Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Carry

After my morning pot of coffee, I cruised past the ENDO blog and saw a video of a law student defending his right to OC with a police officer. The kiddo wins because he's a law-abiding citizen and he knows a lot of case law. OC should be accepted and should be inoffensive to the public. But it isn't. If you open carry, you should be prepared to deal with a shitstorm.

First, almost no cops know gun laws. Second, almost every cop assumes you're lying to them because 99.9999999% of people they talk to are lying. Getting a "man with a gun" call is about as bad as it gets. And since cops work almost exclusively with turds, they assume the "man with a gun" is a "turd with a gun". That doesn't make it right, but that's what you'll be dealing with.

Also, the public outside the "gun community" gets their firearms education from the left-wing media, so not only do they not know gun laws, they assume all gun owners are murderous hillbillies. If you walk into Starbucks with you H&K in a big leather holster outside your shirt, people are going to start dialing 9-1-1 faster than you can say "grande mocha latte". Hell, I've even run into gun store employees who don't know the first thing about firearms laws. When I was 18, I bought a Lee Enfield Mk4 No1 at a gun show, then went back to the hardware store near my hometown to buy ammo and was refused! The store owner said that no one under 21 was allowed to buy rifle ammunition by federal law. I protested, and he called the cops to get an answer. The officer on the scene had to call his supervisor because he didn't know the answer either. If the general public and Joe Law Officer don't even know the basics, they will probably have a stroke trying to learn the rest.

I say all this as a fireproof blanket for the ensuing flame war. I think a lot of guys who OC do it for the attention. Not all, but some. If you OC and someone calls 9-1-1, you get to be Rosa Parks for a day, and fight the good fight for civil rights. There's a time and place for open carry, like camping or hiking. But do it downtown and someone's going to call the cops like the West Hollywood Shootout is starting all over again.

Open carry should be more widely accepted, and the only way to do that is to fight an incremental battle for gun rights just as the left has done against gun rights for the last few decades. But even one day, when you can walk out with your Glock out, I still think open carry is a bad idea.

If you're carrying a gun for defense, you just told every criminal near you that you have a gun. Fine. It may even scare some of them off. But then you might find a brave criminal who thinks your H&K would look great in his waistband and will formulate a plan to get it from you. After all, most gun guys (like me) are big, fat, and tactical. And therefore not very scary to a violent and motivated tweaker. A gun is not always a deterrent, and should not be your first and last line of defense. My defense plan starts with me looking totally unremarkable, not walking around essentially shouting "LOOK AT ME! I HAVE A GUN! KILL ME FIRST IF YOU PLAN TO HARM MY FAMILY".

I'm all for gun rights of every kind, I just don't think there's any advantage to open carry. Even if it were accepted as widely as state tyranny is.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Next Carry Gun

I've been agonizing over whether to get an LCP or LC9, and I had a chance to get to a gun store and really feel them up and further inform my choice. And I think I have decided. My choice? The S&W 686+ with either 2.5" or 3" barrel. Behold:

The nice man at Sportsman's Warehouse showed me this 686+ and let me put some snap caps in it and wring it out. The trigger was, as usual, perfect. Even though S&W now uses a frame-mounted firing pin like Ruger. The sights are nice target-style blade and ramp, but aren't so big that I'd worry about snagging on clothing. The cylinder isn't really that much bigger than my SP101's, but gives two extra shots. The grip is long, but most of that is from the grip itself, not the metal frame beneath. Badger Custom makes K/L frame boot grips that would cut the grip length substantially. The following picture is not Badger grips, but along the lines of what I want to do:

I also picked up a box of Buffalo Bore 158gr "Heavy" .357 Mag rounds, claiming 1475fps out of a 4" barrel, and their info on MidwayUSA lists velocity from a 3" S&W at 1398fps. That's 685ft/lbs of energy, which is a lot. The 2.5" gun would probably still register in the 1300s with this load. I would prefer the 3" gun, but if they can't get one, a 2.5" would be just fine. Oh, and for the bottom-feeder fans of the world, only 10mm Auto can come close to these energy levels--and only in 5" guns. 

