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Phillosoph

Crash Combat Third Edition Out Now!

I am pleased to announce that the Third Edition of Crash Combat has now become available.
This version has been extensively expanded, being about 30% longer. More content, extra illustrations, more techniques, new techniques and generally much more book for your money. In addition, much of the book has been rewritten and restructured so information is more easily assimilated and learnt.
While Crash Combat was originally written for a military context, it remains relevant to any individual wishing to learn to protect themselves in this dangerous and uncertain world.
Visit the Author Spotlight for my other books.
May be purchased direct from Lulu.com in either print or epub format. It will take a few more days or more for this version to appear with other retailers. Buying from Lulu costs you less and more of the money goes to the author.

Update!

I have just received and approved the proof copy of the print version. Very pleased with how it looks and reads. Treat yourself!
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Phillosoph

Tools for Wafer Locks

Decades ago, someone got locked out of their desk. My name was volunteered as “someone who knows about that sort of thing”. Not sure what that actually says about how my colleagues thought of me!
I had never actually picked a lock at the time, but I had read about how it was done so was game to give it a go. I gathered a selection of screwdrivers, paperclips and small allen keys and set off to see what I could do.
My first experimental jiggle of the lock caused the entire plug to separate from the lock. I used a long screwdriver to turn the catch at the back of the lock and the desk was opened.
This doesn't really count as my first lock picking, but it was a useful experience. A couple of years ago the plug of the front door did the same thing. I didn't have a long screwdriver, but the metal/nail file of my Swiss Army Knife was long enough to reach the back of the lock and open the door.
The reason this story has come to mind is that recently I was once again asked to use my knowledge in an official capacity. An important item was locked in a drawer and the key-holder was home sick. I was asked to get the item, no matter what damage was incurred by the cabinet.
Naturally, I reached for my EDC picks, not having any other tools available. Much to my annoyance, my bogotas and snake-rake had no effect. No feedback from the lock, and I could not feel any pins moving. I managed to open the cabinet by levering the top with a screwdriver. It got the job done with surprisingly little damage.
Personally, I was a little miffed thatI had been unable to pick the lock. On the other hand, I had gained considerable kudos from my colleague and manager that I had managed to retrieve the vital item. A nice example of the positive uses of entry techniques?
The challenge and mystery of this lock remained. Was I simply having an “off-day”? I have done little picking recently, and what little I have done is with familiar locks. The next day I tried by skeleton keys on the lock, suspecting it might be a warded design.

Know Your Enemy

With my colleague recovered, I asked to see the actual key. The lock is a wafer lock, the key with teeth on either side.
I have never knowingly picked a wafer lock. I suspect a couple of locks I have successfully raked have been wafers. General opinion seems to be wafers can be picked the same way as pin-tumbler locks. They supposedly have lower manufacturing tolerances, so should be easier. I have even seen them dismissed as “pickable by paperclips” or as obsolete (although still commonly used).
None of this made me feel any better about being beaten by this lock. When I had the chance, I would try and pick this lock again, and try some of the other tools I have acquired.
As chance would have it, the video channel of ukbumpkeys ran an item on the KLOM Wafer Rake kit, which is available at a very reasonable price. This has just arrived today and is very nice. This has a turning tool, 14 double-sided rakes and a fifteenth tool that looks like a half-diamond. The turning tool has a coated handle and the other tools each have a plastic grip. The tools can be used with the turning tool or on their own like jiggler keys.
KLOM Wafer Rakes
I will let you know how they work on the wafer lock.

Gathering My Forces

While I was enjoying my morning coffee I was looking at other potential solutions to this lock. Several years back I purchased a set of jiggler keys that I had found virtually no use for. What is not made clear on many sites is that jiggler keys are mainly intended for use on wafer locks. Other keyway types tend to include wards that prevent them entering, or worse still, prevent them being removed after.
The cabinet wafer lock is double-sided, which suggested that a full snowman pick might be useful. I had forgotten about it, but my first cheap Chinese lock pick set included a full snowman. (My Serentiy Plus kit included a half-snowman that I had ground down from a full double-ball rake)
Some lock pickers list snake-rakes as their go-to tool for wafer locks. I was tempted by this Rytan Rp-14 tool, but alas, horrendous overcharging  for international postage!
Rytan RP-14

Buyer Beware!

While looking for other ideas, my search engine threw up some surprising results.
One item, described as a “40-piece lock picking set” has the following illustration:
Mystery lock pick sets
Absolutely no attempt to show or describe what is inside the cases! The closest you get is this photo:
Not a useful photo of a lock pick set
This shows the ends of the picks, but not the ends most lock pickers would be interested in!
Even more worrying was that searching for lock picking kits threw up these as options:
Not lock picks
Lock picks barely included
Most of the tools shown in these photos are for key-removal. Admittedly, the description does mention that the set has key-removal tools, but it also mentions lock picks, of which their appear to be none. Just to add to confusion, the set of key-removal tools includes a training padlock and set of turning tools.
The kit in the second photo does include some lock picks, although they are hidden inside the credit-card shaped container. I have several of these credit card kits, and they tend to be variable. The first set that I brought from a UK supplier is actually very nice. Other sets I have since acquired are of lower quality, being poorly finished or made from thick (yet surprisingly tough!) steel. They can be nice picks if you are prepared to put in the time to grind and polish them, but a newcomer to lock picking may not know this.
I have to wonder how many would-be lock pickers buy the above kits and waste hours of their time trying to pick with key-removal tools!
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Phillosoph

Golden Ratio and Guns?

