Saturday, February 22, 2014

Home Invasions, Do You Have a Plan of Action? Part 1

By
       
You hear someone jiggling the lock of your front door.
If you have ever awakened to that sound, you know how quickly you go from peaceful sleep to panic-inducing paranoia. And that panic compounds if you have children or other family members in the house.

Man's hand holding a black pistol, barrel pointed to the left on a mottled green background.
To prepare for an invasion, be sure to discuss safe gun practices and identify beforehand who will carry the weapon.

Home invasions are on the rise, and so is the number of people who are starting to think about what may happen to them or their loved ones if they are not properly prepared. Of course, the first thing to do is attempt to prevent someone from breaking into your home. Surveillance equipment, home security systems, signs, fences and locks on tamper-resistant doors and windows are all good preliminary measures. Hopefully, they will work and discourage the bad guys.

But what do you do if someone actually breaks into your home while you are inside?

Assuming you have at least one other person living in the home, it is important to put together a plan of action and then practice the plan. A high-stress situation is not the time to tell your spouse or children what you need them to do. Here are a few suggestions to prompt your thinking when creating a plan.

Make a Master Family Plan

Create a detailed plan of what to do and where to go, if you can safely gather each member of your household in a safe place.

Make an Individual Plan for Each Member of the Family

Lock with key in it and additional keys on a key ring.
Make sure children know when and how to lock doors.

Remember, there is a fine line between helping younger children understand safety needs and traumatizing them during the plan-building process.
  • Show kids where to hide.
  • Tell them when to lock their doors.
  • Teach them how to call 911.
  • Discuss what to say to 911 personnel.
  • Help them understand awareness and their particular roles in the plan if an invasion occurs.
  • Emphasize to every family member—especially the younger ones—the importance of remaining quiet.
  • Take a self-defense course with your family to learn a few basic maneuvers.

Consider Making a Family Safe Room

Partially opened wood door to a closet.
A large, centrally located closet makes for a good safe room.

This could be a large closet or other area centrally located for all family members.
  • Stock your safe room/closet with a flashlight and cell phone.
  • Consider having a lock on the inside of the safe room to lock your family inside while you wait for help to arrive.
  • On the back of the door in your safe room, write your street address and any other pertinent information (during a stressful situation children may find it challenging to remember details).
  • Once you have called 911, do not hang up; stay on the line, but stay quiet until help arrives.

If more than one person in your household has access to a firearm (and knows how to use it), discuss, before an invasion happens, what plan you want to follow and who will be carrying a weapon.

Keep all weapons, especially firearms you may use during a home invasion, in a safe place, out of reach and out of sight of children. One possible safe place for a handgun is inside a bedroom closet high enough only an adult can reach. Consider using a gun magnet or gun rack to safely store a firearm.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan, and every situation is different. And, of course, even the best-laid plans can fail.

Now is the time to start thinking about what to do and whether you are ready if someone breaks into your home.

Has your home been invaded? Share in the comment section how you handled it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Messages We Send


 

Criminals don't heed the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover" - they look for clues and decide on victims based on their appearance. Sheriff Jim reminds us to be mindful of how we might appear to a bad guy.

I met the complainant at a local motel where his truck had been burglarized and several guns stolen out of it. In the course of my investigation it quickly became clear that, while the parking lot was full of vehicles, this was the only one broken into. The citizen was understandably upset and told me he couldn’t understand why he was the only one to be victimized. So I walked him around to the back of his truck and pointed to the gun club sticker on one end of his bumper and the 2nd Amendment slogan on the other end of the bumper. In police work, we call that a clue.

Whether we know it or not, or whether we like it or not, how we dress can send the same messages to criminals. Unknowingly, we might dress like their perception of a victim or we might be dressed like a person who seems to be able to take care of him or herself.

People who choose to wear tactical clothing in public or shirts with gun slogans are saying a lot to the bad guys who are looking for victims. Obviously, the wearer is making some sort of statement like, “I am not a person to be messed with.” He dresses that way as a warning to others, or in hopes of looking like something that he wants to be. However, crooks (especially when there are several crooks together) may see it as a challenge. It certainly tells them, should they decide to commit a crime, this is the first fellow that will have to be neutralized.

