Self-defense Ethics and Techniques when the SHTF

This guest post is by SurvivorDan and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

For most of my brother and sister preppers this will merely be preaching to the choir. But there are some new aspiring survivors or even veteran survivalist who may dismiss the need to learn or equip yourselves for self-defense out of pacifism or other philosophies.

Your interest is natural/man-made disaster survival techniques or lost-in-the-wilderness skills only. Absolutely no self-defense. Fine. I certainly would not malign you for being a peaceful and loving person. But the purpose of this article is to examine various aspects and ethics of self-defense during a crisis and reading it will cause you no psychic scarring but may offer some new insights.

Even as you simply go about the ordinary pursuits of your daily life others may choose to harm you and yours or you may become collateral damage during violence not directed purposefully at you.

Asa reserve deputy sheriff I have heard the same sad refrain many times,

“Ihad nothing to do with those people and yet I got beaten/shot! It’s not fair!”.Or the denier. “Nothing has ever happened to me because I don’t look for trouble.” A roommate, who was a brilliant research scientist at Scripp’s Oceanagraphic, said that to me many years ago as his reason for being bemused at my active interest in training in and teaching the martial arts. Ironically, he was attacked and badly beaten while out on the town that very night!

Bad things can and do happen to good people no matter how low a profile you keep or how safe you think your workplace or neighborhood is. Additionally,these days we have a small but increasing possibility of being direct victims of an act of terrorism.

The widespread violence in our society is bad enough during ‘normal’ times but imagine how the sh*t-hits-the-fan (SHTF) when our society is rocked by a major natural disaster or widespread economic collapse.

I was at New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as part of a relief column of deputy sheriffs and saw the mayhem first hand. Social constraints break down as ordinarily law-abiding and non-violent people succumb to their baser instincts of fear, survival and self-centered motivation especially when there is an obvious absence of sufficient local law enforcement to keep order.This may involve forcibly taking your supplies and/or shelter, vehicle or even your life and the lives of those you need to protect. Something as seemingly insignificant as a single tarp, hammer or case of tuna fish may mean the difference between survival and death.

If you have the capability, it is your duty to retain such items for your own needs and the needs of your loved ones. If you lack the ability to defend yourself and what property is yours then you need to acquire that capability through training in self-defense, both armed and unarmed.

You do not have to become a kung fu fighting Jet Li or an M60 machine gun wielding Rambo. But you do need to acquire the mindset and the basic skills and equipment that are necessary to defend yourself successfully. In fact it has been my experience in law enforcement and as a self-defense instructor, that awareness, attitude, and quick action had more to do with a successful outcome for the defender than pure fighting skills. The accomplished martial artist oblivious to changing conditions was doomed. The expert gunfighter who hesitated….lost.

The awareness of an impending hostile event followed quickly by a plan of action put in motion as the dynamics of the situation warranted tended to carry the day. Especially when the defender was willing to use any and all force necessary to overcome his/her attackers.

Not long ago, one of my self-defense students told me that under no circumstances could she shoot someone even if they were threatening her with death. The use of lethal force was anathema to her gentle nature. I then asked her what she would do if she were armed with a gun and an axe wielding murderer broke in her home and told her that after he killed her he was going to murder her little grandchildren? Without hesitation she replied, ”I would empty the gun into him.But I would be very sad.” I was glad she immediately saw the right course of action regardless of any potential lingering guilt. You do what you have to do.So get your mindset ready to enable you to counter great violence with great violence. It is absolutely justifiable when unavoidable.

Ina ‘normal’ societal status I recommend you read an article about the Use of Force Continuum and follow its guidelines and consult your attorney. But when the SHTF or if TEOTWAWKI (the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it) scenario hasarrived…all bets are off. There are few restrictions on you, the defender, in such crises other than using your best judgment and your personal sense of morality and mercy.

Normally,you counter violence directed at you with a similar level of violence. They shove and push and you may shove and push back. They strike at you with close-fisted and feet and you can counter with a measure of the same. If they raise the level of violence to include weapons then you need to respond with weapons.

The question is, can you count on that 3 hour how-to-disarm self-defense class you took back in college or do you want to be in a gunfight armed only with a vase or a 6 iron or a firearm you really haven’t trained with? Take some ongoing self-defense classes. Acquire a firearm and get some training. Be willing to use it if unavoidable. Sometimes the mere presentation of a firearm defuses the situation. Remember the old adage: It is better to have a firearm and not need it than to need it and not have it.

The fastest way to gain an advantage in defending oneself from a violent attack is not the best in terms of civil and legal liability exposure. But it works and it is a simple concept which in the scarcity or absence of local law enforcement during prolonged periods of social unrest and/or a wide-spread services collapse should be utilized without hesitation. Lawyers will cringe at my suggestion. But experienced combat soldiers and LEOs (law enforcement officers) who have been in exigent circumstances like large-scale riots will agree:

“If a defender raises their level of force faster than their attacker and applies that greater level of force with speed and gusto, the odds are in their favor that they will likely prevail and suffer less injury.”

Use more force than your attacker. Use weapons to multiply your defensive capabilities.A weapon can be a key chain, flashlight, bat (not the furry kind), full bottle of water, clipboard, belt, pen, rock (the hard kind), a cane, an umbrella, ad infinitum and including design specific weapons such as a knife, pepper spray and gun.

I personally train students to fight with a weapon of some kind in both hands simultaneously* whenever possible. Empty handed self-defense has its place but one of the things that elevate us above the animals is our ability to create and use tools. What elevates you above your violent attacker may be the fact that you use all available weapons (in both hands) and keep adjusting to a higher level of force before they do.