I was beginning to watch a movie the other night, when the image of a snub-nosed revolver appeared on screen.
I was reminded of a recent comment from a friend of mine, about some things just looking “right”. In fact I think he said the F-35 looks like a donkey, so who can be surprised it has some many problems?
Why does the snub-nose look so right to me? I grabbed some Golden Ratio callipers that I had and an ancient copy of Gun Digest, and I examined a few photos of stubbies.
Golden Ratio Callipers
If you divided the length by the Golden Ratio, the transition is just behind the trigger. This worked for Colts, Smith and Wesson and Charter Arms Pugs. A photo of a Colt King Cobra also looked nicely proportioned, but clearly had a longer barrel. The callipers revealed the proportions were the same and the barrel was balanced out by the bulkier grip.
Detective Special
I knew from some previous experiments that certain proportions of the Kalashnikov were in the Golden Ratio.
AKM Golden Ratio
Using the Golden Sections guides option of GIMP, I looked at some other iconic guns:
The long Colt M1911A1 auto also shows the Golden Ratio from the back of the trigger guard.Colt M1911A1
So too does a .44 Mountain Magnum with a three inch barrel.
Mountain Backpacker 44 Magnum
The Smith and Wesson Governor is closer to Golden Ratio proportions than I expected.
S&W Governor
A lever-action Winchester shows the ratio from the pivot point of the action.
Winchester Lever
Peacemake-type Revolver
A Colt Peacemaker with a 458 inch barrel shows Golden Ratio proportions more than once. See the ratio of barrel to the rest of the weapon, and the ratio from the trigger or rear of the cylinder forward.
Glock 36
Much to my surprise, a Glock 36 also shows the Golden Ratio.
PPK
I couldn't leave this one out!
Also of interest is how often vertical proportions seem to agree with the Golden Ratio.
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Phillosoph

Morse Code Memory Card

A short blog today, reminiscent of the “free gift”-editions of the comics of my youth.
How likely are you to need Morse code in the modern world? Probably not very much! But as preppers we like to prepare, just in case.
As I have aged, my memory has got demonstrably worse. Also, stress can do odd things to your recall. Therefore it is not a bad thing to have a printed copy of the Morse code, no matter how well you can remember it on a good day.
Morse Code Tree
Morse Code list and Sun Navigation
The Morse code “tree” was taken from here. I like this particular version better than some of the alternates. The tree is useful when translating from Morse code.
The alphabetical list is more useful when converting a message into code. The large and bold print of this version makes it easy to use.
Also included is an aide memoir for navigating by the sun with a watch. While I have figured direction by the sun and time on several occasions, I can seldom remember the modifications for the hemispheres.
I suggest you print both images out, paste them back to back and laminate them.
They can be sized with art programs such as GIMP. I made mine 7 cm high so the laminated card could fit inside the red pouch that is part of my EDC.
EDC Pouch Contents
The card could also be used as a fan to nurture the beginnings of a camp fire.
As a bonus, a Morse code table using peaks rather than dots and dashes.Mountain Morse Code

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Phillosoph

Lock Picks: Snakes and Sparrows

It has been some time since I wrote about lock picking. Today I will share some thoughts on some lock picks that have appeared in previous posts but have not been discussed in depth.

Snake Rake

The snake rake is also sometimes called an “S-rake”.
While the snake is dismissed by some lock pickers, I am rather fond of it. Often the snake has managed to open locks that resisted other rakes.
Most of my lock pick sets contain a snake. Those that did not originally contain one have had one added. My first addition to the Polaris rake set was a Dangerfield Praxis 0.015 snake. My EDC kit has a pair of Bogotas and a short-handled snake from a “James Bond Card”.
The snake is a good tool for working on keyways that are not easily accessed by tools such as the Bogotas.
In longer locks, the snake is often used for a technique I call “selective raking”: working on just one or two pins at a time. Sometimes a rake will set some pins but not others. Working on these pins individually may pick the lock. Selective raking should probably be thought of as intermediate between raking and single pin picking (SPP).
I find a levering motion often works with a snake.
If a lock will not respond to your usual rakes, gently probing the pins with a snake will often yield results.
Perhaps, like a half-diamond, the snake should be classed as a hybrid pick.
Snake and Sparrow lock picks
In the photo above, the snakes are in the middle, with the unadorned, unperforated handles. From top to bottom, a large snake, an angled snake and a standard/small snake. These particular examples all from SouthOrd. The items above are rakes from my Serenity kit.
I have not often used the large or angled variants. I can open locks with them, but the standard snake generally seems to perform better.

Sparrows

The next four lockpicks are all exclusive to Sparrows. They are available from retailers such as UKBumpkeys.

