Why Are You Using a Defensive Knife to Open Boxes?

Utility Knife, Box Cutter, Razor Blade Knife, whatever you call them, today I’m going to discuss why I’ve started carrying one around with me daily and why I stopped using my EDC knife to open boxes.

A few years back, I was in a class with Jeff Gonzales and something he said really hit home for me. He mentioned that the knife he carries is for defensive purposes only, he doesn’t use it to open mail, cut a piece of rope, or open a box. It stays sharp and unused so that he always knows he has a sharp knife at the ready.

This was pretty eye opening, as I’d been using my daily carry knife to …

Shaving After The Apocalypse: How To Prepare For Your $900 Shave And Haircut

What happens when the apocalypse doesn’t end in fire and brimstone?  What if the apocalypse looks more like a hyperinflation scenario where a shave and a haircut costs decidedly more than the proverbial “two bits”?  Or maybe “your two silver bits” are too valuable to waste on a $500 3-pack of disposable razors.

From wikipedia: In the United States, the bit is equal to 1/8th of a dollar or 12.5 cents. In the U.S., the “bit” as a designation for money dates from the colonial period, when the most common unit of currency used was the Spanish dollar, also known as “piece of eight”, which was worth 8 Spanish silver reales. One eighth of a dollar or one silver real was one “bit”.

With the adoption of the decimal U.S. currency in 1794, there was no longer a coin worth 1/8 of a dollar but “two bits” remained in the language with the meaning of one quarter dollar, “four bits” half dollar, etc. Because there was no one-bit coin, a dime (10 ¢) was sometimes called a short bit and 15¢ a longbit.

Imagine this: After years of endless quantitative easing, inflation starts to run away like a horse from a burning barn.  The Federal Reserve is unable to get it under control due to a variety of circumstances and now instead of $9 for a haircut at Supercuts the sign outside says $900.

Sure, you might find a barber you can barter for a haircut.  But why not get yourself set up now to be more independent and reduce the cost of haircuts and shaves?

Imagine trying to get a  job that allows you to earn a wage that keeps up with runaway inflation. Now imagine walking in to a job interview looking like Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.  Unless you’re applying for the position of “bass player” — long hair and an “Old Man Winter” beard simply isn’t going to pass muster for most jobs.

So, what’s a forward-thinking prepper do to circumvent the inevitable $900 haircut?  Here are two options that have worked well for me and my family:

For DIY Haircuts:

The FloBee: The Flobee was a staple of the 80’s TV infomercial.  Here’s the funny thing you wouldn’t expect about this product: It really works!  The Flobee attaches to your vacuum cleaner hose and gentle pulls the hair away from the head and then cuts it at a predetermined length.  An attachments allow you to give haircuts from 1/2″ to 6″.

I remembered the infomercial for this product but I had no idea that my mother had been using one over the past couple of years.  I complimented her on her haircut one day and my father said, “Did you know that she cuts her own hair with the Flobee?”  I didn’t think they were even selling them anymore!  And I was amazed with how good her hair looked and had to get one for myself.  Now, I’ll admit: I haven’t figured out how to give myself a professional looking haircut with it every time.  It’s not that it looks bad, it’s just that I’m particular about the way my side part and Johnny Carson quiff.  So, there is a bit of a learning curve.  But it does a good enough job that I can go two-to-three months in-between professional haircuts, whereas I would normally go to the barber once a month.  So, it’s definitely a money saver.

Flobee

 

You could also use a regular clippers if you’re going for the Herman Cain-look, but personally: I like to leave a little on the top so the Flobee works well for me.  And for kids haircuts?  The Flobee is the best.

For Shaving:

I’ve always used an electric shaver.  It’s quick, easy and effortless.  But the problem with electric shavers is that you’ll need to replace the shaver heads every six months or so, usually to the tune of $35 a pop.  And once every couple of years you’ll likely need to replace the entire shaver.  A good shaver will cost you at least $90 in today’s dollars.  Once inflation takes hold? Who knows how much a shaver will cost, especially after Chinese imports are no longer the low-priced bargain they are now.

Sure, you could start shaving with a straight razor like your grandfather did.  But who wants to risk cutting their own gullet?  [For the record: My grandfather actually used a safety razor and so do I, now.]  Here’s the big benefit to using a safety razor: You’ll never have to spend money on disposable razors or electric shavers… again!

