Thank goodness the decent folks came out on top. I a not sure if they were prepared or lucky but it is a harsh reminder for the rest of us. If you don't carry a gun at home there had better be one pretty darn handy. An unloaded gun in a big combination lock safe ain't gonna cut it. Figure out a plan that will work for you that balances speed of access with security (a particular concern if small children are in the house) and is realistic for your budged AND IMPLEMENT IT!
This is where it all started. A Remington 870 Police Magnum wearing express furniture. Best I can tell this gun pulled Cruiser duty for the Kentucky state Police, was sold probably through Bud K then ended up in the Desert. That is where it ended up being saved from a life of neglect and generally not being owned by yours truly.
I was pretty annoyed with the guy that day. Drive for a ways to meet him and it turns out he was not entirely honest about the guns condition. Ended up leaving with the gun and a couple more 20's than I planned. A combination of cruiser duty and lack of maintenance in that guys care left the finish in terrible shape. It looks just fine at 15 feet but up close you can see significant discoloration and oxidization. The gun will almost surely rust if not slathered in oil. So after test firing it I kept the gun slathered in oil for awhile.
I thought about getting it professionally Keracoted or something. However the cost of that PLUS what I wanted to do to the gun was slightly prohibitive. Just more than I wanted to spend.
Once I got down here I wanted to get this project done so it could be our home defense long gun. The reason for that is largely legal in nature. Guns are common all over the South and non hippie parts of the West. However in particular shotguns are very common in Louisiana. The combination of duck hunting as well as short engagement ranges due to line of site for all game make them particularly handy guns down here. If I have to shoot somebody I would prefer to do it with a gun that is the same or very similar to ones in the prosecutor, judge and juries safe/ cabinet/ closet.
While I prefer an AR of the M4 flavor for close up work this advantage to the shotgun is considerable. Also while I like the M4 better a short barreled pump shotgun is amply capable of any home defense long gun task. There is the added benefit that if something happens I am, at least temporarily, losing a shotgun package worth $500 not an AR that all said and done I probably have 2k into.
Another consideration is that I am far more willing to carry said $500 shotgun as a "truck gun" than a semi automatic rifle. Even if it's an AR/ AK/ FAL you got a great deal on back when those were available it is still important to consider replacement cost. The pump gun is about the bar of value I am willing to risk potential theft of on a trip during normal times.
In my mind one of the biggest benefits of the pump shotgun is that they are realistically affordable for anybody but homeless drug addicts. I'm not saying everybody can afford to spend $300ish on a used Remington 870/ Mossberg 500 today but with a little planning and some saving they can afford one in a reasonable amount of time.
We could have a hearty discussion about the benefits of both Rem and Moss platforms. Both are very rugged. The plane Jane Mossberg 500's and their off brand Maverick 88's are cheaper than Remingtons so they offer more value. Then again you have a lot more parts and accessory support with the Remington. I'll close this phase of the discussion by saying they are both fine. Pick one type and buy 10 of them.
As I got to dreaming/ window shopping for this project TEOTWAWKI Blog's excellent Project 590A1. Alexander Wolfe does a great job on research and testing to find the best gear and setup for a particular gun.
So anyway I wanted to get this done in 2014. Running the math if I did the finish myself it wouldn't really cost that much money. Thankfully 'H' recommended Alumahyde II vs plain old spray paint. So I figured out my plan. Some money came in and I ordered the stuff. It showed up in a few days.
The biggest piece of this project was the refinishing for sure. Thankfully Brownells has a series of videos 1, 2, 3, etc. After some reading it seems that preparation is at least as important as the spraying.
First I disassembled the gun. Since I was putting on a sling mount I had to take the stock off anyway so I just did it then instead of covering up the stock with tape and a plastic bag or something.
I cleaned the gun and degreased it. Since I'd been using the 'wetter the better' theory of gun maintenance that took some doing.
Next I used masking tape to cover up the parts I didn't want to paint. No pics of this but I covered the trigger guard and the front sight as well as both ends of the barrel. Filled the receiver with used paper towels from the cleaning then taped them into place.
It was too cold to paint in the garage but since I had the place to myself there were options. It was also a happy accident that I had a bunch of scrap carpet lying around. Laid 2 big pieces down on the kitchen floor (the easiest to clean worst case) as a ground cloth. Brought in a lawn/ patio chair that already had a bit of paint on it from another project to lean the pieces on.
I did the sling mount so it would match.
Then I painted. Overall it went pretty well. The only real sad face was a run on the barrel I foolishly tried to wipe off with a paper towel. It smeared and was really unattractive.
I tried painting over it but that didn't work. Ended up just sanding that part down and repainting. That time went better. At least enough so that I decided not to try my luck messing with it anymore.
This brings us to a point of discussion. I simply was not in a hurry to put the amount of cash into this gun to get it professionally refinished. That meant doing it myself. Do it yourself projects well, have do it yourself results. I'd say the shotgun looks fine but you will not mistake it for being professionally finished. Honestly I am OK with this. After some deliberation on the matter I figured worst case if I hate the paint job I can get it redone professionally later or try again myself. The advantage of destroying a gun's original finish (or getting one that is rough anyway) is that you can't do it twice. Sort of like murder after the first one the rest are free.
I let the parts dry overnight then put it back together. In doing so I installed the GG&G sling mount and Elzetta light mount with a streamlight light I was using as my handheld tactical type light. Got to replace that now I guess.
After some consideration I decided to replace the old generic 5 shot neoprene shotshell holder with an Essetac card. Just pulled it off, slapped some velcro tape on and then a card on top. Not 100% how durable the velcro I got from the hardware store will be. Worst case I'll order a bigger heavier duty piece later if needed.
When I went to put a card on the side of the receiver I noticed the standard 870 Express forend goes too far back onto the receiver for a card to fit. That led to a Bleg on where to find another one. Commander Zero, the great American survivalist he is had a spare black plastic one lying around. He sent it my way along with a few other goodies gratis. So sometime in the near future I'll be swapping that out and hopefully getting the sidesaddle card put on. I really want both because there is a decent chance if I grab this gun it'll be 3am and I'll be wearing running shorts so all the rounds I'll have will be on the gun. Sure it sits by my cobbled together shotgun fighting load, which I will discuss in a future post but I might not have time for that so more rounds on the gun the better.
I took it out for a quick test fire to make sure it still goes bang. It still does. So now it is loaded up and in the Sentry Safe Home Defender with the Glock.
