Done With The Trunk Gun.

Done With The Trunk Gun.

I usually work in a “business casual” environment, and so I have spent years carrying around a compact .380 pistol and not a whole lot more. I’ve had to learn just what a pocket .380 can do and can’t do, and while I’d like to carry around more with me, the fact is, I can’t, so I work within the reality I’m dealt with, not the one I want.

Which is why I’ve clung to the idea of a trunk gun for so long. The lack of decent sights and small size of a compact .380 means that a 25 yard shot is theoretical at best, and even 10 yard shots can be a challenge, so it’s nice to have something nearby that treats 25 yards as point-blank range.

But.

Trunk guns are, by their very nature, in the trunk of your car (duh), which means that you’ll need a minute or so to get to it. Also, unless they’re locked away in a strongbox or something similar, (which will increase your access time to the gun even more), they’ll be the first things stolen if your vehicle is broken into. Both of these are not the sort of thing I look for in a self-defense firearm.

Also, I’ve been re-thinking the gear that I stow away in my car. I’m moving the emphasis away from a “do anything” pack that will keep me alive for an indefinite amount of time, and moving towards a “get home” bag that’s more limited in scope but is right there when I need it. That same concept of “if it handy when you need it, it ain’t your primary” is also changing what I carry in my car for defensive firepower.

We have all heard that “a .22 on you beats a .45 in the truck,” and the car gun corollary to that is “a pistol you can deploy right now is better than a rifle that’s in your trunk.” As such, I’m switching out the trunk gun with a backup pistol that’s secure but yet reachable from inside the passenger compartment. Yes, I am giving up something in firepower to do so, but it makes little sense to me to have a gear bag that I can grab quickly but a defensive weapon which takes me a lot longer to get my hands on.

Factoring into this decision is that I’m pretty comfortable with my ability with the 9mm Shield I carry around in more casual settings. I’ve shot the FBI qual twice with it and scored at the Instructor level both times, and I know I can consistently make first-shot hits from the holster with it out to 50 yards within three seconds. A rifle it’s not, but then again, I’m not looking to solve rifle-sized problems, I’m looking to get the hell out of dodge with what I can lay my hands on this very moment.

As such, I’ve put my backup Shield into a Hornady Rapid Vehicle Safe, and the primary means to open it is the RFID chip on the back of my phone case. Because I use my phone for directions and listening to podcasts while on the road, it’s usually in the console right next to me as I drive. I can grab it, open the Rapid Safe and retrieve my gun for use in just under four seconds.

Try doing that with a rifle in your trunk.

Right next to the safe in the passenger foot well is my get home bag, which means I can grab gun and bag and head out in just a few seconds. Yes, the bag is out in the open, but it’s black on black, which means a potential car thief will need to be eagle-eyed indeed to spot it as he saunters past my car.

The 9mm Shield gives me more thump than my LCP2, and can be used as a backup for when I’m carrying my primary Shield. Inside the get home bag is a Sticky Holster that can fit both the Shield and LCP2 and yet serve as a pocket holster or an IWB holster if needed in a pinch. Yes, a dedicated holster is better choice for IWB, but we are talking about a situation where something that can do 80% of more than one job is better than carrying two tools that can do 100% of their dedicated job.

So between the get home bag and the gun safe, I think I’ve finally settled on a system that will keep me and my loved ones safe, no matter where we roam. Hopefully, I’ll never have to find out, but I ready if that day ever arises.

Move And Shoot

Move and Shoot

The motivation for yesterday’s post on slimming down my “get home” bag came from Greg Ellifritz’s excellent article on this topic. Call it your social disruption bag or unexpected tornado bag or whatever you want, it’s the bag you grab when you have to leave your car RIGHT NOW. I’ve always thought that Echo Sigma was on the right track with their pre-packaged 24 hour bags built on a plain ol’ hydration pouch: Something lightweight, low-key and yet capable enough to deal with a wide range of emergencies, and so that’s where I started.