“….fight with a weapon of some kind in both hands simultaneously*…”

Anticipate. If violence is unavoidable, strike first. Have plans for different defensive situations. Arrange a visible phalanx of your determined and armed companions. Pre-planning, a visible state of vigilance and defensive readiness and pre-emptive superior ground positioning may be enough to intimidate your attackers into seeking out easier prey.

Reduce your attacker(s) resolve and confidence by displaying

your obvious determination to resist and prevail.

And if necessary……with a capable vigorous defense.

The willingness to use great force without hesitation when warranted is not a normal instinct for the average Joe Schmoe. You must remember that those who would deprive you of your possessions and even lives will not be so encumbered by the basic social tenets of decency, non-violence and fair play. Frightened and desperate people often revert to the mentality of repeat, violent, strong arm robbers. They will strike suddenly and without warning. They will use any and all force to take what you have……even your life.

Striking preemptively or using much greater force than your assailant’s initial attack may seem rather unsportsmanlike, even immoral, but remember when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI has arrived, you and your companions cannot afford to be injured as medical services may be scarce or even non-existent and your life saving supplies may be irreplaceable.

You can be a decent human being but don’t be a pacifist.

Do what you have to do to prevail…………be a survivor.

It is your right and your duty.

*Note: Because of the dangers posed by a sympathetic muscle contraction, I do not teach students to have a weapon in each hand when one or more of those weapons is a firearm. S.D.”

This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:

  • First Place : $100 Cash.
  • Second Place : $50 Cash.
  • Third Place : $25 Cash.

Contest ends on October 10 2012.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Nicely written. Thanks. There are predators and victims. Don’t be the latter.

    • You don’t want to be a predator either. We don’t decend to that level. Defense is one thing, of persons or even property. I’ve heard too many talk about preying on others in bad times. BAD!

      • I have to agree with you EthanP. There are more than two choices, GA! Either/or?? Stupid.

        Defending oneself or one’s family or property is one thing. That does not make you a predator. A predator seeks out a victim to hurt/kill them. Or in the animal kingdom, to eat them. I would think we are above the animal stage. But…there will be many sicko people who will become predators, just because they can. Right now they are known as bullies.

        Evil is evil. It is not evil to protect. It IS evil to seek out others to destroy.

  2. Very well said. Without weapons the world would be ruled by the strong and mighty. The pacifist today is begging to be ruled by such men and they will be more than happy to oblige. Throughout history weapons were invented by evil men to overpower the masses, but then good people developed better defensive weapons to restore the balance of power in society. Weapons have evolved from daggers to firearms, but maintaining the balance of power is still important today. A person without a firearm is begging to be ruled by the strong and mighty. For this reason I believe having a firearm is virtually a necessity for survival today. If that is not possible or desirable then keep another kind of formidable weapon and practice with it until you can use it effectively.

  3. The only ethical premise I place on self defense is to avoid contact in hte first place. IF I am backed into a corner and forced to fight I consider it a kill or be killed situation and will act accordingly to protect myself. Particularly in a SHTF type situation where position, concealment and gray man attitude are concerned the fastest quietest solution is the best. So operating on the LRPS Paradigm, avoid contact, break contact, stay out of sight and out of mind. This is the best ethical premise available is simply to have no conflict.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      I agree Spook45, no conflict is indeed the first choice.
      Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.
      I always try to avoid violence and in a SHTF scenario that will likely mean avoiding people as much as possible.

    • village idiot says:

      True dat, but situational awareness in a grid-down or TEOTWAWKI scenario will naturally be affected by the cares of life. One will have to spend much more time doing hard work such as cutting wood, working in the garden, and just plain hard living. Exhaustion and fatigue will affect us negatively. We need to be that much more ready to respond to violence quickly, and with enough force to end it quickly. Never bring a knife to a gunfight, for instance. I agree, the gray man technique is best, but we must be ready to respond with deadly force if neccessary.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        Good advice as ever VI. Fatigue dulls the senses.
        And always train your companions so that you never bring an idiot to a gunfight. 😉

        • SD:
          New phrase to the reply basket – “never bring an idiot to a gunfight”. Of course, that includes myself.

      • Great advice, VI. Hopefully, when in a hard-work situation, there will be someone watching your back. Then, when the worker needs a break, they trade places. Never go out alone, never get so involved in what you are doing that you forget to look around from time to time. Back in the “Old West”, that is what was practiced when Indians were the enemy. No one wise ever went out to the fields without a weapon and a watcher.

  4. This is why I spent over 1000 hours training in the Progressive Fighting Systems “Rapid Assault” program. You just dont know, and when shit jumps off, its gonna happen quick, and with no time to think.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      That is a LOT of training. You must be getting something out of it to keep going back. Will take a peek at it.

  5. Great article, Survivor Dan. Thanks for your work. You made some good points, and I always enjoy reminders as well.

  6. Dan, thanks for the article.

    I speak only for myself. I don’t intimidate well. I do not have any martial arts training, but I would not want to attack me. I have already made my peace with the actions I will take in a threatened situation. I can “make nice” and I generally avoid confrontation.

    But they need to understand this…threaten me and mine and I will put you down hard. In a SHTF situation, if you try and announce you will be back, I will put you down hard, now! I will not look for trouble, but if it finds me, it ends with me.

    • village idiot says:

      Amen, brother, and that is the attitude that all preppers should have if we are to thrive and prosper.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      ” I do not have any martial arts training, but I would not want to attack me.” JP

      Got a hunting buddy like you. No karate…just ornery. Big…er…orbs. Never quits at anything. I’d avoid him too were he to feel threatened.