Pleased to say that Project 870 is finally done or at least within spitting distance of done after the forend swap and sidesaddle card installation. Total expenditure was roughly $500. Would like to get an SOE shotgun micro rig to go with it but am not in any particular hurry to do so. As I get a bit more experience with the different new pieces I may write about them individually.
Edited to include: I went to swap out the forend this afternoon. Before taking off the Essetac light mount, the extension and barrel I decided on a lark to lay the new plastic forend Zero sent me on top of the old one. They look identical in size. So now I'm looking at just taking a finish saw to the wood forend to cut it down. Worst case on that the 870 Express wood furniture is dirt cheap so if I ruin it that is fine. Thanks to Zero I'd have a functional forend for the duration. It's either that or just buy a shorty plastic forend like the Magpul, Hogue or whatever. Do have a couple ebay auctions pending for dirty cheap 870P furniture but I'm not too optimistic about any of them. Going to sleep on it before doing anything I cannot take back. So finishing this project is slightly stalled. Story of my life.
Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, cop or self identified expert. The purpose of this blog as well as the post you are reading is to give you some things to think about while being entertaining. You are an adult and thus responsible for your own actions. Understand your local laws and consult experts as needed to get quality advice don't just run with the ideas of some yahoo on the internet.
1- Low/ no light situations. For whatever reason self defense situations happen predominantly in no/ low light situations. Knowing this we need to be prepared to fight at night. In all but the most permissive environments you legally and ethically must identify a target before firing. Heck, taking a step back you need to see a person to know if they are actually a threat. The Goblin with a butcher knife in your imagination could turn out to be an elderly man carrying somebody's mail. The only way to know for sure is to see the person.
Obviously the way to see in the dark is some sort of light. I like weapon mounted lights for shooting. It is impolite and dangerous to go around pointing guns all over the place so I like handheld lights for looking around. Tactics could vary here and honestly I'm more concerned that you have a darn light then exactly what type of light it is. You don't have to break the bank to get a 3,000 lumen surefire made of adimantium a $5 plastic hardware store flashlight beats no light at all.
Some folks have talked about weapon mounted lights (and lights in general) saying you are identifying yourself so it is poor tactics. These folks fail to realize 2 key things. First you can have a light and not use it if the situation dictates; that being said if you do not have a light and the situation dictates using one you're SOL. Second as discussed previously in all but the most kinetic environment outside of a population center you need to identify targets before shooting. If I light somebody up and they are c
The endstate is that if you have a gun in the dark for self defense you should have a way to see what you might be shooting at. I strongly suspect the vast majority of self defense
shooting tragedies are caused by failure to use a white light to
identify a target before firing.
2- Staying Inside. Tam's advice to stay the heck inside and let the cops deal with the crazy guy in the yard is sound. A persons legal footing for self defense is a lot better if the recipient of the lead has forced their way into said person's home. You don't hear too often about people getting into trouble for shooting the guy who broke into their house.
Personally I am inclined to go investigate the weird noise outside myself. The reason for this is that almost all the time it is the neighbors cat or a tree branch or the wind blowing stuff over. If I called the coppers every time that happened I'd have to deal with them a lot and it would turn into a boy who cried wolf situation. Potentially like the scenario that spurred this discussion I could end up in a confrontation outside of my home. The big difference would be I'd have 2 tools to decide if there was a threat and thus whether my heater was needed. In any case I am going to give that plan some thought. It might not be the best course of action.
3- Sort of like Tam said it is good to think about these things now so we have answers in our heads at 3am when awoken by a weird noise. If I KNEW somebody was outside in the yard or whatever doing something crazy I would not go out there. I would arm myself (if I hadn't already) then wait for the cops to deal with it.
4- It would be hard in my mind to justify shooting somebody I didn't KNOW was a legitimate threat. Not "they kept walking towards me" but "they kept walking towards me with a butcher knife in the universal stabbing position" type thing. Even if you can legally justify shooting somebody you will have to live with yourself. This means blasting a mental patient or whatever is not the best course of action. Avoiding the confrontation (do you see a theme here?) is the way to go. I don't worry excessively about the 'they kept advancing but were not clearly a lethal threat' scenario. Though it does bear consideration so maybe some sort of less lethal implement like a big can of mace or a baton would be handy there.
Locations of home defense weapons. In the last post we talked guns but didn't really touch on placement/ locations of guns. Rodger T astutely mentioned "One problem I see in my setup is that most of the time I am actually not
in my bedroom. If I am in living room watching tv, I should probably
have a firearm there with me too, right? Do people do this? I'm starting to think I should stow one near kitchen/living room so I don't have to run to the bedroom."
My answer is yes Rodger a gun in the bedroom is really only handy if you are in or near the bedroom.
Broadly speaking there are two answers to this problem. The first answer is to carry your handgun of choice, whatever it may be, from the moment you wake up to when you go to sleep. Tactically and logistically this is really the best option. You have the same weapon immediately accessible in the same location all the time. Great idea but many people will not do that. Why you ask? Maybe they just don't want to. Maybe they like wearing stretchy pants, or no pants, when at home.
A shoulder holster is a good option here as you can carry a full sized gun with 2x reloads comfortably without being dependent on pants/ a belt to hold them up. Smaller guns are also an option here. A fellow who hangs out here carries a little S&W J frame with a clip grip in this role.
For people who will not carry their handgun very consistently at home the best option is to have multiple weapons located around their residence. One in the bedroom, another in the kitchen, a third in the garage, whatever. The first issue is this requires multiple weapons which not all people have. A 4 gun plan doesn't work with 2 guns. The second issue is you are going to be slower to react than if the weapon is on your body. Third if you have children or otherwise potential unauthorized users these guns all need to be secured. There are options for this across the price range from $30 to several hundred dollars. Security and access are better on the higher end with the lower end really being good for keeping kids out as a small lock box could be carried away in a pillowcase then broken into with a pry bar at the burglar's convenience.
What is the right answer for you? I cannot really say without a lot of information. It could be one or the other, maybe even a combination of the two. Personally I split the middle carrying a weapon in my home a lot but do have plans in place for the times I just don't feel like it.
Hope that answers the question.
