Going home.

Michael Bane, Rev. Paul and Guffaw are all talking about the idea of a “go-to” gun, the gun you use when your pistol just ain’t enough. 

I have two, one for the car and one for the house. Let’s tackle the easy subject, the house gun, first. 

In my safe room, I have my Mossberg 500

In my car, I have something different. 

Get Home Rifle

I’ve got my get-home bag in the trunk of my car, along with my CavArms AR on a three-point sling and the Sccy 9mm pistol which I usually carry inside my car. 

Ok, why this stuff? 

  1. It’s stuff I already have. I don’t have a big budget for firearms (heck, right now, I have NO budget at all), so I have to use what I have. The CavArms rifle is LIGHT (just about 6 pounds unloaded), and I know I can hit with it out to 300 yards. 

  2. It’s light. The whole kit together weighs about 30 pounds, yet it has the things I need to keep me going for 3 days or more, no matter where I am. 

  3. It’s enough. Look, if I can’t deal with whatever is going on with a rifle, a pistol and 3 days of food, then it’s time for the full Rockatansky

  4. It works in Arizona. If I were traveling around the country like Michael Bane does, I’d want something lighter and less conspicuous. But I don’t, so this is all I’ll most likely ever need within the boundaries of the Copper State. 

What would I change if I could? 

  • The pistol. I like the idea of a subcompact 9mm in this kit as it gives me enough gun but it’s still small enough to pocket-carry if need be, but me and the Sccy have a rocky relationship together. I want to replace it with Ruger LC9 or similar whenever I can. 

  • The rifle. Being able to reach out to 200+ yards with a rifle is good, but I give up ammo compatibility with my pistol and all-around utility. I’m thinking about changing that out for either a 9mm Kel-Tec Sub2000 or another pump-action shotgun in the near future. 

And yes, I leave all that in my car all the time. 

I understand people’s concerns about idea of leaving two guns unattended, but the fact is, there’s nothing either inside or outside my car that is remotely desirable to even the most desperate of car thieves, and I leave my car in my garage at night. My car is a seriously uncool late-model import painted a bland medium grey. It has a factory radio and a kid’s car seat and that’s about it. 

Sometimes, the best way to avoid a robbery is making it look like there’s nothing there to steal. 

Light Bright

Sometimes, you don’t need a laser for accurate shooting at night.

For me, the Streamlight TLR-1 on my SIG SAUER P226R projects a circle of light where my bullet’s point of impact is near 12 o’clock in the beam’s hotspot. I have shot many groups at the range and trust this orientation out to five yards.

The Surefire lights on my H-K MP-5 and Remington 870 were also “minute-of-man” at close range during actual shooting drills.

Where is this important? At CQB distances in room clearing, I am confident that, with the light on, punching out at the target and sending rounds into the beam’s focal point will give me center of mass hits.

I’ve found this to be the case with the Insight light I won at the NRA Convention and my Mossberg 500.

Mossberg 500 with Insight light

This is about the longest shot I’ll need to take in a defensive position inside my house: It’s the view looking down from the top floor to the front door, and the only reason I’ll need to do it is to watch over my kids as they pass behind me from their rooms into the safe room. If anything else happens, we’ll hole up in the there and leave the house-clearing to the cops when they show up.

Mall ninjas, have at it!

What’s interesting is that small circle of light in the middle of the door, or rather, the small circle of shadow caused by the bulb and reflector from the Insight light. It’s a little off off center from the barrel, so I need to hold slightly to the left, but it’s close enough for government work.

And sonuvagun if that shadow isn’t also about the same size as the buckshot shot pattern from the Mossie.

If (God forbid) I need to use the gun to defend my family, I know I can get it onto target quickly, thanks to the way the Insight light projects onto the target.

Neat.

Defence By The Numbers, Part 1

We shoot. We train. We compete. We carry our sidearms with us every day so we can defend ourselves on that horrible day when we need them.

But what do we really need them for? What exactly are your risks?

