Archive for the ‘Survival’ Category

EDC or Everyday Carry

January 25, 2013

EDC or Everyday Carry keeps on gaining more publicity. There are blogs that show many real life EDC kits (for example ), there are books discussing EDC items and concepts in detail (for example ), in fact there is so much interest in the topic that a simple ‘bing’ search for ‘every day carry’ produced 194,000,000 results. With so much attention to the subject, I want to share my own thoughts on the topic and take the number of ‘bing’ search results to 194,000,001.


From what I see, folks tend to prepare better for less likely, but high impact scenarios. However, being ready for common everyday situation is not being discussed much and potentially not being done.


To fill the void, here is what I carry on myself every day and how often I get to use it:

  • wallet contents
    • NRA member card – don’t use it, but I am proud of carrying one
    • Blood donor card – use it about 3 times a year when donating blood. It also has my blood type on it, which might come in handy in case of a serious emergency.
    • drivers license, auto registration card, and insurance card. I am required by my state to have those on me when driving. I also use drivers license at least once a month for identification purposes at airports, hotels, etc.
    • credit cards – use them few times a week
    • medical insurance card – use it few times a year when visiting medical offices
    • EDC kit:
      • 40 in cash. Not all places/people take credit cards and cash comes in handy few times a month
      • 1 in blade knife. Tiny folder from Gerber. I used it to sharpen a pencils for my kids the other day. Wish I had it when I needed to cleanly cut a banana to evenly split it between my kids when each REALLY wanted PRECISELY an even half.
      • swiss tool with Phillips screwdriver, blade, bottle opener. I use it couple times a month to open coke bottles, beer bottles, change batteries in toys.
      • small alcohol wipe in sealed packet and 2 small adhesive bandages. I use it every 1-2 months to treat cuts and scrapes that kids (and occasionally adults) acquire.
      • aspirin pills. I have family history of heart attacks and had one myself, when I was rather young. These pills might come in handy one day.
      • ibuprofen pills. work well for treating headaches, muscle pains, etc. I get to use these every 1-2 months.
      • tiny sewing kit with few strands and a needle. Did not need to use it yet, but can come in handy if a button on my shirt comes off before an important meeting
      • tiny pen
      • two blank credit cards to write on
      • laminated list of most important phone numbers (this came in handy when I left my phone at home and another time when the battery died and I had no access to any type of a charger)
  • Phone with useful applications (also contains less useful, but fun apps 🙂
    • flashlight app
    • first aid app with quick access to step by step emergency response instructions. It also has detailed tutorials to get ready ahead of time.
    • alarm clock
    • kindle app to read books on EDC 🙂
  • watch to know what time it is. I dislike using my phone to check time, since it might not be appropriate during certain meetings, situations, etc. I am also not going to use my phone to check time when fixing a lawnmower, in the water, etc. Watch battery (if it has one) will last much longer than my phones. How many times did your phone die on you because of a discharged battery?
    • formal watch for work in office environment or ‘a night on the town’. I do prefer and currently wear a solar watch with stainless steel case, sapphire glass, and leather band. However, for many years I wore various inexpensive formal looking watches with cases made out of mystery material, plastic glass, whatever band. Those were not as stylish, did not last as long, some even lost a few seconds a day, but overall worked just as well.
    • sports type watch that can take a beating
    • Side note: What I am seeing is that for most of us the mechanism inside the watch and even materials used are not as important as the watch design and build quality. For close to 10 years I wore a $10 Bijoux Terner I bought on a cruise ship. I was in the water with it, banged it against hard surfaces, and even let toddlers play with it. Seems that ALL modern watch mechanisms are all ‘good enough’ to keep ‘accurate enough’ time. What worked well in this particular watch is that it was designed to protect the plastic window with raised rubber ‘bumpers’ . While the bracelet got scratched, lettering on the case faded, etc. the cheap mechanism inside and the plastic window stayed intact, keeping the watch usable.

