Image via Everyday Carry
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Over at Everyday Carry, one can peruse what other people carry in their pockets on a daily basis. We feature one of those pocket dumps each and every evening right here at TTAG. It’s interesting to see how others approach packing – both a gun and other accessories for their daily lives.

While you see all manner of stuff carried, you also quickly pick up on the three common items that show up the most, and for good reason.  Every well-prepared, law-abiding adult should carry these three items on their person – every day – if local laws allow.

The gun

Lots of Americans can lawfully carry everyday.   Sadly, more don’t.  While that’s good news for the bad guys of the world, what’s good for bad guys generally is not good for you and your loved ones.

As of about a year ago, over 17 million Americans had a carry license. And scores of millions more could get a carry license without too much difficulty. Plenty more law-abiding adults live in the 16 states with constitutional carry where they don’t need a license to carry – call it close to 30 million.

The bottom line: a sizeable percentage of Americans can carry legally. Given the nature of The Truth About Guns, one could safely bet that a large percentage of our readers not only have a carry license, but some of us have more than one.

Guns Save Life / TTAG image by Boch,  Gun courtesy CI Shooting Sports in Normal, IL

If you can legally carry a gun, then carry it. Every day and everywhere. Don’t forfeit your life to a criminal.

“Forfeit?” you ask.

Yes, forfeit. Tom Givens, the former Memphis cop and 40-year firearm trainer, explains via Rangemaster.

Over the past 20 or so years, 66 non-military students of mine (that I know about) have been involved in defensive gunplay against criminals. These are the ones that I know of, who have reported back to the school or that I learned of through law enforcement contacts. Of those 66 incidents, the record is 63 wins, zero losses, three forfeits.

Of the 63 students who were armed at the time of their encounter, all of them won, and only three were injured. We have, unfortunately, had three students that I know of who lost their encounter and died. All three were killed in separate street robberies, and all three were unarmed at the time of the incident (hence the term “forfeit”). It’s hard to win a gunfight if you didn’t bring your gun! Since 63 out of 63 students who were armed won their fights, we must be doing something right.

As a firearms instructor in central Illinois for only twenty years with GSL Defense Training, I’ve seen much the same, only on a smaller scale. We haven’t had sixty-six gunplay incidents among our Illinois-based students. After all (thankfully) Illinois doesn’t have Memphis-level crime outside of Chicago.

At the same time we still have had easily a dozen-plus reports of “defensive gunplay” from our past students. Each student who brought their own Roscoe to the party survived and only a couple reported minor injuries. Not only did they all survive, but not a single one faced prosecution, either.

On the other hand, a non-student family member of one of our Guns Save Life members left her concealed carry piece in her glove box at an interstate rest area a couple of years ago because it’s a “gun-free zone” per state law and she didn’t want to break the law. A mope running from police saw her that fateful day, followed her in and killed her to steal her car. Strangled her to death. All because she left her carry gun in the car.

Furthermore, carrying does not have to cause a major lifestyle change for the wearer, either.

Gone are the days when people only had a choice between a small-, medium- and large-framed revolver and those new-fangled semi-autos that sometimes have reliability issues.

SIG P365. Image by John Boch, Gun courtesy CI Shooting Sports in Normal, IL

Today, you can pick up a petite SIG P365 for general purpose carry. For older folks with arthritis or hand-strength issues, the Smith & Wesson M&P EZ is a fantastic pick. And for those who want a really small package because they need deep concealment or don’t want the bother of the extra weight, the Ruger LCP II or an exotic metal small-frame revolver will pack quite a punch for about one pound, loaded.

Finding a good, comfortable holster also solves the “discomfort” problem. My personal litmus test for a carry rig is whether can I take a nap while sleeping on the gun-side of my body.

For me, the Bladetech Nano and Phantom inside-the-waistband rigs not only pass the nap test, but also the sleeping in my clothes overnight test. Ditto for the Bravo Concealment Torsion IWB rig. Recently, I spent a lot of nights sleeping in my clothes while my babies spent time in the NICU for a couple of weeks.

Your mileage may vary. A lot of people rave over their Alien Gear and Crossbreed holsters. Find one that fits your lifestyle comfortably. And carry every day.

