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How-to: Cyber Security





LUCKY GUNNER GARAGE PSV Ultimate End-of-the-World Bug-Out Buggy

HARDWIRED FOR SURVIVAL How Your Body Reacts When Things Go Bump in the Night

EARTHQUAKE SURVIVAL Dude McLean Shares How He Survived the 1971 Sylmar Quake

PUERTO RICO, TWO YEARS LATER The Long and Twisted Road to Recovery


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12 AMBER HARGROVE IS A SURVIVOR! Personal and Practical Insights From the Three-Time ‘Naked and Afraid’ Star By Michael D’Angona

28 MEET THE LUCKY GUNNER GARAGE PSV The Ultimate End-of-the-World Bug-Out Buggy By Will Dabbs, M.D.

56 HOW DUDE MCLEAN SURVIVED THE 1971 SYLMAR EARTHQUAKE Earthquake Preparedness is Essential 24/7 if You’re in the Zone By Christopher Nyerges


22 PREPARE FOR FINANCIAL SURVIVAL Critical Strategies for Providing for Loved Ones When Disaster Strikes By Brian M. Morris

64 RAMP UP YOUR CYBERSECURITY How to Protect Yourself in a Digital World By Suzy Jeffries


How Your Body Reacts When Things Go Bump in the Night

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By Will Dabbs, MD


38 PUERTO RICO, TWO YEARS LATER The Long and Twisted Road to Recovery By Suzy Jeffries

72 POCKET POWER FROM KERSHAW Auto and Manual Folders to Tackle Your EDC Tasks By Jim Cobb

80 SLINGING SHOT AND ARROWS Potent and Portable Slingshots Can be Great Game Getters By Steven Paul Barlow

AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE (ISSN 2331-8937) is published 12 times a year—January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December—by Engaged Media, LLC, 17900 Sky Park Circle, Suite 220, Irvine, CA 92614. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to American Survival Guide, Engaged Media LLC c/o Cenveo, 101 Workman Court, Eureka, MO 63025. © 2019 by Engaged Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC. P.O. Box 25542 London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada.



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Concealment Clothing Keeps Guns, Gear and Gadgets Close at Hand By Michael D’Angona


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LAST WORDS Some articles in this issue might include stock images that are the property of Getty Images.


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EDITORIAL Mike McCourt Brand Manager Kelly Nomura Executive Managing Editor Eric Gwinn Managing Editor



n this issue, we take an in-depth look at the current state of affairs in Puerto Rico, almost two years after the devastation wrought by hurricanes Irma and Maria. You should recall that these Category 5 and Category 4 storms, respectively, struck the island just 14 days apart and virtually knocked the island’s grid and practically all services out of commission for what would become an agonizingly long time for many of the island’s residents. Disasters like this are rare, fortunately, but this series of events gives us an opportunity to take a look at our overall state of readiness and the response to such a widespread calamity. Since we often wonder how we would fare in such a situation, I think it is useful to investigate what life has been like for the victims who chose to remain on the island. Spoiler alert, one indication of how this recovery has gone is that, as I write this in early June 2019, the Federal government has yet to finalize the authorization of another $900 million for food subsidies and other disaster relief for Puerto Rico. This begs the question, How long should you plan to be on your own before the effects of a major disaster are resolved and pre-event public services and supply chains are restored to normal? Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know the answer other than to say that each of our situations and types and levels of risk is different. Each needs to be assessed, and we should build our plans to address the most likely worst-case-scenario. This way, even though we could still be wrong if we suffer a true SHTF event, most other threats, including all of the more likely ones, should be covered well enough for us to endure them. At the risk of repeating myself, I remind you that if we followed the standard advice from most government and NGO entities to store enough food, water and emergency supplies to last three days, we’d be in serious trouble if we had to endure most of the risks we face, not to mention a Puerto Rico-level disaster. In many cases, that won’t even


be enough to hold us over until we can initiate an attempt to bug out. It stands to reason that more people would lay in more supplies if they knew how long they would need to be self-sufficient. The problem is that we never know how long service and supply line interruptions will last, whether they’re caused by a blizzard, a wildfire or a lockdown after a terrorist attack. I think we can be sure that the residents of Puerto Rico, especially those in the suburbs and rural areas, would never have believed that they would have been at the mercy of others for weeks, months or well over a year. It’s unfathomable for most of us, but we have irrefutable proof that this is possible, and it could happen to any of us. This island covers just over 3,500 square miles, which translates to roughly one-third of the part of the central U.S. currently inundated by floodwaters. The flooding has gone on so long that in much of the country, it isn’t even front-page news anymore, and some areas may be under water for months to come. Maybe an answer to my original question is “one more day.” No matter how much we have stashed away, wherever we plan to hunker down in times of trouble, if we can add one more day’s supply to it every couple of weeks or month, we would always be better off next month than we are today. If you already have a 30-day supply and you can add two to four weeks of supplies every year, it won’t take long to get to the point where you’ll be in good enough shape to outlast all but the most serious catastrophes. For more ideas about improving your readiness, browse through almost 700 articles on our website, ASGMAG. com, and sign up for our free weekly Newsletter at the bottom of the front page. There, you can also link to our Facebook and new Instagram pages and find back issues in both printed and digital formats. All the Best!

DESIGN Nadezda Sverdlova Art Director CONTRIBUTORS Steven Paul Barlow, Jim Cobb, Will Dabbs, M.D., Michael D’Angona, Suzy Jeff ries, Brian M. Morris, Christopher Nyerges ADVERTISING Gabe Frimmel Ad Sales Director (714) 200-1930 Mark Pack Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1939 John Bartulin Account Executive (866) 866-5146 ext. 2746 Eric Gomez Advertising Traffic Coordinator OPERATIONS Manish Kumar Mishra Operations Manager Surajpal Singh Bisht Prepress Manager Shailesh Khandelwal Subscriptions Manager Chandan Pandey Production, Newsstand & Circulation Analyst Alex Mendoza Administrative Assistant Victoria Van Vlear Intern Program Manager EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 17900 Sky Park Circle, Suite 220, Irvine, CA 92614 (714) 939-9991 • Fax: (800) 249-7761 AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE (ISSN 2331-8937) is published 12 times a year— January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December—by Engaged Media, LLC, 17900 Sky Park Circle,, Suite 220, Irvine, CA 92614. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE, C/O ENGAGED MEDIA LLC, CENVEO, 101 WORKMAN COURT, EUREKA, MO 63025. © 2019 by Engaged Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST#855050365RT001. Canadian Post: Publications Mail Agreement Pitney Bowes, Inc., P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada CUSTOMER SERVICE Engaged Media, LLC 17900 Sky Park Circle, Suite 220, Irvine, CA 92614 Subscriptions, address changes, renewals, missing or damaged copies: (800) 764-6278 (239) 653-0225 Foreign Inquiries Back issues: Books, merchandise, reprints: (800) 764-6278 • Foreign (239) 653-0225 Letters to the editor, new products or to contribute a story or photo: SUBSCRIPTION RATES $32.95/1 year, $52.95/2 years. Outside the United States, add $32.00 per year payable in U.S. funds. Single copy price is $8.99. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for new subscriptions to begin.

MEDIA, LLC ENGAGED MEDIA, LLC Scott Hall CEO William Ammerman Executive Vice President, Digital John Goodpasture Vice President, Sales Carrie Rubalcaba HR Generalist

This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Engaged Media, LLC, as to the legality, completeness or technical accuracy. GST #855050365RT001 Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC., P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada

—Mike McCourt

Brand Manager


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5.11 Tactical APEX 6 Wedge

PyroVault Lighter Armor

Hillsound FlexSteps

The PyroVault upgrades your Zippo or similar style lighter for the rough weather ahead. Simply remove the innards from your lighter and slide it into the PyroVault and you’re good to go. The O-ring construction limits fuel leakage and evaporation. This product also works with the butane model lighters. It has a built-in clip so you can attach the lighter right to your MOLLE or PALS webbing. The lid is spring-loaded and snaps open with the press of a button.

Hillsound FlexSteps will keep you on your feet regardless of terrain, ice, snow, or other issues. The 18 spikes have been strategically placed after careful study of foot contact points when walking and running. Velcro straps ensure a comfortable fit, no matter what type of shoe or boot you’re wearing. The use of rivets in the construction provides long-lasting durability. The side straps on the toe box keep the FlexSteps where it belongs and gives great lateral stability.

5.11 Tactical Surplus Jacket

MSRP: Starting at $29.99

MSRP: $55

MSRP: $129.99

Handsome, comfortable, and built to last, the APEX 6 Wedge has a Vibram Christy outsole and leather construction with nylon uppers. To enhance grip and traction, the outsole also has Vibram Newflex. The D3O shock-absorbing support footbed guarantees all day comfort whether you’re working in a warehouse or chewing miles on the trail. In addition, the APEX 6 Wedge has unparalleled heel and arch support. The rust color adds a touch of class, too.

MSRP: $199.99


The Surplus Jacket from 5.11 Tactical takes classic military styling and adds serious modern upgrades. It is loaded with pockets, both obvious and hidden. The jacket is equipped with 5.11 Tactical’s RAPIDraw pass-through, giving the user immediate access to their carry weapon. A hood rolls up into the collar when not in use. The back bi-swing provides comfort and a great fit. The articulated sleeves are equipped with snap cuffs, and the back also has adjustable snap tabs.


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he autumn months are the favorite time of year for many of us who spend a fair amount of time outdoors. The trees changing color is part of it, of course, but cool days and crisp nights are just tailor-made for campfires and hanging out with friends. On top of that, the bugs that plagued us all summer long finally start to taper off. All of this means it is a great time to test out new gear.

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CRKT Fast Lane

Guard Dog Security Bat Light

CRKT Up and At ’Em

Guard Dog Vice

The Up and At ‘Em was designed by Matthew Lerch, a knifemaker who has developed a strong reputation for knife designs that combine good looks with excellent functionality. The high carbon stainless steel blade takes and keeps a razor edge and swings out with authority via the flipper. The sturdy frame lock keeps it open while you work. The Up and At ‘Em is a great option for EDC, especially in environments where a more tactical appearance would be problematic.

The Vice combines a high-quality flashlight with a powerful stun gun and is one of the newest products from Guard Dog Security. It has a contoured body that provides an excellent grip. The flashlight has three settings: high, medium and strobe. There is a safety feature with the stun gun that ensures it can’t be grabbed away and used against you. If it is pulled from your hand, a pin slides out, locking the stun gun off.

CRKT’s Outburst spring-assisted opening means the Fast Lane is aptly named. The blade flies into action like a rocket. The G10 handles provide a very positive grip in all conditions, even when wet. The sturdy pocket clip keeps the Fast Lane where you want it, right at your fingertips. The 8Cr14MoV blade is just shy of 3 1/2 inches long, plenty large enough for common chores and tasks yet small enough not to raise eyebrows. The black stonewash finish lends corrosion resistance as well as reducing glare.

The Bat Light is constructed of an aluminum alloy and finished with Type III anodizing, which means it will stand up to just about anything, including muggers and other ne’er do wells. It blasts out a blinding 450 lumens on the highest setting, and it also has a battery-saving low setting as well as an emergency strobe. At just over 16 inches long, it is easy to reach out and touch someone while the lanyard keeps it from slipping from your grasp.

MSRP: $69.99

MSRP: $32.99

MSRP: $49.99


MSRP: $24.99


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Backpack Mancala Game

Solo Stove Ranger Fire Pit

While many hikers and campers will bring along a deck of cards, sometimes it is fun to branch out a bit beyond poker or solitaire. Mancala is a fun game played by moving beads around the board. This set is perfect for travel. It folds up to 6 3/4 x 4 x 2 1/2 inches and fits into its own travel bag. Mancala has been around for centuries but if you’re not familiar with it, no worries; the instructions are included.

Solo Stove has long been at the forefront of portable stoves and similar implements for lighting up the night and cooking dinner on the trail. The Ranger takes that concept to the next level and is a compact fire pit. At 12 1/2 inches high and weighing in at 15 pounds, this isn’t something you’re going to want to tote on your back for miles and miles. But it is a great option for more permanent camps, car camping and patios and decks.

Glacier Stainless JavaPress

Glacier Stainless Base Camper Medium

MSRP: $20.95

MSRP: $269.99

For many people, coffee ranks just behind shelter, food and water when it comes to survival. The Glacier Stainless JavaPress will make sure you have fresh coffee no matter where your travels take you. This is a French press-style maker that is built to last and makes 33 ounces of java at a time. The silicone ring plunger keeps the grounds from squeaking by and into your cup. The double-walled, vacuum-insulated carafe provides great heat retention.

This nesting cookware set from GSI Outdoors includes a 3-liter pot, a 2-liter pot, and a 9-inch fry pan, along with strainer lids and a fitted storage sack. The pots are stamped with graduations for easy measurement. The pot handles flip down when storing the set and they are also coated to avoid burning your fingers. The strainer lids have insulated thumb pads that are great when pouring off hot water from the pot.

MSRP: $39.95

MSRP: $79.95


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Zenbivy Light Pillow

Zenbivy Light Quilt 10°

LTWK Church Key

Guard Dog DoorKeeper

A decent pillow can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a groggy morning. The Zenbivy Light Pillow is a mere 2 1/2 ounces and packs down to about the size of a can of soda, allowing it to find space in the smallest pack. The two-piece construction gives you the option of adding additional soft items inside to increase comfort as well as match the height of your pillows at home. It measures 15 x 10 x 4 inches, giving you plenty of head space as you sleep.

Once upon a time, the church key was found in just about every home and many businesses. It was simply a bottle opener, though many also had a triangular end that was used to punch holes in cans. The Church Key from LT Wright Knives adds even more functionality to this classic tool. Long famed for their precision ground and very sharp knife spines, they’ve added this same 90-degree edge to the Church Key, making it perfect for scraping tinder as well as striking fire steels.

Constructed of 20-gauge steel, the DoorKeeper will withstand the strongest assault. It is designed to be used with standard-sized doors that are either hinged or sliding. It adjusts to fit virtually any situation. Remove the top yolk pin and the DoorKeeper slips right into the track for a patio door. This is a great option for home, work or even school. Keep it propped up behind the door until it is necessary, and it deploys in just a second.

MSRP: $39

This quilt is perfect for those who want the weight of a closed foot-box quilt but the versatility of a full-flat model. The water-resistant duck down fill will keep you warm on the chilliest nights. The 20D fabrication is super soft and comfortable. The quilt packs down ridiculously small into its own mesh storage bag. It comes in three sizes. The Regular is 78 x 54 and weighs just a bit less than two pounds. The Large is 86 x 58 inches and tips the scales at 2 pounds, 2 ounces. The XL is 90 x 64 inches and weighs 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

MSRP: Starting at $299

MSRP: $35

MSRP: $29.99


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‹ Photo by Spyros Photography



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oncerning all things outdoors, Amber Hargrove is a force to be reckoned with! This adventurous and highly active former U. S. Army sergeant has tackled nearly everything wild. She has caught fish with her bare hands, hunted small game with crossbows and shotguns, conducted camping and survival training, even taken several little back-to-nature excursions called “Naked and Afraid.” Amber has been through the mill. Although she’s as tough as nails in the woods, Amber has a softer side. One that translates to teaching others, including her own children, about the wonders that nature has to offer, as well as leading and teaching Boy Scout groups about the basics of self-reliance in the outdoors.

Her training was reinforced and expanded during her 11 years of service in the Army, including two deployments to Iraq. After she left the Army, her experiences were useful in her role as an instructor for active-duty Army troops, where she shared techniques and tips that helped motivate and push them to help make them the best they could be. Today, Amber opens up in an exclusive interview with American Survival Guide, where she is a social media contributor, about her early hits and misses as she developed her outdoor and survival skills. We’ll also learn about her other current and future projects as she continues to learn and grow as a survivalist, instructor and caring mother. AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE During your younger years, was the outdoors a large part


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of your regular daily life? And how did it shape you into the person you are today? AMBER HARGROVE As a child growing up, that’s all we ever did was stay outdoors. There were no video games. There was never a time we came inside unless it was snowing outside. My siblings and I would build shelters, forts and go fishing in all the ponds nearby, bringing home crawfish or snakes. Being taught basic survival skills as a child growing up is one of the greatest things a parent can give to their children to survive in life. I was very lucky, and I’ve been fortunate to have a father who would hunt and go fishing all the time and a mother who always went out of her way to provide for us. ASG Everyone must start somewhere, no matter what field of interest. Do you recall during your earlier years any time that you felt you took on more than you could chew while out in the wild? AH There’s one moment where I was in the Everglades. There was a wild 12-foot alligator that I thought I was able to handle. It was breeding season and they are abnormally aggressive. It almost destroyed me. I could barely pull it out of the water. It slapped me on the ground with its tail and in that moment, I realized I bit off way more than I could chew. ASG You served in the U.S. Army. Do you feel that military training helped with your “Naked and Afraid” challenge, or was it detrimental because of the lack of equipment and/or backup that the military often employs? AH Serving in the U.S. Army 11 years has taught me a set of valuable skills when it comes to working with partners or dealing with stressful situations, especially when it comes to Mother


‹ Above: Amber is at home in the outdoors and enjoys trekking through new and challenging terrain. Photos by Spyros Photography

‹ Photo by David E West



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‹ Far left: After stirring up the embers, Amber checks her fire before stepping away to collect more firewood nearby. Photo by Spyros Photography

‹ Left: Collecting natural materials from her local environment, Amber begins to build a shelter for protection from the elements. Photo by Spyros Photography

Nature. One set of skills that I have is the ability to try anything, no matter what it is. This could be trying a different type of food or not being scared of failure itself. Filming on my 40-day challenge, I tried several different shelters because I wanted my partners to feel as though we were a team and able to grow together. I never said no to anybody’s idea, but I always ensured it was always safe and it would stand up to the test of surviving in the jungle. One thing that most people aren’t prepared for as a survivalist is to go into an environment and not knowing your partner or understanding their skills. Everything that we did on the “Naked and Afraid” challenge we were graded from 1 to 10, so if you didn’t have the ability to communicate with your partner or work with them, it played against you.

ASG Probably an obvious and over-asked question, but how much did being naked, which is not the norm during a survival situation by any means, affect you physically, mentally or even emotionally? AH Being naked while filming for “Naked and Afraid” changes everything that you do. It was difficult not having shoes or having clothes to protect you from the bugs. It gets

‹ Below: Amber cuts a blank out of a serious piece of stock. She’s a big fan of quality knives and has put many to the test during her exploits in the field.

‹ Bottom: Amber served in the U. S. Army for 11 years and rose to the rank of sergeant. She served two tours in Iraq, often depending on the survival skills her father taught her.