Depending on the situation (time of day or night, means of transportation, destination, surroundings, laws, who is accompanying me, etc) my carry kit might be augmented. However, out of my augmented kit, I only had to use a AA 4Sevens flashlight on a few occasions. Never did I have to use my 3″ knife, my expanded medical kit, or anything else that I might add. Let me reiterate, I am not advocating not carrying those additional items. However, I do strongly recommend to ensure that you compare my list to what you carry and how often you use it. A small adhesive bandage likely to be more handy than your Glock 17, when your kid cuts his forehead on a play ground.



Severe trauma kits

January 25, 2013

After viewing video by Garrett Machine from Paladin Press(very well spent $25), I decided to assemble severe trauma kits for home, range, and family vehicles. Below is what is in each of my kits. I encourage you to watch the mentioned video to learn how to use it as well as this YouTube video on use of tourniquets:

Price was important to me. I needed to assemble 4 kits within a budget of $100 and looked for products that would offer an excellent balance of price and performance. Having 4 kits in different places and always close by with B rated products is better that having one kit with A+ rated in only one location that could be too far. In my opinion I did not compromise on the safety.

TK4 tourniquet. It is very small and easy to apply. TK4 performed very well in Coast Guard tests in 2007. It is compatible to popular and much more expensive C.A.T. IMHO it is easier to apply and more convenient due to size than C.A.T. Anecdotal evidence suggests that TK4 might not be as good when applied to upper leg than C.A.T., but I did not find any strong studies to prove that. Buying 4 C.A.T. tourniquets also did not fit into my budget (I found TK4 on ebay at about $2 apiece shipped vs at least $25 for C.A.T.). Not having any latex allergies in my family sealed the deal (TK4 has latex).

Petrolatum patch with duct tape on 3 sides. I chose it over asherman type valve patch due to price and the fact that everywhere I looked suggested that it performs just as well. One downside is that it can be marginally slower and more cumbersome to apply. However getting asherman valve patch would put me over the budget in no time.

Bloodclot Sport – 25g. There is only one alternative product that I was able to find and it is more expensive. 25g packet is not big, but 50g was simply too expensive for my budget.

Israeli bandage. I purchased ones that had “expired” and saved a bundle. I do not believe that a double vacuum sealed bandage can expire within a few years. I do not think it is treated with any type of a chemical and so there is no danger of it degrading. The expiration date might be related so specific regulations applied to all medical supplies issued to military staff.

2 in wide self sticking ace bandage. Nothing special here. Just a good brand that was on sale. Happened to be Johnson and Johnson this time.

Permanent marker. I happened to buy Metallic Sharpie, because I used them before and I like them. Any good permanent marker will do. I wrapped a some duct tape around the marker’s barrel to add strength if used in an improvised tourniquet and to have some duct tape on hand if needed.

Pair of gloves (I already had a full box in the house). Not sure I would bother with them in an emergency, unless my hands are covered in dirt or I am treating someone I do not know. If attending myself or a family member, my first priority will be a quick treatment.

5 in overall length medical shears. Whatever was cheap and had over 50 good reviews on Amazon. They are cheap and won’t last, but I only need them to work once. Bigger shears might have been better, but would not fit in my kit case. 5 in long should be sufficient. While G. Machine suggests using a scalpel or a pocket knife to remove clothing, I do not trust myself to have steady hands under stress and not add severe cuts to the existing wounds. As a side note I do recommend carrying a pocket knife whenever legal and feasible.

Kit case. I used poly based zipped pouches. They are clear and let one easily see the kit contents in case one forgets what’s in it under duress. They are splash proof. They were free too, since they originally came full of kid socks from Walmart. One downside is that if left in a hot space or under a direct sun, they can soften up and even melt.