Second to the question of hearing protection for home defense. Anyone who has fired or been near a weapon being fired in an enclosed space can attest to it being really, really loud. I have been in this scenario multiple times. A pair of reasonably priced electronic ear muff's sit on top of my Sentry Safe Home Defender. If I have a second to get them on I will do so. This will let me retain my hearing to not be at a disadvantage in case other (presuming the gun shots stop Goblin #1) Goblins are in my home.
Yes I would encourage ear muff's, particularly electronic ones, being incorporated in home defense.
What are your thoughts on locations of home defense weapons? What about hearing protection for home defense?
This is an interesting discussion about home defense weapons featuring Chris Costa. Long guns bring a lot to the table but do have some downsides. If your life situation is such that carrying/ dragging a child or disabled adult is a concern pistols have some real benefit in terms of single hand manipulation.
I say why not have both a pistol AND a long gun ready to go in something like a Sentry Safe Home Defender then choose, one the other or both as the situation dictates.
Personally I keep a Glock 9mm with a light and an AR also with a light ready in the master bedroom. Next to the safe sits my plate carrier and battle belt. Granted things are pretty bad if I'm putting on full battle rattle in my house but who knows, better to have it and not need it than the opposite.
Spent some time with a career cop turned private investigator recently. Learned a few interesting things.
-Criminals choose targets for 3 reasons: High payoff, soft target and personal reasons.
High Payoff is pretty easy. Typically it means they know (or think they know) the target has drugs, jewelry, money, guns or other readily transferable compact high value items.
Soft targets are generally pretty simple also. The house where they do not have a fence, a big dog, an alarm system, etc is easier to break into than most. A staggering drunk is easy to rob. Some targets are almost too good to turn down.
Also soft targets sort of include the subset of "Targets of Opportunity." These are different from the soft target in that the situation is usually temporary and random thus unlikely to be observed and targeted as part of some criminal operational cycle. Wrong place, wrong time if you will. An example for this might be a woman who stayed in a local hotel and went running very early that happened to end up in a bad neighborhood then had the further bad luck to cross paths with a rapist. The odds of that situation occurring again are tiny but it happened.
Personal reasons are sort of nebulous. However I suspect that as a rule normal well adjusted people harm their acquaintances, friends and family at a much lower percentages than career criminals, gang members and (hard) drug users. While people of all lifestyles do in fact harm each other the odds of a crack party going bad are far higher than somebody ending up dead at a church banquet. Something to think about.
There was a very good reminder to lock your darn doors. Sparing the bad stories sometimes the reason house B and it's residents are attacked instead of house A is that A's door was locked and B's was open.
The start. A basic plane Jane Remington 870 Express. It came with the long barrel. Got the gun for a solid deal in a Pawn Shop. It's mechanically excellent but has some finish issues. The 18.5 inch barrel was purchased later to make it into a more viable defensive weapon. A shotgun with long and short barrels is really versatile. The downside is spare barrels start about $120ish. Remember that if you consider getting a shotgun with the wrong barrel for your goals. The end result is a lot of versatility but the cost is pretty high. Folks are probably better off just getting the right barrel length for their purposes.
My camera is not good enough to catch it but the finish has some rust damage (though thankfully no pitting). I cleaned it up but the damn thing just seems to attract rust. I'm not sure exactly what my plan there is. Probably going to clean it up well and either get it refinished (which I do not like because it costs money) or just rattle can the thing. Input is welcome here.
The long barrel also needs some love. I get these cleaned up then leave them well oiled but they still get nasty. It will get whatever the gun gets.
In our previous talk on shotguns the issue of carrying ammo came up. The thinking of keeping ammo physically on the gun is that at 3am if you grab the gun it has a reload or two on there. As most folks would be nekid or in their PJ's the options for ammo are on the gun or secreted in some body cavity. You might not have the presence of mind or time to put on body armor or whatever. If you have the gun you have ammo.
An easy and cheap way to do this is a buttstock shotshell holder. Pictured are two of them. The upper one is a pretty heavy duty model made by Tactical Tailor. The lower one is a neoprene one I got as a gift. Both work fine. Some folks use sidesaddle's that hold rounds on the receiver. I do not like the big plastic ones for a lot of reasons. The new method some folks are using of putting velcro on the gun and using those HSGI shot shell panels has a lot of potential. I will probably give it a try down the road.
There are many ways to carry shotgun shells. In addition to what you have on the gun one might want more ammo. If you keep a shotgun as a trunk gun or use it as a go weapon this is important. I do not like bandoleers but they are a decent option I guess. I HATE the sling bandoleers. Who wants 10 pounds of shotgun shells flailing around all over the place attached to your gun?
My method of carrying shotgun shells is an old M249 SAW drum pouch. I sewed some buttons on to keep it shut. In there are about 40 rounds of 2 3/4's #4 buck. I like #4 as a good compromise between projective count and size. We could debate what shotgun ammo to use for defensive purposes; however if it ends in 'buck you are good to go. Also in there are 5 slugs in there. I kept them in the box so they are easy to find if needed.
If I get into those HSGI panels then a lot of options open up for storing them on body armor in pouches and such.
As to where this project is going.......
I am going to convert this shotgun into an optimized home defense type gun. It will get an extended tube to hold a couple more shots. To do that I will need to deal with those stupid dimples in the tube. Also a sling will be attached. Going to figure out a way to make the gun more durable in terms of finish. It might be a good way to practice painting guns.
A light would be nice but it's going to be awhile. Any options I consider duty grade and worthwhile are pretty expensive.
So that's my old trusty shotgun and what is in store for it.
How to keep defensive weapons ready but secure from small dangerous children is something we have put a bit of thought into. The answer that guns need to be in the physical control of an adult or secured is pretty obvious. Normal cabinets and safes are good for security (to keep guns away from small kids anyway) but leave a lot to be desired in terms of access. If you honestly think that getting into a combo safe and rummaging through it's contents to find a gun is something you can do quickly in the dark I wish you the best. Key safes have their own issues that you either need to keep a key in the room, kind of a security no no, have it on your neck which is a hassle or on your key ring that will inevitably be forgotten in the living room just that one time.
There are a lot of good options for securing a handgun or two in a quickly accessible way with numerous many key pad and finger print type safes out. These are a fine option if you are only concerned about accessing a pistol. However if you want ready access to a secure long gun options haven't been great.