Lord Safety Razor

The true “value buy” in safety razors is the Lord double-edge chrome safety razor.  This is the one that I use.  The only drawback is that it’s made in the Republic of Jordan, if memory serves.  Or Egypt.  I can’t remember.  The safety razor takes a bit of getting used to: You need to make sure your skin is wet and then go with the grain when possible.

Derby Safety Razors

The blades make all the difference: I use Derby double-edge razor blades.  From a prepper’s viewpoint, here’s the really cool thing: A box of 100 blades will cost you less than $10.  I use one blade every seven days, so a box of 100 will last almost two years.  For $150, you can have enough razor blades to last the rest of your life and a few left over to barter with.

And if the inflation apocalypse never comes?  Being independent from the monthly expenses associated with haircuts and the ability to shave for a year on less than $5 means you’ll have more funds free to spend on beans, bullets and bullion.

 

An EMP-Proof Gun Safe With An Electric Lock?

I was sitting on the can flipping through the latest issue of National Rifleman magazine when I came across an ad for an EMP-proof gun safe… with an electric lock.

Upon closer inspection, it appears that Cannon Safes is making this safe with a backup dial system.  From their web site:

“One of the more arcane threats to anything electronic or electrical is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by nuclear detonation, or by certain non-nuclear events. In addition, floods, storm surges and other natural threats can disable an electronic locking device.”

“The formidable Commander series, the trademark Cannon Series and the massive Armory Series safes will be equipped with Cannon’s new EMP Dual-Access Lock that provides a manual combination lock as backup to the electronic lock. Threat met, threat neutralized. Another reason Cannon’s Commander, Cannon and Armory Series offer you and your valuables the ultimate in security, access and preparedness.

Shop today Cannon’s EMP Lock for the Commander SeriesCannon Series and Armory Series.”

Seems kinda gimmicky to me.  If you’re that concerned about an EMP (I am!) then why not just buy a safe with a regular dial/manual lock in the first place?  I’ve never understood the attraction of a keypad safe, anyway.  Once you get the hang of how to open a dial/manual lock it’s not as if it takes you a long time to get into the safe.  Perhaps an extra 10-20 seconds?

Now, if the safe manufacturer positioned it as not only EMP-proof but also a faraday cage… I’d hand them bonus points.

Got Four Nato Gas Cans– But Can’t Get One To Close!

I ordered four Nato gas cans that arrived last night. These are the heavy duty metal cans that look like they’re built to withstand the apocalypse.

Unfortunately, only three of the four will close correctly. With the fourth one the top comes down flush (first photo below) whereas it needs to overshoot the opening in order to close properly. And no amount of force or wiggle seems to make a difference.

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I called the company I ordered them from (Atlantic British). Very friendly customer service. He asked that I send them a picture and tomorrow morning he would ask some of the other guys in the shop and if nobody knew what to do, they’ll send me another one. Can’t really ask for more than that.

Here’s a picture of one of the other ones that DOES work correctly. Notice how the top (correctly) overshoots the edge of the lip.

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That being said, the Scepter tops are so much easier to work with. I’d recommend going with one of those in the future.

Update: One of my buddies noticed that the top looks like it’s a little warped and suggested that I use a plyers to bend it out enough so that it would close.  I decided to wait to hear back from Atlantic British before doing anything to it, and they insisted they send me a new one, with a shipping label so that I could send the faulty one back on their dime.  I offered to try fixing it with the plyers, but they told me the replacement was already in route.  That’s excellent customer service, in my book!  I’ll still probably go with the Scepter cans in the future, as the tops are easier to deal with.

NATO Jerry Cans On Sale

“Get away from those cans!” — Steven Martin, The Jerk.

These NATO jerry cans are hard to find.  Especially the good ones (in contrast to the Made in China knock-offs).  I’ve got two of these I bought a few years ago.  They’re excellent.  I plan on buying at least three more while this sale is going and will probably buy more later in the year, depending upon availability.

http://www.roverparts.com/Parts/GJC20.cfm

One of the things you’ll notice if you study disaster scenarios like I do is that gasoline containers are one of the first things to go.  Even the cheapie red ones you can buy from most auto stores– that are anywhere from “so-so” to “leaky like a sieve” cannot be found during a disaster scenario.  (Maybe stock up on the cheap ones, for barter?)

Whatever.

Although these NATO cans have to legally say, ‘Note: Federal law prohibits the use of this container for the storage of fuel” because of CARB regulations, they are manufactured to the same specs as NATO fuel cans, with the same materials I’m told.

I haven’t had any problems whatsoever with the two I have.

