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. I think what is missing is a good survival or pocket knife with a survival knife guide to help you use that knife to the best advantage. Also 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.


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.

Good defense, lousy offense.

Judging by the reactions to the Ferguson riots and the shootings at military recruitment centers, we civilians make lousy armed security guards.

That’s a good thing.

Contrary to how we are often portrayed in the media, armed civilians (at least the ones I know) are not wild eyed vigilantes, we’re just people concerned with keeping our loved ones safe in an increasingly dangerous world. The closest I’ve come to any “offensive” firearms training was a one day tactical carbine class with Phoenix Firearms Training, and I did that mainly to get used to how my AR works in both defense situations and in competition. I have no desire to join a Battle of Fallujah Reenactment Society, coat myself in head to toe MOLLE and head out for some CQB practice. My job isn’t to defend this country, my job is to defend the lives of my loved ones.

Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump protests may require us to ramp up our skills at defending not just the lives of those closest to us, but also defend ourselves and our places of business against an unruly mob as well.

That day, however, is not here yet. While I have no desire to do such things, I may be required to defend a home or a place of business, and become my own roof Korean.

Not looking forward to that. Probably should be good at it before it happens, though.

“I Own A Gun, But I Only Carry If I Think I’ll Need It.”

We’ve all heard THAT one before, haven’t we? (And if you’ve said it yourself, welcome to the blog, you must be new here…). I simply cannot comprehend the logic there: There have been two times in the past five years when I’ve felt like I needed a gun: When my family was in St. Louis the night of the Ferguson riots, and  when I accompanied a friend to buy some woodworking tools for cash off of Craigslist. It makes sense to go armed if you’re carrying several hundred dollars in cash and you’re meeting a stranger or if a mob pops up twenty miles away. Other than that, however, I avoid places and people that make me feel like I “need a gun”. People who say such things don’t own guns, they own talismans of self-protection, and they are hoping that the warm feelings of having a gun nearby will somehow make the bad guys go away.

The bad guys, who are unaware as to how sympathetic magic works, ignore such desires and attack you anyways.

I live in a quiet subdivision outside of a quiet town in Southwest Florida: It’s like Mayberry, but with Catholics instead of Southern Baptists. The other day, I walked to our local grocery store (just over a mile, round trip), and I had all of this on my person. Was I expecting trouble? No. Could a stray dog or something else have ruined the tranquility of my walk and presented a danger to me? Yes. I live on the edge of the Everglades, and Florida panthers (the felines, not the hockey team) and black bears have been spotted near my house (and we won’t even begin to talk about the gators or snakes). If something like this can happen to the sitting governor of Texas, it can happen to me.


Clockwise from upper left:

The ABDO is an interesting beast. I have it as part of a review for Shooting Illustrated, and it’s rapidly turning into a useful thing for those “I just need to pop out and get the mail” moments when you don’t need to carry a week’s worth of MRE’s on you because you’ll be within walking distance of your home. I use it because I hate pocket-carrying with jeans, and the darn thing is surprisingly quick on the draw.I’ve got a full review of it up on Shooting Illustrated’s website, go check it out.

All of that easily fits into my pockets and on my belt, and yet it still covers all the bases of less-lethal, knife, flashlight, medical gear, ammo and gun that we should be carrying around everyday.

Think you should carry “Only when you need it”? Carry first, worry about the need later.

A Three-Step Strategy For Staging Guns Around The House.

Mossberg 500

Welcome to my family’s “safe space”

  1. Carry a gun on you when you’re inside your house. If your hip is the best place for you to carry a gun when you’re outside your house, it’s probably the safest, quickest and easiest place to carry a gun if you’re inside your house. There is no need to squirrel away guns like they’re weapons caches in Call of Duty: The gun on  your hip is going to be closer than any gun you have stuffed in-between the sofa cushions, and all the training you’ve done is about drawing from a holster, so why re-invent the wheel?
  2. Have a gun in your safe room that packs more of a punch than the gun on your hip. Rifle, shotgun, carbine, it really doesn’t matter as long it has enough oomph behind it to present a real threat of immediate, life-altering (or life-ending) violence to anyone who would do you harm.
  3. There is no step three, because you don’t need to buy new tools or learn new techniques to stay safe in your home, you just need to use the same things you’d use outside the house (concealed carry and a trunk gun) inside the house as well.

A Clear-Eyed Look At Civilian Trauma Care.


I’ve been carrying around a SWAT-T tourniquet for awhile now, and to be honest, it’s been with some trepidation because people in the know tend to prefer “windlass” type tourniquets like the SOF-T and and the CAT. However, I look at the SWAT-T as more than just a tourniquet; it can also work as a sling, as a wrap or to hold a compression bandage in-place.

Now, via Greg Ellifritz, comes a really terrific article on dealing with traumatic injuries for those of us who don’t wear a uniform and carry a gun for a living. They give a shout-out to the SWAT-T as more than just a tourniquet, and they point out that it works particularly well on kids and other people whose limb diameter falls outside the design parameters of windlass tourniquets.

I hadn’t thought of that, and considering one of the reasons why I carry a tourniquet is to make sure I never have to watch a loved one bleed out in front of me, that’s a big benefit to carrying a SWAT-T around with me.

Winter (and Hurricane Matthew) Are Coming.

“When you’re you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just another storm”

Yeah, so this might be headed our way.


Not that worried. We have hurricane shutters if we need them, and we also have a month’s worth of freeze-dried food, bottled water (and a WaterBob as well), flashlights galore and all kinds of other gear.

Unless our home is ripped from its foundation and lifted up into the aether, we should be ok.

Tactical Hipster.

Speaking of trauma kits, the one I’ve been carrying around is a little bit on the bulky side. Yes, I can conceal it under a t-shirt, and although it looks like the iPhone case it really is, it prints like a son of a gun. While no one as pointed and laughed at me yet, I’d like to have other options for carrying around the stuff that might keep might keep me alive.

In addition to this, I’ve started using an iPad Air with keyboard as a surrogate laptop, and I need a way to carry it around with me on my daily travails.

And so here is my new man-purse European carry-all tactical hipster messenger bag.

Tactical Messenger Bag

I was going for “Indiana Jones“, but at my age, I’ll settle for “old guy trying to look cool but failing.” Look for a complete rundown in a few days as I assemble all the various bits and pieces that will go in it.