Enter the Sentry Safe Home Defense Center. These things are designed to hold a shotgun or rifle and a pistol in a secure but readily accessible way. They are to the best of my knowledge a pretty unique safe if not the only such safe on the market today. The safe is opened by a 4 button punch code which is nothing novel. It
really just takes existing technology used in pistol safes and brings it
to a safe that can hold a long gun. Aside from being the only (to the best of my knowledge) such product on the market there are some cool features. The corner door is a really novel idea. It gives wide open access without having a big door that requires a lot of space to open. There is a recessed shelf with a grippy foam insert that would be perfect to hold a few key defensive items or some EDC stuff. The long gun is held in place by a couple foam covered rollers so it is secure but can be pulled out easily. The pistol shelf has a nice angled tray that holds a pistol at the ready. There is room for another handgun in there on the opposite side of the tray, not quite as fast as the first one but the space is there. Now that we have the basic stats it is time for some discussion.
These things are definitely a niche item. They are very useful for folks who are concerned about preventing unwanted firearms access but none the less want their weapons readily accessible. Typically this is folks with young children. Also since these things cost $400 and only hold 2-3 guns you have to be willing to spend a few bucks. I'm not saying they are for everybody but for the right folks these seem like a great option.
Inside are my EDC Glock 19 and Wifey's .38 on the pistol tray and my BCM 14.5in Middy AKA Project AR Upgrade for the long gun. Some folks would debate the need for a long gun for home defense. Personally the inherent accuracy (much longer sight radius and multiple points of contact) of long guns combined with their capacity and lethality makes the long gun a logical choice for home defense. Some folks would say a short barreled shotgun with OO Buck is the way to go. While they are a fine weapon personally I think in terms of defense anything a shotgun can do a capable semi automatic magazine fed rifle can do better. A modern semi automatic rifle like an AR or AK (or I suppose a Mini 14) holds 30ish rounds and is effective out to a a few hundred yards or further while a shotgun holds 5-8 rounds and is effective to 25-40ish yards. Also common affordable (which means pump) shotguns require manipulation between shots while rifles do not. Not saying a pump shotgun isn't a fine home defense weapon, just that if legal and financial considerations are not entered into the equation a semi auto mag fed rifle dominated any semi realistic scenario I can think of.
[For anybody dumb enough to question the effectiveness of 5.56/.223 as an anti personnel round I offer two things. 1) Small arms (let's say anything under .50 cal/ 14.5mm) are iffy stoppers with less than perfect shot placement. Imagine a dinner plate centered on the sternum and a saucer centered between the eyes. Hit these and somebody will be out of the fight in a hurry. Miss them and results will vary. Believe it or not everybody shot in Korea and WWII as well as prior when pretty much everybody carried .30 cal "battle rifles" in rounds like 7.62x54R did not die immediately. Lots of people got shot in the arm, leg or less essential parts of the torso and did not die. Heck a lot of them kept right on fighting. 2) As a civilian I can use hollow point ammunition. If you are so stupid as to argue that 5.56 JHP is not an effective man stopper then I have little interest in talking with you.]
So far I am pretty psyched about this product. It has seriously improved our defensive readiness. Certainly not cheap but for us I think worth the money. Will do more of a formal review once I have some more experience with it.
Are your defensive weapons readily accessible at a moments notice? To anybody or just you? Something to think about.
The topic of body armor has come up again recently. I have talked a bit about it in the past. Anyway here we go, some of this will probably be new and some will be rehashed.The first question is if you should buy body armor. I would say that folks who think they might end up on the two way range some day would be well advised to acquire body armor. It saves lives and gives a useful advantage. It broadly comes in two types soft armor (like cops wear) and rifle plates. Soft vests can sometimes be had pretty cheap. They will stop most pistol rounds and buckshot. It comes in class 2A, 2 and 3A. Each successively heavier type stops larger/ faster bullets but is also heavier and thicker. A lot of folks recommend class 2 as a good compromise. One of these might be handy if you have to make large cash transactions or otherwise function at increased risk in a normal non mad max world. Rifle plates are solid ceramics or steel plates that stop heavier/ faster rounds including most common rifle rounds up to the .308/30'06 range. They are relatively heavy, cumbersome and expensive. Then again they do stop rifle bullets. While a stripped plate carrier could theoretically be concealed under a coat or sweatshirt they are not something most folks would wear outside of a war zone or situation where a gunfight was likely. When to buy it is however a practical question. Once you have some basic weapons w/ ammo and ancillary stuff, some food and other gear it might be a good time to look at body armor. The subject of cost comes up here. My experiences as a consumer and brief google research show the following for prices. A soft vest will probably cost as much as a decent used revolver (around $300) and a plate carrier with rifle plates costs about as much as a mid shelf AK or lower end AR ($600ish or more). This is honestly something folks on really low budgets may have a hard time affording. I wouldn't fault somebody who was doing their best to slowly work through their families needs in a logical way and had to put off the purchase of body armor indefinitely.That being said if you have several nice pistols and a half dozen military pattern rifles but no body armor your priorities are skewed. I would recommend that you stop collecting guns. Delay the purchase of your next toy vital survivalist tool, consider maybe selling a safe queen and get the stuff you need to have every possible advantage on the two way range. Personally I would place body armor before gen III night vision. This is simply because of cost as body armor costs about 1/5th as much as a PVS 14 monocle. [While night vision is another topic most of the things said about body armor could be amplified about night vision. Very useful but very expensive.]When to use it. Personally body armor is part of my home defense plans. I want every possible advantage, fighting fair is for idiots and losers. Lots of folks talk about how body armor is not useful for insurgents or guerillas or generally in modern "4G" warfare. I have to observe that most of them have not been a boots on the ground (vs say a senior FG officer in some redundant "command") participant in one of these conflicts. Lots of lives are saved by body armor. There is a reason that historically speaking fatalities are down (though amputees are up by percentage) in our recent conflicts. Body armor saves lives. A plate carrier will typically weigh around 20 pounds (plates at 7-8lbs each, a couple pounds for the carrier, potentially side plates, etc) give or take. A full up IOTV weights more and to be blunt I would not recommend it for most civilian or G applications.Some folks talk about how the added weight slows you down. Some argue this is a significant factor in recent conflicts, particularly Afghanistan. I read a great article about this called Bring Back The Light Infantry which I linked to in an old but if I do say so myself pretty awesome post.For me if things went all Red Dawn and I was playing guerrilla with remaining parts of my unit, buddies or whatever I would be inclined to wear body armor far more often than not. The decision would be a trade off between the protection body armor offers and the decreased mobility it brings. Mostly this would be an issue if we needed to carry a particularly heavy load to sustain ourselves for a long period or due to heavy items needed for the mission. Also if speed was important and the risk of contact was quite low I might consider ditching the armor. Certainly I would wear armor if conducting any sort of planned operation such as a raid or ambush. Basically unless there was a really good reason (or reasons) not to I/we would wear our darn body armor. Not too long ago I found myself doing a timed run in interceptor body armor, a uniform, boots and a helmet. Two miles took me 16 minutes plus a few seconds but I do not remember exactly; so about a minute to a minute and a half longer than it would in shorts and running shoes. Of course adding a chest rig with a bunch of magazines and a rifle would be an increase in weight but you would have that stuff either way. The point I am trying to get at is that body armor, especially a basic plate carrier with 2 rifle plates, just ISN'T REALLY ALL THAT HEAVY. If you have a strong core, a bit of muscle and run/ ruck regularly like you should be doing anyway wearing body armor, though it does increase the suck a bit really isn't an issue. I have to humbly submit for consideration that if a person who isn't fit enough to go play war wearing body armor isn't fit enough to play anyway.
