Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Concealed Carry In The Suburbs

     I'm licensed to carry concealed in my home state of North Carolina. I was licensed to carry concealed in South Carolina for 15 years before moving to North Carolina with my job. I would say I carried on average of once or twice week for all of those years. I didn't carry everyday because the places I worked did not allow firearms on their premises. I usually carried on the weekends, or if I went out after I got home from work, or if I had a day off.

     A Non-Permissive Environment (NPE) is a fairly common obstacle that concealed weapons holders encounter in the suburbs. There are three types of Non-Permissive Environments (NPE's) that I have encountered:
  • Carry prohibited by statute - places where the concealed law specifically prohibits concealed carry. Banks, Schools, Bars, etc. Violation results in arrest and prosecution.
  • Carry prohibited by premise - places that post signs specifically prohibiting concealed carry inside their premise. Violation results in arrest and prosecution.
  • Carry prohibited by policy - Companies make it a violation of their policy for employees to posses firearms on their premise. Violation often results in termination. Often combined with prohibition by premise.
     This can be a real issue for concealed firearms carriers (CC'ers). For example some stores in a mall might prohibit firearms, while others will allow it. What if you stop to get a hamburger in one of the mall restaurants and that restaurant also serves alcohol? A CC'er could end up in a NPE entirely by accident and end up in jail. Anti-gunners get extremely nervous around people who have a gun on them, especially if their children are present. It's an irrational fear, I get that....I really do. But understand that if they call the cops, and you're in the wrong....even accidentally, you will most likely go to jail.

     We can spend hours constructing scenarios. You can't plan for everything, you simply can't. If you know ahead of time you're going to end up in an NPE, don't carry. It's as simple as that. But how many times have your plans changed mid-stream? Lots if you have a wife/husband and kids. Things NEVER go as planned. So, lets look at some best practices that can help resolve these issues, or possibly even prevent them from occurring in the first place.

      You may remember my "rules" for a gunfight. Here they are again, for a quick review:
              1- Don't be there when it happens.
              2- If you break rule #1, have a gun
              3- Be the one who fires the first accurate shot.

     Lets focus on the "have a gun" part. Since we're not expecting a gunfight, and we're just hanging out with our family. Conceal your gun well. Dress in layers, it's easier in the winter for obvious reasons. In the summer carry a smaller weapon inside the pants or in the small of your back. Don't be one of those tacti-cool, mall-ninja idiot types who thinks it's "cool" to print so others can know you're carrying without actually seeing your weapon. Don't invite trouble. The view is NOT worth the climb on that issue.
     Use a good carry holster. Nothing amuses me more than a guy who spends $1,000 on a custom .45 ACP. Then carries it in a $20 nylon "one size fits most" holster. If the weapon isn't secure, or the holster is uncomfortable to wear, you won't carry very often....or at all. Don't break rule #2. A holster is one of the two critical pieces of your carry gear that makes the whole thing work. What is the second piece you ask?  A belt. Like the holster...get a good one. My preference for holsters is AHolster. You can check one out here: AHolster     My preference for a belt is the 5.11 Trainers belt. Check one out here: Trainer Belt.

     If you encounter an NPE, return your weapon to your vehicle, enter the NPE, conduct your business there and leave. Return to your vehicle and re-arm. I have had to do this many times. I wasn't comfortable leaving my weapon in the glove box of my car. What if my car got broken into, or one of my kids got a hold of my weapon, or anything like that? I ended up buying a Nano Vault 200. It's a small lock box that fits under my truck seat. It's secured to the metal seat frame, and has a key lock. It's large enough to hold my G23 and an extra magazine. You can check one out here: NanoVault 200.

     Get some training, and practice as often as you can. I can't tell you how important it is for you to get some quality firearms training. It is your Constitutional Right to have a firearm, it is also your responsibility to own it responsibly. Take a high quality class in your carry gear with your main carry gun. Learn how to clear stoppages, and perform emergency reloads. Learn how to shoot with a flashlight in your weak hand, and how to shoot your weapon with your weak hand. These are the things that will save your life.

One last thing. Know the laws in your area. It's up to you to know WHEN to pull the trigger as well as HOW to pull the trigger. You can be assured that every bullet fired in a public place will have a lawyer attached to it. I'm not talking about defense of yourself and your family inside your home. I'm talking about defense of yourself and your family in public. There is a huge difference. In your home, an intruder has no legal right to be there. In public both parties had a legal right to be there.  The laws are probably different in your area, it's up to you to know them.

     Again, I'm not an expert and I don't play one on the Internet. Survive to fight another day.