With the help of crimereports.com, I’m able to see the type and severity of crime in my quiet surbanan Phoenix neighborhood, and the answers surprised me. This is what the police responded to within a one-mile radius of my home over the past six months.

Type of Crime Number of Crimes since April 2011
Assault w/ Deadly 2
Breaking and Entering 7
Disorderly Conduct (Fighting) 11
Other Assault 11

Right off the bat, the number of violent, non-lethal crimes jumped out at me. I am much more likely to get my @$$ kicked than I am stabbed or shot (although one of the Assault With A Deadly Weapon Incidents happened on my street. Yikes!).

Also, no sexual assaults or rapes, although there is one registered Level 3 sex offender within a mile of my house.

Oh joy.

A number of those assault charges are multiple charges for the same offence on the same day, i.e. Disorderly Conduct and Assault With Reckless Injury charges.

I’m also more likely to have my house broken into than I am facing a deadly weapon, which suggests than an alarm system, big dog, porch lights and anything else I can do to “harden” my home and make it less attractive to burglars is a good thing.

Now, does this mean I should forgo firearms training and run to the dojo?

No, of course not.

For one thing, there is no real substitute for a defensive sidearm. Martial arts and pepper spray can help, but the only sure way to end an attack with lethal force is to respond in-kind. The chances of defending myself against an active shooter are infinitesimally small, but the same skills that I use to keep myself safe day in and day out also apply equally as well against a homicidal madman.

Also, those are the stats for my neighborhood, but that is not my world. I regularly travel throughout to the Phoenix area, sometimes to nice places, sometimes not.

What these numbers tell me, though, is that I need to integrate my training. I need to be able to stop any threat, any time, from 1 inch away to 100 feet away, with whatever tools are appropriate and handy. Training and training for a 20 yard pistol headshot does me little good if someone throws a punch at my head.

Part II Tomorrow: What about random acts of violence?

Get out of Dodge

Gabe Suarez sure has a chest-thumping, meat-eating manly-man way of taking on an aggressive mob

“If you have a pistol, please make sure it is a modern high capacity weapon with a couple of spare magazines in your belt. The Suarez International company gun, a Glock 17 with three magazines, yields a sum total of 52 rounds. Figure three rounds per man, and you can reduce an angry mob of panga swinging killers into a fleeing group of bloodied bad guys. Draw it and yell, “Get The F*** Back!” If they do, run away. If they do not, shoot the first man in the face. The rest will take care of itself.” 

Umn, err, “The rest will take care of itself” isn’t exactly a plan, is it? 

I carry a spare magazine for my CCW gun, but not because I expect the zombie hoards to pop up in my local Circle K or because I expect a hockey riot to break out in my local mall. Rather, I carry a spare mag because 90% of all problems with a semi-auto come down to feeding rounds into the chamber, and having another mag to go to in case something burps gives me a little more confidence in what I carry. 

And as for what to do when a mob shows up, I prefer to learn from people who went through the worst of the 1992 L.A. riots

Eight Guns

Chris Bryne does an excellent job of laying out what a basic armory should consist of

  1. A quality full sized defensive pistol. Either a medium frame revolver (preferably in .357 magnum), or a good medium frame autopistol that you are comfortable with, in a suitable defensive chambering (SIG p series in 9mm or larger, Glock, a good 1911 etc…).
  2. A quality pump action shotgun in 12 or 20ga, preferably with slug/rifle sights, and easily interchangeable barrels (you want a short defensive barrel, a medium game hunting barrel, and a wingshooting barrel).
  3. A quality repeating bolt action or semi-automatic rifle in a militarily useful chambering, accurate to at least 300 yards (2 moa minimum accuracy), legal for hunting medium game in your state (which usually leaves out 5.56); with  a good scope, and if possible a backup optic or iron sights.
  4. A quality .22lr pistol or revolver
  5. A quality .22lr rifle, bolt or semi (or pump/slide if you like them, and can find one)
  6. A quality semi-automatic rifle or carbine, in a militarily useful chambering (possibly sharing a chambering with the boltie), short enough to be handled indoors, and light enough to be packed on a long hike; preferably with both iron sights and an optic (this presumes #3 above was a bolt action).
  7. A quality revolver or semi-automatic pistol in a defensively useful chambering, of a size suitable to be carried concealed in summer without bulky covering garments, preferably with night sights.  
  8. A quality pocket gun, either semi or revolver, in .380, 9mm, or .38/.357. 

