Archive for March, 2013

Hope everyone had a good Easter.  Mine was pretty relaxing and all I seemed to do was eat (I’m not complaining) but tomorrow we start the work week once again.  Maybe today’s tip will give you a project you can work on throughout the week to make things less dull.

38)  Build an Outlet Safe

If you don’t have the luxury of owning a wall safe, why not build yourself a smaller, less expensive version?  Outlet safes are affordable and easy to install.  And hiding your valuables behind what looks like an electrical outlet will fool most people.  Here are the steps recomended in the book, Urban Survival Guide, by Rich Johnson:

Get your parts:  Find your local hardware store and get “a faceplate, a residential-grade volt receptacle, a cut-in-box, and sme roofing nails and washers”.
Cut your hole:  Trace your “cut-in-box” on the wall where you wish to install it.  Using a drywall saw, cut out the hole.
Insert your box:  Insert your cut-in-box into the hole and fill it with whatever valuables you wish to hide.
Prepare the receptacle:  The receptacle has a hole on both the top and bottom.  Slide the nails through your washers and then through these holes.
Attach the receptacle:  “Attach the receptacle to the box by sliding the nails into the [cut-in-box’s] top and bottom holes”.
Cover with the faceplate:  “Screw the faceplate onto the receptacle”.

There you have it.  This week while you’re out and about, grab the supplies you need and get to work.  I’m lucky enough to have a full sized safe in my home, but for those of you who don’t this is certainly an economical method to secure your small valuables.

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Finally finished the second season of Game of Thrones tonight and I am eagerly awaiting the start of season three tomorrow.  Such an interesting show with so many characters.  Its one of my favorite shows by far.  Its certainly a good escape from real world problems (economy, earthquakes, drought, North Korea, etc).  Moving on . . .

37)  Make a DIY Alarm

“Burglars want to enter silently, burgle quietly, and then leave without a sound”.  Don’t give them that ability.  Home security systems are pretty expensive, but that shouldn’t stop you from securing your home.  After all, Kevin was left home alone and still managed to defend against two determined, albeit stupid, burglars.  Here are some things the book suggests you do in order to secure your home:

  • Protect Outside:  Before a criminal reaches your door (or other entrance) they must first cross your yard or driveway.  We always picture really old castles as having moats to provide one last line of defense should the attackers make it to the walls.  Well, consider the yard your castle’s moat.  You want a criminal to be turned away before they even reach your doorstep.
    • Use Motion Sensors:  These sensors are most often used to turn on lights, but with a little work you could have them turn on sprinklers at the same time.  Having light illuminate them as they cross your yard will be frightening enough, but covering them in water will make it even worse!
  • Warn Inside:  If a criminal crosses your moat, be sure that your doors are barred and secure!  Locking your doors is always step one to securing your home, but you can do even more than that.  Add bells or wind chimes to the interiors of your doors so that any time they move you’ll be alerted with a sound that’s easy to hear.  You can always add them to your windows as well
  • Squeak And Creak:  Many homes come pre-built with alarms of their own.  You know what your home sounds like better than anyone (assuming nobody else has lived there longer than you) and you can use that to your advantage.  “Don’t repair squeaky floorboards or oil your door hinges”.  If you know that when someone walks across the living room floor it squeaks really loudly, that’s something you can use to your advantage.  “The best part?  [It] wont cost you a dime”.

There are many other things you can do to secure your home as well.  Friends of ours have fake cameras mounted around their home to help deter criminals.  Others, like us, have dogs.  Man’s best friend is one of the best deterrents you can have.  What are some other things you can do?  Do you have any secrets to home security that you’d like to share?

The weekend is here and today was beautiful.  The weather is going to be good for the next few days so hopefully I can squeeze in some time for shooting.  Need to refresh those skills I’ve been letting wither away.  Anyway, here’s a great indoor project you could do on a day when the weather isn’t that great:

36)  Stash Valuables in a Book

Smugglers have been hollowing out books for as long as books have been around.  After all, what cop would pause and read those dictionaries you have with you?  Having a “book safe” is not only a good idea, but fairly easy to do.  Besides, Hiding valuables is just as useful, if not more so, than smuggling things in them.  Urban Survival Guide, by Rich Johnson, provides some tips on creating your own hollowed-out book:

Pick a book – Choose a hardback book that blends in with other books on your shelf.  A book won’t protect your stuff if its plainly visible when you glance over the shelf.

Find where to begin:  Flip through 20 or 30 pages and pin them to the front cover of the book to hold them out of the way.

Use the right glue:  You want a glue that dries hard and remains clear.  Model car or puzzle glue should work just fine.

Apply the glue:  Use the glue to bind the pages (that haven’t been pinned to the cover) together.  The pages you bind together will be the ones you hollow out.

Let it dry:  Remove the pin you used to hold the first 20 or so pages and close the book.  Put it in a vice or under a heavy object to press the pages together firmly.  Leave it at least 24 hours to ensure a proper bond.

Start cutting:  Open the book and measure/mark the area you want to hollow out on the section of pages that have been glued together.  Use a razor (or other cutting tool) to remove the part of the book you marked.

If you’re not a do-it-yourself kind of person, hollowed out books are available online and are fairly cheap.  I would probably make my own just to save a few bucks though, but that’s just me.

Do you have any book safes of your own?  If so, what do you keep in them?

This post will finally catch me up once again.  I will be able to go back to just one survival update a day.  Sorry again for the irregular posting schedule over the past week, as I’ve said, things have been crazy.

