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The Cold Steel Recon 1 was first introduced quite a few years ago…

The basic knife back then was your usual black-on-black folder. I liked it then, but over the years, Cold Steel has really beefed up the model, making it heavier, thicker, and stronger…

The result is a great all-around daily carry knife that, while not small or subtle, is strong, powerful, and shows good fit and finish.


Here are the stats (from Knifecenter):

Blade Length: 4″
Blade Thickness: 3.5 mm
Steel: AUS 8A coated in Black Teflon
Weight: 5.3 oz
Overall Length: 9 3/8″
Handle Material: G10 (5 3/8″ length)

The pocket clip on the Recon 1 is a little small for so large and heavy a knife, but I actually like that, because it helps the knife to ride low and appear unobtrusive.

The G10 handles are aggressively textured, providing a firm grip, and the scallops in the handle scales really fit my hands well.  This is a blade that just kind of locks into your mitt when you grab hold of it.

The Recon 1 is one of my favorite blades for working what’s called pattern drills (you’ll find more on pattern drills as a paid up 3-Percenter Report subscriber!).  The generous clip-point blade has good belly for slicing and slashing, and the point is nice and sharp for deep penetration on thrusts.

The lock might look like a traditional rocker-bar lock, but this is Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad lock.  It operates like a rocker-bar lock but has some added features for greater strength and security.

Say what you want about Cold Steel, its marketing, and Lynn Thompson, its often bellicose owner, but the company prides itself on the strength of its knives and you can generally count on a folding Cold

Steel knife to stay open when you want it to.

This is a great all-around EDC for both self-defense and general utility. It also isn’t terribly expensive. That puts it within the reach of just about anyone.

If you’re in the market for a great knife, you should pick one of these up right away. You can click here to see the reviews for it on Amazon and pick it up at a decent price.

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The Best Tactical Accessories for your AR-15

If you have an AR-15, or you are in the process of “acquiring” one — then you know there are countless options when it comes to accessories for your rifle.

Most people just buy what looks “cool” without any thought to form, function or actual tactical usefulness.

If you want to know the accessories that are actually worth your time, then read on…

A running joke among shooters is that some gun owners will mount everything and the kitchen sink to their rifles, resulting in weapons so overloaded with gear that they’re heavy and awkward.

There aren’t that many accessories you truly have to have for your rifle. Out of the box, a stock AR is a very effective rifle.

The following are two accessories you might consider, however, some of which are more important than others.

Accessory Rail:

You can’t mount accessories at all if you don’t have accessory rails. Consider changing out the forearm on your AR to a model that has accessory rails if you don’t already have them.

There are some clamp-on accessories for the AK that mount a few rails forward of the forearm, for mounting flashlights or even a foregrip.


Picture a 1920s-era Thompson gun. It has the round drum magazine deemed too bulky and noisy for warfare (which is why US troops used stick magazines during World War 2). It also has a grooved vertical foregrip. The weapon is iconic of the era. But have you stopped to think about that foregrip?

The fact is that it’s easier to shoot a weapon if both of your hands are positioned in roughly the same way. You should, therefore, install a foregrip on your AR-15 if it is possible to do so.

Where to Get These Accessories?

Almost every gun shop sells AR-15 accessories now … and … they carry a lot of brand names. Which to choose?

It’s up to you of course. I will say that many, many people like the company Magpul.

A very popular Magpul product is the Magpul MOE Furniture Set as shown below:

As you can see, you get the complete upgrade with this one purchase. A good butt stock, comfortable hand grip, a solid handguard with the MOE vertical foregrip that I was talking about (that you can detach on and off if you like or don’t like it).

You can even pick up the whole set from a trusted online retailer like Brownells for a little less than $85 bucks (at the time of this writing).

Click here to see it.

BONUS: 3 more “must have” AR-15 accessories

Remember, there are (literally) THOUSANDS of accessories for your AR-15 that are available … but … you only want to pay for and put on the ones that help you the most.

That’s what we’ll cover right now …

Let’s jump right into it …


Mount a flashlight on your weapon. It’s very difficult to manipulate a flashlight while also handling a rifle. Mounting the light directly to the weapon solves this problem.

Avoid any light or laser system that includes a cable attached to an activator switch, however. These cables can snag on things and get broken or ripped out, rendering the light useless.

Instead, choose a light whose switch is still part of the body of the light. Whenever possible, mount the light at six-o’clock position, under the rifle, so that it can be activated with either hand.


You need extra magazines. Buy a bunch of 30-round magazines (as long as they’re legal where you live). You can either get the metal, GI style 30-rounders or a lot of people like the Magpul 30-round mags. Along with this, a good purchase is a “mag pouch” to carry at least two of these extra mags if you need it.