Rather than go with their kit, though, I wanted to build my own, and I based what I carry on the wilderness survival Rule of Threes:

  • You can last three minutes without oxygen (Note: This also includes bleeding out after a traumatic injury like a gunshot wound…)
  • You can last three hours in harsh weather without shelter
  • You can last three days without water
  • You can last three weeks without food.

This is what drives my gear choices. I find no end of amusement in “survival kits” that include fish hooks and fishing line but don’t include some means of purifying water. Priorities, people, priorities! Also, if the medical gear in your “bug out” kit is nothing but a few bandaids and some gauze, you are not preparing for the things that will kill you dead quickly, you are preparing for a paper cut.

I’ve been trying for a years now to compile a small, lightweight 24 hour kit that doesn’t look like I’m headed off to Fallujah. I’ve used everything from an OD Green bag covered with MOLLE to a canvas and leather man-purse, and yet I couldn’t seem to come up with the right combination of utility and ubiquity. After yet another failed attempt, where I bought a cheap, tiny MOLLE sling bag and then added on pouches for a water bottle and medkit, I went back to where I started: The old UTG* messenger bag I bought years ago to serve as the original bug-out bag in my car.

And you know what? It works pretty well. My mistake last time with using this bag was trying to cram in too much gear into it, so once I pared it things down to the bare essentials, it works great. That whole “Two is one and one is none” thing is fine if you’re not humping around your gear, but once you realize that carrying redundant gear means carrying around twice the weight, you pare things down to just the bare minimum.

The contents of the bag are much the same as my previous tactical hipster bag, with a few additions.

  • I’ve a little more up to speed on trauma stuff, so I swapped out the (questionable) SWAT-T tourniquet in my old bag for the proven SOFT-T and a Pocket Emergency Wallet from PHLster.
  • Water. I love these Berkey bottles, as they clean up the taste of nasty-smelling municipal water and, along with a coffee filter and an Aquatab, allow you drink just about any available water, potable or not. I also added in a small stainless steel camping cup, because needing to heat or boil water is always a thing.
  • Greg Eliifritz’s article reminded me of how common airborne particulates are in an urban emergency, so I added in a pair of safety googles and a filter mask, and I also added in some work gloves, because they’re useful.
  • Rain (and lots of it) is my primary weather concern here in SW Florida, so shelter-wise, rather than go with an umbrella that requires a free hand and can break in high winds, I went with a plastic rain slicker. The secondary weather concern is the heat and humidity, and downsizing from a huge backpack to this small bag will significantly decreases my burden if I need to walk for a while before I get to someplace safer.
  • A fixed blade knife (a Mora, because they’re decent and I won’t cry if I lose it) and a nice, bright flashlight, in this case a Streamlight ProTac 2L-X that kicks out 500 lumens and is USB-rechargeable. I also added in some moleskin bandages, because if I’m not able to drive, that means I’m probably walking, and there’s a good chance the shoes I’ll have on at the time are not meant for the long haul.

Inside the back zipper pocket is a holster, namely, a Sticky Holster that fits my two most-common carry guns, the LCP2 with laser and the S&W Shield, and I’ve included a dozen or so extra rounds for each gun in the bag.

The black bag disappears against the black carpet of the passenger foot well in my car, making it inconspicuous and unnoticeable to the casual outside observer. When someone sits in the front seat, the bag goes into the back seat, and if all the seats are full, well, then, it goes in the trunk and we deal with that reality when/if it happens.

I’ve also ditched the trunk gun, because even though I’ve gone to great lengths to make my car as inconspicuous as possible, there is still a non-zero chance it will be broken into and the rifle I had been keeping in my trunk would wind up on the street, which is the definition of a sub-optimal outcome.

And let’s face it: If I can’t deal with what’s happening around me outside of my home with a pistol and some spare rounds, it’s time to go full roof Korean and call up some friends to help me out.

More on my vehicle-based self-defense changes tomorrow.

