Lasers, Shotguns, & Dog Food, Oh My!

by David Morris on August 18, 2011

Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, brought to you by my new Survival Course. This week, we’re going to talk about some preparedness and survival myths that many people have bought into that could get them seriously injured or killed including “lasers and pump shotguns”, “Wasp & Hornet Spray”, “Rappelling With Paracord”, and “Dog Food as Survival Food.”

Lasers & Pump Shotguns

“I’ve got a laser on my gun because all I’ll have to do is point it at a bad guy’s chest and he’ll give up.”

“I’ve got a pump shotgun because it makes the most frightening sound in the world. Just hearing that sound in the middle of the night will cause a bad guy to run away with his tail between his legs.”

These are popular self defense myths, but in talking with and interviewing law enforcement, criminal psychiatrists, and criminal psychologists over the years, it has been made abundantly clear that this just isn’t something you want to stake your life on.

Let me be clear…If you were to light me up with a laser sight or rack a shotgun in the same room with me in your house in a pitch black room, MY heart rate would shoot through the roof and I’D think twice about what I was doing. Chances are good that if the roles were reversed, you’d react the same way. But we’re normal, well adjusted people who value life in general and our own lives in particular.

If, on the other hand, your intruder had accepted death as an option, had already decided to kill you to get what they wanted, and simply saw you as an obstacle standing in their way, then things are different. The laser simply tells them which direction and how far they need to move to be safe and continue their attack. The shotgun pumping sound simply tells them they need to finish you off faster than they may have originally planned.

Are laser sights and pump shotguns bad? Absolutely not. I have both and am a fan of both. The problem occurs when “sights and sounds” replace fundamentals in violent force encounters.

If you are depending on your laser or the sound of your shotgun stopping a violent force attack and aren’t willing to actually use your firearm, then there’s a decent chance that you’re increasing your risk rather than increasing your safety.

The laser should simply be an aiming tool to help you put rounds on target faster than with your sights.

Pumping your shotgun should simply be a way to put a round in the chamber.

If either of these actions stop an attack, it should be seen as a pleasant surprise rather than an expected outcome.

Wasp/Hornet Spray

Many people throughout the years have suggested wasp and hornet spray as a self-defense tool. While it IS effective at hurting people, I view it’s effectiveness about the same as using a white phosphorous grenade to defend yourself from an attacker in an elevator. Will it stop your attacker? Most likely. Will it also hurt you? VERY likely if your attacker is within realistic attack distance.

If your attacker uses a bullhorn when they’re 50 feet downwind in an open parking lot to announce that they’re going to walk over and attack you, then it might be a good solution. But if you’re within smelling distance, in a vehicle, around other people, at your front door, or in your home, you might want to seriously consider using something non-toxic like pepper spray.

Rappelling with Paracord

Paracord is short for “parachute” cord. It’s the cord used to connect a parachute canopy to a parachute harness. It’s about the size of a round shoelace, is hollow, and contains 5-9 strings inside. It’s also called 550 cord because one type of paracord is rated to 550 pounds.

Many people carry paracord and have a plan in their head to use it to rappel out of a building if necessary after a fire.

This is a tricky one. It’s tricky because I’ve actually done it successfully (with a backup belay) to see if I could. Can it be done? It depends. I wouldn’t bet your life on it unless you positively know what you’re doing and I wouldn’t suggest that anyone try/practice it without a full-size and strength belay rope to catch you when your paracord DOES break.

