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Copyright © 2003-2011 Delta Media LLC. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited. All ‘Random Thoughts’ and ‘Case Studies’ written by Delta Media. All end-of-chapter summaries are complied by Delta Media by content found within each article. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher.


Table of Contents 15

Introduction by John Higgs

21 23

Chapter 1: Why Bug Out?

24 27

How do We Bug Out


Chapter 2: The Importance of Planning


Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

43 46 50 51 51 53 55 57

A Small Bug Out Bag

63 64

Chapter 4: Securing Your Home Before You Bug Out

75 78 79

Chapter 5: Do You Really Want to do This?

When do We Bug Out Where do We Go?

A Medium Size Bug Out Bag A Large Bug Out Bag Money Belts to Protect Cash Caching a Bug Out Bag Offsite What Items do You Take With You? What to Wear? Medical Considerations

How to Hide the Valuables You Cannot Take With You

Survival Food Testing Your Bug Out Bag Once it is Packed


Table of Contents 83 87 90

Chapter 6: Firearms

93 94



Handguns Rifles and Carbines Ammunition






Q 13


The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”


ctually, “the tough” are really people who recognize when a situation is life threatening, or when a position is untenable, and they leave, escape, or simply bug out.

Making the decision to leave a place—perhaps never to return— can be easy or incredibly difficult. Running from a burning hotel, even if it means leaving most of your luggage behind, should not be a decision that anyone would take more than a moment to make. But leaving the house that’s been in the family for three generations, before the tsunami hits, well that decision is likely to be a far tougher, more emotional one. And hesitation may get you killed. On the other hand, in any disaster, we must be careful not to bug out into a worse situation than we are already in. Our home, hotel room, vehicle, or whatever shelter we are already in may offer better protection than whatever we encounter after we leave it. How would you feel if you were living in a nice, quiet, safe place and fifty miles away, some disaster occurred that forced thousands of people to leave their homes and head toward your town? Would 14

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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

you welcome them? Would you consider them a threat—people who might steal your stuff to survive, commit crimes to survive, take your home away from you or steal your car? Now imagine if you are one of thousands of people bugging out. You arrive in a nice quiet town along with all your friends and neighbors. Would you expect the people of that town to welcome you with open arms, or treat you with suspicion and caution? Bugging out may fix one problem and cause many more. Consider also that when we bug out, we will travel to, or through, other communities

Figure 1 Should you stay or should you go?


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Why Bug Out?

Q 19

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 1: Why Bug Out?

As The Clash once sang, “Should I stay or should I go?”


hy do we bug out? What causes us to leave our homes, neighborhoods, towns or cities? Broadly speaking, it’s either a natural or man-made disaster of some

kind; the size and extent of the disaster influences how far we bug out, and to what location. A house fire may cause us to bug out only as far as our neighbor’s house or the local Red Cross shelter. A chemical spill caused by a train derailment or a tanker truck accident may force us to a motel on the other side of town for a night or two. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina decimated large areas of the Gulf Coast of the United States and forced most of the residents of New Orleans to move out of the city—many to other states for months and months. In 1992, the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles forced some people to flee the city, while others hunkered down to defend their property from looters and vandals. In many, but not all cases, bugging out is the only prudent choice we have if we want to survive forest fires, floods, or mob violence.


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 1: Why Bug Out?


The decision to bug out, how to bug out, and where to bug out to, is determined by a wide range of factors: Time, distance, opportunity and transportation, liability, and planning. How much time do we have to get ready to leave? A police officer may knock on our door and inform us that there is a standoff with an armed criminal in the house across the street, and that we have two minutes to get out. This is not something we’ve planned for, so the most we can probably do is grab wallet or purse and remember to lock up the house as we head out the door. On the other hand, people who live in the path of an approaching hurricane typically have enough time to board up the windows of their homes and businesses and then choose to either ride out the storm or pack a suitcase and leave. How much distance must we put between ourselves and the threat? In 2004, when a facility in southern Ontario, Canada, caught fire exploding propane tanks forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. Certainly those people had to evacuate a couple of miles or more to avoid the immediate threat, but how much further did many of them have to go to find a vacant hotel room? Once we leave home, even if we have a good plan, we may have to adapt to changing circumstances.

Figure 2 Floods can keep you from bugging out if you wait too long.

What opportunity is there for us to evacuate, and what mode of transportation is available? Did the last ferry to the mainland leave without us? Are the roads already under water? Is the last plane full? Can we expect to walk out wearing only a pair of flip-flops?


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 1: Why Bug Out?

When it comes to bugging out, an athlete staying in a hotel

What about pets? Can we take them with us? Do we have plans

has far fewer liabilities than either the caregiver who looks after

to carry pet food and additional water? Will a cat carrier fit in the

a wheelchair-bound senior citizen, or the single parent with three

car? Wherever our destination is, will they accept the pet python

young children, two cats, a dog and a hamster. And while we are

or the rottweiler? And if we cannot take pets with us, what do we

talking about animals, how do we deal with a bugout emergency

do with them? What do we do to help them survive until we can

involving family pets, or the herd of cows or the stable of million-

return? It would be irresponsible to abandon them without food,

dollar race horses that is our livelihood?

water, and shelter. For many people, leaving a family pet behind is

How do we Bug Out? Where we live may also determine our mode of transportation and how we evacuate the area. During Hurricane Katrina, many people in New Orleans who did not own cars had to bug out by walking or waiting for a bus. In Montana it’s unlikely you could jump on a train, but a horse or four-wheel drive would be a more likely mode of transportation. Our method of transportation determines how much stuff we can take with us. A motorcycle or a horse might allow us to carry more than if we are walking. A car can carry more than a motorcycle. So before we can even begin to pick and choose what to take

not an option. It means that their decision point for bugging out is that if the pet doesn’t go with them, then they don’t bug out. Who is on medication? Don’t forget pet meds. Does anyone have a medical condition (Diabetes, for example) that requires special food? Are you likely to need weapons for self-defense, and if so, can you carry them? During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, law enforcement officers confiscated guns owned by law-abiding citizens. In a similar situation, you may find yourself trying to decide where the greatest risk lies: Losing your firearm to a police officer, or losing your life to a rioting criminal. Perhaps your bugout bag should be big enough to conceal a weapon and spare ammunition, and also give you quick access to it when it’s needed. We will discuss firearms in greater detail later.

with us, we must first determine where we are, what the threat is

How much money will you need? Do you have it stashed

likely to be, the weather, how far we must go and how we are going

away at home in case the banks are closed when you have to bug

to get there. And who exactly is bugging out with us? Do we have

out? Do you carry ID such as driver’s license, concealed weapons

elderly relatives or young children to take with us? How much can

permit, passport? In our Hurricane Katrina example, being able

they carry? Can we all hike to safety? Will everyone fit in the car?

to show a police officer identification might save you from being

And if we can all fit, is there any room left for our bugout bags?

treated as a looter.


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive


Chapter 1: Why Bug Out?