I once saw a young policeman at a fast-food place. He had a police department T-shirt on and his badge clipped to his belt, but no gun. He was clearly proud to be a cop, and I applaud that, but he was also making himself a target. I’ve often wished I’d taken the time to have a word with him.

Now, let me be perfectly clear, it is none of my business how you choose to dress. I have a lot of things to worry about, and your clothing choice is not one of them. I simply want to point out that we should all be concerned about the messages we are sending in the way we choose to dress. For the armed citizen, this is critically important.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Scottevest Brad Thor Alpha Jacket

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The Alpha Jacket by Scottevest, designed by author Brad Thor, contains enough pockets to carry your everyday-carry gear and then some.

By Steve Adelmann      
I spend most of my time building, shooting and writing about rifles but I am no stranger to handguns. I played around with revolvers and pistols as a teenager but I received my actual handgun education in the early ‘90s when I entered the world of Army Special Operations. There I relied on short arms in both overt and covert environments around the world. I have been a concealed handgun instructor for 16 years and I have carried concealed at every possible occasion since obtaining my permit 18 years ago. Handgun designs, tactics, ammunition and supporting equipment have evolved continuously over the years but one thing that has remained constant is the fact that regular concealed handgun carry requires patience, diligence and a willingness to bear physical punishment that sometimes rivals self-flagellation. If you live in a region where temperatures drop enough to require at least a mid-weight jacket, handgun concealment just got a lot easier thanks to best-selling author Brad Thor. Scottevest’s new Alpha Jacket was designed by Brad and is so well executed that they literally sold out a soon as the Alpha Jacket hit the market last fall.
 Before going into the details of this nifty carry-all coat, let’s consider the designer. Brad Thor has authored 13 action-packed thrillers that realistically detail modern-day battles between good and evil, with an emphasis on covert activities. You need only turn a few pages to get hooked and see that Thor draws on real-world experiences from a wide variety of military, law enforcement and other sources with specialized backgrounds. What does that have to do with concealed carry? Thor also happens to be a long time concealed handgun licensee and avid shooter. Just as he does with his works of “faction,” Thor poured experience-based effort into the design of the Alpha Jacket in order to provide a supremely utilitarian tool for anyone with a need to hide their personal gear in plain sight. But the Alpha Jacket is not just another coat with inside pockets or a loose cut to hide a belt-mounted hog leg, it is a system for carrying enough gear to help get you out of trouble, or better yet, to avoid it altogether.
                                           

The Alpha Jacket has somewhere in the neighborhood three dozen pockets but there may be more. It is actually hard to keep track of all the hiding places this urban “load bearing vest” actually has. The jacket’s webpage has a great diagram of the pockets as well as a manual explaining their recommended uses. It is set up to easily carry things like sunglasses, ballistic protective glasses, ballistic protective panels, ear protection, a laptop computer or tablet, a smart phone or other communications device(s), headphones (wired into nearly any pocket through wiring channels), wrist microphone and/or PTT switch, spike-type sleeve daggers, pens, ID/passport/credit cards, flex cuffs or handcuffs, medical kit, compass, handheld light and of course a concealed handgun and holster with several spare magazines. That’s just for starters. Other notable features include an RFID-protective inner pocket, multiple hidden pockets, a clear plastic cover that allows use of touch screen phones, “armor cut” sizing to accommodate soft body armor, removable logos, tricot linings for hook and loop attachments, a neutral colored, matte soft-shell finish to reduce nighttime signature and an IR-reflective inhibiting coating that will last for ten wash cycles. It is safe to say that should you need to carry something without looking ridiculously obvious (think photo journalist vest) this is your jacket. Even with pockets loaded down the Alpha Jacket looks amazingly sleek from the outside.

The hardest part of having a jacket with so many options for storage is remembering where everything went...

I have been wearing the Alpha Jacket for about two months. My only complaint is not the jacket’s fault but rather poor timing on my part. I am not exactly quick on the uptake when new products hit the market so by the time I ordered an Alpha Jacket for testing the only size available was medium. I would normally order a size large for my 5’8” frame but since these are cut for body armor I went ahead and got the medium, gambling that a large would be too big since I don’t plan to wear soft armor.

When I’m standing or walking normally the fit is perfect. In fact it looks like any other casual soft shell coat you would see on the street. But my chest and shoulders are wide enough that the sleeves are too short for over-the-head arm movement. It really is not much of a problem unless I need to traverse monkey bars or play lacrosse on my way to the gas station. I would get a large if I were going to order again. Beyond that, the coat is perfect for me.

