Saturday, February 1, 2014

Carry It Like Batman

I was reminded recently of the original opening scenes of the TV program “Starsky and Hutch.”  They would jump into the red and white Ford Torino and do a check list. 

toy car
We were never sure who the real stars were, the actors or the car.

It went something like:
  • Handgun…check
  • Reloads…check
  • Radio…check
  • Flashlight…check
  • Spare batteries…check  (I always thought that was so cool.  I mean they had spare batteries!)
  • Handcuffs…check.  Let’s roll!

Of course, check lists aren’t just for TV dramas. (I have link on the side bar) ran an article describing the gear the author routinely carried when on patrol with his partner.  I can’t find the article, but as memory serves it was a little like:
Gun, reloads for same, backup gun, reloads for same, OC spray, flashlight, back-up flashlight, vest, raincoat in backseat, collapsible baton, handcuffs, second set handcuffs, shotgun, extra shotgun shells, radio, cell phone, knife….

The author was trying to get the point across that if you needed one, you really needed two.  After all, one is none and two is one.  Especially in the unforgiving environments the modern police officer finds himself.   

When my father was a police officer in the 60s they carried a lot of stuff, but nothing like today.  He carried his whistle, .38 spl revolver, handcuffs in carrier, spare ammo in belt loops, two blackjacks, wooden baton, keys for call boxes, ticket book with copper backing plate, and assorted pens including a wax pen for marking parked cars.

Keys needed by beat officers to call in a problem
Beat officers used to have to call in to report a problem or get back-up.  Major cities had boxes every so often the police could open and call into the dispatcher. 

Ticket book with copper plate?  The copper metal plate gave the leather bound citation book a stiff surface so you could write on it and made for a handy impact weapon if the ticketee decided to get frisky.  And it was still soft enough to flex a little when you sat down.  

Impact weapons were very big then because the officer had two upper tier force levels available to them.  They could shoot them or hit them.  Not everyone need to be shot and hitting them first gave you time to draw your weapon if it escalated to a shoot situation.

I also believe my father carried a backup revolver and a handful of .38 spls in his pants pocket.  In those days Chicago officers carried 158gr lead round nose.  Later radio and mace were added.  He was out of the force before vest, lights, cameras and tricorders became stock carry.
A vital part of every officer’s equipment was the belt where much of this equipment was hung.  Of course, coats with huge pockets during cold weather were also useful.  The equipment problem hasn’t diminished:

In this discussion Batman is relevant.  Like most boys, I liked Batman, perhaps more than any other comic book character.  Why?  Because he wasn’t born on another planet, had a god for a father, or gained his power by falling asleep in a nuclear reactor. 

He was an ordinary person.  Every boy I knew thought at some point during his childhood, if he applied himself, worked out and studied hard, he could be like Batman.

What’s relevant here is the unique batbelt, which carried every possible gadget Batman could need.  From batarangs, climbing line, mini-grappling hooks, lights, radios, portable lab, underwater breathing gear, camera, sleep gas bombs, batcuffs, smoke pellets to complete disguise kits, Batman could find it in his belt. 

With a batbelt we could carry all the CCW tools we might want.  Unfortunately, for the armed civilian the batbelt is fiction.  Nor can we load ourselves up like the uniformed officer.

What does the armed civilian need to carry?  And unfortunately, the answer is, it depends.

You need a loaded gun, CCW license and one other picture ID, usually a driver’s license.  I don’t care what your state says, have enough ID.

You need a reload, perhaps two. 

Even with high capacity magazines, you want to be able to bring your gun up to full capacity as soon as possible.  Mr. Murphy and his law might not be done f@#king with you and a reload is a great comfort.

You need a cell phone.  One with GPS 911 call enabled.  Who gets the professionals (the police) moving after a crime?  The good guys.  Few criminals call to report a crime.  And under stress you might not be absolutely clear on where you need the police to arrive.  GPS 911 might save you a lot of trouble.

You need a flashlight.  No, I’m wrong, you need two.  If you carry a pocket size tactical light a little convenient zipper-pull light will be useful for those times you want just enough light to find a key hole or look under the sofa.  550 lumens of searingly bright light isn’t always the answer.
Three flashlights
I carry the middle one all the time and the top one has multi-functions which I ignored.  I wanted strobe and medium high.  The low, SOS mode, blinking, medium high were never on my needs list.  Your carry light might be the middle and the little nano on the bottom.  It's good to have options.

Never leave home without a knife.  It should be able to be opened with one hand and lock open.  Having a clip so it stays where you want it is priceless.  

Two possible carry knives
Two plain-edged knives.  Whatever you carry, carry something that works every time.  Big isn't always the best answer either.  It has to be carried somewhere discreetly.
It’s your choice on serrations, partial, full or just plain.  Your community lets you carry a fixed blade?  Fantastic.  Get a little one like Ka-Bar’s TDI or Boker’s Yurko on your belt.

What else do you want to put in your batbelt?  OC spray might be a great tool.

OC spray works against people and animals
OC spray works well against both 2-and 4-legged animals, but nothing is everything.

A second knife of a different size and blade configuration might be useful.  A basic first aid kit with tourniquet and quick clot could be a lifesaver.  

Do I need to tell you we never approach anyone we shot in self-defense to administer first aid.  They may be down but not out.  You can throw them the kit and encourage them to self-rescue.  

You maybe be able to save someone injured following an incident because you’re there with gear and the professionals are still 5 minutes away.

Pad of paper and a pen are useful.  Writing down a license plate number or a description as soon as you can will help the police.

A number of national trainers have suggested a back-up gun.  Of course you need a reload for that as well. 
primary gun and back-up gun
A 9mm Kahr and my .38 special back-up, both of which my wife shoots quite well.

Depending on who you’re with and their training, the ability to hand them your back-up weapon could be a lifesaver.  Perhaps yours.  

Other trainers suggest a collapsible ASP.  I bought mine after a confrontation on outside stairs at work.  I had returned from knee surgery and my co-worker had caught someone stealing gas from his car in the parking lot.  Before I knew it the kid’s homies had arrived, other employees had gathered and I thought we would see an old fashioned rumble.  The police arrived in the nick of time.  Gimping as I was, all I had was a light-weight cane.  I got an ASP baton and training as soon as possible.

What do I carry when I’m heading out to the store?  I’ll show you my daytime outfit.  

Gun, knives reload, light and phone
The typical daylight carry.  Everything in life is a compromise. 

At night I add a second flashlight and sometimes OC spray.  No ASP baton, no tactical first aid kit, no back-up gun, you ask?  My answer, no batbelt. 

But I’m not you.  You need to carry what you think you need.  You might want to replace one knife with OC spray, add a small light to the gun, ditch the flashlight in favor of a button-battery light on a cord around your neck and carry everything else.

The limitation seems to be where do we stash all that gear?  A shoulder holster has the advantage of taking the gun off the belt and having provisions for a reload and perhaps a flashlight.  This leaves pockets free.  A fanny pack, while out of place at more formal activities, can hold gun, reload, OC, and cell phone.  

The tactical pants I favor have large cargo pockets which I can load with light, a reload, pocket gun in holster and knife.  I especially like the Tru-Spec 24-7 tactical pants.  The cargo pockets have smaller pockets inside of them which are great for holding lights and reload magazines.

But don’t shy away from the classic IWB holster and spare mag carrier.  A tactical flashlight in one pocket, knife in the other and a backup button light on a chain and you could be ready to roll with Starsky and Hutch. 

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