 

* Yes, it’s a UTG, and no, I don’t care. If I were shooting people in the face more often, then I’d care, but I’m not, so I don’t. So there. 

Shoot And Move

Shoot and Move

I had a conversation with a friend of mine awhile ago who was recently mustered out from combat military duty and is now in the gun biz. When I told him that for me, an AR-15 is at best a tertiary weapon, he paused for a second to process that information. When he was in the service shooting people in the face, a rifle like the M4 was his day-in, day out weapon, but for me in the civilian world, I even if I could carry a rifle on a regular basis, I don’t, because I don’t want to be That Guy. As a result, I am much more concerned about my ability to deploy my carry pistol as the situation requires (or not), because the chances are that’s what I’ll have with me when things get wacky. To borrow from my friend Peter, if it ain’t on you when you need it, it ain’t your primary weapon.

With that in mind, I’ve been re-thinking the gear that I have with me but not on me. I’ve had a large bug out pack in my trunk for years now, but the fact is, that pack is inaccessible to me unless I stop, park, get out my car and lift it out of my trunk. This is great for when I’m camping or traveling far from home, but how does that work on my daily commute? What if Occupy $NAMEOFCITY decides to do something stupid on my way into work? How does a 72 hour bag and trauma kit in my trunk help me when I have no time to get to my trunk?

Answer: It doesn’t.

I’ll still keep the big bug out bag around, though, as it also serves the same purpose that my bug-in kit serves: It will help keep me and my family safe for 72 hours or more, no matter what happens. It’ll will also be useful to have when traveling out of town and also help augment the bug-in kit, but it won’t travel with me every day anymore.

As a result, I’ve put my in-car kit on a diet and pared it down to something that I can easily store inside the passenger compartment of my car, ready to grab at a moment’s notice if things get a little weird and crazy as I’m out and about.

More on this tomorrow.

Current Casual Everyday Carry.

Current Casual Everyday Carry.

Or as I should say, everyday everyday carry, as I’m not working in a office right now.

I update and change what I carry as experience and training demands. For instance, I’ve recently increased my tactical trauma knowledge, and so carrying an actual tourniquet on me is more of a priority. Also, using the PHLSter skeleton holster for my Shield in a training class and in a few matches has shown me that it’s just not right for me, so I’ve changed up my holster game as well.

Top Row
Bandana, wallet, keys, lighter, 9mm Shield with MagFix baseplate and MagGuts +1 follower.

Middle Row
Pocket Trauma Kit, Carabiner/Key ring, Boker AK-74 knife (top), Sabre Mk6 pepper spray (bottom), Blade-Tech Nano holster, iPhone 7 Plus w/ Hornady RFID tag (more about that chip at a later date).

Bottom Row
SOFT-T-W tourniquet in a Blue Force Gear Ten Speed Rifle Pouch, spare 8 round pistol magazine, Coast HP-1 light (top), SOG Mini Instinct knife, Leatherman PS multi-tool.

And yes, all of this either fits on my gun belt (I’m using a Wilderness Tactical Instructor’s Belt these days) or inside the pockets of my jeans, and all of it conceals with an un-tucked t-shirt (although the gun does print a bit, I must confess). In particular, I really like the Ten Speed pouch for carrying a tourniquet, as it’s about the same size as my pistol reload and a breeze to conceal under my shirt, and the MagGuts follower allows me to have 9+1 in my Shield, which is a nice comforting thought.

Optimizing Your Murse-anary Game

Optimizing Your Murse-anary Game

Speaking of gear bags, my family made a trip up to Orlando a few weekends ago to do our usual round of theme park visits. We did something a little different this time, though, and went to the Florida Mall to visit the M&M’s store, because my wife loves those candies*. I like ’em too, but not as much as she does, so I sat outside the store on the bench for 15 or so minutes today, waiting for my wife to complete her pillaging of the store. I took that break as an opportunity to do some people watching and see how many guys passed wearing backpacks, sling bags or man purses.

