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Lockpicking: A Practical Skill

Triple Aught Design is a small business. All of us wear multiple hats to make things go. Sometimes I end up wearing hats that may be considered odd in other businesses.

Today I got a call from our retail store manager. The key for the cash drawer at our Hayes Valley Outpost had been accidentally locked inside the drawer. As the guy generally responsible for security-related things, and the lockpicker in the office, the retail team thought I could help.

Job Requirement #634: Lockpicking

I’ve carried a set of Bogota picks in my wallet every day for a number of years. The popularity of the Bogota picks is well-deserved, but I found that this particular lock was too small for me to insert both the pick and the tension wrench. Fortunately I just picked up a pair of Kelly Alwood‘s ALS Mini Flats a couple weeks ago, and happened to have those in my pack. I don’t like the picks as much, but the tension wrench has a nice small tip that left me just enough room to insert the single hook Bogota pick. Between the ALS wrench and the Bogota pick I had the drawer opened shortly, and recovered the key.

Unfortunately I did not get to keep what was inside.

Cash Drawer Opened with EDC Tools

On the wall of the Outpost we have the well-known Heinlein quote, which is something of a driving force for what we do at Triple Aught Design, and struck me as appropriate today.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Everyday Carry OC

This past summer I attended Paul-E-Palooza. One of the courses I attended was Chuck Haggard’s Less-Lethals for the Concealed Carrier, which was all about OC (oleoresin capsicum) or pepper spray. Chuck is a Lieutenant in the Topeka, KS Police Department. He’s been training with OC for a long time and has a lot to say on the subject. I’ve been sprayed with OC before in training, but have not consistently carried it myself or incorporated it into any of my defensive training. After Chuck’s course I decided to rectify that.

OC

I’ve tried a handful of different cans from brands like Sabre Red, Fox Labs and Aerko. They’re all effective products, but I failed to find one that both came in a pocketable form-factor and had a safety design that I felt comfortable with — until I tried an ASP Defender.

The Defender series come in a variety of sizes, but are all long and skinny. This roughly pen-like form factor makes them easy to carry and also usable as a lightweight Kubotan. They feature a safety that inspires confidence in its ability to prevent an accidental discharge, while still being easy to actuate when needed. The capsules are replaceable, and ASP sells inert capsules for training in addition to the live “heat” capsules. They discharge a solution of 10% of 2,000,000 SHU oleoreson capsicum.

ASP Palm and Key Defenders

  • ASP Palm Defender: Inert and Live Cartridges
  • ASP Palm Defender: Disassembled

I purchased both the Key Defender and Palm Defender models. Both are 0.6” inches in diameter. The Key Defender is 5.75” long, while the smaller Palm Defender is 4.5” in length. The Key Defender capsule contains 4 grams of solution. The Palm Defender capsule contains 3 grams.

The stated range for the Key and Palm Defenders are 5 feet and 3 feet, respectively. In my trials I found that the difference in range between the two models was negligible: I achieved 4-5 feet with the Palm Defender, and about 5 feet with the Key Defender. This was outdoors, with the heat cartridges and a small amount of wind. The primary difference was in the number of shots. While the Palm Defender offered 4 cone-shaped bursts of about 1/2-second each, the Key Defender gave me 7.

Given the small differences between the Key and Palm Defender, I personally opt for the smaller form-factor of the Palm Defender for my EDC. My only complaint about this model is that, given the length, I find that I need to grip the body slightly lower so that my fingers do not interfere with the outward swing of the safety. This puts the opposite end of the Defender into my palm. Because of this, once I have disengaged the safety I need to readjust my grip slightly, so that the business end of the Defender is just beyond the edge of my hand — where it needs to be for both striking and discharging the OC. Ideally I would like to see a model in between the Key and Palm Defenders in length. As it is, this is a minor complaint, which I can train around and which does not dampen my enthusiasm for the Palm Defender.

ASP Key Defender: Business End

While the aluminium body of the Defenders is knurled for grip, the safeties are smooth. I addressed this by placing a small strip of grip tape over them, making it easier for me to disengage the safety with my thumb.