Rifle Sling:

If you put a sling on your rifle, make sure it is a 3-point or a single point sling. These will make sure that you have optimal carrying ability and you can still bring your rifle to the ready position as quickly as possible.

Summary …

Those are just some of the accessories you can use.

Remember, it’s not about how many “cool things” you can stick on your Rifle, it’s about finding out what you personally NEED to make it better for self defense.

Think efficiency, not “collect it all!”

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It costs less than $15. And like the shovel, it’s incredibly important.

Let’s get started…

One of the facts of any survival situation or low-light utility scenario is that you need light.

Any prepared citizen carries a flashlight, probably several, as a result.

If you’ve ever broken down along the side of a highway late at night, you have known the feeling that comes with the thought, “I need a flashlight… do I have one?”

We are fortunate that a variety of products are available today that put flashlights at our fingertips in a variety of form factors. But most of these flashlights depend on power sources such as batteries…

Dynamo and solar emergency lights require time to charge if they run out of batteries.

What, then, is a good alternative to a light source that does not need some external means of making it go?

If we are willing to be a little fast and loose with the definition, there is a new category of emergency light on the market. These are sort of luminous crystals, or plastics that have luminous crystals or substances embedded or suspended within them.

They must be left in the sun or under some ambient light source in order to charge them up, yes, but once charged, they simply glow all night long.

The idea is that you could have a light that always works at night and then charges itself during the light of the day — something that requires no batteries and no other intervention save for leaving it out on a dashboard or hanging from a pack.

Doesn’t that sound perfect?

Well, your results are going to vary. I’ve tested a few of these lights. Some looked like round pendants; others looked like tubes; still others looked like little bricks of glow-in-the-dark crystal. The crystal feels like plastic (and probably is closer to plastic than to “crystal”) and glows green in the darkness.

The fundamental problem with these light sources is twofold… 

You’ve got to have light for a while before you can have darkness, so these are not a good light source to keep in your car tucked away for an emergency. (A standard cyalume chemical light stick would be better for that.) You can keep the glow crystal on your dashboard to charge up in the sunlight during the day, yes, but on cloudy days the charge you get won’t be very impressive.

I got the best results by keeping my light crystals hanging inside a lampshade in a standard incandescent light during the hours that I was working and it was dark outside.

After that, the light glowed pretty well and did so for several hours.

What you will find, though, is that most of the company literature for these products includes the caveat that your eyes must be “adjusted” to the darkness.

In other words, while these glowing crystals are better than pitch blackness, they simply aren’t that bright, nor will they illuminate much for any distance around you. Even when your eyes have adjusted to the darkness, you’ll barely be getting by with these as your light source, and you won’t be doing any late-night hiking.

Still, these are preferable to complete blackness. Especially as a backup to other redundant light sources, these are worth hanging from your rearview mirror or pack and left to charge up in the sunlight or under your desk lamp whenever you can.

Keep in mind, however, that you can’t turn them off.

They’re going to glow when it gets dark, and even if they don’t “throw” a lot of illumination, they will mark you like a beacon at a distance. They might even keep you up at night if the crystal’s in your room.

Come to think of it, these just might be the coolest “night lights” ever…



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When a crisis hits, you’re going to need more than your guns…

That’s why I urge you to listen closely as we talk about…


Yep, shovels.

Here’s the deal…

First, you should know that I really don’t like folding shovels for any situation.

The reason I don’t like folding shovels is because folding simply isn’t something a shovel should do. Think about it: you use folding shovels for digging. Digging puts a lot of stress on a tool. I can’t count the number of inferior digging tools I’ve snapped while gardening or working with landscaping. The ground simply doesn’t abide weakness.

You can imagine my skepticism when I encountered a tri-fold shovel from the knife company, SOG. Their entrenching tool folds up into a great little package that even has a compact nylon cover. That’s wonderful if you don’t want a tool like that taking up a lot of space in your go-bag, but there’s a reason that most military entrenching tools have just a folding head and a wooden handle. That’s because a folding handle isn’t reliable!


I’ve used cheap folding entrenching tools that just folded right up against the resistance of the ground when you tried to dig with them. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dig with a shovel that doesn’t do it.

The key to the SOG entrenching tool is a retaining ring that you loosen or tighten to facilitate folding and unfolding. Unfolded, with the ring tightened up, the shovel feels a little wobbly. I figured it would collapse as soon as I put it to the test… but I was wrong.

