HomePosts Tagged "self defense" (Page 3)

In many survival situations, a firearm would have significant value. And in some situations, it could be of critical value.  For each potential use, there is a “best” type of firearm, but unfortunately, there is no firearm effective for all uses.  The shotgun is about as versatile a firearm as exists.  It usually fires a bunch of small balls (the “shot”), but can fire a single projectile the size of the bore (a “slug”) or even other things (flares, non-lethal projectiles, rock salt, etc).

There are two primary classes of survival usage for a shotgun: hunting and defense.  With the appropriate ammunition, a shotgun is effective for hunting small, medium and large game, as well as birds of all sizes.  And there is not much which would be better at defending yourself from man or beast at close range.  But there are “costs” for this versatility, which keep true the earlier statement about there being no universal firearm.  The ammunition is big and heavy, magazine capacity is small, reloading is slow, effective range is fairly short, and shotguns are not particularly concealable.


When looking at any firearm, the first consideration is the “size”, or diameter of the ammunition, which is a major factor in defining its potential effectiveness.  In shotguns, this is usually specified as “gauge”, an obscure unit of measurement determined from the weight of a solid sphere of lead that will fit the bore of the firearm.  The most common shotgun gauges, from big to small, are 12 gauge, 20 gauge and 410, which is not actually a gauge but a caliber in inches.  To illustrate how gauge is measured, a one-twelfth pound lead sphere fits a 12-gauge bore.  Which is not really much help to most people; for a more generally useful measure, the bore of the 12ga is 0.729″, 20ga is 0.615″, and the 410 (NOT also known as 67.62ga) is, of course, 0.410″.  Since the shotgun usually uses many small projectiles rather than one large projectile, the actual diameter of the bore is often not constant, and the muzzle can be “choked” smaller than the “official” diameter.

There are many different options for shotguns, but the 12, 20 and 410 are the most popular in the U.S..

The most effective and versatile of the common choices is the 12ga, but it may have a bit too much recoil for some folks.  The 20ga is an adequate alternative if the 12ga is just too much.  As for 410, it is pretty much a “specialty” choice, where the gun is the deciding factor rather than the gauge.  There are a few handguns which will fire this, as well as some compact long guns, including ones with a 410 barrel and a rifle barrel.  Besides the “common” gauges, there are others available, including 10ga, 16ga and 28ga (between 20ga and 410), which may be perfectly reasonable or even preferable in normal times, but ammunition is just too limited in availability and variety to be depended on for survival usage.


The next consideration is the action.  Shotguns are available in single barrel and double barrel (both over and under, and side by side) configurations.  These are simple and rugged (and less politically incorrect), but that second (or third) shot is just too slow for some situations.  More practical are pump actions and semi-automatics.  The semi-auto can be quite useful, but are often also a bit more complex, more expensive, and may be more ammunition sensitive than the pump, and some models have part of the mechanism in front of the magazine, which makes for an extra limited and non-expandable magazine capacity.  Others, such as the Remington 1100 and the Benelli M2, have a standard, extendable magazine tube.  There are a few shotguns with other actions, such as lever-action and double action revolver, which might also be adequate, and bolt-action, which seems too slow to be a first choice.

The pump shotgun is a good all around choice and often fairly inexpensive.  The Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500 seem to be the most common, but there are some other good choices out there.  If you get a fairly common, modern, brand and model, your chances of having a good selection of accessories and parts upgrades are likely to be better.

Most repeating shotguns are fed from a fixed tube under the barrel (the KelTech and the UTAS have TWO tubes for twice the capacity); a few use a detachable box magazine or cylinder or drum which allows for a speedier reload.

One advantage of the single barrel or double barrel break open shotgun is you can slide an adapter into the barrel to shoot a smaller gauge shell or even a rifle or pistol round.  In order to get decent accuracy with rifle or handgun calibers, you will want to get one at least 7″ long and with rifling (except for 20ga and 410 adapters).  X-Caliber claims to have them in .223, 7.62×39 and .308, but I could not find any, so they may have been withdrawn.  Chiappa sells an X-Caliber set with just the pistol calibers and shotgun gauges.  There are several other companies which to sell these sorts of adapters.


Changing the Choke on a shotgun.

As mentioned, the diameter of the barrel can vary from end to end.  It starts off at the standard diameter of the shotgun shell and immediately has a “forcing cone” to get the shot down to the “official” size.  The bore may then expand slightly to reduce recoil.  When it gets to the end of the barrel there is a tapered “choke” to compress the cloud of projectiles to the desired size.  This choke can be built into the barrel, a screw-in choke tube, or an add-on adjustable choke.  The more the amount of choke, the tighter the pattern which the cloud of shot will have, extending the range at which there are not excessive gaps between the pieces of shot.  The common chokes, from most open (largest) to tighter (smaller) are:  Cylinder (Cyl), Improved Cylinder (IC), Modified (Mod), Improved Modified (IM) and Full.  There is also Skeet 1 (between Cyl and IC, AKA just Skeet) and Skeet 2 (between IC and Mod, AKA Light Modified), as well as Extra Full and several sizes of Turkey which are even more tight.  There are also special purpose chokes, such as “duckbill” chokes which squeeze the shot into a wide bar rather than the normal circle, and breaching chokes used to get though a door by destroying the hinges (using special ammunition).

Note that it is not the SIZE of the choke which matters, but the DIFFERENCE between the bore right before the choke and the choke diameter.  Since some makers “overbore” the barrel, two guns with the same choke could actually shoot differently.  You can check what choke you REALLY have by shooting at a 30″ circle 40 yards away.  Figure the percentage of shot inside the circle and that defines the choke.  40% is what Cyl is supposed to provide, up to 70% for Full.

Shotgunning Chokes and range

It should be obvious that if you are shooting a solid projectile, you will want a Cylinder bore.  This will also work with shot at short ranges, but allows too much “spread” in the “pattern” of shot for use on small targets at longer ranges.  Modified seems to be a common “general purpose” hunting choke.  If you have a specific purpose in mind, then you can get exactly the choke most appropriate, but in a survival situation, this could be problematical.  I would prefer to have an add-on, adjustable choke, or at least a set of choke tubes to include a minimum of Cylinder (for slugs and defense), Modified (for general small game and bird hunting) and Full (for longer distance).  Better would be to also include Improved Cylinder and Extra Full, and possibly a Turkey.  With choke tubes, don’t forget to have the wrench to change the chokes, and to avoid damaging them, a case, belt pouch or protective tube would be a good idea.


One of the advantages of most pump shotguns and many semi-autos is that the barrels are easily interchangeable.  Short barrels are handy in close quarters, rifled barrels increase accuracy with slugs, and longer, choked barrels are best for hunting with shot.   Most practical would seem to be a two barrel set, with a short barrel for defense and hunting with slugs, and a long barrel with adjustable choke for other hunting.  Perhaps a third, medium length rifled slug barrel would increase your large game hunting range.

Note that by law, the absolute shortest barrel you can have is 18″, and this or 20″ is good for defense.  For longer ranges, a longer barrel is easier to hit with, but heavier and harder to maneuver.  26 to 28 inches seems to be a good compromise.  Of course, it is not strictly true that you can’t have a barrel less than 18″; it is sometimes possible if you don’t mind the costs and annoyances, and there are circumstances when it would be quite handy to have a more concealable shotgun.  If you want to buy, or make a Short Barrel Shotgun (SBS) by cutting down a barrel (preferably an extra one), in some cases you can do this legally by getting the $200 NFA (National Firearms Act) tax stamp.  If the registered SBS does not have a stock, it may qualify as an AOW (Any Other Weapon), which requires a $5 transfer tax stamp.  This is a complex area of law, and you should make doubly sure of all current federal, state and local laws before proceeding.  Failing to follow all laws and fulfill all requirements could have extremely unpleasant consequences.


Most shotguns have some form of shoulder stock, which aids in accuracy and recoil control.  This can be a fixed stock of wood or synthetic material, a collapsing or folding stock, or even only a pistol grip, as long as the overall length of the shotgun is not less than 26″ (unless the appropriate tax stamp, as described above, is acquired).  Sometimes a standard stock has a pistol grip built-in, for more control.  The most versatile option would be a pistol grip to which a stock could be easily attached.  I’ve heard of something from CAA (Command Arms Accessories) which looks like it might provide this, but I have not seen one in person to verify if that is the case, or how sturdy is the attachment.  Both Remington and Mossberg offer versions of their shotguns which have assorted stocks which can be changed without tools.  The Remington MCS system only works on the MCS model 870, which appears to come with a set of barrels from 10″ to 18″, meaning it is a NFA weapon which will cost three times as much and require a tax stamp.  The Mossberg FLEX system appears to be compatible with all model 500 shotguns.  As an alternative, a folding stock may be adequate.

Most modern shotguns allow for easily modifying your stock options.

