6 Essential Items for Your Bug-out Bag

6 Essential Items for Your Bug-out Bag

Do you have a bug-out bag (emergency survival kit) prepared in case of a hurricane, tornado, flood or other disaster? If not, now is the time to put one together!

A poll from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster, but only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan. We’re not saying you need to be a conspiracy theorist or a doomsday enthusiast, but you should at least have supplies on hand to take care of yourself and your family in an emergency.

A bug-out bag contains the essential items you need to survive for 72 hours. While certain items may vary based on your location and your skillset (it doesn’t make much sense to pack tools you don’t know how to use in hopes that you’ll learn on the spot), here are the six must-have items to pack in your bug-out bag.



Survival experts say you can live up to three weeks without food, but water is a different story. You can’t survive for more than three days without water, which is why this is the first, most important item on our list. You can pack water in a variety of ways: water bottles, water pouches or a built-in or exterior bladder for your pack.

Remember, everything you include in your pack adds to the total weight, and water bottles can feel heavy if you’re carrying your bag for an extended period of time. Instead of multiple bottles, pack these portable hydration tools:


Pack a three-day supply of food. Although canned food will keep for an extended period of time, cans add unnecessary weight. Pack portable food options like nutrition bars, trail mix, and ziploc snack bags. In addition to snacks, pack some pre-packaged emergency food:

Survival Tools

Survival tools like knives, flashlights, matches and a multi-purpose tool will help you handle the elements and are useful in the event you need to cut through things, fend off animals, make your way in the dark or set up shelter. Survival tools for your bug out bag:


When it comes to shelter, you’re restricted to the size of your bag, and since you need to pack a lot of other items, a tent may not be ideal. Tarps are a great shelter option because they are extremely versatile so pack some tarps and some rope.

To keep warm and shield yourself from the elements pack these shelter items:


You can’t predict the weather in advance, so make sure you pack clothes you can layer if it’s cold or remove if it’s warm. Pack a pair of boots, breathable, waterproof clothing and an extra pair of socks. You may also want to pack a pair of work gloves and personal hygiene products. When it comes to clothes, just pack the essentials. You’re packing for survival so you don’t need multiple options or unnecessary weight.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Include the following safety and communication items:

If you’re still not sure of exactly what you need, you can also purchase one of our pre-packed emergency backpacks.

Keep your Bag Ever-ready

Set a phone alert or email reminder every 12 months to ensure your bag has items that will work and be somewhat fresh or at least palatable. Check batteries, battery packs or use as many items that are solar-powered as possible. For the energy bars, replacing them at least annually is a good idea, if not more often.

Pack your bug-out bag in hopes that you will never need it, but with the confidence that you have everything you need in the event of emergency.

Tactical Pen vs. Knife: Pros and Cons for Self-Defense

Tactical Pen vs. Knife: Pros and Cons for Self-Defense

When it comes to using a weapon for self-defense, I strongly suggest everyone get regular training with the weapon of their choice. Two potentially effective weapons, which are generally of similar size and weight, are the folding knife and the tactical pen. While both can typically be carried in the pocket and wielded effectively with a single hand, each has particular advantages over the other for self-protection purposes. The following are some pros and cons of the tactical pen versus the tactical knife for self- defense.


Advantages of the Tactical Pen Over the Knife

Less Conspicuous

In situations of heightened alertness or potential danger (i.e. an empty parking lot at night), it’s always advisable to carry your weapon of choice in hand, so as to deploy it at a moment’s notice if necessary. Now, a deployed blade carried openly in hand looks like…well, a blade. And it’s generally illegal to carry an open unsheathed or extended blade in most places.

A tactical pen, on the other hand, looks…well, like a pen. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell what it is in your hand unless someone is up close to you. So, aside from the legal benefits of carrying the tactical pen inconspicuously, it also does not draw the attention of would-be attackers as might a blade in your hand. If they’re not focused on it, they won’t target it, which means it should be easier for you to use if you need to. A surprise attack is always better than an expected one.

Less Training Required

Although I highly recommend getting trained with any weapon you carry, the tactical pen—in my opinion—requires far less training to use effectively than a knife. To use a knife effectively and safely, much practice must go into accuracy, speed, and power with the blade. Otherwise, you’re bound to cut or puncture places you didn’t plan, creating life-threatening wounds when unintended, and maybe even cutting yourself.

Plus, many knife grips—especially on folding knives, which don’t have full tangs—can be slightly imbalanced and tough to hang onto when used at full force. That means a knife can more easily be taken away and used against its owner. The tactical pen, on the other hand, is pretty simple to engage with a solid grip: just make a fist, squeeze, and stab, and it’s unlikely to be ejected from your hand. A natural downward motion with your hands, like exaggerated jogging, can be an effective technique for the tactical pen.

Pretty simple. Further, there are no real laws that I know about (though I might be mistaken) that govern the carry of tactical pens; there are, however, knife laws in each state. So, part of your training must be to understand what weapon is legal and how it can be legally possessed.