Where do we go? If the kids are at home and mom and dad are at work, is there a plan to meet in a prearranged place? How do you communicate? After the terrorist attacks on September 11TH 2001, the cell phone system was overloaded. In the middle of your disaster, if communication is impossible, do you have a prearranged safe place to meet up with family members? If you don’t, try to find a place that is easy for all members of the family to get to. It should be somewhere that everyone is familiar with. It should be a place that is not likely to be affected by the disaster, so don’t plan on meeting at the wooden shack in the woods if you’re escaping a forest fire. If a family member is unable to travel to the rendezvous place, for example if grandma cannot walk very far, then you may need to designate grandma’s house as the rendezvous point. So far we have only considered a disaster that occurs in the vicinity of our home.But what if we are away from home on business or vacation, for example, when a disaster strikes? What if we are in a foreign country? Before we can bug out, we must know where we are going to go.We must be able to communicate that information to people such as friends and relatives who will be looking for us, and without a destination, we don’t have a complete plan. Our

Figure 3 The people you take with you may require special considerations.

destination may be a friend’s house, a government shelter, under a bridge, the airport, a train or bus station, a tent in the wilderness, or simply living out of our car in an alley. Wherever it is it must be as safe as is realistically possible, and people must be able to find


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 1: Why Bug Out?

us when we want them to. If you are in a foreign country when you experience a disaster, your passport will prove to be invaluable in getting you home. So will money, in case you have to pay one of the locals to take you to the airport or the border. These are the kind of issues that we must take into account when we are planning our escape. We have to plan ahead and not wait until the molten lava is six feet from the front door before we make some tough decisions.


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The Importance of Planning

Q 31

Chapter 2: The Importance of Planning

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive


or any situation that requires us to leave promptly, we must have a plan or possibly more than one plan, depending on the likelihood of various situations.

There are two important things to remember about making

a bug out plan. First, the most important thing is to have one. It may not be perfect, but it at least has to be thought through carefully before we need to initiate it. Second, don’t skip planning the details. You cannot assume that when the time comes to bug out that the details will just fall into place. Any plan that includes the phrase, “Well, I’ll just…” is likely doomed to failure because the important details have not been carefully thought out ahead of time. Let’s think about that for a moment: “Well I’ll just hitch a ride on the expressway.” Or “Well I’ll just wear shorts and a tee shirt and hope it doesn’t snow.” Here in the United States, emergency services at the local, state, and federal level generally advise that we should plan to survive for 72 hours until help arrives. Regardless of whether it is appropriate for us to bug out or just stay where we are and wait for help, we should plan on looking after ourselves for at least 72 hours—when did you ever know the government to be on time?


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Chapter 2: The Importance of Planning

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive


a little time planning how we would cope. Having a plan does three things: First, it means that we don’t have to rush to make decisions on the spur of the moment and risk making the wrong decision. For example, it’s better to say,“when my feet get wet, it’s time to leave,” rather than wait until the water is knee high and say,“I wish I’d left two hours ago, now I might not make it.” Second, having a plan gives us confidence and reduces the possibility that we will panic. Third, planning forces us to consider things ahead of time, and allows us the opportunity to research things that we need to know in order to plan effectively. Planning gives us the opportunity to create what I call decision points. For example, I have two friends who live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The big danger for them is forest and grass fires. They already know that when a grass fire crests the ridge a quarter of a mile from their home, the sheriff’s deputies will order them to leave. So for my two friends, one of the decision points is that when the fire reaches the ridge, they know they have to leave. They have already made the decision a long time before the fire ever starts.

Figure 4 People in one part of the country may have to contend with wildfires, while others in a different part of the country have to deal with other natural disasters.

We all need to have a plan. Wherever we live, we need to take a look at our surroundings and determine what the threats are that we may have to deal with. Homes built in a flood plain are at risk of being flooded. Homes built on a fault line are at risk from


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Chapter 2: The Importance of Planning

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

earthquakes.These factors are fairly obvious, but it’s amazing how

bag for different circumstances, and it’s quite likely that equipment

many people choose to ignore them. Once we’ve identified likely

such as clothing will have to be appropriate for the weather and

threats, we need to come up with a plan to evacuate to a safe area

the season of the year.

at short notice. A plan should be written down. This forces us to

As we examine different options for bugout bags and the items

think through the details. It means that everybody in the home

that we should carry in them, let’s remember that every item we

will understand how they fit into the plan and they will know

own meets one of the following criteria:

what their personal responsibilities are. The plan should include these components:

• Need to have • Nice to have

1. Define Decision Points.When certain specific events occur,

• Don’t need

this is a signal to get out. 2. Know where you are going and make sure that all family members know the plan. 3. Know what items you will take with you and what you will leave behind.

The most basic bugout bag is your wallet or purse. Do you always carry “emergency money”, identification, car keys, a cell phone? On September 11TH 2001, the day the World Trade Center was bombed, I wonder how many of the people who escaped from the Twin Towers brought their wallet or purse with them?

A bug out plan must take into account our geographical

Did they have the means to get home, contact relatives, establish

location. For example, if we live along the Gulf Coast of the USA,

their identity, and take their prescription medication? I work in

we can expect hurricanes and flooding. In California, we have

an office. There is nothing in my office or on my desk that would

earthquakes, forest fires, and mud slides to contend with.Anywhere

make me pause for one second if I had to get out of the building.

close to a railroad or an expressway, we might expect a chemical

The important things are in my pockets.The less important things

spill from a tanker. Some of these disasters are seasonal. Forest fires

are in a small briefcase next to my desk. If I have time to grab that

are more likely in summer, flooding may occur in the spring when

briefcase on my way out, that’s good, but not essential.

snow melts, or during a rainy season.

In 1912, when the passenger ship Titanic struck an iceberg,

The details of the plan will determine the size, design, and

many people on board ignored the incident. It had been widely

number of bugout bags that we need.We may need more than one

publicized that the ship was unsinkable. Perhaps they were waiting


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 2: The Importance of Planning


for instructions from the ship’s captain. Maybe many of them were


they were launched, and that two hours and forty minutes later,


in denial that something bad had happened.Who knows? What we do know is that some of the lifeboats were partially empty when the ship sank and 1500 people died. The golden rule here is that when you have to leave, LEAVE NOW! Do not wait for other people to tell you when to leave. If your gut tells you it’s time to go, then GO! Don’t dawdle. Don’t waste time collecting unimportant things—GET OUT!

Figure 5 Never forget.


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What do We Take With Us?