ASG How did your time on “Naked and Afraid” come about? Were you approached by the producers? Or did you watch an episode and say to yourself, “That’s a challenge I want to or must take on”? AH I used to be a really big fan of “Naked and Afraid” so I decided to submit one of my videos of me wrestling a 12-foot alligator. I got a call two days later asking if I would go to South America to film for 21 days. At that time I had a secret clearance and I was an active-duty soldier. My commander told me I was unable to go into that country, so I called Discovery and explained my situation and they called me back the very next day offering me the Everglades challenge in Florida. I had a blast in the Everglades, minus the mosquitoes. They would not leave us alone, and at that time, the producer told us we were not allowed to have a fire at night because during past filming, a team burnt their shelter down and incurred second-degree burns. This was crazy because we had so many alligators surrounding us and thousands of mosquitoes with no natural repellent because the mud was mucky and attracted the horseflies. The positive side of the Everglades was that it offered so much food that we ate three to four times a day.


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‹ Far left: Amber tackles the outdoors with innate skills, years of experience and a very large knife. Photos by Spyros Photography ‹ Left: Practice makes perfect so Amber puts some time in at the range to keep her long gun skills sharp.

‹ Bottom: Amber knows the value and benefits provided by a good bush knife. For her, it is an absolute must-carry in virtually every environment. Photos by Spyros Photography

into your head just a little bit. It’s also awkward when you meet your partner and they see you’re completely naked. My partner couldn’t stop staring at me all the time. ASG What is the biggest misconception that you feel most people have about “Naked and Afraid”? And, what was your biggest misconception that was an eye-opener once your challenge began? AH To me, the biggest misconception from the viewers of “Naked and Afraid” is understanding the purpose of being stripped of everything including clothing and shoes. This is what makes “Naked and Afraid” one of the greatest challenges, by testing and pushing all your skills, knowledge, and body to their physical and mental limits. Just the fact that this show is real—no gimmicks, no tents, no mosquito repellent. It’s you, your partner and the wild. For me personally, the biggest misconception was the fact that when filming in Africa, we didn’t have any hunters protecting us from the lions around our shelter at nighttime; not to mention the hippos coming near in the early morning. That was the first time I’ve ever felt fear knowing that the lions were staring at us within 15 feet of our fire. All we had was a three-pronged spear I made for fishing for my partner and myself. ASG How do you feel your peers would describe you? AH A lot of my peers would describe me as a leader—self-sufficient, and reliable. I’m very calm when it comes to stressful situations. ASG What tips would you recommend to someone while they prepare prior to beginning their 21-day challenge on the show? AH I would say practice your skills over and over. Expect the worst but go in with a positive attitude. Be ready to have either the best partner or the worst, but once again staying positive is an absolute must. ASG Whether they’re in the media spotlight or not, is there any one person that you would



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“THERE WAS NEVER A TIME WE CAME INSIDE UNLESS IT WAS SNOWING OUTSIDE. MY SIBLINGS AND I WOULD BUILD SHELTERS, FORTS AND GO FISHING IN ALL THE PONDS NEARBY, BRINGING HOME CRAWFISH OR SNAKES.” absolutely jump at the chance to work with? AH If I could pick an ultimate survival partner I would say, hands down, Matt Graham. His skills are superb when it comes to the outdoor surviving aspect, and I know there’s so much I can learn from him. To me, you want a partner who’s willing to teach you what you don’t have and vice versa. ASG As experienced as you are today, how do you keep your skills sharp and continuously learn new outdoor or survival techniques? AH I currently live in Libby, Montana, where everything is basically, outdoor living. I currently am a Boy Scout leader, and I do training sessions all the time about how to fish, how to set up traps, how to prepare using survival techniques in the wild, aimed at young children. The next step for me as a survivalist would be to push myself as far as I can. When I completed my 40-day challenge in Ecuador for “Naked and Afraid XL,” I realized I can rely on my skills and be self-sufficient in a jungle environment for longer than 40 days, if necessary. I spent two years overseas in Iraq for two combat tours as a U.S. Army sergeant. My first deployment put me in an environment where there were limited resources of food and water. We lived on the inside of our Humvees for three months. I was 19 years of age during my first tour, and that was the moment I realized that with all my survival skills my father had taught me, I’d be able to put them to the test here in a combat zone. ASG What would you say is your greatest strength in the survival world, and what areas would you admit that you could use more practice to really nail it? AH As a survivalist, I am most proud of my water resourcing, starting fires and shelter-building skills. One thing for me that I do need to work on is how to become a better prepper, whether it’s concerning solar energy or seed preparation or the like. I’m currently reading and taking classes on how

GATOR TALES Amber is not afraid to tackle some of the biggest challenges in the wild, and few come bigger than the American alligator. Alligator wrestling is probably not at the top of many individuals’ to-do list, but for Amber, this activity tests and pushes the uppermost limits of her strength, skill, and fearlessness when dealing with this reptilian beast. She started wrestling alligators in 2013 as a way of dealing with her fear of them. When she overcame the hurdle of stepping into the water with the animals, her drive and fear changed dramatically, so much so that she spent the first day training for six hours straight with gators from 3 to nearly 12 feet long. She said of the experience, “Leaning how to react and control the alligator with his tail or being able to manipulate the strength they have to your advantage made me feel like a savage beast out there with them. Swimming and controlling their movements, it’s something that just became a passion of mine.” She also adds, “The one thing they don’t tell you until training starts is that you have to be barefoot walking in the water curling your toes, so you know when you touch the alligator under the water.” Scary stuff, without a doubt. Amber’s fear of alligators is a thing of the past, as she keeps her skills on point by training consistently every year. This not only helps retain her abilities, but it also prepares her mentally for her next outdoor adventure, whatever that may be. To train like Amber, jump in with the gators at Colorado Gators Reptile Park. (719) 378-2612 COLORADOGATORS.COM

‹ Far left: Amber flashed a smile, but kept her grip on the gator, when she came out on top of this wrestling match.

‹ Left: After confronting and overcoming her fear of alligators, Amber is a bit more comfortable with this large carnivore.


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When she’s not training, learning or sharing survival skills, fishing, hunting or leading the Scout troop, Amber provides ASG’s social media followers with updates on her exploits, reality checks for survivalists, and insights about knives and other outdoor necessities on ASG's Facebook and Instagram pages: AmericanSurvivalGuideMagazine and Be sure to visit, like and share our pages and Amber's posts. You can also follow Amber on her social media pages. INSTAGRAM: AMBER_COMBAT_SURVIVALIST FACEBOOK: AMBERHARGROVE/EVERGLADES

to become a well-rounded prepper. ASG Hypothetically speaking, what people (well-known or otherwise) would you want by your side while under survival conditions? And what would each person contribute that would make the group strong and secure? AH I would pick Peter Kohler, who is an outdoor survivalist and a famous knifemaker for the Dark Timber Brotherhood. Also, Matt Graham, who is an outdoor survivalist in all different environments and well known for his training videos. Peter is a strong leader and hunter; Matt is a gatherer and has a calm mindset. I am in between, so this would be the perfect match for going out in the wild and surviving.

› Using her fire-making skills and a little help from natural tinder, Amber will have a roaring fire in no time. Photos by Spyros Photography


ASG Survival, in general, is often underestimated by many non-survival people. What would you say are the top areas where people fall short during real-life survival situations? AH When people go out camping, a person tends to take all the necessities with them. They can’t cope many times when you have practically nothing to work with but still have to make it work. People assume they will always be given everything versus working for it. Going out in the wild and surviving for 40 days in Ecuador made me grateful to sit on a chair and not sit on the dirt or being able to go to the bathroom on a toilet versus a pit. You become grateful for the small things in life. ASG If an inexperienced person wanted to get their foot into the door of survival and self-reliance, where or how would you recommend they get started? AH There are so many ways to start. They


› Amber fine-tunes a beachside fire that she built to cook fish. Photos by Spyros Photography


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‹ Deep woods hunting is just one of Amber’s many outdoor skills. Photos by Amber Hargrove › Amber takes some

time out from a Scout gathering to take a pic with some of the boys in her group.

“FROM CATCHING FISH WITH HER BARE HANDS, HUNTING SMALL GAME WITH CROSSBOWS AND SHOTGUNS AND CONDUCTING CAMPING AND SURVIVAL TRAINING, TO TAKING ... EXCURSIONS CALLED ‘NAKED AND AFRAID,’ SHE HAS BEEN THROUGH THE MILL.” could begin by attending survival or self-reliance workshops. Testing your skills and putting it to the test in the field will build self-confidence. You can’t just read a book and then go out in the wild and say you know how to do something. ASG On that subject, how can a beginner determine the difference between an experienced instructor and someone who jumped onto the bandwagon and started teaching possibly life-or-death skills or techniques without true experience or qualifications?

America, the greatest survivalists, knife makers, and the like. ASG What does the not-so-distant future hold for Amber? And where do you see yourself in, say, 10 years? AH I currently have been working with the Messermeister cutlery company and designing the first-of-its-kind female survivalist camping knife called the Huntress. She will be released to the public in late June. I have a passion for knives. I believe that slapping the color pink on a knife does not make it a woman’s knife. The ability to have a knife that fits any woman’s hand and can be used for all purposes in camping, hiking, or survival situations is what’s important. In 10 years, I see myself being able to live out in the wild on my own land and being self-sufficient. I’ve been traveling around and testing out survivalist products for several companies. ASG Finally, using only three words, how would you describe Amber Hargrove?

AH If you were to go into training with an open mind and willing to learn and feel as though you are in an unsafe environment, you really need to re-evaluate your instructor. Somebody who is experienced will put you in an environment where it’s safe to observe your basic knowledge. Whenever somebody says they like to show me a different type of fire-starting technique or shelter building, I always google their background and see if they are legit or they’re just copying it from a book.

› Right: Confidence

and success in the field don't come easy. Amber's years of experience in the outdoors, training and practice have enabled her to prevail in a variety of hostile environments. Photo by Spyros Photography


AH Strong, caring and inspiring.

ASG Do you have any projects in the works on television, in books, online videos, or anywhere your fans can get more of your diverse outdoor experiences, tips and techniques? AH I’m currently working on a project for a TV series. It will be one hour with the huntress. The show will be called “Forging Across America.” I created the storyline from all of my experiences. I want to find the hidden gems in


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hen talking about preparation in general, it is important to look at it within the structure of what I refer to as the Emergency Threat Spectrum (ETS). This is a tool I created as part of my training syllabus to rate common, everyday emergency events such as short-term power outages and inclement weather events at one end and a total collapse of society on the other. EMERGENCY THREAT SPECTRUM (ETS) Progressing from least to greatest threat: • Common Emergency (Minimal risk to life and limb) • Common Emergency (Life-threatening) • Local/Regional Disaster • National/Worldwide Catastrophic Event We’ll look at a three-pronged, holistic approach to mitigating the risk of finding yourself lacking the financial resources needed to protect and provide for yourself and your loved ones, regardless of where you may find yourself on the ETS. ANOTHER ASPECT OF SECURITY Often, you will hear people (including me) say that you should consider basic human needs, such as food, water, shelter, security, communications, and health when preparing for emergencies. While I stand by that advice, I believe that “security” is too frequently used in a one-dimensional way. Typically, when we think of security, we are referencing weapons to protect ourselves, our family and our property. Those are legitimate concerns, but they don’t address all the security concerns that should be considered when reacting to an emergency or catastrophic event. Chances are, eventually you will run out of rations, your water stores will go dry, tents will deteriorate, batteries will die, weapons will break and your medical supplies will be depleted. When the day comes that your stores are gone or you desperately need something you don’t have, having the resources to buy or trade for supplies vital to your survival is highly valuable. Other circumstances where “valuables” are crucial include times when you must bribe your way past a checkpoint or secure passage to someplace safer or with more available resources. Realistically, someone will always




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LIFE INSURANCE DEMYSTIFIED Fellow emergency preparedness professional Spiro Demetriadi is a longstanding and respected member of the tactical and emergency response communities as well as a successful financial services professional. He provides us with an explanation of term and whole life insurance options. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a life insurance policy as part of your emergency preparedness planning strategy. [T]he primary reason for having life insurance in the first place is to replace the income of the majority breadwinner of the family… allowing them to continue to maintain the same lifestyle that they were living when you were alive. There are generally two types of life insurance contracts: term life insurance and whole life insurance. In both scenarios, if the policy is in force and the insured person dies, their beneficiaries will receive a death benefit. Term Insurance is like renting a house and whole life is like owning a house. Term coverage will end at some point, where whole life coverage will continue until the end of a person’s life, no matter how long they live. Term insurance has a fixed death benefit amount and has a lower monthly premium compared to whole life and when the term insurance contract ends (typically in 20 years), you have no more coverage or cash value. That could be a big problem if you are in your mid 60s and try to secure life insurance. Will your health be good enough to qualify and if you could qualify, could you afford it since the older you get, the more it costs? Whole life has a higher monthly payment compared to term insurance and over time it has cash value growth. The death benefit also grows over time in whole life insurance. Should one day you need access to cash, you can borrow against your whole life contract (like taking out an equity line on your home). The difference is with whole life you can borrow the money tax-free and never have to pay it back, where with a home loan, at some point the bank will need to get paid back. Whatever money you borrow from whole life, it will be subtracted from your death benefit. Many life insurance companies also offer a disability waiver option as part of a life insurance contract. If you qualify, it is a good thing to have because should you ever become disabled, the life insurance company will pay your premium for as long as you are disabled. Here is an example of how to calculate the proper amount of life insurance: Home mortgage: $200,000 Miscellaneous debt: $35,000 Income ($75k for 20 years): $1,500,000 College for children: $300,000 Total death benefit needed: $2,035,000 Another important thing to think about is just like having quality gear that you must depend upon when you need it the most in a survival situation, the same goes in choosing a quality life insurance company. If you are going to be making payments for decades until you die, you want to have the confidence that the company will be around to honor that commitment and pay out that death benefit to your beneficiaries. One way to do that is to look at a company’s long history and financial strength.



‹ Having appropriate insurance on your property should give you peace of mind in knowing that, in most cases, you will not lose your asset without replacement or compensation.

“OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE “VALUABLES” ARE CRUCIAL INCLUDE TIMES WHEN YOU MUST BRIBE YOUR WAY PAST A CHECKPOINT OR SECURE PASSAGE TO SOMEPLACE SAFER OR WITH MORE AVAILABLE RESOURCES.” have something you need and having the ability to make a peaceful exchange of goods or services is completely dependent on each side having something that the other party finds valuable. At the end of the day, financial security, in its most basic intent, is simply giving yourself the luxury of having choices. The purpose of financial security is to provide a sense of comfort and the wherewithal to supplement, complement or restore your survival stores and situation if and when disaster strikes. It can reduce your dependence on assistance from governments, NGOs or the charity and goodwill of fellow citizens and retain your ability to remain self-reliant. PRONG #1: INSURANCE Property Insurance Insurance is what prepping is all about. We are planning and setting aside resources for when they won’t be readily available. For similar reasons, that is why banks make it mandatory that you insure anything they lend you money to buy. It only makes good sense that you should give yourself that same level of protection and confidence knowing that a loss of your property will be replaced or compensated for. Note that this also applies to those who rent their home, since they need to protect many of the same investments as those who own their home. Most emergency events are localized and will come to an end relatively quickly, so it is prudent to make plans to face these situations head-on and do everything you can in advance to expedite your return to normalcy. Having appropriate insurance on your property should give you peace of mind in knowing that your critical requirements and previous way of life will be restored. LIFE INSURANCE We don’t like to think about it, but it bears mentioning that people often die in even small local disasters. When planning your financial safety net, consider adding an appropriate type and size of life insurance policy for wage-earners in your family. With so many families dependent on two sources of income, having life insurance on both parents, for example, can help ensure that financial responsibilities will still be covered after a tragedy. Life insurance is something that


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› Near right: At the end of the day, financial security, when you break it down to its most basic level, simply gives you and your family the luxury of having choices.



‹ Above: The onset of a major or catastrophic event could require you to take some extraordinary measures in order to motivate other people to help you ensure your well-being. Being able to offer money, at least initially, may be a viable option.

‹ Left: Money will only hold its value so long as banks, and ultimately the Federal Reserve, are willing and able to back it up. (Photo by Chris Goldblatt)

‹ Except during a total collapse of our economic infrastructure, there is no better way to ensure that your loved ones are provided for financially in your absence than a life insurance policy.

you can set and forget, and it will be there for your loved ones when they need it the most. In fact, depending on the type of life insurance you purchase, you can borrow money from your policy while you are still alive. PRONG #2: GOLD, SILVER AND COLD HARD CASH The argument for and against precious metals. I am often asked my opinion about hoarding gold, silver, and other precious metals and gems in preparation for a SHTF event. To be honest, I do not agree or disagree with the practice. I prefer to take the stance that a little of everything is better than a whole lot of nothing. What I mean by that is that I find it somewhat presumptuous and maybe even a bit arrogant to assume that any prep is absolutely unnecessary. In my experience, when an emergency takes place, Murphy’s Laws of Combat almost always come to fruition, and the one thing you decided to leave back at the base camp is the thing you will need the most. That said, this prep in particular is about as costly an investment as a person can make, so I guess it really depends on how much money you have to spend on your preps. I will say this: If you want to invest in precious metals and jewels, my advice would be to make sure you have covered the six basic pillars of food, water, shelter, security, communications and health before you go spending thousands of dollars on gold bars. If you decide to invest in precious metals, remember this from the pirate’s rule book: “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.” That said, there are compelling reasons that adopting this financial strategy makes sense. Put yourself in the shoes of anyone who lives in a nation that seems to be in a perpetual state of flux such as Venezuela, Syria, the Congo or any of the dozens of countries across


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› Above: Consider

storing medicine and first aid supplies both for your own use as well as for use as bartering items

› If you are considering purchasing transportation for use in a SHTF scenario then you should consider horses rather than motor vehicles that require fossil fuel since they will be much more difficult to keep running than a horse would be.



‹ Left: While bullets may never completely replace money as a form of currency it is not a bad idea to keep a decent amount in storage to use for bartering should the time ever come when cash holds less or no value.

