Guns, Bug Out Bags and Radios – Where Do They Fit Into a Prepper’s Home Defense?

On December 13, 2012, Jim Cobb was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio. (You can read about it here.) He returned as my guest on January 10, 2013. Jim’s the author of an informative book called Prepper’s Home Defense.

My blog post about our first interview was published on a Friday. That happened to be December 14th, the same day the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting took place in Connecticut. That day’s post was one of my most read posts for a few weeks. And, as we all know, sales of guns, ammo magazines and ammunition have gone through the roof. People all over the country are concerned about home and self defense.

So how do we put this in perspective for preppers?

Guns for Protection

Without minimizing the importance of owning firearms, Jim pointed out that guns are just one piece of the home security puzzle. If you end up needing to draw your gun on another human being, a link in your security planning and preparation has failed somewhere.

We discussed the basic recommendations for firearms given in his book. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on guns. Start with a .22 rimfire rifle. Move up to a 12 gauge shotgun, and handgun.

In his book Jim compares the attributes of pistols vs. revolvers. We touched on that in our first interview.


Jim’s first rule is not to cache or hide anything you don’t want to lose forever. Your cache could disappear for any number of reasons.

When caching, hide away supplies you may need in a pinch. Are their strategic places along your way to work or another important location?

Another reason to cache is to get something out of your home you don’t want to have there. /Do you have handguns you want to keep away from children? This is the sort of cache you’ll want to be able to keep an eye on. Jim suggested practical ways to cache valuables in or near your home.

Bugging Out

When is it time to leave home and bug out? What if too many people are planning to bug out too early? If a collapse happens, should you head for the hills right away? Would you be able to make it in the wild? Armchair preppers won’t.

Much depends on what the catastrophic event is and what your situation is. Stay home if you can, but don’t ignore reality when the situation dictates that you leave.

Have options. Ask yourself if where you are now is unliveable under the circumstances. If you decide you can’t survive there any longer, where will you go? How will you get there? Have you planned this out ahead of time? Or will you become a refugee?

Bug Out Bag

The bag for you and your family members is a very personal thing. It will vary according to need. Jim gives a broad overview of what your bug out bag should include.

  1. Water and water filtration
  2. Food (and a way to get more food)
  3. Shelter
  4. Fire-making
  5. First aid and hygiene
  6. Security (including ways to signal for help)

In Prepper’s Home Defense Jim recommends using backpacks when bugging out. That way one hand isn’t occupied by pulling a suitcase on wheels. But I wonder about the possibility of using a dog or horse to haul or pull gear and supplies, assuming animal power is available.

Radios & Communication

Is CB radio a viable radio choice in a survival situation? Jim and I have a minor disagreement on that one, ut we agree on several other principles about communication. It’s essential to do more listening than talking and transmitting.

Be sure you and your family or group coordinate as to the radio equipment you use for communicating. Test it out.

I can’t help but throw in my two cents about a couple of other things.

Regarding shortwave radios, there’s a lot less on the bands than there used to be. The BBC, Radio Netherlands and numerous other international broadcasters, have stopped broadcasting to North America. They’ve put their content online or satellite. So you won’t hear much in English these days, except for Cuba, China and a few commercial stations here in the U.S. And who knows how any of these stations will fair in a total collapse situation?

It’s a good idea to get a shortwave radio with single sideband capability to hear the amateur radio bands. There’s sure to be plenty of activity there, as long as ham operators have a power source. If you’re interested in ham radio for yourself, it’s worth it to get licensed. A local ham radio club can help you get licensed and get equipment.

I agree with Jim’s recommendation in his book to have some kind of alternate power source, such as for solar power. Keep rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger on hand, too. Some wind-up radios have the ability to charge cell phones.

By the way, the book includes tables for the phonetic alphabet and police 10 codes. Those 10 codes are useful, but they may be going away slowly as government agencies move toward plain speech.

Getting Personal

We briefly discussed the importance and value of each person in your family or group. Everyone has value and can contribute something, whether it’s a teenager who’s a tech whiz or an elderly lady who’s a gardening and canning expert.

Don’t overlook anyone. Each person has unique skills and knowledge.

Final Thoughts

I encourage you to hear my whole interview with Jim Cobb when you listen to DestinySurvival Radio for January 10, 2013. In the interviews i’ve had with him, he’s been a well spoken voice of reason and moderation.

If you haven’t yet ordered Prepper’s Home Defense, you really should. Jim packs a lot of common sense info on a variety of relevant topics into a little over 200 pages. It’s a DestinySurvival Pick. Order by clicking on the book’s title wherever you see it in this post. You’ll be taken to the page where it’s featured.

You can also check out Jim’s site at


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.