Sandman

The Sandman was the first of the Sparrows lock picks that I purchased. It is the one with the dragon decoration on the handle in the photo above.
I have seen the Sandman described as a “big, fat snake”. According to some websites, the Sandman is designed to work on locks that have both tricky high/low pinning without losing the ability to deal with close pinning.
On the plus side, the Sandman often pops open my practice padlock on the initial insertion. On the down side, I have not personally found that many other locks I can use it on.
This may possibly be due to its American heritage. UK/European locks tend to be narrower and longer than US, and this can be a problem when using picks intended for the US market. The Sandman is a big pick and seems to be too large for many UK/European locks or the small padlocks I often encounter. It may be too tall to enter keyways with kinks, curves or obstructions. Of course, you may encounter padlocks and other locks where this size is not a problem. It fitted easily into my filing cabinet lock, but did not do much. If I want to open that lock, the Bogota remains the pick of choice.
In locks that will take it, the Sandman seems to work well.
Although the Sandman is relatively thick (0.025", I think) a number of reviewers mention snapping it. Notably these seem to be from people relatively new to lock raking.
The golden rule of lock picking is “less is more” and the Sandman is a good case in point. If scrubbing or rocking with the Sandman a slow movement seems to work best. For raking in general, if you are scrubbing like you are brushing your teeth, you may be too fast. Slow down and use less force. Pins will sometimes set as you remove pressure, such as beginning to remove a pick from the keyway.
I have heard the Sandman works well in wafer locks. I have not been able to verify this personally.

Octo-Rake

The Octo-Rake may look like a snake but it is more of a rocker and scrubber than a ripper-zipper. As one reviewer puts it, “only take it out the lock if you are flipping it over”. In the photo, the pick with an octopus decoration.
Personally, I find the Octo-rake more useful than the Sandman, since this can be persuaded to enter relatively small locks. You may have to insert the rake before positioning the turning tool.
I have a tenacious little padlock that previously only raked open with a Bogota, Princess or Prince. Not only does the Octo-rake open this lock, it does so faster than the Bogota! I doubt I could open it quicker if I had the key!

Warlock

When it works, the Warlock is very fast.
A video online comments that it is easy to overset some locks with the Warlock, and this seems fair comment.
If a lock is going to succumb to the Warlock’s spell it may need just a light tickle.
Practising on a see-through lock I discovered that attempting to apply a bit of torque as the Warlock inserts was worth trying.
The Warlock seems to prefer to be used with the decal on the port side, a contrast to the Octo-rake which favours one side for some locks and the other for others.
Despite its size, the Warlock handled some of my narrower lock ways surprisingly well.
The Warlock is a nice compliment to the Octo-rake. It opens some of my locks much more easily than the Octo. On the other hand, the Octo is the quickest rake I have for a lock that ignores the Warlock.

Worm

The Sparrows Worm rake is also known as the Serpentine Worm. It is bottom-most in the photo.
The Worm is a much more gracile beast than the Sparrows picks already mentioned. The Worm is similar (but not identical to) the smaller, five-hump sinusoid rake (no.7) in the Polaris set. Some of my locks open more readily with the Polaris no.7, others are more vulnerable to the Worm. Like the small sinusoid, the Worm is useful for keyways that are too small for easy use of the Bogotas or other larger rakes.
In other words, the Worm is a very useful partner to the Octo-rake or other large rakes.
My only criticism of the Worm is at the blade of mine seemed to pick up brass marks and has discoloured.

Conclusion

If I was asked to prioritize which of these picks someone should acquire, the standard snake would be at the top of my list. I would not bother with the large snake or the angled variant.
The Worm would be a close second. It is very useful to have a rake that can be used keyways that are a problem for the more commonly used rakes. If the Worm does not work, the snake may still save the day!
Third place goes to the Octo-rake. Despite its apparent size, I have found this useful for a wide range of locks.
The Warlock takes fourth place. While this is a useful rake, I do not feel it is quite as versatile or useful as the Octo-rake. Others may feel differently.
I have placed the Sandman last. While it can be effective, its application is mainly for larger or straighter keyways. If you encounter a lot of such locks, then I would not discourage you from buying a Sandman. There are no bad picks in this review. All of them are worth considering as an addition to your collection.
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Phillosoph

Kidney Warmers and Bellybands

Decades ago, when I first saw “Fists of Fury”, the scene above puzzled me. How did Bruce Lee’s character conclude the chef was Japanese just from seeing his undergarment?
The answer is that the Japanese are known for being fond of haramaki or “bellybands”.
Kidney Warmer/ Bellyband
The Germans are also fond of a similar garment. I have read of the Afrika Korps being issued “kidney-warmers”. The “Armed Forces of World War Two” by Andrew Molo clarifies:
“With the rapid drop in temperature at night, personnel wore a knitted woollen waist protector next to their skin, and a woollen greatcoat over their other clothing.”
I used to work with a colleague who had a German wife. I was apparently “mother’s wisdom” that you should wear a kidney warmer to keep your feet warm. Similarly, running around without socks could cause kidney and bladder problems.
Kidney warmer
It is interesting that diverse cultures in different parts of the world maintain that there is a link between kidneys and feet!
In a previous blog I mentioned that some American Civil War soldiers wore a flannel belt next to the skin.
Bellyband side view
“So what?” you may be asking. Many readers will own at least one set of long underwear. And sometimes the undershirt rides up and exposes the small of your back. A kidney warmer would have prevented this and also proved extra insulation.
Or perhaps, you are wearing a loose tee-shirt and find things can get a little drafty when the wind picks up.
Suppose you have to improvise cold weather clothing due to an unexpected change in the weather. Wrapping a spare scarf, keffiyeh or strip of material around your midriff could make all the difference.
Button around bellyband
There are a variety of styles of bellyband available. Some are elasticated tubes you either step into or pull over. Others are wrap-around and utilize velcro or other means.
If you have a snug-fitting tee-shirt or jumper that has seen better days, it should be easy to make your own kidney warmer to try the idea out.
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Phillosoph