Less Than Lethal

A tactical pen used correctly can certainly be damaging, but it can also be used very effectively for creating only pain and gaining the momentary advantage needed to overcome the attack or escape. The tactical pen can be considered a less-than-lethal weapon, because striking someone is unlikely to permanently injure or kill someone in most cases.

Walking away without maiming or killing is always preferred, for legal, psychological, and even moral reasons. A knife on the other hand can be lethal with a single slash or stab, even if unintended. That’s why a knife requires more training and has specific laws governing its possession.

Advantages of the Knife Over the Tactical Pen

More Frightening

Circling back to first advantage of the pen, if you find yourself in a life-or-death situation against a would-be attacker, drawing a blade is certainly more intimidating than flashing a pen. If an attacker knows you’re ready to use a knife against him, he might be far less motivated to go through with the attack. So, while the conspicuousness of holding a blade is disadvantageous in some situations, in other situations, it could save your life and even stop an attack from occurring before it begins. 

More Lethal

Once again, circling back to the third advantage of the tactical pen, should you be faced with a life-or-death self-defense scenario, a knife used effectively can possess more stopping power than a pen. In many instances, a tactical pen may just create pain; it can also be used against soft targets like the eyes and throat, which can certainly stop an attack, but using it effectively to absolutely stop an attacker may be more difficult than with a knife.

A knife, especially when wielded by someone who has trained with a blade, can be deadly with ease. A few cuts in the wrong places can end a fight in seconds. This is why so much more training is recommended for effective knife use, and why the laws are very clear when it comes to knife possession. A deadlier weapon has greater consequences, but it might more easily save your life if used correctly in an absolute survival situation.

Whichever weapon you choose for personal protection, remember that training is key! You want to be able to deploy the weapon quickly, use it effectively and safely, and escape. Get yourself into a self-defense training program ASAP. Also, you can view some of my knife training instructional videos online, and purchase your tactical knife or pen from The Home Security Superstore. Good luck and stay safe!

Self-Defense for Women: The Basics

Self-Defense for Women: The Basics

For women, physical altercations and the risk of being battered or killed is thankfully rarer than it is for men in the U.S., according to national statistics. This is probably due to the fact that women are generally less aggressive and more thoughtful creatures than men. Presumably for that very reason, however, women are far more likely to be victims of sexual assault than men are. So, although on average females will confront fewer violent altercations, women should absolutely know how to defend themselves against an attack.

Women often ask me if there is a weekend workshop I recommend for women’s self-defense, and my answer is always the same: Either start training 1-2 times a week in an intense self-defense program, or get yourself a weapon, because a weekend workshop isn’t going to help much. That being said, there are 4 basic areas that I recommend practicing to all women pursuing the knowledge of self-defense. You can think of the acronym SWAG…but backwards in priority (GAWS). If you keep the GAWS in mind and practice, you ought to be more likely to escape and survive a violent attack.

General Awareness

First and foremost, stay aware of your surroundings! The majority of attacks could have been avoided had the victim been more alert and vigilant. Pay attention to whom is around (or not around) and what your environment is like. In unfamiliar locations or when you are alone, alertness levels should be heightened. In heightened alert situations, I always teach individuals to stay aware of 3 elements:

  1. Exits: where are your escape routes, and which areas might trap you in?
  2. Objects: what objects are around that could be used as weapons or shields?
  3. Obstacles: what large elements in your environment can be used for hiding or blocking, such as a car or fence?


For any individual practicing self-defense, and especially for women, attitude is of utmost importance. If you sense an assault is imminent, you must project absolute confidence and power, that you are not afraid and are absolutely willing to fight with everything you’ve got against an attack. This attitude actually takes practice for most people, which is why I highly recommend taking ongoing classes. A weekend workshop simply won’t get you there.

Developing true confidence in your own power and ability, and expressing that confidence outwardly to would-be attackers, takes cultivation! This aspect is well worth the investment, though, as it is crucial and extremely effective in stopping attacks both before they begin and after they have started.


When it comes to self-defense, I recommend carrying legal weapons to anyone, especially women. The best weapons, in my opinion, are those that require very little training, can be used at a distance, and are non-lethal. In other words, they should be able to be used to simply escape, not necessarily to injure or kill, unless one is highly trained in using lethal weapons. You do not want the legal or psychological consequences of taking a life or seriously injuring another human, unless it is absolutely necessary. Also, in the unfortunate case a weapon is taken from you, it is much better for it to be a non-lethal weapon for obvious reasons.


The two weapons for women’s self-defense that I recommend first are Tasers and pepper spray, as both can be used to escape an attack, stop the attacker at a distance, and require little training to deploy. Stun guns are decent as well, but I recommend Tasers first for a number of reasons. You can read more about the difference between Tasers and stun guns here.

Soft Targets

If you are attacked and do not have a weapon on you, your mission then, especially as a female against a male, is to focus on striking soft targets with hard “weapons.” Your hardest weapons are your: elbows, knees, nails, and teeth. An attacker’s softest targets are his/her: groin, throat, eyes, and nose. No matter how big or strong an attacker is, there are never large muscles that protect these vulnerable areas. Remember, all you’re trying to do is create enough pain or shock to gain a momentary escape advantage.