“RESPONSIBLE FINANCIAL PLANNING IS ANOTHER SMART STEP TOWARD BEING PREPARED FOR AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE.” the globe that are teetering to the far right end of the ETS. You can imagine that anyone who has acquired monetary wealth and still maintains those resources must have exchanged at least a percentage or their wealth into something that holds its worth outside of the nation where they live. In this scenario, it is not hard to understand why gold would be an obvious choice since it packs a large monetary punch into a relatively small package. Even the American government recognized the international language of gold as far back as World War II when members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (the forefather of both the U.S. Army Special Forces and the CIA) were issued belt buckles made of solid gold. They could be taken apart and the pieces used either to bribe or barter their way back to the Allied lines if things went wrong while conducting highly clandestine missions. The bottom line is it can’t hurt to have something that retains value globally and is small enough to fit in your pocket; or, possibly in one of several orifices if necessary. CASH, CREDIT AND OTHER FORMS OF CURRENCY Let’s face it, not many things in this life talk as loud as cash. Many people think that if and when an event occurs that would make money worthless, it's going to be apparent immediately. The truth is that it could take days, weeks or even months before the country has the epiphany that life as we know it has ceased to exist and its restoration is nowhere to be seen. It is during the period of uncertainty that cash, more than other currencies, will still hold at least a percentage of its value. It is because of this that I always recommend people carry

a decent supply of cash in small bills in their bug-out kit and in home emergency kits. Whether an event takes out electric power locally or regionally, the size of the area affected is not going to make much difference to the individual. The result will still be that the internet will not work, ATMs will be down and cash may be your only way of acquiring much-needed supplies until the banking system can be brought back online. Most of us have experienced similar situations, and even a temporary disruption can have a significant effect on our daily routine. How many times have you walked into a store with signs that read, “Cash only! Computers are down”? For this reason, I suggest you keep your credit and/or debit cards with access to cash available because most emergencies do not affect vast areas. Assuming you have the ability to travel some miles, you ought to be able to access your bank accounts.



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When you’re planning for emergencies, it helps to have ready access to a significant stash of cash and other currencies in order to maintain as much normalcy as possible while you recover from the devastating event that compromised your way of life. The ability to continue to provide food, water, shelter and security for yourself and your family after a catastrophe is critical for your survival.

› Far right: If you don’t plan thoroughly, you may end up on a long line, similar to these unemployed and homeless men who are waiting outside a municipal lodging house to get free dinner during the Great Depression (circa 1930) › Right: A refugee

mother holds her small child to comfort her in a makeshift camp after fleeing their home as a result of the violence and chaos brought on by several years of the fighting that has engulfed her homeland.

PRONG #3: TANGIBLES Truly the most valuable possessions, after life itself, are those things that we can touch, feel and use in some way to make life better during a survival situation. Were you stranded on a deserted island, a 20-pound bar of gold would be worth little more than any other rock of similar size and weight. It is because of this that, above all, I am a true believer in taking a holistic approach to preparation. The one thing that I always recommend to my students and readers of my books is to acquire real property. This includes land, structures, vehicles, food stores and all of the items necessary to thrive in a survival scenario.


In prepper circles, you will often hear people say that they are hoarding small arms ammunition for a time when money no longer holds value and ammo becomes a new form of payment for goods or services. I don’t disagree with this thought process. In fact, there are parts of our country, often some of the more rural and remote areas, where people regularly barter as a means of obtaining supplies throughout the year. That said, I think it is a slippery slope when it comes to choosing the items that we think will be most valuable when barter becomes the primary method of transactions. I think that it is a better idea to have a decent collection of generic items with long, if not indefinite, shelf lives to store away with the sole intent of using for barter, trade, or gifts. Ammunition, particularly small arms ammo of standard size such as .22LR, is a great start. There are many other things that we take for granted now but that will hold substantial value when they are no longer available in the traditional way. Toilet

› Below: Imagine

an event so devastating that you had to drop everything, grab as many belongings as you could and escape from your home and try to find safety and protection someplace completely foreign to you.



paper, feminine hygiene products, alcohol, powdered milk, medicine and first aid supplies are a few and the list can go on and on. I'm sure that naming just these few items has led you to thinking of scores of other things that, while commonplace and low in trade value now, would be of great value if they were no longer so easy to acquire. SUMMARY There is no way we can know what the future holds, and therefore we can’t plan for every potential contingency. However, you can lower your risk of being caught unprepared by taking a holistic, multifaceted approach to your preparations, particularly when you are considering what to do with your money. Responsible financial planning is another smart step toward being prepared for an uncertain future.


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‹ Left: The Personal Survival Vehicle from Lucky Gunner Garage is purpose-designed to take you and your family halfway across the country in comfort and safety without resupply.

Lucky Gunner Garage PSV Specifications


he ideal doomsday bug-out vehicle needs to be powerful, agile and bulletproof. It ought to tote a family of four along with their food, water, support gear and hound halfway across the country without resupply. It should be comfortable but still look really, really scary. Gus Johnson lived out of a Humvee for weeks on end as a Marine machine gunner in Iraq and Afghanistan. Johnson and his team normally custom-build hot rods and rock crawlers. When he set out to craft the ultimate end-of-theworld bug-out truck, the result was simply epic. WHO NEEDS ONE OF THESE? One minute it was all social media, Google Maps, Uber, and Yelp. The next, everything was dark. Cell phones and TVs wouldn’t work, and the power was out. The Lexus was deader than Hitler’s soul. Thankfully, it was a Saturday, and the kids were home. School is eight miles away. That would have been bad. The first few hours were kind of novel. Then the sun went down. They could see flames in the direction of the city and heard sporadic gunshots. The faint sound of a woman’s screams wafted in with the breeze. That was it. They had to leave. He had been a systems engineer for a big defense firm before hanging out his own shingle. Now his modest company gave him the resources to indulge his vaguely paranoid


• Overall length: 194 inches • Width: 87 1/2 inches • Height: 88 inches (without roof rack and accessories and with 46-inch tires) • Wheelbase: 144 inches (with 46-inch tires) • Weight: 12,500 pounds (wet) • Fuel Capacity: Two 40-gallon fuel cells • Top speed: 75 mph • Approach angles, front and rear: Near vertical • Engine: 5.9 L 6BT Cummins 12 valve • Horsepower: 215 at 2,500 rpm • Torque: 440 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm

› Near right: The Lucky Gunner Garage PSV is a formidable and capable vehicle that's ideal for when the SHTF.

› Right: The tires are the same as those used by GI MRAP vehicles.


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streak. His wife tolerated it so long as she had her trinkets, too. His wife’s parents lived on 200 acres of heaven three states away. A creek burbled through the place. His father-in-law was a compulsive gardener with a hobby-sized flock of chickens. That was the extent of the plan. Make it to Grandma’s and then fret about the details. They loaded the vehicle quietly. They had rehearsed this before. He slipped behind the wheel, closed his eyes, and prayed. The big 5.9-liter Cummins diesel turned over and caught just like always, and everybody sighed collectively. The man lifted the garage door manually. He pulled the massive truck out into the street, driving by the glow of the parking lights and FLIR. They carefully navigated roads littered with abandoned cars, discarded cell phones, and the occasional corpse. It was 800 miles to the farm. With a range of nearly twice that, fifty gallons of potable water, and enough hardware to shoot their way out of a crisis, they nosed west, thankful to be alive.

PARANOID? NOT REALLY… A nuclear detonation in the ionosphere would do it. A massive solar flare is all but a statistical certainty. Earth is typically subject to a catastrophic coronal mass ejection roughly once a century. The Carrington Event in 1859 overloaded telegraph wires and set paper messages alight. And then there’s just plain old natural disasters or people behaving badly. The list of situations under which you might have to bug out is unsettlingly long. Enter the Personal Survival Vehicle (PSV) from Lucky Gunner Garage. THE MISSION The mission statement is to take a family of four plus a dog 1,500 miles without refueling. The vehicle has to be bulletproof and capable of fording bodies of water more than 6 feet deep. The truck needs a full 34 inches of ground clearance. This vehicle must be watertight and capable of withstanding an electromagnetic pulse. It should also be able to break most posted speed limits and allow the owning family to live out of it in relative comfort for a week or more. It also needs to look just super cool. That’s a pretty tall order. However, I’ve met Gus. He likes a good challenge. PERTINENT PARTICULARS—THE MUSCLE Lots of folks adapt existing vehicles for high-threat environments. Johnson and his crew started with a clean sheet. The basic chassis is about the size of a Humvee but a bit longer. Everything everywhere is massively overbuilt. The frame sports a triangulated four-link suspension. The 2.5-ton Rockwell Detroit locker axles are the same kit that the military uses on their Deuce-and-a-Half trucks. The 46-inch run-flat tires are the same rubber Uncle Sam uses on his MRAP vehicles. Each tire will support 14,000 pounds.

‹ Below: The PSV will ford water obstacles up to 6 feet deep.



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‹ Left: A 16,000-pound winch gets the vehicle out of ridiculously bad situations.

› Right: Everything

about the Lucky Gunner Garage Personal Survival Vehicle is insanely overbuilt.

The snout of the beast sprouts a 16,000-pound Warn winch. The truck includes Wilwood disc brakes both front and rear. The wheels are oriented both well forward and well back. This feature draws from customized rock climbers and allows the truck to scale near-vertical slopes. Get close enough for the rubber to grip, and the truck becomes a monkey. That requires a lot of power. The power plant is a 5.9-liter twelve-valve Cummins diesel. This simple multi-fuel engine will run on most anything flammable. Snorkels connect the air intake and exhausts for deep-water fording. Additionally, the truck is built like a giant Faraday cage to harden the electronics against EMP.


The crew compartment and mechanical components are shielded with 3/16-inch AR500 ballistic steel. Critical spots like doors and other vital areas sport twice that. 2.25-inch Level 8 ballistic glass from Patriot Armor comprises the windshield and windows. All the glass is rated to stop at least five rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition. The whole vehicle is lined with a Linex anti-spall coating. THE BRAINS The truck sports reclining bucket seats both front and rear with seatbelts for four human occupants. Taking a cue from his time manning a belt-fed machine gun in combat, each seat has its own access hatch up top. This allows for quick egress in an emergency, even in unusual attitudes. It also allows the vehicle’s occupants to stand in the seat should they need to interact with the world or fire weapons. The truck has FLIR (forward-looking infrared) cameras forward, aft, and on its sides. The FLIR feeds a pair of 14-inch monitors set in the dash, one for the driver and the other for whoever is riding shotgun. The vehicle includes a heavy-duty air conditioning and heating system and is coated on the inside with a full two inches of high performance insulation. There is a touchscreen system in the cockpit that controls the radio, onboard navigation system, and CB. There is room on the outside for extra fuel and space on the inside for 50 gallons of potable water.


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Water purification systems are built in so you can utilize any available bilge to keep your family hydrated on the move. A built-in water heater lets you have a hot shower. There is ample interior storage space. There are also flush-mounted power ports all over the exterior to drive camp lights, radios, or whatever else you might want to power up when you’re powered down. TAKING IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL As if that weren’t enough, the PSV can also include an optional remotely operated turret system. This appendage is managed via a standard PlayStation 4 controller from within the vehicle. If you struggle to operate the thing, just ask your 12-year-old to show you how. The turret can accommodate a remote camera system or a pair of AR-15 rifles. Outfit that brace of black guns with Beta C-Mags, and you’re ready for any reasonable threat along with most of the unreasonable sorts. All targeting and fire controls can be managed while under armor. The turret system telescopes so you can set the truck in defilade behind cover and recon the countryside without exposing anything pink and soft. Whether you stick with the camera or opt for the firepower, this remotely operated turret system offers some serious survival tech. The system allows you to identify and address the threat before it actually becomes threatening.

Johnson had big plans to move to Alaska and live off the grid. In his early 20s he suffered a terminal case of wanderlust, and the Great White North was beckoning. Then al-Qaeda flew airplanes into buildings. Johnson scrapped his plans to become a professional mountain man and walked into his local Marine Corps recruiting station. At 26 years of age he was the Old Guy in his gun truck when they blasted their way into Iraq in 2003. After four years in the Corps, he learned what it was like to live and fight out of a vehicle. He ran the Mercedes Interim Fast Attack Vehicle in combat and did his time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then the years and the lifestyle started to take their toll, and he traded his Ma Deuce for a box wrench. At first, Johnson worked cheap for Chris Durham Motorsports. These guys make the world’s most radical rock crawlers. He didn’t make much money, but he learned the art of building roll cages and mountain-climbing jeeps from the best. Taking this institutional knowledge of frame building, powerplants, and hyper-rugged drivetrains, he struck out on his own about six years ago. For six years, Johnson built custom hot rods in New Hampshire. These low-riding street cruisers are the stuff of teenage boys’ dreams. Even Pee Wee Herman could have landed a hot date rolling in one of these bad boys. Now Johnson and his guys are custom-building end-of-the-world tactical vehicles. Their company motto is pirated from George Patton: “Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man.” In the PSV from Lucky Gunner Garage, we see one seriously sweet rolling fortress.

‹ Top left: A snorkel on the air intake allows deep water fording.

‹ No place for skimping, the PSV’s large and burly skid plate is ready for serious duty.


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“JOHNSON AND HIS TEAM NORMALLY CUSTOM-BUILD HOT RODS AND ROCK CRAWLERS. WHEN HE SET OUT TO CRAFT THE ULTIMATE ENDOF-THE-WORLD BUG-OUT TRUCK THE RESULT WAS SIMPLY EPIC.” ‹ External cameras on all four sides feed imagery into internal monitors during daylight and dark. ‹ The PSV is heavily armored all around.

‹ State-of-the-art electronics nestled within Faraday cage-like construction keep the PSV secure and comfortable come what may.

‹ Generous fuel tanks, a built in water purification and storage system, all aspects armor, and ample room for weapons and gear make the PSV nigh invulnerable.

‹ The Personal Survival Vehicle from Lucky Gunner Garage was custom-built from scratch for its singular mission. ‹ The interior of the PSV is both spacious and rugged.

PHILOSOPHY Johnson and I have both lived out of a Humvee in a desert for weeks on end. I personally vowed to find a new job that never made me do that again. By contrast, Johnson took his hard-earned tactical knowledge and applied it to creating the world’s most capable go-anywhere survival vehicle. Starting from scratch, he built the tactical truck he would have wanted when he was serving downrange. Harder than a Humvee yet still plenty sweet,


the PSV from Lucky Gunner Garage is like a bulletproof wall-climbing limousine. This monster will keep you and yours fed, watered, safe, and clean while it literally traverses half the country on a single tank of fuel. When the world goes crazy, the PSV just rolls right over it. Now here’s the bad news. Making one of these awesome new vehicles yours will set you back a cool quarter-million bucks. Armored luxury rock crawlers that will chug comfortably through a nuclear strike do not come cheap. However, $250,000 is not the scary figure it once was. I cannot afford one, but I know people who could. This testosterone-soaked leviathan offers literally unprecedented peace of mind in the face of Lord Knows What. Think of it like end-of-the-world life insurance you can drive. It will also catapult its new owner to the coveted position of coolest dad in the pickup line at school. It’s tough to put a dollar value on that.

S O U R C E S Lucky Gunner Garage (603) 662-0633


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n September 2017, the United States’ island territory of Puerto Rico, with an estimated population of 3,337,177, endured a one-two punch from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The hurricanes destroyed the island’s already fragile infrastructure, leaving it without electricity and communications and making roads impassable. Irma, a Category 5 hurricane (winds of 157 mph or greater), arrived Sept. 6, 2017, with the eye


passing just north of Puerto Rico. It hammered the island with tropical storm-force winds and heavy rains, causing widespread damage, collapsed structures, uprooted trees that blocked roads, and the near-total loss of electricity and clean water for several days. Without time to recover or even assess the damage caused by Irma, just 14 days later, on Sept. 20, Maria made landfall as a category 4 hurricane (130 to 156 mph winds) with


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› Upper right: Spc. Conner Adams, 922nd Engineer Company, Louisiana National Guard, guides Spc. Javier Rivera, 130th Engineer Battalion, Puerto Rico National Guard, who is using a backhoe to clear debris from Route 5523 in Utuado, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 23, 2017. Due to mud slides and fallen trees, branches and power lines, Route 5523, which provides passage from the remote mountains to the town, was nearly impassible and required clearing to allow twoway traffic. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez/Released, DVIDS.

› Lower right: This is an aerial view of destroyed homes in the mountainous area of Utuado, Puerto Rico. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck, thousands of homes, businesses, roads, bridges and government buildings suffered major damage or destruction due to strong winds, heavy rain and landslides. Photo by Andrea Booher/FEMA, DVIDS.

maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. Maria thrashed the island, with some areas reporting almost 38 inches of rain within a 48-hour period. The rainfall from Irma and Maria resulted in flash flooding and landslides too numerous to count, which further blocked roadways and covered homes and structures. The Guajataca Dam, which forms a reservoir holding roughly 11 billion gallons of water, suffered structural damage. The island’s communication and transportation systems were seriously damaged, and the power grid was destroyed, which resulted in massive outages and at least 1,000 residents waiting 18 months before electricity was restored. FACT-FINDING At the time of writing, finding credible and accurate information regarding the events that followed this disaster was much like a scavenger hunt, with even the death toll in question. Initial official death tolls were three from Hurricane Irma and 64 from Hurricane Maria. Later, two separate studies were conducted on the death toll. The first, conducted by the Harvard Center for Health and Human Rights, was released in May 2018 online at the New England Journal of Medicine, and estimates 4,645 deaths were attributable to Maria, of which about one-third occurred due to lack of access or delayed access to health care.

The second study, ordered by Puerto Rico’s government, was conducted by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico and was published in September 2018. This study estimated 2,975 deaths were attributable to Maria and stated the death toll discrepancies were largely due to physicians failing to follow proper death certification procedures for disasters. The governor of Puerto Rico raised the official death toll to 2,975, based on this study. GOVERNMENT AND NGO RESPONSE The relief effort was an all-hands-on-deck federal response. National government agencies that responded included: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Army Corp of Engineers, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency



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‹ Left: Residents of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, inspect the damage to a section of road that collapsed and continued to erode days after Hurricane Maria swept through the island.

“AT THE TIME OF WRITING, FINDING CREDIBLE AND ACCURATE INFORMATION REGARDING THE EVENTS THAT FOLLOWED THIS DISASTER WAS MUCH LIKE A SCAVENGER HUNT, WITH EVEN THE DEATH TOLL IN QUESTION.” (EPA), National Guard units from more than 21 states, Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The Department of Defense deployed over 11,000 personnel with focus on distributing food, supplies, clean water and fuel for hospital generators, clearing roads, repairing damage to the Guajataca Dam, and restoring sewage and wastewater treatment services. Numerous nongovernment agencies and charities responded. Some of those included the American Red Cross, Americares, Corporation for National and Community Service, All Hands and Hearts and Oxfam America. These charities provided generators, medical care, medical supplies, tarps, tents, food, water, water filters, solar lights and hygiene products. Factors that contributed to the lack of accurate and reliable information include the sheer magnitude of the disaster—Puerto Rico is approximately 3,500 square miles in size. With roads impassable and no electricity and cell phone service, communication was mostly nonexistent. Numerous disjointed agencies, both government and non-government, responded but with countless lives in imminent danger, recordkeeping was likely not a high priority. Just a few months before the hurricanes, Puerto Rico had filed bankruptcy, owing $70 billion to creditors. The island was in a recession, foreclosures were on the rise and budget cuts for public services were already in the works, making an accurate determination as to the economic impact resulting from the storms

› Right: This map shows the location and type of all 16 billion-dollar disasters to hit the U. S. mainland in 2017. Image Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). https://www.ncdc.