New Jersey friendly SHTF rifle

February 11, 2012

Recently I started thinking about a good SHTF rifle that would be NJ friendly. There were a number of issues to consider:

– NJ laws
– NJ opinions and feelings on “assault” rifles
– rifle price. I wanted to stay in the $500 range (as of 2011)
– rifle reliability
– rifle design especially ergonomics and features
– rifle portability
– rifle parts price and availability especially magazines
– good metal sights
– ability to customize with aftermarker parts, but keeping this completely optional
– rilfe caliber
— availability including special application rounds
— price
— total round weight
— bullet weight
— velocity
— penetration through obsticles
— stopping power
— trajectory
— felt recoil
— reputation based on military applications

Out of these concerns, I started with price and round avilability. This limited me to AR platforms, Saiga (AK platform derivative), SKS, Mosin Nagant, Ruger Mini 14, and Kel-Tec SU-16 variations.

I quickly dismissed AR platform. While there are many aftermarket parts for it and it is somewhat accepted in NJ, the platform is simply not reliable enough when looking at what is available in my price range. “Operator grade” AR rifles are great based on what I hear, but they are too expensive. ARs in the $500 are hard to find and do not have a good reputation.

Saiga is great. However, there are a couple of things that made me decide against it:
— it typically comes with only one magazine and extras are expensive
— while it is NJ legal, is not NJ friendly due to resemblance to the AK platform
— 7.62×39 is a good round, but I started leaning toward 5.56. Saiga comes in 5.56 and there is even an aftermarket part to have Saiga accept AR magazines. However, if I modify Saiga I would need to comply with Federal law and replace more parts, which will become prohibitevely expensive for me. While an attractive option, it is out of my price range.

Mosin Nagant is good. However, one needs to customize it too much to make it attractive to modern rifle platforms. This with combination of bolt action, magazine capacity, round options, etc. made it simply a bad choice within the given budget. However, if my budget was under $100, this would be the one to get.

SKS variations are very good. However, NJ law limits me to the type I can get (non detachable magazine and more). SKS also requires some customization to cut down the overall weight. It is also somewhat not NJ friendly due to some SKS variations being on the banned firearms list. This makes it for an OK choice, but not the best choice.

Ruger Mini 14 Ranch is a good rifle. However, it has a reputation of being compatavely not very precise in the MOA department. Extra magazines are expensive. On top of it, it is also somewhat not NJ friendly due to the presence of some Mini 14 variations on the banned firearms list.

This brings me to the Kel-Tec SU-16 variations. While its long term durability is questioned by some, I have not heard of any actual evidence to that regard. Alpha model has plastic sights, that I just do not want to have. Charlie model is not NJ friendly due to the threaded barrel and ability to fire with a folded stock and it lacks magazine storage in its stock. Charlie Alpha is very good, but has the threaded barrel. Delta’s design does not work for my purposes. This leaves me with the Bravo model. Besides the attractive phonetic, it is as much NJ friendly as a semi-automatic rifle can be and has all of the SU-16 platform features that I find very desirable in a SHTF rile:
– rifle price. One can be found for around $500
– rifle reliability is good based on the anecdotal evidence found on the internet (if it is on the Internet, one HAS to trust it 🙂
– rifle design, especially ergonomics and features. I saw many comments on how ergonomic it is. Ability to accept AR magazines, dissasembly without any tools, and magazine storage in the stock are all big plusses for me.
– rifle portability. SU-16 platform is extremely light and can be folded in half for transport. Overall length is under 36in.
– rifle parts price and availability especially magazines. Everything is available from Kel-Tec site at very reasonable prices. Additionally AR magazines can be used.
– good metal sights. I really like sites in the CA model, but since it is out, the aluminum sights on the B model are acceptable.
– ability to customize with aftermarker parts, but keeping this completely optional. Some interesting and not too expensive options are available directly from Kel-Tec.
– rilfe caliber. While there is now much debate about about 5.56 Nato round, I think that it is the best overall round based on my criteria.


Update 06/2011
After all I got an SKS. I bet on an auction, thinking there is no way it’ll go for what I bet, but it did. It’s Chinese made carbine in a nice, practically new condition. I still think that SU-16 platform would be a better choice if I had more money. However, SKS cost me less than a third of what I would have to pay for SU-16.