The goal of women’s self-defense is not to incapacitate or knock out. Just escape! Using your hardest weapons against the attacker’s softest or most vulnerable targets is the best way to create that advantage. Again, being able to effectively strike another human being with power and accuracy takes practice. Both physical practice (i.e. muscle memory and power) and mental practice (i.e. readiness and fierceness) are absolutely crucial if you are to defend yourself.

I never advocate paranoia, and the stats do show that females are less likely to be attacked than men, at least in this country. However, to think it can’t happen to you is extremely naive. Just about every female victim of assault thought that very same thing at some point. That’s why self-defense for women is so important. So live your life well, without being paranoid, but still stay alert and keep your GAWS in mind. Start practicing and stay safe!

Putting Together the Ultimate Go-Bag: The Essentials

Putting Together the Ultimate Go-Bag: The Essentials

Most military and police agencies require their officers to carry in their cars a Go Bag – a 3-day or 5-day pack containing all components necessary to survive and perform their duties in the case of a city, state, or national emergency. While the Go Bag is a required and important tool for any paramilitary agent, I believe every citizen should have at the ready a sufficient “bug out bag” as well.

I’m not an outdoor survival expert or a zombie apocalypse enthusiast, but I am a realist. The possibility of a brief yet multi-day emergency scenario is not farfetched—think Katrina or riots or other natural disasters. Typically, the warning signs for such critical states are revealed far ahead of time, but to think that a massive event could not happen suddenly and spur an immediate societal disruption is, in my opinion, fairly naive. Hence the need for a bug out bag—an all-scenario emergency survival pack that will assure your well-being until help arrives and/or the state of emergency is dispelled.

So, what should go in a bug out bag? Any number of survival elements would be appropriate, but at the very least, every civilian go-bag must have the essentials. Below are some absolute staples for a proper bug-out bag, broken down by basic needs categories:

The Pack


Tactical packs serve well as bug out bags. You’ll want something large enough—at least 50 liters in capacity—with several compartments, MOLLE webbing, and hook and loop fixtures, so you can stay organized with materials and hang overflow materials or quick-release elements, like a knife, on the outside of the pack. Make sure the pack is of sturdy material and build, such as those containing 1000D Nylon material, multi-layer stitching, and over-sized snag-free zippers. You’ll also want a dry bag big enough to hold your main bag, but which you can fold up tiny to hold in the main bag. I would recommend not using a dry bag as your main bag because tactical backpacks typically have far more compartments, along with MOLLE flaps, hook and loop capabilities, etc. than a dry bag will. But to be prepared for all-weather scenarios, and possible floods or water trekking, you’ll want that dry bag capability.

For the following categories, the items in bold are essential survival and emergency items in my opinion, while the others would be an important addition but not absolutely necessary:

Logistics & Tactical

  • Binoculars
  • Gas Mask
  • Small Mirror
  • Ammunition
  • Baton
  • AM/FM Emergency Radio
  • Two-way Radio
  • Rope
  • Utility Belt
  • Zip Ties
  • Hatchet
  • Shovel (small folding)
  • Hammer
  • Needle & Thread
  • Goggles
  • Notepad
  • Binoculars
  • Gas Mask
  • Small Mirror


  • Warm gloves
  • Work gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Sun hat
  • Thermals
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Jacket
  • Poncho
  • Boots
  • T-shirt



  • Battery-operated tactical flashlight
  • Battery Headlamp
  • Self-Energy flashlight
  • Glow Stick
  • Batteries

Personal Items

  • Insect Repellant
  • Toilet Paper
  • Tissue Paper
  • Baby powder
  • Eye drops
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shaving cream
  • Razors
  • Floss
  • Chapstick
  • Deodorant
  • Sunblock
  • Mouthwash


  • Moisturizer
  • Tampons (can come in handy for men and women)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Laxatives
  • Anti-diarrhetic
  • Cold/flu medicine
  • Itch cream
  • A&D Ointment
  • Body wash/shampoo (waterless)
  • Vitamins
  • Antacids

Once you’ve got your bug out bag set, put it in a closet and forget about it. Don’t spend your time imagining apocalyptic scenarios. We don’t want to be paranoid; rather we simply want to be prepared. And once you’re prepared, you can put it aside and get on with your day. Safety is paramount, but once that’s taken care of…go live your life! The Home Security Superstore has just about all the elements you need to stay prepared and secure. Good luck and stay safe!

The Essential Tactical Gear: Don’t Forget the Basics

The Essential Tactical Gear: Don’t Forget the Basics

We military and police officers love our tactical gear—I know I’ve spent a small fortune on police gear over the years.  What we’re allowed to carry on duty, of course, comes down to departmental policy, but that doesn’t stop us from buying the latest and greatest, high-tech and new-tech tactical wear. Still, none of the cool new gadgets, weapons, or accessories matter much if we don’t have the basics. So for the newbies just starting out, or for the civilians who want to prepare for all possible emergency situations, here are a few of the essential elements you cannot do without if you’re going to begin stockpiling tactical gear.