There are a LOT of problems with doing an emergency rappel with paracord. Here are a few:

  1. Friction is your friend when you’re rappelling. It’s what keeps you from accelerating towards the ground at 32.2 feet per second squared. The more surface area you have when rappelling (bigger rope) the more friction you have and the easier it is to control your fall. Friction also creates heat. Focused friction/heat cuts. You’re MUCH more likely to cut through skin/clothing/gloves with cord than with a rope.
  2. Paracord is not created equal. The strength of “standard” paracord can range from 95 pounds to 750 pounds. 550 pound cord is simply one of many grades of cord.
  3. Age & condition diminishes load capacity. If you bought 550 cord, you should expect it to get weaker over time. Especially if you’ve turned it into a bracelet, laces, gotten it wet/dirty, exposed it to extreme temperatures, exposed it to sunlight, or kept it in a pouch of a pack for any length of time.
  4. Knots diminish load capacity.
  5. Edges diminish load capacity…like going over a ledge, window sill, etc.
  6. Speed kills. If you’ve got a perfectly new length of 550 paracord with no irregularities, don’t use a knot to tie it off (wrap it around a pipe several times) and don’t go over an edge, a 200 pound man will break it with as little as a ½ second fall.

A better alternative? Paracord is approximately 4.7 millimeters in diameter. You can get 5 millimeter “technical cord” rated for 5000 pounds. Then you just have to develop your technique so you don’t burn or slice your body using it.

Dog Food as Survival Food

I had dog food as part of my disaster preparations until a few years ago. I remember hearing the story growing up about how one of the top selling stores for dog food in the country was in the projects in Chicago. It wasn’t just for dogs…it was for the homeless.

So, I figured that if things ever got too bad, I could just eat dog food with our dogs. As a result, I always kept a few extra bags on hand. I’ve even sampled it just to see if I could stomach it.

Fast forward a few years to when I started putting food aside for disasters and I realized that this just didn’t make sense.

When I started figuring out the calorie requirements for us and our dogs and the cost per day for long term preparations, I found out just how expensive dog food is.

Personally, we found that if we bought in bulk—just from big box stores…not even BIG bulk—it cost 25%-100% more per calorie to eat dog food than regular food that we were used to.

I go into this in more detail in Module 2 of the Survival Course, but suffice it to day that if you can afford to feed a pet, you can afford to prepare.

I cover several other myths and misconceptions…things that could get you killed in a hurry, as well as proven ways to both improve your everyday life and improve your chances of survival in a broad range of situations and disasters.

To find out more, please go to:

Any thoughts or experiences with lasers, shotguns, wasp spray, rappelling with paracord, or dog food? How about other survival lies and myths that you’ve identified? Please share them by commenting below:


Until next week, God bless and stay safe,


David Morris.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Sean
August 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I wouldn’t feed most commercial dog foods to my worst enemy. Essentially, its trash – literally. Roadkill, sawdust, diseased animals, you name it its in dog food. My dog had lots of problems with allergies and infected anal glands. Come to find out most dogs are allergic to corn and corn is the primariy ingrediant to most dog foods – including the supposed “good” brands like iams and eukanuba. We switched to blue buffalo and our dog (nearly 7 now) has been thriving and the infections have all but ceased. Check out their website. They will tell you what dog food constitutes as “fit for human consumption”, and what’s in most dog foods. Make sure its long before your next meal, though. Other than that -stay away from dog food unless its your ultimate last resort. Otherwise, your literally poisoning yourself. Stick with MREs/freeze dried food and make sure you have plenty of food on hand for your fur kid.


+5 Vote -1 Vote +1Sapper
August 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Huh? You’re racking your shotgun into battery after the bad guy gets into your house? How come there isn’t a round in the chamber already? All weapons have safeties, you know, if you are so afraid of having a loaded weapon at hand. Question: what do you call an unloaded firearm? Answer: a paperweight.


Vote -1 Vote +1M D Hunt
August 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Sapper, while I agree with you in general with your post…., not ALL weapons have safeties. I.E. Smith & Wesson M&P handguns are offered with no safety.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Latigo
December 3, 2011 at 12:44 am

I dissagree completely, all weapons have a safety it’s called your finger, it should not be on the trigger untill you are ready to squeeze off the round needed to end the threat. That’s basic rule number one and also why I carry a SIG-SAUR P-220, no external safeties to deal with and a decocker, when you need your firearm and get the adrienal dump you do not want to have to fiddle with anything, just put rounds on target.


Vote -1 Vote +1Keith
February 3, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Thats why god loves the revolver.


