Pretty much everyone is thrilled to put 2020 behind them and looking forward to a fresh start in 2021. But we learned some lessons as a result of this chaotic year. Many Americans realized the importance of self-defense for the first time, while others — responsibly armed gun owners, for example — recognized that they could have been better prepared. Let’s make a resolution to start the year ready for whatever 2021 has in store for us. Here are five self-defense products you might want to consider purchasing this year.

DeSantis Bodyguard Vest Rig

The DeSantis Bodyguard Vest is a uniquely styled shoulder rig. It is called a “vest” because it covers a larger area than a standard shoulder holster and is ambidextrous — with the same holster and secondary compartment on each side. Both these compartments are actually pouches with no retention straps. These compartments can hold spare mags, cellphones or even a walkie-talkie.

The vest is constructed from 1050D padded senior ballistic nylon, making it comfortable and pretty indestructible under normal use. It has multiple points of adjustment to allow for fitting multiple body types.

The vest handled both of my large pistols well (one at a time) — a SIG Sauer M17 and an Iver Johnson Arms 1911 — allowing for easy access and effective concealment. The unconventional nature of the vest’s design allows adaptability to a wide variety of handguns.

If you are in the market for a shoulder rig, this is one to look at. MSRP is $93.99.

Smith & Wesson Vehicle Escape Tool

A vehicle escape tool is a nice piece of gear to have handy in an emergency. It could save your life if you’re trapped in your car, especially if water has caused a malfunction to your electric windows. Back in the days of hand-cranked windows, this wasn’t as much of an issue as it is today.

Smith & Wesson vehicle escape tool.

This clever vehicle escape tool from Smith & Wesson can be purchased for around $20.

There are plenty of vehicle escape tools out there, but the Smith & Wesson Escape Tool is special. It has an illuminated dual USB port that fits into a 12-volt vehicle port. Simply plug the escape tool into the port and it’s held firmly in place — quietly reminding you it’s there every time you start your vehicle. At the end of the connector is a hardened glass breaker tip meant for knocking out side window glass. On the side of the tool is a seatbelt cutter. It’s a very clever piece of gear that can be purchased for under $20.

Streamlight 78104 Stinger 2020 Rechargeable Flashlight

This new rechargeable flashlight likely represents the best redesign/upgrade of all the self-defense products that I have reviewed.

Although I never complained much about Streamlight’s older model, it was a little difficult to find the small body-mounted on/off thumb switch in the dark due to it being inset. Even in daylight I had to look at the flashlight to find it. The other issue was having to cycle through the on/off switch to find the light level and function I needed. While that is not a huge issue for the average tactical light user, it is problematic for cops.

Streamlight has resolved these issues with the Streamlight 78104 Stinger 2020 Rechargeable Flashlight. It is almost an entirely new light compared to its older model. Streamlight solved the two issues mentioned above by switching from a cylindrical shaped body to one with flattened sides and an indented area for your fingers. It not only eliminated the propensity for the flashlight to roll on a flat surface but also made it easy to grasp the light the right way. This enables the user to instantly find the body-mounted thumb switch without looking! There is still a tailcap switch option.

Streamlight also added a “set and forget” Low-Med-Hi switch directly above the on/off switch. It is easily accessed. This is an outstanding improvement. The power switches turn the light off and activate the strobe function. The max output on the “Hi” setting is an impressive 2000 lumens.

Streamlight Stinger

This rechargeable flashlight from Streamlight is available on Amazon for $182.

AC/DC charging options come with the flashlight. Mounting options are also included. The flashlight is available on Amazon for $181.38.

Citizen Armor Bulletproof Vest (Male and Female)

Citizen Armor is a company that provides ballistic protection solutions for buildings and vehicles and body armor options for civilians. It wasn’t until the hell of 2020 descended on us that I would have considered wearing my law enforcement concealable armor while off-duty. After the attacks on law-abiding citizens that occurred through the summer of 2020, it may be time to consider ballistic protection.

I really like that there is a company focused entirely on civilian body armor needs, which requires even more attention to concealability. Up until a few years ago, it was difficult — and in some cases illegal — for civilians to purchase soft body armor, so this is a welcome and much needed change.

Citizen Armor specializes in the use of IIIA soft armor. Other companies sell armor in levels IIA and II, which are less expensive but offer lesser protection. IIIA soft armor is top of the line. Body armor is available for both males and females, with different coverage patterns. Tactical “SHTF” external armor is also available. Prices of concealable armor range from $599 to $899.

Armor Concepts Door Armor MAX PLUS Combo Set

While home burglar alarm systems increased in popularity after March 2020, what really increased was interest in home security reinforcement measures. This is especially in areas where police have been “defunded” or are now hesitant to enforce laws against protestors who began attacking homes and businesses. Once such system is Armor Concepts Door Armor MAX Plus Combo Set.

The door armor reinforces the area around the front door (or back door): locks, hinges and door jamb. While some systems, such as the Door Bull, help to prevent kick-in breaches, the Door Armor is effective in helping to prevent more advanced criminals using a pry bar to defeat the door lock. The ability to discourage, delay or defeat an entry does two things: It gives sleeping homeowners time to arm themselves and provides more time for police to respond.

The system easily installs with an electric drill. Armor Concepts offers a $500 lifetime warranty to cover damage should your door be breached. MSRP is $99. There are other self-defense products from Armor Concepts available ranging from $49 to $109.

Worthwhile Self-Defense Products

We won’t know what 2021 will bring, but I for one know that I’ll be better prepared than I was in 2020. Should you face new or unanticipated threats, these self-defense products will help to keep you ahead of the game.


Armor Concepts:
Citizen Armor:
DeSantis Gunhide:
Smith & Wesson:

About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.