Q 41

Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive


o far we’ve touched on Why, When, How, and Where we should bug out. Now let’s look at what we should bug out with. Given the criteria above, we must now make a list

of the items we will take with us. Then we will assemble all those items on our living room floor or some other flat, empty space and decide how we are going to pack those items into a bag. The chances are that we will have assembled more items than we can reasonably carry. Remember: Need to have, Nice to have, Don’t need. So you need to go back over your list and throw out all the “Don’t Needs.” Still too much gear? Try to justify taking the “Nice to Have” stuff and throw out those items that you cannot justify logically in a survival setting. You should be left with only the items that you truly need to survive. Now that you know what you will take, you can choose the correct size and type of bugout bag (or bags) to carry those items. They are described below in Small, Medium, and Large sizes. A Small Bug Out Bag One step up from our purse or wallet is a small and simple bugout bag, such as a fanny pack, a small backpack, or a zippered


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

bag.This is something that we should always keep next to the bed when we go to sleep. Of course, this can be done at home, but it should especially be used when staying away from home, such as in a hotel. In case you have to bug out of your hotel room in the middle of the night because of a fire, terrorist bombing, tsunami, or whatever, be sure to keep your wallet, car keys, essential medication, passport, airplane ticket, cell phone, maps of the area, flashlight, and eyeglasses, in a small pouch on the nightstand. It may be the only thing you have time to grab on your way out the door. Personally, I use a soft nylon case designed to hold a pair of softball shoes. It has a zipper and a soft nylon handle at one end. It holds everything that I would need in an emergency with room left over for things that I might pick up later such as bottled water or a sandwich from the Red Cross—who knows? You’ll notice that I did not say to keep all those important items in your suitcase. You may not have time to drag a heavy, bulky bag down ten flights of smoke-filled stairs and out of the hotel. You cannot expect the elevators to be working, and even if they are, they will no doubt be filled to capacity by people who ignored the directions to not use the elevators in an emergency! In addition to your small bugout bag, don’t forget to keep a pair of sensible shoes and a simple change of clothes like jeans Figure 6

and a sweater by the bed. Sensible shoes are of the type that you can actually walk and run in, and that will protect your feet from broken glass and other debris. During Hurricane Katrina the streets flooded, the sewers overflowed, dead bodies, broken glass and


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Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

other debris from damaged buildings clogged the streets. Do you

A backpack is pretty good. They come in three basic sizes:

know how many people tried to walk out of that mess wearing

a school or book bag, (which I classify as a small bugout bag) a

only flip-flops on their feet? A lot. This is why I suggest keeping a

three-day pack, and a full-size pack like mountain climbers carry.

pair of “sensible” shoes handy.

Let’s designate the three-day pack as a good medium size bugout

A Medium Size Bug Out Bag

bag. It’s designed to be carried long distances, and many packs have exterior pockets that allow you to access frequently used

The next step up is a medium size personal bugout bag. This

items easily.A backpack also keeps your hands free for other things:

is probably what everybody envisions when we talk about the

holding onto your dog’s leash or your five-year old daughter’s hand,

classic bugout bag. In my opinion, hard sided cases don’t make

or carrying your rifle. One slightly negative point about hiking-

good bugout bags. They don’t “give” when you try to cram gear

style backpacks is that many of them open at the top. This means

into them, and they cannot be jammed into a tight space in a

that it isn’t easy to access items at the bottom of the bag without

vehicle. They may offer better protection for fragile items than a

emptying out all the contents. It’s worth shopping around to find

soft bag, but realistically, what fragile item falls into our need-to-

a bag that unzips down the sides so that you can lay it flat and

have category? Maybe a cell phone or a Global Positioning System

access the interior in the same way that you would access a duffel

(GPS), probably a pair of reading glasses; In that case, wrap them

bag with a zipper that runs along the top.

up in a sweatshirt and stow it in the middle of your soft bag. But that antique vase or the nineteenth century bone china tea set should probably be stored in a safe and secure location where you can retrieve them after the emergency is over. So, we’ve decided on a soft bag. There are two basic designs: a bag with handles and a shoulder strap, a long zipper along the top side, and perhaps a couple of outer pockets; or a hikingstyle backpack. The bag with handles provides quite a lot of space and easy accessibility to items. I recommend a carry strap so that you can keep your hands free.


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There are some important things to consider when you select a bugout bag: • Get one that is comfortable for you to carry. If it’s a backpack, be sure that the straps don’t chafe and that they spread the load evenly. • If you look inside a good quality backpack you will probably see that the inside has a waterproof, rubberized coating. I think this is an important requirement for any pack or bag. You need to keep your gear dry. • Check the weight of the bag when it’s empty.A really stout, heavy duty bag is great, but you’d be surprised how much


Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive


may have to carry it long distances. • Get a lightweight, but strong bag. Double or triple stitching is good, especially on the load bearing areas like the straps or handles. The zippers need to be durable and of good quality. Many of the better quality bags seem to have YKK brand zippers. Now that we have our medium size bag, we must decide what needs to go into it. Going back to our criteria, this is the must-have gear. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, in my humble opinion, you will need the following: Your wallet, purse, or the small bug out bag we discussed earlier, with cash (including small bills and credit cards.) In addition, prescription medication, a small first aid kit, heavy duty sun screen lotion, sunglasses (for sun, snow, water, or flying debris) flashlight, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, personal wash kit (antibacterial soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, razor) and towel (if you’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you know how useful a towel is!) one change of underwear and socks, energy bars, electrolyte powder, candy and gum, cell phone and charger, folding pocket knife or a Leatherman-type multi-tool, gloves, map, compass/GPS, drinking water. In addition, a large piece of plastic sheet can prove

Figure 7

to be invaluable as a makeshift shelter (don’t forget several yards of strong twine—550 parachute cord is ideal, and a roll of duct tape is helpful too) and at the very least, it can be laid out on wet ground to give you a dry place to rest.


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Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Yes, it’s not a big deal to survive for three days or more in the

four or five feet in length, with wraparound handles and a zipper

same underwear and without washing. But remember Hurricane

that runs the full length of the bag.This design not only allows easy

Katrina where some people had to wade through filthy water to

access to individual items without having to pull out everything

get to safety. In those conditions, a wash and a change of clothes

else, it also allows discreet carry of rifles and shotguns.

isn’t just a good sanitary measure, it’s also a huge morale booster. Here’s another important piece of equipment for almost any size bugout bag. Place the change of clothes and underwear in one of those plastic, vacuum seal storage bags that are advertised on TV. Squeeze all the air out of it before you seal it, and then put it in your bugout bag. Not only will this keep your spare clothes dry, it will also take up less space than just packing clothes loose in your bag. You can also use sealable “Ziploc” bags to protect items like cash, papers, and medications from dirt and moisture. A Large Bug Out Bag A large bugout bag, such as some of the big camping duffel bags, is very useful if you don’t have to carry it very far by hand. But for people who have the option to bug out by car, or even by boat or small aircraft, a large bag can be packed days or even months in advance with a lot of useful equipment and supplies that might not fit into the medium or small bags. Keep this packed all the time with general purpose items: food, survival tools, clothing etc. Bags like this must be maintained regularly. Throw out old food and replace water. Depending on the season, (winter, summer, etc.) change clothing. Some of these camping duffel bags are huge—


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Money Belts to Protect Cash One other point to consider is that once we have bugged out, we may have to stop and rest in some pretty strange places, possibly with other travelers and complete strangers. Wherever we sleep, we may not have total security over our small, medium, or large bugout bags. We must find a way to keep our emergency money with us at all times. About the best we can do is probably to use a money belt. This small belt is worn by travelers around the waist under clothing to keep money secure from pickpockets. If a thief steals your bag while you’re asleep or otherwise distracted, at least you stand a chance of keeping your money and identification papers. Caching a Bug Out Bag Offsite It may seem illogical to store a bugout bag away from home, but storing emergency supplies outside the home might be a good idea for some people. For example, someone who lives in a house in a forest may come home to find that a forest fire has destroyed their home, or that local authorities have closed the roads, and access to the house is denied. First, during fire season, it would be prudent for homeowners to carry a small or medium bugout bag in their vehicle. Second, a large bugout bag might be stored


Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

at a friend’s home, at work, or anywhere else that is not likely to be affected by the same disaster at the same time as their primary residence. Offsite storage can be a reciprocal agreement with a friend or neighbor. You store their bugout bag in your house, and they store your bag in theirs. This way, unless a disaster destroys both houses at the same time, you’re both covered. You may even both agree that your houses will be the bug out destination for the other person. What Items do You Take with You? What should you put in your bug out bag? We’ve already looked at some of the things that anyone, in any geographical location should have, but here is where we are going to get more specific. Water is vital for survival. Dehydration is the result of the body losing more water than it takes in. Dehydration makes even the simplest of tasks more difficult, and makes a person more susceptible to shock if they are injured. At 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the average adult loses 2-3 quarts/liters per day just by urinating, sweating, and defecating. Hot or cold temperatures, illness or burns, intense activity (like bugging out on foot or carrying a heavy bugout bag) may cause even greater loss of fluids. A person surviving at average altitude and temperatures needs to drink Figure 8

about a half gallon of water each day. This is a rough guideline. There are many factors such as weather, or an individual’s overall state of health. Sick people, nursing mothers, and children need more water. Water is heavy and bulky to transport, but it is an


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

absolute necessity. Some people opt for flavored energy drinks to

a fire. Both tea and coffee are available in single serving bags you

carry with them, but plain drinking water can always be mixed

just dunk in hot water! Ah, the joy of civilized living!

with a powdered electrolyte, (which will also replace salt that the

Also, there is a wide array of commercial water filters now

body needs to function) and plain water, unlike energy drinks, can

available. One of these filters can adequately supplement an

be used for washing or cooking.

emergency drinking water supply. A water reservoir with a

Let me stress the importance of staying hydrated: Every person,

drinking tube attached (such as those made by Camelbak and

regardless of where they are, what the climate is, or what they

Blackhawk) can be inserted into a backpack, allowing the wearer

are doing, needs to be well-hydrated in order to be healthy and

to take a drink without having to remove their backpack each time.

to survive. By the time a person feels thirsty, they are already on

Like other manufacturers, both companies manufacture complete

their way to being dehydrated, and dehydration prevents the body

systems—backpack, reservoir, and drinking tube.

from working efficiently. This can be a big problem for someone

It’s important to be able to make a fire and illumination.We need

who is already stressed from the physical and mental exertions

to be able to stay warm, cook food and boil water, wash, dry our

of traveling while carrying a heavy pack. It is better to sip water

clothes and other equipment, and even signal for help. We should

frequently throughout the day rather than gulp down a large

include in our equipment a fire starter kit, matches or cigarette

amount once or twice. If your urine is clear, you are well hydrated.

lighter, and a couple of chemlites or snap-lights (the plastic tubes

If it is dark yellow, you need to be drinking water immediately!

filled with two chemicals which, when mixed together, give off a

Any shade of yellow in between indicates that you are heading

bright glow for several hours.)

towards being dehydrated. Drinking liquids such as tea and coffee that contain caffeine

What to Wear?

is generally regarded as being a bad idea because caffeine causes

Choosing appropriate clothes often depends on the weather,

the body to urinate more. However, if you’re bugging out in cold

but a jacket should be a rainproof shell that is both warm and

weather or if you’re like me and your body craves caffeine every

lightweight. Dress in layers for additional warmth. A hat should be

morning just to get moving, I would suggest including some tea or

waterproof and able to provide protection from the sun. Gloves

coffee in your bugout bag. You will have to include equipment to

should provide warmth and afford protection to the hands. We

boil water, but you won’t need all the trappings associated with

may have to move debris, construct a shelter, or climb obstacles. A

brewing coffee of tea at home.You just need a steel cup, water, and

pair of jeans, not a skirt or dress, is surprisingly practical in most


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Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

environments and blends in with the local population in many parts of the world. A belt with a pouch for the small survival kit (wallet, pocket knife, flashlight, cell phone) plus a water bottle pouch is a good addition to jeans. Wool is warm even when wet, although it can get heavy. Shoes or boots should be comfortable and durable because even though we may not have planned it, we may need to walk long distances over rough terrain and debris.The soles should be heavy enough to withstand sharp objects like nails. Don’t forget sunglasses. They are especially important to protect the eyes in bright sunshine or snow, and also from flying debris. Medical Considerations A First Aid kit is a valuable item. Even if you don’t have much room, consider packing a very basic kit that will at least provide relief for headaches, nausea, diarrhea, cuts, bruises, splinters, and blisters. Many people have to take prescription medication. It’s important to have a few days supply of all prescriptions in a bugout bag. And this may be one of those items that a person may have to remember to drop in their bag before they leave their home. This is fine for tablets or capsules, but let’s look at more serious long term medical conditions. Figure 9 Consider the medical needs of everyone in your bug out party (even your pets).

Since medical conditions vary considerably from one person to another, and medications vary from one manufacturer to the next, the following is a hypothetical example, and is not meant to be taken as medical advice.


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Chapter 3: What do We Take With Us?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

A diabetic takes daily injections of insulin. His doctor prescribes a thirty day supply, and gives him a second thirty day supply as a backup. His insulin medication can only last for thirty days at room temperature. But in this example, the weather is hot and sunny. The daily

such as when administering epinephrine for an allergic reaction, a smaller diabetic syringe will come in handy. This is just a general example, so it’s very important that you consult a medical expert for advice on your specific medica situation.

temperature is in the 80s. The backup thirty day supply must be

Before any disaster occurs, it is important to have a plan to deal

kept refrigerated until it is needed. How does this person bug out

with medical requirements such as these. Consult with doctors and

with enough insulin to last at least 72 hours and keep his insulin

drug manufacturers, identify the patient’s requirements and then

cool enough for it to be effective?

plan how to fill those requirements under bad conditions. What if

An Emergency Medical Technician advised that the first step is

it’s time to bug out and the weather is very cold or very hot? What

to contact the manufacturer of the medication and explain your

if you have to walk a long way or though difficult terrain? What are

concerns and ask for guidance in how to maintain the effectiveness of that specific medication.Ask how extreme heat and cold affects

the medical risks involved and how do you plan to deal with them. Always have a detailed, well researched plan.

the medication. A doctor may not know exactly how a specific medication responds over time to extreme conditions, so it’s advisable to talk to the manufacturer. Next, our EMT friend offers this useful tip: A simple way to keep medication cool is to use a small insulated picnic cooler, like the ones some people use to take their lunch to work; add a packet of frozen peas with the medication.Yes, frozen peas.They stay frozen for quite a long time and they have the added advantage of being useful to apply as an ice pack for injuries. Our EMT uses them all the time. Next, if medication must be administered by injection, our EMT recommends that a 5 ml syringe with a 22 gauge needle will suffice in most emergencies. For a more precise measurement,


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Securing Your Home Before You Bug Out

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f you have some prior warning that you’re going to have to bug out, there may be time to secure your home before you leave. This would include the obvious things like locking all

doors and windows, but homeowners may also be instructed by the utility company to turn off utilities.This is because events like earthquakes and aftershocks, flooding, and tornados can rupture gas and waterlines. Natural gas leaks can cause a buildup of gas that leads to an explosion and a fire. If you smell gas, or hear a hissing sound, get everybody out of the house. BUG OUT NOW! Everyone in the home needs to know how to shut off the gas supply at the main outside valve. Procedures vary, so it’s a good idea to contact the utility company for instructions. Be aware, that while it may be OK to turn the gas off, it should only ever be turned on by a technician from the gas company. Sparks from electrical appliances can ignite gas leaks in the home. It’s a good idea to turn off the electricity (especially if the home is soaked from flooding.) Once the electricity circuit box is located, all electrical circuits should be shut off first, before shutting off the main circuit breaker. Keep in mind also


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Chapter 4: Securing Your Home Before You Bug Out

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

that turning off electricity is going to affect the food in the

important items in a secure location away from home. This could

refrigerator and freezer, so this is a decision that must be left to

be at a friend or relative’s house, or it could be in a safe deposit

the individual homeowner.

box in a bank vault.