  • ASP Palm Defender: Actuating Safety
  • ASP Palm Defender: Safety Disengaged

I have been EDCing the Palm Defender in the front, support-side welt pocket of my pants. My preference would be to find a pocket clip for it — which I imagine is doable, since the Defender is roughly the size of a large pen or marker — so that I could have the option of moving it to other pockets or onto a belt. I’ve also experimented with carrying it on one of Chris Fry‘s Pocket Shields (via a tactical hair tie), but as of yet I have not integrated the Pocket Shield into my daily carry.

Currently reading The Mauritius Command by Patrick O’Brian.

O’Brian’s Aubrey–Maturin series is a daunting twenty novels, which I was finally motivated to begin after reading a comment on a blog post last year. I am now on the fourth book and — despite not having read historical fiction before this (excepting The Difference Engine and The Baroque Cycle) — have been quite enjoying the relationship between the characters of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, along with O’Brian’s meticulous detailing of Napoleonic-era naval life and combat.

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H&H Mini Compresion Bandage

The H&H Mini Compression Bandage is a small, pocketable emergency dressing. It consists of an elastic strap 32” in length, with a plastic hook on one end that will be familiar to anyone who has used an Israeli Bandage, and a strip of hook material on the other end. The end of the bandage with the hook material features a 4” x 5.75” absorbent gauze pad. To apply the bandage, the gauze is placed over the wound, and the elastic is wrapped around the limb. The hook material secures the initial wrap. The final wrap is secured via the plastic hook, just like on an Israeli. Unlike an Israeli or OLAES Bandage, the bandage features no device to aid in applying pressure to the wound, except for the tight wraps of the elastic material.

  • H&H Mini Compression Bandage: Ends
  • H&H Mini Compression Bandage: Absorbent Pad

Functionally the H&H Mini is inferior to its larger cousins, but, as the name implies, it is small. As it comes from the factory, it is vacuumed packed into a package that is 4” x 3” x 0.5”. Compare that to an Israeli Bandage, which is around 4” x 2.75” x 1.5”, or the 4.75” x 3” x 2” of the OLAES (5.5” x 4” x 1.5” for the new flat pack variant). Even the flat packed North America Rescue Emergency Trauma Dressing is 4” x 3” 1.5”. Most pocket trauma kits will forgo an emergency bandage, in favor of something like a SWAT-T (4” x 3” x 0.75”) which attempts to be both an emergency bandage and tourniquet. The H&H Mini is the first bandage I’ve found that is actually pocket sized, largely due to its thin profile.

Emergency Bandages

To achieve this small size it sacrifices a bulky absorbent pad and any form of mechanical pressure — both of which I’m willing to give up for something I can have in my pocket. But it also sacrifices length. At 32” long it is significantly shorter than the Israeli (84”), OLAES (42”), or NAR ETD (55”). This means you’ll get less wraps around a limb with the H&H Mini. Less wraps, particularly on a larger limb, may compromise the functionality of the bandage, since the H&H Mini is dependent on wraps to apply pressure and make up for its thin absorbent dressing. On the thigh of a smaller person like myself, I don’t think it will be an issue, but on a large person it will likely be a problem.

I’ll continue to always carry an OLAES or Israeli Bandage in whatever bag I have with me, but I’m happy to have found an occasional supplement in the H&H Mini. When going to a venue where I cannot carry a bag, or do not want to, I’ve found that I can easily slip the H&H Mini into a back pocket and not be bothered by it. This gives me some limited capabilities, which is better than leaving my full kit behind and having nothing. Supplementing the bandage with z-folded QuickClot Combat Gauze and a small tourniquet (like a SWAT-T or one of its competitors) makes for a very compact kit that can be slid into a pocket or two and, with training, ensure some measure of life-saving capability.

Minimalist Trauma Kit

H&H Mini Compression Bandage

Size (Packaged)
4” x 3” x 0.5”
Size (Flat)
32” x 4”
Weight (Including Packaging)
1.6 oz

Israeli Bandage

Size (Packaged)
4” x 2.75” x 1.5”
Size (Flat)
84” x 4”
Weight (Including Packaging)
2.5 oz

OLAES

Size (Packaged)
4.75” x 3” x 2”
Size (Flat)
42” x 4”
Weight (Including Packaging)
3 oz

This post was published on . It was tagged with medical, gear.