BILLION-DOLLAR DISASTERS Disasters on this scale do not happen often, but they do occur more than you may think and sometimes receive little media coverage. NOAA keeps statistics on U.S. natural disasters that cost $1 billion or more. Between 2008 and 2018 there were 124 events resulting in reported deaths of 5,514. These natural disasters included droughts/heat waves, flooding, freezing conditions, tornados, severe storms, winter storms and wildfires. In 2017 alone, there were 16 natural disasters in the United States with damages of $1 billion or more.


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› Top right: A familiar scene near Jayuya, Puerto Rico on Oct. 9, 2017, many cars and houses were engulfed in mudslides due to heavy rain. After Hurricane Maria, many homes, businesses and government buildings suffered major damage due to strong winds and heavy rain. Photo by Eliud Echevarria FEMA, DVIDS.

› Middle right: Survivors fill their water tanks with water they collect from streams along the Carretera 10 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Local residents installed PVC pipes to make water collection easier. Photo by Yuisa Rios/FEMA, DVIDS.

› Bottom right: Citizen-Soldiers of the Puerto Rico National Guard patrol one of the main highways in a metropolitan area affected by the flood after Hurricane Maria. Photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos/ PRNG-PAO, DVIDS


nearly impossible. However, it is estimated that 30,000 jobs were lost as result of the storms and their aftereffects. The damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands was estimated to be $90 billion, and the USDA reported 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s crops, valued at $780 million, were destroyed. With electric and cellular services down, emergency responders were issued satellite phones. However, mainland newspapers reported that communication by satellite phones often did not work, leaving responders unable to communicate with one another or authorities. Residents of the island had no means to communicate with one another or authorities or stay abreast of developments or emergency situations and two days after Maria made landfall, it was feared the damage sustained to the Guajataca Dam would result in dam failure. The National Weather Service and local authorities issued warnings for the 70,000 residents in the area to evacuate; however, without cellular service or electricity, these warnings went largely unheard. Fortunately, the dam held and was later repaired by the Army Corp of Engineers. That same day, the American Red Cross reached out to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL, the National Association for Amateur Radio) for help, requesting 50 volunteer ham operators to support communication efforts. RELIEF IS SLOW TO COME Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, only about 5 percent of the power grid was operational. Out of 69 hospitals on the island, 11 had power, less than half of the residents had access to drinkable water, 95 percent of the island had no cell service, and more than 11,000 people were in shelters. On Sept. 28, 2017, eight days after Maria struck, more than 10,000 shipping containers of relief supplies (food, water and medical) were stranded at the Port of San Juan. Many truck drivers did not report to work, and efforts to reach them failed as there was no cell service. This, combined with a fuel shortage and impassable roads, meant that the supplies could not be shipped to the interior of the island. Military veterans who were residents of Puerto Rico during the hurricanes told the Military Times the aftermath was chaos.


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PRIMARY SOURCES Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Center for Puerto Rican Studies Energy Information Administration

‹ People walk across a flooded street in Juana Matos, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 21, 2017, as the country faced dangerous flooding and an island-wide power outage following Hurricane Maria.

“THE UNIVERSALLY RECOMMENDED “3-DAY SUPPLY OF FOOD AND WATER” STORED FOR EMERGENCIES DID LITTLE, IF ANYTHING, TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION OF THE PEOPLE OF PUERTO RICO.” One described being without electricity for five months and collecting buckets of water from a river. Another described the days after as being like a zombie apocalypse, stating that after a week people started going crazy, there was no gas or clean water, and looting and riots became commonplace. Without electricity, water pumps and sewage systems were inoperable, and people began turning to rivers and streams for their needs. It was also reported that people were using well water near a hazardous waste site. There were 74 illnesses that were suspected to be a result of consuming contaminated water. Puerto Rico was deemed a disaster area by FEMA on Oct. 2, 2017. On Oct. 3, nearly 14 days after Hurricane Maria had pummeled the island, the USNS Comfort, the Navy’s hospital ship, arrived in San Juan carrying 800 medical personnel. The universally recommended “3-day supply of food and water” stored for emergencies did little, if anything, to improve the situation of the people of Puerto Rico.

FEMA Government of Puerto Rico Military Times education/2018/09/25/like-school-in-athird-world-country-one-year-after-hurricane-maria-student-vets-in-puerto-ricoovercome-daily-struggles/ Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University FINAL%20Sept%2024%202018%20 AGM%201325hrs.pdf

New England Journal of Medicine NOAA pdf Red Cross National/publications/hurr-maria-oneyear-update.pdf U.S. Census Bureau U. S. Department of Agriculture pr/home/?cid=NRCSEPRD1350825 U. S. Department of Defense Article/1474579/army-committed-to-restoring-puerto-ricos-power/ U. S. Geological Survey

National Weather Service

‹ Far left: Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 12, 2017. Carlos Murati, Public Assistance staff, assesses extensive road damage in Cubuy, Naguabo. Heavy rain brought by Hurricane María caused a landslide that destroyed the roadway and left a water pipeline exposed. Photo by Yuisa Rios/FEMA, DVIDS. ‹ Near left: The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort helped support Hurricane Maria aid and relief operations. U.S. Air Force Photo by Capt. Christopher Merian, DVIDS. [ASGMAG.COM] AMERICAN SURVIVAL GUIDE

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THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY Timelines for recovery efforts were varied and too numerous to detail in this article. Highlights are outlined below and provide a realistic snapshot of the restoration process as of this writing. 2 Months Nov. 10, 2017: 500 of Puerto Rico’s 1,100 schools remained closed as each school building had to be inspected and vetted by the Army Corp of Engineers before reopening. Some schools were doubling as community centers or temporary housing for residents displaced by the hurricanes. 6 Months March 2018: A little less than 7 percent of customers remained without electricity (approximately 233,602). Operation Blue Roof, managed by the Army Corp of Engineers on behalf of FEMA, installed blue plastic sheeting as roofs. The sheeting was designed to last 30 days. By March 22, the Army Corp of Engineers and government contractors had installed 59,469 blue roofs. 7 Months April 2018: The Puerto Rican government listed 283 schools that would close permanently due to budget cuts. The number of schools closed as a direct result of the hurricanes is unclear, due to Puerto Rico’s financial situation prior to the storms. The Center for Puerto Rican studies estimates that more than 160,000 residents relocated to the United States mainland in the first year after the storms and that schools lost 26,674 students as a result of families leaving Puerto Rico.


Based on electricity sales data from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, 62,000 customers were still without power (the Energy Information Administration released this data in August 2018, which also confirmed all power was lost immediately following the hurricanes). It is important to note that “customers” are defined as electric meters, not people, so the number of people without power is an unknown multiple of the number of customers. 9 Months June 2018: It was estimated that more than 6,000 utility customers (electric meters), primarily in remote areas, still did not have power and that much of the island was still running on hundreds of generators supported by the Army Corp of Engineers. 12 Months September 2018: Roughly 250 communities still did not have access to the main water system. 14 Months November 20, 2018: The governor of Puerto Rico wrote a letter to congressional leadership in the U.S. outlining measures still awaiting approval for recovery. In the letter, the governor stated that communities in and around a tidal channel were still facing health and safety issues as over 3,000 structures were discharging raw sewage into the channel, exposing 27,000 residents to polluted water. The letter also indicated that emergency response work remained to be done on over 15,000 properties posing a threat to public health and safety, with these properties in need of demolition or debris removal. 17 Months February 2019: It was reported that roads

‹ Left: This home was destroyed when the Río Grande de Añasco river and the storm surge caused by Hurricane Maria flooded El Maní in Mayaguez. Photo by FEMA/Yuisa Ríos, DVIDS.

‹ Below, left: A worker installs a temporary blue roof (aka: tarp) in the municipality of Ciales, Puerto Rico. Operation Blue Roof was a collaboration project between FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which sought to allow survivors to stay home until permanent repairs could be made to their homes. Photo by Eduardo Martinez/ FEMA, DVIDS.

‹ Below, right: Karlian Mercado, 7, rests on the rubble that remains of her family's home in Hayales de Coamo, Puerto Rico, after it was blown away by Hurricane Maria.


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“THE HURRICANES DESTROYED THE ISLAND’S ALREADY FRAGILE INFRASTRUCTURE, LEAVING IT WITHOUT ELECTRICITY AND COMMUNICATIONS AND MAKING ROADS IMPASSABLE.” were still in poor condition, and housing repairs remained a major challenge. While FEMA provided an individual aid program for home repair, at least 533,000 people had been denied benefits as they could not provide property titles to prove home ownership. The Puerto Rican Planning Society estimates 260,000 homes were built without proper documentation or permits while the Puerto Rico Builders Association estimates that 700,000 homes and commercial buildings were informally built and passed down through generations without proper documentation. 18 Months March 2019: The Puerto Rico Power Authority announced it would be connecting the last 1,000 customers without access to electricity to the main power system.

‹ A view of the neighborhood of La Perla in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 22, 2017, before Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck.

19 Months April 2019: Thirteen months after the 30-day roof sheeting was installed, it was reported that tens of thousands of people still had blue roofs. Several power outages occurred across Puerto Rico every week, lasting 1 to 24 hours. A SAD SUMMARY There were numerous obstacles to overcome in providing help to the residents of Puerto Rico after suffering two devastating back-to-back hurricanes: It’s an island—you can’t drive there; the airports and seaports had to be cleared of debris and made safe before planes could land or ships could dock; pre-existing infrastructure problems compounded the amount of destruction and slowed repair efforts; inadequate fuel supplies slowed the flow of supplies; the entire grid infrastructure was down, preventing water and power supplies and communications; roads were swept away by floodwaters or blocked by trees, mudslides and debris. While FEMA and many other government agencies and NGOs provide guidance on emergency preparedness and suggest a kit with a three-day supply of necessities, realistically a three-day supply is sorely lacking for even small power outages. Imagine surviving a large-scale disaster such as Irma and Maria in which you may be without power, water or communication for more than a year. The bottom line: you must be prepared to take care of yourself for the long term.


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he less other people know about you, the better. This is vitally important for concealed gear, firearms and other self-defense weapons. Although the obvious solution is to hide it under or throughout your clothing, there is one glaring problem — most everyday clothes are not designed or intended for such concealment purposes, and that’s where specialized attire comes into play. Today, and luckily enough for those who prefer or need to be prepared, there are numerous choices in the world of concealment clothing. From the more common jacket and pants to less obvious choices such as women’s leggings, men’s vacation shorts or even a sophisticated dinner jacket, hiding your firearm, knife, or even your keys and credit cards has never been easier.



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C4 Double Shoulder Holster Overview


Lying just beneath your suit or sport jacket is this amazing dual shoulder holster. Featuring incredible adjustability, breathability and ease of access, it gives you quick access to not one but two pistols, ready for whatever situation arises. The holster is machine washable and hangs dry without any loss of shape or stretch. Multiple sizes are available to fit nearly anyone’s unique body proportions.

• Adjustable shoulder and torso positions • Open back for breathability • Up to two optional trigger guards available • Comfortable and form-fitting • Made in the USA

MSRP $92


C4 Cross-Draw Men’s Tank with Mesh Back Overview


This tank offers a strategically positioned holster, allowing you to make your cross-draw quick and efficient, all the while keeping your firearm concealed when going about your normal daily activities. It’s perfect for concealed carry when at the office, at a formal party or just under a casual collared shirt; your options are many. Soft, stretch fabric makes wearing it all day a pleasure, while the mesh back keeps you cool during summer months. Available for left and right draw in six size options and seven colors.

• Reinforced holster side prevents sagging • Optional custom trigger-guard insert • Constructed of comfortable, soft-stretch fabric • Machine wash in cold water • Made in the USA

MSRP $64



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C4 Deep Concealment Daily Bra Overview


Sometimes women’s clothing is form-fitting, intentionally tight in places, or “skimpy”, especially in summer months or warm climates, which makes it difficult to conceal a pistol for self-defense—until now. This daily-wear bra offers all the benefits of a traditional underwire bra, but with the added bonus of a concealed carry option. It features smooth and comfortable material, additional pockets for magazines or small gear and best of all it keeps your firearm out of sight, but quickly available when the need arises. Available in most sizes and choose from black, white or nude color options.

• Can be discreetly carried all day • Smooth Lycra construction, with underwire and elastic support • Adjustable shoulder straps and bra closure • Integrated mesh accessory pocket • Made in the USA

MSRP $72


C4 Women’s Original Thigh Holster Shorts




An ideal way for women to carry their protective firearms, these thigh-high holster shorts provide comfort and concealability under nearly any garment. Whether hiking up a mountain, or dancing the night away in a club, this outof-sight holster provides quick access if things go wrong quickly. Don’t fear ripping, as this fabric is soft, durable and exhibits a high degree of stretch, perfect for the active self-reliant woman.

• Reinforced holster panel • Magnetic retention tab stabilizes firearm • Seven color choices • Integrated mesh pocket holds small essentials • Made in the USA

MSRP $71



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CCW Breakaways Khaki Pants Overview


Walk about town with confidence and security knowing that your firearm is nearby, and without anyone the wiser. These khaki-style pants offer patented holster pockets, for right- or left-hand users, internal Velcro attachment points, external sleeves for TriggerGuardShield (TGS) installation and breakaway snaps under the waistband for speedy firearm withdraw. Best of all, no external logos give away your secret. Yes, these are no ordinary dress pants!

• “Normal-looking” khaki pant design • Relaxed fit allows greater mobility and flexibility • 100 percent cotton material • Prewashed and pressed to eliminate shrinkage worry • Durable YKK Brand zippers

MSRP $85.99


5.11 Tactical Braxton Jacket Overview


Fool all those around you with this casual everyday-looking jacket, sporting a few big secrets. Designed to discreetly hide, secure and allow access to your firearm in their RAPIDraw pass-through front-hand pockets, you’ll take almost no time reacting when it’s time to defend yourself. Two ReadyPocket compartments and two horizontal pockets round out this jacket’s unique and discreet design. Its weatherproof hood packs easily in its collar during pleasant weather and the militaryinspired design goes well with casual or dressed-up attire.

• Dual ready-pocket compartments with hook and loop closures • Articulated sleeves with adjustable cuff snap tabs • Packable hood zips easily into collar • Two horizontal chest pockets with zippered opening • Double weave 92/8 polyester/ elastane with water-repellent finish

MSRP $159.99



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SCOTTeVEST Jacket for Women Overview


Designed for today’s active woman, style and functionality come together to create this versatile jacket/vest combination. Sporting nearly two dozen concealed pockets, all gear, gadgets and personal items will have their own, secure home. This jacket is available in six exciting colors and features RFID protection, a personal area network, weight management system and a useful and always-at-hand keychain. Sizes from small to extra large.

• 23 Pockets • Removable sleeves • Versatile style and function • Internal mesh pockets accommodate large cell phones • External sleeve storage pocket

MSRP $175


SCOTTeVEST Hidden Cargo Shorts Overview


Few things are more mundane than a pair of cargo shorts, but this pair breaks that stereotype with a sledgehammer! With an incredible eight pockets strategically constructed throughout this summer favorite, these shorts can carry your phone, keys, small knives, money and credit cards, and much more during the summer months or when you’re out on vacation. Choose from pebble, blue or gray colors in a variety of sizes that look good, fit comfortably, and keep your EDC gear nearby.

• Great casual attire during spring or summer months • Two deep front slash pockets with divided change pockets • Two subtle shallow front pockets • Accommodates large cell phones • 100 percent cotton, machine washable and treated to repel stains

MSRP $70




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SCOTTeVEST T5 Sport Coat Overview


Whether dressing up for a sophisticated dinner or discussing your future plans in the boardroom, you’ll look not only elegant and polished, but also be fully stocked for nearly any emergency. Sporting pockets to hold knives and small arms, or everyday items such as your cell phone, tablet or personal papers, everything will be in its place and hidden from everyone nearby. With a suave, secret-agent vibe, this jacket will be the crown jewel of your formal wear collection.

• 19 hidden pockets • Integrated keychain • Weight management system keeps item weight balanced • Water resistant • Polyester/Rayon/Spandex blended material

MSRP $235


SCOTTeVEST Enforcer Jacket Overview


Ideal for security personnel, law enforcement or anyone needing the perfect jacket for CCW, this amazing piece of clothing offers two-and-a-half dozen concealed pockets with enough space to carry all your personal gear. From carrying a tablet to a cell phone, to your I.D. and money, to knives, cameras and sunglasses, you’ll be fully loaded and none the wiser to anyone nearby. Quick access panels allow you to retrieve your weapon of choice, while all your sensitive electronics are RFID protected.

• 30 pockets • Rapid access panel accommodates a CCW • Removable sleeves • 100% polyester & machine washable • RFID protection

MSRP $200



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5.11 Tactical Men’s Capital Pants Overview


Built for toughness and freedom of movement, Capital pants not only hide key pieces of gear, small firearms and knives, but also look and fit great in the process. Low-profile cargo pockets allow you to discreetly hide items out of your way and without becoming too bulky or cumbersome as you move. The Capital pant also matches well with nearly any type of shirt, from a tee to a button-up, offering you increased versatility when out in public. Choose from black, stone, ranger green, flint, brown and peacoat colors.

• Designed for toughness and freedom of motion • Waistband features flex cuff tunnel and cuff key pocket • Discreet magazine pockets keep ammo hidden • 77% polyester, 33% cotton Flex-Tac canvas with Teflon finish • Six diverse and exciting colors

MSRP $84.99


C4 Reversible Woman’s Tank Top




Women’s exercise clothing has become everyday wear in today’s society, making hiding a weapon difficult, except with this incredible tank. This soft-stretch fabric top offers multiple compartments including a compression style holster, and others to hold additional magazines, your cell phone or car keys. Also, this tank has a secret; it’s reversible to meet your individual concealed carry needs. Magnetic retention keeps your firearm secure and with the tank’s low neckline, no one will know you’re wearing this under your everyday wear. Choose from eight colors.

• Multiple, various-sized compartments • Wear forward or backward depending upon individual needs • Constructed of comfortable softstretch fabric • Machine washable • Made in the USA

MSRP $65



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5.11 Tactical Woman’s Vista Pants Overview


Slim fit, modern design and plenty of pockets, the Vista is an ideal choice for women who want to blend into today’s fashion world, while keeping gear of all sorts well hidden and accessible when needed. The bi-stretch, double weave material and contoured waistband offer comfort through a long day, and with reinforcements throughout the garment, these pants will last for years under steady use. Wear for style or practicality; either way it’s a definite win!