Water is a precious commodity in a disaster. Even during

Keep in mind that if you store your valuables at someone’s

Hurricane Katrina, there were incidents where buildings that

house, you haven’t made them any more secure than if you were

were actually under three feet of water were left to burn because

to keep them at home.All you’ve done is to bet your valuables that

there was no water available for fire hoses. In the event of an

disaster will strike your house and not your friend’s. Of course, if

earthquake, water mains may be cracked or ruptured. This can

your friend lives in a concrete bunker a thousand feet above the

lead to contamination of the water in the pipes. It’s a good idea to

nearest flood plane, and he is a true and trustworthy friend, then

shut off the water until local authorities announce that it is safe to

maybe your possessions will be OK. But this may not be an option.

turn it back on. The water should be turned off at the main valve

We have to find a way to secure those things that we cannot take

inside the house, not at the outside valve buried near the street.

with us.

How to Hide the Valuables You Cannot Take With You Most people own a lot of things that they could not possibly take with them on foot, or even in a large vehicle.There simply isn’t time or space to carry everything; and for anybody bugging out on foot, the items they would be able to carry are severely limited. Of course, one’s home should be made as secure as possible before leaving, but suppose that just isn’t adequate enough to keep the coin collection, the jewelry, or even all the important papers (birth certificate, diplomas, stocks and bonds, property title) safe? While we are away a lot of things might happen to our residence: fire, flood, earthquake, not to mention looters. There are two options, both of which require some preparation before any disaster strikes. The first option is to store these 64

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For around a couple of hundred dollars a year (depending on the bank and the size of the safe deposit box) valuables can be locked up in a vault constructed of steel and concrete.Although this seems like a perfect solution, you should check to see if the bank is situated in an area that is prone to flooding or earthquakes. Just to be on the safe side, whenever I store items in a safe deposit box I always double-bag them in “Ziploc” bags for added protection. The other option might be to cache your valuables underground or even under water in a cache tube. The best way to do this is to use standard white PVC plumbing pipe, which is easily available from hardware stores in 4-, 6-, or 8-inch diameter sizes. Cut to the desired length, glue a PVC end cap at one end and an inspection cap (which can be repeatedly opened and closed) at the other, and you’ve got an extremely durable, watertight container. For a tube


The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 4: Securing Your Home Before You Bug Out

that will not be opened and closed very often, instead of using an IF YOU’RE GOING TO HIDE VALUABLES, REMEMBER WHERE YOU HIDE THEM.

inspection cap, you can use end caps at both ends, glue one end in place permanently, and at the other end just apply a thin layer of heavy grease between the inside of the end cap and the outside of the tube before slipping the end cap on. Again, our old standby, the plastic “Ziploc” bag can be used to further protect papers, jewelry, and other items that must be kept dry before they are placed in the tube. This doesn’t have to be a huge tube. Let’s say you’re going to bury a couple of certificates, a couple of pieces of jewelry and maybe some banknotes or a gold coin or two. I’d guess that an 18 inch by four inch diameter tube would be sufficient. If you’re planning on hiding your 12 gauge riot shotgun, I’d guess that a 48 inch by eight-inch diameter tube would be better; I’d also ask why you’re burying a gun in the ground at a time when your personal security situation has taken a turn for the worse. The next task is to decide where the tube will be buried. Let’s assume that you have a small backyard, or some other area of private ground that is off-limits to the general population. A hole needs to be dug at least twelve inches deeper than the overall length of the PVC tube, which will be stored vertically in the ground.

Figure 10 An option might be to cache your valuables underground or even under water in a cache tube.

Digging a shallow ditch and storing a tube horizontally is not the best idea because it makes it easier for the contents to register on a metal detector. The simplest way to dig a deep, narrow hole is to rent a post-hole digger called a soil auger. Make sure that the


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 4: Securing Your Home Before You Bug Out

tool is capable of drilling down deep enough to accommodate the IF YOU’RE GOING TO BURY IT, BE ABLE TO LOCATE IT!

overall length of the cache tube plus at least twelve inches. So far, we have identified a quiet location where a tube can be secreted, the dimensions of the tube, and what will be hidden inside it. Now comes the hard part. There is no point in hiding something if other people know where you’ve hidden it because either you told them, or they saw you put it there! They may dig it up as soon as you aren’t around. So, you have to find a way to dig the hole and place the tube in it without anybody putting two and two together. One thought would be to select a location where nobody can see what you are doing; in the middle of a dense cluster of trees or bushes perhaps. If you can hide in or behind something while you dig so much the better. On the other hand, if you have a good reason for digging, putting in a series of fence posts, for example, it is a simple matter to add one extra hole and then come back at night when the neighbors are asleep, and plant the cache tube. Here’s one very important thing to remember when it comes to burying or hiding anything. You must be able to find it again when you want to retrieve your valuables! People don’t search for buried pirate treasure because the pirates deliberately left it

Figure 11 A GPS can be invaluable in finding your hidden valuables.

where it could be found by someone else. If there is such a thing as buried pirate treasure still to be found it’s because the pirates either died, or THEY COULDN’T FIND WHERE THEY BURIED IT. Today, a Global Positioning System is invaluable in identifying exactly where you are to within a few feet. But once you get to the


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

Chapter 4: Securing Your Home Before You Bug Out

area where you buried something, you will need to pinpoint the location to within a few inches, otherwise you will waste a lot of time, and possibly draw a lot of unwelcome attention, digging hole after hole. Photograph the immediate area from different angles. Make detailed notes of how many fence posts your cache is from the road. Consider what landmarks may change or disappear and note it accordingly when you dig the hole. Another alternative for caching small quantities of valuables is to use the existing infrastructure of your house. A tool shed, for example, may be a good place to hide a container under the floor. Cut an opening in the wooden floor, dig a hole for the container, and then replace the floor and throw a grimy old rug over it. If you decide to build a brick barbeque in the back yard, design it so that a brick can be removed to provide access to a space inside the structure where valuables can be stored. Just be sure that when the barbeque is burning, the heat won’t damage the valuables. These are just a few basic ideas. Use your imagination to come up with a solution that fits your needs that you can build yourself. If you need to get someone else to build your little hidey-hole for you, then you’ve defeated the object of making something that is secure because only you know about it. Yes, it all sounds very clandestine and like something from the plot of a Pink Panther movie, but the fact remains that when you mix bad times with valuables, you have to find some way to keep them secure until you can retrieve them at a later date.


