If you like to take road trips, then you need to be prepared for all kinds of situations that have to do with your physical security. Rule 1: Keep your vehicle in good working condition. Rule 2: Keep your vehicle doors locked at all times. Rule 3: Always carry at least one flashlight with fresh batteries and either extra batteries or a charger unit in your vehicle and a second, smaller flashlight on your person. If you are going to carry a flashlight in your vehicle you should carry one that projects a beam of light that is powerful enough to temporarily blind an adversary. One such light is my Blackhawk Legacy XHR7 Night Ops tactical light. Rule 4: Carry a well-stocked medical kit. These kits are available from various outlets, including certain police supply vendors. When used properly, a medical kit can help keep someone alive long enough to get him or her to a doctor. Last but not least, Rule 5: Always keep a second set of vehicle keys in your pocket at all times.

Bring a Gun and a Knife

I have driven across the country multiple times and experienced everything from breaking down to tire blowouts at high speeds. When I took some road trips with my wife and our two young sons, I would routinely arm my wife with a handgun whenever I briefly left the vehicle. In fact, even to this day, I carry a spare handgun in my vehicle that I know my wife can use in an emergency.

You are quite vulnerable while sitting inside the confined space of a motor vehicle. You must defend yourself quickly while in or around a motor vehicle because you may not get a second chance if you lose your weapon or fail to strike an effective first blow. Failing to move quickly can also prevent you from making an effective escape from someone who means to do you harm. This is strictly my opinion, but if you are legally authorized to carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle then you should exercise this authority.

Chances are that the one time you are unarmed may be the one when you need a weapon. If it is lawful to do so, I also advocate carrying a long gun in your vehicle as well, since some threats are better dealt with when you are armed with a more capable firearm such as a 12-gauge shotgun. Note that you should always be familiar with the laws that govern the transportation and possession of firearms in your local jurisdiction as well as in the municipalities and states along your planned route, realizing that laws change all the time.

So let’s assume that you are legally authorized to be armed with a loaded, concealed handgun when you operate your motor vehicle. The first thing you need to do is carry the right holster for a road trip. I mention this because I stopped carrying a pistol tucked in the small of my back ever since the day when I had exited my undercover car and the magazine from my 9mm Sig P228 fell out of my pistol, onto the front seat. As a result of this mishap, I recommend carrying a compact or subcompact handgun in a well-made De Santos or Uncle Mike’s clip-on, inside-the-pants holster in the crossdraw position. This method of carry is far superior when you are compelled to wear a seatbelt with a shoulder strap.

As far as spare ammunition is concerned, I always carry a minimum of three spare, single-column magazines in leather DeSantis magazine pouches on my belt with an additional magazine carried in a pants pocket. When I carry a high-capacity pistol, I generally carry two spare magazines on my belt and one in my pocket. In addition, I also carry additional spare magazines and a few boxes of ammunition in an easily accessible travel bag. I also carry a backup gun on road trips even though I am now retired. I am also a huge fan of carrying a subcompact handgun in a well-made ankle holster like those made by DeSantis, which is easily accessible whether you sit behind the wheel of your vehicle or in a restaurant to eat, proper attire permitting.

I also always carry an edged weapon. My favorite folding knives are the CRKT Desert Tactical with the tanto blade and the TOPS Combat Search & Rescue Model. As for fixed-blade knives, I usually keep a Grayman Pounder with a 7.5-inch blade, a Grayman Warrior with a 3.5-inch fixed-blade with top teeth, a Blackhawk Razorback Trocar or a Gerber Trident in my Blackhawk travel pack. In addition, I keep a Gerber hand axe and an entrenching tool in my truck that I can use to dig my way out of sand or mud if I get stuck while driving off road. If it is legal to do so in your jurisdiction and you are trained in its use, another weapon worth possessing is a collapsible baton, a very effective weapon in trained hands.

Road-Warrior Combat Tactics

Be aware of the possibility of meeting armed strangers in a remote area. This recently happened to me and my two sons when we were at an old .50-caliber rifle-club range in the north country, engaging metal plates at 200 yards with M4 carbines. A compact pickup truck containing several young men with firearms arrived at our location to use the same range. The moment these young men arrived, all I could think about was an incident that occurred in the Florida Everglades many years ago when two criminals obtained firearms by killing innocent, legally armed citizens who were enjoying a plinking session outdoors. Even though things worked out just fine that day, I made sure to keep an eye on the young armed men. They turned out to be very polite and were waiting for us to finish before they started practicing. The point is that it always pays to be on guard because the one time you let your guard down, bad things can happen. There is no need to be paranoid; just be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t quote me on this, but I recall hearing a statistic that approximately 25 to 27 percent of law enforcement officers who end up on the bottom in a street fight for their life never get up. This does not mean that you can’t successfully launch an attack while kneeling to fix a flat tire or inspecting the undercarriage of your vehicle. In fact, there can be an advantage to shooting upwards at someone as opposed to having an exchange at point-blank range. However, you only have an advantage if you are able to quickly draw and fire your handgun accurately before your adversary pulls the trigger or gets close enough to use an edged weapon.

If you are traveling alone, you will be at a slight disadvantage because you will be solely responsible for keeping a lookout. It also helps to reposition your handgun if you are wearing heavy clothing so you can gain immediate access to your personal-defense weapon when needed. And I highly recommend that you carry your handgun in a holster at all times to prevent an accidental discharge if your firearm is repositioned to a jacket, coat or pants pocket.

Train to use your vehicle for cover in a gunfight, as opposed to being exposed out in the open to an armed adversary. I also recommend that, whenever possible, you hold your flashlight at arm’s length, away from your body, off to the left or right side or above your head, because in the dark, an armed adversary is likely to return fire where your beam of light is. This combat tactic was taught decades ago by the NYPD and still makes sense today. You should also remember that even a vehicle with a flat tire can be used as a weapon in an emergency to save your life. You can drive your vehicle to push other vehicles out of your way to escape an attack.

If you would like to train with the same instructors who prepare some of our nation’s special operations personnel to deploy in combat zones and in other hot spots around the world, I highly recommend that you contact Richard Batory at [email protected] and let him know that Nick Jacobellis sent you. I guarantee that you will be trained and treated well. You can also go to plenty of other trainers who have the proper credentials. In the meantime, remember that only winners get to live to fight another day.

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