Tactical Jacket

Tactical Gear
Image: Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald, Wikipedia Commons

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but there’s no point in hoarding a bag full of tactical gear if you’ve got no way to tactically carry it. Tactical means—or at least ought to mean—strategic and ready to be utilized; so if you’ve got a bag of gear through which you need to go searching for the flashlight or the handcuffs, that gear is no longer very tactical. Make sure your gear is ready to go and strategically placed by donning a robust, well-made tactical jacket that can house all the gear you think you’ll need to deploy quickly. That means weapons, of course, along with cuffs or restraints, ammunition packs, first aid kits, emergency water, tactical knives, and flashlights. The gear that you don’t need to reach so quickly, you can leave in the bag for now.

Tactical Belt

Once again, the same rule applies: there’s little point in buying tactical gear unless it can be tactically placed on your body for ready use. Whether it’s your private tactical belt or your standard duty belt, be sure to have a sturdy, well-made belt with all the essential pouches. Aside from your gun holster, some essentials that should go on your tactical belt include: a compartment for handcuffs or other restraints, a place for a tactical flashlight, an ammunitions case, and in most security or law enforcement capacities, a place for pepper spray, a Taser, a baton, and a radio.

Tactical Packs

Police and military are usually required to have their go-bags at the ready, and both civilian and law enforcement should also have a bugout bag. Either way, this essential element to any tactical stockpile will require a hefty tactical pack, with multiple compartments for a variety of uses. Make sure it’s well made by a brand you trust, so the pack won’t start falling apart when you load it full of heavy gear, or so that small things like the zippers won’t bust or stop working properly after a week (I’ve had this happen when I’ve tried to go cheap with tactical packs). Tactical packs are imperative for carrying all tactical or survival elements you won’t need immediately, or for storing the backups or replacement gear for the elements stored in your tactical jacket or belt. Most military and police will know what they need in their go-bags, as per their agency’s direction; and for a complete list of suggested components of a bug out bag, see my article on that subject.


All security and law enforcement officers carry handcuffs—typically two pairs—and often other types of restraints, such as zip ties. Restraints come in handy in almost any situation, and civilians should have a way of restraining a perpetrator should they need to defend against a home invasion or an aggressive individual on the street. Once the fight is done—and hopefully a fight won’t be necessary—you’ll need a way to control the individually without having to harm them, if possible. That’s why handcuffs or restraints are an absolutely essential part of any tactical gear.


As security, law enforcement, or military personnel, which weapons you are allowed to carry on duty will of course depend on your agency’s policies. For civilians, the weapons you store or carry depend on the legalities of your state, your intended use, and your capabilities. I’ve said it many times: don’t carry or attempt to use weapons with which you are not well-trained. Assuming for a moment that you are trained on the weapons you carry, your tactical gear should include only what you may need for the intended use. For example, if you’re preparing for home defense or building a bug out bag for societal breakdown, no need for pepper spray or Tasers—just carry lethal weapons, as you’ll only need to use them in the defense of life. If the gear is for self-defense purposes, then Tasers and pepper spray are certainly recommended.

Whatever tactical gear you buy, make sure you at least have the basics to get the job done. You’ll need a weapon to initiate defense, a way to restrain and control after defense, and ways to properly carry your gear. You can find everything you need at The Home Security Superstore. Good luck and stay safe!

When Not to Use Pepper Spray on Someone

When Not to Use Pepper Spray on Someone

For years, you’ve read on our Home Security blog about the most effective and bestselling self-defense products on the market. In this piece, I’d like to bring you a few words about the responsibility that goes along with some of these products…namely, Pepper Spray—one of the self-protection products I recommend the most to students and readers.

Like any self-defense tool, Pepper Spray is considered a weapon and should be treated as such. That means it’s not a toy for pranks, and it’s certainly not to be used nonchalantly at whim. When deploying any weapon system, whether it’s a Taser, a firearm, a baton, or Pepper Spray, you better know your rights, know your state’s laws, and know when NOT to use it. In other words, be able to clearly identify and articulate when it is justifiable to use a weapon in self-defense. Here are a few common scenarios when you should NOT use pepper spray.

Self-Defense Only: NOT Offense

All physical altercations, whether it involves a weapon or not, must be justified as self-defense to be legal. Period. If you were the instigator, if witnesses will testify that YOU were the aggressive one, you will not be justified in using any force, let alone using a weapon such as pepper spray. That is, unless you engaged and then made it loud and clear that you wished to stop fighting and the other individual kept pursuing—at which point, the roles would change and self-defense can be justified. If you are fighting or using a weapon offensively, rather than in defense, you could be charged with battery, and in some states or cases even assault with a deadly weapon.

Further, all self-defense using a weapon must be proven to have been absolutely necessary and reasonable for the level of force applied against you. So, using a baton, for instance, against an individual of the same size and strength who does not have a weapon will generally be seen as excessive force. Now, pepper spray in the same scenario might be justifiable; however, using pepper spray against someone obviously weaker may be seen as excessive. Again, you have to use your best judgment in each scenario. If you can clearly articulate and reasonably defend the case that using Pepper Spray was the most reasonable means of stopping the attack, so be it. If not, do NOT use it.

