Do you have a magic “keep you safe” talisman?

Neither do I. The older I get, the more I have to fight the urge to ridicule keyboard kommandos who think “prepping” is all about guns and gear and a case of MREs. I try to suppress the urge because I despise hypocrisy in all its forms and especially when I’m the hypocrite. And the truth is I was a proto-keyboard kommando: I was into “guns and gear” prepping long before keyboards – and preppers – became so ubiquitous. Yes! I was a faithful follower of Father Mel Tappan. I wore out my copy of Survival Guns in a way that would have made a Christian quite proud if it were his Bible. I was … a dumbass. And I kept it up for far longer than was wise.

These days, of course, in some ways I’m safer than you. I don’t worry about college kids rioting, or terrorism, or street crime, or even much government. I carry guns mostly just because I like guns. I’d be sufficiently armed against the worst animals likely to threaten me with just a good handgun and a .22. There’s not a lot of danger from people here.

Normally. Exceptions are possible. There’s at least one group nearby in the west, and scattered lowlifes farther away in the east, that will be nobody’s friend if bad times come. And – probably unlike you – I do know one man who lived not three miles from this spot, a smelly hermit like myself, who was murdered in his bed at night.

There were all sorts of rumors about the reason: This fellow wasn’t the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. Maybe he pulled one too many sharp deals (he did things like that.) Maybe somebody went after the roll of bills he was said to flash around. (He apparently did that, too.) When they caught the killer, though, it turns out he killed this guy for no good reason at all: The kid was a psycho, our very own homegrown serial killer. He had quite a few notches before the cops caught on to him; they had to dredge the local reservoir for the bodies.

So random violence isn’t impossible. And it’s not like I can just call a cop to come save me from that noise in the hedges.

I thought about that guy for a long time. When I first lived here alone I was a little paranoid about tourists and trespassers. So when I wanted a handier rifle than my M1A, which had not proven very useful in practice, I went looking for something that I imagined would help people to ask themselves…


“How crazy is this guy, anyway?”

Never used it to shoot anything but feral dogs, and to be honest there are better guns for that. In fact it’s been ten years since anybody disturbed my peace, and that wasn’t something that could be resolved very well with an AK. But I still have it…


The furniture has evolved somewhat but it’s still loaded and close.

I thought about the topic this morning on my rounds. I carry a handgun but this time of year it’s not very handy under a thick hoodie and a thicker coat. I go through this every early winter: First I try a separate gunbelt, which is a colossal pain in the ass, and then I just sling my carbine. It’s not pretty but it’s what I’ve got and it goes bang. Anyway, I kind of like it: It’s not anything like a rifleman’s rifle but my eyes aren’t rifleman’s eyes. Here it’s a pretty okay peasant’s rifle, and so it’s right at home. I’m a pretty okay peasant.

I hope I’ve also grown wiser than to think that a rifle on the wall is a magic “keep you safe” talisman. I remember that guy shot through a window in his own bed. His guns didn’t help him. One person alone can’t defend his own sleep. To be honest it’s one reason I liked the loft. So while the bedroom might be marginally less secure in that regard, blackout curtains ensure that nobody will bullseye me through a window at night. And the doors are locked during the day when I’m gone (ever since Little Bear died: I pitied the foolish stranger who came in while he was alive) and barred when I’m sleeping at night. It’s not proof against everything, but it’s enough to wake me up. And I practice the wise advice of the wise old man, Lazarus Long:

“Place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.”

And maybe that sounds extreme. Most days and nights, it is. Most nights I could sleep naked on the porch in perfect privacy and security, weather permitting. Probably that dead guy would have considered it extreme; he omitted precautions I consider routine. I know that, even though I didn’t run with him, because that’s what killed him.

There are lots of little rules, developed over years. Like, get to know your neighbors and make what allies you can. Also, never tell the whole truth about such things to anyone who doesn’t need to know it. [/wink]

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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13 Responses to Do you have a magic “keep you safe” talisman?

  1. Winston Smith says:

    That by far is my favorite Heinlein quote. It was an ah-HA moment when I first read it.

    Have you thought about a drop leg holster for winter wear? As tacticool and stupid as they look, they can be quite functional at times.