• Eight total pockets, including two cargo drop pockets and two back mag pockets • Nylon 6 reinforced front hand pockets • Contoured elastic waistband • Bartack reinforced belt loops • Four-way stretch, double-weave fabric

MSRP $74.99


5.11 Tactical Men’s Icon Pants




These are cargo pants … on steroids! Constructed of tough, flexible fabric with a Teflon finish for stain-resistance, these pants offer not only years of use but also the benefits of true concealed carry options. From internally divided cargo pockets, to multiple mag-carrying compartments, there’s a pocket for virtually everything you want to conceal. Ideal for casual weekend use or when trekking though the outdoors. Available in six colors including black, khaki, kangaroo, ranger green, flint, and dark navy blue.

• Extreme-comfort waistband • Cargo pockets with interior dividers • Nylon 6 reinforced inside hand, utility and cargo pockets • 80/20 polyester/cotton Flex-Tac ripstop with Teflon finish • Dual knee articulation

MSRP $79.99



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Enjoy Long Walks In The Woods Hunting Small Game.

The Chiappa Firearm’s Little Badger Folding Rifle and Double Badger Folding Shotgun/Rifle are perfect for hunting, survival or fun recreational shooting. The Little Badger is available in .22LR, .22WMR or 17HMR and comes with a free backpack. The Double Badger is available in 20GA/.22LR, .410/.22LR, .410/.22WMR or .410/243WIN and features Williams™ Fiber Optic Ghost Ring and front sight.


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ry thinking about how you’d get by in your regular life if suddenly an earthquake altered your normal day-to-day urban existence. Suddenly, a lot of what you normally depend upon is gone, or altered, or reduced. Does life require electricity? How will you meet your basic needs? Where will you get your water and your food? What do you use for a toilet?

ONE MAN’S STORY This is the story of how one man and his family began on the path of self-reliance, and how an earthquake tested his level of preparedness. In 1965, Dude McLean and his young family moved into a house in Kagel Canyon, in the hilly northern section of Los Angeles County. He liked the house because there was a live stream

behind it that flowed year-round. “It was in the L.A. area, but I always felt distant from the L.A. craziness,” says McLean.

› Below: ABC News' Science Editor Jules Bergman surveys the carnage at the Olive View Medical Center after the Sylmar earthquake.

FOOD PRODUCTION McLean, a former U.S. Marine, wanted a place where he could be as self-reliant as possible, even though his property didn’t have a lot of land. He grew carrots, kale, corn, beans, squash and more in his garden. “We grew 90 percent of our own produce,” says McLean, who brought in horse and chicken manure and lots of mulch to enrich the soil. “Most of the work of gardening and producing your own food is in the preparation stages. After two years, I could shove my arm into my garden soil and it would go all the way up to my elbow,” he says with a laugh. Once his garden was established, he could water it well in summer and go away for two weeks. Upon returning, the garden would be fine, even when the weather was very hot and dry. OTHER SUPPLIES McLean wanted more than simply food preparation, so he began to build up the family’s supply of camping gear. “I already had a pickup truck with a camper on it, and I began to purchase camping gear such as Coleman stoves, lanterns, sleeping bags, an ice chest, and even a portable toilet. And we always purchased our gear used, if possible,” he says. McLean explains that his family frequently went camping, and so the



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‹ Jules Bergman, Science Editor for ABC News, examines damage to a building after the Sylmar earthquake with Dr. F. Beach Leighton, then Chairman of the Department of Geology at nearby Whittier College.


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› Right: Dude McLean provides some insight on being prepared for emergencies and disasters during a DirtTime podcast recording.

entire family was well-versed in what it took to live in the field and live well. “We all knew how to camp,” says McLean LIGHTING Since his canyon home was somewhat remote, it would occasionally lose electrical power for various reasons. McLean purchased kerosene lamps for the home, and eventually had 35 gallons of kerosene fuel stored. He felt that the kerosene lanterns would ensure more-reliable long-term lighting than would battery-operated lanterns. “Batteries can fail,” he commented. “Well, you can also run


› Below: Anthropologist Paul Campbell shows McLean a traditional arrow that he made by hand. According to McLean, these primitive skills will always be useful, and should be learned along with modern skills.

out of kerosene, but I felt that the kerosene was a better choice.” He continued to obtain kerosene lanterns (eventually he had six), extra tents and blankets stored throughout the house, garage, and in his camper. His camper, fully equipped for life in the outdoors, had been customized with dual gas tanks and had a range of about 800 miles. He added that the then very real threat of a U.S.S.R.-U.S. nuclear exchange was a strong motivating factor in his home preparedness.


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‹ Far left: McLean shows one of his portable Coleman stoves, one of many he has had over the years.

‹ Near left: McLean says that it’s good to have various thermoses on hand, to keep food warm for many hours

WATER “We had our own water supply in the canyon, supplied by artesian wells, but it always bothered me that the water supply could be interrupted for various reasons. So I always liked the fact that we had this stream behind the house,” says McLean. McLean obtained two 40-gallon barrels and started to store water by filling up used glass pop bottles, with his goal being to supply enough water for the entire family. He eventually obtained 10 of the large glass Sparkletts water cooler bottles for water storage. He also collected rainwater when he could.

› Above: McLean shows one of his favorite lanterns. He is a fan of using kerosene lanterns because they are not dependent on batteries.

FOOD “We began to experiment with drying our own food, and we did so on old window screens. We put the sliced food on the screens, and put another screen on top to keep off the flies. He then began to store canned goods, such as meats, fruits, vegetables and other items they used. “You have to remember,” he says, “that we


› Right: The Sylmar earthquake was catastrophic in many ways, as evidenced by this destroyed road.


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› Above, left:McLean suggests that everyone store various foods that do not need refrigeration. Included here are trail mix, dried beef and blueberries, among other foods.

› Above, right: McLean shows a variety of his lanterns and explains their relative merits to a class.

never had any extra money. I couldn’t go out and just buy a lot of stuff, even if I wanted to. I had three children, and was self-employed. I would just spend a few extra dollars each time I went shopping and would store a little more food. I never went out and made some big purchase. It was all done little by little, and I often purchased canned items when they were on sale.” He says that the only food he purchased in bulk were beans, rice, and red winter wheat. He purchased a crank grinder and would grind wheat as needed for their bread and pastry items.


BACKGROUND ON McLEAN Dude McLean is a former U.S. Marine. He spent much of his life in the music publishing business, but he never lost touch with his love for the land and the skills of self-reliance. Besides writing a music publishing book, he was a contributing writer for Wilderness Way magazine and American Survival Guide. He has served as a preparedness consultant for many groups and organizations. He was one of the founding members of, and continues to write a blog at He lives in the desert in Landers, CA.

‹ McLean shows his pack and preparedness gear during an outdoor program.



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THE TEST Then in 1971, when he and his wife were both 33 and his children were 2, 9, and 12, the 6.7 Sylmar Earthquake hit. “As the crow flies, we were only about 5 miles from the epicenter of this quake,” explains McLean. It was about 6 a.m., and McLean pauses to recall the event. “The noise of the quake was deafening. I can’t even describe it. It was like being next to a train going by and you can’t hear your conversation, but multiply that by 1,000. The earth was grinding and moving, and it was like a massive shockwave hit the house. It was very much like being hit with a bomb. My first words when the quake began was ‘They got us,’ thinking we were hit by a Soviet bomb.”

But he simultaneously realized it was an earthquake. There was crashing in his house as stuff was falling everywhere. He ran into the bedroom of his two youngest children and, while the house was still shaking, held one under each arm and ran them out of the house to a big field across the street. “The house had four doors as exits, but I could only get one open because the others were jammed. So I took the two youngest to the field, set them down, and told them to stay. Then I ran back into the house, barefoot, and got the older daughter out of the house.” McLean took her to the field across the street with the other children, and then went back to the house. “My wife was turning in circles in the house,” said McLean. He explains that all the walls were lined with plates and bookshelves and everything was being tossed into the center of the room, falling over and breaking. In the kitchen, every cabinet had emptied onto the floor which was littered with broken glass. “I don’t know how I escaped getting my feet cut,” says McLean, “but I just grabbed my wife, and we all went over to the field and stood there while everything was still shaking. I


‹ Left: McLean (left) and Paul Campbell (right) working on a brush shelter, being filmed for a documentary. [Photo by Alan Halcon]

‹ Below: McLean and anthropologist Paul Campbell talk about how to finish building a traditional shelter. ‹ Below: McLean (left) and Alan Halcon are cooking soup in a hollowed yucca stalk, using hot rocks to heat the soup. These primitive skills demonstrate that you could still have hot meals when everything you own is washed away, destroyed, or burned.


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LIST OF ESSENTIALS TO HAVE IN CASE OF AN EARTHQUAKE · Food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, packaged in durable containers · Water, sufficient for your family for two weeks · Camp stove and fuel for backyard cooking · Adequate first aid kit · Emergency lighting (lanterns, candles, solar-powered lights, etc.) · Portable toilet (and plenty of toilet paper) · Plastic bags and sanitation supplies · Fire extinguishers · Tools (pry bar, shovels, etc.) · Battery-operated radio, TV, and computer · Replacement batteries and chargers

could see that all the transformers on the telephone poles were down, and some houses up the creek had been thrown off their foundations and into the creek.”

› Near right:McLean has developed extensive outdoor skills, most of which can be utilized in the aftermath of an emergency. Here, McLean (left) and Alan Halcon are preparing to do hot-stone cooking in a hollowed yucca stalk.


cleaning up the living room, planning to use it as the bedroom that night. The next day, since they had relatives in the high desert, McLean took the family to the relatives and then returned to the house. THE CLEANUP McLean worked on cleaning up the house for the following week by himself. He noted that it took four days for the government emergency services to get to the canyon, bringing water supplies. It also took at least three weeks for the regular water supply to be restored, and at least that long for electricity to be restored. “The government can be very slow in reacting to emergencies, but we had plenty of supplies in food and water,” he says. “I had a porta-potty, and I could bury the contents in the yard when full. He had a total of 120 gallons of stored water, some of it in glass containers that did not break because they were packed well. “I didn’t just take care of myself,” said McLean. “I shared food and water with neighbors. I showed neighbors how to get water from the creek and boil it. It is still amazing to me that some people didn’t know to do this. Knowing your neighbors is probably the best way to prepare for emergencies, beside storing things and learning skills.” Eventually, little by little, the utilities were restored and life got back to normal. “After the quake, I remember thinking, wow, I did the right thing,” says McLean. “Here I was preparing maybe for war, for the Soviets to bomb us, or maybe for unemployment, but not for an earthquake like this. And I was very happy to be prepared.” McLean explains how he continued to study self-reliance and survival skills, and built up an extensive research library of over 600 books. “But all the books in the world are no good if you don’t put the information into practice,” he adds. “I got to the point where I had a whole room in storage, and if I didn’t have to go to the store for two years, I could have done that. We could have lived off the grid for two years, and I had backup systems for my backups,” he laughs. ADVICE According to McLean, “The most basic thing for people to do is to have at least a few weeks of food and water. Plan at least a gallon of water per person per day – preferably more. And don’t store everything in one place, since you may not be able to get to your gear. Think through all your daily needs, make a list, and begin to get your supplies for sleeping, shelter, eating, cooking, lighting— everything.” With the pride of a father, he points out that all three of his children are very self-reliant today because they grew up that way, knowing how to camp and knowing how to deal with the needs of life. “Remember, I had to learn all this little by little, and we experimented,” he added. “Sure, we were also preparing for possible emergencies, but we all had a great time doing it.”

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT McLean explains that when it got light, neighbors checked on other neighbors, and there were no major injuries or deaths. The water line that provided water to the 200 or so homes in the canyon was broken every 6 to 20 feet, and telephone, electricity, and gas lines were out. The main access road to the canyon had shifted about 2 feet, so you needed a truck to get in or out. About 30 percent of the homes in the canyon were destroyed. Some people packed up and departed and never came back. About a dozen houses were shaken down to rubble piles about 4 feet high. Homes were down in the creek. McLean’s family cooked some food on Coleman stoves for breakfast. Since there was no electricity, the family had no news reports and no idea how bad the situation was beyond the canyon. They got through that first day by


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READY FOR WHATEVER COMES You need tools you can count on. So it’s good to know you have a made-in-the-USA Kershaw automatic. The blade snaps out of the lightweightaluminum handle with authority, ready to perform when you need it.


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READY FOR EVERYTHING 6/14/2019 4:54:40 PM





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› Near right: A USB hard drive could be used to copy your files, instead of a costly backup system.


s an information security manager, I’m frequently asked, “How do I secure myself online?” The answer? You can’t. In this digital world, you can minimize your risk, but total digital security or privacy is a myth unless you are willing to turn it off, unplug it and remove the batteries. THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) When you purchase internet connectivity, a company will install it through one of many methods (DSL, cable, satellite) and typically include a wireless router for Wi-Fi (wireless computer networking). Your equipment may connect to the internet through your wireless router, through the equipment manufacturer or vendor’s connection. With IoT, you can connect your computer, printer, television, refrigerator, baby monitor, nanny cam, home security, electric meter, smartphone and a number of other devices.


› Above right: In May

2017, the WannaCry ransomware virus made a worldwide attack targeting computers running Windows operating systems. WannaCry encrypted data and demanded ransom payments to be made in Bitcoin. Kaspersky Labs reported approximately 700,000 computers were infected. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

AS AN INFORMATION SECURITY MANAGER, I’M MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED, “HOW DO I SECURE MYSELF ONLINE?” THE ANSWER? YOU CAN’T. While this offers much convenience, how many people really understand how it is setup and works together? Even being a technology expert or having the funds to hire one, doesn’t ensure security. In 2013, the department store chain Target was breached, with credit and debit card information stolen for about 40 million customers and contact information for about 60 million. This breach occurred through Target’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. Target allowed remote access to their HVAC system in order to monitor energy consumption, temperature, and alert managers if either fluctuated out of a preferred range, to address these issues and perform maintenance. When remote access was set up, the HVAC system network was not cordoned off from Target’s payment network.




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At Black Hat USA 2015, two security researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, took remote control of a Jeep Cherokee over Sprint’s cellular network. They had control of the steering wheel, engine, brakes, transmission, door locks and more. The full explanation of how this was achieved can be found at In 2017, researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium were able to clone the key fob of a Tesla Model S using approximately $600 in equipment; and in 2018 vulnerabilities were found in Medtronic’s Carelink 2090, used by doctors to control pacemaker settings, which could have resulted in harm to patients. Vulnerabilities for both have since been corrected. While I was working as an information systems manager, a co-worker told me how he had purchased a new computer and printer, set them up and was working from home. After three failed attempts to print, he called technical support. While he was on the phone with HP technical support, a neighbor rang the doorbell and handed him three copies of his document. How did that happen? It depends on how it was set up; he may have connected to the neighbor’s printer, Wi-Fi router or

RISK IS EVERYWHERE Gartner, the leading technology research and advisory company, forecasts there will be 14.2 billion connected devices in 2019 and 25 billion by 2021. Do you have an Amazon Echo? It has been reported Alexa may be eavesdropping and storing those audio files. I expect bad actors (criminals) are cringing as law enforcement has attempted to gain access to those audio files. I would suggest care in what is discussed in the same room with Alexa. Certainly don’t talk about bank account information, home security or passwords. That information is being stored and I don’t believe Amazon is impervious to a breach. Think about how your conversations are getting to Amazon’s servers (computers)

and who else may be listening? You may want to check out this article from Wired magazine: hackers-turn-amazon-echo-into-spy-bug. There have been reports of wireless baby monitors and home security cams being hacked, including the popular Nest brand. Nest says that their systems were not breached and that the incidents were due to customers using compromised passwords exposed on other websites. The microphone on your cell phone can be remotely activated. Law enforcement purportedly has had the ability to remotely activate cellphone mics for quite some time. And your text messages? Not secure.

‹ Opposite page: While it’s very convenient to deposit checks by simply taking pictures of them and submitting the images to your bank, you may be endangering the security of the check’s writer as well as yourself when you do this.


‹ Left: Some of the main targets burglars often focus on are personal technology devices. In most cases, the keys to your kingdom can be found and used to access information and money, especially if your safeguards and passwords are weak.


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USEFUL LINKS This article does not include an antivirus/anti-malware review, however, there are some great reviews at the following links. PC MAGAZINE CONSUMER REPORTS AV TEST – THE INDEPENDENT IT SECURITY INSTITUTE Includes Windows, MacOS and Android, as well as The Internet of Things

computer. One, or perhaps all, of these devices were set up without a password to access. When Wi-Fi is setup it is given a network name, my co-worker did not know his network’s name or that there even was one; otherwise, he would have selected a printer on his network, not his neighbors’. Here are some basic questions to ask your provider/vendor about your current devices and new purchases: • Does it have Wi-Fi (Bluetooth is Wi-Fi)? • Is it automatically enabled? • How do I turn it off and on? • Is a password required to access it? • What is the default password? • How do I change the default password? (Make sure everything has a password, change all default passwords, and don’t lose

› Right: Once accessed, your private information may be sold on the darknet, where it can be used to wreak havoc on everything from your financial affairs to your personal reputation.



the passwords.) • What is the network name? How do I change it? • Is it encrypted? If you have the option, choose encryption WPA2 or WPA3 (we won’t go into encryption in this article). Think of each device you have with Wi-Fi turned on as a person continuously jumping up and down, yelling, “Hey, over here, my name is whateverdevice.” This is a purposeful design to enable you to easily find and connect to your devices, but that means others can find them as well. Decide if you really need Wi-Fi to be on all the time or at all. If you don’t need it, turn it off; if you use it only sometimes, turn it on only when needed.



SOCIAL ENGINEERING Online activities pose many more security challenges, and among the biggest is social engineering. Social engineering is a method that bad actors use to manipulate people into doing or telling something that collectors

‹ Above: Considering the large number of apps in use, it is wise to be selective in choosing apps and what types of information you share through them.

‹ Left: Many of our daily tasks can be augmented by our electronic devices. These same virtual assistants can allow access to our personal and financial information, whether we are careful or not.


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‹ Left: Bad actors are at work 24/7 to find ways to get to your finances and other assets. It's up to you to do all you can to prevent them from succeeding.