Active Engagement: NOT When Someone is Subdued or Submitted

We’ve seen it before: police officers pepper spraying suspects once they are already on the ground or perhaps even handcuffed. In most cases, spraying a suspect while cuffed would be excessive use of force, but whether or not that use of force is justified and legal within a department is a separate issue from what is legal for civilians. Again, this is a weapon for self-defense only, so it will be pretty tough to justify to an officer or judge why you needed to spray someone who was already done fighting or submitted in any way. In most cases, that would be considered unreasonable force and unjustifiable as self-defense.

So, once someone has made it clear that he or she no longer wishes to fight, or once the individual has been submitted or subdued in any way and no longer poses a real threat, DO NOT spray them or attack them in any way. Simply hold them in submission until law enforcement arrives, or allow them to leave and report the incident to law enforcement so they can investigate and perhaps arrest the individual at a later time.

Know Your State Laws: Watch Out for Particular States

Pepper spray training exercises

Although pepper spray is legal to own in all 50 states, some states place various restrictions on the ownership and use of pepper spray. These restrictions may include the size and weight of the canister, the ingredients used in the spray, and/or who exactly is allowed to buy and carry it for self-defense.  As of the writing of this article, 33 states place no restrictions on the possession of pepper spray. That means almost 20 other states do have some restrictions, so be clear what your state’s laws are.

There are a few states that place heavier restrictions on Pepper Spray and/or heavier legal ramifications for failure to adhere to those restrictions. In California, for example, civilians can only carry up to 2.5 ounces, and misuse of pepper spray can result in heavy fines and up to 3 years in prison. Hawaii only allows for ½ ounce canisters of pepper spray, and they must be bought through a licensed dealer. In Massachusetts, self-defense sprays are considered “ammunition” and can only be bought from a licensed firearms dealer and then carried by someone with a legal firearms permit, which must be attained from a police department.  In Washington DC, individuals also must register with a police department in order to carry pepper spray. These are just a few of the tougher states, but be sure to know your particular state laws, and the laws of any state into which you travel while holding pepper spray.

I hope this article has been informative and helps to keep pepper spray owners from using pepper spray incorrectly or from getting into legal trouble. Pepper Spray can be an extremely affective and easy-to-use self-defense weapon system, so I highly recommend the proper and legal use of it to individuals who are allowed to carry defensive spray. Check out The Home Security Superstore’s extensive list of pepper spray products. Good luck and stay safe!

Tazed & Confused

Tazed & Confused

As a self-defense instructor, I’ve been asked the question many times over the years: What’s the most practical martial art I can learn just to protect myself? My unequivocal answer has been: Forget martial arts. Get a Taser. While it might not have been the answer they were looking for, I believe it’s the truth. The reason being is that any instrument that requires little-to-no training to use effectively, that can be used in a non-lethal manner, up close or at a distance, to incapacitate an attacker, and that is legal to carry, is by far a better immediate self-defense approach than learning a martial arts style, which can take years to be able to use effectively in an attack scenario.

Every time I give this answer, however, it follows with a variety of questions regarding use and legality. There seems to be some confusion about just what a Taser is, who should use it, and how or when it should be used. So, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Tasers and stun guns.

Taser vs. Stun Gun: Which is Better?

Let’s be clear: A Taser is not a stun gun. Stun guns are not actually guns, in that they do not emit projectiles. Rather, they simply create an electronic current between two small conductors located on the device. Tasers, on the other hand, actually project two small metal hooks attached by extremely thin conductive wire to emit an electrical charge. Hence, Tasers are actually more gun-like than stun guns. Also, whereas stun guns are utilized to create momentary pain, Tasers are used to disrupt muscle activity and thus incapacitate the target while the charge is active. So it’s important to be clear on which is the best option for you. Here are some general benefits of each over the other:

Taser x26

Stun Guns:

  • Stun guns are usually far less expensive than Tasers.
  • Whereas Tasers, like the Taser X26, look and feel like guns (except for the Taser C2, which could be mistaken for a large cell phone if viewed from a distance), stun guns can come in smaller varieties, like key chain stun guns, or as disguised devices, like cellphone stun guns.
  • In some states, there are fewer restrictions on the use and carrying of stun guns than there are for Tasers


  • Tasers incapacitate individuals, whereas stun guns only create a temporary painful shock when in contact with a target.
  • Tasers can be used at a distance, while stun guns must make contact with the target.
  • Tasers can also be used up close and personal—they double as stun guns once the projectile is fired.
  • The Taser X2 fires 2 projectiles for multiple targets or in case of a miss.
  • Tasers have a built in flash-light and laser beam, which are automatically activated when in the fire-ready position.

Since Tasers can be used at distance to incapacitate an attacker, I would certainly recommend them over stun guns. However, if Tasers are a bit pricey for you, a stun gun is also very effective to at least gain the momentary advantage you’ll need to escape.

