Many preppers who aren’t “gun people” have a gun or two for home protection or for the inevitable time when the SHTF. We have one in our home. To be honest, though, I haven’t gotten it out nearly enough.

The shotgun is a good choice for home defense. Why? It’s powerful, easy to operate, and the sound of a shell going into a chamber will put fear into the hearts of most anybody. They can be used against people and animals pretty equally. The different loads of ammunition make it possible to take game from very small squirrels to a large deer. Knowing this is a good part of making your shotgun most useful in a survival situation. Of course, it also helps to have a variety of ammunition types on hand.

For example, if you’re after quail, you want a shotgun load that’s going to give a lighter, wider load pattern. A squirrel or a duck on the wing needs a tighter load pattern. A large target (a man or a bear) demands a load pattern that is going to be tight and hit with more force.

Birdshot uses very small pellets and is so named because it’s useful for hunting birds. The size of the shot is given as a number or letter–with the larger number the smaller the shot size. Buckshot uses medium to large pellets. A slug is a single projectile. To use this, it must be aimed very carefully from fairly close range.

Buckshot is generally the best for home defense, because its larger size shot (pellets) is going to pack a more painful punch and be more effective against larger targets.

Whatever type of shotgun you have, practice just as you would with a handgun. Because the gun is larger and likely needs to be aimed more carefully, practice with a shotgun for hunting and self-defense is equally as important as for a handgun. Make sure you know how to load and manipulate the gun quickly, in low light, and at close range. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The kukri (pronounced koo-kree) is an intimidating curved blade knife/weapon that originates in Nepal.

Shown below is a photo of a a traditional kukri, along with a secondary knife commonly carried along with the kukri, and a sharpening tool. The kukri’s main feature is the curved blade that resembles a machete. It also has a notch in the bottom of a blade, which helps blood, or whatever, drip off the blade rather than run down and make the handle slick. If the kukri is used as a weapon, it can catch another blade on that spot. The notch also is said to have some symbolic meaning in that it resembles a cow’s foot.

Kukri knife from the author's collection. Nóż kukri z kolekcji autora.
A Kukri (top) with the traditional Karda (middle) and Chakmak (bottom). The Karda is used as a utility knife and the Chakmak is a sharpening tool.

The blade of a kukri is typically 10 to 15 inches long. It hacks like a machete, is lightweight, and the bottom of the handle, because it’s typically flared out and wide, can be used as a hammer.

Modern kukris are, of course, similar but different.

Khold Khukri
Khold Khukri from

The knife shown above, with the green handle, has a 17-inch length with a 10.86 blade, so it’s right in line with the traditional knife. But as you can see, it’s quite different. The handle, rather than being wood, is fiberglass reinforced nylon. It doesn’t have that flared base, so this would likely not be an appropriate knife to use in the event that you needed to hammer in a nail.

If you drop this bright green knife in the grass, chances are you’ll be able to find it more easily than the traditional wooden handle. It still chops and is lightweight (this one weighs 1.54 pounds).

A kukri is originally designed to both be a well-balanced weapon but also to clear heavy brush. If that’s what you want one for, maybe you should get the traditional model.

Columbia River Knife and Tool has a reputation for taking designs from custom knife makers and manufacturing them at affordable prices while still maintaining a high level of quality. Their blades are used the world over by outdoorsmen, first responders and members of the military. We wrote about two of their new knives Shadowfox saw at SHOT Show just a few days ago.

One of CRKT’s more recent programs is Forged by War, which takes designs from military veterans and sells them with ten percent of profits going to the charity of that veteran’s choice. The program has received widespread praise for both the purpose and designs coming out. And for 2017, CRKT is bringing three new knives to the program that are sure to satisfy anyone from hunters to tactical professionals.


