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A compact survival kit on the belt and in the holster

Since the theme of this issue is Y2K-related, I thought a holster/belt/accessory combo I have hanging in my closet might be of interest. During the 1980s, I had various contracts to tram counterinsurgency or counterterrorist forces in some developing nations. Because of the potential for rapid political change, disloyalty among the security forces or actions by the insurgents against advisors, I thought it prudent to develop, a belt order survival/escape and evasion kit, to some extent based on the SAS basic survival kit but with adjustments of my own.

As I was carrying out assignments in jungle, desert and rain forest, I wanted the most durable load/weapon carrying system possible. Therefore, I based my survival combo on an Eagle Industries Cordura nylon belt and holster combo as leather does not hold up as well when exposed to constantly humid, wet conditions. I also added a small ballistic nylon pouch to carry additional useful items. I wanted a kit that would help me survive while I made my way to a border but which was light enough to carry easily, yet comprehensive enough to deal with contingencies, but which did not obviously indicate my lack of confidence in those I was training.

At various times I've used a 9mm Browning Hi-Power, a CZ-75 or a SIG P-226 as the pistol carried on the belt. For use in very rainy, humid environments, today I might substitute a stainless steel Beretta 92, a Walther P-99 or a Glock 19. I chose a 9mm for two reasons. First, ammo in this caliber was normally available wherever I was working;. but, second, I could normally carry more rounds of 9mm ammo than of a larger caliber. Five magazines of 9mm ammo weigh about 45 ounces, but with a high-cap 9mm one has between 65 and 75 rounds available. The holster I normally use holds one spare magazine. At times, I've added a double or even triple magazine pouch, thus giving me four or five magazines including the one in the gnu. If I'm carrying a rifle and magazines for it, then I usually carry just one spare magazine in the holster. On some "training" assignments, however, I have not had a rifle available. If operations will be carried out primarily by helicopter I also have an Eagle SAS drop holster available. Act ually, Eagle has a relatively new holster, designated the SAS MK VI, which falls between the full drop holster and the standard military belt holster, with which I will probably replace both holsters.

The second important element of my E&E/Survival kit is a fighting/survival knife. As with the pistols, I've varied the knife I've chosen over the years; but most of the time I've carried a Parrish hollow-handled Fighting/Survival Knife. Although this knife isn't balanced as well for close combat as a pure fighter, the Parrish is an outstanding survival/general purpose blade. Its saw-teeth are so well-designed that even thick limbs can be sawn, and its spear-point blade can be used for hacking or prying. The Parrish may also have a shaft, inserted into its hollow handle and function as a spear for hunting, spear-fishing or combat.

Additional survival gear that I always carry include items to provide food, water, warmth and medical treatment. Prior to deploying I acquire the best maps I can of the area of operations. Silk or plastic military escape and evasion maps are preferable, but other topographical maps will suffice. I pack them with a high-quality Prismatic compass.

Lately, I've also been considering the value of a compact GPS, but I will have to carry one around enough to see whether the weight addition is acceptable. The compass and map are normally carried in a small pouch on the belt.

Eagle offers various handcuff, medical kit and grenade pouches from which to choose. In addition, in this pouch I carry a firestarter, a flexible wire saw, Band-Aids, aspirin, a small collapsible water container and/or a couple of condoms for carrying water, a small magnifying glass, water purification tablets and potassium permanganate. Note: Potassium permanganate is a staple of SAS survival kits and may be used to purify water, as an antiseptic and as an aid to firestarting. Because potassium permanganate is such a good firestarter, however, it should be handled with care as even a few grains spilled in the pocket can make clothing flammable. I always carry it in sealed plastic containers, which are taped for additional security.

Normally, I carry a compact flashlight, either a Surefire Tactical Light or a Mini Mag Light, tucked wherever there's room. In the hollow handle of my Parrish knife I carry fish hooks, waterproof matches, a small candle, fish line and wire, a needle and small nails. So these items don't getiost, I use a plastic container that fits into the hollow handle. This allows me to slip it into a pocket when using the knife as a spear. Small gold coins, useful for purchasing food or transport or bribing officials in third-world countries, are used as filler within the hollow handle or secreted in one of the pockets. Gold pennyweights work well, too.

In the pocket on the front of the knife sheath, I carry either a Leatherman Tool or a SOG Power Plier for the various cutting, filing or mechanical tasks my large knife can't readily perform, and a diamond lap for sharpening. At least once the wire cutters on my Leatherman contributed to keeping me healthy, and I've found that the pliers may be used to pull a bullet so that the powder from a cartridge can be used to help start a fire.

For desert operations I add another pouch, usually one of Eagle's grenade pouches, containing a six-square-foot sheet of clear plastic and six feet of quarter-inch plastic tubing for making a solar still and a compact "Space" survival blanket. I make sure that there is room for at least two canteens on my belt, leaving off a spare magazine pouch if necessary to carry extra water.

I find the products from Eagle Industries especially well-suited to this type of belt order kit as this company supplies specialized gear to military and police special ops units around the world, and, hence, has developed an especially versatile and durable line of holsters, belts, pouches and general load-carrying equipment.

In fact, Eagle has another piece of load-bearing gear that may be especially interesting for those laying in equipment for a potential Y2K semi-worst case scenario. The Eagle "Liquidator" is a hydration system contained in a very compact backpack. In addition to the water bladders that fit inside the pack, this pack incorporates two zippered pockets as well as two rows of slotted webbing for ALICE clips, allowing additional pouches to be attached.

What I like about this system is that it is compact enough that it could possibly be worn under a bulky jacket without being noticed, though in hot climates this might not be comfortable.

I have occasionally worked in advisory situations where I was not allowed to be obviously armed. By substituting a compact handgun that can be carried in a pocket--the S&W SW9M compact Sigma 9mm would be my current choice--and a good folding knife for the Parrish. This system would make an even lower profile "bugout" kit to be worn' or kept nearby should the political storm warnings be apparent. I would not, however, fill the water bladder unless I were actually planning to take to the boomes. This same compact pack would make a useful Y2K car kit along with one's weapon of choice.

Admittedly, this belt order kit and the "liquidator" appeal to me because I've worked in some far-off-places with strange-sounding names and strange-acting people. However, should one be away from home when a true disaster hit, whether an earthquake or a doomsday Y2K scenario, every item could be a true lifesaver.

Eagle Industries offers a wide variety of tough, water-resistant Cordura nylon belts, holsters, pouches and packs that allow one to build his or her own basic survival or basic outdoor load carrying system. I've been using Eagle's products for well over a decade and have always been highly satisfied.
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Author:Thompson, Leroy
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 1999
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