This is the basics. This will allow you to casually shoot just about any sport, hunt for just about any game in North America or learn how to defend your home and your family. It doesn’t have any dedicated competition or over-specialized hunting/defensive guns. If you want to shoot IPSC or skeet or 3 Gun at a high level, you’ll need other guns dedicated to just those purposes.

So what is “Quality”?

Well, a (very) rough guideline would be $450 or more for a defensive pistol or shotgun, $300 or more for a pocket pistol, $250 or more for a .22 rifle or pistol, $800 or more for a semi-automatic rifle or bolt-action rifle with (cheap) scope. 

As I said, VERY rough, because a $450 1911 .45 isn’t exactly “quality”, but on the other hand, you can get first-rate used .38 revolvers for almost half that amount. 

When I said “very rough”, I meant it. 

Now, what should you get within each of those categories? That’s up to you. If you’re like me, (and I know I am), here’s what I’d get. 

1. A quality full sized defensive pistol.
CZ75. 9mm, 16+1 rounds. Solid, reliable and quite possibly the most accurate centerfire semiautomatic pistol ever made. Go for a Glock if you want more accessories or an M+P or XD if you want the light weight of plastic but hate Glocks.

2. A quality pump action shotgun in 12 or 20ga. 
I come down on the Mossberg side of the great Mossberg vs. Remington debate (though I do love my 870 Wingmaster). I’m cross-eye dominant and shoot long guns left-handed, so the Mossberg’s safety is easier to use for me. 

3. A quality repeating bolt action or semi-automatic rifle. 
I’m going to plead ignorance here. The one gun I own that suits this purpose is a sporterized M1903 Springfield and I suck at long-range shooting, so pick what you like best here. If I HAD to chose one, I’d go with a Savage Model 12 in .308 with a left-handed bolt.

4. A quality .22lr pistol or revolver
Either a Ruger Mark whatever or a Browning Buckmark for semiautos (ever since my M22 broke, I’m hesitant to recommend them) or an S+W K22 revolver. 

5. A quality .22lr rifle, bolt or semi.
Ruger 10/22. Just get one; everybody does eventually. If not that, then a CZ bolt action rifle

6. A quality semi-automatic rifle or carbine
AR-15 or AK. Take your pick here – An AR for accuracy and versatility, an AK for reliability (though “light” and “AK” aren’t usually used in the same sentence…).

7. A quality revolver or semi-automatic pistol of a size suitable to be carried concealed in summer.
Even though I have defended the pocket 9mm in the past, (which’d be perfect for this role), I’d be sorely tempted to look at a snub-nosed .38 revolver for this purpose. 

8. A quality pocket gun, either semi or revolver, in .380, 9mm, or .38/.357. 
Ruger LCP/LCR, Kel-Tec P3AT, Taurus TCP, S+W Bodyguard. Your choice here. 

So, what’s the damage? 

Defensive Pistol: $450
Shotgun: $450
Bolt Action Rifle: $800
.22 Pistol $250
.22 Rifle $250
Semi-Auto Carbine: $800
Compact Defensive Pistol: $450
Pocket Pistol: $300

Base Cost: $3,750
REAL COST: $10,000

Yep, ten grand.

Why so much? 