The Tecpatl is a push knife designed by Michael Rodriguez, a special operations veteran with more than two decades of experience. The blade is piece of SK5 carbon steel with a clip point black powder coat. The package comes with a Kydex sheath and clip for attaching to webbing. The blade instantly presents itself as a self-defense tool as well a work of art; laser engravings can be seen along the entire blade which are inspired by Rodriguez’s heritage and service. The charities that benefit from the Tecpatl are the Special Operations Care Fund and the George W. Bush Institute.


The CST is a first responder’s tool designed by Kelly Rodriguez. Using her experience as an Army medic, Rodriguez designed a tool that replaces trauma shears for stripping clothing away from a patient. I admit, I was skeptical of the design’s functionality until I saw the demonstration in the video below. The CST design has no moving parts and doesn’t require fine motor skills to operate. The blades are replaceable, so the operator can change them out when dull. The CST comes with a MOLLE compatible sheath, and CRKT also sells replacement blades. The charity benefiting from the CST is Operation One Voice.


The second Forged By War design by Austin McGlaun is a knife that excites me particularly due to my love for medium sized fixed blades. The Rakkasan is designed to be a utility blade and self defense tool for someone in harm’s way. The blade’s large G10 handle will hold solid even when wet or dirty. The blade is SK5 carbon steel with a big recurve belly that may even draw the eyes of hunters. The Rakkasan comes with a Kydex sheath with paracord for mounting. The charity benefiting from the Rakkasan is the Green Beret Foundation.

These are only the newest additions to the Forged by War Program by CRKT. To see the entire lineup, click here.

Image of Tecpatl knife from

There are a lot of reasons to love the invention of tactical pens. If you’re trying to figure out a good gift or stocking stuffer for someone in your life, consider a tactical pen. We got to test one out from UZI recently, the UZI Tactical Glassbreaker Pen ($22) and we think it’s just great. Here’s why.

It’s a smooth writing pen that is also a weapon.
Most of us carry a pen around with us on a daily basis. Women carry them in their purses. Men tuck them in their pockets. There’s always a pen or two in the car’s glovebox. With a tactical pen, no matter whether you’re in the grocery store or in line at the bank, you’ve got a weapon on you. The tactical pen is larger than a typical pen but still the same size and shape of a pen.

The Pen is compatible with Fisher space pen refills which write upside down or in the rain. It can write underwater, in zero gravity, and from below zero to practically the surface temperature of the sun.

It’s affordable.
While prices vary, this particular model is super affordable at only $22.

It’s a glass breaker.
This pen has an integrated glass breaker tip which could help you save someone’s life. Or your own. If you frequently drive around in vehicles that are not your own, this gives you a convenient way to get out of the car if you ever need to.

You can take it on airplanes.
When you’re traveling away from home, it can be a very vulnerable feeling to have to leave your weapons at home. When you get to your destination, you don’t have your EDC or survival gear on your person like you normally would, or your bug-out bag in your car like you normally would. The tactical pen gives you back some of that confidence.

You can carry them where you can’t take other EDC weapons such as knives.
In many workplace environments, guns and knives are not allowed. A tactical pen makes for a self-defense item that no workplace rules can take away from you. You can take a tactical pen into a courthouse, for instance.

It’s easy to hide.

These pens fit into a purse or pocket, suitcase, glovebox, lunchbox, or anywhere you might want to tuck a weapon that could be used as a punching tool. Tactical pens don’t appear as a weapon to most people. You can hold it in your hands and it is not obvious. This can give you the element of surprise in a self-defense situation.

It’s a good conversation starter.
The tactical pen looks enough like a pen that using one does not call attention to yourself. But, if you really look at it and think about it, a tactical pen looks different enough that people who are wondering about it might ask. It’s a great opening for a conversation about self-defense and to let the people around you know that you are not to be messed with.

It’s a jabbing tool.
Tuck it in your pocket and it’s not obvious like a knife or gun might be. It can make puncture wounds similar to a knife. It can gouge eyeballs better than fingers alone. It’s lightweight but solid enough that it can be held in the fist to support a punch.

