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John Nores

What Are The Bug-Out Bag Essentials?

The Essentials 1

A bug-out bag or SHTF kit is key to get you through a disaster. Do you have yours put together? Here are the on-person and vehicle bug-out bag essentials.

As both a rural law enforcement special operations team leader, hunter and outdoor enthusiast, I spend a lot of time in our nation’s wildlands — usually a significant distance away from large crowds and support services found in urban population centers. For these more remote environments where our team does business, it’s a given that I carry a defensive pistol, various long guns and associated accessories given our mission at work. Like many Americans, I also need to be equipped to defend my family and myself from harm in more heavily populated urban environments while off duty, and I carry a concealed compact pistol for these reasons.

Unfortunately in today’s high-tech world where cyber, electrical, cellular and other essential communication systems can fail — making access to law enforcement, trauma care, banking, food and other essential survival services inaccessible — survival supplies above and beyond a firearm are be needed to ride out any storm.

A pack doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, big and bulky. If it’s too big and too heavy, you’ll likely leave it at home — where it’s absolutely useless. Thinks compact and organized.
A go bag doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, big and bulky. If it’s too big and too heavy, you’ll likely leave it at home — where it’s absolutely useless. Thinks compact and organized.

Ready for this unfortunate contingency anytime and anywhere, I have carried my so called “bug-out bag” effectively for more than a decade now. This satchel — I carry a Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger — is one of the most compact packs of its type, and it sits against my right hip constantly when working plain-clothes covert operations and while off duty.

The piece of mind of having everything I need and easy reach at all times is priceless. And while I’ve fortunately never had to deploy my firearm and engage with it from my bag outside of training, the confidence and comfort of being ready and able to do so is reassuring.

Living in California’s Silicon Valley and maneuvering within the moderate to warm year-round temperatures there, carrying and concealing a defensive handgun and essential survival supplies can be challenging, especially when dressed in shorts and a T-shirt most of the time. Fortunately, the Remora is relatively small and light, given all the essentials I’m able to keep within. It’s also the type of bag that works well with casual wear, making it easy to blend into the crowd while discretely hiding in plain sight.

Organization is key to maintaining a bug-out bag that remains functional when you need it. Here, every item has its place, allowing quick and fluid access to the handgun. If you need a Band-Aid, odds are good you’ll have time to get it out. If you need the pistol, time will matter.
Organization is key to maintaining a bug-out bag that remains functional when you need it. Here, every item has its place, allowing quick and fluid access to the handgun. If you need a Band-Aid, odds are good you’ll have time to get it out. If you need the pistol, time will matter.

When starting my journey into the law enforcement special operations world 2 decades ago, a Special Forces friend and mentor once mentioned the phrase, “Two is one and one is none.” He was referring to the need to have built-in redundancy for success and carry two of everything essential in your kit needed for duty, battle and survival.

That mantra has stuck with me and my teammates for decades now, ensured mission success and survival many times over … and now it carries over into off-duty life to good effect. As a result, one will see several items duplicated in both my personal carry and vehicle bug-out bags lists in this article.

The Main Bug-Out Bag Essential: Glock 43

The essential items within my Remora Gearslinger starts with my firearm, a compact Glock Model 43 9mm pistol with Trijicon three-dot night sights and a permanently attached Stream light TLR-6 white light and laser combination. The TLR-6 is a featherweight addition to the lightweight G43, and with the laser zeroed at 7 yards and 100 lumens of white light for low-light applications, the compact package is set up for any life-threatening contingency — 24/7.

Coming from a law enforcement agency that’s run Glock Model 22 and 27 .40-caliber pistols since the start of my career in 1992, I favor them for on- and off-duty use. Their reliability and durability through years of training, several gunfights with armed drug cartel members, the adverse conditions we work in routinely (dust, dirt, mud, brush, saltwater, etc.) and their accuracy and lightweight has engendered a 3-decade trust in the Glock system.

