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lowracer 03-05-2008 05:48 PM

Defensive Gear Placement
When I think of remote camping, two things come to mind as I lay up there in the penthouse, fitfully trying to sleep:

1) Wild animals.
2) Monsters.

Many states (including the People's Republic of California) consider an RV in a campsite to be your "home," for the purposes of armed self-defense. What are you using to defend your SMB and where do you stash it?

I've got a toddler on board so I'm thinking about stashing a .45 in readiness condition 3 in a Mossberg electronic combination lock gunsafe. Not the ideal solution but better than nothing. Readiness condition 3 means a full magazine is in the gun but the slide would need to be racked to chamber a round before it could be fired. This provides redundant toddler protection. He'd have to crack the code on the safe, and then rack the slide on the gun (it's hard for adults to do this properly, takes practice, two arms and a lot of strength).

I need to figure out where to bolt the safe. It's gotta be reachable in an emergency from a sleeping position but also for interstate travel under 18 USC, section 926A it will have to be in the back of the vehicle.

Based on this I'm thinking somewhere in/near the house battery cabinet in an RB-50. Passenger side, as far to the rear of the vehicle as possible.

Pro and con of gun control discussions will be considered off topic. Just would like to see how others have dealt with this situation.

charlie56 03-05-2008 05:54 PM

For now, a can of Bearspray behind the passenger seat.

Greg In Austin 03-05-2008 06:11 PM


Thanks for bringing this up.... I have been thinking a lot about this also.

I have also thought about this with respect to crossing state and national borders.

I wonder about bear-spray type devices, guns, elctrical devices, as well as percussion devices. No, not concussion, percussion.... the things you beat people with.

Ranged device would be preferable.....

Much of my thinking was stirred up by hearing the horror stories about what can happen in Mexico.

...but bad things happen in the states also.

One of my favorite spots is a remote area of Big Bend National park, and I remember a trip there close to 20 years ago (or so) when whie we were there a burned out van was found with a father and daughter dead inside. The fire was deliberate and thought to be the handiwork of drug-runners they found by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

ready to hear some discussion on this topic....

kzemach 03-05-2008 07:10 PM

Cripes, and I thought the van was scary enough. Most people cower away when we're in the area...

jage 03-05-2008 08:06 PM

Understand the reluctance of some to post where (if) they keep their own guns.

That in mind I've seen, installed in a "50" a finger-lock combo safe. It was positioned in the 3-shelved cabinet, on the lowest shelf. The one next to the rear seat bottom when the seat is up. I think it's a pretty good location and it seemed accessible enough from about anywhere in the van (you could hop in the side door and retrieve without climbing all the way to the back).

The floor of the cabinet is as solid as anything, well meaning it is a floor not an access panel. The biggest downside in my mind would be the loss of good storage space.

The other option I'd consider is replacing the book shelf with a 1/2 in the wall unit and disguise it with matching fabric.

saline 03-05-2008 09:46 PM

Although I don't have a Sportsmobile (yet) and can't advise of a prospective defensive weapon location is: you can't get to it quickley enough when you need it. So take that into consideration.
Last summer my wife and I had a freak encounter with a mountain lion attacking the camp next to us in Dinosour National Monument (UT). I had my Glock 9mm within reach beside my head. After a quick panic at 2:30 am with the screaming terror next to us going on...... I reached for my gun and promptly (accidently) swept the gun to the other side of the tent. Meanwhile said crazed mtn lion began a sprint towards our location. By the time I had the gun in a defensive state, the cat was beyond my range and could have come up behind us and poked me in the back of the head with his razor sharp claws.
My vast lifelong outdoor experience and everyday situational awareness (through my work), as well as my manley instinct to protect, combined to create a bumbling idiot looking for his gun!!!!!
Ughh! :b1:

Jeffrey 03-05-2008 11:16 PM

You guys should have been in Death Valley for the SMB trip in Jan. It was like a firearms show!

So, what exactly did that big cat do? You were, after all, in his domain.

canyonclan 03-06-2008 03:13 AM

If I am driving somewhere where I deem it necessary to be armed, generally off road and in the boonies, it is in a location where a) I can access immediately, even if I am seated as passenger or driver and b) where I have the most immediate control over it (ie;hip holster).

There have been two times in my life where I was minding my own business and had a weapon stuck in my face (one of these I was armed and there was not a whole lot I could do). The guy simply got the jump on me and was way ahead on the OODA loop. Luckily for us he got what he wanted and left in a hurry without further violence to me or my companions. These events were important in the fact that it forced me to re-evaluate my preconceived ideas of 'self-defense' and what it means to be prepared for such encounters.