  7. village idiot says:

    Dan, I have written this article in my mind so many times yet have always been unable to put it into words that made good sense. Thank you for doing it so well. I think your experience as a LEO gives you insights that I just don’t have, but you spelled it out so distinctly and elegantly(haha, bet you’ve never been described that way before) that even an idiot like me can get it. The single most important thing people can realize from this article is that they can prevail if they take appropriate and decisive action. “He who hesitates is lost” is how I describe it. Thank you, sir, this article is much appreciated.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Thanks VI. And yes….no one has ever called me ‘elegant’.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        Actually, there was that one grateful muy linda senorita (thirty plus years ago) down in Tegucigalpa, Honduras……..apparently grande estupido means elegant.

  8. Tomthetinker says:

    Give a look at this. By Mike Adams “Divine right”.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Thanks Tomthetinker. Pulled this blurb from

      “Citizen disarmament leads to genocide

      As these mini-documentaries show, citizen disarmament has always been the precursor to government-led mass murder of disarmed citizens. A disarmed citizenry exists at the mercy of the government ego-maniacs in charge, and history has shown that those who seek such power are almost always criminally insane… capable of committing acts of genocide and murder against their own people (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc).

      And today, even as the U.S. government is attempting to abolish the U.S. Bill of Rights and deny Americans their Second Amendment rights, the government itself is arming to the teeth, having recently purchased 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition for use by the Department of Homeland Security. (…)

      These bullets, for the record, are mostly hollow-point anti-personnel rounds which are illegal, under the Geneva Convention, to use in war. They can only be used domestically, against the American citizens.

      It is only the possession of tens of millions of firearms among the U.S. citizenry that prevents the government from attempting to roll out a total military dictatorship right now. This is why there is such a push among power-hungry maniacs such as Obama, Schumer, Pelosi and Bloomberg to disarm the American public: it is the last step before the next holocaust begins.”

  9. Very good article , I know of a few people that in my mind have no self preservation instinct …………one of them was victimized , and still has no ill will toward her attacker ………..Hard for me to understand . AS for me , I anger quickly and am very protective . I have found that anger gets you farther ahead and pushes you harder and more decisively than fear . When you are pissed off at , or hate your enemy …… are more willing to do what needs to be done vs. being afraid of it or them . If a person can avoid those situations and remain unnoticed ……..thats by far the best way to go , but as mentioned in the article , even every day life can put you in the wrong place at the wrong time , thats when who you are inside will determine if your a fighter /protector or a victim . We cant change how we are built inside ……..but we can change our habits , attitude and way of thinking . Good luck to all in the coming crisis and hope you can achieve safety ……….buy a firearm if you dont have one already ………I guarantee you will need it .

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Mostly I agree. And indeed, folks can get self-defense training utilizing near real-world training that can help them later during a real life and death conflict. I knew many young men who prior to combat/LEO academy training couldn’t and wouldn’t have hurt a fly. The ability and will to use deadly force can be inculcated to ’tilt’ that person towards the correct response to an attack (or perceived imminent attack).
      Train folks. Don’t just punch holes in paper. And for those for whom firearms are anathema; get pepper spray, Tasers, stun guns, etc. And being willing to use them.

      • village idiot says:

        Dan, there is a recent case in Louisiana where a guy was pepper sprayed and stabbed four times, yet was still able to murder a young college coed. Ladies, get a gun and learn to use it. j/s

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Agreed VI. I only meant those who will not use a firearm.
          If I am pepper spraying or Tasering some maniac then my companion is pointing a firearm at said whack job.
          A gun (med or big bore) is a surer man stopper than the less than lethal devices.

  10. SurvivorDan…this is an excellent post. Thank you. I need this encouragement.

    “If a defender raises their level of force faster than their attacker and applies that greater level of force with speed and gusto, the odds are in their favor that they will likely prevail and suffer less injury.”

    This is the way in nature. Many animals (Rams, Deer, even beetles…you name it) have this as their MO, and resolve their issues with it. I understand that your post is not presenting this to ‘resolve issues’…well…not in equitable ways and walk away…. but I just wanted to point out that it’s a technique used in nature.

    I have trained myself mentally to “not go quietly” if I am attacked. I understand the ‘shock’ of the moment, and the paralyzing affect that can have…I have been in dangerous situations in my life and experienced that firsthand, and it takes some training to overcome. So, I have spent time developing environment and situation awareness, which I think is a foremost defense skill. I have avoided danger that caught others by utilizing it.

    And I would hope that, when it is necessary, I would rise to the occasion with absolute defense…or offense if that was necessary.

    I so appreciate the posts, like yours SD, that share these things. Your experience so benefits me, and helps me to understand what to do in the extreme times we live in, and ‘gear’ myself for doing what must be done. I do believe that what you put forth here could be a necessary thing. Thank you.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Love that statement…” I have spent time developing environment and situation awareness, which I think is a foremost defense skill.”

      Awareness is one of the best defensive skills. You get it.

      • Thanks SD. It was once necessary for me to be walking along a bike trail at dusk through an isolated section and I became aware of footsteps behind me. I immediately turned around and faced the man who was there. I looked him right in the eye and said hello, and stepped off the trail onto a street and started walking towards some people on the opposite side of the street. They were some distance away, and I was concerned about that, but ‘He’ turned around and headed back the way he was coming from, and did not follow me. Now I don’t say that this will work on all predators, but sometimes a direct acknowledge of the presence of a person who may have nefarious intent can deter them. Predators in general want easy prey. Of course, the ‘brand’ of predator today has intensified in their badness, so I’m more cautious myself. Thanks again for a great post. I need this.