Leading Targets for Lead

If some field manuals are to be believed, determining the lead for a moving target involves:
• Correctly determining the range to the target.
• Remembering the time a bullet will take to reach that distance.
• Estimating the speed of movement of the target. For added complexity estimate this in miles per hour and convert.
• Calculate how far the target will move in the time the bullet gets to reach it, and aim that distance ahead.
• Don't forget to halve the value if the target is moving obliquely.
You will probably have under a second to do this as the target dashes between cover.
Andrew G. Elliot, “Shooting to Kill”:
“The impossibility of judging this consciously will be realized when it is explained that a target moving at this range and speed scarcely allows time to place the rifle to the shoulder without making complicated mathematical calculations.
“In war, as distinct from print, there is hardly time to aim at all, and that is why the whole technique must become so natural that it is carried out without thought.
“…The secret of hitting a moving target is simple. Follow the target with your aim for a few seconds to judge its speed, then just before firing, quite instinctively and without any conscious allowance, you will find that you swing a little in front of the enemy.
Always keep your eye on the target, and for a moving one, on the front of it, so that- if you are shooting a running Nazi, focus the front buttons of his tunic.
“…In shooting moving targets, one need not worry about the sights. The Nazis will rarely give you any time for that!
“To prove that instinctive allowance is easier than conscious effort, it has been found that many men can shoot better in the semi-darkness than in daylight. I myself have often shot running rabbits with a rifle when the light was such that I could only just see the animal’s outline.”
Elliot was a big advocate of soldiers spending time practising raising, swinging through and dry-firing their rifles. This was time much better spent than squarebashing.
Note that swinging through is not the same as the tracking of a target that some manuals describe. Swing through overtakes the target.
The swing-through method of leading a target cannot always be used. From certain postures or firing positions it is difficult to use. In such an instance one must use the ambush method. Aim at a point in space and fire when the moving target is the correct lead distance from your aim point.
For simplicity, the following will assume targets are dismounted personnel. Shooting at drones, aircraft and vehicles will not be covered today.
Note that if you need to quantify a target's velocity, it is more useful to judge it in metres per second than units such as miles per hour or km/h. This is something that you can observe and make use of in the field.

Depths of Lead

Possibly the easiest technique to learn is found in field manuals for the M14. The M14 was zeroed to 250 metres so the nearer aim point is also lower to allow for hold-under.
Depth of Lead for Moving Target
The method is based around a measure I call a “depth of lead”. This is approximately the depth of a human torso, from sternum to spine. It is also roughly a foot if you are viewing your target side on. If the target is moving at an angle to you, the depth will appear smaller and the amount of lead you apply will be automatically reduced.
Bear in mind that lead is often overestimated. At less than 50 metres most moving targets will not need leading. Those that will will only need aim shifted towards the leading edge.
For targets that are more distant, or moving fast:
• If the target is moving slowly (less than 2 metres per second), and within 200m, aim at the leading edge or the button-line/belt-buckle.
• If speed is slow but range greater than 200m, add one depth of lead.
• If moving fast, but within 200m, add one depth of lead.
• If moving fast AND beyond 200m, add two depths of lead.
The amount of lead this gives may differ somewhat from a calculated value. Given all the other factors in play during combat, it is generally “close enough for government work”.
Two complimentary systems will be mentioned:

USMC Points of Aim

This first is that given in USMC MCRP 3.01A Rifle Marksmanship. This is an excellent work for fundamentals and how to utilize iron sights. The “point of aim” system appears to resemble the “point of depth” method, but has differences.
Marine Point of Aim for Lead
“One point of Aim” in the marine manual is actually aiming directly at the target's leading edge. (The above illustration could be clearer on this.)
“Two points of Aim” is placing the trailing edge of the front post on the target's leading edge. Two points of aim is used for a fast-walking (2 m/s) target at 300 metres or a running (3+ m/s) target at 200m. These leads are reduced for targets not moving perpendicularly. The actual offset this will produce will depend on the apparent width of the front post.

US Army Single Lead Rule

Single Lead Rule
The technique given for leading a target in US Army FM 3-22.9 (August 2008) at first glance seems the same as MCRP 3.01A. The army “Single Lead Rule” actually uses the trailing edge corner of the post to sight with. Unlike the marine method, the corner of the post is targeted on the centre rather than the leading edge. This technique automatically increases the amount of lead as distance increases. If you miss, increase lead. The manual notes: “At 100 meters, the rule begins to break down for targets moving at slight and large angles. ” Despite this, it seems a useful technique to get in the ballpark.
AT4 Slow TargetAT4 Fast Target
This aiming technique is very similar to that used for the AT4/M136 anti-tank weapon. For a slow target the post is placed on the leading edge. For faster targets one of the “horns” is placed on the centre of the target. Aiming at faster targets such as jeeps and technicals does not yet seem to have made it into the copies of the manuals I have. Placing the horn on the leading edge seems like a logical place to start.
Amusingly, the copy of FM3-22.9 I have insists that iron sights on the M16/M4 are now only for backup. The entire section on leading a target only refers to the use of iron sights!
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Phillosoph

Aim Low! Avoid Disappointment!