     Comments and suggestions for topics are always welcome. You can leave them anonymously if you wish. Thanks again for checking in and reading my blog.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Surviving The Holidays In The Suburbs

     The holiday season is approaching. Black Friday is right around the corner. The Christmas rush is in full effect. People will be travelling to unfamiliar destinations to visit friend and family. People will be crushing into retail spaces for shopping, bargain hunting, last minute items, etc. Bad guys will be out in full effect. The economy sucks and scum bags will be working overtime. Be prepared, be alert, be safe.

     You're not going to be able to avoid traffic unless you stay home for the next 5 weeks.  Be extra vigilant when driving. There will be people visiting the area will not know where they are going, people who will make last second lane changes to get into parking lots, many more people texting and talking on cells while driving, etc. EXPECT this, and drive accordingly. Use your keyless entry to un lock your car, which will turn on the interior light. Look inside before you enter the car. Look around you before you exit your car. Please review the post on Vehicle Safety In The Suburbs.

     If you're shopping, you'll be in crowds. You will not be able to maintain your "bubble" of personal space. Be aware of your surrounding and the people in them. Remember that bad guys rarely work alone. If you're buying gifts, your hands will most likely be full. Try to have your car keys ready when you enter the parking lot from the store. Don't stand alone in the parking lot digging in your pockets or purse. Please review the post on Situational Awareness On Foot.

     I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy this time with your family and friends. Survive the fight another day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mountain House vs Wise Foods....A Comparison


 The battle for freeze dried food supremacy in the post zombie apocalypse world has taken on a new chapter. I decided to taste test Mountain House and Wise Foods freeze dried backpackers meals. I initially chose Chili Mac as the flavor to be tested. However I soon realized that Mountain House Chili Mac is the creme de la creme of freeze dried meals. This was an unfair advantage for Mountain House in that Chili Mac is THE meal of choice on my back packing excursions.

    I soon added the Lasagna and Beef Stroganoff. I wanted to test a different tomato based product and also a cream based product as well. These are all entrees, I didn't test deserts, breakfasts, or side dishes. Both Mountain House and Wise share some characteristics: They're both packaged in zip lock style thick foil bags, they cook in the bag using only water, they have a 7 year storage life, they're high in sodium, and they both cost less about the same.

     If you're a vegetarian, the comparison stops here for you. The Wise Foods products I tested were 100% vegetarian, and say so right on the bag. Mountain House has real meat in their products that I tested.

     All tests were done by preparing the food using the same amount of water (16 oz.), from the same source, and at the same temperature (190 degrees F). Mountain House took 10 minutes to rehydrate, Wise Foods took 15. The water was not boiling as recommended on the packages of both products.

The Sights:
     When I opened the two packages it appeared that the Mountain House package contained more food that the Wise Foods package. Both packages contain 4.6 ounces of freeze dried food, so maybe it's the texture of the MH foods that made it appear to have more food in it. Once the food was prepared and poured into bowls the Mountain House food looked more appealing to me. The tomato sauce in the Chili Mac and Lasagna was reddish-orange in color vs brownish in the Wise Foods.  The MH noodles looked fuller and still appeared to have more volume than the Wise Foods product. The Wise Foods sauces were runny, more like soup than sauce.

The Smells:
    The Mountain House food smelled like you'd expect chili, lasagna, and stroganoff to smell. The Wise Foods didn't smell bad, it just didn't smell like I expected it to smell. The smell of camping food might not be a big deal to you and it's not a huge deal to me, unless it smells bad. It's kind of like sprinkles on the cup cake. An added bonus at the end of the day.

The Tastes:
     This is where Mountain House really distinguished itself from Wise Foods in my opinion. The Mountain House food was good, I mean really good. I'll eat it for lunch because I like it, not because I don't have anything else. The Wise Foods products didn't taste very good to me. I didn't even finish the lasagna, I threw 1/2 a bag away. The sauce in the Wise chili mac and lasagna had "textured vegetable protein" instead of meat.If you're a vegetarian and you want Chili Mac, Lasagna or Stroganoff, Wise Foods is your only option between the two. The taste of the Wise Foods tomato based products made me glad I eat meat. I liked both companies Stroganoff. Like the tomato based products the stroganoff from Wise Foods was more soupy.

The Conclusion:
    If I could have only one, I'd have to pick Mountain House. It smelled better, tasted better, and prepared faster. The Wise Foods products weren't bad, don't get me wrong. Well...the lasagna was pretty bad, to me anyways. Both are viable long term storage options. Wise Foods actually pack a little flatter ans takes up a little less room than Mountain House does. Maybe it's because it's a 1/2 cup smaller in size when re- hydrated, even though they both weighed in at 4.8 oz packaged.  Wise Foods was about 50 cents cheaper where I purchased it than was Mountain House. The noodles in all three products were more hearty, more filling,  with Mountain House than with Wise Foods.

