Long time readers know that I have, in the past, written several articles about Bugout Bags, Go Bags, Trunk Kept Go Bags and assorted other articles on related topics. This past week I was presented with an interesting hypothetical: what if you couldn’t take a bag? What if all you had was what you were WEARING and your guns. What would that consist of? Naturally this is radically different depending on what environment you are, or you expect to be, in. Still, it seemed an interesting enough challenge to contemplate that I thought I’d share.
As you can see from the above photo, most of my “grab-n-go oh-crap” gear is focused on defense and survival. What you can’t see are the large utility pouches that are mounted on the back of the vest. Two large utility pouches are mounted onto a hydration pouch, so water is available plus the requisite storage space for some other necessary “comfort” items which we’ll discuss further below. First… the tools of the trade.
While I freely recognize that the AR-style rifle is the dominant defense long gun in our country today (in a variety of calibers), I’ve opted for my shotgun instead. Why? Hmmm… Pure and simple versatility. While the AR-rifle is more than sufficient for defense and hunting (depending on the caliber) and a LOT of ammo can be carried, unless you have specialized ammo it won’t defeat armor and finding .223 / 5.56mm ammo may prove difficult given the current state of the ammo industry. I haven’t been able to find it or .45ACP ammo on my dealer’s shelves for several months. He sells it faster than he can get it in. 12 gauge, however, is abundant simply because SO MUCH is manufactured.
So, that’s my Remington 870 with a 20.5″ barrel. The accessories are the extended magazine tube (total capacity 7 rounds), the SureFire 918FA lit fore-end, a side-saddle shell holder on the receiver that holds six more rounds and the Knoxx Stock with Power Pack that adds five more rounds while reducing felt recoil. I keep the tube loaded with PolyShok IRP ammo because it can be used for defensive purposes with minimal concern of over-penetration. Thanks to its design it’s very accurate and low recoil. Adding in the recoil reduction of the Knoxx Stock and I feel like I’m shooting .223 again. In the side-saddle shell holder is six more rounds of PolyShok for a total of 13 in/on the gun. In the Power Pack are three slug rounds and two 00 rounds. I wanted the slugs because I don’t think PolyShok is proper for hunting but slugs will take down all sorts of fair sized game. The 00? Just because. If I’m hunting and the game is more likely to be smaller game or turkey (or something similar) then the 00 would be more appropriate.
The shotgun is laying on top of the vest (which, again, we’ll discuss further down) and below that is my holstered Glock 19 9mm. On the same holster platform (a Level III SERPA from BLACKHAWK!) are a Cold Steel Recon Tanto knife and a Night-Ops Gladius flashlight. My choices in handgun (from what I have in my safe) were:
- Springfield Armory 1911
- Glock 19 9mm
- Browning High Power 9mm
- Kahr CW4543
- Beretta .380ACP
I dismissed the thought of the .380ACP immediately. As an “only option” defensive handgun it lacks both delivered energy and capacity (8+1). The Kahr was removed from consideration because of capacity mixed with the number of magazines I have available. While I consider the 6+1 capacity acceptable for defensive use, I only have three magazines for the weapon and no “tactical” type holster. The Browning High Power was dismissed because I only have one magazine for it. My choice, as usual for such considerations, boiled down to 7+1 Springfield Armory 1911 .45ACP or 15+1 Glock 19 9mm. I have a half-dozen magazines for the 1911 but I have ten for the Glock. I have (currently) a limited supply of .45ACP but about a case of 9mm. I have a sufficient supply of 9mm jacketed hollow point ammo to load all the magazines and have some left over on top of the nearly full case of ball. I don’t have a Level III holster for the 1911 – only a Level II. Add it all up and the Glock 19 got the nod for ammo carry capability as well as security in the holster.
While the Recon Tanto isn’t my first choice in field knife, it wouldn’t be the only knife on my person. It would essentially be an abuse blade and it’s already mounted to the holster platform so I wouldn’t waste time changing it. The Gladius flashlight is my favorite multi-purpose flashlight due to its size and versatility in function. Now… let’s get into the vest.
In the top photo you can see four pouches and one pistol magazine carrier mounted on the vest. That’s how it was when I pulled it out of my closet and how it sits in there as I type this. In the photo the far left large utility pouch is filled with first-aid materials. Gloves, a tourniquet, two pressure bandagesa, some QuikClot, a micro-shield mask and a few other odd assorted items. The shotshell pouch holds another 17 rounds of 12g ammo. There are 11 more rounds of PolyShok and then three and three of slug / 00 respectively. While that’s not a lot of ammo for the long gun, as I discussed above, 12g ammo is readily available from many sources and let’s be honest: if you hit a bad guy ONCE with a 12g round, usually the fights over. The pistol magazine carrier holds a spare mag (more would be in my pockets and on my belt). I need to add at least one more; possibly two. The far right pouch is designed as a flashlight / handcuff pouch. I have a backup flashlight in there (Insight Tech Gear HX120) and, in the “handcuff” pouch, a SureFire Spares carrier that holds six more batteries. Both flashlights are LED driven and use CR123 3V batteries. What I don’t have is a spare lamp, but LEDs are hard to break. The last pouch (that you can see) is the small green one above the pistol magazine. It was designed as a GPS or small radio pouch but I tend to use it to hold my cell phone (for however long it would work) or a compass.
Now… on the back. As I mentioned there is a hydration system. It’s the 100oz HydraStorm from BLACKHAWK!. I don’t typically keep it filled but I DO always keep it clean and dry. It can be filled in short order on the way out. Mounted onto the hydration pouch are the two large utility pouches I mentioned above. The bottom one holds my emergency shelter: a poncho, four aluminum stakes and a couple lengths of 550 / paracord (there’s about 25′ wrapped onto a cut paint-stirrer shown in the photo). That poncho can be formed into a number of different kinds of shelter but doesn’t weigh much or take up much space. Of course, if you store it wet and never clean it, it doesn’t smell pretty either (remember that if you’re buying surplus kit).
In the top pouch holds four things:
- Food: three packages of Hoo-Ah Bars.
- An emergency “space” blanket
- A SteriPen to purify water
- Fire starter kit
The Hoo-Ah Bars aren’t a lot of food, but in emergency situations, properly rationed, they are sufficient to sustain me for three days. The SteriPen allows me to purify more water as I need it. The emergency space blanket offers me warmth under my poncho shelter. For cooking and/or more warmth a fire is required. My fire starter kit is comprised of ten strike-anywhere matches with the heads dipped in wax to protect them from moisture and then the ten of them wrapped in plastic wrap. Also included is a small waterproof container that holds six cottonballs saturated in vaseline. Obviously these are consumable items I’d have to replace as I used them and continued to move.
So, a different challenge put forth; a different emergency condition emerging. Grap and go. That’s what I’d grab. I’d arge that grabbing my Bugout Bag (which is on the floor in my closet right beneath where that vest hangs) would be easy, but I wasn’t the one who set the conditions for this mental challenge.
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