Expat Prepper Diary Entry: I Hear Gunshots

I found this note on my hard drive tonight.  It’s something I wrote for my journal from back when I was living in Costa Rica, in Escazu… considered “the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica”.  Can you imagine this (below) happening in Beverly Hills on a regular basis?

“A guy can’t even take a nap in this country without something crazy going on!

6:21 pm. About 20 minutes ago I’m lying in bed and hear what I think is a gun shot.  Sounds like it’s coming from one of the houses next door.

Can’t be.  Probably just a car backfire, right?

Lie back down and listen.  BANG!  Another one.

Okay, that was definitely a gun shot.  WTF?  And this is supposed to be the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica?

I wait about 10 minutes and peak down to the guard tower.  Guard is tranquilo (or dead?) but if he’s alive, he seems to be in one piece.

I go down with my trusty Maglite.  It’s all I’ve got since getting a gun in this country requires jumping through all kinds of hoops I haven’t figured out how to maneuver.  Going down there with a machete would seem cavalier.

Can’t completely understand his Spanish (Nicaraguan dialect) but as best I could tell, shots WERE fired but they were not in our complex but in the complex to the South.  The IOHOTA (the Federal Police) were searching for a guy or something, and my Spanish isn’t quite good enough to tell who shot who.

Man… I love this s**t!  (seriously).   I thought moving to Texas would be fun, but this is a real adventure.  (Sarcasm)

Finally got a working diesel land cruiser yesterday and a native girlfriend. Now I gotta work on getting a gun.  (Or two!)

Lovin’ it here– can’t wait to get shot.  (More sarcasm). ”

When I wrote this, I was still in that intellectual space between the picture the “Escape America” websites paint for you vs. the stark reality of living in a third world country.

What Guns Do You Love To Take To The Range?

My friends Skeet, Pierce, Juan-Carlos and I were sitting around the fireplace enjoying an after dinner drink while the ladykind were in the kitchen making tea.  The question came up, “What guns do you love to take to the range?”

I’m a simple man, so for me the Glock 19 is the one gun I always take to the range.  It’s the one I’ve spent the most time taking tactical training classes with, so– not surprisingly– it’s the one I feel most comfortable with.  It’s also the gun I carry when I’m not packing the Ruger LCP.  So, any trip to the range necessitates bringing one of the Glock 19’s, from a purely “skill maintenance” perspective.

But the gun I have the most fun with at the range is the Ruger 10/22.  Good to about 100 yards and with only the cheapie 3-9X40 scope that it came with, not only is it a proverbial “tack driver” but it also has virtually no recoil and is cheap, cheap, cheap to shoot.  (Although not nearly as cheap as it used to be!)

My friend Skeet has a pearl handled .45 Springfield 1911.  Something about it being like the gun Samuel Jackson had in Pulp Fiction.  Whatever.

Juan-Carlos, the Costa Rican, still likes his Heckler and Koch USP in 9mm and brings it every time we go to the range, I suspect because the H&K’s are so darn popular back in his home country.  Pierce on the other hand won’t leave the house for the range if he can’t bring his Colt Grizzly, a .357 Magnum with a Python barrel matched with Colt King Cobra frame.  I can’t blame him.

What guns do you love to bring to the range?  Leave your comments, below…

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:



Let’s See If The Swiss Start Grabbing Guns, Too: Several Killed In Swiss Factory Shooting

Sad news in Switzerland: It’s being reported this morning that several people have been killed in a mass shooting.  It should be interesting to see how Swiss legislators react to a mass shooting of their own.  Based on their recent position of abandoning their support of banking privacy laws and their march to devaluing the franc* — it wouldn’t surprise me if they start grabbing the guns, too.

* Ref. Wiki: The Swiss franc has historically been considered a safe-haven currency with virtually zero inflation and a legal requirement that a minimum of 40% be backed by gold reserves.   However, this link to gold, which dates from the 1920s, was terminated on 1 May 2000 following a referendum.  By March 2005, following a gold selling program, the Swiss National Bank held 1,290 tonnes of gold in reserves which equated to 20% of its assets).