Because it is what was taught in basic, many shooters assume that “center of mass” is the optimum approach to bullet placement. It isn't.
Firstly, “center of mass” is something of a misnomer. What we are actually attempting is placing the bullet in the centre of visible shape. While the term “center of mass” is freely used, it is seldom defined. I think of it as the centre of an X drawn from shoulders to hips, but I suspect others may use different visualizations.
If you have learnt a little anatomy, such as reading “Attack, Avoid, Survive”, you will understand that putting a bullet into the centre of shape will often avoid hitting the central nervous system unless the enemy is running straight at you.
Often you will not have a shot at the torso. When a head appears around cover, firing at its centre will often result in a miss. A better point of aim is about an inch below the visible area.
Center of mass does have its uses. It is taught since it is felt to be easy to learn, and it is because it is what we have always done. Against a vehicular target, center of mass (or leading edge) is a good aimpoint. If you are springing an ambush, chaos and disruption are primary objectives. Multiple wounding shots or near misses may be more effective in that context than a lesser number of clean kills.
In “Attack, Avoid, Survive” and “Survival Weapons” I explained shot placement in the context of anatomy. If you have a relatively good view of your target, or sufficient time, this is your best approach.
The following two illustrations are of interest:
Shot Placement for Snipers
The first is taken from a WW2 manual for American snipers (FM21-75 Feb, 1944 p.172). The rifle was zeroed to 400 yards and the shooter encouraged to use offset aiming rather than adjusting their sights. Note that at 400 yards the intended target appears to be the armpit-level line, as advocated in my own books. At less than 400 yards, the sniper is recommended to aim twelve inches below the intended point of impact.
M14 Aim Points
The second illustration is from a manual for the M14, which was zeroed to 250 metres. At ranges of less than 200 metres the round would hit high so soldiers were taught to aim at the bottom edge of the “center mass”.
Most military rifles are zeroed to 300 yards or metres. Some older models have battle sights set for 400 yards. Yet most combat shots are made at less than 200 metres, where the bullet is expected to hit several inches above the point of aim! Any wonder that shooting directly at a face will so often miss?
In combat, it is common for troops to shoot high anyway. This is partially stress, but also poor visibility makes targets appear more distant. Differences in elevation will also have an effect.
Firing through a sloped windscreen will tend to deflect a bullet upwards. This occurs if outside firing in or inside firing out. The solution is to aim low.
Often a target will be at a higher or lower elevation. You may be firing down from a hill, or being fired upon from an upper window or roof. The actual range to the target is not a straight line between the shooter and target. Imagine a right-angled triangle, with the shooter at one corner and the target at the other. It doesn't matter which is higher, since the effect is exactly the same both “uphill” and “downhill”. The direct distance between shooter and target would be the hypotenuse of the triangle. As far as the bullet and gravity are concerned, the relevant distance is horizontal, the length of the triangle base. The true or horizontal range will always be shorter than the slant range. Using a 5:4:3 triangle for illustration, the horizontal distance will be 20-40% less than the direct line between target and shooter. Shots up or from elevations tend to hit high.
There are two solutions to these effects. If you have any choice in the matter, zero your combat rifle to 200 metres so that it tends to hit what you point at. This gives a mid-range trajectory of only two or three inches. For longer ranged shots, learn the correct holdover and offset aim-point. Tactically, you are often better off waiting for an enemy to get close or pass by. Long-range engagements are better left to machine-gunners, mortars and snipers.
The second solution is to make the belt-buckle your default point of aim. I believe there is an episode of the Simpsons where Homer claims the family moto is “Aim Low! Avoid Disappointment!”.
• If you are at a higher or lower elevation, aim at the target's belt-buckle.
• If you are uncertain of the range, aim at the belt-buckle. A short shot may still glance off the ground and hit the target.
• If the target is moving, visualize the belt-buckle and aim for it. This method automatically tends to adjust for relative angle of motion. If the target is moving obliquely aiming for the buckle will put less lead on the shot.
• Unless range is very short, snap shots should be aimed at the belt-buckle.
• A target may be prone, or looking around cover. Aim your shot about an inch below the visible target area. A low shot may still endanger the target.
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Phillosoph

SERE Pin and EDC Bypass Knife

I have been promising to write about the SERE pin for some time.
SERE Pin and EDC Bypass Knife

SERE Pin

The SERE Pin is an implement for escape and evasion applications. It is very easily concealed. You can push the shaft down the seam of a garment, for example.
The SERE Pin has four applications:
• It acts like a key to lift the pawl of handcuffs.
• It can disengage the double lock mechanism of handcuffs.
• It can serve as a shank to separate the teeth of a ratchet mechanism of handcuffs.
• It can be used to shim or lift the pawl of a zip/cable tie.Handcuff Internal Mechanism

For an explanation of these terms I will direct you to my older posts on double-locking and shimming.
To disengage the double-lock or handcuffs, use the long, curved end of the tool. In the illustration, one would introduce it at around the 4:30 position on the keyhole and use it to push the double-locking mechanism (the red part in the image) upward.
Once the double lock is disengaged, the pawl can be shimmed or lifted.
To lift the pawl, insert the short hooked end of the SERE pin at around the 11 o'clock position and use it to lift the lock bar (green component) inward.
To shim, insert the long part of the tool between the teeth. You may need to tighten the bracelet a little to achieve this. If the shim becomes caught you may have to straighten it a little.
SERE pins are easily fabricated from bobby pins. Do not make the short hook too long. I recommend rounding off the corners and bevelling the tips.