35)  Wield a Tactical Flashlight

I reviewed a flashlight that we use at work all the time and I think this is a good time to reiterate some of the points I made.  Flashlights are useful for a lot of things besides just vanquishing the darkness.  When used in defensive scenarios, a flashlight can be used to blind an attacker long enough to counter their attack or flee.  The book gives us two reasons you should use a tactical flashlight:

Shine A Light:  “Grip the flashlight with your thumb on the switch button.  Raise your fist and switch on the light, aiming directly into your assailant’s eyes.  That should temporarily blind [him or her].”

Deliver A Smackdown:  “The second weapon is the flashlight’s sharply scalloped front edge.  Bring it down repeatedly with hammer blows on your attacker’s nose and eyes.”

“Tactical” flashlights can be found just about everywhere now.  The NEBO flashlights that we use at work come from our local NAPA Auto Parts store.  They’re strong, reliable, and have a variety of uses.  Tactical flashlights, like the Redline lights from NEBO, often have “strobe” modes that rapidly cycle the light on and off.  These modes are particularly useful for blinding an attacker.  Use their temporary blindness to close some distance and hit them hard with the jagged edge of the light.

This post is a combination of my own opinions and information that was provided in the book, Urban Survival Guide, by Rich Johnson.  Use this information at your own risk.  Always avoid confrontation when possible and only fight back if you have no other options.  You can replace your valuables but not your life.

Most of us need only take a second or two and glance around our home to find something we could use to kill another human being.  We’re very resourceful creatures.  We buy all sorts of weapons even though our homes are full of weapons already.

34)  Improvise a Weapon

You may not always have access to your personal defense weapon, be it a gun, knife, bat, or grenade launcher, so being able to find a replacement in a crisis is crucial.  We’ve all seen the movies where someone gets hit in the head with a frying pan or rolling pin.  These are only two of the items specifically mentioned in the book:

  • Rolling pins, pots, and pans
  • Knives and forks
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Broken plates
  • Broom, mop handle, fireplace poker

In addition to the above items they suggest putting a can of soda or a brick into a sock so you can swing it at an attacker from greater distances.

Remember that bug or wasp spray can be used in place of pepper spray so always keep some of that around the house.  Looking around my bedroom I can see a plethora of potentially dangerous items.  Here’s just a small sample of what I can see (excluding firearms) in less than 30 seconds:

  • 30″ tall bowling trophy
  • Pens, pocket knives, keys
  • Electric guitar
  • Metal detector
  • Belt, cables, and wires

While not the most lethal of items, I think I could do some damage to an attacker.  The bowling trophy in particular could be pretty dangerous just because it provides a long reach and a heavy base with sharp, pointed corners.  And as we learned in our tip from day 28 you can always defend yourself with a set of keys.  I keep two sets (home and work) on me most of the time, so that’s always an option.

What other things could be used as weapons?  What do you have in your room that could be used to stop an attacker?  Let me know in the comments below!

There are only a few days left in March so I thought I would do another ammo update.  Spring is officially here and its getting warm outside.  With that comes more opportunities to go out and shoot so make sure you get some ammo while you can if you haven’t already.

Here’s what was available as of 10:00pm on Thursday, March 28th, 2013:

.50AE
Able Ammo – Magnum Research ammo

.45ACP
Able Ammo – 7 options
Ammo.net – 18 options
Ammo For Sale – 20 options
Bulk Ammo – 21 options
Cheaper Than Dirt – 12 options
GunBot – Many options
J & G Sales – 3 options
Lucky Gunner – 21 options
Sportsmans Guide – 2 options
Surplus Ammo – 4 options
Ventura Munitions – 16 options

.40 S&W
Able Ammo – 8 options
Ammo.net – 2 options
Ammo For Sale – 2 options
Bulk Ammo – Speer Gold Dot
Cheaper Than Dirt – 5 options
GunBot – Many options
J & G Sales – 2 options
Lucky Gunner – 2 options
Sportsmans Guide – 2 options
Surplus Ammo – 4 options
Ventura Munitions – 11 options

9mm
Able Ammo – 10 options
Cheaper Than Dirt – 5 options
GunBot – Many options
Surplus Ammo – 6 options
Ventura Munitions – Lehigh Defense ammo

Its clear that 9mm has taken a hit since my last update just 5 days ago.  Everything else seems to have remained about the same.  Prices are still high, but there’s nothing we can do about that but grit our teeth and move on.  The days of cheap ammo may well be dead and buried.

The poll I ran last week asked the question, “How often do you practice? (Dry-fire exercises included)”.  There were 21 votes during the week it was posted and the results were pretty much what I expected.

11 people voted that they practiced weekly, 5 voted for monthly, and 5 voted for other answers.  The results would seem to indicate that the majority of people practice every week or every month.  That’s about where I’m at as well; I usually get to practice every two weeks or so.

I’ve mentioned this before in a few older posts:  Shooting is a skill that fades quickly when you don’t practice.  Taking only a few weeks off can significantly impact your results.  Shooting a gun is much like riding a bike because you’ll never forget how to do it.  But its also like bowling because it requires precision and consistency.  When you don’t practice, it takes longer to get built back up.  You can’t stay on top of your game without practice.

I’m not suggesting you practice every day.  Who could afford the ammo for that anyway?  I do think everyone should practice though.  Its essential in order to maintain your shooting skills.  Enough time off makes you forget even the basics.  Re-learning them is almost as hard the second time as it was the first time and that’s why my current bowling average is 40 pins less than in was 3 years ago.

So this weekend (its supposed to be very nice if you live in VA or surrounding areas) get out there and practice.  I know you’ve been hoarding ammo since The Great Ammo Drought of 2013 began and so have I.  Since ammo is returning to the shelves and becoming available again finally, its time we get back out there and refine those skills we’ve worked so hard to attain!

What are your thoughts on this issue?  How often do you practice and why?  Do you think everyone should practice every day or every week?  At what point do you start losing what you’ve learned?  I’m interested to hear other peoples’ experiences on this.