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Do You Really Want to do This?

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ut clearly, if we envision getting ourselves into so much trouble that we have to carry a large supply of ammunition with us, we may want to rethink our bug out plan.

Case History Number One: In 1879, one hundred and thirty nine British soldiers were

stationed at Rorke’s Drift, a tiny mission in Natal, South Africa.They received word that a large force of Zulu warriors had decimated a large British force six miles away, and was heading for the tiny mission at Rorke’s Drift. The three junior officers in charge of the mission, Chard, Bromhead, and Dalton decided that if they were to evacuate the mission (which included wounded soldiers) they would be cut to pieces by the much faster force of four to five thousand Zulus. Instead, they decided to stay because they had a better chance of defending the mission than they would if they were caught in the open by a much, much larger opposing force. The fighting was fierce. It lasted into the following day. Finally, the Zulus gave up and left. Most of the British defenders survived. Of the original supply of 20,000 rounds of ammunition, they had 900 rounds left.


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Chapter 5: Do You Really Want to do This?

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

What can we learn from this? WHEN WE FAIL TO PLAN, WE PLAN TO FAIL.

• Sometimes the best place to be is right where you already are • The correct mindset is critical to surviving a bad situation • Be prepared and have a plan Case History Number Two: This isn’t strictly an example of bugging out, but it does illustrate the dangers of being caught in the open by an enemy with greater firepower and numerical superiority. In 1876, the Seventh Cavalry of the United States Army, under General George Armstrong Custer fought Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Indians led by Sitting Bull at the infamous Battle of the Little Big Horn. Custer declined the offer of two units of Gatling guns (that would have significantly increased the firepower at his disposal) because he didn’t want his arrival at the site of the battle to be delayed. He also declined the addition of two more companies of cavalry troops because he thought the Seventh Cavalry could handle any enemy. Custer encountered many more Indians than he had estimated. He and his force were cut to pieces. The lessons to be learned here are obvious:

Figure 12 Be prepared!

• Don’t refuse help that is actually useful • Don’t assume you are the biggest, baddest kid on the block. Somebody else probably is. And even if they aren’t, they might just be luckier than you


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The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

SURVIVAL FOOD In general, bugout food should comprise of items that

Chapter 5: Do You Really Want to do This?

are available to civilians. They come in various configurations and provide a complete meal in one package.

minimize weight and bulk, do not deteriorate rapidly, and require

Testing your bug out bag once it is packed

little or no preparation. Examples of this would be such items as

Determine how much time you need to bug out (say, 10

granola or energy bars, and powdered items that just require (hot)

minutes.) Test it. See how long it takes from getting out of bed to

water: soup, energy drinks, oatmeal, tea, coffee. I’ve also found that

grabbing your gear and locking the front door behind you.

condiments such as salt, sugar, pepper,Tabasco-style hot sauce and curry powder liven up otherwise bland food. If you are feeling

Repeat the test but go away for 24 hours. If this works, go away for 72 hours with only what is in your bag.

cold and wet, a drop of Tabasco or a pinch of curry powder on the tongue will give you a warm glow! I also like bagels because they provide energy and are quite filling. I’ve tested them in the field, and if they are wrapped, they do keep fresh for a week or more. Here’s another obvious use for the plastic “Ziploc” bags mentioned earlier.They are invaluable for storing all kinds of items and protecting them from moisture, dust and insects. Certainly, food can be stored this way, but equipment can be organized by bags too. Let’s not forget that we will need to be able to make a fire. Another useful addition to our food supply is a water filter. A good one will provide us with the means to obtain potable water along the way, without having to carry a lot of bulky, heavy water with us. Add a stainless steel mug and a knife, fork, and spoon, and we have the means to cook a meal and eat it, all in the cup! From World War II to Vietnam U.S. troops used to carry food in cans known as C-rations. Modern day soldiers now carry a lighter, more efficient meal called an MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) these MREs 78

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Chapter 6: Firearms

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irearms are not for everyone. However, I believe that lawabiding, responsible people have a right to keep and bear arms, or more simply, own and carry guns, especially for

defense of self, family, and country. At the time of this writing, 48 of the 50 states allow some form of open carry or concealed carry of a handgun. If you decide that you want to have a gun, then I recommend two things: First, research the laws at the local, state and federal level to determine what firearms are legal for you to own and use. Second, seek out professional training in the safe use of firearms. The National Rifle Association conducts basic classes in Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, and personal protection both in the home and outside the home. Contact the NRA for a listing of instructors in your area. If you have learned everything you know about guns from watching movies and television, you are in no condition to handle a firearm safely, let alone use one in self defense. TV and movies are designed for entertainment, not education. When I teach basic firearms classes, I always get questions from students about “why


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

can’t we just shoot like the cops do in the movies?” My answer is WILL WE PASS THROUGH AREAS WHERE WE MAY NOT BE ALLOWED TO CARRY WEAPONS?

that logically, legally, practically, mechanically, and owing to the natural laws of physics and the physical limitations of the human body, it simply won’t work, and it will get you killed or thrown in prison. Do yourself a huge favor and take at least one class from a certified, professional instructor before you buy a gun. Should guns be included in a bugout kit? That depends on a lot of things. Personally, I believe that as long as criminals have cars, there is nowhere that is safe, and so I act accordingly. But here are the things everyone should consider: • What is the perceived threat that we wish to defend against? This will determine what kinds of weapons we carry. • How much can we carry? • Will we pass through areas where we may not be allowed to carry weapons? These may include airports, security checkpoints, or government facilities. • Is it legal? This may seem to be irrelevant if law and order has broken down, but at some point it will be restored, and the police will be looking for those people who broke the law.

Figure 13 If you’re carrying weapons, keep in mind where you’ll be traveling and who you’ll be encountering.

• Have I trained and practiced the art of self-defense with a firearm? • And finally, the single most important thing to consider: Can I use a lethal weapon to defend myself if I have to? Can I take another person’s life in order to save my own?


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive


This is not a decision that can be left until the time comes. It must be a decision that is made in a calm environment. Take some time, at least thirty minutes (or as much time as it takes) to sit down by yourself, with no interruptions or distractions, and ask yourself if you can shoot somebody in

When we discussed actual bugout bags we started small and worked up to large.We will start here with small guns—handguns, often called pistols.These are the most easily carried and concealed.

self defense.Ask yourself if you are prepared to be arrested

From a ballistics standpoint, compared to rifles and shotguns they

afterwards. Ask yourself if you are prepared to go through

are also the least effective in terms of stopping an attacker. But

a trial that will be expensive and emotionally devastating

because handguns are easy to carry and conceal, they are the

even if you are found not guilty. Not everybody can commit

most likely type of gun to be available almost instantly in a violent,

to that, but on the other hand, being murdered, raped, or

unexpected confrontation. In other words, handguns are quick

otherwise scarred for life isn’t a good proposition either. If

to get into action, or they should be, if a person has the correct

you must use a gun for self defense, do it to save your life

mindset and is trained to use them safely and efficiently.

or that of a loved one. Don’t do it to protect your stuff— your valuables. You can always get more stuff. Be honest with yourself. It’s one of the most important decisions you might ever make.