If I was looking for a stock, I’d investigate the CAA one, since in an emergency situation, sometimes you’d want the best accuracy of a stock and sometimes you’d want the compactness of a pistol grip, and folding stocks tend to be uncomfortable to use extended, and bulky when folded.  If the CAA did not meet my requirements, any standard synthetic stock would do, and for that matter, the original wood one is quite adequate.  As for a stand-alone pistol grip, in my day, the Pachmyer one was a top choice; but the price seems to have gone up considerably.  If I were getting a pistol grip today, I’d look at the Hogue one with matching forend.  It looks to be similar in feel and recoil reduction to the Pachmyr, with a more ergonomic shape and a much lower price.


Generally, the shotgun you get is adequate for sporting use as is, but most can be improved, to increase its usability or versatility.  The first thing to check is the fit of the stock.  Assuming you don’t normally wear thick armor, if you hold the shotgun in your hand as you would when firing it, and lay the stock along your forearm, the buttplate should be against your upper arm when it is at a right angle to your forearm.  If this is not the case, look into cutting down the stock or adding spacers until it fits.  While you are at it, consider upgrading to a good recoil pad and/or recoil reduction system and include that in your fit modifications.  Note that an adjustable stock would be handy to allow adjustment to different clothing or conditions.

At times you will want to be able to carry the shotgun without using your hands, so a sling, or scabbard, would be a good idea.  The simplest sling is a standard (two point) sling, attached at the butt end of the stock, and to the front of the shotgun.  Make sure it has enough adjustment to be usable under any reasonable conditions.  This type of sling can be slow to put into action though, so another option is the single point sling, which is attached to one point near the receiver of the gun, and the gun just hangs down and can flop around, perhaps too much.  The best choice might be a sling which converts from single point to two point, so you can choose which characteristic is more appropriate.  Connecting the sling to the butt end is pretty straightforward; there will be an attachment point or you can install one very simply by drilling an appropriate sized hole in the stock or by installing an adapter between the stock and the receiver.  Connecting to the front end can be more of a challenge.  You may have to clamp something around the barrel, or screw something into the magazine tube cap.  GG&G has some nice ones held on by the magazine tube cap.  If making changes to the gun is not desired, you can use a “universal” mount which just has a strap which cinches around the stock or barrel.

Tune in next time for more simple modifications, and some thoughts on ammunition.

In many survival situations, a firearm would have significant value. And in some situations, it could be of critical value.  For each potential use, there is a “best” type of

Selecting good routes is extremely important part of your security planning especially in hostile areas or in times of civil unrest. In theory the best routes should allow the vehicles to travel at the maximum legal speed limit with as little congestion and as few stops as possible but in reality this can be a difficult thing to achieve.

Firstly, you will need to select the routes available on a map and also use programs like Google Earth to view photos of the intended route. In the perfect circumstances the routes selected would need to be driven at the time of day you’d be using them so vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow could be assessed and also at a quiet time so a detailed survey of facilities and danger points can be compiled. You will need to plan several routes to and from each location and these will need to be varied as much as possible. In a high risk environment if you use the same route time and time again you will be asking for trouble.

The route selection needs to be broken down into simple stages and the time it takes to complete each of these stages recorded. This is because if there is a loss of communication with your vehicle at a certain time, then your location can be estimated by those your checking in with and will help people to know if your vehicle is overdue and might be in need of assistance.

You need to know the location of all the facilities along the routes such as the locations of hospitals, bathrooms, police stations, garages, hotels and so forth. Communications will need to be checked and all communication dead spots noted. The locations and payment methods (whether coins or cards) of all pay phones along the routes need to be noted. Emergency rendezvous points (RVs) will need to be allocated at positions along the routes in case of emergencies or separations, everyone using the routes will need to know the RV points.

Firstly, you will need to select the routes available on a map and also use programs like Google Earth to view photos of the intended route.

Things that could considered as danger points on your routes would be anything that could slow you down or could conceal an ambush.  These could include bridges, roundabouts, woodland, junctions, tunnels, culverts, narrow roads, one-way streets, areas of busy pedestrian or vehicle traffic, known criminal areas etc. Things to be especially suspicious of would include road works, lone-parked cars, pan-handlers, diversions and temporary stop signs. Now in reality if you live in a busy urban area I expect you will have to drive past the majority of the things listed to avoid on your daily journeys. In such environments you need to vary your routes as much as possible and take regular counter surveillance procedures. Also remember, if I know how someone has been trained I can usually predetermine the routes they will select, if I can do this so can the criminals.

You need to know the location of all the facilities along the routes such as the locations of hospitals, bathrooms, police stations, garages, hotels and so forth.

Most conventionally trained security drivers are taught to take the most direct and fastest routes between locations, which are generally easy to determine. If I was a criminal targeting them I would just wait at a stop light along their route for them to show up. I am personally all in favor of using quite indirect routes which make it easy to identify if you’re being followed and makes it a lot easier to change routes fluidly and unpredictably if required; this not the case on a motorway with limited exits and heavy traffic.

I am also not a big fan of GPS and I find it astonishing the number of people who blindly follow GPS directions right or wrong. GPS are an aid to navigation not a means of navigation. I have had many people go through my course who have gotten lost by relying in GPS; they were taken to the wrong locations or the locations I gave them were not in the GPS etc. You need to be able to use a map and compass and plan your routes properly, this might take you 5 minutes, which in today’s world is a long time but better 5 minutes planning than a couple of hours driving around lost.  Another take on GPS is that if I am a criminal who is watching you and see you’re using a certain type of GPS, all I need to do is buy the same model and it will tell me the routes you’re using between different locations, again no need for me to put you under surveillance.

Basic considerations for selecting routes are you must avoid routines, especially in daily journeys, keep your travel details secret, issue only rough timings in advance, use the most secure routes not the shortest, have a detailed reconnaissance done of the routes to be used, know what you’re going to do in the case of a break down or a security issue and know where there are hospitals and other facilities on the route.

Reaction to Ambushes

The ambush tactic, in one form or another, has been used by hunters, criminals and military units for thousands of years. They are commonly used tactic in kidnappings, assassinations and they can involve anywhere from 2 to 200 personnel. Ambushes can occur on busy city streets or on remote country roads.  When traveling in a vehicle, your best defense is speed. A trained ambusher will look for natural obstacles on a route which will force a vehicle to slow down.

In high risks areas you need to take into consideration what you are going to do if ambushed, your reaction will depend on the country you’re in, the manpower and equipment you have available. A large percentage of attacks occur when targets are traveling in, approaching, or leaving their vehicles. Attacks can range from explosives being attached to a vehicle at traffic lights to full-scale military ambushes using assault rifles and light anti-tank weapons.

 Your best defense against these attacks is your personal procedures of selecting safe routes and not using the same routes all the time and keeping details of your movements secret. If an ambush is properly planned, placed and the attackers know how to use their weapons there is a very good chance they will be successful and you will take casualties to say the least.

The attackers have the element of surprise on their side and the whole attack could last less than five seconds; to survive, your reaction must be simple, aggressive and fast. Your main objective will be to get out of the attackers killing zone as quickly as possible. You must always be aware that the initial attack might have just been a diversion to direct you into the main ambush or that the attackers might have deployed cut off teams to take you out, if you escaped the killing zone.

If ambushed speed is your best defense, remember, fast moving targets are harder to shoot that slow moving or stationary targets. To avoid ambushes, use fast roads and try to avoid places where you are forced to drive slowly, this is difficult in busy urban areas. If you are ambushed with small arms, drive through it as fast as you can. If you are traveling in a convoy, it may be possible for the chase car to attack the ambush or if there is a lone shooter, run them over. What you do will depend on your manpower and firepower. If the road is blocked to the front of you by a large obstacle or vehicle and you have a clear road behind you reverse out, use simple driving techniques; don’t use complicated techniques that you have seen in the movies.

If you are blocked to the front and rear, say in traffic or immobilized and taking fire, you will need to evacuate on foot. When you evacuate on foot stay low, bound from cover to cover and run as quickly as possible. Be aware that obvious escape routes might be booby-trapped and make maximum use of smoke or CS gas grenades to cover your escape.

Unarmed Reaction to Ambush

Here the guidelines for an unarmed contact drill that can be used if you encounter a manned road block and are in an area where you cannot carry weapons.

A consideration on weapons: In some hostile environments, criminals and terrorists put up roadblocks that can contain anywhere from 5 to 200 criminals or guerillas carrying automatic weapons. Think about it, you may have a couple of 9mm pistols in your vehicle but 5 guys with AK-47’s can put out 150 rounds, which will go through un-armored cars in just a few seconds. Additionally, in some places, if you are a foreigner and you are caught with a pistol by criminals or terrorists, you could be mistaken for being a spy and executed on the spot.  If you are going to carry a pistol, it’s best to go with a type not issued to law enforcement and military personnel; a Nickel plated .38 revolver says your careful where as a Glock can say your police!

This drill was worked out for a client who lived on a very volatile Caribbean island. Firearms were available but if they were found by local police at a routine road block they could lead to the client being arrested or getting severe beating. The client’s main threat was from driving into illegal roadblocks at night. This is a simplified version of what I worked out for him.