I talked about home defense/ harder homes and gardens and harder homes and gardens for renters not too long ago. The topic of securing and hiding valuables didn't get much attention. I sort of had a specific post in mind. Sat on it for awhile for whatever reason but today I am tired and feeling pretty blah so a post that is already thought out seemed like a good idea. So to the topic of securing valuables.
A few observations and random things first:
There is an inherant trade off between security and accessability. Nobody would steal my sweet but probably fairly average 40" flat screen tv if it was hidden in a wall or buried 5 feet underground. On the other hand it would be aweful hard for kiddo to watch cartoons which would make him sad.
Things you use regularly need to be reasonably accessible.
It takes a lot more effort to secure stuff that people know you have. OPSEC is a pretty decent security system in and of itself. There is a reason that banks have big vaults, people know they have lots of money.
Reinforced doors, locks, safe's and such are a deturrent. Somebody with the desire and knowhow will crack any nut if it is worth it to do so, reference bank vaults. However most crooks are not in a house for very long so often a safe that cannot be easily carried off (heavy, mounted or both) will get left alone.
I am a big fan of keeping ones eggs in multiple baskets as discussed awhile back.
Anyway I have come to see what I call the "little safe, big safe" concept as the way to go. Keep stuff that you use or will likely use regularly readily accessible but secured. Keep the rest of your stuff secured in a less accessible place, potentially in a wall cache or offsite or in a cache. We will call this your backup stuff. Bear in mind that your backup stuff will need to be stored in a way that it will not be affected by scenarios that could endanger your primary stuff. This could mean very different things depending on the nature of your stuff and the scenarios involved.
Example 1: Sue has a nice stash of cash and precious metals and is a bit concerned about theft or a house fire. Sue decides to keep some of her stash (enough to make a trade or buy something if need be) in the safe where their records and whatever live. Sue took the rest and put it into a piece of PVC pipe and buried it under the right corner of the far left planter in the garden. This works because a fire won't affect it and unless somebody knows it is there that isn't a place folks would look for valuables.
Example 2: Tom lives what we could call a high risk lifestyle. He might need to leave for a month or two on very short notice. He decided to have some stuff ready to go at home as well as some cash. Since going home might not be advisable or even possible he also decided to have another set of stuff and a good portion of the available cash some distance from home. He went out far enough to be away from people who would recognize him and outside of the usual police type cordon, potentially in another jurisdiction. [A good portion of his total worth is liquid cash and largely represented in these two stashes but well it is a requirement of his lifestyle]
Example 3: Frank is a hard core survivalist. He has a rural 'retreat' and very ample stores of food and fuel as well as a lot of guns and case after case of ammo. He realized that having all this stuff in his basement and barn is a bad idea. He owns a decent piece of land and is near some timber lands which won't be logged again for decades and are without development prospects. He keeps about 40% of their supplies at home. The rest get divided up into several caches. The nearest is a bit more a half mile from the house. Far enough that if they were overrun and the house was occupied by some gobline they could sneek in and grab the concents, at least if it was vital. The other caches range from a mile away to an old homestead about 25 miles away that is their alternate location.
Example 4: John sees himself as a potential Guerilla. He envisions a pretty dark future. He thinks the Chinese are going to invade and he is going to have to fight them. He keeps some survivalist stuff at home but has a lot more spread out. The guy has small E and E type caches in several locations as well as larger logistical resupply caches at potential basecamps. The range of his caches is pretty broad. Within this circle are his home, a couple small cities and a decent sized town, a regional line of communication and some nice good places to hold up. Geography dictates the exact range but it is about a 60 mile across mis shapen circle.
Discussion: While the broad principles of keeping some stuff with you and spreading the rest out stay the same the implimentation varies considerably based on one's concerns.
Sue and Tom are both securing compact valuables. However that Sue is concerned about a burglar or a house fire means her valuables could be 50 feet away from the house while that obviously wouldn't work for Tom. Needing to dig up the garden for running money because somebody is after you wouldn't work. A locked dusty trunk in the back of a semi abandoned barn at a your second aunt once removed Sue's farm 60 miles away would fit Tom's better.
It is similar for Frank and John. Both are spreading out beans, bullets and bandaids. Frank's caches are predominantly within reasonable walking distance from his home (why do folks have to always call it a 'retreat' anyway) as his ideal situation is to stay home and raid them as needed. He has one further off in case things become untenable at his current location. John knows that if the scenario he envisions kicks of he will have to leave home and move intermittently for the foreseeable future. He may be moving by vehicle though the circle is small enough that you could do it on foot.
Also Frank keeps a lot more stuff at home than John. Due to their different plans Frank has about half his stuff at home while John has about a quarter. This is representative of his primary plan being to stay at the 'retreat' versus John's plan to bail almost immediately if hostilities occur. John realizes that in the scenario that concerns him leaving on short notice by vehicle is about the best scenario, running into the woods with rucksack's is middle of the road and running into the woods in sleepwear is also quite possible. Frank's house has dozens of guns while John's has his carry piece, a defensive rifle, a hunting rifle, a shotgun, a .22, and backup pistol. Franks pantry probably has 6 month's worth of food in it while John's has about a month and a half.
Well those are my thoughts on that. Criticism or input is welcome. I hope somebody finds this helpful.