  11. You speak for me pretty well too JP.

    I practice a couple unconventional firearm tactics, cheating if you prefer, to hopefully increase my odds in some scenarios. Rehearsal and muscle memory making it easier when under stress. Common sense says the first to get shot is probably going to lose, so speed and surprise are my focus. If they don’t know the gunfight started until after they’re bleeding out, even better. Without going into details, some are tough on gear and powder burns do sometimes occur.

    • Nan in NC says:

      Hey, Red. I’ve read about some of those “unconventional tactics” but haven’t really tried many of them. I try pulling my unloaded pistol from the holster and aiming it in front of a mirror so I can check my progress etc, but that’s about it. You’re absolutely right about “Muscle memory”. That’s how dancers and musicians remember intricate pieces. I’m working on it.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        I was once asked by a young police recruit for the one thing he do to improve his firearm scores. He hit just fine when not timed so I told him what I do. I will draw 200 times a session from whatever my carry holster is to be. I do this 10 days in a row and follow up practice occasionally. The Roscoe comes out in the blink of an eye and you have more time to send an accurate round (or two) down range. And indeed the instantaneous presentation of a firearm may be enough deterrent. To some folks the lightening quick moves of a good martial artist seem uncanny. Just practice and more practice.
        I don’t believe that a quick draw is the be-all-end-all of a gunfight but it never hurts.
        And there’s no such thing as cheatin’ when you’re being defensive Red. Good for you.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          ‘Course ya do end up with wallets, books, bags and clothing with holes in them…….. 😉

    • Red:

      I agree that “unconventional tactics” is an important “force multiplier”. If you are unpredictable, and able to inflict casualties on the enemy, even if they have survivors, they will classify you as a “hard” target, and move on to easier pickings. This can be important for your retreat location.

  12. Nice article. I agree with not making a target of yourself. The best fight is the one you don’t get into.

  13. Great article. Thank you Survivor Dan.

    Up here in the Great White North the sheeple masses have been brain washed into fearing firearms and the courts discourage self-defense with severe penalties. The MSM here has demonized firearm ownership to the point that if you inform people that you are a sports shooter or hunter, they either avoid you like the plague or ridicule you. Only the criminals here have unrestricted access to firearms.

    16 years in the military has shown me how essential to our survival a firearm is. We will not go quietly into the night like most of our countrymen.

    If the SHTF in the US it will surely fly north of the border too. The only upside to this tragedy is that if there is ever a need for armed and trained men of valour to step into the breach, we few will be worth our weight in gold. As the old saying goes,” A one eyed man is king in the land of the blind”.

    God Bless and preserve all freedom loving Americans and Canadians.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      thanks Watchdog.
      God Bless and preserve all freedom loving Canadians and Americans.

  14. Dan,
    Good article. As a fellow martial artist, and long time shooter and firearms instructor, I concur that situational awareness may be one of the most important aspects in dealing with threats of violence. In the best case, it can help you avoid a violent situation, but even in the worse case, it can help you prepare perhaps changing the outcome of the situation by allowing you to perform some action like drawing your firearm, or getting yourself into a better location. On the advance personal protection classes we teach, we discuss the four states of mind that humans will be in at any given time. They are Unaware, Aware, Alert, and Alarm. We are all in that unaware state at some point like when we’re sleeping, or even tucked away in our securely locked home snuggled up with TV or a good book. In this case, the ultimate situation would be to have a proxy that is aware on your behalf, be it an electronic alarm or a dog. The key here is to never be in the unaware state when you should be in the aware state, which may seem obvious but I all too often see this situation. The person with the iPod in their pocket and ear buds in both ears, walking down the street while texting on their cell phone is a classic example; however, any of us can have so many things going on to the point of distraction which in itself makes us unaware of the situation around us. None of those distractions are more important than your life, is unless you’re in a situation where the unaware state is unavoidable (like when sleeping) push those distractions to the background, and pay attention.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Perfect OP. Can I ‘borrow’ your material for a different venue?
      Well thought out and succinctly put.

      I might add for others with less training that the mere fact that you appear alert and are scanning your environment is picked up on by predators like professional strong arm robbers.
      They prefer less aware victims and often pass on the alert looking fellow.
      They prefer the fellow with the ear buds in, or texting or looking down and fumbling with his keys.
      OP gives you sage advice on that issue.

      • Dan,
        Borrow away. The four states of mind are key elements in both the NRA Personal Protection in the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home courses, so in my case, the material isn’t completely original anyway; although I’ve been teaching (preaching) it so long that it feels like second nature. BTW, anyone can purchase the excellent textbooks for the PPIH and PPOH courses from the NRA website.

    • Great points, OP! I have been trying to be situationally aware. It is hard! It has gotten to the point where I don’t like a TV or radio on in the background. I like to hear the birds…they stop chirping or singing when they sense danger. So do crickets. There was one time I had walked into the bedroom with the lights off and suddenly I noticed it was dead silent outside. It had been raining off and on all evening but I had a window partly opened. There is a security light outside that window but we had to turn off the motion detector because the trees had grown too big and turned it on with the wind. I flipped the switch but saw nothing. I waited and in about 5 minutes the crickets started back up. The next morning I found a large footprint in the soft dirt under the window. Made the hair on my neck stand up, let me tell you.

