Let's face it: a soldier's most basic job is to fight and kill to defend our country. Yes, I know some people will argue with me. I'll stand and argue. I've got four older brothers who are Marines; a son who is a Marine; a daughter-in-law who is a Marine; a son-in-law who is a soldier; a daughter who is an Army veteran - and I'm an Army veteran myself. The soldier's most basic function is to fight and kill to protect and defend our nation. To do so requires weapons. Having listed the value of health and fitness above I'd like to add that every human being - if they have the guts to use them - is born with nine personal weapons:
- Your head - ever given someone a head-butt? It hurts!
- Both elbows. I was once told that the elbow, when bent, is the hardest bone in the human body. Therefore it makes a good weapon to use to attack with.
- Both hands / fists - the most commonly used weapons.
- Both knees. Given the strength of our legs and the amount of energy we can create, the knee is obviously a very dangerous weapon when applied properly.
- Both feet. I'd venture to guess that kicking is the second most common form of attack.
After you get past those nine personal weapons though, we fall to tools and technology to increase our lethality. Rifles are the most common personal technology weapons (except for knives which we'll discuss in a moment). While soldiers are often assigned other weapons such as machine guns, mortars, precision rifles, etc, the common every day garden variety select-fire (burst capable) box fed rifle is the most prevelant. It can be very effective if maintained and used properly. If you think you'll need to defend yourself and/or hunt in a crisis situation, I highly recommend you acquire a rifle; learn it; train with it; practice with it; maintain it. If that evil looking "assault rifle" (AR-style rifle) isn't to your taste, perhaps a nice lever action rifle will do?
As a secondary or "back up" weapon to the rifle, or if you're not empowered to carry that rifle at all, a handgun is your next option. (Yes, a shotgun is another option but I'm assuming that if one long-gun is ruled out then so is another). It's imperative that you understand a handgun is not as easily lethal or disabling as a rifle is. It certainly CAN be lethal but shot placement and repetitive shots matter. If the handgun is your only source of self-defense then amount of available ammunition matters as well. Research; study; try out different handguns and figure out what works best for you. Purchase one, get plenty of practice ammo for it; and find the holster that will suit your intended needs best. Most of our soldiers today aren't issued handguns. They have their rifle. However, if they are issued a handgun, the handgun's purpose is to give them an immediate functioning option if their rifle goes out of service for any reason or to fight their way back to their rifle if they drop it for any reason. Bottom line: the rifle is far preferred for hunting - animals or men - and is a much better self-defense tool if you can carry it.
Now let's talk for a few minutes about probably the oldest self-defense tool / weapon known to man - with the exception of clubs and rocks: The knife. A good quality knife - such as the Mil-Tac MMM1 - can perform a variety of utility functions in the field. Obviously you can cut with it, but it can also be used for digging, as an anchor point, food preparation, hammering and more. The versatility of a knife is often limited by our own imagination. There are many different points of view about the necessary length of the blade (6.5" minimum for combat?), whether or not you need a serrated edge or portion, sheath material, etc. My perspective is this:
- Get a knife that has at least a 5" blade if you're planning to use it as a field tool in a crisis situation.
- Get a knife that has a portion of the blade - or the blade's spine - serrated or kerf cut (saw teeth).
- Get a knife that has an ergonomically shaped grip that fits your hand.
- Get a knife that has synthetic grip slabs that provide good traction even when wet, sweaty or bloody.
- Make sure the knife's sheath holds it securely in every position and condition you can think of.
- Make sure you have a method (stone or diamond stick) for maintaining your knife's edge.