EDC Bypass Knife

The second item on today’s “show and tell” is a work in progress.
After I wrote yesterday’s blog, I set about creating a bypass knife that was compatible with my EDC kit.
Basic design requirement is that it should fit within the pouch that carries part of my EDC. Whether this is where I will carry it, I have yet to decide.
EDC Pouch Contents
As a lock picker, I acquire any windscreen-wiper inserts whenever I come across them. For this project I selected a narrow one that already ended in a partial point at one end. Width is about 3 mm.
The point was tapered further with a hand-file and a Dremel tool. One side was left reasonably straight, the other tapered more so the point is offset.
Once the point was formed, the end of the insert was cut 10 cm from its end. The butt end was rounded and smoothed.
The point was smoothed and polished with several grades of glass-paper.
It is possible that the point needs to be made more acute. The only bypass knife I have is a cheap Chinese one. My tool is already better finished than that! Also, I lack any bypass-knife-vulnerable locks to try it out on.
How often will I encounter a vulnerable lock I might need to use the tool on? I don’t know. This did get me thinking about other functions it may have. (Using it as a nail-cleaner probably shouldn’t count!)
The butt end may serve as a skeleton key. The width is virtually the same as the shanks of my bunch of skeleton keys. It has already opened a small warded luggage lock I have.
The pointed end could be used on the pawl of a zip-tie.
I can also confirm that the tool makes an effective handcuff shim. Worked better than I expected, if I am honest. It might be prudent to polish and smooth the rest of the shaft for such applications.
Categories
Phillosoph

EDC Lock Picking and Bypass Kits

As regular readers will know, the lock picking contingent of my EDC is rather small:
— A pair of Bogotas.
— A small snake rake.
— A double-ended turning tool.
Bogota Lock Picks
Other items, such as the three-inch pocket prybar, may have applications in bypassing locks. When the barrel of my doorlock came out with my key, it was the long file on my Swiss Army Knife that was needed to open the door.
Today I will bring you two interesting videos on lock picking and bypass tools for EDC. Credit to Dean for directing me to the first one.
While I have done a bit of lock picking, I don’t have as much experience with bypass techniques as I might wish. When the zombies come, I will be grabbing my kukri, crowbar and brick hammer. Those will bypass a few obstacles!
Some thoughts on the suggestions:
— The plastic shim seems like a very prudent choice.
— I have never used them, but padlock shims might be worth having. I seem to recall padlock shims can be cut from soda or beer can material. The edges of these will probably be surprisingly sharp, so take care.
— I have a number of bobby pins in my general EDC pouch. These are in a bag with some paper clips and about a dozen safety pins. A few weeks back some of these safety pins were used to repair my girlfriend’s jeans.
— I have some comb-picks, but have not been able to open any locks with them. The same can be said of my set of jiggler keys, although I suspect the latter are intended for car doors since they are too large for all my locks. Most keyways I encounter have kinks in them, so the straight combs and jigglers would be difficult to insert or move within them. I think my Bogottas and snake are a more effective and versatile option.
— Similarly, my set of skeleton keys stays at home since large warded locks seem to be relatively uncommon. If long enough, a bypass knife may serve instead. The small warded locks often used on luggage can be popped by a variety of implements, including sturdy picks like the Bogotas.
Bunch of Skeleton Keys and Decoder
— My bunch of skeleton keys includes a decoder I made from a cut-out shape of soda can (top). I do not think I have tried it out, since I seldom encounter combination locks. There are ways to crack combination padlocks without a decoder tool, and I have used these at least once.
— A bypass knife seems worth having. My Serenity Plus kit includes one that came with a set of my Chinese picks. I cannot recall if I have ever opened anything with it. Most of my padlocks are not vulnerable to this technique. I plan to try making a bypass knife that will fit in my EDC.
Mini-Slim-Jim Dimensions
— The mini-slim-jim is interesting. Obviously this is too short to be used to open car doors. That is probably not a drawback given the number of vehicle vulnerable to slim-jims is probably decreasing every year. The mini-slim-jim is actually intended to bypass the latches of doors. The large notch on the tool is probably a legacy of its ancestry. Sparrows makes several sizes of slim-jim. They also make the “Hall Pass”, which is a credit-card-shaped tool in either metal or plastic. Southern Specialities offers their own design of tool for latches, the “Multipass”.
Sparrow's Hall Pass Southern Specialities Multipass Sparrow's Orion Hall Pass
I have tried making something similar out of an old plastic card. I didn’t have any success opening a door, but at the time I had yet to locate the correct dimensions. I am also now more familiar with the manual technique needed, so it might work better in future.
I have, however, managed to pop a latch using a TOK turning tool. This experiment seemed to indicate that a traveller hook hook may be a better way to attack a latch than a slim-jim. Being able to rotate the tool would have advantages. This is what the bent piece of music wire in the first video is intended for.
Sparrow's Traveller Hooks
I may try to fabricate a traveller hook hook that can fit in my EDC. Sparrows sell two sizes of traveller hook (also called traveller’s, travellers, shrum tool or travelling hooks). Auto-stores sell something similar as “O-ring pullers”. Skewers, ejector pins and music/piano wire can be used to fabricate traveller hook hooks. For reference, the Sparrow hooks use shanks 2.6mm (0.1 inch) thick.
Latches can sometimes be opened by threading a cord or wire behind them.
Categories
Phillosoph

Dressing for Bug-Out

When you reach for your bug-out bag (BOB), there are two questions that you should be asking yourself.
The first is: “Do I really need to go?” Escaping to safety is a meme that Hollywood has drummed into us. It makes a great movies, but in reality “stay put” is usually a more prudent survival strategy than “bug-out”.
That said, if the answer was yes, your second question should be: “What is the weather like?”