Rapid Access Panels (RAPs) reveal very large pockets situated on either side of the wearer’s chest, allowing big and small items to be carried and accessed, well, rapidly. I stuck some hook side Velcro to the back of an old Kydex pocket holster and have been moving it around the Alpha Jacket’s cavernous interior to figure out where best to hide it within easy reach. Quickly drawing a handgun from concealment requires total efficiency of movement. The Alpha Jacket allows you to tailor your draw stroke so that no excess time or energy is wasted as you present the handgun. A great feature is that the RAP zippers have uniquely shaped and textured pulls. This is a critical feature because when a threat is right in your face, the last place you want your eyes is on your pocket as you search for the right pull. Worse yet is opening the wrong pocket while trying to rapidly get a defensive weapon into action. The RAPs’ pulls will tell you by feel whether or not you’re in the right place. They are very easy to find and open with practice. Another carry-friendly feature is a pair of side zippers that allow quick access to waist-level equipment. The sleeves also partially unzip to allow retrieval of items in the slim pockets contained just outside the inner cuffs. Small pockets for weights (change, bullets, etc.) are located inside larger side pockets to aid throwing the coat open and clear of a belt holster or reloads. I am much faster drawing from within the Alpha Jacket than with any other outer garment I have used.

I employ both a mirror and my wife’s eyes to make sure my handguns and gear don’t print. So far I’ve had no trouble with concealment using this coat. It allows me to carry a bunch of good-to-have items that would normally be left in my vehicle or at home. The biggest problem with the Alpha Jacket may just be that the wearer is able to carry so much gear they could forget what is where.

Again, practice finding critical items in a hurry will solve that problem. My covert days are long over so I keep my jacket’s contents to minimum: phone, handgun, magazine, light, small med kit, knife, pen, glasses and a couple other things I may have lost track of…

So what is not to like about this coat? Availability. They are currently sold out until sometime this spring. Scottevest placed a link on its website that allows one to request notification when the next batch of Alpha Jackets are in stock and ready to ship. My guess is the list is already pretty long.

The concealed-carry market has needed something like the Alpha Jacket for a long, long time. I have carried hidden guns and gear in environments ranging from 120 degrees F to 20 below zero. In most cases the decision to carry needed gear translated to an increased the risk of being compromised. An

Alpha Jacket would have made my life much easier in those days. I like to show my concealed carry students the carry gear that works for me and that which does not. The latter category consists of two large bins filled with concealment holsters, shirts, pouches and packs that I have tried and found lacking. The conversely small number of concealment devices that I actually trust and use regularly just went up by one.

Brad Thor has demonstrated that he is every bit as much an action guy as he is a great fiction writer. I plan to pay closer attention to products bearing his name in the future. Maybe we’ll see a Bravo Hat or Charlie Speedos before too long. On second thought, the Alpha Jacket is good enough for me…

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How Light Can They Go?

Lightweight carry guns are easy to carry, but hard to shoot. Finding the right balance of size and comfort can be quite a challenge.

By Sheriff Jim Wilson
                      

Just the other day I noticed a firearm manufacturer is introducing a five-shot, .38 Spl. revolver that weighs just 9 ounces. Now, I think I understand what gun makers are doing with these super-light defensive handguns, and it is actually two things.

The first is manufacturers are spending a lot time and research experimenting with the various new, lighter materials to see what will work in firearms and how well it will work. Materials like titanium and scandium, while not new, are relatively new to the firearms industry, and we have already begun to see numerous valid applications for their use.

The second bit of reasoning seems to be the theory that the lighter and more comfortable the defensive handgun is to carry, the more likely that the defensive shooter will have it with him when the balloon goes up. And there is some validity in this argument, too. A defensive handgun, and the skill to use it effectively, are worth nothing if you aren’t armed when you need it.

I do have a concern, however: Super lightweight guns in defensive calibers have an increased amount of felt recoil. They may be comfortable to carry, but they often are not comfortable to actually shoot.

And the simple fact is that one is never going to be good with his defense gun if he doesn’t practice a lot with it. Regardless of the old saying, it is not enough to just have a gun. You’ve got to be able to make decisive hits with it quickly and accurately.