Vote -1 Vote +1Rhino
August 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Of course you have one in the chamber! If you have time you just rack it so the bad guys gets the sound effect as well. You can probably get ‘er done with rest of the shells in the gun.


Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
August 24, 2011 at 10:15 am

I have to interject that this is not a sound strategy. If you want a sound effect, let it be the sound of your voice yelling at the attacker. If you’ve got a round in the chamber and want to risk a malfunction by re-racking it, you’ll also have to remember to depress the slide release. This little button has a few purposes, but one of them is to keep you from making the mistake of re-racking a loaded gun.

You’d be surprised at how many stories I’ve heard of people who had their pump shotgun loaded with one in the chamber, had an intruder come in, and tried to re-rack it only to panic when it “wouldn’t work” because the slide lock was telling them the firearm was already cocked.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mark
November 8, 2011 at 7:14 am

The first sound somebody in MY house will hear will be the click of the trigger about 0.004 seconds before the lead goes thru his brain.


Vote -1 Vote +1Caribou
February 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Most shotguns are not considered drop safe with or without a safety. That means that if a shotgun falls over or is dropped for any reason it is possible that it will fire if it has a round chambered. Most modern pistols, double action revolvers, and rifles are drop safe. I keep double action revolvers with a full cylinder, pistols with a full magazine plus one in the pipe, rifles loaded with one in the pipe, shotguns with a full magazine and an empty chamber.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bob Anderson
August 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Imprisoned felons receive (on our dime) the best of health care. X-rays on violent felons reveal that a very large percentage have BEEN SHOT one or more times. The threat of violence will NOT scare such a thug; the resolute determination of the weilder of the weapon to commit violence as the key; if they assess that you ‘mean business’, that is the point where they are likely to look elsewhere. If they perceive the slightest vacillation or weakness, they’lll continue their assaulut. You have to show that you are seriously ready to drop them like a sack of potatoes, and mean it. Respectfully, Bob Anderson


Vote -1 Vote +1firefighterPhyl
August 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm

You are so right Tampico Red!!!! Action first.. if you have to re-act, your dead. Action is ALWAYS quicker than reaction. I believe in the New Hampshire state motto, “Live free or Die” and also believe that to survive an assailant or intruder I MUST be always ready to be the first to act. I learned that in a dun safety class that I took years ago. I am a 68 years young female, a firefighter and first responder and ex military and I am always prepared and ready to act under any circumstances. All you seniors out there, take a gun safety course and LEARN how to use your weapon. You din’t want the bad guy getting close enough to you to resort to a knife. If you can’t move well, and even have a hand shake, you can still learn to shot someone 10-15 feet away. Good luck to all you seniors and God Bless us all.


Vote -1 Vote +1james wyatt
September 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm

REPEATED PROVEN FACT: If the attacker armed with a knife is 21 feet or less he/she IS TOO CLOSE!!!


Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

Specifically, it takes approximately 1.5 seconds for a person to travel 21 feet (with or without a knife) from a dead stop. 1.5 seconds is also the benchmark for many law enforcement agencies for drawing a firearm and putting a round on target. In 1983, Sargeant Dennis Tueller of the Salt Lake City Police Department put these two facts together and realized that an attacker with a knife within 21 feet was a lethal threat.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1stephen cross
September 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

im living in the uk ,wales in fact .i been reading these comments with a fire burning inside me ,it seems the americans have the balls ,and backing to defend themselves .over here its a bloody joke ,somebody has to kick the crap out of you for you to be able to even think of defending yourself. the riots in the uk ,the world is laughing at us ..


Vote -1 Vote +1tim
September 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm

buy yourself a small handgun and ammo from someone on the street and keep it in your pocket.this will be a throwaway gun. you throw it in the nearest waterway after use. also get yourself a thick walking stick.


Vote -1 Vote +1bob wheeless
September 2, 2011 at 10:58 am

The old saying: He who hesitates is lost couldn’t be truer. A intruder in your home won’t have your safety at heart. Shoot and shoot to kill, wonder who they were later.
REMEMBER, there’s usually more than one in a home break-in so stay alert.