     I didn't dive into all of the nutritional values, fat contents, etc. This comparison was about USING the product, not chemically analyzing it. How it tasted, smelled, and how it cooked.  If you want all of the nutritional information, please look it up. Google is your friend. I did notice the protein count was a little lower with Wise Foods, maybe because it was 100% vegetarian....who knows.

     I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. I do know that if you don't like certain foods during calm times, trying to make kids eat food they don't like will only add tons of stress to you during times of disaster. Fortunately my kids like Mountain House, they eat it when camping....and I know they'll eat it if times are bad.

     Topics, suggestions, criticisms (well not really). Always welcome  survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com  or leave them in the comments for the blog, you can do so anonymously.

    Above all else, survive to fight another day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Suburban Get Home Bag (GHB)

     It seems everyone has a post/blog/thread,/YouTube video about Bug Out Bags (BOB), or Get Home Bags (GHB) or some witty acronym that means the same thing. Everyone, including me, so here's mine. This isn't a product endorsement or gear review. It's simply the bag *I* have and it's contents. This bag is set up for a range of up to 60 miles (2-3 days by foot). Hopefully you might get some ideas for your bag, or even better....leave me some suggestions for MY bag.  Please. :)

    With that being said, this bag is to get me home from anywhere in the metro area I live in. It's not a bug out bag, it's a get me home to my family bag. From there we'll evaluate our circumstances and decide, bug in or bug out. I have to tell you though, short of a fire, flood, or chemical spill....I'm bugging in.

The Bag: Maxpedition Kodiak Gearslinger
     Seemed like a nifty choice at the time. I can wear it like a backpack, and "sling" it around in front of my body like a 80's hairband guitar player should I need any of it's contents in a hurry. It works pretty good in that capacity. It's easy to get off and on, which is a plus in a suburban environment.....because I take it off and put it on a lot. It holds a ton of stuff (1100 cu. in. for you gear nerds), and has a lot of internal pockets which keep things organized (it'll even hold a laptop). IF you can remember what is in which pockets AND you don't get reorganize-itis and change everythings' location every two months.  If you want to know more about the bag please go HERE.

The Outside Pockets:
     I keep various things I would need more frequently or more urgently in the outside pockets. Here is what I have on the outside of the bag, in no particular order:
  • Compass (Engineering) and GPS(eTrex Vista w/ spare batteries)
  • Sunscreen, chap stick, Quick Clot
  • Carabiners (NiteIze S-biners and Figure 9's) - I really can't say enough about the innovative products made by NiteIze. Check them out at  http://www.niteize.com/
  • Emergency Water Filter (Drinking straw style by Aquamira)
  • Flashlight - Surefire G3 w/ spare batteries
  • 1 Liter stainless steel water bottle. Don't try to boil water in a Nalgene bottle  :)
  • 1 bar of Trioxane stove fuel
  • 1 plastic magnifying glass - credit card sized.
  • Leatherman Wave, Spyderco Endura folder
  • Shemagh
  • 1 pair of 'operators' gloves - Camelback Vent
  • 1 IBD (Israeli Battle Dressing, or Emergency Dressing, depending on where you find it) I buy them from Botach Tactical HERE
  • Small first aid kit
  • Bic lighter
  • 150 feet of para cord
  • Large contractor grade trash bag
  • Wire Saw  - would suck to use, but beats dulling my knife. It's easier to use if you cut two handles and put them through the key rings on each end.
The Inside Pockets:
     Things I'll need to set up for the night, to gather food, build shelter, or will be deployed on my body as I start to move towards home.
  • Fixed blade camp knife.
  • Katydyn hiking water filter
  • Binoculars
  • Write in the Rain pad and pen. Check them out HERE
  • Altoid Tin containing 2 steel broad head arrow heads
  • Socks and foot powder
  • 4 Mountain house freeze dried meals
  • 4 Clif Bars
  • Local map (marked with alternate routes home from work, bivouac locations, and water sources)
  • Firesteel and tinders
  • Wool stocking cap
  • G23 and holster,  w/one extra mag and holder
  • 5.11 Trainers belt Check it out HERE
  • 1 Liter aluminum water bottle
     That's about it for the contents of my bag. It changes seasonally and some contents vary if I know I'm travelling beyond a 60 mile range. Now that I've paid homage to the survival writers before me with a GHB/BOB post, I can promise you I'll NEVER do a AR-15 vs AK-47 post. 

I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. Survive to fight another day.