Now granted, this is a tourist area so men will probably be carrying around a lot more stuff with them than if they were at home, but in that 15 minutes, I counted 12 guys of all shapes sizes and colors carrying some form of pack or bag. Bags ranged from school backpacks (8 guys) to a full-on purse (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) to three guys wearing sling bags, one of which was your typical tactical gear bag.

It’s interesting to note that the guy with the tactical bag looked hipster-ish rather than Hayley-ish, with glasses and hoodie and the whole hipster uniform.

I have no compunction against carrying around an extra bag to hold all my extra stuff, probably because I carried around either a laptop bag or a camera bag** for over twenty years. Whether or not a gear bag/camera bag/tactical man-purse is appropriate to carry around with you depends on the context of where you are. For instance, I have never seen a murse in a grocery store, but I see them all the time in tourist-y areas. I don’t see them in movie theaters, but I do see them in coffee shops. Also, keep in mind that the increasing use of iPads, Kindles and other small tablets means that more and more guys are carrying those gadgets around with them to use them outside of the house, so you’ll see man-purses in places you normally wouldn’t like in church or in restaurants.

Your first option should always be to carry your essential gear on your person, but if that’s not an option, or you feel like you need a little more gear than normal, a man-purse might not be a bad option.

Just leave the leather purse with the chrome clasp to your wife, okay? 🙂

 

 

* I don’t know why she has to obsess about those and not obsess about guns like normal people do.
** Domke or GTFO. Seriously, if you shoulder-carry your camera gear, they are the best, bar none.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Flash Site Pictures, Tuesday Edition.

Stuff I found on the web that interesting to me. Some of it may be interesting to you as well.

Maybe.

“Anytime you see a startle reflex, it’s typically because the signal going into your brain exceeded the capacity to absorb it.”
John Hearne was on Ballistic Radio, and it’s worth your time to listen to him.

Seven Things You Need To Know About Your First Time At The Range.

Civilian tourniquet use associated with six-fold reduction in mortality.

Speaking of tourniquets, I’ve started carrying an SOF-T-W tourniquet in a Blue Force Gear Ten Speed high ride rifle magazine pouch on my support side hip, and boy howdy, does it work well. It’s as easy for me to carry as a tourniquet now as it is a spare magazine.

What to look for in a good gun belt. I was really surprised how much information is out there about holsters, but how little there is about gun belts.

Conservatives (and gun owners too) made a big mistake when they abandoned the web in favor of social media. I agree, but then again, I  have a dog in this fight, namely, I run a gun blog…

Colion Noir talks with Joe Rogan about what gun ownership is really about (two hours long, but it’s worth it).

It’s a rough life being a gun writer. Really, really rough.

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Some of this is my stuff, some is not.

Six terrible reasons not to carry concealed.

Getting ready for your first practical pistol match.

LCP vs. J-Frame, and the winner is

We are losing the cultural war against guns, and that needs to change. (I wrote this based on an email conversation I had with Michael Bane, and he talks about that conversation on his podcast this week.

This is how we’ll win, with more of this (and other stuff too).

Building an urban bug out bag. I like the idea of prepping for dust and smoke… we forget that fires tend to happen in a social unrest situation.

Tamara Has a Patreon Page. It’d be a good idea to chip In. I did.

Speaking of Gunblogging, if you’re not reading Grant Cunningham’s Hump Day Reading List and Greg Ellifritz’s Weekend Knowledge Dump, you really should.

Promote School Safety And Win A Rifle. What’s Not To Love?

Promote School Safety and Win A Rifle. What’s Not To Love?

After Parkdale, there has been a lot of proposals floated around about how to stop school shootings. Some of them good, some of them flat-out unconstitutional and wrong.

One thing that might actually work, though, is if teachers were empowered to deal with the effects of a mass shooter right away, rather than wait for the police to secure the scene and THEN wait for the EMTs to roll up.