Watch This Little Karambit Personal Defense Knife Make A Big Wound

As you may already know, I’m a big fan of the karambit as a personal defense knife when you can’t carry a gun.  (Or even when you can carry a gun).

A reader from Hawaii sent me this Shot Show demo of a guy using a little karambit knife against a training dummy and how a quick flick of this amazing knife can create a three inch would.  Watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBlHjT2r8Qw

 

Cheapie $9 Nebo Mini Flashlight Falls Apart By Second Week, Gummer Upgrades To The Fenix LD15

We were raising a Maligator puppy last year and I wanted a mini-flashlight that I could drop into a pocket when I took her outside at night to potty. I had two main requirements: It had to be bright. Real bright. And it had to run on AA batteries.

I ordered the Nebo CSI Edge Flashlight from Amazon because the price was right around $9. The reviews seemed good. When it came, I was fairly impressed with it (initially). It could have been brighter, but for the size and the price it seemed like a good compromise. After three days, I ordered another one for my wife to carry in her purse.

The day that her’s came, mine broke. It just stopped working altogether. There had been other things I discovered that I didn’t like about it, either. Like when you put the switch on to the dim setting or the strobe setting… you couldn’t get it to turn back off. I don’t know what I was expecting for $9, but I guess I got what I paid for.

Flash forward (no pun intended) a couple of months later: I did a lot of research on some of the gun forums and decided to add to my requirement: It needed to be blindingly bright.  Well, it seemed that Fenix had a good reputation and since the holidays were fast approaching, I made it easy for the family by putting together a “wish list” on Amazon and at the top of my wishlist was the Fenix LD15.

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Wow! What a fantastic mini-flashlight: It’s super small, it’s super bright, it runs on AA batteries, it slices, it dices and it’ll mow your lawn.

Well, maybe not the lawn.

I’ve had it for several months now and it’s still going strong. In fact, the Fenix lasted longer than the Malinois puppy, who’s now living with a police dog trainer in Ohio. (I train ’em and sell ’em.)

The Fenix LD15 is something that should really go in every one of your bags (bug out bag, truck bag, every day carry, etc…) as it’s so powerful yet so small and it doesn’t suck through batteries either. Of course, they’re a little pricier than the Nebo ($31.55 vs. $9). But you’re paying for real quality with the Fenix.

Our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer once told us: “Your light is your life.” I believe her.  No more cheapie flashlights for me.  Trust me ladies and gents: It’s worth spending just a little more coin to get a quality product in this case.

The Fenix has a low setting and a high setting. Twist the bezel on and it shines bright. Twist it off and then immediately on again and it switches to the low setting which conserves batteries.

The following three pictures show the difference between the Nebo and the Fenix.  The first picture is of a closed room with ambient (minimal) lighting.  The second picture is with only the Fenix and the third is with the Nebo (the one I gave to my wife, who promptly put it in her purse and never touched it).  As you can see, the Fenix wins pretty dramatically.  It almost looks like I had either a light on or a window open, but in fact the conditions were identical:

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Ambient lighting. This is the “control” picture in my decidedly non-scientific mini-flashlight test.

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Room lit with only the Fenix LD15

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Room lit with the Nebo

To be fair, I’m comparing the Nebo CSI Edge flashlight to a flashlight 3X it’s price, which is a little like comparing a Kia to a Mercedes.  But I feel the price points are close enough that it’s worth pointing out that the difference isn’t going to break anybody’s budget and they’ll be getting a quality tool rather than something that breaks when the SHTF.

To read more about the Nebo’s spec, click here.

To read more about the Fenix LD15 specs, click here.

Which Survival Knife Is Better: The Ka-Bar Becker Or The Cold Steel GI Tanto?

If you’re looking for a good all-around survival knife that you can throw in your bug out bag, take on a camping trip or leave in the back of your Jeep, you could do far worse than the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife.

It’s a high quality, well balanced knife.  I actually like it better than my $26 Cold Steel GI Tanto Knife (which feels more like a pry bar than a knife, although $35 less expensive) whereas the Becker, due to it’s shape, allows for more finesse and control.

Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife.

The Becker is a nice knife.  It feels good in the hand and is well balanced.  This knife has been called a poor man’s alternative to the Tom Brown Tracker knife (which costs $260+).  I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, as the Tracker has a fairly unique design and the Becker BK2 is more of a traditional all-purpose survival knife design that many knife makers copy.  I have a Condor sitting in my desk that looks almost identical to it.  Unfortunately, the sheath that came with the Condor doesn’t even appear to be for the right knife, but I digress.  Get me talking about knives and I can go on, forever.

