We all have preferences. Our “top choices” and favorites. I know that if were to go to a gunfight this afternoon, I would prefer to use a Remington 870 shotgun instead of the Suarez Glock that will invariably be in my belt. Why? Because the shotgun kills better…simple as that. But that aside, what I will have with me in my belt when I am having lunch at the local eatery will be a Glock and not the preferred 870. It is a simple matter of practicality. The same can be said for all our other equipment choices. Few white-collar professionals or even grey-collar business people are going to move about their day with an LBE or a Patrol belt festooned with magazines, knives…and tourniquets. We all make compromises from what we would “prefer to have” in a gunfight to what is realistic to have every day, all day, in our normal lives.

With the recent active shooter events there has been a renewed discussion of carrying medical gear in your everyday loadout. Some twenty-five victims in the last week as a matter of fact (Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton). The guys in uniform and the paramedics admonish carrying a tourniquet. I do not disagree that this is wise, but it is easy to lead by example in a patrol or paramedic uniform. It is not as easy to pull off if one is one of those white collar/grey collar guys that has a job (often with a dress code) that does not directly involve applying tourniquets.

Moreover, while doing so would be easy if you dress like a 5.11 model with big oversized cargo pants, that is not the type of clothing our “normal guys” are going to wear to work…or on a date. When we tally up the normal guy load out, we still have a pistol and a magazine (at least one). Likely a blade and a cell phone as well as the normal pocket array carried by normal guys. Adding a tourniquet may be a smart thing to do, but not always an easy thing to do. I queried personnel from students, to instructors and a few LE as well. While they agreed the importance of a tourniquet, few carried one daily. None of the LE guys carried one off duty. Cited were the difficulty in concealing them in normal attire.

The one gent that carried a tourniquet daily said he had compromised in the one he carried. He told me that the bulk of the medical professionals and uniformed LE all favored the CAT. The CAT, or Combat Application Tourniquet is easy to use, and seen on the bat belts of many LE personnel as well as paramedics. But it is big. It is about the size of a pistol slide. Guys with large waistbands may be able to carry one concealed on the belt, but many whose waist size is smaller – like the student I was speaking with - will have difficulty in normal everyday attire.

Instead, he opted for a RAT, or Rapid Application Tourniquet, and advised that while it is not as popular with uniformed professionals as the CAT, it is more compact, and easy to carry. “A RAT in the pocket beats a CAT in the car console”.

I agree. I have a 31” waist and the real estate on my belt is taken up with pistol and magazines. I have tried to carry CAT tourniquets in cargo pockets, in added belt pouches, and even in an ankle holster designed to carry them. None were satisfactory for me. Not all pants have cargo pockets, and even those that do, the dimensions of the CAT in a pocket or printing through a shirt that would otherwise conceal a pistol, tend to announce exactly what it is. And make no mistake that is important (a man carrying a CAT tourniquet…hmmm…what else might he be carrying?). Same can be said for ankle carry. Some guys can pull it off, but it doesn’t work for me.

The RAT however is easily carried in a back pocket, or the flat design slipped into the waist behind the magazine. Far easier and more convenient to carry. And that means you will likely have it rather than leave it at home.

I have settled on a RAT as an addition to my everyday carry, and a CAT in the med kit I carry in the vehicle. Making compromises to operate in normal society and in normal life happen with clothing, weapons, and other things. Whether we like it or not they happen with medical gear like a tourniquet as well. But with a light easy to carry one like this, that compromise will not involve leaving it behind.