Even though I started shooting handguns with a Browning Hi-Power, I've had a thing for revolvers. I like my SP101 3", but I LOVED the 686+ 2.5". That cannon in a bellyband at 12:30 will be easy to hide, carry just as many rounds as an LCP, and have enough muscle to kill a bear. Or down an alien spaceship. Now to find 7-shot Bianchi speed strips, and maybe some 7-shot speedloaders for shooting in competition if I ever get back out there. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

9mm vs .45ACP (357 Magnum FTW)

The caliber debate will rage on and on for perpetuity among interweb commandos. I really don't have any emotional attachment to any particular caliber. I have a 1911 in .45, my carry guns are .357 Magnum, 9x19mm, and 9mm Makarov. I happen to know from a number of ballistics gel tests, numbers crunching, and hunting experience that shot placement and penetration are more important than anything else. Period. Ballistics gel and kinetic energy numbers give us quantifiable things to work with in our arguments, but neither tells the whole story. And though anecdotes help form our opinions, we had a saying in the sociology department "anecdotal evidence is not evidence".

And now that I have said over and over that I don't read too much into gel tests, here are some awesome slo-mo gel tests from BrassFetcher. Enjoy!

And finally a hat tip to TheYankeeMarshall who explains better than I can why caliber is fairly irrelevant to concealed carry.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Somebody's F***ing With My Medicine

Over the weekend, I found a box of Winchester 110gr "Self Defense" rounds (the cheap ones in a white box) that I had laid aside before I moved to my new house. I bought two boxes, shot one up, and set the other in a dry box and forgot about it until I got all my gun stuff out of storage. I opened the box, loaded two speed strips with 5 rounds a piece, then fished out five more to put in the SP101 and had a Harry Plinkett-style mental breakdown. Here's what I saw:

After I recovered, I noticed that the semi-jacketed rounds look very much like some 125gr .38+p rounds I also tend to carry. And they're also from Winchester. If I had a nice electronic scale, I'd like to pull some bullets and see if they are 110gr or 125s that somehow got into the .357 production line. The entire box of these that I shot up all had the nice-looking fully jacketed bullet, which upon closer inspection looks very much like a Hornady XTP. Weird, right? These all came out of an unopened box. Who's f***ing with my medicine?

Two different primers, also. 

It can't be a mix of factory and handloads, either. My .357 loads are indeed Hornady XTP bullets, but I use nickeled Starline cases. I want to use different looking brass for a number of reasons. First, my handloads are very near the SAAMI limit of .357magnum and I want to make sure I inspect these cases for signs of pressure-related failures. Second, I don't want to mix new brass with once-fired, or worn brass because of the pressure. The only possible explanations are that Winchester ran out of money to make good 110gr ammo and switched to some cheesy SJHP midway through this box of ammo, or someone put the wrong bullets in the hopper that day.

Either way, I'm going to shoot a few of these sometime this week (with any luck...) and report back.


Mythbusters recently did a horrible "21 Foot Rule" test (above). Many things were wrong with it (Adam saw the attack coming, gun was unloaded with safety on, etc) but we get the general idea. A knife-wielding maniac can close the distance pretty fast. More disturbing though, are some of the comments I've seen claiming that you shouldn't try for your gun in this situation, but rather should do karate on the knife-wielding maniac.

The main karate argument is that since you can't fire before you get stabbed, you should just fight the armed bad guy with your Chuck Norris skills.

I, however, say nay. It's fine to practice karate in the garage with your step brother, but in reality, you aren't going to ninja your way out of many bad situations. Especially the 21-foot-knife-wielding-maniac (21fkwm) situation. The pro-ninja folks are correct that you will most likely be stabbed, even if you move your feet. However, I think you're more likely to survive if you shoot the 21fkwm after you're stabbed rather than slap-fighting with him. If you are a pro-ninja person, step back and think. How much juijitsu will you be able to do when you've got a class III leak? It takes a lot less effort to pull a trigger (even on a Ruger) than to wrestle while being stabbed.