Cold Steel GI Tanto

Cold Steel GI Tanto Knife

As for my comparison to the Cold Steel GI Tanto Knife: To be perfectly honest, I keep the Cold Steel knife in my truck bag, as I figure it’s unlikely I’ll ever actually need it, and for the price I won’t cry if it ever gets stolen.  Don’t get me wrong: It’s a decent knife, but for the extra $35 dollars the Becker is a more refined tool whereas the Cold Steel is more crude.  I keep the Becker with me if I’m out in the yard or on a camping trip where I might need a knife.

They’re both popular knives: The Becker has 462 four and five-star reviews at Amazon, whereas the Cold Steel GI Tanto has 233 out of 248.  (Take any of the Amazon knife reviews with a grain of salt, as half are from kids and the other half from mall ninjas who’ve never actually used the knife outside of chopping carrots).

I looked at prices on a few different sites for the Becker and they seem to sell in the $75 dollar range.  Amazon’s actually got it on sale right now for $59.99, which– if you were already considering buying one of these knives, is a price I would jump all over because as inflation begins to take hold I wouldn’t be surprised if these same knives will be selling in the $90-$130 range soon.

In sum: Either of these knives are worth the money, although I’d be more inclined to buy another Becker before I would buy another GI Tanto unless I was on a tight budget and had six teenage kids and I wanted each kid to have a decent knife rather than a cheapie piece of junk– which the Cold Steel is definitely not.  So, if tight on coin, go for the Cold Steel.  If you’ve got a little more to spend then the Becker is an all around better knife.

Click here to read the stats on the Cold Steel GI Tanto.

Click here to read the stats on the Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion Fixed Blade Knife

How I Made My Front Door Virtually Impenetrable For Less Than $100

When we moved into our current house I was a little uneasy about someone being able to walk up and kick in our front door.  Sure, we live in a good neighborhood and a safe community.  But let’s be honest: Stuff happens and it doesn’t just happen in bad neighborhoods.

“Can You Imagine Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night And Hearing
Your Neighbor’s Drunk Ex-Boyfriend Trying To Kick Your Front Door In?”

I’m sure you can imagine a scenario where your neighbor’s drunkard ogre-of-an-ex-boyfriend gets loaded up on whiskey and blow and tries to kick in her front door to profess his love at four in the morning.

Except he’s so doped up that he mistakes her front door… for yours!!

No thanks, I’d rather not have to shoot anybody if having an impenetrable front door will prevent the situation from happening in the first place.

I looked into heavy-duty steel front doors, but they cost an arm and a leg.  Literally thousands of dollars.  If I lived in a multi-million dollar home, I might choose that option. But even if I did, I’d probably still use the gear I bought (below) as it provides much more security at a very low cost.

I researched both security doors and storm doors that fit in-front of your current door. Storm doors didn’t seem to provide that much true protection against intruders and security doors would make the house look… how shall I say… less appealing?  I’ve spent enough time living in houses in Latin America that had bars on the doors and windows to know that it makes you feel like you’re living in a jail cell.

Good luck talking your wife into putting one of these on the front door.

Good luck talking your wife into putting one of these on the front door. Fugly!

So, I went to Home Depot and bought a couple of door bar braces.  These cost about $20 a piece.  The problem is that they had a tendency to slip on the floor, so if somebody tries to push the door in, they slide backwards.  I experimenting with changing the angle.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  The other issue is that they’re made of aluminum, which isn’t exactly confidence inspiring.

I began to get nervous about their reliability when I did further research and read stuff like:

“I just bought this bar at Home Depot and tried it.  I am about 200 pounds and I hit the door with 50% of forth, and it just broke.  Don’t rely on it.”

and

“I bought this after my house was broken into. Sure enough a week later they kicked in my back door and I had this brace firmly planted so that it could not slip out and they broke it with a few good kicks to the door. The adjustable mechanism was to blame. Cheap metal construction. If the metal was thicker or harder it wouldn’t have bent to let the metal positioning lock slip through. I would never buy this again. Worthless. I’m going to try to return it.”

So, I did more research and purchased a better designed product that actually worked.  I got two of these, which was a big step in the right direction.