99% of the people who own firearms have a rough idea how to shoot, but have no idea how to fight with their weapon. Most times, as Saline described, your weapon will not be accessible at the time of need, or the threat will be over by the time you retrieve your firearm. Or the threat will have taken you by surprise altogether, again making this a moot point.

Like wild animals, criminals are predators. They are not looking for a fair fight: they want to get as much as possible with as little effort as possible, and with minimal exposure. The fact that they will increase their odds of success in their attack by increasing their numbers is not lost upon them, but is commonly overlooked by their target(s). Therefore, don't act like an easy target. Think about when you are most vulnerable, like at the gas station filling waiting to fill up your SMB w/keys in the ignition, etc.

If you plan to carry a firearm in your vehicle for protecting you and/or your family, carry it as close to you as possible, (ideally on your person ...and more importantly, have trained with it so access is second nature). I am not advocating carrying a concealed weapon out in public; when you disembark your SMB, lock it securely in a lock box as Jage disscused. If you do not have lock box, consider the following: for a revolver - open the cylinder, remove the rounds and lock the frame of the pistol with a cable lock to a strong point inside the vehicle (like the steel gaucho frame). Semi-auto pistol - unload and remove magazine, keep slide locked back, insert cable through mag well and out the ejection port, then loop around similar strong point, lock with padlock. Another similar concept is to place the previously described set up inside a smaller Pelican or Otter box thereby further shielding it from view, or from little fingers. By using a round file at the gasket edge, you can create a small groove for the cable to lay, enabling the lid to close properly.

Remember, once a firearm is drawn and god-forbid fired, there are no take backs. Your name and bank account is written all over that bullet and for better or for worse, you will be judged and held accountable for the damage, injury or mortality that occurs from that bullet leaving the barrel. At 3am, while rousted from sleep in the PH , can you a) find your pistol or shotgun, b) identifiy your threat c) Do you observe that the threat has the means to inflict bodily harm to your and/or your family? Did you grab a flashlight when you grabbed the weapon to aid in identifying the threat? The odds of putting all that together is a rough gamble on your safety, if you are relying on that tool for protection.

Be honest and ask yourself some questions: Have I trained for the moment under stress when tasked to make a critical decision to deal with a threat? Can I maintain control of my firearm if someone tried to take it away, or a fight ensued while protecting myself? Brandishing a firearm as a deterrent is asking for a gun to be taken away, and in many states is a crime. Getting shot by your own firearm is an unsavory way to go out, but many people do indeed get shot that way, including peace officers.

I bring up these additional points because lowracer has brought up an important topic that many folks here have undoubtedly thought about, and given the times we live in it is something to consider.

Conflict avoidance is likely a high priorit for most people here. Traveling abroad, particularly in Mexico and Baja these days presents a paradoxical situation where only the thieves and cops are armed. Worse yet, the lines are sometimes blurred between these two, making for an even more confusing state of affairs when traveling down south.

Do a risk assessment before you travel, prepare accordingly and then travel smartly. When it is all said and done, I subscribe to a philosophy where "I'd rather have it and not need it - than need it and not have it."

I apologize for the long post.


BroncoHauler 03-06-2008 06:15 AM

Hey Jeff,

"OODA loop"? Not many people know of Col Boyd. Is that some military experience showing through?


Ed in Montana 03-06-2008 06:23 AM

Careful of how you carry the bear spray in your vehicle. I have heard countless stories of the canisters exploding due to heat build up in a closed vehicle and rendering the vehicle un-inhabitable. Matter of fact, that is a serious concern for any pressurized canister in a vehicle. Heat plus pressure equals a small bomb. I store two large bear spray canisters in an airtight pelican box while driving, and have carried them in a cooler and the refrigerator to prevent overheating.

Having traveled extensively by foot, canoe and Sportsmobile in grizzly country, I only purchase the largest available canisters, which can shoot 30-40 feet. The smaller ones may be good for anti-personnel situations in urban environments, but are next to useless in the sticks. Make sure to get one with a decent belt holster, since you won't have time to search in a day pack when encountering a critter.

The big canisters are like hand guns. Make sure to practice a couple of times with drawing the canister, taking the safety off and shooting at a close target. I do this with ones that I am about to retire and replace with a new canister. The spray only remains active for 3-5 years, and even though they are quite expensive ($40-80 bucks) you will want a fresh one for a real encounter.

That said, I have never used one in all my travels on an animal. We have seen nearly a hundred grizzlies in the wild and a couple of polar bears, which can really put the fear of the wild in you. For our more remote trips in the Arctic, someone in our group has always carried a shotgun, which is easier to use than a hand gun at close range with a large predator.

The scariest creatures that I ever run into are crazed humans in campgrounds, which is why we bought a Sportsmobile to get away from them.

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