IN 2013, THE DEPARTMENT STORE CHAIN TARGET WAS BREACHED, WITH CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD INFORMATION STOLEN FOR ABOUT 40 MILLION CUSTOMERS AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ABOUT 60 MILLION. THIS BREACH OCCURRED THROUGH TARGET’S HVAC (HEATING, VENTILATION AND AIR CONDITIONING) SYSTEM. can use for monetary gain or to break into systems. Common tactics include phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, and email messages. The bad actor pretends to be a friend, someone from technical support, law enforcement, the IRS, your bank, your boss, etc. These scams are too numerous to detail. If you are contacted in one of these ways, do not give out personal information (Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank account or routing number, user name, passwords, credit/debit card information) without first verifying the request is legitimate. Look up the phone number/address for the requester and call or visit the requester. Never send personal information to anyone via email, because email is easily intercepted and read. For example: Bad actors send a spoofed email (the email’s “from” address is forged) from an executive of a company to an employee and ask the employee to conduct a wire transfer or purchase gift cards for them (company and employee information is readily available on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook). Bad actors send a spoofed email that appears to be from someone you know with a link or an attachment purportedly for a video to watch, a document to read, or a website to visit, but the link or attachment actually contains or directs you to a site that contains malware (e.g., a virus, spyware, keylogger), which downloads to your device (computer, smartphone or tablet). It is not uncommon for someone you know to have their computer compromised and their address book copied, so a group of your associates or friends may be targeted at the same time. If you receive an email you are not expecting, even from someone you know, don’t click on any links or attachments, and don’t follow any directions given. Contact the sender, preferably by phone, and verify. Even if the email is legit, you have no way of knowing if their computer is infected, but you have minimized your risk. Delete any suspicious email received. When you delete an email, it is not actually deleted, it is moved to “Trash” or the “Recycle Bin” to allow you to recover emails deleted accidentally. Suspicious emails should be removed from “Trash” or the “Recycle Bin” to ensure they are not

inadvertently recovered or accessed. While unlikely, it is possible to get malware from just reading an email if you are using an email client that supports scripting (a series of commands). Today’s email clients for Windows and webmail (Gmail) typically do not support scripts. There are always updates and upgrades to consider that may inadvertently open vulnerabilities for bad actors to exploit — they are always looking for a way — so proceed with caution. SURFING THE WEB Viruses and ransomware (a virus that locks you out of your device until you pay a ransom) can infect your device simply by visiting an infected website, sometimes by tricking you into clicking on something. Sometimes it’s a “drive-by” — the malware is embedded in the

ID THEFT When your personal information is stolen, it is most often sold on the darknet. Bad actors purchase your information for the purpose of identity theft (to make purchases with credit/debit card or take out loans in your name). The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and CyberScout released their 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report, which estimated 446,515,334 records containing consumer personally identifiable information were breached in 2018. Additionally, it was reported that 1.68 billion records considered nonsensitive were exposed. This included email username and password combinations. ITRC is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 that is nationally recognized and was founded to help support victims of identity theft. If you think your personal information may be compromised: The ITRC can be reached at (800) 400-5530 (IDTheftCenter. org). Contact the credit bureaus and request a fraud alert or credit freeze. This will notify those granting credit in your name to verify your identification before extending credit or freeze your credit. You need only to contact one of the credit bureaus; they will typically advise the other two as a courtesy; it is easier to accomplish online than it is by phone. Experian – (888) 397-3742 ( TransUnion – (800) 916-880 ( Equifax – (888) 548-7878 ( (Equifax was breached in 2017, exposing personal information on 143 million people) You should also monitor your credit report. You can get a free credit report at, which is part of Experian.


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› Near right: It is common today for people to perform many financial transactions via the internet. Unless you take serious precautions, you may be putting yourself and your financial assets and stability at great risk.


webpage’s code so all you need to do is visit the page. The best defense against malware is: • Install patches and upgrades (don’t forget your smartphone). Oftentimes malware exploits vulnerabilities that are fixed with patches and upgrades. I always wait about a week after a release before installing, as sometimes the upgrades and patches inadvertently cause something to not work. • Install anti-virus/anti-malware software. There are many great products on the market and there is not a one-size-fits-all. None of them give you 100 percent protection. With a little research you should be able to find one that fits your needs and budget. Even if purchasing is not in your budget, there are decent free antivirus/anti-malware programs. Reading reviews that include features and cost are most helpful in determining the one(s) to use. Among my favorites are Bitdefender and Malwarebytes. I use both. • Back up your data. It is not necessary to purchase costly backup equipment. For most users, an external USB hard drive or USB flash drive has ample space to copy your data (e.g.,

‹ Above, left: Using strong passwords and keeping them secure, employing credible and effective virus and malware protection, and a heaping measure of common sense will reduce your chances of becoming a hacking victim.

‹ While companies and individuals that use the internet are concerned about security and billions of dollars are spent on this every year, there is no foolproof way to prevent your equipment and data from being hacked at some point.


documents, pictures). After making a copy, disconnect your drive to keep any malware you may get from spreading to your backup device. ONLINE SHOPPING Formjacking is malicious code used to steal credit card information from the payment forms of checkout pages on retailers’ websites. Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report estimates an average 4,800 websites are compromised each month. A few high-profile cases include British Airways and Ticketmaster UK. Symantec and Malwarebytes are two programs to look at for defending against formjacking. My advice is put your debit card away; if your debit card gets compromised, your bank account could be wiped out, which may cause overdraft fees and/or leave you without funds until you jump through the hoops with your bank.


› Above: This is a glaring and all too common example of bad password management.



SOCIAL NETWORKING Not only can the information you post on social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn) be used in social engineering scams, it can also be used to commit robberies and other crimes. After just a few minutes watching or reading the news, you will find reports of burglaries that resulted from people posting vacation pictures on Facebook. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates 54.3 percent of robberies and simple assaults in 2017 were perpetrated by people known to the victims. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates one in seven young internet users receives unwanted sexual solicitations; 76 percent of the time the first contact was made in a chat room – Facebook does have chat rooms. To minimize your risk, consider waiting until you get home to post vacation pictures; don’t check in to places on Facebook; turn location services off on your smartphones; monitor what your children


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post online, especially pictures and personal information such as address and phone number. ONLINE BANKING With today’s technology, you can transfer funds from one account to another, one bank to another, and take pictures of checks and deposit them through your smartphone. To minimize your risk, make sure that any device you use is kept up to date with security patches and upgrades. Install an antivirus/anti-malware program on any device you use for online banking and keep it updated. When researching antivirus/ anti-malware protection, look for extra security for your online banking needs (e.g., Bitdefender’s Safepay). Memorize your bank’s URL, don’t click on a link or bookmark to access your bank’s website. Don’t use a username or password on your bank’s site that you use anywhere else. Don’t use public Wi-Fi (hot spots) when conducting online banking. Make sure the Wi-Fi connection you use is set up properly, encrypted and password-enabled. When you have finished your transaction, make sure you log out before you close the browser, and make sure you close the browser. PASSWORDS How long should they be? Should I save them if asked? Should I use a different password for every device and every website? How do I keep up with them all? How often should I change them? The answers depend on what you are doing and the environment you are in. For the most part, secure websites, such as your bank’s, will dictate how long your password needs to be, what characters need to be used and how often they need to be changed. You should not create simple passwords that are in a dictionary, anything that is readily available online, such as your children's or pet’s names, the road you live on, or where you work. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently changed its recommendations for passwords, suggesting that complexity and frequent password changes led to poor password behavior, which was less secure in the long run. NIST recommends no complexity, no password expiration and an eight-character minimum. I have to say I disagree with these recommendations when it comes to high-risk websites (your bank) and devices (e.g., a smartphone that has files containing your financial information). For high-risk sites and devices, I recommend that you use a unique password for each. Passwords should be at least eight characters, should be nonsensical words, and contain upper and lower case and symbols (@#%$*&). While this may be difficult to remember, pick a long word or phrase and change some of the characters to symbols and numbers, an example: I don’t like hackers could be changed to 1D0ntL1keH@cker5. I don’t recommend saving passwords. If someone steals your smartphone or computer, you don’t want them to be able to log right into your accounts. Unless you suspect your account has been breached, I don’t see the benefit of changing passwords. If you have several high-risk devices or accounts, then a password manager (e.g., Keeper Security) may be useful. Regardless, don’t write your passwords down and store them under your keyboard or on the refrigerator. Digital security is up to you. The best you can do is mitigate the risk. For every new piece of technology, there is someone, somewhere trying to figure out how to exploit it, and you.





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f one were to draw a Venn diagram to illustrate the intersection of knife brands that are high quality, reasonably priced, and made for actual use, you’d find Kershaw right in the center. It seems as though every year they outdo themselves with innovative products that have real world applications. Recently, I acquired two of their newer knives, the Link and the Launch 6. I carried each of them for several weeks and put them through some tests to see how they held up. I can’t say I was entirely surprised by the results.

LINK – OUT OF THE BOX The Link is not my first knife that has Kershaw’s SpeedSafe opening technology. This assisted-opening feature swings the blade open nearly as fast as an automatic knife. Simply pull back on the flipper with your finger and the blade slams into place. The lockup on the blade is perfect, no wiggle at all from front to back nor side to side. The blade is secured open with a liner lock. As the blade swings into position, the flipper becomes part of the handle’s integral guard. The handle is shaped such that the thumb quite naturally slides into position along the back of the handle. The handle back is also curved so it follows the contour of the palm. The blade is 420HC steel covered with a black oxide finish called BlackWash. This gives it a very handsome appearance. The Link comes in either blue or gray and I chose the blue because it was not only more striking to my eye but because it would be easier to spot if I set it on the


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ground or accidentally dropped it. The aluminum scales are very slightly textured. The pocket clip is reversible, allowing for either right or left carry. The Link is set up for tip up style carry in the pocket, which is my preference. There is also a lanyard hole, which is a nice feature as many people like to keep the knife deep in their pocket and have an attached lanyard hang outside. In addition to the mild texturing on the scales, the Link has a ridged black plastic spacer along the back of the handle that also helps to provide a secure grip. PERFORMANCE I carried the Link with me for a few weeks and used it as my primary blade during that time. This entailed opening innumerable boxes and envelopes, slicing fruit and veggies, and cutting cordage, among many other related tasks. As I do with every knife I review, I don’t sharpen or touch up the blade in any way throughout the testing process. I carry it, use it, and then put it through a short series

“THE LINK IS NOT MY FIRST KNIFE THAT HAS KERSHAW’S SPEEDSAFE OPENING TECHNOLOGY. THIS ASSISTED-OPENING FEATURE SWINGS THE BLADE OPEN NEARLY AS FAST AS AN AUTOMATIC KNIFE.” of specific tests to see how it holds up. In other words, the knife was already fairly well-used before the following tests were performed. Now, here’s the thing about 420HC steel. It is a great everyday steel. It will take a hair-popping edge easily. It is also fairly rust-resistant, making it a great choice for a knife that’s going to be used outdoors a lot. But, the downside is that it doesn’t hold that scary sharp edge over long periods of regular use. For the first test, I grabbed a hank of 550 paracord and began slicing it into smaller pieces. When I do this test, I use different parts of the edge for each cut, so as to spread the wealth, so to speak. The Link made it through each cut, though toward the last one or two it did take a little more force than the first couple. I’d score it 8/10. Next, I pulled out a length of 3/8-inch sisal rope I keep on hand for knife testing. Sisal is an abrasive material and tends to dull knives quickly. I cut several pieces off with the Link and it made it through each cut just fine. We’ll call it 9/10. For the final test, I brought out a handful of leather scraps. I had to work a little to get the Link to slice through the leather as by this point the edge was noticeably dulled. Not butter knife dull, not by a long shot, but enough that I could tell as I made the cuts. I’ll score this test at 7/10. LAUNCH 6 – OUT OF THE BOX I’ve wanted an automatic knife since I was probably ten years old or so. How long ago was that? Well, when I was a kid, I was our family’s remote control for the TV, spinning the dial between the three stations we had available to watch. So, suffice it to say that I was very excited to get my hands on the Launch 6. The Launch 6 is just one of several automatic knives being produced by Kershaw.

‹ Top left: The lanyard hole on the Link is large enough for just about any common type of cordage. Credit: Jim Cobb ‹ Middle: The pocket clip can be swapped to the other side of the Link or removed completely if the user desires. Credit: Jim Cobb

‹ Bottom left: The Link sliced through several pieces of paracord without much hesitation. Credit: Jim Cobb



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› Top right: Sisal rope is abrasive, making it a great test for a knife edge. Credit: Jim Cobb

Link › Right: Leather scraps posed a little trouble for the Link but only because it had been used quite a bit prior without any maintenance at all. Credit: Jim Cobb

› Below: The stonewash finish on the blade makes for a very handsome package. Credit: Kershaw Knives

Specifications • Overall length: 7.6 inches • Blade length: 3.25 inches • Weight: 4.8 ounces • Steel: 420HC, with black oxide BlackWash finish • Handle: Blue anodized 6061-T6 aluminum

MSRP: $79.99 HTTP:

› Just a simple pull on the flipper will swing the blade into action in a flash. Credit: Kershaw Knives


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‹ Top left : The Launch 6 is a tool, nothing more, but it is a pretty cool tool. Credit: Kershaw Knives ‹ Near left : The Link rides deep in the pocket but high enough for ready access. Credit: Kershaw Knives

‹ Far left, middle: The Launch 6 blazed through cardboard like a laser, with no trouble at all. Credit: Jim Cobb

The action on this knife is powerful and fast. The first time I pressed the button, the knife nearly jumped out of my hand. The button has a low profile design so as to reduce the chance of an accidental opening in the pocket. Once locked in place, the blade feels as sturdy as a fixed blade knife, with absolutely no slack anywhere. The button serves as the blade release as well. The knife is very slim, just half an inch at the widest point, not counting the pocket clip. This makes for a very comfortable hold. The blacked-out appearance is tactical, yes, but not overly intimidating. Meaning, if you whipped this out in the office to open your mail, folks would probably raise an eyebrow over the fact that it is an automatic blade more than the overall appearance of the knife. At almost nine inches in total length, the Launch 6 isn’t a small knife. Yet, it feels lighter than it should at less than four ounces. This is due to the aluminum handle material.

Launch 6 Specifications • Overall length: 8.7 inches • Blade length: 3.75 inches • Weight: 3.8 ounces • Steel: CPM 154 with DLC coating • Handle: Black anodized 6061-T6 aluminum

MSRP: $189.99

› The Launch 6 certainly has a tactical appearance but not ridiculously so. Credit: Kershaw Knives

› The pocket clip is removable and the hole on the end of the Launch 6 allows the user to add a lanyard and carry it deep in the pocket, should they desire. Credit: Kershaw Knives



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‹ While one might not think of using an automatic folding knife for kitchen detail, the Launch 6 performed admirably in that capacity. Credit: Jim Cobb

The handle has some stylized texturing in spots but the overall shape is what will keep it in your hand in challenging conditions. There are a few arcs and angles that assist greatly with retention as well as lending a great degree of comfort. The blade is CPM 154 steel with a black DLC coating. DLC stands for Diamond Like Coating. It is a blade finish that provides a degree of scratch resistance. While DLC can be polished, on the Launch 6 it has a matte finish and feels not unlike a chalkboard. The pocket clip is reversible from right to left. The knife is carried in the tip up position, as with the Link. There is a lanyard hole, though it is smaller than the one on the Link. PERFORMANCE Once I was done devoting time to carrying the Link, I moved over to the Launch 6. This became my daily carry knife for about a month and I still carry it fairly often. I’d say I’ve opened and closed the knife probably close to a thousand times or more by now. I’m nothing if not a kid at heart and snapping an auto knife open is still just plain cool to me. It opens just as fast and locks up as tight now as it did the day I took it out of the box. As with the Link, I used this knife without reservation or particular concern during the testing period. If a chore I was performing required a sharp edge, the Launch 6 was used for it, from food prep to working outside. And again, I did not sharpen, strop, or otherwise touch up the blade in any way from the time I opened the box until I finished my review of it. Corrugated cardboard is a horrible material for a knife to cut, despite how often we use a blade for that exact purpose. The manufacturing process for cardboard all but guarantees a harsh

› Far right: The pocket clip on the Launch 6 is large enough to provide great retention without being obnoxious. Credit: Jim Cobb › Middle right: The Launch 6 served quite well as a steak knife. Credit: Jim Cobb

› Bottom right: The actuator button is recessed to prevent accidental openings in the pocket. Credit: Jim Cobb


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material, with rock-hard glues as well as dirt and other debris mixed in. So, what better material to use for the first test? I grabbed a box and began slicing. From the first cut to the last, the Launch 6 made it through like a laser beam. Easily scored at 10/10. Any time I can multitask, I’ll take advantage of the opportunity. In this case, I had a handful of mini peppers that needed to be sliced up for salads. The Launch 6 made short work of this task. Every cut was clean, with no tearing whatsoever, which is what we want to see. The needle sharp point of the blade was great for nicking away the white fibers and ribs inside. Another 10/10 score. While I was digging in the fridge, I came across a steak leftover from the day before. Steak sandwiches sounded great to go along with the salads so I sliced the meat thin. No hesitation, no pulling, no problem at all with the Launch 6. If I were at a restaurant, I might choose to use this knife over whatever pieces of cutlery were on the table, that’s for sure. Once again, 10/10. VERDICT The Link is definitely a workhorse. It is designed to be used, maybe even abused a little. With a strop to keep the blade edge shaving sharp between uses, the knife would serve very well for someone who spends a fair amount of time outdoors. It is available in either blue or grey and is a handsome knife in either color. The Launch 6 is more urban in styling and purpose, I believe, than the Link. It is more elegant, in a way, though obviously durable and made to last. And it gets bonus points because it is an automatic knife and therefore extremely cool. Though, a word of caution on that—make sure you fully understand the applicable laws in your area regarding the carry of automatic knives. They aren’t legal everywhere and the fines may be steep, plus you’d likely lose the knife to confiscation. Overall, Kershaw has two more winners in their lineup here and I would have no qualms about recommending either one.

KERSHAW KNIVES Kershaw has been in the knife business since 1974. Since the beginning, they’ve developed a solid reputation for producing high-quality products that don’t break the bank. While they do offer plenty of high-end products, even their more budget-conscious models are built to last. Many of their innovations have become industry standards. They were the first company to introduce interchangeable blades with their Blade Traders line. Their assisted-open technology, called SpeedSafe, was the first of its kind to the market. They’ve also developed a new blade steel technology called Composite Blade. This involves marrying two types of steel together in the blade, such as a very strong steel along the spine to provide strength while using a steel known for great edge retention for the actual cutting edge. Many Kershaw knives are produced right here in the United States, too, in their 55,000-square-foot production facility located in Tualatin, Oregon. Kershaw’s parent company is called Kai Group. Kai has been the leading knife producer in Japan for about a century.

“THE LAUNCH 6 IS MORE URBAN IN STYLING AND PURPOSE, I BELIEVE, THAN THE LINK. IT IS MORE ELEGANT, IN A WAY, THOUGH OBVIOUSLY DURABLE AND MADE TO LAST.” › Whether you’re in the office or the workshop, the Launch 6 will serve well as an easy to carry knife. Credit: Kershaw Knives



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S O U R C E S Daisy (479) 636-1200 SimpleShot TOPS Knives (208) 542-0113 Umarex Umarex X-Shot LE (not on UmarexUSA site) Wrist-Rocket (Saunders Archery)



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› Far right: Three pocket-sized slingshots from SimpleShot are (from left) the Axion Ocularis, the Torque and the Scout. › Near right: The SimpleShot Hammer XT (left) and Hammer LT are modular designs that allow you to swap heads for shooting ball ammo or arrows.