It’s difficult to get taken away from you.
Tactical pens let you keep a tight grip on them. Because of the size and shape, they fit very well into your hand. It’s difficult for someone to pry your grip off a pen and take it away from you.

They are overlooked in pat-downs.
Because they are the same size and shape as a pen, they are easily overlooked if you are in a crowd such as a concert venue. It’s nice to know that you can retain a weapon just in case you ever need one.

There you go. 10 fantastic reasons to get the UZI Tactical Pen.

We’d love to give an Acme Crate of Doom as a Gift. Better yet, we’d love to GET one as a gift! Check out the amazing stuff in this thing. The crate contains 12 weapons spanning human cultural and social history. Seriously. you can get this crate delivered with a baseball bat, grappling hook, war club, mace, tire thumper, bullwhip, kukri, ninja sword, tomahawk, nunchucks, two-handed machete and a double bit axe. There is no one who wouldn’t think this box arriving on their doorstep wasn’t the coolest thing ever.

To sweeten the deal, the weapons arrive in a crate measuring 12 inches by 40 inches by 20 inches. When ordering, you can specify what you want your personalized locking combination to be, so that only you can open it. Purchase the Acme Crate of Doom for $500.

We became impressed with JHO’s Nug Knife and wrote about it a short while ago. That knife ended up selling our fairly quickly, but JHO now has a different model, the Lynx Knife, that would be a great gift.
The Lynx Knife is $90 and is available in either satin or stone-washed finish. The photos show satin finish. The Lynx is a fine quality card blade knife that fits right in your wallet at a size of 3.46 inches (88 mm) x 1.96 inches (50 mm) and a thickness of  .079 inches (2 mm). Even though it is narrow, it grips well. The Lynx blade is made with vacuum heat-treated CPM S35VN steel (HRC:58-60) used only in high-end production and custom knives. It ships worldwide for only an additional $10.

We love these kinds of knifes because they fit right in our wallets, which we always have with us. We don’t need to worry about putting it on or putting it in a backpack each day, it’s just always in the wallet in case we need it. Most people don’t think about card-sized knifes, so we don’t have to explain or show people that we are actually carrying a knife. The blade is useful for shaving, slicing or chopping, or self-defense in a pinch. Purchase the Lynx knife by JHO for $90.

Having some basic survival essential items with you when you’re outdoors is a must and the key to outdoor success. The items you have with you should provide for your basic needs while out and about, both while things are going according to plan and when things get hairy. But the 10 essentials are the bare necessities and a good kit should carry you above and beyond the minimum requirements. Here, we’ll discuss what you should add to your outdoor kit if you haven’t done so already.

First, as a refresher, here’s the 10 essential survival items and what they are comprised of. Take note, a cell phone is not considered an essential.

  1. Navigation (map and compass, GPS with extra batteries),
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/ferro rod and striker)
  7. Repair kit and tools (tape, patching, thread, etc.)
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter (tarp, emergency blanket, bivy sack)

These items can get you to where you need to go and also get you out alive if something goes wrong. But there are some things to add that can aid in your endeavors whether it’s a day hike or a week-long trip.

  • Knife – This can be a fixed blade or a strong folder. This will help you with anything from building shelter, preparing firewood or self-defense. I prefer a fixed blade over anything and will also carry a folder at times. I don’t carry an axe or hatchet due to personal preference. A multitool of some kind will also aid you in making repairs to clothing, sewn gear and hardware. As with any addition to your kit, take weight into consideration when packing.
  • Communication – A cell phone will do as long as it’s only used for communication and not navigation, photography or light. Battery life can drain quickly if the phone is used for anything other than emergency communication. Consider an extra power source or solar charger for extended trips. If you’re far in the backcountry and cell service is out of the question, an emergency locator beacon can be a good way to alert emergency teams to your position. Satellite phones are also an option, albeit an expensive one.
  • Cordage – A good length of 550 paracord can aid in several of the 10 essential systems. The individual strands can be used for fishing line if needed as well as for sewing up torn items. 550 cord can also be used to securely rig a tarp shelter or tie a debris shelter together against an anchor.
  • Water Purification – If your water runs out, you may need more in order to make it out of a survival situation. Not taking proper care of your water will leave you exposed to illness. Carry at least one method of purifying and cleaning water whether it’s a chemical treatment, UV light or cook pot for boiling.
  • Add your own! Your adventure will require its own equipment. Take a look at your kit and see what can be added to help you in the outdoors. Let us know in the comments what you consider your essential survival items.