The pro-ninja crowd also sometimes uses the 21fkwm scenario to justify carrying a knife as a defensive weapon. And while better than nothing, it isn't better than a gun. To successfully defend your life with a knife, you have to be ready to do an awful lot of work. Hours of karate in the garage, hours of reading biology and physiology books, and hours of watching Cold Steel videos. If you feel like you can take on a crackhead with only a knife, go for it. It probably isn't going to end well for you though.

The 21fkwm scenario can be a fun training event and can really help you train to get your gun into action quickly. When it comes to concealed carry, that's really the key task. These days I primarily train at 7 yards drawing and firing either one or two shots as quickly as possible. I'm trying to get my time to first shot down because that's the most important thing, in my mind anyway. I do some target shooting at 25 yards and beyond, but that's a fairly small part of practice for me.

And to meander back to the whole point, a gun is better than a knife. It just is, and all the Cold Steel ninjas out there need to face that fact.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Intimidation Factor Part II: When The Criminally Brave Attack

Over my interweb-scanning this week, I've found two wildly different tragic stories that show a dramatic lack of fear of guns. 

First, read this horror story of an everyday couple who experienced a home invasion from two rather determined criminals. The cliff notes version for those of you not inclined to read everything I tell you, is that the wife opened fire and wounded one invader and the second continued to press his attack and shot both homeowners. The victims survived, but mostly by luck. 

Though there are many, many teachable points from this story, I will stick to the "intimidation" of a gun. Even after watching his partner in crime take two slugs, baddie #1 pressed his attack. The gun made no difference, though I imagine it would have if he had been shot a few times. But waving a gun around did nothing. Even the "warning shots" did nothing. 

Second, a dimestore Rambo who makes all gun owners look bad was Raul Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez took a flashlight, a video camera (who still owns a video camera?), and a gun to go tell his neighbors to turn the music down at their rowdy party. He flashed his gun to the partiers and essentially told them to keep it down or else. He filled his video with cute legalese buzzwords like "stand my ground" and "escalate the situation". But he was sentenced for murder, as I believe he should have been. 

Even though the gun owner in this story was the aggressor, his neighbors were not impressed when he flashed his gun, and further unimpressed when he threatened to shoot them over and over again. Having dealt with neighborhood conflicts like this (albeit none ended with shots fired) as an officer, I would bet that the neighbors thought that Rodriguez wouldn't be dumb enough to shoot someone in their own front yard. But he was. So some of their bravery might have been alcohol and a misguided judgment of Rodriguez's character.

I bet if you dug even a little, you could find an article showing a criminal fleeing at the first sight of a gun. I don't doubt that some criminals are true opportunists who flee as soon as the going gets tough. But you shouldn't count on that. Humans are wildly unpredictable. Especially when under the effects of drugs and/or alcohol. I have made a number of arrests, and I don't believe I ever arrested a sober person. They were all on something, be it alcohol, prescriptions, or illegal drugs. Don't count on the mere sight of your gun to save you. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pocket-Carry Proclamations

I bought a P64 some time back and it has been a great little gun, especially since I paid well under $200 for it. As I discussed previously, it isn't perfect. The biggest problem is that it's a commie relic, and so suffers from common communist complications (i.e. bad trigger, poor quality metal, lack of fit and finish). My solution is most likely going to be the Ruger LCP, and here's why.