Vote -1 Vote +1SHIRLEY
September 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Shotguns are great especially in house, you don’t kill the person in the next room! I would add to Susan’s med list a limited surgical kit . I bought an army surplus kit reasonably from have great tools and knives, too.


Vote -1 Vote +1Tess
September 11, 2011 at 10:34 pm

2 cups of cooked rice with beef broth feed my 155# Great Pyrenese for several days. Granted he was having tummy trouble prior. The point is, the rice seemed to satisfy his appetite. He seemed to like it just fine. (I used a crook pot, and refrigerated the extras until he was ready to eat it). I liked it warm and cool.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Grambo
September 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

I am a 73-year-old great-grandmother whose house was broken into after I ran inside and locked the door. I grabbed my handgun and phone and held the guy at gunpoint on the floor (after he broke in) with the warning that I would shoot to kill if he moved. We have the Castle Law in Indiana, which was recently rendered powerless because of a court decision that cops COULD enter someone’s house ILLEGALLY. What that did was to give cop impersonators carte blanche against unsuspecting victims who open their doors to them. The Castle Law protected me if I would have chosen to shoot the perp that crashed thru my window to get into my house. If there is ever a next time, the guy may come up missing with a bullet hole or five in him. I may not make the same mistake as the first time. Stay tuned to see what the appeal on the Indiana Castle Law turns out to be. It may be that turning the home invader into a “missing person” may be our only alternative.


Vote -1 Vote +1mthighpockets
April 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Grambo’You go girl’ It’s also called S.S.S. (Shoot,shovel & Shut up’).


Vote -1 Vote +1Pete Commander
October 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I have a flashlight/laser sight combo that fits on my Mossberg 500. It has a setting for each of plain LED flashlight, a red laser sight, combination of the two and LED strobe light for emergencies. It has two different ends, one with a cable for the trigger guard and the other where you can use it as a traditional light/pointer/emergency flasher. VERY handy tool.

As for emergency food, think of Ramen noodles. I would suggest one with the cup o soups and several of the ones in the plain plastic wrappers. The cup o soups give you a container for mixing food in a pinch and the others are cheap as can be. And you can store many cases of them (different flavors). Also buy some of the dehydrated refried beans. You can feed several people with one soup and package of the beans. Of course keep spices and non-perishable condiments with them. You can have a variety of meals in that way. Of course processed, dehydrated veggies to go into the soups round off the menu, with a bonus of different meats that can be stored.

Finally, MREs are great to go with the the soups to feed a family.

And never, EVER forget the Tabasco and picante sauce.


Vote -1 Vote +1Judi
February 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

Unfortunately Ramen noodles have almost no nutritional value. For staying in place survival we have a large stock of chunky canned soups- they are a decent source of protein, they have a pull tab and can even be heated right in the can if need be. Don’t forget cereal as a good source of grain and they can be consumed without milk if you run out of powdered milk. We have a current stock pile of foods for 6 months that is comprised of foods that we would normally eat. (And are working on building that to a year supply.) Everything is clearly marked with a date to make rotation easy. If nothing “bad” happens (LOL) we will just have a supply of food that we bought at lower prices to get us through or supplement our buying for several months. For on the move, MRE’s are still a good investment.


Vote -1 Vote +1Montego Man
April 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

I highly recommend having several different types of knives/machetes/swords on hand. I have boxes of “specials” I can use to trade or barter and give away as gifts to build good will in case of an emergency. I have several folding tactical knives, as well as a variety of Kanto edge type knives, and short swords strategically placed throughout the entire house. Keep a couple of different types of sharpeners. A good electric one can sharpen any dull knife in one pass. Honing stones and diamond blocks and wands also work well but take more time and effort. I’ve found knives to be a good deterrent when someone wants to do something stupid, and when they see your prepared to take them on (at the last possible moment) they have abruptly changed their minds. Be aware – know what YOU are doing or going to do – be prepared to do it, especially if the safety of a family member is at risk.


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