I’m a big fan of fixed blade knives. I carry one hiking (a Gerber Prodigy in case you’re wondering) and it’s an essential part of my SAR mission kit. They’re handy for anything from prying to cutting rope and webbing. They also serve well for survival tasks such as shelter building and  fire making.

There are situations however when a larger blade is called for. While utility knives with blades from three to six inches can accomplish these chores, larger and heavier blades can perform them more efficiently and for longer periods of time. They are also needed for winter survival situations where more wood is needed for larger fires and more durable, insulated shelters. Large survival knives and axes are often the tools of choice for such tasks.

But which one do you use?

Axes are tried and true outdoor tools. As the years go by, designs have been improved and revamped for bushcrafting and tactical applications. Different companies and designers will offer radically different options. Some hatchets and tomahawks will be for outdoor and survival use while others tailored for prying, breaching and combat.

Axes offer some distinct advantages. They are heavy and the mass behind the blade allows for good chopping to make kindling. Choking up on the head gives better control for finer tasks such as tinder preparation. Some hatchets will have secondary blades behind the primary edge specifically for detailed work.

There are downsides to consider. The head-heavy nature of axes requires care as they can be difficult to control when chopping. Safe use requires proper stance as well as placement of whatever the user is cutting. Another disadvantage is the cumbersome nature of the tool. While finer tasks can be done for fire making and shelter building, food preparation and other detailed work may require a small knife to achieve even for experienced users.

Large Survival Knives
I define a large survival knife as a knife with a blade that is between eight inches and twelve inches long and 3/16 of an inch thick or greater. These knives are shorter, but thicker and than most machetes and usually have a harder steel.

Large survival knives can accomplish a large variety of tasks from shelter building to food preparation when properly handled. They can chop wood as well as split kindling using a batoning technique. Some knives are made with finger choils that allow the hand to be placed forward closer to the blade for fine tasks.

Some also allow the user to easily lash the knife make a spear if the situation calls for it. Knives also tend to be lighter than hatchets and tomahawks.

There are some disadvantages to the large knives. Safety is an obvious issue when it comes to chopping and tasks where your body is close to the blade. Another common issue is quality and construction. Ergonomics are incredibly important in the handle and some manufacturers create handle shapes that create quick fatigue in the hand during use.

Which big blade to put in your outdoors or survival kit is up to you. Be sure to choose a good manufacturer and that the steel and sheath are both strong. Also consider your current set of skills and how well you will be able to use the tool to accomplish your tasks in a stressful environment.

Whether you’re fighting for your life, camping, or hiking with the family, you might find yourself in remote areas, often alone and probably fatigued. You need to protect yourself in every scenario.

Many outdoor enthusiasts choose to carry a concealed handgun for protection. There are just a few things to keep in mind to keep it secure and safe.

Keep it Concealed and Secure
There are plenty of holster options for active concealed carry. Compression shorts and tops for both men and women keep a firearm concealed and close-fitting, ensuring you’ll be comfortable.

Clothing made specifically for concealed carry has secure pockets made specifically for compact handguns. Make sure that they offer trigger protection and keep the gun secure.

Avoid holsters that cause discomfort and chafing or ones that deter you from moving naturally and engaging in strenuous activity. You won’t carry regularly if it’s annoying or painful.