Taser vs. PhaZZer: What’s the Difference?

PhaZZer is Taser’s only real competitor. PhaZZer makes very comparable products, with similar specifications, designs, and pricing. While the precise differences in specs are beyond the scope of this article, there is some interesting material out there comparing the two. Bottom line is, there isn’t much difference. If you ask a number of different security professionals, you might get a number of different preferences and reasons. So, if you’re more trusting of a brand name, you might go with Taser, as it is the original standard for law enforcement.

Who Can and Should Use a Taser: Police or Civilians?

The quick answer: both! There are certain versions of the Taser specifically made for law enforcement, which are illegal for civilians to own or carry. And there are great, reliable, effective products made for civilians as well. These are typically legal to own and carry, depending on your state’s laws.

In What Situations Can a Taser or Stun Gun Be Used Legally?

Each police department has its own rules regarding use-of-force and use of less-lethal weapons, based on departmental policy and state laws. So here I will answer this question as it applies only to civilians. The short answer is: In self-defense situations ONLY. In other words, a Taser or Stun Gun is only to be used in order to protect oneself in a manner reasonable and necessary to defend the level of attack. Tasers and stun guns are weapons. That means, you better be able to clearly articulate why this was the most reasonable use-of-force during your scenario. Otherwise, if used offensively or without reasonable intention of simply defending yourself or others, you could be charged with assault or battery. Again, it is extremely important that you understand your state’s stun gun and Taser laws, and that you are aware of how and when your state constitutes justifiable self-defense.

These days, it’s an unfortunate fact that EVERYONE needs a self-defense plan. It simply does not make sense to remain naive by believing an attack could never happen to you or someone you love. Do your homework, ask more questions, and make a decision as to the right self-defense approach for you. Martial arts are great to learn for a variety of reasons; but Tasers and stun guns are fantastic self-defense instruments to own, whether you know martial arts or not. The Home Security Superstore has all varieties of civilian Tasers and stun guns when you’re ready. Good luck and stay safe!

Using a Baton for Self-Defense: What You Need to Know

Using a Baton for Self-Defense: What You Need to Know

Gone are the days of the billy club-toting copper, walking the street beat while twirling his wooden nightstick. Nevertheless, the baton is still very much in use by police, military, and security personnel. And why not? A stick of any kind, especially a swift, metal stick, is about the easiest thing for anyone, even with no training whatsoever, to swing and wield for a variety of purposes.

Batons and sticks are generally legal to own; however, in many states, they are not legal for civilians to carry for defensive purposes. In some states, you need to be a police officer or on-duty security guard with a particular permit in order to legally carry a baton. So, checking the laws in your state for baton use and carry is your primary order of business. If you are allowed to carry a baton, or you’d simply like to keep one in your home as a less-than-lethal self-defense alternative, here are a few more important aspects to keep in mind.

Retaining the Baton

One of the central issues surrounding use of a baton for self-defense is retention. Like I stated earlier, a stick of any kind is about the most natural weapon for any human being—or any primate for that matter—to wield as a weapon. It’s much easier to use than a knife, a gun, or a pair of nunchakus. Give a child with no training a stick, and he can hurt someone with it. That being said, it’s also just as easy to get the stick or baton taken from you and then used against you.

One advancement in baton technology that helps with regard to retention is the advent of expendable batons. A steel baton that expands and detracts requires that the tip of the baton be much smaller than the grip, and of course a smaller diameter is much harder to grab and hold onto then a wider one. So, using an expandable baton, like this ASP baton, is a great choice. Your opponent would have to literally get a hold of the grip where your hand is to have a good chance of stealing the weapon.

Nevertheless, no matter what sort of baton or nightstick you’re using, from the expandable to the billy club, you absolutely must keep retention in mind. Use your free hand to keep individuals away from the grip. The moment you feel an opponent get a hold of the other end of your baton, use a defensive escape maneuver, such as quick, hard, small circles to break the grip. Place both hand on the weapon, and create a fast, hard whirlwind with the baton, and then pull back to your guard position the moment it’s free. This swift circling motion should be sufficient to break a hard grip.

At right, Spc. Kevin Valencia dodges a baton strike by Staff Sgt. Brooke Parras during civil disturbance training July 16 at Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Soldiers are members of the 40th Military Police Company, 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade, California Army National Guard. The 185th sponsored the training. . (US Army photo/SPC EDDIE SIGUENZA)
At right, Spc. Kevin Valencia dodges a baton strike by Staff Sgt. Brooke Parras during civil disturbance training July 16 at Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Soldiers are members of the 40th Military Police Company, 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade, California Army National Guard. The 185th sponsored the training. . (US Army photo/SPC EDDIE SIGUENZA)

Using the Baton for Self-Defense

Less-the-Lethal: For Pain

In the military police or riot police, we train to use police batons for crowd control purposes. We aim never to injure and certainly not to kill; so we use the threat of pain to induce control. A civilian who needs to wield the baton for self-defense may also want to simply use pain or the threat of pain to defend him or herself. When using a baton to induce pain, aim for the meaty part of the thighs or arms. Give hard, full swings and swing all the way through, back and forth. Remember, this a less-than-lethal defensive technique, so NEVER swing toward the face or head, unless you are willing to seriously injure or kill.