  2. Joel says:

    Yeah, that’s really what they’re for I guess. I get a kick out of militia wannabes who wear them without armor or load bearing gear. But I never saw one that didn’t look uncomfortable for walking or running. And anyway I usually carry a revolver, and don’t know if anybody makes one for revolvers.

  3. Norman says:

    Ever looked at shoulder rigs? Good ones are spendy, and they do require going up ~ one size on jackets. I got one a number of years ago when I started living in the car during days, got used to it quickly, and have stuck with it ever since, still use it in retirement. It keeps the gun handy, although not quite as handy as a hip holster and does require a “period of fussiness” to get the holster and mag carrier adjusted just right to position them where they’re comfortable and work best.

    If you go that route, strongly consider adding tie-downs, especially on the gun side; with a zipper-style jacket it’s not critical (it is with a suit jacket or sport coat), but it will hang forward when moving around jacketless and get in the way. It’s protected from the environment by a jacket or over-shirt, hidden from view, and when tied down stays out of your way when working.

  4. Claire says:

    “When they caught the killer, though, it turns out he killed this guy for no good reason at all: The kid was a psycho, our very own homegrown serial killer.”

    The kid was definitely a psycho and a serial killer. But as I recall, he also fancied himself to be a civic improver. He was ridding the area of “bad people.”

    I remembered seeing the “Have you seen this boy?” poster for his final victim, a thuggish teenager whose body was yet to be found. My first reaction upon looking at the photo was, “Who’d want him back?”

    Never seemed to occur to him that a serial killer might not be anybody else’s idea of “good.”

  5. Howard says:

    I favor a button front coat with a cross draw holster for my revolver in winter weather. If you need it you can open the bottom couple of buttons. An over jacket with a two way zipper that can be opened from the bottom works too.

  6. Howard says:

    Oh! Five dogs in the house so I don’t think any one could get in without time for me to reach for a handy gun, including a maruding bear. So far we have had two buildings broken into but not the house.

  7. laurab69 says:

    Get thee the Hill People Gear Kit Bag. Best winter attire carry option, IMHO. I added their lifter and stabilizer options so it can mount on pack straps. Very well made stuff so don’t get too down at the cost…
    http://www.hillpeoplegear.com/Products/CategoryID/1

  8. Robert says:

    Joel: I like the way you think. And L. Lazarus had the right idea, too. I’m not paranoid, just, um, ready-ish.

    Claire: “Who’d want him back?” You funny!

    I had signed the rental deal for housing before seeing the refrigerator pic of a thuggish-looking guy.
    “Um. Who is that?”
    “Oh, the sheriff came by handing those out. He’s a registered sex offender.”
    “Nearby?”
    “Um…yeah.”
    And my roomie asks why I lock my bedroom door at night. Jeez.

  9. Andrew says:

    Have you considered one of those stupid-looking chest holsters that are popular in places where Winter is Strong (like Alaska and Canada?)

  10. Will says:

    I would suggest a VERTICAL shoulder rig. Especially good if carrying a hogleg of reasonable heft. The vertical orientation allows you to reach into the top of your heavy coat and reach the gun. Much warmer as you don’t have to leave the coat completely unbuttoned/zipped for access. If it has a spring body retention system that doesn’t allow the gun to be drawn straight upward without a major fight, look elsewhere. This may depend on the fit of your particular gun, so a retention system is not an automatic failure in selection.

    If the single sided weight bothers you, or the added bulk is noticeable, make it a double sided rig. The typical dual speedloader pouch is sort of worthless for balance. Consider adding pouches below or above them to carry a knife or two, or a multi-tool, a first aid kit, water flask, BUG, rifle mag, more speedloaders, whatever.

  11. anonymous says:

    Maybe a tanker’s rig. The vertical holster placed on your off shoulder, slightly towards arm but where the front shirt pocket is. Easy to get to (with your primary hand) and doesn’t have to be expensive either.

  12. Mike says:

    This whole second guessing oneself for taking the extra step of being armed is silly. Yes the risk is very low but there is still a risk. Given that it would be a little longer than a couple of minutes for the cops to show up after calling 911 carrying is the prudent thing to do.

    What anonymous said about the tanker holster might not be such a bad idea. Adding to the advantages already listed, keeping the Taurus out of the elements is a plus for function and reliability.

  13. Paul B says:

    If you get one of the guide holsters get one that carries in front the one under the arm pit can dump the gun two easy.

To the stake with the heretic!