A flashlight

While you (hopefully) will never need your gun on a daily basis, a flashlight will get regular use.  Especially as you age and your eyes begin losing their low-light acuity, a light will help find things, explore places and most importantly from a self-defense perspective, identify bad guys.

After all, most deadly force encounters take place in low-light environments.  What’s more, the law demands that a good guy identify his or her target before lighting them up with gunfire.

Thankfully, gone are the days of the mini-MagLite. Along with the full-sized Mag-Lites.  I remember one home-brew light I made using a MagLite body about a fifteen years ago. It would not only signal aircraft, but it would also set newsprint alight in seconds.

Today, EDC flashlights come in easy-to-carry, tiny forms and emit a great deal of light – without posing a fire hazard. And bigger models can probably signal the International Space Station high above.

Olight S-1 Mini-Baton flashlight, Image via

Most of us, however, don’t need that sort of horsepower, especially for indoor applications. Too much light indoors will splash back and degrade your own ability to see, especially in light-colored rooms. How much is enough and how much is too much? It depends on your eyes and your budget. From 60-150 lumens for indoor applications will serve you well.

Most of the popular lights sell for under $100, judging by the number of Everyday Carry members who post their pocket dumps.  The Olight Mini-baton series of lights seem quite popular (one’s in my cart at Amazon right now), as do the Streamlight single-cell lights (CR123 or AA).

Outdoors, it’s nice to have more lumens as the beam itself becomes a tool to temporarily disable a potential bad guy or see things farther away.

Plus, most of today’s “tactical” lights have a crenulated bezel on the front end which makes a fine impact weapon. In classes, we sometimes refer to that scalloped front end as a DNA core-sampler to later identify a bad guy with the authorities. What’s more, these lights will readily make it through most any security checkpoint without any issues.

A blade

A good knife will help you in a multitude of ways. It will serve as a tool to get into packages and get yourself out of entanglements. A blade can dissuade an attacker and facilitate a conversation with a friend.

For those without carry licenses or for many of those locations that prohibit carry, a blade may be one of the best lethal force tools available.

Image via Emerson Knives Facebook page

A word on knife-fighting: it’s ugly, fast and brutal, but it beats surrendering to an attacker.

First off, folding knives share one universal attribute: a difficulty to deploy when under attack. Bad people can close 21 feet a lot faster than most people can recognize the attack, then draw and deploy a folder.

For self-defense work, fixed blades deploy the fastest. However, they don’t conceal as well as a folder. I’ve got a Gerber and while carrying it, it makes me look like I’m really excited to see everyone under my clothes.  That is about as socially acceptable as a dog humping on people’s legs. So it doesn’t get carried.

Auto knives, the quality ones at least, will usually quickly and reliably deploy one-handed under duress. Make sure you know your local laws on blades. Google is your friend for searching. Or at least that’s the common expression.

If you go the auto knife route, try to find one that’s not prone to unintended deployments in your pocket or you can have some new scars on the back of your hand like mine too.

Add on from there…

Once you have those three potentially life-saving tools, you can build your everyday carry ensemble. An extra reload earns you bonus points. Because that gun doesn’t work if you can’t feed it.

And if you have some cajones, you might even post your daily carry ensemble at Everyday Carry as well. Your gear may endure some criticism, but we can all learn from one another about what works and what doesn’t.

Share your victories, and your setbacks so others can learn from them.

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  1. “check your local laws” for knives, any knife in ANY state can be open carry, besides blade length there are no restrictions, except blades that shoot out from the handle completely. Also, to be sure check, for conceal carry some states do not allow knives to be concealed at all.

    • In California, a fixed blade knife MUST be open carried, but then there are local ordinances that upset the apple cart, most notoriously Los Angeles (from what I’ve read) that has a blade length limitation of 3″ and an express prohibition of carrying swords (unless you are in a movie). State law has no such restriction.

    • I carry two knives, because here in L.A. County we have a super-Leftard Sheriff who has vowed to (1) lock arms with Mayor Garcetti and Governor Newsom in declaring L.A. as a sanctuary city/county, and (2) never to grant CCWs because he doesn’t believe John Q. Public should carry.

      • Those guys should follow their own advice. They shouldn’t have a security detail with weapons, their family shouldn’t carry, no office staff should either.