  • The client fitted high power spotlights to his vehicle. If he drove into a roadblock at night, he would hit the spotlights for a few seconds and temporally blind and surprise the criminals.
  • At the same time, he would reverse away from the roadblock. The client always traveled with another person at night whose job it was to drop smoke dischargers on the road to cover them as they reversed away.
  • Whenever possible and safe to do so, the client would turn the vehicle around get out of the area as quickly as possible. If chased by criminals, the client’s car was modified, so all the rear lights could be extinguished and he could drive with only the front parking lights on. In the vehicle, there was a high-powered hand held spotlight, which the passenger was to shine into the face of the driver of the chasing car, to blind them and hopefully cause them to crash.

This drill is simple but it still took a fair bit of organizing and practice to get right. You need to work out what threats that you’re most likely to encounter, then plan your reaction and then practice it.

Selecting good routes is extremely important part of your security planning especially in hostile areas or in times of civil unrest. In theory the best routes should allow the vehicles

Self-defense is your right and it will be beneficial in a SHTF scenario, if you know how to tackle the consequences on your own with a sharp presence of mind instead of relying on others. This will give you confidence and will raise your morale and will make you independent.

Why is self defense important?

Just because some idiots out there think that they are stronger than the rest and to fulfill their illusion, they try to mess with others in the form of fighting. Or some of them are under the influence of serious drugs, due to which they are helpless to perform acts on which they have no control.

Regardless the excuses, the thing which does matter is that there are some ways you need to learn to defend yourself from any kind of attack done by these goons.

What will I get out of it?

The first thing you will achieve would be “A single piece of your body”. You love yourself right? And you also love your body and at any cost you would not like to get it dismantled.  So when the attackers attack they are never concerned about your body parts. Their focus revolves around either snatching something from you or beating you up to satisfy themselves.

For many, fighting fills some mental void which they can’t get from doing any other activity. This has been proven by the studies done by the experts and people who act in these ways has been awarded by the term of “Psycho”. You can’t change their mentality but you can protect yourself by learning some tactics of self-defense.

With enough practice, you will be able to achieve a high level of confidence and if this kind of situation comes up again then without any support you would be able to handle yourself.

What are the significant components of self-defense moves?

The attack on knee-caps:

For any form of a building, the base is an essential part which stabilizes the complete structure. So whenever you find yourself in a situation where the potential of getting attacked is high, the first thing you need to do is stay calm and try to have a verbal communication with the opponent.

The reason behind communication is to understand why the opponent is willing to attack you. If the reason is just a small amount of cash then it is better to give away cash to avoid conflict. This would not be the expensive trade to perform.

But, if the opponent doesn’t want to engage you with communication then apply the second strategy which involves making firm eye contact with him/her. This will send a strong signal to them that you also have the potential to fight. This will either break them and compel them to run from the situation or will offend them to attack and when they will approach to attack you then right away with your right leg attack on their knee-cap.

This attack done by you will make them helpless and will consume more time for them to get back stable again. In this duration of time either run away from them or if the surroundings have limited access to run then get the help of someone either by shouting loud or by using your mobile phone.

(Note: A forceful attack on their knee will provide you the time frame around 5 to 10 mins)

The attack on Groin:

Most attackers are male and they love to show their irrelevant impact on others by performing meaningless acts. Behind every strong power, there is a small amount of weakness which makes them helpless.

So if you have been attacked and you can see there is no place to run, then try to be aggressive because if the opponent is pretending to be strong, then by seeing your aggressive behavior he will run instead.

On the other hand, if they start smiling at this behavior of yours then you should stop doing it immediately because they are the real fighters and could prove harmful for you. You do not need to become tense as what you can do is put your both hand on their shoulders and within a matter of seconds lift your right knee up and bang into their groin.

The groin is the most sensitive part of the male body by attacking that it would be almost next to impossible for him to get up for at least 15 to 20 mins. From this, you can see how advantageous this defensive move is?

Hang on there is one more tip on your way. If you think the above-mentioned method is too hard for you to perform then what you can do is with your right hand grab their groin or either pull it hard or twist it like twisting a rope. This will definitely make him harmless and he will be grounded in an instant.

(Note: Just for the quick response, if you have a licensed pistol then you can always carry them for self-defense in a concealed carry handbags for better protection from such irrelevant acts).

The attack on Ribs/Solar Plexus:

The moment some stranger attacks on you can bring feelings of frustration and helplessness if you are not familiar with the concepts of self-defense. Relying on others has never been a healthy option at any cost. It is always better to protect yourself by developing our fighting skills.

So if you find yourself surrounded by a goon then the best way to avoid conflict is to run away from the situation. And by any means, if you are not able to do so then forcefully attack their ribs or solar plexus. This will break their force and will allow you 20 mins minimum of time to run away from the situation.

Attacking the ribs is the most favorable technique which has been used by many in terms to carry the fight for a long time period.  What else you can do is attack the softest tissue of their body which is under their nose. This will make them unconscious and a hefty amount of time you will carry to get some help.

Some others tips you can protect yourself in a healthy way:


It is always better to learn or develop some fighting skills in order to protect yourself and to build some confidence in you. This will help you to live proudly and you would be able to tackle any kind of situation mentally or physically with an ease.

Self-defense is your right and it will be beneficial in a SHTF scenario, if you know how to tackle the consequences on your own with a sharp presence of mind

For many; the not too distant events in Ferguson are the first thoughts that come to mind when you mention the word looting. Looting in some circles is what you do apparently when there is an opportunity to steal and occasionally destroy with relative impunity. For some people, looting is appropriate after your team loses a sports event like the 2011 Vancouver riots or wins one as in the case of the San Francisco riots of 2014. The most likely place to see unabashed looting appears to be after a natural disaster like the looting reported immediately following hurricanes Katrina and more recently Sandy. Even before the Sandy storm had subsided, wannabe criminals were taking to Twitter to announce their looting plans. To be fair, our country isn’t the only one engaging in behavior like this during a crisis, as the recent hurricane in Cabo San Lucas showed.

Whatever the motivation, looting is wrong in my opinion and if it were happening to you, I am sure you would agree. There are some professionals (lawyers naturally)who have tried to justify looting in the context of a natural disaster by obliquely saying property rights are suspended and as such the looters aren’t technically stealing from anyone. Property without an owner needs to be redistributed. The example is when you leave your home because an impending hurricane, the property is no longer in your possession so it is fair game.

Isn’t that special?

But consider for a moment, a real collapse, not your garden variety incident that provokes the theft of TV’s, shoes, jewelry and clothes or the overturning of a cop car. In a real collapse scenario where you didn’t have FEMA coming with tent cities to take care of you, the power wasn’t coming back on, and nobody had jobs outside of survival; looting would take on a different meaning. In a real collapse, I think looters would quickly forget about electronic game consoles and would quickly move on to food and supplies. In this article I want to discuss some looter defense tactics to consider if the SHTF and the looters are coming down your street.

Home defense mistakes

When it comes to a collapse, we are talking about living a life that is almost entirely devoted to survival. Even if you have plenty of food stored up, you will need to take steps to find and cultivate new sources of food and possibly collect water on a daily basis for your family. You will eventually need to go outside and even if you barricaded yourself in your suburban home, that would not guarantee your safety from determined looters.

Fight your own normalcy bias – Before a crisis hits you would ideally have a plan in place to deal with the potential outcomes. It is important to understand as quickly as possible the severity of the events surrounding you and take proactive steps to head off any further problems. It is too simple and dangerous to hope that given time, the authorities will be around, the power and water will come back on and life will go on as it did before the crisis. You have to start thinking of taking care of yourself without the dependence on emergency services from the start.


A father with starving children will not play by the rules in a collapse.

Of course I am talking about cataclysmic events, not smaller regional events like hurricanes which we should all accept are recoverable as a societal whole, in most cases. If there is a football game that goes crazy and riots are in the downtown area, I don’t think we have to worry in the same way as if a terror attack that takes out the grid. People who are even half-way paying attention will know when it is time to jump into action and you should be well ahead of the chaos game before that point.

Facing Violence: Preparing mentally now is important to increasing your odds of survival.

Be prepared to defend your life – In a true collapse, the regular rules are out the window. There will likely be no law enforcement for some period of time, possibly ever. At best, they will be much slower to respond because they will already be busy with other issues. You have to seriously consider what will be required of you in a worst case scenario and to that end, what you are capable of in the realm of defending your family and home. We talk about all kinds of forms of self-protection on the Final Prepper, but each person has their preference. No matter what that is, are you prepared to use it? Are you prepared to take the life of someone who has plans to kill you if you are standing in the way of something they want? If you are not prepared to defend your home and the life of your family, are you prepared to live with the consequences?