Less-the-Lethal: For Immobilization

In certain defensive situations, like that of an intoxicated assailant or someone much bigger than you, pain or the threat of pain may not be enough of a deterrent. Instead, you may need to immobilize the attacker. Immobilization techniques are not to be used as a crowd control technique, but rather only for non-lethal self-defense.

In these cases, you’ll want to aim for bones. Swing hard, and again swing all the way through. A strong crack of metal or wood against a bone can easily break the bone; but make sure to go for areas that don’t have a lot of meat or muscle protecting it, which is why the knee, shin, elbow, or hands are great options. Again, this is for non-lethal purposes—meaning you do not feel your life is being threatened, but rather you must just stop or escape an assault. You DO NOT want to permanently injure or maim the individual; so stay away from soft targets, like the groin, neck, or anywhere on the head.

For Lethal Purposes

A baton is almost always to be used as a less-than-lethal weapon. For police, military, and security, if lethal means are necessary for the preservation of life, we would always resort to our firearms.  If there are extenuating circumstances in a life-or-death situation, however, such as we cannot get to our firearm, or our lethal weapons are malfunctioning, we may have no choice but to use the baton as a lethal device.

In cases like this, we would strike hard and fast toward the head: aim for the temple, the nose, the eye, or the back of the head where the spine meets the base of the skull. These areas are most likely to create stopping power, without consideration for what happens to the attacker. But remember, if you use the baton, or any weapon for that matter, in a potentially lethal manner, you better have good reason—you better be able to clearly articulate and justify that you perceived a threat to life and had no other reasonable means of stopping the attack.

Again, know your laws as well as your abilities to effectively and safely use your baton. Use it responsibly, and carry it legally. For more information on non-lethal self-defense weapons, check out my articles on pepper spray tips, stun gun defense, or flashlights for self-defense. Good luck and stay safe!

When to Use a Stun Gun

When to Use a Stun Gun

A non-lethal, legal weapon is always a highly preferred choice for self-protection. Even if you’re legally allowed to carry a lethal defense weapon, like a gun or a knife, you don’t want to have to use it. So, carrying pepper spray, a stun gun, or a Taser are the best options for self-defense. But to legally carry and use the latter two, you better know when and how to use a stun gun properly.

The following are some tips on how and when to use a stun gun, the difference between stun guns and Tasers, and how Tasers for civilians differ from those carried by law enforcement.


When and How to Use a Stun Gun

Legally, a stun gun is ONLY to be used in matters of self-defense—when you can reasonably articulate that you had no other option to defend yourself against an attack. It’s of course always best to try and avoid potentially dangerous situations altogether, if you can help it. But should you need to walk to your car late in the evening after work, for example, you’ll need to take measures to stay safe. And if an assailant were to accost you, and you felt you could not defend yourself reasonably, then this would be the ideal to time to use a stun gun in self-defense.

As you encounter any potentially dangerous situation, you’ll want to keep your stun gun ready in hand, not in your purse or pocket. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times and be prepared to use your stun gun if you need to. Your stun gun protects you from attacks at close range, meaning 0 to 3 feet away. If attacked, be certain you hit your target with your weapon before you press the button to begin the electric shock.

You need to hold the stun gun against your attacker for about 3 to 5 seconds, depending on the voltage of the stun gun. Try to keep your body physically safe while also in range to execute the prolonged stun. Stunning your attacker will not electrocute you.

Stun Guns vs. Tasers

Some people think that stun guns and Tasers are the same weapon. They’re not. You use stun guns at close range, while Tasers protect you from assailants that are up to 15 feet away or more. Stun guns and Tasers have similar purposes, but quite different capabilities.

Stun guns require direct contact with a perpetrator, and they make it necessary for you to hold this contact for a few seconds. Stun guns immobilize an attacker by overworking the muscles in a rapid amount of time, depleting the person of blood sugar. They shock, immobilize, and cause extreme pain. Tasers also shock, immobilize, and cause pain, but they’re meant to help you repel someone from a safe distance, typically between 10 to 15 feet away. They shoot out 2 probes, which remain attached to your Taser via cords. Because the probes shoot out away from each other, they deliver greater electrical range throughout the assailant’s body, making it often easier to immobilize an attacker with a Taser than a typical stun gun.

Civilian Tasers vs. Law Enforcement Tasers

Four policeman with weaponsCivilians and law enforcement personnel carry different kinds of Tasers, because the immediate needs and capabilities of each differ. If you’re considering purchasing a Taser, its critical you know how to use a Taser designed to keep civilians safe.

Normal civilians Tasers hold a shock for about 30 seconds, which gives the weapon holder enough time to immobilize an attacker, put the Taser down, and run to safety. The Taser brand says that if you’re attacked and you need to put your Taser down to run, you can contact you local law enforcement agency to file a police report, and then Taser will replace your weapon free of charge. Civilian Tasers have a range of around 15 feet.

