You Are Your Own First Responder

Are you ready for what could meet you on the trail?

This past summer I took a trip out to Colorado and Wyoming to shoot a couple of pistol matches. It was also an opportunity to hike and climb in the Rockies around Colorado Springs and the flatlands around Gillette, Wyoming. Just prior to taking the trip I had read an article online by one of the hiking, outdoor magazines that you should not carry a handgun hiking.

In my world that is not going to happen because there are rabid animals, carnivores that have been known to attack humans and of course there are the bad two legged type of critters. I will not tell others what to do, however I choose to be prepared. If you choose to carry when in the back woods carry a handgun that functions well in all conditions. When you are out in the Badlands, Rockies or the High Plains, or strolls roll through your favorite local haunt; your sidearm to be able to standup to the element. A pistol such as an H&K VP9 is a good bet and was my choice.

The VP9 like many of its contemporaries is virtually impervious to foul weather and sweat. This is achieved by coating a stainless steel slide and all of the pins and springs with H&K’s proprietary corrosion resistant finish. My VP9 has been out in monsoons, dust storms and has had sweat running off of it. It has never failed to function through all of this.

A service style pistol like this H&K VP9 is ideal for field carry. It is nearly impervious to weather, its accurate and holds 15 rounds of 9mm.

Others will say their Glocks, Smith M&Ps and other striker fired polymer pistols have endured the same or worse. They too are right. All of the pistols we consider “duty weapons” are built to survive harsh use.

If I were out in the woods in the spring or fall, I would opt for a stainless steel revolver because pistols generally do not operate with “snake shot”. “Snake Shot” is a load of small pellets meant to dispense, snakes. It is not uncommon on cool mornings or late afternoons for snakes are out sunning themselves and you may need to dispense with one and still have cartridges for dangers that walk.

A stainless steel revolver like this Ruger GP100 is ideal for the field.

When you are off the beaten trail, it is important to carry extra ammunition. It is easy to carry extra ammunition for a pistol, just carry an extra magazine or two. It’s not that hard to carry extra loads for your revolver; a couple speed loaders, a 2X2X2 pouch and a speed strip with extra snake shot and you should be ready to go.

Speeloaders, 2X2X2 pouches and speed strips are all good ways to carry extra ammunition for your revolver.
Safariland’s GLS holster is fast and secure thanks to the trigger guard lock that is released by the catch as you acquire a grip on your pistol.

Whatever your choice of handgun, you need a holster for it. Since hiking and climbing take you across uneven terrain where you can take a fall, your holster needs to have active retention. This means athumb break or other mechanical retention device. If you take a fall with a simple friction fit holster odds are high that your sidearm will become dislodged. In the worst case scenario, you will lose it. This is not something you want to deal with. I prefer Safariland’s GLS or ALS holsters for pistols and a thumb break or retention strap for a revolver. If you are not used to a retention holster, make sure you practice with it. Your life may depend on it.

Thumb break holsters like this pancake style holster from Galco are ideal to keep revolvers handy.

The other item I carry when going in the field is a large fixed blade knife. Having read all of the articles on proper everyday carry, I know you all carry a quality clip-it knife. That is all well and good around town, but off the beaten path you need something that can hack down a tree branch be it for firewood or to make a split. While we all say we will never need to do that, humor me; Murphy’s Laws tend to come true at the worst time.

When sheathed the Province will lay close to your body so is it at hand when needed

One of the best examples of a knife that would fill this ticket is Spyderco’s Province. This Bowie style knife was designed by Jim Ankerson and the leather sheath by Darrin Sanders to ensure you keep the Province handy.

Ankerson’s sheath will keep the 12.33″ Province handy for many years.

The Province is ideally suited for use in the outdoors because of the CMP4V steel. The steel is enhanced with Vanadium and Molybdenum. These additives make the steel durable, corrosion resistant, holds an edge and it holds an edge. The full tang 6.79″ blade with its contoured G10 grips fills your hand and gives you above average purchase in all conditions.

With its clip blade design, the knife balances forward of the Handguard. This puts the weight of the blade behind each strike, to make short work of branches and other items you are hacking through. The flat grind helps give the 0.154″ wide blade of the Province strength, reducing the odds of breaking the knife.

Spyderco’s Province is a serious “Bowie knife” that is ideal for serious adventures.

Remember you and you alone are responsible for your safety. This is even more true when you are off the beaten trail. Being able to defend yourself from predators of all types and having the means to get kindling for a fire may save your life.

Scott Smith
Scott is a former federal LEO who served on active duty in the Army in numerous positions and USAF Reserve Security Policeman. He is active in USPSA and three gun competition and is a charter life member of IDPA. Over the past twenty plus years he has written for numerous publications and has graduated from many shooting schools including Gunsite, Sig Academy, Blackwater. Scott passed on June 15th, 2021. He will be missed.