    • “…any knife in ANY state can be open carry…”

      Is a folder clipped in a front pocket considered ‘open carry’?

    • I live in FLA and have a carry permit.There is no carry permit for a knife in Florida. PLEASE TELL ME WHY THIS IS SO????

      • MY Florida “Permit” is titled Florida “Weapons and Firearms” License. FL Statute 790.06 defines what weapons and firearms are authorized under the License. Knives are listed. Machineguns are specifically prohibited. Lol

  2. I would add a watch and a phone to the list but that’s just MHO.

    Knives make me laugh sometimes. When I went to college a bunch of the other freshman, a few years younger than I, asked me why I carried a knife. I generally explained that it was a tool but eventually got sick of the question and became somewhat dismissive of the people asking it.

    However, I rapidly learned that freshman in college have this tendency to not know what they need until they need it and therefore they get a lot of boxes sent by parents who actually have some experience with shipping and therefore use decent tape, often glass reinforced packing tape. Well, the kids usually don’t have scissors in their dorm so what do they do? They go looking for a knife or scissors but no one has scissors. It’s just that one psycho that they know who has a knife. So they show up asking to borrow a knife.

    Eventually I got in the habit of gently pointing out that other people were using my knife more than I was using it. After a few mentions of this they’d get the point. By the end of the year half of the guys on my floor had a pocket knife. By sophomore year most of the guys I knew and continued to have contact had a knife and a lot of the chicks too.

    Oddly, this interaction also prompted a lot of them to start wearing a watch, a practice that significantly reduced their tardiness to class (For all the prevalence of cell phones and how much people have their nose in the phone they rarely look at the clock on it for some reason. A wrist watch however, they pay attention to oddly enough.), and eventually ask me about shooting/guns and going to the gun range. Now a bunch of them, who fired their first gun with me, own a bunch of guns.

    Long story short: Especially with younger people, try not to be dismissive as I was, but rather try to show patience and mentor these people on what life is really going to throw at them. They might not listen the first few times but when they try to open a box with their teeth they’ll learn the benefits of a blade and start to wonder what else you’re doing that maybe they should pick up which is when they very well may ask you.

    It’s all wrapped up in this whole “personal responsibility” thing that we talk about. That’s a road that people walk or don’t and when they do walk it they walk it at difference speeds and for different reasons. Different people choose different on-ramps to that road. It’s probably best that we not judge them for which ramp they choose but rather just be glad they picked it. Unless of course they’re doing 20mph under the speed limit in the fast lane. Then they’re annoying. (That last bit is sarc.)

    • Also, for a bit of fun: After someone borrows your knife like 10 times and then spends the money to buy their own point out they could have used a key, but now they don’t have to because they have a better tool.

    • And, as always, beware these blanket statements that Mr. Boch is so prone to, as one should beware of ALL blanket statements, made by anyone. An author, like an instructor, has no knowledge of his reader’s (or student’s) personal situations, so he can really not make valid recommendations.
      He CAN, however, attempt to impart knowledge that can help another to make their own decisions. But; “do this”, and; “don’t do that”, are not the way to go about accomplishing that goal, and nether is “Three things everyone needs”.
      “Three very useful items to have”, is a valid statement, but not “everyone needs”. What use would Steven Hawking have for a knife, were he still alive? He was also part of “everyone” was he not?
      In a perhaps more understandable (less extreme) example; If I’m choosing to carry a glock, is not a holster with a covered trigger more valuable to me than a flashlight? The flashlight isn’t likely to shoot me in my own gut like glocks are prone to do.
      OTOH, if I carry a DA .38 snub, now I would judge a flashlight to be more useful than a holster. Since this is clearly situation dependent, then without knowing the other’s exact situation, all advice becomes useless. Or, rather, potentially useless. Said author, might, just might, guess the situation correctly and give the proper advice.
      But, that’s a mighty large “might” to bet your life on. Better to find factual advice about how to make your own decisions. Then, you will automatically take your situation into account, because you know your own situation better than anyone else.
      So seek out advice that emphasizes facts and evidence over “you must…”, and “you need…”. You’ll find yourself much ahead from doing so.

      • “…shoot me in my own gut like glocks…”


        My Glocks have never done that…weird.

