Shelters, Bullets and Knives, Oh My!

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

The questions just keep pouring in, and frankly, that’s great. I am here to give you all the necessary information and resources to keep you and your family safe.

This week’s drop covers advice for knife users, how to generate your own power, ammo recommendations and more.

Let’s dive in.

Got the NOC knife, but being new to them, I can’t even get it out of the sheath! I don’t want to put too much energy into trying to slide it out — I’m afraid of slicing something if it comes out too fast. Do you have any suggestions?

— Pat N.

Absolutely, Pat. Simply put your thumb on top of the sheath and push down with your thumb as you pull the knife out of the sheath. You’ll see there’s space on both the left and right of the knife where you can put your thumb. That’s where you’ll push down, and the knife should slide right out.

I’ve just received my tactical folding knife. However, after I opened it, it won’t close. The button on the handle doesn’t move. How do you fold it?

— Herman H.

There is a black piece near where the handle and blade meet. To close the knife, push this piece to the left. This unlocks the blade, allowing it to be closed.

Dear Mr. Hanson,

I am still looking for an inexpensive way to create my own (simple) power grid. Any answers?

— Nicolas B.

When it comes to producing your own power, Nicolas, there are many different options, such as generators, solar panels or wind turbines. A propane generator is probably one of most dependable options, because you can store propane indefinitely.

The next-best option I would recommend is building your own portable solar-powered generator. You can easily accomplish this for under $200. Since it would be a fairly small unit, it wouldn’t produce a ton of power, but it could be used for camping or during an emergency.

The advantage to creating a whole solar panel system is you could continually expand the number of panels to increase the amount of power generated. Just remember to use a battery and inverter that can handle the power increases.

Does your credit card safety information also apply to debit cards?

— Robert T.

Yes, Robert, the information applies to debit cards as well. Hackers can guess Visa debit card numbers the same way they do credit card numbers.

When opening a bank account, most banks will run a credit report to make sure you haven’t had accounts closed at other banks for unpaid fees. So if you have a credit freeze in place (which I highly recommend), a criminal won’t be able to open a checking account under your name. Be sure to place a freeze on your credit with all three reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

If you have fraud alert or credit monitoring, great. But those alone won’t protect you, because you’ll be notified only after your account has been compromised. With a credit freeze, your credit is completely locked and no one can access it without your PIN.

How do you build a shelter from scratch?

— Mary A.

One of the simplest shelters to build from scratch is called a lean-to. To construct one, take multiple sturdy sticks and lean them at an angle from the ground against a strong horizontal brace such as a tree or another stick.

After you have enough leaning sticks in place, cover them with leaves, grass, moss or something similar to provide shelter from the elements. Pack this material tightly onto the sticks to make sure it doesn’t fall off.

This type of shelter is easy to build and one of the most common survival shelters. In fact, I built many of them during my wilderness survival training.

Which brand of ammo do you use for your AR-15?

— Lane K.

I recommend using PMC, Federal or Hornady ammunition. Personally, I don’t care for Wolf or TulAmmo, because I’ve encountered feeding issues with these brands. And when the ammo is that cheap, you get what you pay for.

What are your thoughts on the PolyCase ARX bullet?

— Ray R.

In the past few years, several companies have come out with new types of ammo. Of them, ARX has received mostly positive reviews. The biggest difference between ARX and other brands of ammunition is that ARX rounds don’t expand. Although some people argue that makes them less effective.

For my money, when it comes to self-defense rounds, I recommend sticking with something tried and true, a quality round like Speer Gold Dot.

What is the name of the product you suggest for hardening your doors to protect against kick-ins and other door breach attempts? Thank you for all you do.

— TJ C.

The product I recommend is called Nightlock, and it sells for around $40 on their website. It’s a brace that installs easily along the bottom of your door that will make it a lot more difficult for a criminal to kick in your door.

Keep in mind you do need a half-inch of clearance between the floor and the bottom of the door to use this contraption.

Now for a suggestion from one of my readers:

The small propane canisters for the Big Buddy heater are refillable. Amazon has an adapter and a stand to put on the propane tank used on the grill to refill a smaller container! I am sure other sporting/camping stores would also carry them.

— Don S.

Thanks for the tip, Don! The Big Buddy heater is indeed a great propane heater to have on hand for an emergency. I already own several of them.

I just wanted to take the time to write to you and thank you for all the wonderful tips and tricks you send out to your email list. I’ve been on your list for a while now, and I’m consistently impressed with all the amazing content you put out.

— Natalie M.

Thank you, Natalie. I’m glad to hear you’re learning more about how to stay safe. Please let me know if there’s a specific topic you want to learn more about by emailing

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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