The first rule of gunfighting is have a gun. A pistol carried in a holster satisfies this rule. Let’s begin with carrying a gun for survival. If we plan to travel through wilderness areas and avoid towns, then perhaps we can use a handgun to shoot small to medium size game for food.

For bugout purposes, firearms fall into two categories: guns for self defense and guns for survival as in hunting for food. Before we decide what guns to include in our bugout kit, we must know how we intend to bug out, where we intend to go, the distance we must travel, the time we expect to be traveling before we reach a safe destination, our mode of transportation, the liabilities involved, (such as contact with dangerous bad guys or traveling through areas where firearms are prohibited and will be

Hunting (assuming that we are successful) means that perhaps we can carry less food with us. (Let’s not forget that some fishing line and hooks, even a short, takedown fishing pole, might also offer the chance of some fresh food.) Either a revolver or a semi-auto pistol chambered in the popular .22 Long Rifle cartridge, with a barrel length of around 4-6 inches, is a fine choice for rabbits and squirrels. The ammunition

confiscated) and how firearms fit in with our plans for how much

is cheap compared to larger calibers, and it’s easy to carry a brick

we can carry.

of 500 rounds. People have certainly shot larger animals with a


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

.22, but let’s not try to make this little round do more than we can reasonably expect of it. At the other end of the power spectrum, a large revolver, chambered for .41 or .44 Magnum, .454 Casull or similar large cartridges is capable of taking down deer, antelope, sheep, cows and even elk at short distances. For most people, I’d say that 25 – 35 yards or less is a practical shooting range, but be advised that these revolvers all have some heavy recoil and require some regular practice before being used to shoot live animals. If we choose to hunt animals, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to only shoot an animal when we can make it a quick, clean, humane kill. Handguns for self defense generally fall into two categories, semi-auto pistols and double action revolvers. Unlike hunting pistols, which are either very light or very heavy loads, the most popular calibers for self-defense pistols are a good compromise between power and controllability. Forget Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character with his .44 Magnum revolver and slow, deliberate shots. Gunfights in the real world are generally won with pistols that produce medium recoil that allows for accurate, first-shot hits and fast follow-up shots. The generally accepted, most common calibers for self defense Figure 14 Many handguns are built for personal protection and are not ideal for hunting game for survival.

in revolvers are .38 Special and .357 Magnum. In semi-auto pistols the most common self-defense cartridges are 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP. For every pistol that we carry, we should have a holster that is specifically designed for that model of pistol.The bargain-basement


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

five dollar one-size-fits-all holsters are flimsy, poorly designed and

more power for shots at longer ranges, and the ammunition is still

dangerous! If the holster is too loose, the pistol will fall out as

fairly cheap if you shop around, although not all retailers carry

soon as you try to run, bend over, or make any overt movements.

.22 Magnum.

If the fit is too tight, it can cause the finger to slip onto the trigger

The lever action carbines chambered for .357 Magnum and

prematurely and fire the weapon before it has been fully drawn

.44 Magnum offer quite a bit more power at short ranges for

from the holster and aimed at the intended target. Pistols that are

carefully placed heart or head shots on medium-size animals, and

carried in a bugout bag should be secured in a holster or gun case

as protection against feral dogs, but neither one would be my first

for safety, and left unloaded until required.

choice for a defensive carbine because they are slower to reload

Rifles and Carbines

than a semi-auto with a detachable magazine. Like the pistol, carbines for self-defense must be capable of hitting hard with

Generally speaking, a carbine is a shorter, lighter version of a

low recoil so that fast follow-up shots are possible. The generally

full size rifle. It may also be chambered for a mid-range cartridge.

accepted design incorporates shorter barrels (a 16-inch barrel

For example, the M1 Garand rifle, the M14 or Springfield Armory

is the shortest length allowed by law without a special permit)

M1A rifle, and the Ruger Mini-14 are all similar in design. However,

in a semi-auto design with a detachable high capacity magazine.

while the Garand and the M14/M1A are all full size battle rifles

Iron sights are fine for most work, although many people opt for

firing either the 30-06 or 7.62NATO cartridge, the Mini-14 is a

more sophisticated electronic “red dot” sighting systems or low

considerably shorter, lighter, scaled down design that fires the

magnification optical scopes. For semi-auto carbines chambered in

lighter .223 Remington cartridge. Other semi-auto carbines

pistol calibers, the 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP are the most popular.

are chambered for pistol cartridges such as the 9mm, .40S&W,

The advantage to choosing one of these calibers is that you can

.45ACP, while lever action “cowboy guns” are chambered for .357

carry both a pistol and carbine that use the same ammunition.

Magnum and .44 Magnum. Now that we’ve put this nomenclature

The most popular carbines are those semi-auto versions of

in perspective, let’s just say that for our bugout survival and self-

military rifles that retain the original military cartridge:The U.S.AR-

defense purposes, we are going to concentrate more on the lighter,

15, (5.56 NATO or .223 Remington) The Belgian FAL, (7.62 NATO

shorter “carbines.”

or .308 Winchester) and the Soviet AKM (formerly the AK-47)

A rifle chambered in .22 Long Rifle is an ideal small game

chambered in 7.62 x 39. These carbines in addition to the Ruger

gun. A bolt action rifle chambered in .22 Magnum offers a little

Mini-14 are all popular choices. It’s a good idea to add several


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

high capacity magazines too. Also, any longarm—rifle, carbine, or shotgun—that is used for either survival hunting, or self-defense must be equipped with an efficient sling in order to leave the WITH MODIFIED SIGHTS, SLINGS AND MAG CAPACITY, THE SAME SHOTGUNS USED BY HUNTERS ARE USED FOR HOME DEFENSE.

hands free when carrying the weapon. Shotguns Shotguns are excellent hunting weapons and can be devastating self-defense weapons. While shotguns are available as single-shot and double barrel firearms, we will concentrate on the two most efficient designs, the semi-auto and the pump-action. Semi-auto works the same way that semi-auto pistols, rifles and carbines do, while a pump action rifle has to be cycled manually before each shot. Both styles are used by hunters to shoot every kind of game from ducks and geese to rabbits and deer.The same designs of shotgun (with a few minor modifications to sights, slings, and magazine capacity) are used by law enforcement and military units, and by civilians for home defense. The shotgun fires a wide array of different types of (shotgun) ammunition, making it one of the most versatile weapons ever. Caliber is measured not by internal diameter of the barrel as with rifles and pistols, but by gauge. For example, if a single round lead ball fits snugly inside the barrel, and twenty lead balls of that size

Figure 15 Shotguns are devastating self-defense weapons.

add up to one pound, then the barrel is a twenty gauge barrel. If a barrel requires a larger lead ball to fit snugly inside it, and twelve balls of that size equal one pound, then the barrel is a twelve gauge. Therefore, twelve gauge can fire a larger load than twenty gauge.