Well it is July 4th also known as Independence Day in the 'Merica. Aside from having a day off work to do fun things with the fam, eating too much food, drinking more than is probably necessary and maybe shooting or fireworks it is a good day to reflect. So I did some reflecting.
I am not particularly thrilled with the state of Independence and the overall situation in our country. Our economy is still firmly in fail mode. The big banks and rich connected folks who arguably destroyed our economy are doing fine. They profited handsomely by manipulating the economy for years and then got bailed out. The normal working folks in the middle got hosed. Over the last few years the average American household lost 39% of it's wealth. Sure some of them did stupid things like getting adjustable rate loans for 120% of the place's value or buying a home with an interest only payment that is 65% of their pre tax income but that just compounded their individual suck factor. The unfortunate bottom line is that many good people who did nothing wrong lost much of their life's savings. For anyone who is concerned I think the habitual welfare cases are doing about as well as they ever do.
Our government and the mainstream media have been pushing this recovery without any visible positive indicators jobless recovery thing so hard it is painfull to watch. Sort of like the restaurant that is aggressively pushing the fish it is a pretty clear that A) there is something wrong with the fish and B) the folks doing the pushing have a vested interest in convincing you that nothing is wrong with the fish. Here is a hint, the fish is definitely past it's prime and might have already gone bad. I see other things going on but talking about it is not really productive. To be honest most of it (over the past few years gun rights have been doing well between Heller, the new Constitution Carry trend and expansion of CCW rights) depresses me.
Since I try to stick to things I/we can actually afffect and positively influence instead of just whining about how tough times are I started thinking about independence on a personal level. The first question is what exactly would we consider personal independence. To me personal independence would be having the capability to do as many of the various things needed for a normal, modern existence for yourself. Along these lines it should go without saning that the less you have to rely on other people or organizations the better. There are so many areas this touches from being able to fix a leaking sink to treating a bad cut or protecting yourself. To touch on just a few:
-Having solid defensive capabilities and some default offensive capabilities is very important. If you must rely on somebody else, be it a cop or local tough guy or even worse a gang, to protect you then independence is impossible. Have a gun and know how to use it. Heck, having a few guns isn't a bad thing. The emphasis however needs to be more on the 'know how to use it' than just on getting a gun and some bullets. Know how to defend yourself without a gun also. You probably don't need to practice MMA 10 hours a week (though if you have the time that would be good;) but get some training from a qualified instructor and try to practice enough to stay reasonably fresh.
I would be inclined to focus on realistic scenarios. It is far more likely that you will be car jacked, robbed at gunpoint or maybe home invaded by some meth meads then Chinese Paratroopers invading or an Alphabet agency SWAT team or the neighbors attacking to steal your crispix. What you will probably face in some sort of emergency scenario would be normal crime and violence on steriods. Instead of robberies just happening outside of sketchy clubs at 3am and home invasions being predominantly in Cracktown things will change; conventional wisdom that says noon at Safeway is a low threat environment and nice neighborhoods are pretty safe will cease to be valid. If things go on long enough folks will adapt but that is no concillation to those first few unlucky folks who are victims. Your carry piece and the holster it goes in are probably more important that whatever sweet rifle and chest rig you have got. Worry more about basic home defense and out and about precautions than how to effectively ambush armored vehicles or conduct a squad attack.
-Work toward financial independence. Becoming truly financially independent is problematic. Unless you are very wealthy or want to live very simply it is not very realistic to be entirely financially independent. Best case if you own your home/ land money is needed for fuel and taxes and other stuff you can't grow. For most folks living a fairly normal pattern of life who desire a relatively conventional home paying it off by middle age is an impressive feat and earlier is improbable. Not saying it is not possible or that nobody does it but that most folks, even if they make pretty good choices can't do it. That however doesn't mean you can't work towards a reasonably decent place and keep improving.
For heavens sake pay off high rate debts like credit cards, personal loans and nasty vehicle/ hobby stuff loans. Aside from sucking the financial life out of you now they will get way worse if our economy tanks. If possible pay off variable interest rate debts or if they are large and will take time at least roll them into a decent fixed rate. Strive to be debt free aside from maybe a reasonable fixed rate mortgage. Start saving today if you haven't been already. Save for all sort of relatively minor real life issues like car/ home repairs, injuries, job loss, etc as well as for the long term. I am less concerned about how you save (cash, IRA, 401k, investments, metals, etc) than that you are saving in some form or another. Once you have knocked out the bad debt and have some money put away all sorts of other things like paying off a home early, going back to school or changing career fields are possible. I will stop trying to make this horse I have pulled to the water drink.
-Become less dependent on normal commerce for food. Stash some food for if normal commerce is interupted by a disaster or whatever. Somebody smarter than me suggested 3 months of things you normally eat (obviously shelf stable) like pasta, canned goods, etc and then a year of long term shorage type stuff. For every day and the theoretical long term food production is important. At least consider growing some food. If it is possible in your situation that would be a good thing to do.
-Work on all the other stuff you need. A person probably can't build the skills of a professional mechanic, a journeyman carpenter, electricial, welder, plumber and mason in a lifetime. However you can probably learn to do some normal tasks that you may need which these people do. Doing a tune up on the family auto is easier than rebuilding the engine, building a deck or shed is easier than a shopping mall, you get the idea. If you find something that you are good at and enjoy then by all means go deeper into it.
The point, if I have one, is to strive to become more independent. The more independent you are the less you will rely on other people, and to some extent our government and 'the system' to meet your needs. This could be very important in the future.
As to me well, it is my birthday. Another year older and all that jazz. In some ways I am in a better place and in others things are about the same. It was a nice quiet day. Had some fun with Wifey and Walker. He enjoyed birthday cake which is not suprising. I got an amazon gift certificate and an ice cream maker from the rents. As usual my gift from us is cash. I still have some thinking to do but will likely get some rifle plates for the Banshee plate carrier I recently ordered.
Anyway I hope you all have a great Independence Day. Do some fun stuff with people you love and if you have a few minutes think about how to become a bit more independent.
I have stolen this title from Lizard Farmer who runs an excellent newish blog that focuses on retreat/ farm/ ranch defense. His post was more a check on how folks thought his blog was doing. I will head in a different direction. My azimuth check is more about the direction from where my/ your overall situation was to where we want it to be. I will break it into a few categories.
