I’ve been needing to get shovels for the back of our family’s cars, so when these came on sale, I snatched up two of them for just just over fifteen bucks.
It’s a basic aluminum entrenching tool, with a twist-lock handle and saw-blade edge and pick on one side and shovel on the other. Nothing fancy, but it’s a tool that infantrymen have been using for decades now, so it should work for us civilians, too.
I bought this because I thought it looked cool, and hey, you never know, it may come in handy someday. Because it’s a “universal” mount, however, it’s a little awkward to use with my spotting scope, and it doesn’t work too well with my rifle scopes either because the eye relief is too long.
I love these little stoves. No, they are not going to cook up a five-course meal for fourteen, but they’ll heat up water for coffee or a freeze-dried instant meal. I’ll have a more in-depth look at this stove when I test it out with this gadget, but for now, I likey.
Poking around the internet the last month, I ran into a video where a gentlemen proudly showed off his “bug out bag”, which consisted of a trauma kit (good), a couple of flashlights (good), a tactical tomahawk (umm, ok), an AR-15 (sure, why not?) and big stack of loaded AR mags.
And that was it.
Question: What scenario(s) was he imagining where hundreds and hundred of rounds of ammo were going to be more important than rain gear or a first aid kit? Where is the tool kit? Where is the compass, map and signaling device? Heck, where is the water storage and/or filtration? Why is he preparing for a trip to Mosul instead of a nasty three-day storm?
You can survive three minutes without oxygen (i.e. don’t drown)
You can survive three hours without shelter in harsh weather
You can survive three days without water
You can survive three weeks without food
Note that “300 rounds of ammo” is not one of the rules of three.
Now, do we need to worry about “social disruption” (aka a riot) being one of the situations where an emergency kit of some kind would common in handy? Yep. Do we need worry about that to the exclusion of all other possibilities, like inclement weather, an earthquake, etc?
It’s very easy to apply the gun solution to every possible problem, but a rifle is pretty much useless if it’s a hurricane that’s threatening your well-being, not a rioting mob.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 Toronto 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.
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?
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.