Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
This week’s questions run the gamut from the best self-defense course for kids to practical home security measures for apartment dwellers and more.
Read on below to find out why I don’t recommend carrying a baton for personal protection, and why filtering water in a survival situation is better than simply treating it — in addition to my No. 1 shotgun recommendation.
My 10-year-old wants to take karate. Is there a specific martial arts discipline you recommend for kids? I want her to learn real self-defense skills, not just choreographed fight moves. Thanks, man. From one dad to another, you do an awesome job. Keep it up.
— Alan T.
Truly, one of the best self-defense courses is Krav Maga — it’s excellent training for real self-defense situations. Now, some Krav Maga instructors don’t teach children, so I suggest checking with instructors in your area to see what they recommend.
What are some home security tips for a ground-floor apartment? I can’t afford bars on the windows, and my landlord doesn’t allow dogs. I put a security sticker on the door, but I feel like I should do more.
— Malcolm R.
Unfortunately, Malcolm, when you rent, you are limited in the security measures you can implement, since you don’t own the place.
That being said, you might consider getting a home security system that doesn’t require installing a lot of hardware or an annual contract. I suggest looking into SimpliSafe, which is easy to remove if you end up moving out of the apartment.
If you don’t want to invest in a security system, I recommend a doorstopper alarm, which creates a very loud warning sound when someone opens your door. You should also be sure to install a quality deadbolt lock on your door from a company such as Medeco or Schlage — if your landlord will allow it.
And lastly, if you have a sliding glass door, put a piece of wood in the track so it can’t be opened from the outside.
All this talk about water filters… What about good old iodine tablets? They’re way cheaper. Don’t they kill all the same stuff and make the water OK to drink? Plus, you need iodine in your diet, so two birds, one stone…
— Lisa B.
The question of filtering water versus treating water really depends on the situation. If you are drinking water from a high mountain river, the water is probably pretty clean and you could simply use iodine tablets.
However, there are a few different reasons why I prefer using my SurvFilter to get fresh drinking water. First (and most importantly), in a survival situation, chances are I would be forced to drink from a dirty water source that has floating bugs or other nasty things in it. If I just treat the water, I’m still going to have to deal with the bugs and other floating debris.
Second, iodine tablets take at least 30 minutes to treat the water before it’s safe to drink. In a survival situation, I want to be able stop at a water source and drink immediately, because I may need to keep moving. Which is why, overall, I think a quality water filter (like the SurvFilter) is the best way to acquire clean drinking water.
Do you recommend carrying a baton as a self-defense weapon? I received a collapsible one as a gift, but I want to know what the disadvantages are.
— Marta K.
A baton is an effective weapon, Marta, but it’s not my No. 1 choice for self-defense. The thing about batons is you have to deploy them — usually by swinging out the collapsible part — which takes precious extra seconds and usually a little bit of strength.
Additionally, depending on the state where you live, batons may be illegal for citizens to carry. So be sure to check the state and local laws regarding carrying this type of weapon.
I’m in the market for a good shotgun. My wife told me I should ask the expert (she means you).
— Desmond H.
Please tell your wife I’m thankful for her support (and I wish my wife thought I was an expert on more topics).
The shotgun I own and recommend is the Remington 870. This is a no-frills shotgun — meaning it’s pretty standard, but it serves its purpose. And you can find different versions of the 870 depending on what you want.
Frankly, this is one of the most popular shotguns on the market. It is commonly used by law enforcement, which is why Remington has sold over 10 million of them. Another advantage of the 870 is the cost. You can purchase one for around $400, which is a good price for a quality shotgun.