How is your debt situation? Do you have any debt with an adjustable or otherwise particularly high interest rate?
Do you have some savings for if something happens?
Do you have some money accessible to buy things if there is an event that interupts normal banking (this means cash on hand)?
If you can afford it have you considered putting some money into precious metals? There isn't a right or wrong answer to this one. Folks differ widely on this topic.
Are you and your family of a reasonably healthy body weight? If not are you making tangible progress towards getting there?
Do you have any health/ medical/ dental issues that could be improved but have not been? Maybe you need an elective surgery or have been putting off dental work or need to get into physical therapy to get something worked out. Bringing us back to the last question it is utterly amazing how many medical issues decrease or go away if you get to a reasonably healthy body weight.
If applicable do you keep a stash of essential perscription meds on hand? Keeping 30 days on hand is ok, 90 days is pretty decent and will cover a lot of issues but of course more is better. It may mean paying out of pocket but consider the alternative which is, to varying degrees, very ugly.
If applicable do you have at least a pair of spare glasses in your current perscription (two or three would be better)?
How are your chompers doing?
How are you doing at physical fitness? Can you walk long distances with a load? Run fast for short periods and slower for longer ones? Control your body weight through a variety of tasks and obstacles? Lift heavy things or carry another person?
Skills and Training:
Can you make a fire? At night? Can you do it when it has been raining for a week strait?
Can you find your way around with a compass and a map?
Can you make or improvise some sort of shelter to be as comfortable as possible in a variety of situations?
Can you turn basic staples like flour, rice or wheat into a decent or even tasty meal?
Can you grow or raise your own food?
Can you find or gather food from fishing, hunting, plant gathering or something else really cool I have never heard of?
Can you fix stuff? Mechanical things? Small arms? Brick and mortar? Wood? Plumbing? Electrical?
Can you engage targets with personal weapons in realistic circumstances?
Can you organize a defense be it at home or in some sort of hasty situation?
If the Chinese invade or whateveer can you plan and execute small unit Red Dawn/ partisan/ G style offensive operations?
Stockpile and Equipment:
How is your food storage doing?
Do you have personal weapons as well as the stuff needed to use them? Do you have some spare parts, cleaning stuff and ammunition to keep your guns running without a trip to Wally World or the local gun shop?
How are you doing at storing all of the other stuff like medical supplies, batteries, fuel, cleaning and hygiene stuff, spare parts, etc all to keep on keeping on as well as you can without outside assistance?
Is the stuff you have put together into kits or packages or systems that will meet your needs on short notice?
I am sure there are some good questions that I missed. This covers a ton of ground so do not be ashamed if there are some areas where you fall short. My goal is to give you some areas to think about and see where you are at. Every one of these questions is not equally applicable to all situations. Like many things you would be well advised look at these questions with brutal honesty, action what is applicable and disregard what is not.
I wrote about home defense awhile back. A longtime reader Chris rather accurately mentioned that lots of otherwise practical options are not so viable for renters. I unintentionally stumbled back into this topic and it seemed worth revisiting.
What Chris said that options are pretty limited for renters is valid. You can't do whatever you want in somebody else's place. You certainly may get screwed around on the deposit and I wouldn't do anything significant without getting permission (get it in writing and make it clear what standard the place will be left in). In any case the point of looking at lower visibility/ physical impact options is still worthwhile. Like other military issues this is compounded by frequent moves. Sucking up the deposit to do what you want at a place you will live for years is a rather easy decision. Doing it every year or two could get problematic.
First and foremost as with all real estate location, location, location. While not as cool or sexy as steel doors which stop rifle fire or barbed wire it is much more practical to just avoid places that are statistically less safe. Do some research on the area and check the place out. Look at the place and the area that surrounds it. Coming back to drive around the neighborhood at night is not a bad idea either.
Seriously just live in a place that doesn't suck. Of course violence can happen anywhere but it happens a lot more in some places than others. If you aren't willing to pony up the extra $100 a month, drive another 10 minutes to work or livei n a slightly less nice residence to be in a decent area then it may be worth reconsidering how serious you actually are about your families safety.
[It is also worth noting that most both burglars and home invaders (or the day and night guys as Mr. Yeager calls them) typically do not just target a place at random. They think you have cash (or drugs) or a bunch of electronics or guns or something else valuable. Either folks see stuff or they hear stuff or whatever. Being very discrete about the valuables you have is prudent. Avoid obvious displays of stuff like flashy cars or having new fancy electronics delivered all the time. In other words live a modest lifestyle and try to keep things worth stealing quietly put away at home.]
I really would not want to live in the nice apartments/ condo's/ houses in an iffy neighborhood. Gentrification or the "good block/ bad block" situation or whatever is not a good thing for your safety. Being the folks who seem to have money in a poor and crime ridden area is just stupid. Also it is even worse if there are racial/ cultural differences that further bring resentment and anymousity. We looked at some great apartments with cool amenities and everything. However they were right in the hood. Like overlooking one of the low end corner stores where teen and 20 something's stand around drinking and smoking pot in a bad ghetto life movie right in the hood. Needless to say we did not move there.
Living off the first floor helps or at least I think it does. It limites the amount of entrances a lazy person (most crooks) would use. You are looking at a door and maybe a window instead of every opening.
For door security the classic door bar is better than nothing. These require no modifications and are also good for hotels. It would take an extra kick or so to knock the thing in (I tried it) which might buy a couple seconds that could matter. Not perfect but better than nothing. Also I would look at replacing the screws in the existing hardware with longer ones that will bite into more wood. All you would need is a drill and a quick trip to home depot.
A product which I saw for the first time today called the bar-icade seems pretty cool. It seems to be two bolts and a chunk of square tubing. Stick the bolts into the studs and put the metal bar over them, easy as pie. Best of all it seems very realistic to use in a rental. You could use it, slap on some putty and paint and probably not have anybody notice the two holes. Also the price of about $60 it is hard to beat.
Alarm decals are always doable and lights might be an option depending on how strict the landlords are. I can't speak to the ease of installation or quality of video but security camera's have gotten a lot cheaper in the past few years. It looks like you could have a few camera's with a big hard drive to record a lot of footage for about $300. Best of all you could just take it with you when you move.
For structural improvements beyond that you are probably going to have to ask permission or suck it up on the deposit.