  15. Nan in NC says:

    The key word here is “defense”. That indicates that someone else has started something and you are within your rights to defend yourself and your family. I started Krav Maga a few weeks ago and we have been taught that if you are defending yourself you always defend at a higher level than the attack… Sometimes with the weapon you have taken from the attacker, sometimes with your own hands and body, but then you back away from the danger with hands up by your face. Again, in a defensive position. I carry a gun, but I don’t always want to use deadly force ,if it’s not necessary. Studying this discipline gives me a better assessment of the situation, and time to collect myself if someone jumps me from behind, or attacks me quickly, before I can get my gun out.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      And I’d bet you’d ‘protest strongly’ if some idiot was trying to take your gun. That Krav Maga is good stuff. Pretty practical and very efficient.

      Some folks are too old or infirm to study a discipline like that but for the rest of the folk such martial arts / combatives training is invaluable.

    • I wish I was close for some Krav Maga classes but would have to drive 100 miles to the closest one. Due to my age would prefer that to some other martial art that would take years to learn.
      That being said I have been in some situations in my life and my philosophy is to HIT HARD, HIT FAST , and take the threat out. If someone thinks they are going to push or slap me around then they are in for a big suprise. I don’t belive in any play fighting and I will bite, kick and take out any body part I can get, I have put some big guys on the ground with a kick to the inside of the knee , or a kick in the balls and have no shame about fighting like a girl, in my opinion there is no honor in fighting and only survival and protecting you and yours.. Of course avoiding it in the first place is the best option .

      • george,
        Fighting like a girl? There is IMO no such thing. Also keep in mind that the victor always writes the history, so the story is whatever you want it to be.

  16. Good stuff, SurvivorDan! Just purchased my first firearm last evening at my friendly neighborhood Cabelas—a Smith and Wesson .38. Planning to take a class and invest in some range time before moving on to the next addition to my home defense.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Great Pete! Don’t skimp on the holster and a strong belt.
      My friend (new to handguns) recently spent $550 on a Glock, $220 for practice and carry ammo and $150 for basic and practical firearms classes. And only $12 on a holster. Despite my protestations, he put the holster on to carry his weapon in. I tore the holster (and his belt) for him. I did it out of love.

      • SD:
        Reminds me of the guys who would spend $600 on a rifle and $50 on a scope and rings.

        I was working in a sports shop when Wal-Mart and Winchester put a package together, rifle and scope. One of the calibers was 7mm Rem Mag. These guys would buy it 2 weeks before hunting season, then being it in an say they were having problems getting it to group. Scope was too cheap for that caliber. Told them they should spend about $100 and get a decent scope. They would want me to send their scope in, give them a loaner until it came back, and rezero it for them. I would have done all that if they had taken my initial advise and bought a Sightom S-1 (they had a great warranty). I had to send them back to Wal-Mart, and they were mad at me.

        Quality ALWAYS pays!

      • Just my $0.02 worth on belts. I spent $50-60 on a Blade-Tech tactical belt quite a few years ago and have never regretted it. It’s constructed of a sandwich of two pieces of leather and an inner piece of Kydex. It doesn’t stretch and at 1.5 inches in width it doesn’t flex, even with a firearm, dual magazine holster, and cellphone attached. Spent the money on quality and it will serve you well in the long term.

  17. SD,
    Very nice job. Excellent information but even more importantly, look at the response. You now have everyone thinking about how to avoid and, failing that, how to respond to a threat.

    You keep “parley my little-old-Chinaman image”. I’ll continue to be the old man slowly limping down the road. If we should get caught out in the open we’ll see how many we can catch in the crossfire. Yes sir, “a little treachery… indeed”. MSgt

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Thanks Master Sergeant.
      Hopefully, the miscreants will have the sense to surrender to the sneaky old bastards.

      • That is how we survived long enough to be sneaky old bastards. Twenty plus years Security Police (USAF version of infantry) and eleven years Loss Prevention Manager for an armored car company traveling around the country recovering money people (mostly employees) stole from the company. It has been a fun ride. Just got to figure out want to do next. Damn, where are my meds? MSgt

  18. I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to run first, fight second. I’ve been accused of being a coward because I would rather find a way out even if it means taking a few licks to get there. It’s better to be a little bruised than a lot broken. However, make no mistake, if I’m pushed into defending myself I will not stop until one of us is dead. I will not run the risk that my assailant will be able to recover and come after me again. I have a very long fuse but it’s attached to a very large powder keg.

    • Novice,

      When I was younger I loved a good fight, walked around most of the time with bruised, cut knuckles. But Now that I’ve gotten older I try not to use my knuckles as much. An extendable baton works much better LOL.

      • MD, your response is a lot like mine would be, no more bruised knuckles nor broken fingers and never hit anyone in the head with less than a brick. Years ago we were taught defensive moves against guard dogs and it was quite interesting to watch the expression on a new dogs face when he leaped up to knock you down and the backstep or sidestep left him falling on his face to be finished off with a good hard kick. This was taught to us way back in 1958 when guarding the missiles from Alabama to Florida.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        I would venture it takes a lot of nonsense to happen before you break out that baton MD.

        • SurvivorDan.

          Yep. Not that I care one bit to beat the crap out of some punk that needs it – I just don’t like all of the legalities afterwards. So I keep the baton collapsed unless pushed.

          • worrisome says:

            The whole baton thing has led to me to think a bit differently about my knee surgery……..I think perhaps once I am off crutches, I will be looking into a cane “with benefits”……keep one in my car and one here at home.l No one looks at older people with canes as dangerous………..hmmmmmmmmmmmm

            • worrisome,

              Canes make great weapons that you can take anywhere – MARTIAL CANE CONCEPTS – A Realistic System of Walking Stick Self Defense

            • worrisome says:

              Thanks MD, it is ordered. Although I want to get my knee back to nearly 100%……..walking and running at will, I think this may be a nice addition to my hikes on the mountain.

