Welcome back to the crash course in arming yourselves! We have had some excellent interaction in the comments section, largely from our collective GunsAmerica brain trust. And I have gotten several good reports of sharing from my contacts across the various social media platforms. Keep the opinions coming, and let’s keep helping our noobs. Hopefully, after this crisis passes, we can keep most of them over here on #TeamLiberty.
Other episodes in this series:
- Clay on Survival Foods for COVID-19 Crisis (How to Avoid Eating Your Pets)
- Clay on Staying Fit and Sane During Quarantine
- Clay’s COVID-19 Gun Buying Guide for Noobs
- Clay’s COVID-19 Gun Buying Guide for Noobs Part II: Holsters & Slings
- Clay’s COVID-19 Gun Buying Guide for Noobs Part III: Flashlights & Broadswords
- Clay’s COVID-19 Gun Buying Guide for Noobs Part IV: Dinosaur Tech and Space Age Sights
We had a hard call this week on which column comes next, and ultimately decided to go ahead and hit flashlights and edged weapons. We still have a great many other things to share with our noobs, such as rifle sights and training. But with supply lines dwindling, we thought perhaps the last bit of arming was a better choice.
One of the most frequent questions I have gotten over the last week is, “What flashlight do I need?” And perhaps the question one should be asking is “Do I need a flashlight for my weapon?”
Under normal conditions, say prior to March of this year, I would have told you that a light was a necessary addition to any home defense gun. In civilized society, you have to identify that a threat meets various criteria before it can be engaged, which is very much location dependent.
In one state I lived in, even a home invader could not be shot, unless said invader presented a clear and present danger to your own life. And even if you live in a Castle Doctrine state, it’s still generally a good idea. It would be bad form to accidentally smoke your neighbor with Alzheimer’s because he thought your unlocked back door was his unlocked back door, and he is rifling through the pantry looking for his French Press.
Unfortunately, these are not normal times. Also, a quick caveat with respect to flashlights in a combat zone. You have probably seen the videos of cool-guy-door kickers with million-dollar rigs windmilling flashbangs around whilst handing out the justice, white lights a-blazing. And I will admit, a flashlight has a place there. But, and it is a big BUT, that is a very specific mission set, and is premised on the idea that you have overwhelming forces with you. Speed, surprise, and the fact that you brought 25 friends outweighs the negatives of the flashlight. And the whole thing is going to be over in 15 seconds.
In those same kinds of units, there is something called a “white light negligent discharge.” As in, if a white light is activated prior to being inside the target, it is treated the same way as firing a shot into the floorboard of a Humvee. You are fired. Right now! Because a white light in a street fight is a very good way to get yourself killed.
In a combat situation, which I sincerely hope none of us find ourselves in, a flashlight is a beacon broadcasting “Please shoot me, I’m over here.” Even inside your house, flipping that light on to get a perfect shot on one target, may get you wasted from the flank. Won’t a light blind the bad guy? Marketing says so, reality says maybe. If they brought friends, and happen to be standing in anything but a cluster, a flashlight is a really bad idea.
So do you need one? It certainly doesn’t hurt. But for once, I am going to say that you don’t need some military-grade, endorsed by Omega Force, moon torch.
Flashlights can get ludicrously expensive, like this one for a princely $799.00. I have recently had very good luck with some much cheaper alternatives. INFORCE builds an excellent one for less than $100 that has proven to be quite durable. Streamlight also makes some excellent products, such as this 800 Lumen light for $123.
In the end, you don’t need anything too fancy. Strobe mode is the latest fad, and is absolutely useless. The more lumens the brighter the light, but anything past 200 lumens should be good enough for indoors. Try to avoid a specialized battery if you can, though many choices today are CR-123 only. And I much prefer weapon-mounted to handheld, as it is easier to use. But also don’t forget this. It wasn’t that many years ago that the most high-speed ninjas in the world used a D-cell Maglite hose clamped onto the end of a rifle.
Finally, we need to look at a solution for people that either don’t want a gun or live in a place that buying one is no longer an option. It turns out, two weeks ago was the best time to buy a firearm. Or 10 years ago, if you also wanted to be competent. So, what else is on the menu?
This bit actually came from a line of questioning on social media, and I am going to get lambasted over it by some of you. But I stand by my answer, and if you hear me out, I think you will agree it is a reasonable alternative. An edged weapon, preferably a damn big one!
Now don’t start thinking I’ve lost my mind. And hold the mockery until the end of class, please. I’m a gun guy, through and through. I would take a Cobra Arms Derringer in. 22LR over a Hattori Hanzo in 99.9 percent of all lethal force confrontations. But I also have the benefit of being trained prior to the crisis.
For a noob, with access to nothing but a pistol, a sword might actually be a better alternative. At a 3-foot sword range, new shooters can and do miss. A lot. We’ve all seen it. I also cannot imagine the first round I ever fired being in life or death situation. That is absolutely horrifying to contemplate.
The difference really comes down to two things. First of all, your little caveman brain can at least rely on similar motions to swing a sword/machete/ax. If you have used a golf club, baseball bat or hammer, you at least have some kind of muscle memory. The same cannot be said for a device that throws a projectile at supersonic speeds via a controlled explosion that you hold in your hands and in front of your eyeballs. To the primate brain, that might as well be dark magic, which is why we have to learn to overcome it. A pistol might still work at contact range, but you might also drop it after the first round.
Second, even in recent memory, these types of weapons have been used with reasonable success by absolute amateurs. Back in November, I was actually on the Jesse Kelly Show to discuss this man using a battle ax to fend off a home invader. If you take a look at the video (see below), I think we can agree he isn’t exactly a modern-day Viking Berserker. And nearly a decade ago this absolutely untrained John Hopkins chemistry student killed an intruder with a Samurai sword.
Is a regular dude dangerous with a knife? Maybe not at the Steven Seagal fantasy level. But maybe he works at Benihana’s and knows that blade like a carpenter knows his hammer. You never can tell. I think it is a fair assessment to say that while there are no professional knife fighters in the world, plenty of amateurs get it right every day.
If you have to go with an edged weapon, in this case, I would say get a big one. The more standoff, the better. A super-sized blade is also going to make a supersized wound, which is a lot more reliable than even a large knife.
The only thing you need to balance is keeping it small enough to wield indoors. Smaller also means faster handling. The right answer is not a Claymore or hand-and-half sword, but something more like a boarding cutlass or wakizashi if you prefer an Eastern style. Both of those are smaller versions of a battlefield sword, specifically designed to be used in close quarters. If I was in the market for a sword right now, I only trust one brand. Cold Steel. The owner might be a little bit of weirdo, but he makes things to be used. If you watch the TV show “Knife or Death,” you know that a staggering number of “combat grade” swords will shatter the first time you try and use them. Food for thought.
Also, don’t rule out the American classic tomahawk, available at any Home Depot. They just happen to call them “roofing hammers” there.
That covers us for this week. I hope you don’t have to, but don’t ever forget: it is better to have a weapon and not need it than need a weapon and not have it.