The SOG entrenching tool, as it turns out, digs really well. I didn’t try to dig an entire foxhole with it (I don’t have that kind of time in my day), but if you had to, you eventually could. The shovel stays open and performs well when digging.

It has a section of saw teeth that aren’t very sharp, but you could sharpen these if you wanted to. I don’t see much reason to do that because digging will just make them dull again, and I don’t need my shovel to also be a saw. But as a survival tool the option is there if you needed to find a rock to hone up the teeth in between digging tasks.

The only problem I had with the entrenching tool was that when dirt and grit get in there under the retaining ring, it can be hard to move the ring in order to collapse (or extend) the shovel. You’ll want to keep this ring clean and keep an eye on that to make sure the shovel is properly secured when you open it. I could see tightening it with dirt in there and failing to get it tight enough to keep the shovel open.

Ergonomically, the handle and the little horizontal end handle work well and are comfortable enough for digging. Again, with a little honing, you could also use this tool as a makeshift hatchet or even a hammer.

There’s a video floating around the internet of a super duper Chinese military shovel that is supposed to do everything, and the video shows these little Chinese military dudes climbing mountains, building shelters, sawing pipes in half, and generally using their shovels to do everything in the world. About the only thing I want MY shovel to do is dig, and the SOG entrenching tool does that and does it well.

Overall, especially given the cost, this tool is a good buy. The compact way it folds up doesn’t hurt, either, once you have to stow it away. This might be a little heavy in a bug out bag, depending on what else you may carry, but it’s perfect for throwing in the trunk of a car or truck along with your other survival and recovery gear. To be honest I always keep a shovel of some kind in my vehicle so I can dig myself out if I get mired in snow or mud.

The utility of a shovel should be obvious. The utility of a shovel that can be folded up but still perform is even more so. While I will never prefer folding shovels to shovels that don’t fold (I really like the Cold Steel shovel, for example), this SOG entrenching tool goes a long way toward restoring my faith in folding tools of this type. It’s worth considering if you’d like a digging tool to keep in your car or your bug out bag.

Best of all, you can buy one for less than $20 on Amazon right here.

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I still remember the first time I opened a gun magazine and read the term “airsoft…”

At the time, the technology wasn’t quite defined for the masses; the “airsoft” guns in that magazine fired a kind of marking projectile, rather than the little plastic BBs we’re all accustomed to now.

The guns were reasonable realistic and some were full-auto. The article was about how this new “airsoft” technology could be used for training law enforcement and military personnel, giving them a way to simulate their weapons that was better than an unwieldy Nel-spot paintball pistol.

The fact is, however, that a quality airsoft gun is NOT a toy; it can be, when used in conjunction with realistic live firearms training, a very good way to fill in the gaps.

What do I mean by filling in the gaps? And how could this save your life? Let me explain…

What I mean by “gaps” is that there are things an airsoft gun can’t do for you. If you understand the limitations of these stand-in weapons, however, and you tailor your training to take advantage of these while remaining realistic about them, you can enhance your overall training regimen.

First, while you don’t need much more than a spring gun, you do need a high-quality model.

What this means is that the cheap gun-shaped airsoft pistols that don’t have much in the way of realistic features, magazines, or operation should be left on the shelves of big-box discount stores where they belong.

A decent spring gun will have a magazine release where the magazine goes. It will have decent sights that simulate the sights on a real handgun, and it will have realistically sized (and, if you’re lucky, weighted) magazines. (I have one that also has a slide stop. If you lock the slide back and insert an empty magazine, the slide will stay back unless you release it. If, on the other hand, you insert a magazine with a pellet in it, the slide will go forward if you just run it like you normally would.)

If you use accessories like a mounted light, your airsoft gun should have strong, realistic rails that work just like the real thing.

You can, of course, upgrade to an even more realistic airsoft gun, like a gas gun, but it doesn’t matter.

For our purposes, we just need a gun that is reasonably accurate in terms of sights and controls, which will also put a pellet downrange. That’s how we take advantage of the gaps I talked about. Let me explain, finally, how you do that.

Benefits of Airsoft Training…

Dry-fire practice gets you familiar with the actual trigger pull of your gun. It lets you practice drawing, presenting, and breaking the trigger on that gun. But what it doesn’t tell you is whether you’re jerking the trigger or actually managing to send shots downrange with anything resembling consistency.

With your airsoft gun, practice with the holster you would normally use (as you should pick an airsoft closely matching your carry gun if at all possible). If you can’t match the gun exactly, use the same type of holster with similar retention. Get into your shooting stance, draw your weapon as you normally would, and engage a stationary target. Ideally, this target should be made of paper.