Not being there to defend the home – This last one might sound overly simplistic but if the crisis comes and you have already bugged out to the woods, I wouldn’t expect to be able to return to an untouched house. If you don’t have the money for your own private security firm, who do you think will protect what is left inside? In a real collapse, it may make sense to always have someone stationed in your home to prevent looting and theft; possibly worse. It isn’t like you will be driving to the in-laws or the mall across town and will be gone all day, but even short trips away from your home could give the bad guys an opportunity to smash a window in and quickly take off with supplies your family needs. During a collapse, you really need to start thinking of your dwelling as a castle. It may not have the nice tapestries hanging from the walls, but it will be worth defending.

The ability to provide round the clock security will force you to rely on a larger group. This is when your neighborhood watch plans would make the most sense. Here are some looter defense ideas that may prevent you from being a victim.

Deter – How to make your home less of a target

  • Don’t give them anything to come after – This one is harder to visualize in a collapse. When everything is fine, we would talk about moving valuables out of sight of people looking in your windows should they be casing your home. Grid down – they may be more desperate and not looking for jewelry or TV’s or care if your yard is nicely manicured. Hiding food and supplies will be more common for everyone so you have to seriously work on making sure nobody knows you have things they want. Concepts of the grey neighbor apply and it may be necessary to pretend you are worse off than you actually are. You could also make your home look like it has already been looted.
  • Signs and fences –Armed response – Make them think there is a chance they will get hurt, possibly dead looting from your home. At least they should think it won’t be as simple as walking up to the door and kicking it in. Fences are an obstacle they have to negotiate, but I think unless you have a ridiculous fence that might not stop looters in a grid down scenario. A good roll of razor wire could come in handy after a collapse to string along the tops of your fences, but this requires a fair amount of extra planning. Knowing they are dealing with an armed person (looters will be shot) might not prevent them from trying, but they will have to think twice before they do. This will deter anyone who isn’t really serious about getting into your home.
  • Dogs – No thief likes dogs – although in a serious collapse, if all rules are out the door, they may simply shoot Fido and keep going.

Detect – How can I have advance warning of looting?

Simple air cartridge can be used as an early warning perimeter alert.

  • Change your perspective – Foreknowledge is all about intelligence. You have to know what is going on outside your home and the further out you can gain intelligence, the more time you will have to prepare for looters. In a collapse scenario, I think it will be necessary to have someone outside monitoring the situation on your street, in your neighborhood so they can provide advanced warning. This is best done with a group for coverage and capacity of bodies. Neighborhood security plans would be best for this scenario.
  • Motion Detectors/Trip flares – Lights Perimeter Alarm – Barring an outside sentry team or system, motion detectors are a great way to have a security system that alerts you when movement is happening on your property. Driveway alarm systems can be purchased for simple notification, but requires someone to come up your driveway. In a collapse, something like a simple air-soft “grenade” could be turned into a trip wire noise device system or even cans on a string could alert you to movement in your yard. Motion activated lights could give you advance warning assuming power is on and you aren’t trying to keep a low profile. Of course, these could go off like any other motion activated device when the wind blows. Too many false alarms will lead to the Boy who cried wolf syndrome and will be ignored eventually.
  • Security CamerasSecurity cameras are a good option if you have power and somebody to monitor the cameras at all times.
  • Dog – Yes, a dog will probably detect people coming toward your house better than almost any other means.

Delay – How can I make my home harder to loot or buy me time?


Traditional wood frame doors are very easily broken.

    • Reinforce your doors – Most home break-ins occur from doors and first floor windows. Doors are pretty easily kicked in unless they are reinforced. One simple and cost effective way of making this harder is to reinforce the jams and door-frame with something like the EZ Armor Door security kit. Any door’s weakest point is the hinges, the wood around the locking bolt and their attachment to the wooden frame. A security kit takes the weakness of that wood frame and converts it to a steel shroud that increases the amount of effort required to kick in your door. An added benefit is that this device can be installed in a few minutes by almost anyone. Another option that requires no installation is a Security bar from Master Lock that simply attaches on the inside of the door under the door knob.

Build your own security system the old-fashioned way. Install brackets, slide in 2X4 board. Voila!

  • Charley Bar for sliding glass doors – Yes, in a grid down scenario sliding glass doors are a stones-throw away from obliteration, but if the looters are trying to be sneaky, a device like the Charley bar will slow them down. I like a lot of others have the simple sawed off broom handle as my security feature, but the Charley bar is a nicer option that attaches to the door and puts the reinforcement at the middle of the sliding glass door as opposed to the bottom. Additionally, you can slide the bar up out-of-the-way when not in use and you don’t have to worry about the bar walking away, or in my case being used for a toy by someone. Kids!
  • Security Window Film – It won’t make your windows bulletproof, but adding security window film could slow down someone trying to break in. The concept is similar to safety glass, where you have a thin sheet of transparent plastic film over the glass. Instead of shattering completely on impact, the film holds the glass together making entry a much slower process. You can see a video of how this works here but this is another do it yourself home security project that is pretty simple and could give you precious seconds of time to defend yourself.

Defend – When all else fails, what is my defense plan?


In the Ferguson riots, two shops were ignored by the looters. Can you guess why?

    • Layers of security – This is when I believe everything will come down to life or death. In a collapse situation, if someone has gone through all your security options above and is not deterred, you will most likely be fighting for your life and the lives of everyone in your home. The ideal defense is to not even be in your home, but to repel the attackers from as far away from your home as possible. If they get in, you do have the advantages of knowing your home, confined spaces and possibly the element of surprise. When they enter your home, it is not the time to negotiate though, that time has passed. Retreat to a secure area or at least a space that provides cover that will shield you from bullets. If the looters are coming in from two directions, find a place where they will funnel, possibly a hallway where you can attack them from one direction – your protected front. Make sure you have someone watching behind you also.

Force Multiplier – With noise cancelling earmuffs, you can hear after gunshots while the looters will be deaf temporarily.

  • Hearing protection – Gunshots, contrary to what you see on TV and the movies, are very loud. At the range we have ear protection, but in a panic situation that might not be the first thing on your mind. If you have to shoot inside your home it will be even louder (140-190db) and will render you effectively deaf for some period of time after that happens. Noise cancelling sport earmuffs use the same technology that the Bose headsets use to block loud jet engine noises, but let regular sounds come in. Any gunshot sounds will be blocked because they are higher than 80db but you will still be able to hear regular conversations when you are done. Instead of ringing ears, you will be able to hear people move or talk to each other and this can give you a huge advantage if you are prepared.
  • Plan and Communication – Having a plan will be important so that everyone in your home knows what to do. If you are shot, what do they do? If the front door is breached, what is our plan? If they throw a Molotov cocktail through the window, what do we do? Don’t wait until the looters are in your home to react, have a plan and practice it. I don’t know if this is absolutely necessary now, but would be one of the first things to consider in a collapse. A well-trained team will perform better than a group of scared people who are frozen in a panic.

What are your thoughts on looter defense tactics for your home? Have you given this any thought?

For many; the not too distant events in Ferguson are the first thoughts that come to mind when you mention the word looting. Looting in some circles is what you

When people come to me for tactical pistol training I tend to ask them why they want to do the class and carry a handgun and the responses I get are usually the same; to protect themselves and their families, because they need to be able to defend themselves etc. Then I ask my clients why the bad guys carry guns and the responses are usually again the same; to kill us and harm us. From my clients responses it’s easy to see who the wolves are and who the sheep are! I tell my clients there is one reason they are carrying a gun and that is to kill people and if that is not their reason then don’t carry the gun.
One thing that needs to be avoided is thinking that a gun will make you a tough guy. I have come across many men for whom caring a gun is a status symbol, it re-enforces their masculinity. A gun is a tool, the same as a hammer, which can be just as deadly as a gun. If you need a gun to give you confidence, you have problems because that confidence is false confidence and can get you into situations that will be way beyond your limitations. Guns are tools that need to be respected, not something to hide behind!

What is the tactical mindset?

To me tactical shooting is not a sport; it’s about staying alive and killing your opponent as quickly as possible. If you are in a situation where someone is trying to kill you, your family or your team members you must kill them first, that’s it. Political correctness does not enter into it; we are talking about your life and death not banning super-size sodas or gay marriage. For most people the thought of killing someone and the legal ramifications are a nightmare but you’re better off dealing with the aftermath than being dead.  when the threat is over. Teaching controlled aggression to civilians and 1st world police can be difficult, professional militaries achieve it with strenuous training and strict discipline; both of which seem to be lacking in modern society in general.