Started Building A “Get Home” Bag For The Wife’s Car

We took the wife’s car over to Discount Tire to have the winter tires swapped back out for the regular all-season tires and in the process I realized that she didn’t have a full “Get Home” bag in the car.

See, when we returned from living overseas, we only had one car for quite awhile.  Then we moved a couple of times, all in the period of a few years before buying our house (all cash!) and then bought a second car.

I had a cooler I’d keep with a bunch of random stuff (flashlight, small knife, energy bars, etc…) that I cannibalized when I built my car kit and later only got as far as ordering a backpack to start building her kit before getting distracted by bigger and shinier adventures.

20130226-170835.jpgSo, while we were waiting for Discount Tires to swap out the tires we walked across the street to Scheels, a mega-super store similar to Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop.  I’m not crazy about Scheels because their prices are typically full retail… and I hate paying full retail for anything.

But Lord knows I can’t go near anything camping or survival related without buying something and I figured it was a good opportunity to start building her get home bag.

I’ll make a separate full post of everything that I’ll put in her “Get Home” bag, but for today we came home with just a couple of multi-use items:

1.  100′ of olive drab paracord.

2.  Two bandanas.  (During the walk back to Discount Tire I explained to her some of the many uses for a bandana.)

3.  The SOL Bivvy sack, “Ideal for those occasions when you take the wrong turn and are forced to spend the unexpected night out.”  Although I wish they’d had the two-person Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheets Survival Blanket, which I might need to order for both of our car kits, eventually.

4.  A roll of toilet paper (that was already floating around the back seat of the car.  What can I say… I like spicy food) but can be used as tinder in a pinch.

I bought half a dozen of the desert tan “Diplomat” 3 Day backpacks from LA Police Gear when they were on sale a few years ago.  They’re a fantastic bag at a very reasonable price.  I’ll continue to use them, although I do regret buying them because after my experience living in Bogota, Colombia, I’ve come to the conclusion that in a SHTF scenario you don’t want to be carrying anything that looks too “tacticool” or that might get you mistaken for either a soldier or a guerilla.  So, from now on everything I buy will be the civilian non-military/non-police version when possible.

Costco Reaching Out To Preppers With Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds

Costco has offered prepackaged food buckets and a few other items that appeal to the prepper market for quite some time.  Usually through their web site, but occasionally in stores in certain markets, too.  They’re now selling non-GMO heirloom seeds, which kicks it up a notch.  Hopefully, they’ll start offering more items along these lines as the prepping train continues to pick up speed.

From their web site:

Food for Health Garden Seeds are:


  • 100% Heirloom, Non-Hybrid Seeds;  you can harvest your own seeds year after year.
  • 100% Non-GMO; your seeds have not been genetically modified.
  • Packed in re-sealable mylar pouches; you preserve excess and unpplanted seeds.
  • Highly adaptable; they will grow in most every region.
  • Nutritionally dense; you will get high nutrition per sq. ft. of garden.
  • 24 varieties; you will have  nice diversity in your garden.
  • Moisture balanced; they will store longer than store-bought seeds.

The thing to remember about this type of product (or any type of seeds) is that the typical “shelf life” is approximately seven years.  More if you can freeze them, but the verdict is out as far as germination rates.

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.


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:


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


Room lit with only the Fenix LD15


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.

Harden Your Kids: The Babies Who Sleep In Sub-Zero Weather

The BBC web site recently ran an article about Swedes (and other Scandinavians) who let their babies nap in sub-zero weather.  Bundled up warm in what they call a pram (stroller) the babies were found to sleep longer and grow up healthier because they weren’t spending all day in an enclosed space with 30 other kids.

The article quotes Lisa Mardon, a mother-of-three from Stockholm, as saying, “”I think it’s good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible.  Especially in the winter when there’s lots of diseases going around… the kids seem healthier.”

Apparently, on any given day you can find babies in strollers napping outside coffee shops while their parents are inside sipping on cappuchinos.  And it’s not a new fad, either: It’s been going on for generations.

Like the old saying: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”  A little fresh air never hurt anybody, right?

Read the full article at:


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