            • SurvivorDan says:

              Exactly so worrisome. When I was younger I was paranoid (what a shock, huh?) that airport security would look askance at my cane with suspicion but they never paid any heed.
              As I approach sixty they are very considerate about my ‘need’ to use the cane to balance properly. You’ll be just another older guy with a walking aid. A resin impregnated, bamboo fiber, weighted head, fighting cane. 😉

            • SurvivorDan says:

              I keep a cane in every vehicle.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      “I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to run first, fight second.” Novice

      Agreed. As a civilian, I am happiest if I can simply walk away. I have nothing to prove to some combative idiot. I’ve taken a lot of guff in my time and turned the other cheek.

  19. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Good article. Some of us are more likely to be victims than others. A young, strong, athletic male becomes an easy mark when he has wife and child with him. I am former military, took martial arts, carry a firearm (practice at least weekly), pepper spray and few other weapons because I am a handicapped female in my golden years. I no longer am able to practice ma technics and by the time I found the pepper spray in the bottom of my purse, took it out of the sheath, turned the nozzle and pumped, I’d be dead. Reminds me of an elderly lady who chased off a grizzly bear that was attacking her husband by swinging binoculars by the strap and repeatedly striking the bears nose. Keeping a cool head and just actingg is often the best defense. Sometimes the best defense is doing nothing.

  20. recoveringidiot says:

    Good work here SD. I have need to get off my butt and train more. I too believe that if a person pays attention to whats going on around them they can avoid or preempt most violent encounters outside the home. Once I was exiting a China mart near Christmas time, nearly dark and my vehicle was deep in the lot. I saw two guys start paralleling me a couple rows over and neither had a cart or bags in hand and they were watching me like hawks, I was pushing a cart with a TV in it and I think they wanted the TV or more. As I got to my vehicle I just stopped the cart and turned toward them with my right hand sweeping my coat back. They both turned and ran. I won’t carrying that day but you can bet I was from then on. At the very least a “pocket rocket” if not my main carry piece.

    Two home invasions near me last week, one only two houses away. That one was a jilted lover attacking the ladies new guy and he brought friends to the party. They managed to knock the young man around some until he managed to get hold of his shotgun and run them off with a couple shots. Nobody killed just some black eyes and bruises.

    The second was in the next town over. A minister answers the door and two black guys push him inside and start beating him. His wife starts screaming she’s calling the cops and the thugs start after her. Husband promptly tries to stop them and get shot in the chest for his effort and dies in the hospital later. This was in a “nice” neighborhood. The same neighborhood had another home invasion some months back but the woman that was home holed up in the bathroom and called 911. The two idiots were caught red handed trying to force their way into the bathroom she was barricaded inside.

    I keep my home protection close and if someone knocks on the door they really need to let me know who they are quick.

  21. SurvivorDan says:

    Good awareness and fine bluff RI.

    When some close friend or family member asks why I always (ALWAYS) carry, I tell them that the day I am in too much of a hurry or can’t be bothered is the day something bad will go down. It might not even be directed at me but I would feel badly that I can’t do more to defend the victim(s).

    And I would feel like a jackass to allow myself to be victimized…..without having used all my claws and teeth.

    Jeez…I creep myself out sometimes. Lol.

    • SD:
      I had an incident in Boston several years ago. A friend and I were walking east on our side of the road (2 lane city street). A “tough” and his buddies (4-5 of them, I forget as they were non-players) were going the other way, the leader looked over at us and stepped off the curb toward us. I unbuttoned my coat and rolled my shoulders, looking him in the eye. He stepped back up on the curb and went on about his business. My friend said “What was that all about?” I told him “I just told him it wasn’t worth the trip.” He looked a bit puzzled, but the other guy got the message loud and clear.

    • Col David Grossman (who wrote, “On Killing”, “On Combat”, and “On Sheep, WOlves, and Sheepdogs”) teaches a seminar called The Bulletproof Mind and talks about the mindset of the sheepdog. If you have a carry permit and the skill to carry, he asks that you do only one thing. If you are leaving home and have made the decision to leave the firearm behind, then on the way out the door you should look in the mirror and say, “Baaa”. It’s an effective technique.

  22. I’m in a state where carrying a weapon is verboten. This causes you to increase your situational awareness much like a deer or duck must to make up for their lack of weapons.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      I assume by weapon you mean a firearm, J.
      Perhaps pepper spray or an extendable baton unless you live in a place like NYC where they are verboten or hard to get a permit for. There are other relatively innocuous looking items you can use to defend yourself. A lightweight sturdy cane, a kubotan on a keychain, two steel pens, a couple of smallish knives, a Gerber multi-tool (it can be an exigent circumstances weapon), a tactical light with impact bezels (65+ lumens) and a steel water bottle on a lanyard. I carry all of these and more (but the water bottle) hidden on my person every day and I have a small frame. As to legality: I get on planes with everything but the knives without any problem. Adapt and overcome. And of course, situational awareness is the first line of defense. Good luck buddy.