› Bottom right: Slingshots come in many styles and can add game-getting potential to any readiness kit.


thought it would be like taking a trip back to my childhood, but I found the toys had become tools and they were much more sophisticated now. In testing an assortment of slingshots to see which might be worthwhile additions to a survival pack, I found that modern slingshots had gone far beyond simple rubber bands fastened to forked sticks. Lots of thought has gone into their design and those designs vary greatly from company to company. MANY BENEFITS Besides having lots of fun, I gained an appreciation for just how useful a slingshot can be. No, realistically, you probably aren’t going to be able to shoot enough small game with one to sustain yourself in a long-term survival situation. But you could use one to supplement and extend your food stores and add a little needed protein to your meals. Much of survival comes down to thinking clearly and maintaining a positive, no-quit attitude. A bit of meat added to the stewpot can go a long way toward keeping an optimistic outlook in an otherwise dire situation. That might be enough to get you through it. Benefits of a slingshot include not only portability but affordability. They cost very little compared to other hunting tools. You don’t need a license to own one, although yes, believe it or not, models with wrist braces are illegal in some jurisdictions. Make sure you check the laws in your region. They are very quiet to shoot. Depending on the scenario, the sound of a gunshot can be like ringing the dinner bell for desperate folks who might want to take what you have. In highly populated areas, slingshots can be preferable to firearms that can send wayward bullets over great distances. Small game is available in most places, even in cities. Squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, rabbits and birds can all be taken at close range with a slingshot. In cities, it would be easy to stalk within range of pigeons that are accustomed to the presence of people. Some slingshots can be adapted to shoot arrows, which allow larger game to be taken. Lots of ammo—steel or glass balls—can be carried easily and it’s cheap. If you use a proper backstop when practicing, you can recover much of your ammo to use again. And although most companies don’t recommend it, smooth, round pebbles can be used if necessary, although they might not fly as straight. Matched with the right set of bands, a slingshot doesn’t require a lot of arm strength—anyone in the family can learn to hunt with one. Taking all that into consideration, I tested 11 slingshots from five companies. Here’s what I learned:

SIMPLESHOT HAMMER SimpleShot is a one-stop shop for all things pertaining to slingshots. In addition to numerous models and accessories, the company provides links to numerous useful tutorials on how to set up and shoot your slingshots. The most versatile slingshots in the SimpleShot line are the company’s Hammer XT and Hammer LT models. Both are modular designs that allow for quickly swapping out different heads to be mounted on the grips. You can have one head set up with flat bands for use with steel or glass ball ammo and another with heavier pull tubular bands and a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest that allow for the use of conventional, full-length arrows. The grip of the Hammer XT has an accessory rail at the bottom should you want to mount a light or laser sight. There’s room to attach an available wrist brace too—especially handy when shooting arrows. The Hammer LT doesn’t have the accessory rail or the ability to attach a wrist brace. Both models accept a variety of flat, loop


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or tubular bandsets and although they use different attachment systems, replacing bands is equally easy. The heads of all the Hammer models are compatible with either the XT or LT grip. Both models are well made and are exceptional shooters with ball ammo and arrows. The Hammer models are available separately or in a variety of accessory packages. Having interchangeable heads is a big plus. I would highly recommend selecting one of the packages that includes both heads, each set up with the appropriate bands, to shoot ball ammo or arrows. SIMPLESHOT POCKET SLINGSHOTS SimpleShot makes small, easy-to-tote slingshots as well. Among these are the Torque, Axiom Ocularis and Scout—all pocket-sized slingshots that accept a variety of bands and would be ideal for inclusion in a small survival pack. The Torque is an ultramodern design of polymer construction and an angled grip that hugs the palm. It comes with easy-to-pull looped tubular bands that still provide plenty of velocity. Slots in

each fork allow easy band replacement. Regular flat bands can be attached using SimpleShot’s FlipClip X clamps. The Axiom Ocularis is designed after SimpleShot founder Nathan Masters’ own favorite. It has a ribbed polymer grip designed to allow for wrapping paracord around it for a slightly larger, more cushioned grip. This slingshot comes with flat bands that are attached by the way of rubber plugs with steel ball inserts. The Scout, also a lightweight polymer design, comes with flat bands attached with FlipClip X clamps. It has a somewhat fatter grip that I liked very much. Despite their small size, these three slingshots all performed very well. All use attachment systems that make adjusting and replacing bands very easy. While I might choose the Torque for a survival kit because it’s so small, my favorite of these three to shoot was probably the Scout. WRIST-ROCKET FALCON-X The first high-powered slingshot I ever owned was a Wrist-Rocket. The company pioneered slingshots that used medical-type rubber tubing for bands and a wrist brace for stability. Wrist-Rocket is part of Saunders Archery. The company’s new models are streamlined and look more space-age. They are ray guns compared to other companies’ cowboy six-guns. The Falcon-X model has metal forks and a metal wrist brace that are fitted to the angled polymer grip with a metal clip. There’s an adjustable palm plate too. It can be taken down easily to make it a more compact package for transport or to store in its included hard-sided case. An ammo storage container is included as well. The Falcon-X is powered by dual flat bands that secure to the forks with molded clips that make adjusting or replacing bands very easy. The angle of the grip and wrist brace are such that I found this slingshot to be the most stable. The slingshot seems to lock into your wrist with practically no finger pressure needed around the grip. That, combined with the lightweight bands, makes it almost effortless to consistently achieve good hits. WRIST-ROCKET WING The Wing is perhaps Wrist-Rocket’s most innovative design. This compact model features platforms or wings under the forks. Instead of grasping the slingshot by the forks, you merely rest your thumb and index finger on those wings. It too comes with dual flat bands that are very easy to draw. The Wing folds to become very compact for carry. There’s a storage compartment in the grip as well, suitable for ball ammo or a spare set of bands. The ammo pouch is plastic, the same as with the Falcon-X and it’s designed to make centering the ball in the pouch very easy. I’d prefer a leather ammo

‹ Far left: The Wrist-Rocket Wing is a futuristic design that’s accurate and easy to shoot. Wrist-Rocket photo. ‹ Near left: The Wrist-Rocket Falcon-X is a modern wrist-brace design. The author found this to be a very stable slingshot that was easy to shoot. Wrist-Rocket photo

‹ Bottom left: The TOPS Sling is a quality slingshot of metal construction with Micarta grips. It comes with a leather belt sheath. The ammo pouch is sold separately.



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› Far right: The wrist brace of the Umarex NXG ST11 folds for easy carry. › Near right: The Umarex NXG ST11 is an inexpensive slingshot with wrist brace that performs very well.

› Lower right: The Umarex X-Shot LE has an ammo dispenser at the bottom of the grip and comes with an integral laser sight. The laser, forks and wrist brace are all adjustable.

pouch just the same. Despite this, the Wing was one of my favorites to shoot. TOPS SLING At a suggested price of $130, the TOPS Sling is the most expensive of the slingshots I tested, but it’s a thing of beauty, and it’s made so well that it’s virtually bombproof. That’s not surprising coming from a company that makes some of the best survival knives for the money. It features full steel construction with black canvas micarta grip panels. The tubular bands are inserted through holes at the end of the forks and are secured by steel balls inserted in the end of the bands. This makes band length adjustment or replacement much easier than tubular bands on other models inserted directly onto the ends of the forks. This slingshot comes with a quality leather belt sheath. A matching leather ammo belt pouch is available as an accessory. The TOPS Sling shot very well. The only downside I found was that the tubular bands were a bit harder to draw compared to those with flat bands, meaning that practice sessions would probably have to be kept shorter. UMAREX X-SHOT LE The Umarex X-Shot LE comes with a textured grip, contoured with finger grooves. That grip stores up to ten ³/8-inch round balls that are dispensed one at a time out of the bottom with the push of a button. The forks and wrist brace are metal and they are adjustable for a custom fit. This model features tubular bands and a unique rubber ammo pouch inside a conventional leather pouch. It’s designed to secure a ³/8-inch ball. The instructions call for hooking your index finger between the two pouches when drawing the bands. I was unable to keep the inner rubber pouch centered this way and as a result, the ammo would fly off in random directions. Frustrated, I cut the rubber pouch off and just used the outer leather ammo pouch. Once I did this, the slingshot worked very well. The X-Shot LE model comes with an adjustable laser sight. This seemed like a good idea at first. With most slingshots, you’re using a sideways hold and sighting off of the top fork. A laser would seem to be more precise. Shooting in low light or indoors it might be helpful, but in normal daylight I found the red laser dot was not visible. You won’t find this model on the UmarexUSA website, but it’s readily available from such retailers as Cabela’s. UMAREX NXG ST11 The NXG ST11 features tubular bands on metal forks and a folding metal wrist brace. This slingshot is inexpensive at $9.99, but it shot very well. The bands fit tightly over the forks and wouldn’t be as

‹ The Daisy Powerline F16 is a very usable and readily available slingshot. It was the least expensive of those tested with a suggested price of just $7.99.


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Daisy Powerline F16 • Construction: Metal forks with polymer grip • Bands: Tubular • Other: Ammo storage in hollow grip MSRP: $7.99


SimpleShot Axiom Ocularis • Construction: Polymer • Bands: Flat bands attached with rubber plugs/steel balls • Other: Lanyard included; grip can be wrapped with paracord MSRP: $34.99

SimpleShot Hammer XT or LT Bundle • Construction: Polymer • Bands: Flat bands for ball ammo; tubular bands for arrows • Other: Interchangeable heads; lanyard; removable wrist brace MSRP: $99.99

SimpleShot Scout • Construction: Polymer • Bands: Flat bands with FlipClip X attachments • Other: Generous palm swell on grip; lanyard included MSRP: $39.99

SimpleShot Torque • Construction: Polymer • Bands: Looped tubular bands included, but will accept flat bands with FlipClip X attachments • Other: Angled grip; smallest slingshot tested at just 5/8 inches MSRP: $24.99

TOPS Sling • Construction: All steel with black canvas Micarta grip panels • Bands: Tubular • Weight 6.7 ounces MSRP: $130

Umarex NXG ST11 • Construction: Metal forks and wrist brace; polymer grip • Bands: Tubular • Other: Wrist brace folds for compact carry MSRP: $9.99

Umarex X-Shot LE • Construction: Metal forks and wrist brace with polymer grip • Bands: Tubular • Adjustable laser sight • Other: Adjustable forks and wrist brace adjustable MSRP: $34.99

Wrist-Rocket Falcon X • Construction: Metal forks and wrist brace; polymer grip • Bands: Dual flat bands • Other: Adjustable palm plate; hard case, lanyard included MSRP: $64.95

Wrist-Rocket Wing • Construction: Polymer • Bands: Dual flat bands • Other: Storage in grip; folds for compact carry MSRP: $59.95


‹ Despite its small size, the SimpleShot Torque is an excellent performing slingshot. The author plans to include one in his personal survival kit.

easy to adjust or replace as on some other models, but that’s a minor inconvenience. Overall this is a good slingshot for the money. DAISY POWERLINE F16 The Daisy Powerline F16 is a budget-priced slingshot that you’re more likely to find in any of the outdoor sporting goods stores. It features metal forks that wrap around the polymer grip that features finger grooves and a generous palm swell. The grip is hollow and features a hole in the top to store ³/8-inch ammo. Its tubular bands fit directly onto the forks. The ammo pouch is leather. It’s a good basic slingshot for the money and replacement bands are usually readily available on store shelves. FAST AND FURIOUS I started shooting at a 10-inch plastic hanging target to get the feel of each model. Before long, I switched to using aluminum soup cans as targets at various ranges from 7 to 20 yards. I used several layers of heavy quilted blankets hung loosely over a line as a backstop for misses. Some ammo penetrated anyway, so make sure you know what’s down range. I tested each model for velocity with both ³/8-inch and ½-inch steel balls. Don’t read too much into the results. Most of the slingshots were set up with bands best suited to ³/8-inch steel balls. Heavier bands would be needed to get the most velocity from heavier ½-inch ammo. Also, I adjusted most bands to 6 inches to go with my draw length of just over 29 inches. The


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Shooting Results SLINGSHOT Daisy Powerline F16


VELOCITY ³/8-inch





SimpleShot Axiom Ocularis

General flat



SimpleShot Hammer LT

General flat



SimpleShot Hammer XT

Nitro dual flat



SimpleShot Hammer XT

Performance flat


144.5 155.5

SimpleShot Scout

General flat


SimpleShot Torque

Looped tubular



TOPS Sling




Umarex NXG ST11




Umarex X-Shot LE




Wrist-Rocket Falcon-X

Dual flat



Wrist-Rocket Wing

Dual flat



SimpleShot Hammer XT Using bow module


‹ The Wrist-Rocket Wing provides an open-style hold that promotes consistent accuracy.

110 fps firing carbon arrows

Notes: Velocities measured in feet per second using a Caldwell chronograph placed 12 feet in front of slingshot using both ⅜-inch and ½-inch steel ball ammo.

length of the bands and your particular draw length will affect the velocity. My chronograph was placed a full 12 feet in front of me to ensure I got consistent readings. Velocities would have been a bit higher with the chronograph closer. One interesting finding was that heavier, harder-to-draw bands didn’t necessarily result in higher velocities with light ammo. The folks at SimpleShot had told me this, but seeing is believing and I had to confirm it for myself. Bands really have to be matched to the weight of the ammo. If, for instance, you’re shooting ³/8-inch steel balls and switch to heavier bands, those bands can overpower the weight of the ammo. You might get more hand slap by the bands upon your release, but not necessarily more velocity. I saw this with the SimpleShot Hammer XT. When I switched from the company’s Performance Tapered Bandset to their heavier Nitro bands, the velocity with ³/8-inch balls was nearly the same. › Far right: Nocking an arrow on the SimpleShot Hammer XT was easy and reliable. › Near right: Small slingshots, such as this SimpleShot Torque are best held with the index finger and thumb to steady the forks.

› Bottom right: The author’s son enjoyed shooting arrows with the SimpleShot Hammer XT, shown here using the Hammer LT arrow module.


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‹ The Wrist-Rocket Falcon-X comes with a zippered hard case and an ammo container.

But when I shot heavier ½-inch steel balls, the velocity jumped from 145.5 feet per second with the lighter bands to 162 with the Nitro bands. The bottom line is that heavier bands improve performance mostly with heavier ammo. Don’t be swayed solely by velocity either. The Wrist-Rocket Falcon-X and Wing did not register top velocity readings, but the exceptional ergonomics of these slingshots, together with their lightweight bands, made them very accurate. I’ll give up a few feet per second in exchange for accuracy any day. ARROWS TOO Staying with the SimpleShot Hammer XT, I mounted the arrow rest head with heavier tubular bands and tried shooting carbon fiber arrows that I normally use with my compound bow. Velocities averaged 110 feet per second. By comparison, the takedown recurve bow with relatively light 40-pound draw weight that I sometimes add to my larger survival bag averaged 162 feet per second using the same arrows. Shooting arrows with the Hammer XT proved very reliable and easy with consistently good accuracy. With an arrow at 110 fps, I’d have no trouble taking aim at mid-size critters that I wouldn’t hunt with a slingshot using ball ammo. THE TAKEAWAY I’m convinced that a slingshot is a good addition to a survival/readiness kit. They’re affordable, relatively quiet and powerful enough for hunting small game. Yes, accuracy will require practice. And yes, your hunting skills will have to be highly developed to be able to stalk close enough or to sit still long enough in the right spot for you to get a chance at the most effective shot, which would be a head shot. My preference would be toward using ³/8-inch steel ball ammo. You could carry much more of it when weight and space are factors. The lighter ammo also means that the appropriate slingshot bands would be easier to draw, making practice easier for everyone in the family. As for the slingshots themselves, I especially liked the small slingshots from SimpleShot, the Wrist-Rocket Wing and the TOPS Sling for inclusion in a small, lightweight kit. Of the larger, wristbrace slingshots, the Wrist-Rocket Falcon-X was pure joy to shoot, while the SimpleShot Hammer XT was the most versatile with its ability to shoot arrows.



KEEP THESE SHOOTING TIPS IN MIND Shooting a slingshot is very similar to archery, so if you shoot a bow, you’ll quickly adapt to a slingshot. Blade your target (stand sideways). Extend the arm holding the slingshot straight out with the forks pointing to the side. With a handgun this would be called “gangsta style” and it would be wrong. With a slingshot it is correct. When using a small slingshot without wrist brace, most shooters steady the forks by wrapping the index finger and thumb around them. Use the top fork of the slingshot to aim. Windage will be close; you might have to adjust your aim slightly for the correct elevation. Don’t tilt the top fork forward or backward, or your ball might strike one of the forks. Place the ammo in the center of the pouch, pinch the pouch with thumb and index finger and pull the bands straight back in line with the height of the forks, not higher or lower. Use a consistent anchor point. Mine is the knuckle of my thumb under my cheek bone. For a good balance of power to band longevity, adjust your bands to one-fifth of your draw length measured with cord from the slingshot forks to your anchor point. A draw length of 30 inches, for instance, will mean you’ll get good results with bands that are about 6 inches long (not counting the pouch). Bands–flat, tubular or looped–don’t last forever. Keep them away from high heat (dashboard of your car) or ozone-emitting electronic devices. It’s always a good idea to carry a spare set of bands that usually come sealed in a plastic bag.


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Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia sp.) Prickly Pear cactus is a member of the Cactus family, which has about 1,800 species worldwide. Native to the Americas, Opuntia comes in more than 100 species.

Description This species of cacti has more or less oval-shaped flat pads whose surfaces are covered with evenly spaced spines. At the base of each spine is a tuft of fine hair called glochids. There are a few spineless varieties, but they are exceptions. The fruits are oval-shaped, maturing around September, and can be green, yellow, orange, red or purple when mature.

Areas Found These are native to the Americas and common in Mexico and parts of the droughtprone central, southern, and western U.S. Generally thought of as desert plants, these are, in fact, quite widespread. Today, prickly pear cacti can be found throughout the world.

When to Harvest/Availability Though the pads can be harvested at any time and cleaned for food or medicine, the new growth of spring is the most tender and has less fiber to be removed. The fruits mature around September.