Clean your handgun regularly to limit the effects of sweat and moisture on the frame and action parts.

Stay Aware
It shouldn’t stop you from getting out for fresh air and exercise, but remember that being in remote areas makes you a target. The backcountry can be full of sounds and activity, but try to be aware and get in tune with what’s happening around you.

Stick to well-known trails if you can. Getting lost will only make you anxious, and that can lead to bad decisions. Bring a friend along on your active pursuits to deter opportunistic attackers or animals.

You can carry concealed to be protected no matter where your outdoor lifestyle takes you. A compact handgun is very capable of protecting you while running, hiking, bicycling, and bugging out in a crisis.

Throwing knives are often overlooked as a tool for survival. Just like any other weapon, it takes time and practice to perfect. Using throwing knives successfully requires concentration and excellent technique. There are a few blade types to test out and a few throwing styles that can fit various levels of skills. If you’re looking to buy a set of knives, there are several types to consider. For the price, a good set of throwing knives can end up being an indispensable asset to have.

Reasons to Carry Throwing Knives
Few weapons can boast as much history as throwing knives. Our ancestors relied on thrown blades for personal protection as well as hunting. They are simple, quiet, and never need to be reloaded. When planning for survival situations, weapons that are reliable and quiet are great options. If the situation continues to get worse, throwing knives will only need to be sharpened and you’ll never need to buy ammunition.

Throwing knives are also very light and small. If you’ll need to travel a good distance on foot, this will be essential. For the most part, you’ll find knives no more than around 12-13 inches in length and 13 ounces or so. Survival situations will require you to move quickly and maybe over long distances. In these cases, weight is incredibly important. You don’t want to rely on something that requires constant maintenance or many parts that you might have to replace. Throwing knives can be essential items to keep on hand.

Knives are quiet and do not draw any attention to themselves. If there are multiple threats or prey, you’ll be able to handle each one without alerting the others. They are the best weapon for stealth. Believe it or not, throwing knives aren’t just for ninjas and martial arts types. Small game and personal threats can be stopped in their tracks with an accurately handled knife.

Look for These Features When You’re Buying Throwing Knives
You can throw any knife and hope that it hits the target, but throwing knives are usually built just for one purpose. Would you try to strike out a batter with a basketball? If you want to achieve excellent results, you need to use well-designed throwing knives. There are tactical throwing knives that can be used for general purposes as well as throwing.

These types of knives are streamlined in design and very light to carry. Basically, you’ll find throwing knives built blade-heavy, handle-heavy, or balanced. The heaviest part of a knife should be thrown first, so if the knife is blade-heavy it will be held in your hand. This technique is best for beginners. A balanced throwing knife is thrown either blade or handle first, so it is more versatile depending on what your needs will be.

Handles of throwing knives can vary in style. Some cord wrapped options provide a good solid grip. Handles of the slim knives are often bare to streamline the throw and maintain a good balance as the knife makes its rotation through the air.

How to Practice with your New Throwing Knives
The best method for starting your knife throwing practice is the Hammer Throw. Grip the handle of the knife as you would a hammer, but with your thumb kept along the edge instead of wrapped around the handle. Bring your hand up to about ear level with your elbow level to your knife grip. Be sure to throw the knife straight ahead and keep your follow-through a clean line and not across your body.

Set up a sturdy target that can handle plenty of knife strikes. Make sure that it’s out of the way since your throws might take some time to perfect. Start by standing  8-10 feet away and throw at a 4 inch bullseye. To perfect your technique, vary your distances and pay attention to the number of rotations it takes the blade to make contact.

Throwing knives are the perfect addition to any survivalist’s arsenal. It takes time a practice to master the technique, but the benefits are many. They don’t take up much room and are light to carry. Knife care and maintenance doesn’t require much time or money. Keep a set of throwing knives available and practice your grip and throw. You never know when they just might save your life.