Teaching controlled aggression to civilians and 1st world police can be difficult

There is a lot more to tactical shooting than just shooting; being a good shot is just part of what it takes to stay alive. One story that came out of Latin America was of a top competition shooter who was driving to work one day when two kids on a motorcycle pulled up next to him while he was stuck in traffic. The kid on the back of the bike had a revolver and asked the competition shooter at gun point for his wallet, he complied. As he was handing over the wallet he went for a Walther PPK on his ankle, the kid saw the gun and shot and then killed him. Who was the better shot that day, the trained or the wise?
I tell my clients that the three golden rules to personal security are think like a criminal, keep a low profile and always have an escape route.
  • Think like a criminal: Put yourself in the criminal’s shoes and think how you would rob or kidnap yourself, how would you break into your home or hotel room.
  • Keep a low profile: Do not draw attention to yourself, consider what you wear and drive, don’t be loud and rowdy. And don’t tell strangers to much about yourself, especially anything to do with your personal security. If you are trying to impress someone use a cover story.
  • Always have an escape route: Make sure you know how and have the means to get out of your location to a safe area. Know how to get out of the hotel and have the means to get out of the city, then possibly the country and you know how to get to a safe location.
Use of force is a last resort and should be avoided at all costs, fighting is for amateurs. You want to do everything possible to identify and avoid any potentially hostile situations. Unlike the movies, street fights are not glamorous and when guns are involved people are going to be killed, maimed and paralyzed. In reality, someone will be going to the hospital or the morgue and in most places others will be going to jail. You must never use excessive force against the person who is attacking you. The level of force you use you must be appropriate to the force being used against you. When defending yourself you must always be able to justify that the use of force was necessary. The laws on the use of force vary greatly from area to area, do your research, knowing the law is all part of an efficient personal defense program.

When people come to me for tactical pistol training I tend to ask them why they want to do the class and carry a handgun and the responses I get

If you are working in the center of a large city, like London or New York, or are working in the emerging markets, where bomb scares are not unusual, it is possible that you may get caught up in an Improvised Explosive Device incident. Whether your venue, office or residence is targeted directly or it just happens to be on the same street as an IED, you will need to know how to react. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are a threat to everyone and are used frequently and with great affect by criminals, cranks and terrorists the world over. If you follow international events, then you will see that there is a lethal bombing somewhere in the world almost every day.

The basic IED can be made from commercially available materials that are sold over the counter in most places. Information on how to construct IEDs is available from military or survival bookstores, the Internet and former military personnel. The size of an IED can range from as small as a cigarette packet to as large as a large container lorry. IEDs can be disguised as virtually anything; this gives the bomber the advantage of being able to kill their targets without alerting them to the threat, giving the bomber a large degree of anonymity. IEDs can be used to kill selected targets or to kill indiscriminately. These facts are why the IED is often the favored weapon of criminal, cranks and terrorists the world over and is the most dangerous threat to security, law enforcement, military and the general public.

Here I have listed some basic information and some basic guidelines for dealing with an IED incident and in part 3 I will dissect a law enforcement response you a recent incident in NYC, after reading this you should be a lot more competent than those members of the NYPD who were running that circus!

Bomb and Improvised Explosive Device Identification

Bombs and IED’s can be disguised as virtually anything. You need to be suspicions of any objects, cars or activity in or around your locations. An unattended bag, an unknown car that has been parked next to your building to long, unknown people acting nervously… You and your employees must be aware and suspicious; everyone also needs to be trained on how to deal with a suspicious object or in the worst case scenario the aftermath of a bomb/IED incident!

The Secondary Device

Bomb Royal Avenue

A bomb explodes in a stationary shop in Royal Avenue,Belfast

The IED can be used on its own or in conjunction with other IEDs or weapons. Good bombers will always place a second device near the first device, in a likely control point for security forces or on an evacuation route from the area of the first device. The second device is to catch the personnel or emergency services coming to the aid of anyone hurt in the first blast, or security forces dealing with the incident or personnel escaping from the first blast. Sometimes the first device is designed to go off for no other reason than to draw in emergency or security services or drive people into the larger main device. You must always consider if an explosive device has been found, gone off or that there could be a second or third device somewhere.

Here are some basic examples of how IEDs would be employed by Irish terrorists; these are taken from when I was a teenager serving in the British Army in Northern Ireland in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s.

  • A man is murdered in the shoe shop that he runs, he was shot at close quarters. The murders left behind an explosive device in a shoe box set to detonate 30 minutes after the shooting, by which time security forces and emergency services were in the immediate area. Think about how many shoe boxes there are in a shoe shop! The device detonated but no-one else was hurt due to the fact that secondary devices were expected to be left at crime scenes.
  • A car bomb is detonated in a small village and wounds several people. The security forces and emergency services are limited to number of routes that they can use to get to the village. It would be expected for an IED to be placed along one of the routes into the village to catch the security forces entering or leaving the area. If time was available the routes would need to be searched and cleared, if time and helicopters were not available this would consist of the responding patrol in driving in at top speed.
  • A car is parked a short distance from a security force base with what appears to be mortar tubes inside. A security force cordon is placed around the car to secure the area and. When the security force teams are conducting their clearance searches around their cordon points, a team finds an IED attached to a trip wire. Further searches of the cordon positions turn up other IED’s. The mortar tube in the car turned out to be a piece of drain pipe, it was a hoax that was used to draw security forces into the IED’s that the terrorists placed in likely security force cordon positions.
  • A car is parked on the side of a country lane in an area regularly patrolled by security forces. When a security force patrol spots the car, they check with their control room to see if the car is registered as stolen. It’s not. The patrols have been on the ground for four days and are rushing to make it to their pick up point on time. The patrol can see nothing suspicious with the car, so they send two members of the patrol forward to check out the car. One of the team who goes forward to check the car is carrying electronic counter-measure equipment that can identify and block radio signal for remote-controlled bombs. The bomb was not remote-controlled or in the car. It was in a ditch a few meters from the car and detonated with a command wire.

You should take nothing at face value and always remember the secondary device. Always be suspicious of anything that looks out-of-place, if you are in an area where there is an active IED threat you need to draw up pans and procedure of how you will respond if you are caught up in an incident.

Types of device

Letter & parcel bomb


Damage from a letter bomb.

The letter and parcel bomb is the most widely used of all IEDs. The bombers who use this type of device range from stalkers through to hard-core terrorists. The letter bomb gives the bomber a direct line of access to the target and affords the bomber virtual anonymity for themselves, as the device can be sent from anywhere in the world. As the name suggests, the device is placed into an envelope or parcel and posted to the target. Upon opening the device explodes.

Defense against letter and parcel bombs

Below is a list of things that should be checked for on any package that you suspect as being an IED. If you or your client is under a threat, all mail should be checked. If some of the following criteria are evident on a suspect package, it should be put through an x-ray machine to confirm or ally your suspicions. If you don’t have an x-ray machine, then the suspect package should be placed in a safe area and specialist assistance sought. The package would have been knocked around whilst in the postal system, so it will be safe to move-just don’t open it.

Letter and parcel bomb recognition check list:

  • Were you expecting the letter or package?
  • Was it delivered by hand (to avoid the postal system)?
  • Is it uneven or lopsided?
  • Is the envelope rigid?
  • Is there excessive securing material such as cello-tape, string, etc.?
  • Are there any visual distractions on the envelope such as company, official stamps?
  • Are there any protruding wires or tin foil?
  • Was there excessive postage paid?
  • Was the address poorly written/typed?
  • Any excessive weight?
  • No return address?
  • Any oil stains, discoloration, fingerprints?
  • Any incorrect titles?
  • Any titles but no names?
  • Any misspellings of common words?
  • Any restrictive markings such as Confidential or Private?
  • Any suspicious postmarks such as Belfast or Baghdad, etc.?
  • Is the address stenciled?
  • Any holes or pinpricks, which could be to let out explosive fumes?
  • Any smell of almonds, marzipan or perfume used to mask the smell of explosive fumes?
  • Any mechanical sounds?

Incendiary devices

A simple form of this device can be made as small as a cigarette packet and be made from condoms and commercially available chemicals. When properly ignited, they will burn at high temperatures and are primarily designed to destroy property. Incendiaries require an initiator (flame or chemical action), delay mechanism, igniter and main incendiary charge. Incendiary bombs are usually used against shops and businesses. They can easily be placed between the cushions of furniture or among flammable objects, in the case of thermite, on or above machinery or vehicles, and timed to go off when the business is empty of staff, causing the maximum fire damage. This can also help to give the bomber anonymity.

Defense against incendiary devices If either your client or his business is under the threat of incendiary attack, the following precautions should be taken. A deterrent would be to install overt CCTV and employ high-profile 24-hour security guards. The CCTV could, in the event of an incident, be used to identify the bomber. Keep videos in a fireproof container. If the client’s workplace is an office suite, then access needs to be restricted as much as possible. Visitors should not be left unsupervised. Cameras should be placed in high-risk areas entrances/exits and outside toilets. All personnel entering the suite should be searched.

Blast bombs

This device can be made very small. A device can easily be placed in a take away food container or bag and placed in a bin or pile of rubbish. In the UK, Irish terrorists have been known to put and detonate IEDs inside of bicycle frames. This type of device is used to cause disruption and confusion. In the city of London, UK, in the early 90s, a spate of such devices placed in rubbish bins resulted in all bins being removed from the streets and the London Underground. These devices can cause great disruption and kill indiscriminately.