Though the LC9 is probably closer to the P64's footprint while being more powerful, the LCP is just stupidly easy to hide. The P64 is sort of my "deep concealment" piece, and the LCP would be better at that. Ammunition variety is slightly better for .380ACP, though that really isn't part of my consideration. Both the 9mm Makarov and .380ACP are pretty slow movers, and I doubt their effectiveness with HP or frangible ammo. I would rather poke a small hole deeper than make a bunch of ugly but ultimately non-lethal flesh wounds. I'm not saying it's bad to carry hollowpoints in a small caliber, in fact ammo companies have probably tuned their .380 ammo to perform at .380 velocity. Makes sense. I'm just saying that in my head, a low-energy round has a better chance of piercing blood-bearing organs if it is an FMJ. I may come around to carrying .380 hollowpoints, but right now, I'm not inclined to do that. See some great ballistics gel tests below:

The guy in the film is correct that bone would have been a factor that could have prevented the "over-penetration". I would bet that hitting a bone on the way in would have slowed those little guys right down. Having shot cow skulls out on the farm, I can say that bone does pretty well at stopping handgun rounds.

The Gold Dot here only made it 10" into the gel block. I'm not sure that would be real impressive if it would have caught a rib on the way in...

And even worse, Win Ranger-T only made 8", though with impressive expansion. Again, what good is expansion if it doesn't penetrate?

There are a number of other .380ACP ammo tests that also show either erratic or poor penetration with HP ammo. Remington's 102gr Golden Sabre failed to expand, and others that did open up made it less than the FBI standard of 12" in a calibrated block. You can carry what you want, but if I can get an LCP to feed FMJ flatpoints, I'll carry those.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Katy Perry Of Carry

Yes, I'm the Katy Perry of concealed carry. I go back and forth between a revolver and a bottom-feeder...I mean semi-auto. After an untimely hand injury induced by hardwood grips and high pressure 158 grain bullets, I'm back to an auto. In fact, I have ordered a N82 (NateSquared) holster for my M&P9C so I can work it back into rotation. The other auto in the rotation is my old P64.

I use a Bulldog bellyband for my P64 and Ruger SP101. They're small and light enough (if you can call the pig-iron Ruger "light") that the bellyband will work. I also don't worry about the bellyband's relative lack of trigger protection since the revolver and the commie relic have very stiff DA triggers. I do worry about it with the relatively light and short pull of the M&P, so I ordered a kydex N82. 

Like The Yankee Marshal, I am too lazy to "dress around the gun". The M&P, while fairly easy to hide, isn't always the easiest to hide. But when I can get away with it, I carry it because it holds 13 rounds of ammunition, is wildly accurate, and has never failed through over 1000 rounds of various types of ammo. Recoil is light, sight radius is good, mag changes are nearly as fast as a service-sized pistol. I really, really like this gun, and it's as close to a perfect all-arounder as I've ever seen. 

The P64, being a PPK clone, is pretty easy to hide, but I feel its ammo is fairly crude. I only feed it steel-cased 90-something grain ball ammo because that's what the gun was designed around. It has been very accurate and also 100% reliable so far. The problems are the relatively weak ammo, the DA pull is horrible, and it isn't really all that small. Ruger's excellent LCP is far smaller while shooting the comparable 380ACP. I've played with a few LC9s, and I'd bet an LC9 is easier to carry. I've thought long and hard about an LC9, and would probably get one over S&W's Shield if I were to replace the P64. 

Then the revolver, my extremely manly SP101. A stainless .357 with hardwood grips just looks right. Buffalo Bore makes some very stout .357 loads that make well over 600ft/lbs in a 3" gun. That's a lot. I trust five big, fast, well-designed hollowpoints to protect me from just about anything. That said, I don't shoot the SP101 as well as I shoot the other two when using carry ammo. When fed my handloaded .38spl target loads, I'm extremely good with the SP101. When fed fire-breathing 158gr bullets at 1400fps, I can keep the cylinder on a sheet of paper at 7 yards firing quickly, but that's about it. Granted, that will cover 99.999999% of self-defense situations. It still isn't a bullseye gun. The trigger is pretty standard Ruger, meaning it is heavy and not perfectly smooth. S&W makes a slicker revolver, and one day I'd like to add a 686 Plus with a 3" barrel and hardwood grips to my stable, but that will probably be quite some time. 