  • You’re going to want training. CCW permits, personal protection classes, hunting permits and expedition costs, whatever. Even it it’s just plinking on the public range, club memberships cost money.
  • You’re going to want accessories. Holsters, belts, slings, magazines, etc. I have more holsters than my wife has dress shoes. 
  • You’re going to want ammo. Lots of it. The .22’s will help cut down on costs, but to be proficient with firearms you need to shoot the firearms you want to be proficient in. Simple as that. 

But when you think of it, ten grand is what a good golf holiday costs these days, and for the same money, rather than chase after a ball with a crooked stick, you’ve got the means to defend yourself, hunt for sport or food, and have acquired heirlooms to pass down to generations to come. 

Not a bad way to spend your cash. 

 

Arrive home safely

The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina sparked a lot of interest in disaster preparedness: From government websites on how to prepare for an earthquake to TV shows about surviving a systemic breakdown, survivalism is now the new black.

And I’ve caught the bug as well: I’ve written about preparing a kit for your office and getting ready on the cheap, and I’ve recently packed a “Get Me Home Bag” for my car, based on a UTG Man-Purse Messenger Bag.

Old and busted

And it didn’t really work. I had too much stuff for the bag, making it clumsy to carry and putting too much weight on my shoulder. I needed something else, and Brownell’s was there with a Paladin Go-Bag.

A Paladin Go Bag from Brownell's

Right off the bat, I could tell the Paladin bag was better-built and more rugged than the UTG bag. It had a pleasant, solid feel to it and looked like something that could handle a lot of abuse. Also, while it looked only a bit bigger than the UTG bag, it had a cavernous interior pocket and multiple outside pockets. The Go Bag is the perfect compromise: It’s bigger than a messenger bag, but smaller and more portable than the more-common three day assault pack.

UTG v. Paladin

And my, can it hold stuff!
I’ve crafted a three-day kit for the unique needs of living in the Phoenix metro area, and the Paladin bag swallowed it whole. The purpose of all this stuff is two-fold: Get me home from work if a major social disturbance or disaster interrupts my normal commute, and something to take with me on trips outside of Phoenix that’ll keep me going for at least three days.

72 hours on the go

Some highlights:
– Hydration pouch
– First Aid Kit
– Light sticks
– Flashlights
– Extra Ammo
– Knives
– Survival blankets
– Trauma Kit
– AM/FM Radio
– Signal mirror
– Water Filter
– Water Tablets
– Solid Fuel Stove
– Molefoam pads for sore feet

Some Arizona-specific items include a trowel, plastic sheet and tubing for building a solar still (Yes, I know, they’re not 100% effective, but in the desert, some water is better than none), sunscreen and a big floppy hat.

Does it all fit inside the Paladin bag? Yep. Easily, in fact.

The bag was fully up to the task of carrying all my gear, though I will say that the big interior pouch is hard to keep organized. A few mesh bags would be a good thing to have with this bag to keep all your little bits and pieces in one place.

GO, bag!

And even better, it fits great inside the trunk of my car, much better than its UTG predecessor.

Junk in trunk

That’s a couple of jugs of bottled water and the Go bag in the back of my Honda Civic. Honestly, the bag and water go in there like they’re made for it.

In all, I love this new bag: It was designed for serviceman to bring the essentials of life with them wherever they go and it works great for us civilians for the same purpose also. I have full confidence that if I ever need it (and I REALLY hope I don’t), the Paladin Go Bag will hold up to the task.

The gun to have if you can only have one

I’ll admit it, when I first started reading about Jeff Cooper and his ideas about self defense, I didn’t “get” the idea behind a scout rifle. It seemed to be quaint and antiquated in a world of AR’s and AK’s, and besides, semi-autos had more firepower and precision rifles were more accurate, so why get a rifle that was a compromise.

I get it now, though.

It’s not that a scout rifle is the optimal self-defense rifle or the last word in 800 yard tack drivers, rather, a scout rifle gives you 85% of both of those rifles in a package that’s small and light so that you’ll have it with you when you need it and is reliable enough to go *bang* when you need it as well.

Do I *need* a rifle like that? No.

Do I want one? Oh yeah.

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