Reader question: Survival strategies without firearms

A question came in from a British ex-pat living in Taiwan:

Everyone, every blog and every site I read (especially in English) always talks about self defense and using arms but what if you had none?

Everyone talks about bug out locations and protection through the use of arms but what if on route they were confiscated by the authorities and you found yourself unprepared with none?

I myself have a little place away from populated areas here in Taiwan and am fully conscious of the fact that if the laws break down and you are on your own, it’s gonna be hard.

Now I am about as removed as I can be BUT on an island like Taiwan which is heavily populated it’s impossible to be that far away from anyone looking for food or a place to hide.

So with that in mind and NOT having the availability of any arms, maybe as a question to your clearly wise audience “How would you defend yourself? Hide? Stand? Fight?”

This is also tough as there would be some weapons but not for all the masses and as a British Guy living in an Asian country blending in is not an option.

When faced with a violent aggressor or pissed off mob, there are two time-tested strategies - fight or avoid the trouble altogether.

On fighting:
In terms of fighting, there's an old saying - "God made men, but Sam Colt made men equal." Firearms are the great equalizer - a dude can outweigh you by a hundred pounds of muscle...doesn't much matter when put a couple rounds into his chest.

If guns are removed from the equation, you've got to do everything you can to stack the deck in your favor. Physical training, combatives and martial arts - that sort of thing.

Even still - when faced with multiple aggressors, even a skilled, fit combatant is at a disadvantage...especially if those multiple aggressors are armed and you're not.

And attackers almost always come armed, and they almost always travel in packs.

Never fight fair. Minimize any advantage an attacker might have. You'll want to be armed, and you'll want to have friends who are armed. The more the merrier.

If you don't have allies at your back, all the more reason to have something more than your fists and feet, even just to hit and run from trouble.

Even in a state that fears private ownership of modern firearms, there are usually still lots of options for weapons.

Black powder or air powered firearms are sometimes option.

Bows, crossbows and sling shots are all rarely banned and simple to make with basic tools or a trip to the hardware shop. They give you some range and can be deadly as hell.

The spear has been man's go-to melee weapon for a long time, and if you can't buy one, they are simple enough to make from natural or man made materials.

Machetes, bolos, parangs and similar blades are ubiquitous outdoor tools and can make nasty weapons, especially with some training added to the mix.

Blunt instruments - hammers, sticks, bats and so on are also an option. Outlawed exactly nowhere.

Knives of all shapes and sizes are everywhere and conceal easily.

And so on...lots of options out there. Training is key to effectively using them.

On Avoidance:
The survival blog-sphere honestly doesn't hit on avoidance enough. It's the true bread-n-butter of surviving in hostile territory.
If you can bug out before trouble comes to your door, do it. You've got to be ready to move and move quickly. Especially for an expat living abroad, evac'ing from trouble is usually the best bet.

Get out of the country and on a plane/boat to Europe, Singapore, Australia, etc. Yep, it might suck to leave property and possessions behind...but, it's just stuff.

If you can't but out of the trouble zone and you feel you're in danger of attack, then hide. 
If you remain in your home, make it look abandoned, already ransacked and not worth anyone's time. Build a hidden room, dig a spider hole, develop a concealed exit. If trouble comes knocking, you hide or bug out.
Outside of your home, take a page from the book of military snipers. Camouflage, ghillie suits and constructing hide sites. With some basic materials and a lot of skill, one can virtually disappear.
Build early warning systems - alarms and traps - and keep a watchful eye for trouble.

If the bad guys can't find you, they can't hurt you. If they do find you, you attack, break contact and run/hide again.

As an alternative, if you can't hide, then make yourself look like you're not worth the trouble involved. That could be looking like you have absolutely nothing of value - just another impoverished survivor (or worse - a sick/dying survivor). Or, you could grab the baddest looking airsoft machine gun and tactical gear available and hope the bad guys figure you're Rambo and would kill them all if they looked at you sideways.

Anyways, those are some of the basics - hope it helps. 

Tribe - feel free to jump in with your thoughts and suggestions as well.


Overnight kit

Reworked the overnight bag to a light, grab-n-go sub-load to toss into a bag if/when needed. Contained in an Eagle Creek Pack-It Cube:

T-shirt and skivvies, ranger rolled for compactness
Merino wool hiking socks
Gym shorts
Toiletry kit with toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

Simple, practical and inexpensive to throw together...clothes you've got lying around. Just pick 'em out and set 'em aside.


Patchers, stickers - sold out!

Well, our inventory of apocalyptic swag got cleared out faster than expected. Good work!

We're in the process of getting stuff restocked and maybe get some more variety to add to the mix.

Ultimately, I'd love to be able to expand this side of what we do and offer a bunker full o' fun stuff and hard-to-find gear. Certainly baby steps for us along that path here--Thanks for your support!


Kickstarters - Hoss and Capricorn Tool

Two Kickstarters by good dudes that I wanted to put out on the airwaves.

The Hoss' American Militia
We're Hoss fans over here, and he's getting fairly close to funding the project with 9 days left.


And hey, if you have $10k lying around to throw Hoss' way, he'll come visit you and let you buy him dinner! I'd figure Hoss-a-Bossa could pick up the tab for some Denny's Grand Slams, but hey. He may even let you lend him your couch to sleep on!

Capricorn Pocket Tool
Next up is a project by a reader who has been following T-blog since the pocket survival kit contest way back when. Pretty cool little pocket bling, the Capricorn Pocket Tool:

The Capricorn Pocket Hook is a titanium design that weighs less than three quarters. Its main purpose is as a keychain dangler. The three hooks (main hook, pocket clip, and shallow hook) allow keys to be suspended in a variety of ways. Furthermore, the hooks also lend themselves to other uses, such as carrying bags, lifting hot dutch ovens, attaching items to backpacks, and more. The Capricorn is equipped with a bottle opener and a slot to drive 1/4" hex bits. At only $17 for the standard early bird option, we feel it's an economical way to augment one's EDC.

They're just over halfway to their goal with 12 days left. Check it out here:


Bag Dump - July '14

As promised, my current EDC bag dump.

The bag is a Camelbak Urban Assault, going on 4 years old. Still lookin' good, no rips tears or busted zippers. Excellent bag, with a dedicated laptop pocket and lots of useful internal pockets. The gear pictured goes into admin pockets, leaving the main compartment wide open for whatever I might need.

The bag's contents are a mix of daily-use items, snivel gear and lightweight contingency kit. Doesn't weigh much, provides some good capability and keeps oft used items at hand.

Contents after the jump:


Review: Streamlight Sidewinder Compact II

The Streamlight Sidewinder Compact II is about as versatile as you can get. The four color modes (white light, blue, red, IR), each with five brightness levels (low, med 1, med 2, high, beacon) is cool but not particularly impressive. What is impressive is the Sidwinder's ability to run off three different types of batteries - CR123A, AA or AAA.

Yep, you read that right. It can run off of any of those battery types. Streamlight doesn't advertise AAAs working, but they most certainly do. The single cell battery compartment is smartly designed to expand/contract to fit the cell size - it's spring loaded, so it adjusts automatically when you slip a different cell in. And it actually works, too.