  23. i hesitate to tell this because its quite embarrassing. ive read this post and these comments all day and several times i almost wrote this and then stopped. but,,, maybe my embarrassment will help to put a little light on just how quickly violence can visit you. this is a long one so you might want to get comfortable. 2 weeks ago i started a new job. it was long hours and grueling hard work bu the pay was commensurate to the amount effort the job required. my second night on the job, i was approached by a coworker. he warned me that the drivers where on a work slowdown and i should his eyes if you worked less,you could extort a raise from the employer. i told him i was going to put my best effort into the job and nothing less. days went by and he continued to harass me about slowing down and he also began to make threats to assault me. the threats continued for 2 weeks and for 2 weeks i continued to work in such a fashion that agrees with my ethics. on the 7th of august in center texas this man told me he had all he was gonna take of me not participating in the slowdown and was going back the yard and beat my ***.it took 2 hours to get from center tx to arcadia Louisiana and i pulled into the yard and up to the fuel pumps to fuel my truck. since i work nights and go onto remote well sites far out in the woods,i carried a pistol in my pocket because the wild hogs are a real danger in texas. i got out of my truck to fuel and i watched the guy out of the corner of my eye to see what his intentions where. i became satisfied that he had calmed down in the 2 hour drive and went about my business of fueling up the truck.i was nearly done fueling and had given up completely being concerned about the guy when i was suddenly struck on the back of the head. when i turned around he hit me two more times in the face. im a huge fat guy and i have asthma that just totally incapacitates me when i cross what i call the threshold of exertion. when i cross that,im in distress and have to take hits off my inhaler and wait for it to take i knew the only way i was going to stop the attack was to pull the pistol out of my pocket and see if he would stop before i shot him,or try to get a hold of his shirt so i could hit him without having to chase him.ive had a few fights in my life and i know im capable of knock out punches,but the set up has to be just right. well it turns out that he no longer wanted to assault me now that i was faceing him and prepared to defend myself. i didnt need to take the gun out of my pocket because now all he wanted to do was yell how bad he was from to far away for me to get a hold of him. since i didnt get the satisfaction of getting to give him a couple back,i called the police and they came in just about 2 minutes,scooped up mr work slowdown and carried off to the pokey. if i had hit him back the police told me i would have had to go to jail to till they could corroborate my need for self defense. the next day the owner of the compant told me company policy was to fire both people involved in a fight. so here i am, embarrassed because i let my guard down and let my self get hit from behind. embarrassed because at the age of 52, and with all ive learned about people and bullies,i still couldnt find some way to appease this guy and get him to leave me alone so i could work and take care of my wife. embarrassed because i had to go and look for a job with a black eye.embarrassed because i was fired for the first time in my life. embarrassed because i still haven’t found work. this article was written for me. i don’t believe in coincidences. i keep asking God what i was supposed to learn from this and i think the answer is, never think because you can make people laugh or because you aren’t looking for trouble and don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize your life or families well being,that you are immune from matter how hard you try to be the gray man,violence can and will find you and you should never turn your back on someone who is not stable mentally. great article Survivor Dan! definitely something everyone should give some deep thought . we are living in dangerous times.

    • bctruck,

      That is awful, that you got fired for doing the right thing and working hard for the company. And even worse that you got fired even through you did not fight back. Were on company time?

      • I was on company time and I’ve since gone and beged for my job back after axplaining that I was assaulted,not engaged in a fight. I had no way of avoiding it other than giving in and participating in a slowdown or quitting altogether. They would not hire me back. I’ve gone back to the company iquit them for and even though I left under good circumstances,they have a hiringfreeze and can’t take me back either. I’m screwed!!!

        • worrisome says:

          BC How awful! The company’s policy needs to be tested! Please go talk to an atty. This was an assault, not a fight. You were doing an exemplary job for them, not doggin it. Often times middle management will take the “safe” way and not consult with their administration on things like this because they don’t want to rock the boat…………….Having an atty simply fly a letter over their heads may wake them up. There must have been some who knew of this guy’s instability. Also go to a dr. and take some pix of the injuries he inflicted. The atty may want that anyway.

          • BC, I agree with Worrisome. Sometimes you just gotta take a stand. You were assaulted, not in a fight. See what the attorney can do for you.

            You are in my prayers. It is this kind of thing that just gets my blood to boiling!

        • BC…read my other post…how can we help?? I mean it….

        • bc,
          Seems to me that they had a violent employee who attacked you on company property, and the company had no security in place to stop it. A simple letter from an attorney might change things in your favor.

          • OhioPrepper,

            That is a good idea and a good point – they had no security so the attack could be seen as the fault of the company.

            • bc & md,
              I’m not generally someone who wants to bring lawyers into the fight, but getting fired for being assaulted seems just a bit too harsh, and maybe border line illegal.

    • bc…so, so sorry that happened. I can relate to the part about being fired for the first time…that happened to me in my 50s too. It IS embarrassing! BUT…life goes on and you WILL be ok. You are a strong, caring, good person and you will be ok. I am so sorry.

      Can we help in some way? Do you or your wife have immediate needs we can help with? PLEASE let us know if so. I’m sure the Pack can and will help. I mean it. I needed help and someone offered from here, and it was hard to accept, but it got me through a really rough patch.

    • bctruck:
      I heard your story from your blog. I’ve seen something similar, but it was so long ago that I thought this kind of stuff was long gone. It pains me when I see people punished for working hard, kids put down because the get good grades or dress in clean/undamaged clothes. It’s like we are supposed to lower our personal standards because others are lazy and will stand out if we don’t emulate them.

      The only advise I have is that something better should come out of this. That didn’t sound like the place for you. Just hang in there.

    • village idiot says:


      I watched your youtube video and was aware of what happened to you. I really appreciate you coming here and relating your experience, and highlighting the weakness of the gray man strategy. Yes, it’s great not to call attention to yourself, but if you are around other people, you cannot always be a gray man no matter how hard you try. Being a gray man might just make people think you are a soft target. Again, thank you, and best wishes for the future. I’m hoping to join you in No. Arkansas as soon as I can, which may be another year if we last that long. Good luck.