        • It’s well known on the InterWebs that there is a certain type of Glock, the Model 7 as I recall, that is not only made of porcelain so as to be invisible to airport X-ray machines, but is also chambered for the dreaded .9mm cartridge, has no safeties whatsoever, and costs more than you make in a month.

          It also goes out of its way to shoot you in the gut. Other Glocks, of course, do not.


      • Ken,

        Thanks! Without your superior insight, I would follow ANY online advice to the letter, without thought. If you are just figuring out that EDC is a personal decision based upon you, your life and activities, your locality, and your personal inclinations?? You late to de party, bruh. I learned that ish in Cub Scouts.

        And, carry WITHOUT a holster??? AYFKMRN?? OK, you just proved that your commentary can be conveniently ignored. Please feel free to spare the world further of your brilliant insights. We are not worthy.

        • PgVlad? Is that you? Do YOU know a six letter word for a firearm’s dangerous end?

      • So why aren’t you a writer on this site? I’m sure they’d love to ditch John for you. Have you ever talked to the guy? I’ve heard him speak and he sounds pretty knowledgeable to me. I read a lot and then decide what to choose. Still looking for a good holster. Wish we could try then on like shoes. I bought a bunch of lemons….too big for me.

        • Wish I could help, but I, too, have a drawer full of holsters that won’t work. If only we could try them on like clothes and shoes. Well, maybe someday…

      • I sort of feel like the Glock/holster/light analogy is akin to asking if a rod-tube is a better investment than flies, leader and tippet.

        It’s all kind of a package, like a holster, gun, magazine and bullets. The flashlight is a completely separate issue/item kinda like waders and boots. You could choose to forgo the light just like you could forgo the waders and fish from the bank but if you forgo part of the core package the rest of that package doesn’t really work.

  3. This is a pretty good baseline for an EDC kit..BUT…(You knew it was coming)

    Let me suggest this list:


    If you have the room or carrying capacity, add:

    Extra Batteries
    Extra Ammo

  4. For me,
    my leatherman wave plus is an essential tooI that I use every single day and it has a great blade that deploys like a regular folder so it serves two purposes.

  5. I love the little TV dinner trays people have for their shit. Gotta get me a hungry man dinner so I can be cool too.

  6. I stopped wearing a watch over ten years ago when I became very ill and my arms grew too skinny for the watch band. Even though I recovered, I never resumed the practice. I carry a pocket knife (Kershaw speedsafe) and if anyone were to ask, its because I use it many times every day for one thing or another. Pen and notebook? Never have, but I try to keep a pen in the car. If I need to make a note, my cell can handle it. I don’t bother with reloads either. Burglaries are common, but robberies are rare. Most assaults and murders are of the domestic or homeless altercation variety.

  7. i would also carry a tourniquet.
    i like tha R.A.T.S.
    a pressure dressing.
    and a chest seal.

    • Some people strap a TQ kit to their ankle, as you would a backup holster. I’m actually going to band one to the buttstock of my “trunk gun” AR. Because if you’re ever truly in a gunfight, it might be possible that you end up getting hit yourself.

  8. I’m one of the 16% of US citizens who doesn’t live in or near a city. So I carry according to what mother nature prescribes, not what some politician decides is “legal”. When I must go into town for supplies I still carry pretty much the same stuff, except for the really big things. A watch is not on my list of junk to carry around and neither is a phone or a flashlight.

  9. The most common mistake most people make, when they are authorized to legally carry, is that they don’t! If you don’t carry it, you may as well not have it. Keep it with you, even in your own home. You just never know when you will need it!

    • carry something small..[even tiny]..on your person….keep something larger close at hand…and something larger still in your home….

  10. A gunm and a nife 4 me, most times just the nife. The flashlight I do not need., , , , , I like gunms so much i my volume on TV or radio has to be set on calibers of gunms. 22, 25,32, 38, 40 so on. I get up around the 56 Spencer mark the neighbors complain. Everything has to be caliber of gunms,So the next time you see me peddling my bicycle 102 miles an hour, you’ll know I’m just tripping howitzer

    • high intensity flashlights..often equipped with a strobe feature…can be a self-defense device..especially at night..having it coupled up to a stun gun is even better..pepper spray can disable you as well as your attacker…the best types spray a dye or fog an entire area..a knife is best kept out of sight, until needed…it can get you shot…lately i’ve opted for a green laser…still legal in many areas…and the effects are usually not permanent…

  11. Got the knife and gun covered. I need to get a small, inexpensive, carry-friendly flashlight that I can clip into a pocket and never notice it unless I need it.