All three guns posing at a jaunty angle.

My heart lies with big, shiny revolvers, but my head knows a plastic bottom-feeder is probably more practical, and in most cases, easier to employ. So I go back and forth a lot. I change my guns like a girl changes clothes. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Intimidation Or Indecision

The above is a video from The Yankee Marshall, who I greatly enjoy watching on the YouTubes. However, we do differ on "intimidation factor". YM isn't saying to wave your gun around and hope the bad guy runs away, but rather they may change their mind in the time between your draw and "kaboom".

I don't buy intimidation factor because, since I practice drawing and firing over a "flash sight picture" or point-shooting from 7 yards and in, the baddie isn't going to get much chance to think anything other than "ow". And since we're talking solely about self-defense, the only time we draw our weapon is when we're in danger of death or grievous injury (as written in my state law, which doesn't contain "castle doctrine" or even a "stand your ground" law.). In that situation, I would draw and fire--not draw, wait for a second, then fire. Especially if the baddie is so close that he can see down the bore. If I'm at contact distance, which is where most hands-on crimes occur, I'm going to draw and fire as fast as humanly possible. As far as I'm concerned, the baddie had ample opportunity to make better decisions in his life. I'm not going to give him/them any extra time to reconsider. Also, they can't look down the bore because I aim center of mass--not at the head.

And don't think for a second that I'm chomping at the bit for a chance to flatten a baddie. I'm just of the mind that if I pull a lethal weapon in response to a lethal threat, I'm pulling the trigger. I think pointing a gun has just as much chance of further escalating the situation as it does to cause the baddie to flee. I've been in a number of ambushes on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, but never mugged, so I guess I can't speak from experience. Pointing guns at the Taliban certainly didn't make them flee; even when ours were M2s on gyroscopically stabilized mounts that were accurate for absolutely incredible range; and even when those guns cut them down in droves.

All that said, I still think TYM has the right idea about concealed carry and guns in general. He's a funny guy and I highly recommend watching his channel. I just differ with him on this point.

Friday, June 8, 2012

One In The Pipe Is Worth Two In The Mag

For many years, the debate about how to carry concealed has raged. The battle centers around whether or not to chamber a round. My answer is "yes, duh".

The argument against chambering a round has a couple of central points: 1) carrying a loaded gun is dangerous; 2) the mere sight of a gun will send a would-be attacker running for the hills.

My counter arguments are as follows. Point one, danger. Guns are dangerous. Period. If you can't deal with that, then don't carry one. Get a decent holster, follow Cooper's rules for firearms, and use your brain. You won't have any problems. I think it's more dangerous to try to chamber a round while an attacker is contact distance away. In my mind, if I draw my gun it's because I'm going to shoot right now.

Second, drawing and racking the slide will intimidate an attacker. What if it doesn't? The root of this argument is that all criminals react with "flight" in the "fight or flight" circumstance. To my  mind, it is equally possible that the sight of a gun will incense the attacker with resolve to kill you, or make them try to close the distance even faster, or try to grab your gun before you can shoot--after all, a lot of self-defense situations aren't on the 10-yard-line. Oh no, they're inside 3 yards. Nine feet. Two steps until they can grab you. What if you're ambushed? A good example is when I was a policeman, I arrested a guy for attacking a random person. The attacker put on brass knuckles and crouched behind a trashcan outside a convenience store and whacked the first guy who walked past. What then? You're dazed and bloodied while trying to find the threat, draw, rack the slide, and fight off a drunken little punk. What then, indeed. Once again, if I draw my gun it's because I need to shoot right now.

In truth, there is a very, very small chance of any of us law-abiding CCW'ers needing to draw at all. However, I think we should stack the deck as heavily as possible in our favor. Chief of which is loading your damn gun.

