Building The Perfect Murse.

I realized that I promised you all an update on how my tactical hipster bag is working out for me.

It’s working out quite well. I carry it pretty much everywhere because it’s small, light weight and it’s either on my shoulder or in the front seat of my car. It doesn’t look threatening, sorta it looks like the messenger bag it actually is.

I’ve stuffed it quite full: There’s a few little odds and ends that I need to add in, but I’ve pretty much locked in what I need in a bag that carries that stuff that I can’t carry on my person.

Tactical man purse

The bag looks great, but I do have two issues with it. I wish it had a pocket in the back to stuff the things like papers, etc. that I accumulate from time to time, and the front pocket was just not capable of holding onto any pen that I clipped onto it (more on that later).

Here’s what I carry in the front pocket:

Front pocket stuff

The holster is there because the fabric of the front pocket of this bag is just a little too skinny for pens to clip onto. In addition to all the pens and earphones and whatnot inside the front pocket, I have a Thrunite 2xAAA flashlight and a Kershaw Shuffle clipped in that pouch, right where I need them. If anything, I’d like to swap out the folding Kershaw knife with a fixed-blade knife, because a fixed blade knife gives me options that a folder just can’t offer.

Here’s the stuff that’s inside the bag.

Stuff inside the bag

Starting at upper left, that’s my iPad Air with a ZaggKeys keyboard cover, (which I’m using right now to compose this post), a mesh bag that I bought at my friendly Big Blue Discount Store which contains my phone and computer stuff, another mesh bag that contains my “prepping” gear, or the stuff that would make life easier if I have to go without the comforts of civilization for more than a few hours, a zip-closure bag full of medical gear, and my Altoids survival tin.

Phone Gear

I’m a big believer in the utility of the modern smartphone as a “survival” tool. Yes, they are not that useful if a cell network is unavailable, but if you can’t dial out, you can still use a smartphone to read books, take pictures or play Solitaire while you wait for help to arrive. As such, I have a micro-USB cord, an Apple Lightning cord, a cell phone battery that I got for free from my bank, a USB flash drive, a wall socket for a USB cable, a spare set of glasses and an empty grocery bag for trash or whatever. Yes, the spare set of glasses and trash bag have little to do with my phone, but this was as good a place as any to stash them.

Prepping Gear

This is the stuff that would make it easier for me to live my life if I were caught away from my home or car for more than a few hours. Call it a bug in bag, if you will. Starting from the upper left again, I have a disposable rain poncho (because Florida), a triangular bandage, a spare one gallon zip closure bag, a bandanna, a Gerber Dime multitool (It’s… ok. Good for it’s size, but I think I want something bigger and more useful.), a Gerber Shard that I had lying around, a one-shot pouch of sun screen (thank YOU, Blue Force Gear), a lighter and 6 feet of duct tape. I just ordered a bunch of disposable bug repellent wipes (because Florida) and some larger-sized Wet Ones to add to this pouch, and that should round things out quite well.

First Aid Bag

This is essentially a Patrol Officer’s Rescue Kit that’s been opened and stuffed into a zip-closure bag. I’ve added a vaseline gauze pad to use as a chest seal if needed, a couple of bandaids (because ouchies happen) and a face shield for CPR if needed. I’m missing some hemostatic gauze in this kit, so that’s on it’s way from Amazon.com. I am also not a big fan of using a zip bag to carry all this, so I just bought a cheap nylon first aid pouch to keep all this nice and secure until it’s needed.

Men's Messenger Bag

And that’s about it. One thing that I do need to add in there somewhere, in addition to everything else that I mentioned, is about $100 in emergency spare cash, because that sort of stuff is never not handy. As I said before, though, this bag goes along with me pretty much every time I leave the house, and it’s either on my shoulder or in the front seat of my car as I go about my day, and no one thinks that it’s anything more than a handy little man-purse, because, well, it is.

Pocket Pot

Well this looks like a handy addition to your bug-out bag: A foldable cook pot.

Yep, that’s right, not a nesting cook pot, not a metal scaled-down version of a bigger metal pot, but something that’s lightweight and collapsible.