Uses FOOD: The young tender cactus pads, cleaned of their glochids and spines, have been used for centuries as food in a variety of ways. Though they can be eaten raw or made into a juice, they are usually cooked in vegetable dishes or with eggs. The pads can also be dried and ground into flour, then mixed with another flour (like corn) to make traditional tortillas. Another popular food derived from the prickly pear cactus is the fruit. The fruits must be carefully collected and the spines and glochids wiped or burned off. The fruit is edible and sweet, and it has long been used to make drinks, pie fillings, candy and jams. Because the fruit is full of small seeds, they are usually removed first. The easiest way to remove the seeds is to remove the skin of the fruit and blend it in an electric blender. Pour the slurry through a sieve to remove the seeds. My wife used to make a delicious pie with cactus by mixing the de-seeded fruit with tofu and perhaps some yogurt. This was blended to make a pie filling, which she poured into a whole wheat pastry shell. These cactus pies were better than anything we ever purchased at a store or restaurant, and they were always a hit at our wild food classes. Unfortunately, I have never been able to duplicate her recipe. Some have come close, but there was something she did that made it just so. (Unfortunately, Dolores passed away in 2008 and took her secret with her!)


NUTRITION: The cactus pads and fruits are very nutritious. Nutritional values are displayed separately for the fruit and the pads. FRUIT: 100 grams, or about one cup, of the fruit of the prickly pear cactus has 42 calories, 0.5 gram of protein, 0.1 gram of fat, 20 mg of calcium, 28 mg of phosphorus, 0.3 mg of iron, 2 mg of sodium, 166 mg of potassium, 60 IU of vitamin A, 0.01 mg of thiamine, 0.03 mg of riboflavin, 0.4 mg of niacin and 22 mg of vitamin C. PAD: 100 grams, or about one cup, of the pad of the prickly pear cactus has 16 calories, 1.2 grams of protein, a trace amount of fat, 163 mg of calcium, 17 mg of phosphorus, 0.7 mg of iron, 22 mg of sodium, 319 mg of potassium, 415 IU of vitamin A, 0.01 mg of thiamine, 0.04 mg of riboflavin, 0.5 mg of niacin and 13 mg of vitamin C. AMINO ACID PROFILES: Milligrams per gram of dehydrated nopal cactus pad. MM- Please place these two groups next to each other.



Alanine Arginine Aspartic acid Cysteine Glutamic acid Glycine Proline Serine Tyrosine

Histidine Isoleucine Leucine Lysine Methionine Phenylalanine Threonine Valine

3.95 1.26 0.32 0.16 1.66 4.50 3.48 0.36 2.05

0.08 2.53 5.14 4.50 0.80 2.88 1.38 4.31

From the book “Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine,” by Ran Knishinsky. MEDICINE: Eating prickly pear has long been regarded as a folk medicine way of dealing with diabetes. Now, modern medicine has confirmed that eating prickly pear cactus pads (or making juice from them) can help those who suffer from diabetes. For additional scientific data, see “Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine,” by Ran Knishinsky. This book provides the scientific evidence that prickly pear cactus fruits and pads are useful for treating diabetes, cholesterol, and the immune system. OTHER USES: When water is needed, you could clean the spines and glochids and eat the pads for their fluid. They are 90 percent water, and though they are not going to quench your thirst like cool water, they will prevent dehydration. The juice or gel from inside the cactus pad can also be used like aloe vera gel. Cut open the pad, and put the wet side of the pad on a wound, burn or cut. Prickly pears are often covered with a bug called cochineal, which appears as a whitish bit of fuzz. This bug can be crushed to produce a red dye. The red dye has historically been used to dye clothes or to make ink or paint.

Advice for Growing Prickly pears are readily propagated by planting a pad vertically in well-drained desert potting soil. Within a few weeks, or months in some cases, new pads will start to grow.



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These require sun and good drainage. Over-watering is the biggest cause of death for cultivated Opuntias.


‹ Below: A young prickly pear pad. The new-growth pads are easiest to clean and eat, but older ones can be eaten too.

Be careful when collecting the prickly pear pads and fruits because they are covered with spines and, at the base of each spine, tiny hair-like glochids. Collect with metal tongs or with gloves.

Recipes DESERT DELECTABLE (AN OMELET) • 2 cups prickly pear cactus pads, peeled and diced • Butter • 2 cups onions, diced • 6 eggs Once the pads are peeled and diced, place them in the heated and buttered frying pan. Sauté at a low temperature, and add the diced onions in 5 minutes. Continue to sauté until the cactus changes in color from bright green to a dull green, almost brown. Add the eggs, already beaten, and cook, omelet-style. Serve with a warm tortilla and either a pickled jalepeño chili or a pickled kelp bladder. Serves three. PRICKLY PEAR ICE CREAM • 10 ripe cactus fruits • 1 gallon almond milk or regular milk Carefully peel the cactus fruits, being careful not to get the tiny spines in your skin. Put the peeled fruit into a blender and blend. Pour the pulp through a sieve, which should effectively remove all the seeds. Put the fruit pulp (either strained or unstrained) and milk into an electric or hand-crank ice cream-maker and proceed to make ice cream. Another method is to simply mix together the milk or, better yet, cream and the thoroughly mashed fruit pulp, and put it into your freezer. In approximately two hours, you’ll have a concoction resembling ice cream.

About ASG’s Plant Advisor Christopher Nyerges has been teaching ethnobotany since 1974. He is the author of Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants and other books on the uses of wild plants. Nyerges has contributed many articles to American Survival Guide on a wide range of topics. He can be reached at SCHOOLOFSELFRELIANCE.COM. › Far right: Rick Adams (left) and Angelo Cervera enjoy some sautéed prickly pear pads. These can be cooked plain, with other vegetables, or with eggs. › Near right: The fruit of the prickly pear.

› Bottom right: Cleaned and sliced prickly pear pads are now ready to cook or to dry.




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t’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you are deep into REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement sleep is when you dream. In this state everything except your extraocular muscles and your diaphragm is flaccidly paralyzed. Your diaphragm remains active so you don’t suffocate. Nobody really knows for sure why your eyes keep moving. The origin and nature of dreams are topics that have intrigued mankind since the beginning of time. We still don’t understand them very well. This night you are dreaming fervently about something surreal that involves your wife, some industrial hydraulic fittings, and a kiddy pool filled with M&M’s. Your rapturous reverie is interrupted by the sound of glass breaking in the kitchen downstairs. Physiologically, a lot of things happen quickly at this point. Once you are jolted awake, your body prepares itself to either fight or run. This biochemical response was first described in the 1920s by an American physiologist named Walter Cannon. This immediate constellation of hormonal responses to a threatening environment is categorized as an acute stress response. GETTING ACTIVATED The initiation of the acute stress response happens so quickly you aren’t aware of it. In fact, the system is so breathtakingly efficient that this biochemical process gets cranked up before your visual processing centers have fully digested the threat. It is this facet of your design that makes you jump back when you unexpectedly see a snake before you consciously realize it is a snake. The human brain weighs about 3 pounds, and it is mostly fat. The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls emotional responses. It is here that the sundry inputs are translated as danger and the acute stress response system gets activated. This involves chemical messages sent to the hypothalamus, another portion of the brain. Nothing in neuroscience is straightforward or easy. Think of the hypothalamus as the brain’s command center. This component of the brain


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‹ Left: Being awakened in the night by breaking glass downstairs accelerates your body from zero to wide open instantaneously. Understanding this process can make you a better survivor.


interacts with the rest of the body via the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls such stuff as heartbeat, respiration, blood pressure, the caliber of blood vessels, and the state of small airways in the lungs. These are the things that do not require conscious thought. The autonomic nervous system is composed of the sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems. To use an automotive analogy, the sympathetic nervous system is the accelerator while the parasympathetic nervous system is the brake. The sympathetic nervous system gets you fired up. The parasympathetic system chills you out. THINGS GET REAL In response to an acutely dangerous circumstance, your body, on a primal level, gets you ready to rock and roll. Your sympathetic nervous system releases a series of hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands to produce epinephrine (adrenaline). These hormones increase your respiratory rate, your heart rate, and your blood pressure. This stress response is carefully designed to maximize your odds of survival in a life-threatening situation. Your heart and respiratory rates increase to enhance blood flow and provide both oxygen and fuel that your body might need to either run or make a stand. This component of the system enhances strength in the near term as well as situational awareness and stamina. Your pupils will reflexively dilate to enhance your awareness of your immediate surroundings. Of all our senses it is sight that is


typically most critical for moment-to-moment survival in a dire circumstance. The physiology of sight is itself an immensely complicated miracle involving the rapid diffusion of photosensitive chemicals. These chemical gradients are ultimately recognized by the brain and translated into usable data that can guide your actions. This process takes place so quickly that a trained fighter pilot can fly her strike aircraft at high speeds and low levels without running afoul of the ground, manmade obstacles, or enemy air defenses. In many cases when undergoing a stress response, your limbs will begin to tremble. This is a side

› Right: Your brain is hardwired to detect danger and respond instinctively.


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“TO USE AN AUTOMOTIVE ANALOGY, THE SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM IS THE ACCELERATOR WHILE THE PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM IS THE BRAKE.” ‹ Far left: The human brain is the most complex mechanism in the known universe. Its capacity to reason, react, create, and interact helps keep us alive in the face of danger.

‹ Near left: The acute stress response causes our pupils to dilate so we can better sense our surroundings.

effect of the enhanced state of readiness in your skeletal muscles. Trembling simply indicates that your muscles are fully primed and ready for action. Interestingly, the same thing still happens to me when I kiss my wife of 31 years. In the midst of an acute stress response, one will frequently also notice pale or flushed skin. When faced with a potentially life-threatening circumstance your body automatically shunts blood to the brain and long muscles to the detriment of lesser priorities like skin. Simultaneously, the blood’s clotting capacity is transiently enhanced so as to maximize your chances of survival in the face of truly grievous injury. Epinephrine also causes your body to release stored sugar and fats to power all this increased activity. This fuel as well as the biochemical transmitters that govern everything are transported very quickly to all aspects of your body via your circulatory system. The fact that your heart rate has increased distributes this stuff even faster than might otherwise be the case. This entire process unfolds in a shockingly short period of time. Think of the last time some cruel relative or malevolent roommate subjected you to a jump scare or a cat ran out in front of your car. Considering that these are all chemical changes, it is breathtaking to ponder how quickly we react. The acute stress response is fully activated mere moments after you are forcefully awakened from your blissful slumber. As an aside, an entire family of drugs called beta-blockers is designed to interdict this process. While certain beta-blockers are more discriminatory than others, in general, beta-blockers will slow your heart rate, constrict your pupils, and drop your blood pressure. Decreased blood pressure is typically the primary goal, though I do occasionally prescribe a low-dose beta-blocker for patients with normal blood pressure to use before some stressful event. Taking a beta-blocker before a big presentation at work, for instance, will tend to minimize the inevitable jitters. IT’S ON! As this initial surge of epinephrine starts to subside, the hypothalamus activates a secondary component of the stress response system. Neuroscientists refer to this as the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis serves to keep the accelerator floored after the initial surge of epinephrine passes. The HPA axis kicks in if the brain perceives a threat as ongoing and persistent. This system is complicated and involves hormones such as corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and an adrenal hormone called cortisol. Chronic activation of the HPA axis yields all manner of health problems. Learning the vagaries of this system has driven many a medical student to despair. In response to a dangerous stimulus, older women tend to secrete more of the stress hormone cortisol than do older men. However, younger women secrete less cortisol than do younger men in response to similar stressful circumstances. Now you know why we do what we do. The end result is heightened awareness, increased strength, and enhanced stamina. All that

is great if you are facing down a saber tooth tiger with a spear. It might not be ideal if you are trying to run a firearm accurately in the dark after having been violently awakened. Understanding all that can make you a better gunman and more credible survivor.

‹ Certain visceral defense responses take place before your brain has time to process them. All normal people are instinctively afraid of snakes.

‹ The human body’s acute stress response optimizes us to grapple a tiger with our bare hands, not necessarily run a gun accurately or well.


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OPTIMIZING YOUR ODDS • Keep in Shape: You don’t have to be a marathon runner, but getting fat and flabby is a choice. Maintain the machine. • Think Things Through in Advance: Keep your glasses, your phone, and a proper light at your bedside and practice retrieving them in the dark. • Train as You Fight: Explore your home with an eye toward tactics. This could be your battlefield. Imagine how you would retrieve the kids, secure the facility, and defend your home. • Minimize Alcohol and Avoid Drugs: Life is hard enough without voluntarily adding things that slow you down even further. Don’t make yourself a victim. • Don’t Smoke: Smoking decreases your stamina, trashes your night vision, costs a fortune, makes you smell bad and steals, on average, 16 years off of a normal lifespan.

COUNTERINTUITIVE PHYSIOLOGY We all love a peaceful Saturday afternoon at the range. The weather is nice, the people are friendly, and throwing bullets downrange is reliably relaxing. The real world is absolutely nothing like any of that. I have had to draw down on a living human being one time, and it was shockingly different from my training. My heart was beating out of my chest, and my eyes were bugging out of my head. However, certain aspects of the exchange remained unnaturally serene. The Bad Guy and I were thoroughly fixated on what we were doing. He didn’t see me, because he was preoccupied doing bad things. Somebody’s grandmother could have hobbled up from the side or back and debrained me with her cane, and I wouldn’t have seen it coming. Tunnel vision runs both ways. Interestingly, many of the survival features designed into this wonderful machine of ours actually make things tougher when it comes to Information Age combat. Enhanced strength and ferocity are great for hand-tohand pugilism, but all the many-splendored facets of the acute stress response tend to make precision shooting worse. For this reason it behooves us to exercise this system from time to time. PRACTICAL TACTICAL Better men than I call it stress shooting. While there’s really no way to accurately


› Chronic exposure to stress takes an inevitable toll. Failure to manage chronic stress can lead to heart disease and stroke.


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‹ Far left, top: Acute stress can come from a wide variety of sources. Some folks are more resistant to anxiety than others. Managing these responses can be critical to survival.

‹ Far left, bottom: Chances are if called upon to defend yourself or your family, you won’t actually be at your best. Understanding the physiology behind the way your human machine operates can be critical. ‹ Near left: Stress shooting, as practiced by this private military contractor, can help illuminate our weaknesses and define our limitations.

“ONCE YOU’VE PUSHED YOUR HEART RATE UP INTO THE UNCOMFORTABLE REGION, THEN CLEAR YOUR RANGE SPACE, MAKE YOUR WEAPONS HOT, AND SEE HOW WELL YOU CAN VENTILATE PAPER OR RING STEEL.” replicate the physiology of a sudden unexpected deadly encounter in the dark of night, there are some things you can do that will allow you to gauge your capabilities. The military substitutes exercise for terror and gets pretty close. Gear up, unload your weapons, and go get the blood pumping. A brief run is best, but an excess of pushups or some similar stressful exercise can substitute if space is a concern. Once you’ve pushed your heart rate up into the uncomfortable region then clear your range space, make your weapons hot, and see how well you can ventilate paper or ring steel. Having somebody push you with a timer makes it all the better. Sweat in your eyes, a racing heart, and steady panting will inevitably decrease your accuracy and slow down the fine motor skills demanded of tactical magazine changes and gun handling. Expect it to be worse if the battlefield is your living room and your kids are sleeping on the other side of the sheetrock. However, the occasional stress shoot will open your eyes to your actual capabilities in a crisis. I always find it illuminating. RUMINATIONS It’s all actually way more complicated than I have described here. I could walk and talk such stuff back in medical school, but that brain space has since been occupied by practical things like magazine capacities, my wife’s favorite flower, and how best to treat diabetes. That seems a fair trade to me.

The acute stress response can indeed make you faster and stronger but to the potential detriment of fine motor skills. Persistent exposure to this state in the form of a highstress job, a difficult home life, or excessive school demands can raise blood pressure and lead to such sordid stuff as heart disease and stroke. There are several entire disciplines of medicine that are devoted to managing such. In the case of acute stress, understanding the physiology and its effects on the human body can help make the unexpected expected and subsequently maximize your chance of survival when life goes truly sideways. Additionally, adding a little controlled stress to your training regimen can be genuinely eye opening. Think things through in advance and train like you fight. The end result will make you a more viable survivor.


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yourself. Including a less-than-lethal weapon such as pepper spray or a stun gun as well as a handgun prepares you for times when you may need to choose from a variety of force options. What about the vehicle that you take to work? Is its scheduled maintenance up to date? Are the tires in good shape? What about a spare along with a lug wrench and a jack, and the knowledge and strength to use them? Last but not least is the Family Emergency Plan. What good does a ton of gear and supplies set aside for emergencies do when nobody in your family knows what to do when an emergency forces them to use unconventional methods to make their way back to the relative safety of your home? Furthermore, you should have a detailed plan for how you will account for all of your family members in the event of a worst-case scenario where the cell towers are down and the power is out. If going to your home is not a safe option based in the situation at hand, consider having a set of discreet symbols or codes you can leave as messages to your loved ones so they’ll be able to link up at your alternative locations. Everyone in your family should be aware of the location they need to go to if going home is out of the question. September may be the “official” month for thinking and working on your level of preparedness but, hopefully, these thoughts give you a few ideas you can use all the time. Self-reliance, not government, is a key to surviving serious disasters, so be sure you do what you can to prepare yourself and your family for any challenge life throws at you. Make yourselves able to not only survive, but to thrive, and live to see another day!


n 2004, President George W. Bush declared September as National Preparedness Month. While the government, and more specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), have definitely stepped up their game, they still have a long way to go before you can depend on them to resolve emergency situations in a timely and comprehensive way. In 2016, the National Household Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that while over 75 percent of those polled said they have some basic emergency supplies such as flashlights and bottled water, less than 50 percent of them had any semblance of a useful or comprehensive plan to execute in the event of an emergency. Regardless, the fact is that when it comes to emergency preparedness, there is always room for improvement. The Department of Transportation conducted a National Household Travel Survey in 2017, and the results showed that the average American travels about 16 miles each way to and from work. With so much of the day dedicated to commuting and work, how many of you have considered that the odds are that if a major catastrophe strikes, you will either be at work or in transit? If you are simply overwhelmed and wondering where to start, then look no further. The first thing you need to do is build a get-home bag (GHB). This bag doesn’t need to be as complex as a bug-out bag (BOB), but you do want to start with some food, water, comfortable walking shoes, a good-quality dust mask and some cash in small denominations. The big thing to remember is to pack your GHB to suit your individual commute and needs. If the majority of your commute takes you through wooded terrain, for example, then you should pack supplies that will best help you survive in that setting in the event you need to overnight as you make your way home. Another thing to remember is to adjust the contents of the bag to the time of year and expected range of weather. No matter what time of year, don’t forget a good multiband radio, a detailed topographical map, fire-starting gear and, of course, you will need something to protect




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American Survival Guide September 2019  

American Survival Guide September 2019, How To : Cyber Security, AMBER HARGROVE is a Survivor ! Kershaw Folders + CCW Stealth Wears, And Mor...

American Survival Guide September 2019  

American Survival Guide September 2019, How To : Cyber Security, AMBER HARGROVE is a Survivor ! Kershaw Folders + CCW Stealth Wears, And Mor...