You can cut a hole in cardboard box and tape paper over it to make a quick-and-dirty trap target for collecting airsoft pellets. You shouldn’t reuse the pellets because they might deform after firing, but cleaning up preemptively saves a lot of trouble from spouses or roommates who trip over the little pellets

Make sure your paper target has an actual mark on it that you’re shooting for. Make the target a face and shoot for the “eye box,” for example. The idea is that if you cannot learn to draw, shoot, and hit accurately and consistently using a weapon that has NO recoil, you will never be able to do so with a weapon that fires rounds.

Once you’ve gotten good with stationary targets, try varying them. You can’t really set up moving targets, but what you can do is place a number of targets around the room and try engaging different ones at different times and from different positions and angles. Can you draw, present, and shoot without jerking, flinching, or otherwise screwing up?

These skills can then be taken to the range and adapted to live fire. At first, you may not see a real improvement, but trust me, if you get really good at pulling a no-recoil trigger consistently, that will become the skill of pulling the trigger of a real pistol without jerking. Your airsoft training will thus reinforce and facilitate your live training.

This is really the whole “trick” to enhancing your dry fire training with airsoft. You’ve got to do it in conjunction with live fire, and with a mind toward your ultimate goals. As long as you keep all that in perspective, you WILL succeed, and the training you do — whether at home, at the range, indoors, outdoors, with blue guns, with empty firearms, with airsoft guns, with laser training guns — will all build one to the next to reinforce what you are trying to accomplish.

Your goal is to become a solid shooter, someone who can engage targets under stress with consistency and accuracy. This isn’t all there is to defensive shooting, but you can’t do any of the rest of it without this vital foundation.

Where Can You Guy a Good Airsoft Gun?

Once again, I think is a good solution.


Because you can look at various airsoft guns, see the reviews from other people, and how it held up for them. You can get a little feedback on quality and such.

So I’ve been researching what makes a “good” airsoft gun better than the cheap ones you get at big box stores …

In fact, in my last NRA instructor class, a defense contractor (spent a lot of time overseas in middle east hot spots) told me he highly recommended the newer, mostly metal, blowback airsoft guns for training in your house. Told me he would of laughed about it 5 years ago, but now they’re so realistic he uses them to practice clearing his house, etc

Which Gun To Get …

Here’s something really cool now: most of the big gun manufacturers have “licensed” their design to airsoft pistol companies.

So what does that mean:

1. If you have a popular hand gun, you can train with a similar airsoft model
2. It should fit your normal holsters, etc
3. Which should overall make you even more proficient with your real handgun!

I did some searching for you…

I have a Beretta pistol, so for more it would make sense to find a similar airsoft pistol to train with. So I first found this electric airsoft Beretta on Amazon for $35.30 with free shipping:

Beretta 92 FS
Beretta 92 FS. Electric. Takes Batteries. Magazine and slide function like a real gun.

And I also have a couple of Sig Sauer hand guns … and they have a REALLY high quality Sig Sauer P226 — Full Metal — Blowback that runs off CO2:

Sig Sauer P226
Sig Sauer P226. Full Metal. CO2 Gas Blowback.

Lastly, I don’t have one, but I know many people LOVE their Glocks. I couldn’t find a Glock replica, but this seems to be pretty close. In some of the comments people compared it to your standard G17 (Glock 17, the “original” Glock):

Metal Glock 17 clone
Metal Glock 17 “clone”. Realistic weight. Not too pricey.

So the point I’m making here is that there are plenty of Airsoft guns out there, and at varying price ranges. The more expensive ones–around $100+ — should get you a very realistic training aid.

You Can Even Get “Full Auto” Airsoft AR-15’s!

If you really want to step it up … you can even get a “full auto” M4 replica (M4 is the military code for the shortened M16 rifle, the civilian equivalent is the AR-15. Much like M9 is the military code for Beretta 92 handgun).

The description said you can fire semi-auto or switch to full-auto. It’s electric. One 5 star review said this “is the best entry level M-4A1 available”.

So if you have an AR-15 but don’t get to go to the range to practice much, this might be worth looking into as well (Great price too!) You can find it by clicking here. Its a great price for what you get.

Full Auto AR-15 Airsoft Gun
Full Auto AR-15 Airsoft Gun

Hope that helps you find an airsoft gun that will meet your training needs.

As you practice your skills, there’s one thing you won’t be able to do without in a true survival situation…

And that’s ammo.

In 2014 we saw some serious ammo shortages. So let’s move on to another loophole I know you’re going to love…


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Growing up in the 1980s, when I hear someone talk about a red light, I'm probably going to think of the song "Roxanne" by...