As a final thought I wouldn't get too wrapped up about the deposit. If a couple holes or whatever will not kill you on the inspection. If you are anything like me you spend a decent amount of money on a lot of things far less likely to actually keep you safe than the basic physical security of your home. A bit of money spent in hardware (and maybe lost deposit) will make your place more secure and thus your family safer it is probably a worthwhile expense.
Let us start out with a question. When (in a defensive situation) would I prefer a shotgun to a rifle?
I have been thinking about it for a couple days and haven't come up with a situation yet. If I am going to have to fight somebody I would like an AR or an AK. Both have a viable defensive round, especially considering I would be using modern defensive ammunition. They hold a lot of bullets and are self loading.
This got me thinking about the role of shotguns in home defense. They are sort of a weird beast anyway. Everybody pretty much agrees you should have one, myself included, but they are fraught with disinformation and misunderstanding. When we strip away the myths it is easier to talk about them.
First of all we have to deal with "stopping power" and penetration. The prevailing myth is that shotguns will utterly destroy all flesh and bone but won't go through wallpaper, let alone the whole wall. I would say that is half right. At close range buckshot does really nasty things. However in a sort of funny way projectiles that will devastate one type of stuff will do the same to another. Buckshot will go through walls no problem. Interestingly the performance is not that differently from .223 or 7.62x39.
Next comes accuracy and shot spread. Shotguns are not a land mine or a magical death ray. You have to have the thing pointed at someone for them to work. Shot spread varies by load, choke and weapon but at "in house" ranges it is going to be closer to fist than dinner plate or trash can sized. I have heard the rule that buckshot spreads at about an inch a yard but you really need to pattern a gun with the barrel/ choke to be sure. [A smart guy I knew took his new shotgun to the range with a 5 pack of 2 or 3 different types of buckshot to see which worked best. That might be an idea worth putting in your kit bag.]
The next is that shotguns are super easy to use. I won't say that is entirely wrong but using them in a realistic combat situation takes some practice. The real issue is that these folks are using two very different standards. The standard for using a shotgun is that they can load it, chamber a round and shoot a target or a cardboard box 15 feet away. The rifle standard is that you have to be able to field strip it while hanging blindfolded from money bars and engage man sized targets out to 300 meters with iron sights in driving rain and wind. See an issue here? If we narrow the rifle standards to CQB at ranges of 50 meters or less (which greatly decreases the marksmanship factor) it is a whole different discussion.
To be honest I would give the rifle an advantage because it is easier to make fast follow up shots with due to the lower felt recoil and being self loading. If, after a short orientation you handed a dozen random people a shotgun and had them put one shot per target into a few targets at realistic defensive ranges and did the exact same thing with an AR or a Mini 14 or an AK I would bet an 18 year old bottle of Scotch the rifle would win out.
Let us look at it another way. What would you think of a rifle which must be manually reloaded and has a capacity of 5-8 rounds? Why should a shotgun somehow be different?
Now onto rifles. I will talk in generalities about AR and AK pattern rifles and most of it would apply to a Mini 14 or whatever you run. I would call stopping power even as both are quite sufficient. You can't exactly kill people twice or anything. Rifles win hands down in capacity with 3-4 times as much ammo as a standard pump shotgun, also they penetrate soft body armor. While home invasions are relatively rare they are getting more common. This scenario is definitely an ugly one, but an ugly one where rifles shine. Also rifles are useful at much longer ranges. An AK or AR which could defend your living room could hit a man sized target a couple football fields (or much further, I’ve seen 800 meter hits with an M4 and an ACOG) away. Past 50ish meters or maybe a bit more with slugs and iron sights, cursing is more effective than a shotgun.
That does not say shotguns don't have some real strengths.
Cost is a huge plus. New pump shotguns cost somewhere around $300. You can buy gently used Mossberg 500's and Remington 870's for around $200-220 all day long. Seriously shotguns are great because everybody can afford one. If you can't afford a basic pump shotgun with a little bit of planning then I recommend you reexamine your life and finances.
The next biggest plus is versatility. With one weapon you could shoot a turkey in the morning, pheasants at mid day, a deer just before nightfall and have something very comforting in your tent or cabin at night. With a long choked barrel and a short open cylinder you are good to go for a lot. Toss in a rifled one to shoot slugs and that is even more versatility. There isn't (not including oddballs like those single barrel rifle/ shotgun things) another weapon out there that can do that.
Also pump shotguns are good because they have evaded pretty much every anti gun law out there. You can’t have an AK in Cali or Washington DC but you can have a shotgun. Lastly you can't get much more common than 12 gauge. If they sell bullets they have shotgun shells. Also if I had to come into a place and need to mooch ammo a shotgun would be a good gun to have.
Now before somebody bites my head off just because something else is better doesn't mean shotguns aren't an acceptable tool. To the question are shotguns, in a standard over the counter configuration sufficient for home defense I would say yes. To be honest if you can’t handle a problem in the house with a tube full of buckshot you probably can’t handle it anyway. That however doesn’t mean I don’t like to put the odds in my favor as much as I can.
I have been thinking a lot about an SBR/ PDW type weapon recently. No really great reason, just sorta daydreaming. I've been thinking that it would be way easier to carry around, both tactically and discretely than a normal (even defensive type) rifle. I have almost no use for carbines (defined for this purpose as a long gun that shoots a pistol bullet) but this could be handy. The criteria for me would be a round that can penetrate light armor, a stock, reasonable accuracy, affordability and commonality. Specifically I have been thinking about one of those short barreled AK's. It would fill a nice little niche. Convenient to carry around or put in a bag, ample for defensive purposes and good for CQB. Taking one of those pistol AK's and putting a folding stock on it would be the easy and affordable route, alas ATF regulations make it much more complicated. I am thinking that when I eventually settle down if you can still, for a modest fee and some hassle build an SBR I might just bite the bullet and do it.
How long does it take to get whatever you want for fight? It could be a home invasion or zombies or the Mongul Hordes. I am not asking what your go gear is and it doesn't really matter. It could be a pistol with a holster and a couple mags, a shotgun with a bandolleer or a plate carrier and a rifle. The question is how long does it take for you to get it all together and ready to go. If your rifle is in a safe, your mags are unloaded in an ammo can and the plate carrier is burried in a box in the garage it might be a half an hour. Obviously this is a rather extreme case of the WRONG ANSWER but don't be too hard on yourself if that is the case. The point of these assignments is to provoke thought and help you folks out.
Out of curiosity how long does it take and what is your setup?