    • recoveringidiot says:

      As bad as I hate to ask this, how about a lawyer? Sounds like unfair employment practice to me. I know the paperwork you sign at new hire has a lot of fine print and that can stop you from any legal action sometimes or even state labor laws but it might be something to look into. I’ll bet the lawyers won’t have any trouble telling you quick if you have standing or not.

    • …and I too meant to mention getting a lawyer. Wouldn’t hurt. And if money is tight, there are some who would do pro-bono for this type of thing.

    • Hunker-Down says:


      There is a lot of unfairness and cowardice in what happened to you. You have high standards, don’t lower them because of a tratorous attack and cowardice on the part of your bosses.
      I wish you were my neighbor.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Sorry buddy. Thanks for sharing the story. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. You were sucker punched. You had a firearm but as the attack did not continue, you did not shoot him. Rather than retaliate, you called the police. You did good.
      I hope you get a better job out of all this.

      • this reply is to answer all the comments to my comment. thanks for the support and kindness. my wife and i are good till the end of september. ive put the land i own across the street from my house,up for sale. i cunsulted a lawyer to day and he told me that louisiana,being a right to work state, places employers in a much better position when something like this happens. it makes it hard to prove wrongful termination or even negligence. he did tell me that my injuries (my hand being burned and my head being struck 3 times) would qualify me for some compensation and he is looking into it. in the mean time,if/when i sell the property,i will then sell my house. when its sold,i will the have enough money to pay cash for a small house and we are out of here and going to the desolate counties in north arkansas.

        • BC…good that you have some progress in dealing with this. Still tell us if there is anything we can do for you. This must be very stressful, and having the Pack to support ya can be helpful. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts.

  24. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Some of you men are strong enough to slug it out in UFC cage but most of us women and some men have to rely on our cunning. But just like you he-men cunning reguires training. Unless you have actually done something before you probably can’t effectively pull it off under pressure. So, practice, practice, practice, and have a bag of tricks. And SD, you are so right, if a person kills you he/she will kill again. So, you have a duty to stop it if you can. You will be saving others lives.

  25. SD,
    That is just getting back to basics and the survival instinct kicking in. Mama bear is not going put on a muzzle and tie one paw behind her back if a man runs unwittingly between her and her cub to make it a fair fight.

    Remember, paranoia is just another term for situational awareness. Don’t let it creep you out SD, your fine.

    That SD guy is a mean shit. He is starting to scare the crap out of me. Did I say that outloud? Where are those damn pills? MSgt

  26. JR from AR says:

    Great article SurvivorDan

    After reading all the responses I really have nothing to add except each of us need to be prepared the best we can in any way we can. I am constantly alert every where I go…Am I paranoid? Call it what you want but I believe if this day and age we live in, with the idiots popping up out around like weeds, I think it best to be prepared…I think it”s just practical. Good job!

    • JR +1. Recently I had a group of local women meet at my house and one questioned why I had extra locks on the door, stating that “We don’t have break-ins out here like in town”. I replied that even if that is true in her experience (she has lived here for 20 years), the world is changing and I want to be prepared. She blew that off with a statement of some kind about me being paranoid, which I ignored. After the meeting, two other women – who live out here – came up and asked me where I got the kind of lock I had put on the door. 🙂

      “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get ya”

      • SurvivorDan says:

        I relate MtWoman. I know I get laughed at behind my back (safest that way lol) but sometimes, in private, they start asking relative questions about prepping and self-defense.
        The scoffers (friends and family) in my life have occasionally been soooo grateful that I am prepared for most emergencies, especially when it affected them.
        Just as in law enforcement work. Some of the citizenry may sneer most of the time but not when you save their hide. 😉

  27. recoveringidiot says:

    Somewhat off topic, I’m shopping for another carry holster or two for a commander length 1911. My shape don’t help with IWB so I generally use OWB rig that holds the weapon high and with a forward cant. I don’t mind spending good money on quality rigs but its been years since I bought a carry holster and the choices are many. I have been looking at Dragon Leatherworks site, looks like they take some pride in what they do. I have a drawer full of Galco stuff and even a very old Sparks rig that I used for many years. I just have no experience with the new generation of makers. Any guidance is appreciated.

    • RI,
      I don’t use a holster much anymore. I just carry in my jacket pocket, cuts down draw time. Sure does screwup my jackets though. BG never sees it coming. There is my pills! MSgt

  28. RI:
    This is what I use:

    I called and ordered a PS6 in plain black leather. I now own 3 of these holsters and am going for a mid-ride for a 1911.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Have two Mernickle holsters. One for a Springfield A-1 and one (with a retention strap) for my Ruger Blackhawk 45LC. Quality holsters. The Ruger is my beloved trail gun and I have climbed over obstacles and fallen down embankments and into the drink. Still have the Ruger.

    • recoveringidiot says:

      JP, did you not like the high ride or just wanted the mid ride as well?
      thanks for the link, looks like quality leather.
      One more question, how do they hold up as far as reholstering goes?

      • recoveringidiot:

        The high-ride worked very well. Personal preference has me going with the mid ride. I have to say, I was concerned that a full sized 1911 would “tip-out”, it was not.

  29. i sell dirt says:

    Having 11 years le experience I agree with this post 100%. The afterthought is being able to articulate to the authorities why your actions were needed. If you can’t do that and end up in jail….well…..I’d rather be dead than in jail

  30. Thank you for a great article, SD! Relevant on so many points. Sometimes we just get plain lazy when we should be paying more close attention. It is those times when SHTF. I KNOW I should never leave the house without carrying. But I am not happy with carrying in my purse, although I do have a good purse for it. I want to be able to carry on my person. But I am short, overweight and hate stuff tight around my waist. Should I just get over that, or is there a better solution?

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