I’m interested. VERY interested.

How Far Is Too Far?

I was chatting last week with a friend of mine about AR optics (Yes, I do talk about them. No, they are not my primary focus*). The discussion was around the utility of the low-power, variable power scopes on a defensive rifle. After all, I reasoned, the 1-4x and 1-6x variable power scope rules the roost in 3 Gun, a sport that requires quick transitions from targets that are right in front of you to shots that are 300 yards and beyond.

Sounds like something that would be useful to combat, doesn’t it? So why is the conventional wisdom still get either a 1x red dot/holographic like an Aimpoint or EO Tech, or a fixed-power 4x like an ACOG for a “fighting gun”? Why? Because you should use what the cops and the military uses, not what gamers use, that ‘s what they say. I mean, yes, gamers have used red optics on pistols for decades but red dot optics don’t belong on a fighting pistol, right? RIGHT?

Or you know, not.

The conversation turned interesting, though, when the subject of making self-defense shots at distance came up. Yes, having an optic on your gun that helps you reach out and touch someone at 300 yards might be useful, but will it get you into legal trouble if you do so?

*thoughtful pause*

He has a point. As I learned earlier this year, one of the principles behind a successful use of “self defense” in a legal situation is imminence: Is the threat I’m facing one that is happening right now, or is it a threat for sometime in the future? I can’t shoot someone because they say they’re going to shoot me a week from Tuesday, but that situation changes if that person is ten yards away from me and clearing leather.

So what, then, is the actual useful range of your long gun?

I’d say it depends: If you’re unlucky enough to have the Leprechaun Liberation Army marching down your street, Molotov cocktails in hand and shouting about how it’s time for the little people to rise up and overthrow the humans, then yeah, 50 yards might be a little close for your safety. If they take it one step further and those pesky little buggers have rifles to go with their flaming bottles of gasoline and are pointing said rifles at the general populace, then it might get rather sporty in my neighborhood for a moment or two **.


* Focus. Optics. Get it? Get it?

** As always, remember that I am an okapi in the Bronx Zoo, not a lawyer. I can give you advice on feeding schedules and where to poop in your compound, but not on when it’s ok to shoot someone.

A Good Knife.

To be honest, I will never understand people who leave the house without a knife, phone and a flashlight. Unless you work in a non-permissive environment like behind TSA lines or in a school, it only makes sense to carry around a sharp edge, along with some way of seeing in the dark and a means of communicating beyond yelling at the top of your lungs.

Oh, and a lighter would also be a good idea as well, because being able to start a fire is never not handy.

Part of the problem is, when people say “I want a good knife,” we recommend a tactical folder to them or a confusing mulittool when all they really wanted was something cheap and pointy.

Enter the Opinel folding knife. I got turned on to these almost thirty years ago by a knife-loving friend of mine, and I’ve tried to keep one nearby as often as I could.

opinel_1

The Opinel knife has changed very little since it was introduced almost 100 years ago. It has a simple, twist-lock design that keeps it closed when not needed or when it’s open, and that’s about it. It’s not the easiest knife in the world to open (it usually takes me both hands to open mine), but what it does, it does very, very well.

opinel_2

The blade is sharp. DANG sharp, and the handle fits comfortable in your hand. If you’re looking for a cheap, everyday utility knife, skip the cheap Chinese imports and go with something that’s been around for a hundred years.

The Possible First, Then The Unlikely.

I have two young sons. They tend to do stupid things. They have a better chance of getting hurt and needing first aid than my chance of needing a spare magazine for my concealed carry pistol of choice. Therefore, do I carry bandaids and other such things with me pretty much all the time?

You bet I do.

Because of my lifestyle, the odds of me needing to use a Bandaid are pretty good. The odds of me getting into a gunfight and needing  to use a spare mag are incredibly small. The stakes, though… the stakes are incredibly mortal.

Five Years Later, People Are Catching On.

Me, writing in December 2011:

I keep wondering why there aren’t more pistol-caliber short guns out there on the market.