Defense against blast bombs Realistically, there is very little that can be done to stop a bomber planting these devices in city areas. The device can be easily disguised and moved during rush hour. It would be impossible to watch everyone, let alone search them. Security cameras on buildings and in shops would be useful when trying to identify the bomber after the device has detonated. If your client is attending a function where there is a threat from IEDs, precautions need to be taken. The empty venue should be searched by experienced personnel with, if possible, sniffer dogs. After the search, strict access control needs to be put in place with every entrance/exit covered and everyone entering the venue searched. Special attention should be paid to casual staff hired just for that function.


Photo by courtesy of C-52 of 3/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team
see: http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/06/06/9708-general-lee-rides-again/

Undercar Booby-trap (UVB)

This device is a favorite weapon of Irish terrorist’s groups. The device is placed in a container such as an empty video case or a Tupperware container and attached to the vehicle using magnets. The usual method for triggering the device is by using a tilt or vibration sensitive switch. The UVB enables the terrorists to attack selective targets. There is a risk of discovery involved when placing this device as access to the targets vehicle is needed. If the bomber manages to plant the device, it will kill and maim the occupants of the car if it is not discovered.

Defense against UVB The best defense against the UVB is to deny the bomber access to the vehicle. If the vehicle is secured in a garage, the entrance and driveway to the garage need to be physically checked before the vehicle is moved. There could be a device attached to the door of the garage or a mine in the driveway. If the vehicle has to be left unattended, then on return the vehicle and the surrounding area needs to be searched. Searching a vehicle for IEDs is an important skill and needs to be practiced regularly.

Car and lorry bombs

Car and lorry bombs enable the terrorist to conceal and move large devices. The car bomb can be used against individual or indiscriminate area targets. The use of the car bomb is very common and over the past few years, this type of device has been used in London, New York and Paris. All it takes is for someone to drive the vehicle to the target and leave it to explode. Against an individual this device could be placed along a route or near an entrance to a building that is frequented by the target. The device can be triggered by remote control, command wire or, if the target is setting a pattern, by a timer. A method of delivering a device to a high security area is to use a suicide bomber or force someone to drive the vehicle with the device in it. The latter is a common tactic of Irish terrorists. It starts with the intended driver being kidnapped or having his home taken over. The driver is then informed that if they don’t drive to the device or to the target they and their family will be killed. If they drive the device, at least he has a chance of survival. The driver is then chained and locked into the vehicle with the device and he is told how long they have got to get to the target before the device explodes. The driver has little choice but to drive the device to the target and hope the security personnel has some bolt cutter on hand with which to cut him out of the car, before the device explodes.


The car bomb can be used against individual or indiscriminate area targets.

Improvised mines

These devices can vary in size and be disguised as virtually as anything. Their triggering methods are only limited to the imagination and ability of the bomber. In Northern Ireland, large devices are usually placed in rural areas in culvert, under roads, or perhaps disguised as milk churns or in bales of hay. In urban areas, they can be placed in lampposts, rubbish bins or in vertical drain piping on the side of a building. To place a bomb into a drainpipe, the terrorist lowers the device into the drainpipe from the top and a command wire detonates the device. The command wire can go over the building or be laid in the guttering connected to a firing point out of the line of sight of the killing zone. In all such operations in Northern Ireland, the terrorists use youths as watchers. The child playing at the end of the street shouting to his friends could be telling the bomber you are in the kill zone.

Sleeper bombs

An IED can be placed in a position a month before it explodes. If it is known that at a certain time in the future you or your client will be attending an event, a function or staying in a hotel at a certain time, precautions need to be taken. In 1984 in Brighton, England, such a device killed five people in an IRA attempt to kill the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Defense against car bombs & mines

To beat the area car bomber, one has to vigilant and suspicious. If a vehicle looks suspicious, then get it checked out. Security forces have an advantage over private security personnel in being able to check out the background (whether it is stolen or rented) of a vehicle very quickly. So, if you are suspicious of a vehicle, call the authorities and let them check it out; if you are unwilling or unable to contact the authorities, then just avoid the vehicle. For private security personnel: when the car bomb or mine threat is directed at your client, then precautions need to be taken. If there are limited routes in and out of the client’s residence or office, then these routes need to be regularly physically checked. Any suspicious cars, recent digging or wires leading away from the road need to be checked out. When the client is traveling to and from work, the routes must be varied as much as possible. All trips should be kept secret until the last-minute and then be preceded by an advanced security team, which needs to arrive at the client destination with enough time to check out the area before the client arrives. When entering or exiting a building, different entrances/exits need to be used. If possible, use fire escapes and staff entrances. If the client is to stay in a hotel their room will need to be searched along with the adjoining rooms, if possible, and a check kept on anyone using the rooms. If the rooms are booked a while in advance, a check will need to be done on all building work and maintenance carried out in between the time of booking and the time of stay, as this work may have been used to cover the planting of a device.



Everyone should know the basics for dealing with an IED incident. If you have a business in an area where there could possibly be and IED threat you will need to draw contingency plans for an IED incident. If you are traveling to a city where IED incidents occur, you need to know how things can develop and whether security forces know what they are doing or putting you and others at risk.

There are four steps when dealing with an IED:

  • Confirmation: Confirm, to the best of your ability, whether the object/vehicle is an IED, taking into account the following considerations: Are you under a threat from IEDs? Are the objects seemingly out-of-place? Are you in an area where terrorists are operational? Is there a funny smell around the object such as almonds, marzipan or petrol? This is where your threat assessment comes in. An unattended bag in an airport will arouse more suspicion then an unattended bag in a bar or restaurant but both could be just as dangerous or just as harmless. If all unattended bags in bars or other public places were reported as IEDs, there would be hundreds of false incidents every day but one just might be an IED. If you have good reason to suspect an object or vehicle, then check it. The police and security forces should be willing to help you, if you give them good reasons for your suspicions.
  • Cordon: Once a device has been confirmed, the area around it and roads leading to it needs to be cordoned off so no-one can access. It depends on the size and location of the device, as to how far away the cordon will be but a basic rule is that you should be out of line of sight of the device. This is because if you can see the device you can be hit by shrapnel or debris if it detonates. In the private security world, cordon preparations and duties would fall on the static/residential security teams etc. If an IED turns up at your residence, the RST, if you have security personnel, would have to deal with the initial cordon and clearing of the area. Cordon equipment needs to be on hand, such as cordon tape, torches, and maps of the area and communications equipment. Plans need to be made for the evacuation procedures and cordon points for the different types of device. All cordon and control point location need to be physically searched for booby traps before being set up, the basic search would be 10 meters around the position.
  • Clearing the area: People should be moved out of the blast area of the device; the blast area depends on the size and location of the device. In some cases, depending on the size of the device, it may be safer to leave people in buildings and under cover, rather than moving them into the open. It would make sense to assign a location in your building that could be used for this purpose, and internal room with no windows would be ideal. When evacuating people, a route should be taken that is out of line of sight of the device; if the device explodes when evacuating personnel, flying and falling glass is a big danger and needs to be considered when planning the evacuation route, as is the threat of secondary devices.
  • Controlling the incident: Control of all IED incidents should be handed over to authorities, as soon as possible. You need to brief the responding personnel as to where the device is, when it arrived, how it arrived, where your cordon positions are, whether there is anyone still within the cordoned area and where they are. You also need to pass on any relevant information of threats that have been made or suspicious incidents or people who have been in the area. Not only is this professional, but it could help apprehend the terrorists.

When a threat assessment reveals a threat from IEDs, a great deal of planning is needed. Whether you are a business owner, lone international traveler or a close protection team member, procedures need to be made for dealing with IEDs. Everyone in law enforcement, homeland security and the private security industry must have a basic knowledge of how IEDs work and the effects of an explosion but they don’t. These days basic search techniques and IED recognition is a necessity for all everyone, as IEDs are the most widely used terrorist weapon and will be for a long time to come.



After reading what has already been written in this article you should be able to pick out quite a few mistakes in the New York Police Department (NYPD) handling of the 2010 car bomb incident in Times Square in the City of New York.

The vehicle that contained the explosives was a dark blue 1993 Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle with dark tinted windows, it had been parked on a busy tourist-crowded street. People in the area noticed smoke drifting from vents near the back seat of the unoccupied vehicle, which was parked with its engine running and its hazard lights on. They also heard firecrackers going off inside.

A police officer approached the car and observed the smoke, canisters inside, and the smell of gunpowder. The vehicle was set ablaze, but did not detonate. Upon arrival, the bomb disposal team used a remote-controlled robotic device to break out a window of the vehicle, and explore its contents. The device’s ignition source malfunctioned and failed to detonate the main explosives. Had it detonated NYPD officials said the bomb would have cut the car in half, and “would have caused casualties, a significant fireball and would have sprayed shrapnel, and killed or wounded many people.