Buddy Bar

The Buddy Bar is similar to the Master Lock Security Bars I had bought at Home Depot, except that it fixes their design flaws — namely, it’s made of steel and the rubber foot on the end doesn’t slip.  ** We currently use this on our back kitchen door.

Then I Found Something Even Better… And Cheaper, Too!

I initially bought two Buddy Bars, one for the front door and one for the back door.  But then I found something even better.

I was up late browsing the internet one night and I stumbled across a product that inconspicuously anchors into the floor to create a brace that prevents your front door from being kicked in.  I wasn’t sure about it, so I sent the link to my father who owned a locksmithing company for several years.  He’s seen it all when it comes to home security devices.

Then I got distracted with other projects and forgot all about it.

A couple of months later I was at his house and remembered the link to the Nightlock product I had sent him.

“It’s brilliant,” he said.  “It’s such a simple idea I’m amazed nobody thought about it, before.”

“Does it really work?” I asked.

 “Even with a battering ram, you’d likely have to
physically break the door into pieces to get through it.”

He took me over to his front door and showed me the Nightlock he had installed. The floor plate was so inconspicuous I had completely missed it.

“I just don’t see how anybody could get through the door with this thing on it, since it’s anchored into the floor,” he said.  “Even with a battering ram, you’d likely have to physically break the door into pieces to get through it.”

I tried it myself.  I pushed and pushed but the door wouldn’t budge.

The Nightlock has two primary pieces: A bottom part that anchors to the floor and the upper part that slides into the bottom part when you’re at home.  When you leave or when you open the door, you simply slide the second piece out of the anchored piece and set it aside.

nightlock3

I ended up buying two for our house after seeing how it worked on my father’s door.  We sleep a lot better at night knowing that our doors are 100% secure.

My father also bought a Nightlock that works on sliding glass doors, too:

nightlock5

The only problem with the Nightlock is that it doesn’t protect your front door while you’re out of the house.

When we bought our house, it was a fixer-upper.  So I had the contractor install three inch screws into the strike plate, until I could find a better solution.

After we got settled into the house, I bought this reinforced strike plate off Amazon.  For just a little over $6, I figured… what do I have to lose?

reinforced strike plate

But to be honest, after it arrived I kinda had buyers remorse that I didn’t spend the extra money on the StrikeMaster ll PRO door frame and hinge reinforcement that covers a larger area of the door frame.

strikemaster

I also purchased a Simplisafe wireless alarm system that comes with an entry sensor that will also go on the front door.  But it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’ll have to post a separate review on it, after I’ve had a chance to play with it.

The final piece de resistance is our 70 lb. dog who sleeps near the front door and barks like the devil when anyone walks up the driveway.

** We weren’t able to install the Nightlock on our back kitchen door because when we had our hardwood installed, the subfloor had to be raised and that reduced the amount of clearance between the floor and the bottom of the door, preventing the door from clearing the Nightlock floor plate.  On our front door we didn’t have that problem.

Is The Karambit The Ultimate Folding Pocket Knife For Self Defense?

Could this be the ultimate folding pocket knife for self defense?

The Karambit — Originally from Indonesia (Sumatra and Java), nobody had heard too much about this knife fifteen years ago.  I remember first seeing one back in 1997.  It was made by legendary knife maker Ernest Emerson.  It sold for close to $300.  Now everybody makes them.  Amazon even sells a couple dozen different makes and models as well as instructional videos on how to fight with one.  They’ve become popular to say the least and there’s a very good reason for that.

Strong Enough For A Man, Easy Enough To Use By A Lady With No Formal Training

The specific lady I’m talking about was the wife of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt instructor.  She had no experience with grappling or fighting on the ground.  He was a land shark.

As a test, he gave her a trainer karambit (a “trainer” is a knife that has it’s sharp edge ground down so it won’t cut).

He outweighed her by over a hundred pounds.  He then did his best to take the knife away from her, but he couldn’t get it away.  Get one for yourself and try it.  A big part of the reason you can’t take it away from someone is because of the hooked beak of the karambit.

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Even when he trapped her arm, she still had enough wiggle room (millimeters)  to angle the tip so that it would cut into his wrist, had it been a real knife.

The other big benefit to the shape of the karambit is that the rake across muscle and vein is more difficult to stop the bleeding as compared to a stab wound.  The hooked angle of the karambit creates a ripping cut, rather than just a slice.Now, in all fairness: It’s not easy to take a regular knife away from a dedicated assailant.

And that’s what I’m looking for in a personal self defense weapon: Caveman simple, deadly effective and difficult to disarm.