There’s the Hi-Point which suffers from being a Hi-Point, there’s the Kel-Tec Sub2000 which suffers from being a Kel-Tec and also cannot be found for purchase within the lower 48. There’s the Taurus CT G2 which has yet to hit our shores, the Beretta CX4 Storm (which costs about the same as a dedicated 9mm AR), and then there’s all manner of lever action guns in all manner of calibers.

The Ruger LCP and LC9 proved that there was a market for upgraded and “name-brand” versions of guns inspired by Kel-Tec guns, and with the utter unavailiability of the Sub-2000 and the lack of competion in the carbine marketspace, maybe it’s time for Ruger to take a another look at the Ruger Police Carbine and update it for the 21st century with some rails and a folding stock.

And now 2017 is apparently the Year Of The Pistol Caliber Carbine.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. The pistol caliber carbine is pretty much a civilian version of a Personal Defense Weapon, or older still, the M1 Carbine. It’s the gun you grab when you need more than a pistol but don’t want / can’t use an AR-15 or bigger gun. If it works for police and the military, it should work for me, too, right?

After Class Report: AED/CPR/Trauma First Aid With Geoff Fahringer

CPR Training In Naples

I’ve had my CPR certification for over a decade now and it’s up for renewal yet again, so when Step By Step Gun Training announced they were doing their first-ever CPR / AED / Trauma class, I jumped on the opportunity, especially because of the last bit, the trauma care part.

The last few times I’ve taken CPR training, it’s been in a class targeted towards teachers and caregivers to the elderly who need to be certified in such things, and so any talk of advanced first-aid care (and especially trauma care) was quickly glossed over.

Not this class.

First, a word about the instructor. Geoff Farhinger is a veteran Collier County SWAT officer and police dive instructor. He’s a judge at the national SWAT competition up in Orlando and is trained in the the Florida Tactical EMS program as well.

In short, he knows his stuff.

The class was four hours long, and it was a nice balance between instructor-led teaching and hands-on (literally) training. It wasn’t all-tactical, all the time, and it wasn’t aimed at healthcare providers, either. The balance of CPR, AED and trauma training in the class was just about right for we armed civilians, and I walked away knowing even more about all those subjects than I did before, which is the goal of this, right? As armed civilians, we are the REAL first responders (cops, firefighters, EMS… they all arrive after we do) and as first responders, we should be ready, no matter what the emergency.

Is a heart attack a possible occurrence here in God’s Waiting Room, or is drowning possible here in the swimming pool capitol of the world? Is an accidental discharge into a person more likely for me compared to others because I’m around guns more often than the average person?

Oh yeah.

So while I did walk away with a better knowledge about how to set a tourniquet and a glimmer of an idea of how to deal with a gut shot or chest wound (more knowledge on those things in the future would be a good thing for me), the fact is, what I learned was the beginning of my journey, not the end. The training I received in this class is highly relevant to my entire life, not just my life as an armed civilian, and that makes me want to learn more. However, I am much more confident now in my ability to protect my life with my first aid/trauma kits, and (real or not) I’m feeling a little better about my ability to deal with what life may throw at me.

Which is the reason why we’re doing this, right? There was a couple in the class learning CPR who had their adult daughter pass away recently after an unexpected adverse medical reaction. The couple started CPR, but despite their best efforts and efforts of the paramedics and hospital staff, nothing could be done.

Kinda brings it all home, doesn’t it?

If you get a chance to train with Geoff or take a similar class that covers all the bases of the basics of saving a life, take it. The next class is coming up in a few weeks and if you’re in south Florida, I highly recommend you attend.

Get Home Safely Without Emptying Your Wallet

The Armed Lutheran put together a great little “Get-Home” bag for under $50 that has almost all the essentials, but there are a few things I’d add on that would really round it out.

  • Glow sticks (a cheap light source that lasts a long time and doesn’t use batteries)
  • Rain ponchos (Save wear and tear on your emergency blankets)
  • Trash bags (Emergency rain gear, trash duty and for carrying stuff)
  • A lighter and/or matches (because you never know when you might need fire)
  • A mirror and whistle for signaling if you get lost
  • A road map, because cell signal strength can vary on a whim
  • A small trauma kit, but first aid is first aid, and trauma is trauma

All this stuff does double the cost of the bag, but it also greatly increases your comfort and options during a period where you might have to go it alone for over a day. And if you don’t feel like going to all this trouble, there’s always the Echo Sigma Runner 24 Kit that does much the same thing, but it’s already made up for you, ready to roll.