OK, the U.S. had been engaged in the war on terror for 9 years, so do the NYPD and other agencies not know how to deal properly with a car bomb incident? It amazed me when I saw the incident on the TV; they showed the bomb squad defusing the device with crowds nearby watching. Basic rule, you and your cordon positions must be out of line of site of the device, if you can see the device you can be hit by shrapnel etc. If the device had detonated there would have been many un-necessary casualties from the stupid cordon positions alone. The car bomb was described as a crude device, so was it not taken seriously? My first thought if I came across a crude and amateur explosive device would be, where is the real one, and that the crude device was nothing but bait to draw security forces into a trap. I strongly doubt the area and cordon positions were checked for secondary devices. In the TV coverage you could see that roads at either end of the road where the device was located were still open and cops were milling and sitting around relaxing, a suicide bomber could have driven right through the cordon and blown up the bomb squad, you can’t protect others if you can protect yourself! The NYPD’s handling of this incident can be classed as very negligent and how you should not deal with an IED incident!

If you are in an urban area and there is a car bomb incident you should initially find cover, get into a building and away from windows. If a device goes off the shock wave can break windows for few blocks around it. You don’t want to be on an open city street will glass falling on you from 50 stories up. When safe to evacuate the area use back allies and non-obvious routes and do not hang around to watch how things develop. This is because of the threat from secondary devices and because the first device may only be there to draw in crowds of onlookers or channel people into the main device.

If you are working in the center of a large city, like London or New York, or are working in the emerging markets, where bomb scares are not unusual, it


Once you have selected and purchased a handgun you then need to learn how to shoot it accurately. If you have never used a handgun before, go and get some training in defensive shooting techniques. Some people, usually men, who have limited firearms experience but believe they, know everything about firearms will not undergo training. This is an ego problem and a sign of insecurity, which can end with innocent people getting hurt. Many people do not realize that the handgun techniques you see on the TV and at the movies do not work in the real world. You cannot learn how to use firearms by reading a manual or sitting down watching DVD’s or videos on YouTube, you have to go and practice. Many former and serving law enforcement and military personnel continuously seek and undergo further firearms training, because they are professional enough to know they can always learn something new and improve their skills. Firearms skills must be learned properly and then regularly practiced.

There are just as many people in the firearms training business that claim that their system is the best, just as there are self-proclaimed experts in the world of the martial arts or other fields. You can argue tactics all day and you will still get nowhere. You must find a system that works for you and learn it from an instructor who has both a good reputation and verifiable real world experience. The best systems are simple and not overly technical. If you are ever unfortunate enough to have to use your handgun in self-defense you want to be concerned about getting rounds into the bad guy, not having to thinking if you grip is correct and if your feet are in the right place.

There are many people confusing competition shooting techniques that are developed for sports and hobbies as realistic tactical training. Big difference number one, on the streets the bad guys don’t care about the rules and will be shooting back. I have had students come through my courses that have been taught and trust techniques that look cool and work in an air-conditioned shooting range with no stress but have completely no relevance in the real world. On the street, fancy techniques that overly stress safety will get you killed and hopefully only you and not those you’re possibly protecting.

You need to realistically think about how you would handle being in a hostile situation, not on a comfortable shooting range, but being attacked by criminals in some dark parking lot or your home in the early hours of the morning when there will be no one to help you. The police, if you’re lucky, maybe, there in 15 minutes if you are able to contact them; think about what the criminals can do to you and your family in those 15 minutes. Visualize this situation and determine how you would genuinely feel and determine how you would react in the seconds you may be lucky to have to reverse the situation on the criminals. There was a saying I picked up in South Africa in 94 and agree with to this day “The police are just there to pick up the bodies”. Most police like to tell you they are your protectors but the reality is, if you’re involved in a hostile situation they will not be rushing into save you, they will be thinking about their own skin. They are happy to do the after incident paperwork and to arrest you, if you live, if it means brownie points for them or, in a lot of places, an opportunity to extort money from you.


Firearms skills must be learned properly and then regularly practiced.

The Fundamentals of Defensive Shooting

The subjects that should be included in your tactical training are defensive shooting both left and right-handed, drawing from concealed carry, using different fire positions and use of cover. If you are going to work with or carry a firearm, you should undertake stress scenario training. This should include dry and live fire contact drills, in different environments, i.e. in a vehicle, in a street, in a restaurant and so forth. Proper training, handgun maintenance, carry technique/firearm access, aiming, grip/trigger pull and shot placement are the basic factors in defensive shooting.

  • Training/firearms competence: You must be able to use your weapons safely and competently before you consider using it for defensive purposes. If you do not know how to use your weapon properly you are more of a danger to yourself and your love ones than the bad guys. Take the time to learn your weapon and how to use it!
  • Handgun maintenance: Your handgun needs to be functional and in a good clean condition. You should have good ammunition that is in a good condition. Modern ammunition can function reliably for several years being regularly carried as long as it does not get excessively damp. But I tell my students to change their carry ammo for new rounds every six months or so, just to minimize the risks of a misfire. You need to keep your handgun clean, oiled and check it regularly. If your handgun or ammunition does not work, then everything else is a waste of time.
  • Carry technique/firearm access: You need to be able to get to your handgun when you need it. You may have the cleanest $1500.00 .45 caliber handgun and be an excellent shot but this is no good if you cannot get to your handgun when you need it. I have dealt with several clients who have had handguns close to them during incidents but were unable to get to them. You must be able to get to and deploy your weapons weak and strong handed, if you can’t, again everything else is a waste of time!
  • Grip: You must have a good grip on the weapon, as I have said before, having a good grip is one of the fundamentals of pistol shooting. This is where you must practice drawing your weapon and instinctively getting the right grip, the only way to you can achieve this is by repeatedly drawing and holstering your weapon; dry training. Please ensure your weapon is unloaded before you practice any dry drills.
  • Aim: Once the weapon is deployed you need to stabilize and get it on target as quickly as possible. The chances are in a hostile situation you won’t be able to get into a formal shooting stance but you still need to deliver accurate fire on your target whatever position you are in. These three aiming techniques all have a place in tactical shooting.
  • Slow, aimed fire. This is the most accurate and is where you apply the marksmanship principles. It involves getting a steady, properly aligned sight picture and slowly squeezing accurate shots. It is normally used for shots over 20 yards/meter or when you need precise accuracy. In tactical situations you should be behind cover or in a prone position when taking slow aimed shots, support the handgun where possible. With this technique you should be able to deliver accurate shots out to 100 + yards/meters with practice.

If you do not know how to use your weapon properly you are more of a danger to yourself and your love ones than the bad guys.

  • Rapid aimed fire. For this technique you look down the top of the handgun and get a quick sight picture and shoot. This can be used against targets out to 20 yards/meters or further with practice, it’s accurate and fast. As I have previously stated whenever I use the sights I close the opposite eye to the hand the pistol is in, the same applies with this technique. Again in a tactical situation it would be best to use this technique from behind cover.
  • Instinctive fire. This technique is can be used out to 10 yards/meter or more where there is no time to use the weapons sights. Forget about the sights, focuses on the target and point the handgun directly where you want the bullets to go and squeeze the trigger. This technique is simple and fast but needs practice, will talk about it more in the next chapter. At distances up to 10 yards/meters you want to be able to fire five quick shots accurately into a person, forget double tapping. At distances up to 5 yards/meters with say a 9mm handgun, most people should be able to rapid fire multiple rounds accurately into a target with a little practice using proper techniques. It all depends on them having a good grip on the weapon and a good trigger pull.
  • Trigger Pull: You should practice pulling the trigger on your handgun until you can do so smoothly. One trick (make sure your handgun is unloaded) is to balance an empty bullet case on the top of your handgun, near the front sight and practice dry firing, the aim is you to keep the case there for as many trigger pulls as possible. If that is too easy try a coin balanced on your front sight.  You want to fire a minimum of five quick shots into a person when in hostile situations at close quarters. You should keep putting rounds into the criminal or terrorist until they no longer pose a threat.
  • Shot Placement:  In a hostile shooting incident, the criminal or terrorist must be incapacitated immediately, a wounded the criminal or terrorist can still be very dangerous. Shot placement is everything and takes priority over caliber. A shot to the brain with a .22 will drop someone where as a .45 hollow point to the stomach may kill someone in the long run but short-term the bad guy you just shot can still fight and shoot you. You need to train as you intend to fight, that’s old knowledge but it makes me laugh on most gun ranges to see people, civilians and law enforcement shooting center of mass on silhouette targets. What vital organs or bones are at your center of mass? None! The only reason I see for people being told to shoot center of mass is so they can pass qualifications with minimum effort and training. You need to be training to hit vital organs or bones, if not then you are going to be surprised when the bad guy you have just shot keeps shooting back at you.

You need to be training to hit vital organs or bones, if not then you are going to be surprised when the bad guy you have just shot keeps shooting back at you.