Law enforcement Tasers emit a shock for 5 seconds, which is supposed to be all the time needed for an officer to restrain an assailant and handcuff him or her. Tasers for law enforcement have a range of around 21 feet.

These are just some of the ways and times to use a stun gun, and the differences between stun guns and different Tasers. To find out more, there are many stun guns and Taser products you can look at and read reviews about. All of them will help keep you safe, but depending on your particular needs and typical environment, you may find one is better for you than the other.

How to Hide a Spy Camera

How to Hide a Spy Camera

I’m no covert agent or deep cover investigator, but I don’t need to have top secret clearance to understand how to hide a spy camera. There are any number of reasons why someone might use a spy camera, and there are a ton of different spy cams out there, masked in all sorts of ways. But I’ll tell you what, if you want to remain super covert, you’re probably going to need a hidden wifi spy camera, so you can place it just about anywhere to capture the evidence. And once you get what you need, you’ll need to learn how to hide it properly.


So let’s say you’ve gone out a purchased a hidden/spy camera, and now you have to figure out where to put the it and how to mount it. Maybe you’re wondering how to hide a spy camera in your car or where to hide a mini spy camera on your person so that it’s totally concealed. Well, the good news is there are easy ways to hide spy cameras in the home, car, or on yourself in order to capture the evidence without being discovered.

How to Conceal Your Spy Camera

A good spy camera must of course blend in with its surroundings so Spy Cameras for home, car and outdoor areasthat no one but you, and those that are in on the operation, know it’s there. Covert spy cameras that assimilate seamlessly with household or office items are usually the best for ultra-concealed recording. These cameras don’t look like cameras. They appear to be normal appliances or everyday items. For instance, you might place a stuffed animal Nanny Cam in a child’s bedroom or playroom. Tissue Box spy cameras can be positioned anywhere in a house or office. Outdoor spy cameras can resemble landscaping lights so they’re not seen.

Again, many spy cameras, like these, are already super concealed, but if you have a hidden wifi spy camera that doesn’t come disguised, you’ll need to obscure its positioning so that it’s totally outside of normal perception.

Where to Hide Your Spy Camera

First let’s state the obvious: the situation that requires covert recording is going to dictate where, in general, you should place your hidden wifi spy camera. While determining which room or area might be clear, there are some tips for positioning your camera to get the best view of the action while remaining concealed.

In general, you’ll want to place the camera as far back as possible to capture the widest angle needed, but still maintaining high quality recording. Not only does this consider the angel, but the further back a camera is from the action, generally the harder it is to spot. Second, designate all the angles/corners of the room(s) where activity might take place, and assure they are covered. Third, determine all the potential lighting scenarios, including shadows at different times of the day, to make sure your camera stays concealed and the recorded activity stays clear. We don’t want light suddenly shining onto your camera, creating a glare from the lens; and we don’t want the afternoon sun to create a dark spot in the recording area.

Next, you’ll want to assure the concealment works without obstructing the recording. So when determining how to hide a spy camera at home, for example, you’ll want to test out a recording, including a mock performance of the proposed action. This will help assure you are covering all the potential angles in the various lighting scenarios. In many cases, multiple cameras will be necessary in order to capture the evidence thourughly, even if that means setting up cameras in multiple rooms.

If you’re placing a spy camera in your car, again determine where the action will be and what will the lighting be. Will it occur in the passenger seat, or in the back of the car? Will it happen inside the car, or out the driver’s window? Will it take place at night, during the day, or potentially both? Again you might need multiple cameras, with multiple quality or lighting settings. Next, make sure you carefully read the instructions as to how to properly mount the spy cam, as one that adheres to the windshield will have very different mounting instructions than a concealed car key camera. Again, the way to conceal and mount the camera will have everything to do with what, when, and where you’re planning to record.

What if the Camera is Discovered?

So, what if the concealment doesn’t quite work and the person you’re investigating discovers your spy camera? In many cases, you are best advised to be transparent, especially for legal purposes at that point. Do not lie, but rather let the individual know that they are being recorded for the purposes of protection, liability, or whatever the case is. Just knowing they’re being recorded might stop or prevent the activity about which you’re concerned—which may be a good thing in general but a bad thing for evidentiary purposes. 

On the other hand, if the operation must continue, there are some circumstances under which you may be advised to withhold the truth. Again depending on which type of hidden wifi spy camera you’re using and exactly where you’re using it, technically the camera could have been placed by someone else, to capture something else. Though, with a person committing any sort of foul play, you may find it pretty tough to put them back at ease… Whatever the case, determine the proper, legal strategy now, prior to recording, so that you have the story or strategy in place should it be discovered. In most cases, I would advise you consult with an attorney, as covert recording often has legal stipulations.

Whatever the operation, whether you’re a regular old joe or top secret agent, get a spy camera that captures the evidence right. Do your homework, hide and mount the camera properly, and get the proof.

Stay safe and stay vigilant!