Thin Is In.

“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”

– Bruce Lee

For quite some time now , I’ve been trying to come up with a way to carry around a trauma kit on my person with the same ease and assurance that I’ve carried around a pistol.

And it’s not been easy. First, I tried to try to find a way to carry around this “Pocket” Trauma kit, and I wound up filleting that kit even further to fit it inside a mobile phone case in a quest for an even-smaller kit.

But even that wasn’t small enough because the case clearly showed up under my shirt. Sure, it wound up looking like the iPhone case it really was, but when it comes to how much we show the world about what we’re carrying, I agree with Lucas Apps and I also agree with Greg Ellifritz. I agree with Lucas in that 99% of the people who might even notice a bulge under our shirts will dismiss it as a cell phone or something innocuous, but the problem is, as Greg says, the 1% who think it’s a gun will either a) not care or b) care quite a lot because they are up to no good.

Seeing as how that last one half of one percent is one of the reasons why I carry a gun in the first place, the trick is coming up with trauma care solution that will work well in an emergency situation yet doesn’t leave me looking I’ve got Batman’s utility belt hidden under my t-shirt.

Which bring me to this video by Paul Gomez and the humble triangular bandage. It works, and it takes up pretty much zero space. I can stuff a bandage and two small packs of Celox into a coin purse, slide it into one of my rear pants pockets and a bandanna into the other one, and if anyone notices anything, it looks like I’m carrying a bandanna and a wallet in my pockets, because, well, I am.

What’s the first rule of hiding something in plain sight? Help people see what they’re expecting to see, even if it’s not really there.

Assorted trauma gear

That’s my old iPhone trauma kit on the left, but this photo doesn’t do justice to how portable and concealable the new kit really is. The bandanna is there because bandannas are massively useful: They can be used as a compress, to stuff wounds, to wipe the sweat off your brow or as a hankie, as needed. The bandages, Celox and two small safety pins are in the coin purse to keep them in one spot and to help protect them from being sat upon for hours on end. That feeling of constantly sitting on something took some getting used to, as I haven’t carried a wallet in my back pocket for twenty years. Fortunately, I got used to it pretty quickly, because this solution is THIN.

How thin you ask? This thin.

Thin, concealable tourniquets

That’s my iPhone-based trauma kit on the left, which is still less thin than a double-stack pistol magazine, yet a bit too big and bulky for true concealment under a t-shirt (at least for me).

We know, from trial and (much) error that thinner guns are easier to carry and conceal, and yet we still insist that the only correct solution for civilian trauma care is a military-approved tourniquet or (worse yet) an IFAK. No, it is not an optimal solution, but it is a solution I can carry around pretty much every day. Think of it as the trauma care equivalent of a pocket .380, and you’ll understand my reasoning here.

IFAKs are great and they save lives, but they are a military solution to a civilian problem. The live-saving technology that started out in the military is starting to trickle down to those of us who don’t carry an M4 for a living, and that’s a good thing. However, just because I don’t walk around with an M4 and a chest rig doesn’t mean there’s not a need for a trauma care solution that works for the civilian market but incorporates the hard-won lessons from the military. We are just beginning to figure out civilian-centric solutions to trauma care, and I’m excited to see what’s coming down the road. For now, though, I think I’ve finally figured out what works for me on a day-in, day out basis.

Current Casual EDC

A quick update now that I’m carrying around a smaller trauma kit.

sheild_edc

Clockwise from upper left:

And I normally carry an SOG Mini Instinct as well, along the centerline of my body. All of this easily conceals in a normal pair of jeans underneath an untucked t-shirt, and I’ve carried in on 3+ mile walks as well. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got now, and barring any changes like a new laser, this should be my “go to” for days when I don’t have to play dress-up in the office.

Update: Rats, hit “Publish” instead of “Save”. Oh well, you’ll find out more about the trauma kit tomorrow.