So, how light can we go with a defensive handgun? Frankly, I can’t answer that question. It is up to each individual to find his comfort and performance level. I will simply suggest that the lighter the gun and the shorter the barrel, the harder it is to make quick hits in the vital zone. And it is something that is certainly important to remember and consider before putting out your hard-earned money for the latest and lightest.

You must remember, it’s not what you carry that matters, it’s what you can do with it when the chips are down.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Surviving Anywhere


 

When a Nevada man went missing in the Seven Troughs mountain range with his girlfriend and two children an all-scale search was conducted. They were discovered after surviving two days in below freezing temperatures because James Glanton stayed calm, kept his group together and knew a little bit about survival. Glanton was able to start a fire, and eventually used the spare tire as fuel to keep the family from freezing. While I don’t want to take anything away from this very capable man, I can’t believe that he went into a wilderness area in winter without some sort of survival pack.

Both of my vehicles are loaded with food, matches, lighters, tinder, road flares, a first-aid kit, water, blankets and medications. While the main kits are carried year round, I customize certain items depending on the time of year, i.e. don’t need blankets in July. I mostly created my own, but there are pre-made kits available from companies like ASAP Survival.

Food items, which are replaced periodically, include Snickers, M&Ms, crackers and peanut butter. I also like to include dehydrated meals and MREs. If the family and I are traveling or heading into the hills on a daytrip, I always stash my MSR WhisperLite International stove and a canister of fuel. I’ve even been meaning to throw in some instant coco and coffee, along with some instant soup mixes.

Other items that I like to carry are a folding shovel, ratchet straps, bungee cords, multiple knives and a couple of extra coats, but some people say I take being prepared a little bit overboard. These same people say I'm paranoid, but voices say they're wrong.

You can store gear in a backpack, which allows easy transport if needed, and many vehicles, especially SUVs, have neat little hidden areas that can be used to keep items out of eyesight. Also, spare tire wells are usually oversized, providing room for long-term items.

Problems can occur at any time, and the best way to survive and prevail is to be prepared. The Glanton family survived, but almost every year, there is at least one story about someone becoming stranded and dying in Old Man

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bugging Out

 

Even if you think you may never need one, having a bag filled with supplies that you can grab at a moment's notice can make all the difference in an emergency.


Okay, it’s time for me to ‘fess up. Until recently, I thought this whole business of a Bug-Out Bag was something concocted by the Internet Commandos to help counter the great social upheaval they are sure is just around the corner. Well, please duly note I have had my mind changed.

Recently, a friend of mine was alerted to a wildfire dangerously close to her home. Upon receiving the order to evacuate, she grabbed up her dog, her Bug-Out Bag and the dog’s Bug-Out Bag, and left her home for the nearby staging area.

Fortunately, the evacuation did not last very long and the fire did not damage any of the homes in the area. Regardless, my friend spent the waiting time in warm and cozy fashion. Supplies in her Bug-Out Bag kept her and her dog in fine shape while they waited.

A well-stocked Bug-Out Bag should help one get through any number of natural and man-made disasters. However, what goes in your personal kit depends upon a number of factors. The number of people in your family and their personal and medical needs are a primary consideration—each family member might do well to have their own bag. In addition, particular parts of the country may require different equipment to deal with the climate of the area; being stranded in a Rocky Mountain winter is a bit different from surviving in the southern Arizona desert during the summer.

It is really worthwhile to have a family meeting and make lists of things that will be needed in an emergency. Besides deciding what goes into each individual Bug-Out Bag, it is also a good idea to determine what equipment needs to be stored in the family vehicle. The toughest decision of all is what NOT to include among your gear. A 200-pound Bug-Out Bag is not a very handy thing.

Bug-Out Bags are not just about shooting troubles. They are of great value in dealing with all kinds of surprise situations that force you to survive away from your home and your usual store of supplies.

I’d write more, but I’ve got gear piled all over the living room and need to get it selected and sorted. You see, I just joined the Bug-Out Bag crowd.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The best reason to own a 12 gauge.

 
 
 

Looking at this picture reminded me why I like my Remington 870. :)
Also, for safety reasons, this picture was taken with a remote camera.
Thanks to my little sis Anna Rose for this picture.

Sunday, December 29, 2013