.  It doesn’t appear to be listed on the web site at this moment, but keep an eye out for it or reach out to their customer service, they have take pretty good care of me in the past.  Please note I have purchased and do not like the other pen models because the caps are not designed to stay on the barrel when in use.

Inside my pouch I carry a variety of items helpful for both work and survival:

  • On the outside I have a small stack of business cards. 
  • One wax-impregnated cardboard fire starter trimmed down to business card size. 
  • A plastic card with several turns of duct tape
  • One sheet of adhesive blister padding. 
  • A credit card size Fresnel lens
  • $20. 
  • Two Band-Aids and sealed disposable alcohol pads. 
  • A plastic card wound with spider wire. 
  • Imodium AD and flat tooth flosser
  • A microfiber cloth (for my eyeglasses)
  • A Split Pea lighter with several large safety pins attached so they don’t fall out of the pouch. 

Together, these items are what I need to stay comfortable, make small repairs, and perhaps help me handle a bad situation.  If asked what is inside, I explain that it has my “cards and medicine and Band-Aids and stuff.”  Now remember, I am a credentialed professional in a suit and I am frequently recognized by security.  I am not going to deliberately break the law to bring in something I am NOT supposed to bring in, but I will concede that I receive less scrutiny than someone off the street.

In the pouch I also formerly carried a skinny flint and steel system—the Exotac Nano  and a skinny metal whistle, the Vargo titanium.   But I gave those two items up as the Pea lighter will produce a spark with or without fluid and I carry a small flat 2-chamber Titanium whistle on my keychain to hail my dogs.  But both items remain on my dresser ready to be added if circumstances warrant.

Also on my keychain, with the whistle identified above, is an Amsler Knives Pocket Wedge.    It is not much larger than a key and it is not particularly sharp, so it does not alarm security personnel.  It is not a tactical fighting tool, but for opening boxes, screwdriving, or a bit of prying it is handy.

Also part of my everyday uniform is my briefcase.  I carry a modern black ballistic nylon bag.  Inside is a black Kevlar divider that I purchased from BulletProofme.com .  It totally blends in with the ballistic briefcase and has never been questioned.  In fact, it looks and feels exactly like standard laptop padding.  In a pinch I can sling the briefcase over my neck for crude ballistic protection.  I have considered adding straps to the divider itself but have opted to remain with it low profile.

I have several pairs of extremely fancy black and brown dress shoes to wear with my suits.  The fact is, I have come to realize they are killing me.  I have one pair of Clark Wave “dressy” (dressy in quotes because they still look rather sneaker-ish) and I intend to purchase a black pair for days when I can get away with it.  Because, the first defense in most emergencies—especially unarmed—is to put as much distance between myself and danger as I can.  As The Doctor says, “Run!”

And the second defense is to get to my vehicle as quickly as I can.  In my normal  stomping grounds, my  vehicle is normally parked at my office, about three blocks away from my courthouse.   When I am in my office, my vehicle is normally within 50 feet of my first-floor office—and is frequently parked right outside my window.  The parking lot is shared with court and law enforcement personnel and — at least during working hours and normal circumstances–is not going to be an early target.

So let’s quickly address my vehicle.  I commute 30 plus miles to work, most of it on busy suburban and urban interstate.  I have a large SUV.  Inside, I carry several days’ worth of food, a blanket, water bottles, water filter, first aid kit, trauma kit, and a SCARE Bag with minimal supplies to help me scare/fight my way home.  I have a concealed carry permit and lots of training; I do try to car-carry my  Glock 17 with two extra mags, but I cannot do so on a daily basis for family reasons.  If I identify things starting to “heat up” that I do intend to car-carry daily.  I also need to purchase an effective locking device for regular car-carry.

Of course I have also added a small duffel with a complete change of clothing and shoes.  I’m considering adding some gold coins to pay a boater in the nearby marina to ferry me upriver to a location that would be a very short walk home. This would bypass what I expect would become an extremely dangerous solo hike on foot.

In conclusion, I would like to add that this system proves fairly flexible on weekends and outside of work.  Thanks to the single pouch, most of my gear is containerized and is easy to transfer from clothing to clothing.  On weekends I normally add just two items.  First I add my flashlight; normally the Quark Tactical QT2L which produces 230 lumens off its 2 CR123A batteries.  However, if I purchased today I would opt for the newer model with maximum 780 lumens for a very short period of time.

My daily carry folding knife is a simple Benchmade Griptillian.  I ordered a custom model through the company web site and while delivery took quite some time, the design process was entirely fun.

As you likely know, knife regulations vary widely and in some cities even the Griptillian blade length of 3.45 inches is unlawful.  In my state, open carry of such a knife is no problem.  But when I go to my kids’ school, I do have a problem.  My state prohibits knives on school grounds but carves out an exception for pocket knives (folders) with a metal blade less than three inches.  As I am large with large hands, this posed a major problem, as all smaller knives came with smaller handles that were always swallowed up in my fingers.  The one and only folder I found with a sufficiently large handle for me to grip but a sufficiently small blade to be legal was the Emerson “Stubby” with a 2.7 inch blade . 

Note: This is my personal gear review and all items mentioned have been personally paid for by me. No consideration has been asked for or given.