Faster Than My Bullets

It's summer again, and that means changing my carry rig to fit seasonal styles of dress. I'm back to my SP101 in a bellyband at 12:30 (appendix carry), and yesterday I did some draw-and-fire practice to fully test my carry rig. My initial test was at 5 yards drawing from concealment and firing a single round just to see how long it took and what accuracy I could expect. I don't have a shot timer, so I can't put any figures down, though I would really like to do that. I drew, put the barrel between me and the cardboard zombie, and broke the shot without looking for a sight picture. The bullet impacted about 4" low, centered on the 10-ring. I repeated the process four more times and ended up with largely the same result.

Then I stepped back to seven yards and dumped the cylinder as quickly as possible while maintaining a sight picture. The resulting group below:

Then I moved on to 7 yard draw and fire. Results below again:

The careful observer will note that there's an odd number of holes. That's because I set up a second target and was starting to practice transitioning between targets at 7 yards and simply forgot to hang up a new paper target. 

Then a similar thing happened at 7 yards. I tried my hand at some slower aimed fire. I drew, aimed carefully and put a cylinder and some change into the head of my cardboard zombie. The careful observer will note some .22 holes from my MP5.

And finally, a pic of my SP101 with its Badger Custom grips:

I managed to learn a few things from my quick test run. First, drawing and point-shooting is effective enough at 5-7 yards that I'm comfortable doing that in real life. Second, moving from 4-o'clock to appendix carry is much more comfortable and maybe even faster on the draw. Third, reloading from a speed strip takes about three seconds at my best. Fourth, carrying two speed strips is pretty easy. Finally, I shoot my M&P9C much more accurately, especially at anything over 15 yards. 

That said, I'm still comfortable with my .357mag in the summer because it simply hides better. Yes, I only have 5 shots, and yes, reloading takes FOREVER. But most self-defense situations are less than 3 yards, less than three shots, and less than three seconds (At least according to a 1980s FBI report that I can't seem to find right now). For combat, or really anything, the M&P9C is excellent, but its relative girth makes it slightly tricky to hide in the summer, and I'm too lazy to change the way I dress. I'd rather just carry a gun that's easier to hide. I'm willing to take the risk of less rounds and difficult reloads because quite simply the risk of being attacked in my daily life is very low. A 5-shot .357mag stoked with 158gr hollowpoints doing nearly 1500fps should be plenty. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Alas, Babylon part II: Why Prepping Won't Work

"Preppers" as seen on TV are folks who think they're preparing to survive the end of the world as we know it. Not the Biblical end of the world, but a collapse of society and descent into chaos. While I would never say this is an impossibility, it is extremely unlikely. As I wrote earlier, it is very smart to have a 3-7 day disaster kit, but it is impossible to prepare for the end of the world without totally changing your lifestyle and owning several acres of arable land. For a thorough and decisive refutation of "prepping", read "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. It's an awesome book, an easy and addictive read, and only about 275 pages. So you could put it on your nightstand for a couple of days and have it read.

But for grins, let me take a few pokes at preparing for the apocalypse:

No matter how much canned food and bottled water you have, it isn't enough. Your diet will change drastically and you will contract a potentially fatal case of dysentery. If you live here in the middle of the country, you won't get enough vitamin C in the fall and winter and you will contract a potentially fatal case of scurvy.

If you have large stores of food, people will find out, and they will try to steal from you. That means you will be working hard all day to tend fields, find water, get food, maintain your shelter, then sitting up all night long on watch. Of course you could hire neighbors or trusted friends to do it, but you'll pay them in food stores, and you'll run out of preserved food even faster. Looters will strip major cities of goods in hours, leaving them to scour the small towns and countryside looking for supplies in despair.

If you get sick with anything serious, you will probably die. The average citizen can't go to the pharmacy and order ten year's worth of penicillin, or pain killers, or IV fluid kits. If you get shot, you'll probably die. If you break a bone, you'll either heal improperly and be lame for the remaining years of your life, or die of infection and internal bleeding. Unless your neighbor is a surgeon with a small pharmacy like Doc Gunn in Alas, Babylon.