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

For our purposes, we will concentrate on the two most popular

happens when various types of bullets and other projectiles

gauges of shotgun: twelve and twenty. Ammunition is available for

are shot into living tissue. The term that describes this is called

both of these gauges that is suitable for hunting small game, large

terminal ballistics.

game, and for self defense. Law enforcement and military also use

When a bullet enters a warm body it encounters various

the twelve gauge to fire a wide array of specialized ammunition for

obstacles to its path: hide or skin, blood or other liquid, cartilage,

blowing the hinges off doors, (breaching rounds) delivering tear

tissue, and bone. Some tissue is elastic and will stretch as the

gas, and penetrating thick armor, but that specialized ammunition is

shockwave created by the bullet hits it, but will return to its

beyond the scope of this book.This is a good time to point out that

original shape after the bullet has passed and the shockwave has

this discussion of weapons is all about self-defense and hunting for

subsided. In this case, the hole created by the bullet is called a

survival. We are not planning to invade a foreign country. Forget

temporary cavity. Other tissue will tear or fragment, and will not

what you’ve seen in the movies; Rambo is fiction.

return to its original shape after the bullet passed through it. The

We’ll discuss various types of pistol, rifle, and shotgun

hole left behind by the bullet is called a permanent cavity.

ammunition in a moment, but for now, the three types of shotgun

Grisly as it may sound, the whole point of shooting into a

ammunition in either twelve or twenty gauge that are most useful

warm, living body is to create a large hole that will destroy vital

to us for survival hunting or self defense are: birdshot, buckshot and

organs such as the heart and lungs and drain blood quickly away

slugs. Birdshot is good for hunting small game; buckshot is good

from the brain, thereby depriving it of oxygen. This is done by

for self defense at distances up to about twenty five yards. Slugs

creating a large permanent cavity.

turn the shotgun into a fairly accurate rifle out to 50-100 yards, depending on how good the sights are.As with rifles and carbines, a shotgun should be equipped with a good sling that allows the wearer to keep both hands free while carrying the shotgun. Ammunition

For pistols and carbines there are three basic designs of bullet that we should understand. The first is a simple lead slug. It may have a rounded tip, a flat tip, or a round or flat tip with a shallow hole in it called a hollowpoint. These simple lead bullets work pretty well for small game, and when fired into people they tend to deform, flatten out

Throughout the section on firearms we have focused on two

a little bit, and cause some sort of a permanent cavity. Although it

types of shooting: hunting and self-defense. Before we discuss

is one of the oldest bullet designs, it should not be underestimated.

different types of ammunition we need to understand what

A lot of plainclothes detectives are very fond of their little five-


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

round snubnose revolvers, firing a .38 Special lead hollowpoint THE WHOLE POINT OF SHOOTING INTO A WARM, LIVING BODY IS TO CREATE A LARGE HOLE.

bullet. It has saved the lives of a lot of cops. But arguably, there are more efficient types available. Next comes the same lead slug with a thin copper jacket that covers the entire bullet. This ammunition is used by the armies of the world. It is designated Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) and is common in semi-auto pistol calibers such as 9mm, .40S&W and 45ACP. It is also used in military rifle ammunition such as 5.56NATO, 7.62NATO and 7.62 x 39. These bullets do not deform easily the way that a soft lead bullet does inside a warm body.The FMJ bullet penetrates much further, and for soldiers it works well because they may shoot through solid objects such as wooden doors or sheet metal in vehicles to reach enemy soldiers hiding there. The third type of bullet is a combination of the first two; a lead slug covered with a copper jacket with a hole in the nose. Often, the copper jacket does not cover the entire tip of the bullet, leaving some of the lead core exposed.This is called a semijacketed hollowpoint. It is the generally accepted round for self defense using a pistol. For self defense using a rifle or carbine chambered in the calibers listed above, the cartridge has enough power that even using military FMJ ammunition, the terminal ballistics are devastating.

Figure 16 There are many different kinds, and calibers, of ammunition.

Shotgun ammunition is different. Birdshot are tiny lead pellets that come in several different diameters. For simplicity, we’ll just say that they are about the size of the letter “o” as shown here. Hundreds of these bird shot are poured into a shotgun shell.When


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Chapter 6: Firearms

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive

the shotgun is fired, the birdshot spread out into an ever widening

be overkill for a rabbit.) Or perhaps we can only carry a pistol for

pattern that makes it easier to hit a moving object like a bird in

self defense. How about a .22 pistol for hunting and a .45 caliber

flight. The same principle applies to buckshot, which is simply

pistol for self defense?

a larger form of birdshot. A typical buckshot load uses pellets

There is a saying that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail. For

that are .30 inch in diameter, loading nine pellets into a shotgun

example, when we bug out, we could plan to carry an ammunition

shell. Again, when fired, this load spreads out once it leaves the

pouch on our belt that contains spare magazines for our firearm.

shotgun. At twenty five yards, the pattern might be approximately

Next we’d carry a day pack or a medium size bugout bag that

12-24 inches in diameter. Nine .30 caliber shotgun pellets weigh

would hold spare ammunition to recharge our magazines. Finally,

one ounce. That’s a pretty devastating load when it’s applied to

we’d keep a large bugout bag in the car that contains enough

human targets.

ammunition to resupply our medium size bag.

The other shotgun load used for hunting large game and for

The possibilities are endless. This is why we take the time

self defense is the slug. It is a single lead bullet that generally

to plan, based on our expectations of the circumstances we will

weighs one ounce. A shotgun slug is effective out to more than

encounter if we are forced to bug out.

one hundred yards, although accuracy at that distance is nowhere near as good as a typical rifle or carbine at the same distance. If we decide the time has come to bug out, we must decide first if it is appropriate to carry a firearm, then we must decide what we can realistically expect to use the firearm for: survival hunting, self defense, or both. Can we carry a carbine, rifle or shotgun? Or are we limited to something much smaller and lighter—a handgun? How much ammunition can, and should we carry? Would the ammunition be used primarily for survival hunting, self defense, or do we need to do both? We could, for example carry a shotgun with birdshot for hunting, and use buckshot and slugs for self defense (the slugs could also be used to shoot a deer, but would


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Q 101

The Street Smart Guide to Bugging Out and Staying Alive



ugging out is not the solution to every problem. There are times when it’s safer and smarter to sit tight and try to improve the situation or wait for help to arrive. The

important thing is to know when to stay and when to leave, and to have a detailed plan, and the necessary equipment to survive. Identify the people who you can truly rely upon in a disaster and also those people who will not necessarily have your best interests at heart. When some disaster befalls us as individuals, members of a community, or citizens of this nation, it is unlikely that we will be the only ones affected. The way you conduct yourself during a crisis says a lot about you as a person. If you take the time to release your neighbor’s dog from his chain in the front yard before the flood waters get deep, if you save a seat in your car for a neighbor, if you’re a construction worker, police officer, firefighter, or EMT who rushed towards Ground Zero on 9-11 to help others, then you’re an asset to humanity.We determine what kind of people we are not by what happens to us, but by how we behave when the going gets tough. 102

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Profile for Keith Norris

Guide to Bugging Out  

A guide to Bugging Out. Be Prepared!

Guide to Bugging Out  

A guide to Bugging Out. Be Prepared!