Clothes Maketh the Survivor

Your chances are going to be much better if you are dressed for the conditions that you are likely to encounter. With your bag should be a selection of clothing items that you may possibly need.
Let us work on the assumption that the survivor must fend for themselves for 72 hours.
Sadly, there is no single outfit of clothing that can handle all possible conditions, hence the selection.

Underwear: Unmentionables for the Unthinkable

Let us start at the foundation, the underwear:

Hot Weather Undies

Shorts

If the weather or climate is hot, your underwear can simply be shorts and t-shirt.
Swimming shorts are a good choice. Those made from synthetics dry very fast, simplifying laundry. I like the ones with a mesh-lining that keeps things in place and under control. If it is really hot, the shorts also function as outerwear. Wearing them is also handy if you have to ford a stream. A useful tip for underwear of all sorts is to have each set a different colour. This helps you keep track of which has been worn and which is clean. Two pairs are sufficient. A third pair is handy in case things go more than a couple of days.

Tee-Shirts

For the t-shirts, it is worth acquiring them in coolmax, since it is fast drying. Again, get two or three, and have them in different colours.
A pair of t-shirts in string-vest material are useful additions. In hot weather they stop cloth pasting to your sweating flesh. In cold weather they add an extra layer of warmth for very little additional load.
Sports Bra
A bra will be needed for them that needs them. I would imagine a sports bra would be a good choice for a bug-out situation. I have no experience wearing bras, so will offer no further advice.

Temperate Climate Underwear

For temperate conditions, we will need more underwear. We need to keep comfortable at night and on the rainy days, so will need something more substantial than what we usually wear at home or working indoors.

Long-Johns

You will need two pairs of long-johns. Polycotton are probably fine. You do not want underwear that is too hot in temperate conditions. Polycotton is relatively easy to launder.
Polycotton Long-Johns

Long-Sleeve Undershirts

You will need a pair of undershirts, preferably long-sleeved. Since your torso sweats more than your legs, have these in coolmax if you can. If you cannot get these, the same place that sold you the long-johns probably has long-sleeved tops in polycotton. Have each set of your long underwear a different colour.
Coolmax Long Sleeve
You can wear your temperate underwear with, or instead of, your hot weather items. If it gets colder than expected, wear both sets of long undies.

Underwear for Cold Conditions

If the mercury has dropped, you will need “proper” thermal underwear. In previous eras this meant wool. This is not so easy to find these days and may be beyond your budget. Modern synthetics are much easier to wash. My personal choice is a set of Brynje long-johns and a matching long-sleeve top. These have a mesh construction, and seem more tolerant of extended (multi-day) wear than more conventional construction.
If you are on a budget, you may be able to get along with a single set of thermals. If you live where winters can be expected to be cold, two sets are a good investment. On the other hand, if you live near the equator, thermal long-johns may be low on your list of priorities.
Your thermals can be combined with one or more sets of your temperate and hot weather underwear.
Not strictly “underwear”, a wool or fleece shirt or a thin jumper may be worn over the underwear.
During the Second World War and Korean War, American soldiers would wear their woollen uniform trousers under their cotton field trousers. The modern equivalent are quilted trouser liners. A variety of these can be found on army surplus sites.

Organizing Your Undies

These underwear items are fairly low bulk, so a set of each of the hot and temperate kit should be packed in your bag. Bagged up, this probably makes a comfortable pillow at night.
The set(s) of thermals, and the second set of hot and temperate underwear should be stored close to your BOB. Put on what is suitable for the day. Decide if you want to take the rest or leave some behind. Trouser-liners are more bulky, so only pack or wear them if you think they are really needed.

Outerwear

Ok, now you are in your undies. What else to put on?
This will depend on whether you expect the weather to be hot, temperate or cold.

Hot Weather Outerwear

For hot weather, your outer layer should be something like a medium-weight shirt. Lighter shades handle strong sunlight better. The shirt should be of generous cut, for air circulation. This also allows warmer clothing to be worn beneath it. It should be of a tight weave to resist mosquitoes and the wind. It should have long-sleeves that can be rolled down for protection from insects. Cotton or poly-cotton are acceptable for hot weather. Some of the newish synthetic microfibres may be sufficiently comfortable too. A combat jacket can be worn instead of a shirt, but you do not want something that is too heavy or too hot. Probably best to avoid lined garments. Have a spare shirt in your bag. The two may be worn together, as described previously.
For the legs, cargo trousers are good. They should be roomy enough to fit over trouser-liners and long underwear. Cargo pockets take your skin-level EDC kit. If these trousers are always with your BOB, your SHTF survival knife/ knives may already be threaded onto the belt. Whether to pack spare trousers is up to you. 
If the weather is likely to be variable, it may be prudent to pack a thin jumper and possibly a light jacket or field coat.

Temperate Outerwear

For temperate conditions, outerwear is the same as for hot weather with the addition that something like a field jacket is more likely to be being worn. The jacket should be large enough to fit over a fleece jacket and any additional layers of insulation you might don. Field jackets such as the M65 can be fitted with a detachable liner, which is worth having.
Fleeces are often seen worn as the outermost layer. They work much better if they are under something more windproof, such as a field jacket, waterproof or even just under a shirt.
Items such as tracksuit tops, hoodies and bomber jackets may be worn under or instead of the field jacket. The order of these may be varied to vary your appearance, which may be useful in certain conditions. Several thin layers of insulation are more versatile than a lesser number of thick ones.