    • Streamlight Microstream. Best bet. It carries deep enough to not be hit, unlike it’s Olight competitor.

    • A ThorFire TG06S, single AA, $16. Buy 2 or 3. If you lose or damage one, no biggie. And I did buy a new American car last year, so I’m doing my part to keep U.S. unions fat and happy.

  12. I would be surprised if more than 10% of CHLs are held by people who carry every day. Bow hunters, people who want to ease the burden of going to the range and the “just because I can” group hold an overwhelming majority of the permits.

  13. Considering you are much more likely to get into a non lethal situation than a lethal one, pepper spray should be on that list.

    • Explain a non lethal situation and the likeness where pepper spray should be used in self defense instead of a gun. Wouldn’t you rather explain to a jury that your life was threatened and you ended the threat, instead of “Well, I wanted to be non lethal” when the victim is now blind and suing you?

      • When, no matter what the State law says, the prosecutor and entire office hate self defense/guns to the point it will cost you $100K and up just to keep from being railroaded over a justified shooting in self-defense.

        You might beat the charge, but the ride is gonna be hell.

        Sometimes having pepper spray might be the way to go for some instead of going straight to firepower.

        just sayin’

        • Join USCCA! At the Platinum level I have $1,000,000 worth of legal assistance, which includes bail and an attorney right away!

      • Wow dude. Never heard of a non lethal encounter. Its called a fist fight. There are tens of thousands more fist fights than lethal fight. Might want to pit your gun away until you learn about the justification of lethal force

        • “Never heard of a non lethal encounter. Its called a fist fight.”

          ‘Fist fights’ can and *do* kill…

    • No.

      If an attacker has a knife….i have a gun.

      If the attack has a club….I have a gun

      If the attacker has a gun…..i have a gun

      If the attacker has a taser /stun gun…….I have a gun.

      If the attacker has pepper spray ….. I have a gun.

      Folly to match weapon to weapon, if you have done nothing to warrant attack.

      Any of those weapons could incapacitate you, leaving you at the mercy of an attacker.

  14. You can find $30 assisted opening folding knives (I like the Gerber F.A.S.T.) that deploy just as quickly and easily as an ‘automatic’ without the legal hassle that you are more likely to find with the latter.

    “A word on knife-fighting: it’s ugly, fast and brutal, but it beats surrendering to an attacker…”

    To an attacker intent on killing\beating\raping you, sure. But I’d rather give someone my wallet or car than get in a knife fight, to be honest.

  15. I took an after-action gunfight Class a couple of years ago. And one of the things they taught us was have a camera handy. Like your phone camera. You might want to photograph the criminal you just shot holding their firearm to prove in fact had one.

    If a bystander takes that gun when you’re not looking what proof do you have that they had a gun in the first place to justify you shooting them?

    • In an after action gunm fight, ,, , , , R U N

  16. 642 Airweight, w/strip loader, Boker Kalashnikov automatic, Streamlight Pro-Pen light … I’m covered. Sometimes an INFORCE pocket light if I know I’m going to be out after dark for any length of time.

  17. Gen. Mad Dog Mattis, you should always carry a knife in case you need to cut a piece of cheesecake or stab someone in the throat.

    Be Polite, Be Professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

  18. I like J.B. s test for holsters. Been doing it for years and did not it was a test. Just thought it made sense.
    Knives; indispensable for every day life. A habit that the left wants to break you of. When I was in the 7th or 8th grade my grampa gave me a very nice 3 blade Case stockman. Carried it every day thereafter through school. All the boys and most of the girls carried a knife. Now GFZs are also KFZs.
    Don’t lend out you knife, even to friends. It may not come back in the same shape it left in. Broken tips are the most common.
    And for cammiefornia, you can actually get Ca. legal autos. Blade length is about 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ long. Not much, but something.