Tips, comments, and suggestions please e-mail to survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vehicle Safety And Security In The Suburbs

     People spend a lot more time in their vehicles than they realize. The chances of something bad happening while you're in your car are pretty high actually. You need to be prepared while in your car, and your car needs to be prepared as well. There are several things you need to do every time you get into your car, and several things that need to be in every car when you enter it.

     When you approach your vehicle, whether at home or out in public, look at it. Really look at it, observe it, don't look through it. Is anything unusual?  Broken glass, low tire pressure, leaking fluids, etc.  When you start the car LISTEN to it. Does it make a weird noise. Do you smell anything funny? Something burning perhaps. Identify and correct noticeable problems right away before they can leave you stranded somewhere. Stranded equals vulnerable.....reduce your vulnerability.

     Every time you get into your car, you and all occupants should be secured. Seat belts everyone. I know this is obvious. I also know how many times I "forget" to put on my seat belt and am already in traffic before I realize it. I wonder how many people have run off the road while putting on a seat belt? What good is a well prepared and secured home if you get T-Boned by a soccer mom trying to answer a phone while putting on makeup? Newer cars are built to protect the occupants, if you stay relatively stationary inside the cockpit. Seat belts ensure that.

    Remove all distractions from the drivers area. No gadgets, no phones, no FOOD (eating and driving injures as many people as drinking and driving), no water bottles to roll under the brake pedal, etc.  Distractions are the root of all evil, nothing good will ever come from a distracted driver. I know how difficult it is with kids to not be distracted in a car. It only takes a second for everything to change. Your entire life can change in the blink of an eye. Being "right" or it being "the other drivers fault" won't matter to the injured or dead. Be the aware driver who avoids the accident with a distracted driver. Be the good Shepard whose flock gets home safely.

     Every car should have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. Don't have one kit you plan on moving between vehicles. I guarantee you it will be in the other car when you need it. I don't care if you buy a first aid kit, make one, or some combination of both. Have one. Have one that has some means to control bleeding. A pressure bandage will help in most of the scene treatable injuries you can receive in a car accident. You're buying yourself and your loved ones time by being able to control heavy bleeding. I'll do a post on my first aid kits and their contents soon. But for now....have one of some type.

     Awareness is your primary safety skill.  As the holidays approach most of us will be driving even more. Travelling to visit family and friends, maybe in areas we don't travel to frequently. Lots of people around us will be doing the same thing. Lots of them won't know where they're going. Being able to anticipate and avoid problems will keep you and yours safe.

     Most vehicle accidents happen when a slower moving car tries to merge with faster moving traffic. They pull out into oncoming traffic, or merge from an on ramp driving 35 when traffic is moving at 75, etc. A driver swerves to avoid them, or brakes to avoid them, and a collision happens. Avoid this by driving 5-10 seconds ahead of where you actually are. See this and begin to avoid it before it happens. Again, don't be "right" be safe.

     Allow yourself 5-6 car lengths following distance in city traffic. I know how aggravating this is, believe me I do. As soon as you get 6 lengths behind the car in front of you, some ass hat changes lanes into the space you just created. You repeat, ass hats repeat. You feel as if you're not getting anywhere, then you get caught at a light, get frustrated, and go back to 2 lengths.  Please stay at 5-6 lengths. When stopped allow for 2-3 lengths, this gives you reaction and maneuver room should you need it. You don't want to be boxed in with trouble erupting around you.

     Tips and tricks:
  •  Avoid road rage incidents at all costs. Don't get into a bird-flipping contest with the idiot who just merged into your safety space in traffic. Again, don't be "right"....be safe.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked at all times.
  • If your windows are rolled down, constantly look around (keep your head on a swivel) when stopped in traffic.
  • Do not allow yourself to get distracted at stoplights. Pay attention to your surroundings. No one ever got car jacked while driving at 35 miles an hour. It always happens when the car is stopped.
  • Keep your car in decent mechanical shape. Don't get stranded by a blown hose.
  • Keep your gas tank at LEAST 1/2 full. This allows you to stop for gas when it's convenient, not when you're running on empty.
  • Trust your instincts. If your "gut" tells you to get out of where you are....get out fast.
  • Avoid problem areas if at all possible. If you can't avoid them, avoid stopping in them.
  • Press your key less entry button once to unlock your door, but not all the doors. (Reader suggested: thanks medictg)
  • Keep the dome light inside of the vehicle's cabin set to "off." You should know your vehicle and its contents well enough to operate everything in the dark. Having the light go on each time you open up the door compromises your night vision, and gives the bad guys a free peek inside of your vehicle. (Reader suggested: thanks Antithesis)
Tips and suggestions can be e-mailed to me at: survivalinthesuburbs@gmail.com

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I'm not an expert, and I don't play one on the Internet. Always, survive to fight another day.