Cold Weather Outerwear

If it is cold out, ensure that you have the liner for your field jacket. If a bomber jacket or similar has a liner too, so much the better. If it is cold, your field jacket will probably not be your outermost layer. Have a parka, and buy it big so that it will fit over your field jacket and anything else likely to be under it.

Insulation

I have talked about insulation. A common mistake is to use too much. A good rule of thumb is that what you are wearing should leave you feeling slightly chilly when you are stationary. You will warm up once you are under way.
The suggestions above constitute a layer system. A layer system is a useful way to customize your insulation level before you set out. Adding or removing items when under way may not be as practical as some writers make out. Try it halfway up an Icelandic mountain in a 60mph wind!
When on the move, frequently vent your clothing to remove humid air. When you stop, you can put on additional clothing or wrap yourself in a blanket, sleeping bag or poncho-liner.

Colours and Camouflage

In general, your bug-out clothing should be in natural or neutral shades. Camouflage gear may attract unwelcome attention in some parts of the world. Choose greys, browns, tans and dull greens. Do not buy underwear items in white. Avoid black items for outerwear, it tends to stand-out and gets hot in the sun.
Of course, in an emergency you may want to attract attention. Your BOB should include a hi-viz tabard or jerkin, preferably the type with reflectors. One of your shemagh, and possibly one of your warm hats, should be brightly coloured. On the subject of reflectors, a reflective device that can be fitted to the back of your rucksac is useful if you find yourself hiking down a dark road. Bicycle stores are a good place to look for suitable items.
German Desert Parka
If I do need camouflage, I have a German desert parka. Being designed for desert use, it is comfortable in fairly hot weather. It is unlined and has ventilation zips under the arms. I brought the biggest I could find so there is room for both air circulation and insulation. It is in Tropentarn, which is one of the better modern off-the-shelf camouflage patterns. It is long enough to cover most things I might wear under it. It is a valid alternative to a field jacket. Jackets like the M65 can be too warm for milder conditions. The desert parka can use the same liner as the German cold weather parka, so the garment is camouflage cover, field jacket and CW parka.
German Parka Liner
I can wear the desert parka when I need camouflage. It is easily exchanged for another jacket and stowed in a pack when I do not.

And When It Rains

That covers hot, cold and temperate. What about wet?
Every bug-out-bag should include a rain parka.
These have numerous uses. They are reasonably priced and will often keep both you and your pack dry. They are easily vented. They are quick to put on, although this can become interesting if there is a bit of a wind!
There are some situations where a raincoat is preferable. A raincoat is in addition to the poncho rather than an alternative. A good raincoat packs up small when not in use, yet is large enough to cover and keep dry all the clothing that is serving as insulation. For me, this means it should be large enough to fit over my desert parka in winter mode. In a tactical scenario a raincoat would fit under the camouflage layer but over the insulation. This is quieter, and also protects the rainproof from damage.
On the subject of insulation, remember a rainproof garment traps air so acts as both a windproof and an insulator. If you put a rainproof on you may have to take something else off if you are to avoid overheating. It is a good idea to vent clothing, even if using breathable waterproofs.
Simple, small-packing waterproofs became difficult to find for a while. Outdoor shops much preferred to sell more substantial and expensive breathable items. “Pac-a-macs” seem to be making a comeback on the internet, although many are in garish colours!
I have never had a problem with non-breathable waterproofs, since I understood about venting. I also discovered that even expensive breathable fabrics have a finite life. The way you discover that is up is you get wet!

Boots

It is possible you own more than one pair of walking boots. The pair you have with your bug-out bag should be suited to all-weathers and all-seasons. You may have to traverse rubble and debris. Save the lightweight walkers for summer trips. Boots should be already broken in. Personally, I like gaiters if I will be going cross-country.

Socks

You will need at least two pairs of socks, with three pairs preferable. Your feet are important. It is worth investing in good quality woollen socks for your BOB.
Sew a loop of ribbon to each so you can hang them on the outside of your bag to dry. Choose neutral or natural colours. You could use different coloured loops for each pair, although your nose will often tell you which set needs washing. Spare socks can be used as mittens or carrying pouches.

Gloves

You will want several pairs of gloves. Fingerless gloves provide protection when in the brush or scrambling over rubble. These can be used with merkalon or silk glove liners. Work gloves can provide additional protection or another layer of insulation.
In cold weather, better insulated gloves and/or mittens may be required. The pockets of my outdoor jackets usually carry at least one pair of gloves. Keep your other gloves in an external pocket of your pack, where they can be easily accessed.

Hats and Scarves

You will need a hat to keep the sun off. I like a boonie hat, myself. Whatever your choice, add a cord so the wind does not steal it from you.
For cold weather, I tend to favour a watch-cap or folded headover. It is worth carrying more than one of these. If it is really cold, you can double up on hats.
A tennis-headband may be useful in hot weather. A bandanna worn across the forehead is a possible substitute.
Bandannas, shemagh, neck-gaiters and a woollen scarf also have a place in your BOB or coat pockets.

Protection

A bug-out bag is there for emergencies and disasters. A dust mask may prove useful, as may goggles. Sunglasses also protect against snowglare. Kneepads should fit under the trousers. This is better for camouflage and air circulation.
In certain situations, head protection may be prudent. This may be a lightweight hockey or skateboard helmet, or a construction hard-hat.