Which is why this initiative to train the teachers of Collier County Schools in trauma care and first aid and equip them with the gear they need to accomplish this goal is so cool. For just $5, you get a raffle ticket for over $2300 in cool stuff, and your money goes to help provide gear that will save lives.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

And As It Turns Out, I Have Done Just That.

Me, five years ago:

According to the commenters (some of which are combat medics), I needed to start with a pressure and a tourniquet rather than the QuikClot.

Which exposes a big gaping hole (no pun intended…) in my training: Aside from CPR and some basic first aid, I’ve had no training in dealing with the effects of a negligent discharge.

Today, I’ve had a day-long course in first-aid trauma med, and I carry either an improvised tourniquet or a full-on SOF-T everywhere I go.

Cool.

Product Review: Elite Survival Systems Pulse 24 Hour Backpack.

Product Review: Elite Survival Systems Pulse 24 Hour Backpack.

Advantages: Well-made, holds a bunch of gear, doesn’t look menacing
Disadvantages: Could use a just little more MOLLE on the sides
Rating: Five Stars Out of Five.

I reached out to Elite Survival Systems for a couple of EDC/Bug Out bags, and they didn’t send me just two bags, they sent me three: A Pulse 24 Hour bag that I’ll review right now now, and an Echo EDC bag and a Guardian concealment pack that I’ll talk about later.

How cool is that?

I reached out to Elite Survival Systems for this bag because I found out that my current bug-out bag, a Paladin Gear, um, Bug Out Bag, just wasn’t comfortable enough to carry on a long-term basis. I did a seven-mile walk with the Paladin on my shoulder (note: *shoulder*. More on that later.), and it became really tiresome to carry around about halfway through the journey.

This is a problem, because my idea for this bag and what it holds is simple: It holds all the stuff I need if I need to go camping for three days on a moment’s notice, anywhere in the American Southeast. I don’t go camping as much as I used to, and I don’t go into the back country here in Florida like I did in Arizona (probably due to the fact that the back roads here are, in fact, swamps, and not roads), but still, I like to have a backup plan handy at all times, so I carry a bug out bag.

The Elite Survival Systems Pulse takes the tried-and-tested 72 hour bag and tones it down a bit. Rather that make it Kyrptec or Multicam or some other tactical color, the bag comes in either brown or black, about as boring as possible, and boring is good if you’re going to be walking around town with it on your shoulders.

And that’s a key point: This bag has two very comfortable padded shoulder straps, along with buckles the chest and level and waist level, and makes it very easy to carry around for hours on end. I did the same walk recently with this bag, and it was a MUCH more pleasant experience. A sling bag is good for emergencies, when you need to grab something quickly and move quickly, but that’s not why I have a bag in the back of my car. The bag in my car is meant to keep me going for at least three days without access to all the niceties of the modern world, and if that means taking a hike to get  back to the modern world, I take a hike.

The Pulse is built well: The zippers open easily and don’t hang up, the nylon is nice and thick and there are no loose threads to be found anywhere on the bag. One of the reasons why I like the Pulse for this sort of thing is it contains a pocket for a hydration pouch: Living in Arizona taught me that a ready supply of water is really, really important, so a bladder is a “must have” for me in a bag like this.

A hydration pouch is just one of the pouches this bag has. I was able to squirrel away all the gear I had been carrying in old bag, with some space left over. The Pulse has MOLLE on the back of the bag and a plethora of pockets inside, allowing me to sort out my stuff into some sort of logical order for quick access. One thing that is different from the Paladin bag is that there is no MOLLE on the sides, which really isn’t a bad thing, I guess, but I carry around a machete with me in my car (because I live literally minutes away from the Everglades) and it’d be nice to strap it to the side of the bag if I need to take a long walk in the swamp, for one reason or another.

Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a gear bag that won’t make you look like you’re headed out to the sandbox when you’re headed out of town.


FCC Disclaimer: Yes, I said they gave me this bag. What of it?