You need a farm to survive long-term. You'll need about 20 acres, draft animals, olde-tyme farm tools, pigs, chickens, and possibly a couple of dairy cows. Your preserved stores are a band-aid. To survive and perpetuate humanity, you'll need a small farm. And you'll need to guard it night and day. Also, you'll need a water source to water the animals and irrigate the crops during dry times.

You're not going anywhere with all your stuff. Most gas stations are replenished weekly. With no resupply, there will be no more gasoline within hours of the bombs going off (or zombies, or whatever). Remember 9/11? In my tiny hometown there were lines to fill up within hours of the towers going down. You simply can't have enough gasoline to haul you and your stuff to safety if you are within a radioactive area or otherwise need to move. You'll get farther in a Honda Accord with a couple of gas cans in the back than a Hummer with all your canned food.

Gold and silver have never been currency in emergencies. You can't eat it, burn it, or shoot it, and it only has value in a cash economy. Now that there is no political or economic structure, we're back to bartering. You're better off with a case of 22LR than a chest of gold coins. Gold and silver can be economic hedges against inflation in a cash economy, but in the world of bartering, they're going to be worthless until a cash system gets set up again.

Read the book, see that I'm right, and enjoy. Oh, and for the record, I'm "prepping" by contributing to a Roth IRA.

Alas, Babylon

I'm reading Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank and it really made me want to write an article on "prepping" or whatever the PC term is now.

Firstly, I think the "preppers" you see on TV are largely fools, and I'll get more into that later. I don't think there's going to be a nuclear apocalypse like in Alas, Babylon, or a zombie apocalypse, or a Barackalypse, or whatever. However, every year there are freak storms like the one that flattened Parkersburg, IA, or the one that flattened Joplin, MO, or the one that flattened New Orleans, LA. Those are real things that could really happen to you.

The gubment recommends you have a 72-hour survival kit, and I think that's probably appropriate. I think 3-7 days of food and water are perfectly reasonable things to have around. But "what" and "how" are some important questions to ask about both food and water.

Bottled water has a shelf life, as does canned food. So if you buy a survival kit and leave it in your basement for ten years, odds are that it is all expired and very possibly contaminated. The way around this is to use and replace your canned stores every few months. Get some canned chili, tuna, greens of some kind, etc and simply use them and replace them every 90 days or six months. More often than that if you're into canned chili...

Water is trickier. Cases of distilled water are pretty cheap and easy to store, but they do have a shelf life, and a case of water split among two or three people does not last long (do I have to say "don't use drinking water for hygiene!"?). What can last long is a ceramic water filter like this one. Yes, it's over $300, but it has a ceramic filter that can be simply cleaned with a dish-scraping pad, then flushed with bleachwater, thus giving you 13,000 gallons of service (or enough water for two people for 17 years). There is a cheaper version with a disposable filter with a 500 gallon service life. Either way, if you want real peace of mind, it's a water filter. You can get food easier than clean water in an emergency. And you can go very long periods of time without food. You can't go more than a day or two without water.

Then of course you need to be able to defend yourself and what remains of your property, as well as maybe hunt if you're in a rural area. I know it's controversial, but the .22LR will do all of that. If I were doing guard duty, I'd want a shotgun or an AR-15, but it just isn't practical to keep a huge stock of ammo at hand just because of how much space it takes up. If there were a Barackalypse and you had to walk or otherwise relocate to a safer area, you couldn't carry all that much ammo without sacrificing weight and space for food, clothing, and medical supplies. A single person can carry two or three thousand rounds of .22LR without taking up much weight or space. And if like Randy Bragg, you step out your back porch at dawn to see a mushroom cloud over your nearest city, two or three thousand rounds of .22LR will bag lots of game and still keep the escaped convicts and highwaymen at bay. Platforms are up to the end user, but a 10/22 with a few BX25 mags would be about ideal.

But the best advice for emergency situations comes to us from the 1940s United Kingdom: Keep Calm and Carry On.