  19. EDC, like anything else can be staged in levels. The purpose of the article is what 3 Things Everyone Should Carry Every Day, and isn’t meant to limit what you carry to these 3 items, so much as never be without these 3 items. I’m retired, but even a quick to the grocery store or mini mart, will find me with these 3 items always on my person. A Sig P365 (with a spare 12 rnd Mag), a CRKT M16 assist folder knife and a small Tac Light (Pelican or Streamlight). I can add to this other recommended EDC items, but never subtract from it.
    Rather than carry other items on my person, I keep a small EDC kit in each vehicle. With the Molle straps it can be added to my waistline in moments, and it contains those other items I might need, if I’m at a function away from my vehicle. It includes a Gerber Multitool, a SWAT Tourniquet/Pressure Dressing, 33′ of 550 Paracord, a third 12 rnd Magazine, Streamlight Polytac Light, Tactical Pen and Rite n Rain Notepad, and a couple of Band Aids.

  20. A rubber is also a must for every female to carry and wouldn’t hurt the guys any for carrying one as well. Gun owners are responsible and respectful.

    • like that one I carried everywhere as a teenager….[until it eventually fell apart!]?????????

  21. Not carry where I work or in the city my job is. I would love to work where a concealed piece was permitted but that’s just not possible. Most of us have the same situation.
    My state is one of a few that places onerous expensive requirements and lengthy processes to get a permit. If you live in a state where you stroll in the courthouse and get a permit that day or a week later in the mail don’t take it for granted.
    Can’t carry at my kids school.
    Gun free school.zones , 2 of them, within a mile of my house means if j get pulled over for anything I risk a felony for having a gun in the car.
    I still carry a micro .380. Highly concealed in my car and deeply concealed on my person. Unfortunately if I have to use it im fucked.
    Hopefully I’ll get probation and just lose my job.
    This is what many of us have to deal with. We cant be all swaggered up with 2 guns on our hips, backup piece on the ankle, truck guns and 3 spare mags.
    Once I retire I’m picking a state with cheap cost of living and few gun laws. WV is looking good as a retirement destination as long as you choose carefully and avoid the hard hit opiate areas.
    That’s my carry reality.

    • Come on down. WV is a Constitutional Carry state … No permit required but easy to get if you want the extra photo ID. Property is pretty cheap compared to many places. The opiate issue is more liberal news hyperbole than a problem you will face.

  22. Just a couple more thoughts:On my belt, under my shirttail, I carry a 9 with an extra mag in the holster (IWB), 2 quick folder knives (clipped to left and right front pockets), my prescription sunglasses (in a AR type short mag pouch), a light, and my phone case. I try to always carry my stuff in the same positions, so I don’t have to go searching. And everything is held securely, but draws quickly and quietly. For my phone case, I opted for a magnet closure; much quieter than velcro.

  23. This is what I carry daily. 1. S&W Shield 2.0 40S&W with CT red laser, 6 round Mag in a Blackhawk TecGrip holster (appendix carry) with one in the chamber. 2. Extra 7 round Mag. (Hornady Critical Duty 40 S&W). 3. Olight Mini Baton flashlight. 4. Boker+ Miltner/Adams fixed blade knife in kydex shieth. That’s it. Like American Express….I never leave home without them.

  24. As far as knives go… My defensive knife is a KA-BAR TDI… It maybe an older design, but it hides well in the appendix position, its fast (in the appendix position) and will do for what I need a knife for … getting an attacker off my gun hand. As for my gun, its in a Vedder lighttuck holster that’s a comfortable and allows for neat appearance (shirt tucked in) for my full size 40 S&W…

  25. Excellent and concise article. Probably the best article I have ever read here as far as giving common sense advice. Gun, light and blade. Left the house the other day in wife’s car and I did not transfer my GO BAG from my car to hers. Nothing in her car but a flashlight that I put there. She chooses to go about life with her head in the sand. As a friend of mine told his similarly inclined wife, “you need a near death experience.” I felt naked the whole 3 hour trip. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  26. I am a firm believer in having it and not needing it as opposed to needing it and not having it. I’ve carried every day now for 35+ yrs and have been lucky enough not to have to use it, and I will continue to carry for as long as I am physically able to do so every day. I carry a commander length 1911 win and a Kershaw Blur in front Jean pocket I have a flashlight on my keyring, and a full first aid trauma kit in my truck. Oh yea I wear a watch too.

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