  • The best shot placement that guarantees nearly 100% immediate incapacitation of the target is to the brain. Shots should be below the middle of the forehead, and above the upper lip or to the side of the head above the center of ear from the cheekbones back. I have heard many people say the head is too small of a target area; well it is if you’re trying to get poorly trained personnel to pass security or law enforcement shooting qualifications. But for people who want to take the time and train properly head shots can be achieved instinctively at close quarters in a short period of time. One thing that annoys me with society in general is that these days all standards are being set to the lowest level, just because one person is incompetent it does not mean everyone is, but we can’t hurt the feelings of the incompetent ones can we… I live in a different world and understand that as far as violent situations are concerned you need to be at the highest standard and end the situation as quickly as possible. Five rapid rounds from a trained shooter towards the head of a bad guy at conversational range will end the conversation very quickly. Also, these days with body armor being freely available and the fact the criminals or terrorists may be on narcotics head-shots should be your first target area of choice.
  • The center of the upper chest, just below the neck is also a good target area. Shots that hit the lungs can be fatal but may take time to drop a target, shots the heart will kill a target instantly. I tell my students that aiming just below the neck ensures that if their shots are low or high they are still hitting vital areas on the target. Another reason for mixing my ammunition between HP’s and FMJ rounds is because I want penetration; if a bullet hits a target’s spine they are instantly paralyzed. As I’ve said shots to the lungs can be fatal but can take time to drop a target. During this time, the criminal or terrorist can still return effective fire, this is again why I tell people fire a minimum of five rounds and you need to be aggressive. If a criminal is returning fire the chances are their arms and weapon will be in front of their chest, so we need the multiple shots and ammunition that will penetrate to ensure hits on the vital areas. This area of the body may also be covered by heavy clothing, objects such as cell phones that may deflect or prevent a bullets penetration. Also, if the criminal is wearing a bullet-proof vest this can prevent rounds hitting the vital areas, be aggressive and keep shooting until the target is down. If shooting at moving targets or targets at distances over 10 yards/meters or if you know you cannot get the head shot, you should shoot for upper chest.
  • Shots to the stomach or lower can kill someone but are rarely effective in dropping a target immediately, this is again where I would say FMJ ammo could be effective for penetrating to the spine or breaking the pelvis.


  • Speed and accuracy are your main concern. Get your weapon out and get multiple and accurate rounds into the target as quickly as possible
  • Always fully load your weapon; magazine to be fully loaded and put a round in the chamber where legal to do so. I am currently writing this in Nigeria and in one incident here recently, three police officers were killed in what we believe to be an attempted hit on someone they were escorting. They approached a car that was blocking the road and their client’s vehicle, as they got close a criminal opened up on them with an AK-47, all 3 died at the scene. They were carrying AK’s also but with the safety catches on and no rounds in the chambers, they did not stand a chance.
  • Always know what is beyond your target. A dead bystander means manslaughter if not murder charge.  Go for headshots at close quarters; otherwise go for the upper chest area/base of the neck.
  • In the US, the majority of police officers killed in shooting incidents are shot at conversational range, at distances of up to 10 feet. Over 50% are shot at distances under 5 feet. At these distances there is no need to use the weapons sights, be aggressive point and shoot!
  • Two out of every three police officers killed in the US are shot at night or in low-light areas. If you can point shoot these is no need to worry about night sights and lasers etc. as you are not using the sights anyway. We will talk later about the use of flashlights/torches.
  • The most common handgun calibers used against American police officers are 9-millimeter and .38. These two calibers accounted for 50 percent of the handgun deaths. In most places in the world you will find 9mm and .38 caliber weapons, they have been around for nearly 100 years and I expect will be around for a long time to come.
  • Shooting incidents are over in seconds, you will not have time to chamber a round, get into a range stance, check breathing and use the sights on your weapon.  You should keep a round in the chamber, have access to the handgun, be aggressive and get rounds into the targets vital areas of the target as quickly as possible.
  • Criminals or terrorists usually operate in gangs so, in time train for engaging multiple targets.
  • Terrorists and criminals like guns, they train in police and military techniques using manuals and videos that are freely available on the commercial market. It’s up to you to train harder and be at a more professional level than they are.
  • Always be aware of your environment, you want spot any potential problems and avoid them or at least be ready. If it gets to the point where the criminal has set you up and has a weapon on you, you’re going to have problems. Best to always try to avoid the problems and confrontations!

  Once you have selected and purchased a handgun you then need to learn how to shoot it accurately. If you have never used a handgun before, go and get some

This article will try to answer many questions around self-defense for preppers. I have written a fair amount on the subject in other articles, so this will have links to other information for more detailed analysis and opinion. As always, I welcome your comments below.

Why do you need to plan for self-defense?

Many years ago when I started prepping the world wasn’t radically different. We didn’t live in any Nirvana of goodwill and peace, but the idea of preparing to defend your life from bad guys was met with much more resistance than it does now. We would talk about fortifying our homes, purchasing firearms and enrolling in training to hone our skills but frequently you would have someone comment to the effect that we were all paranoid, crazy and disillusioned idiots who saw fear lurking around every corner.

Flash forward to today and there is much less push back when we talk about self-defense. People have seen far too many incidents in the news of violence happening. All over the world we witness mobs going out of control, of riots after natural disasters, incidents with police or even sporting events where innocent people are hurt. The world can be a dangerous place now and I don’t believe a majority of people anymore think it is foolish to consider being prepared to defend your family.

Read More: Top 5 Firearms you need to get your hands on NOW!

What we do have is a lot of argument about the best means, equipment, practices and policies. I won’t be able to debate all of those here, but I will lay out my plans and suggestions below.

What are your self-defense options?

The dictionary defines self-defense as “the act of defending one’s person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant”. I believe that each of us has a right to defend ourselves when attacked. No one has a right to take my life that trumps my right to stop them from doing so. The threats faced run the gambit though when we enter the world of prepping. My suggestions will almost exclusively focus on situations where your life is on the line and the imminent threat of deadly violence is what we are talking about.

Psychological Self Defense – Can you talk or bribe someone out of violence against you? Potentially, yes but that requires skill and luck and the right set of circumstances. Assume you are out one evening and a man tries to rob you. Could you talk him out of it by appealing to his humanity or shaming him? Maybe, but I don’t want to risk failing. When it comes to self-defense I want to escalate appropriately to deal with the threat immediately. Some may feel that this is the first level you should try.


Physical Self-Defense – If talking the bad guy out of hurting you doesn’t work you may still have options. Can you run? Do you want to fight this person? Could you win? Are you sure? Do they have a weapon? Can you overpower them and what if you do? I strongly believe that each of us should as part of a well-balanced approach would be physically fit, mentally sharp and experienced in hand-to-hand combat, but that simply isn’t a reality for many people. Could a strong, fit man take out another strong fit man of approximately the same weight? Sure. Could a small diminutive woman take down a much larger attacker with martial arts? Of course. Is that you?

Read More: How to select the best handgun for home defense.

Physical self-defense in a life threatening situation for me would not be my first option either because I don’t want the bad guy anywhere near me. If I have no other means to defend myself it will come to this, but I wouldn’t use this by default.

Weapons based self-defense – To me, this approach is far superior for more people in more situations than the other two options. For starters, weapons are the great equalizer. A 110 pound female can defend herself with a weapon effectively against a 300 pound man or even two. Could she also go ninja and bring him to his knees? Sure, some could but could you? Firearms with proper instruction, used to defend your life give you great advantages. It goes without saying there are drawbacks too, but as the saying goes. I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

What is a balanced approach to self-defense?

Obviously I advocate the responsible use of firearms for self-defense but there are times when I can’t carry a firearm or I simply don’t have one on me. When those scenarios appear, the other two options have to be looked at. Can I talk this person out of violence? Can I run and escape the situation? Can I overpower them with some other inanimate object like a fire extinguisher or baseball bat across the back of their head?

When I started prepping, it was with the vision of a world gone bad. My nightmare scenario was some form of economic collapse that brought horrible times and violence right to my front door. In thinking of that, I purchased several weapons that I thought would help me defend my family and assuming anything along the lines of a full-scale violent uprising happens, I still have those at my disposal.


Practice, Practice, Practice.

But most of us go through our daily lives without anarchy. We don’t have economic collapse happening now, at least to the scale that we might have imagined it with panic and looting in the streets of our neighborhoods. We go to work, go out to eat and come home, every day. Does that mean we don’t have to worry about self-defense until some cataclysmic event happens?

Will you be prepared to defend your family mentally?

I advocate being prepared for emergencies. For this to happen, you have to be ready now. It isn’t good enough to wait until something bad happens and then start worrying about how you will defend your family. You have to be prepared to defend them now and hope that you never face that situation.

If firearms are your choice of survival weapon, you should purchase them now and get some good training in now in the proper use and function of whatever weapon you choose. Concealed carry permit applications set records every year for the simple reason that people are getting prepared. What for? Who knows but if something happens you don’t want to be that guy headed to Walmart because you are hoping to buy a shotgun only to find they have been completely cleaned out. Take steps now.

I should also mention that none of the above advice means anything unless you are mentally prepared. Violence usually occurs very fast and hesitation can kill you just as quickly as doing nothing. If you aren’t prepared to take a life, you don’t need to purchase a tool designed to do just that. Whatever you decide you will be left with the responsibility of your actions. It is worth thinking about now while you have the luxury of time.

This article will try to answer many questions around self-defense for preppers. I have written a fair amount on the subject in other articles, so this will have links to