The author carries a Glock 43 in his bag at all times, along with 15 rounds (two magazines) of 147-grain T-series 9mm ammunition. In certain situations, he’ll add another magazine.
The author carries a Glock 43 in his go bag at all times, along with 15 rounds (two magazines) of 147-grain T-series 9mm ammunition. In certain situations, he’ll add another magazine.

While the Glock 43 is a very compact 9mm pistol, it handles and shoots like a much larger handgun. Accurate and fast with little recoil from full-power 9mm loads, the pistol allows quick and accurate follow-up shots.

For ammunition needs, I carry two magazines full of Winchester 147-grain T-series bonded hollow-points, a cartridge that performs well in both penetration and expansion through a multitude of barriers — even from the short-barreled and compact G43. With a two-round extension baseplate on my primary magazine in the pistol and a loaded secondary standard G43 magazine in the Gearslinger, I have a generous 15 rounds of ammunition in the bug-out bag system at all times, with room to add additional magazines as needed. The two-round magazine extender from Cage Industries also extends the pistol’s grip’s length an additional inch, making for a much more solid and comfortable purchase on the handgun for large-handed shooters like myself.

Carrying, deploying and engaging with the G43 from the Gearslinger pack is relatively fast after adequately training with the system. The key to deploying the pistol effectively is keeping the gun pouch within the pack clear of obstructions from the other essential items carried within the pack. The pack’s internal layout is well-thought-out, and with the careful placement of all of your survival items inside, accessing the well-concealed pistol is smooth and efficient.

Glock 22

Glock 43

Glock 27

Below is a list of all the items within my Gearslinger. Keep in mind this list is specific to my needs and serves as a template to build your own specific kit.

Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger Bug-Out Bag List (personal):

The Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger is like a clown car: You can fit a whole lot in that little bag. The author’s bug-out necessities consists of 19 hand-picked items that go with him everywhere.
The Maxpedition Remora Gearslinger is like a clown car: You can fit a whole lot in that little bag. The author’s bug-out necessities consists of 19 hand-picked items that go with him everywhere.
  1. Glock G43 9mm pistol with attached Streamlight TLR-6 light laser combination
  2. Two Glock 43 magazines (one with Cage Industries two-round baseplate extender), allowing 15 rounds of Winchester 147-grain T-series 9mm ammunition
  3. CAT tourniquet
  4. Israeli combat bandage
  5. One pair of nitryl gloves
  6. Emergency space blanket
  7. Power bar/trail mix
  8. Checkbook
  9. Small notebook
  10. Writing pen
  11. $200 in $20 bills
  12. Two Band-Aids
  13. Soft earplugs
  14. Bright Strike AAA battery 100-lumen penlight
  15. Two extra lithium AAA batteries for Bright Strike penlight
  16. Two extra lithium CR-1/3N batteries for Streamlight TLR-6 light/laser system
  17. Swiss Army knife
  18. Glock tool
  19. Small Bic lighter (not pictured)

The ‘Iron Buggy’ Bug-Out Essentials
Along with your well-equipped everyday carry bug-out bag is the need for a larger, longer duration survival kit that stays in your vehicle for emergency needs. In the event of civil unrest, environmental disasters, economic collapse or any combination thereof, your vehicle is your Alamo. It serves as an escape vessel and mobile base camp that must be capable of facilitating you and your family’s survival for several days or longer.

For both my agency patrol and personal pick-up trucks, I’ve narrowed down essential carry items that take up relatively little space and can be maintained in most any size vehicle. Below is the list of bug-out survival items I carry in both trucks, in addition to a pack of comprehensive survival essentials. This list is again subjective to my needs and can be used as a guide template to build the ideal vehicle bug-out bag for your vehicle and needs.

Vehicle Bug-Out Bag List:

In addition to an on-person bag, keeping a selective stockpile of necessities in a vehicle is a smart play, should you need it to serve as an escape vessel or a mobile base camp.
In addition to an on-person bag, keeping a selective stockpile of necessities in a vehicle is a smart play, should you need it to serve as an escape vessel or a mobile base camp.
  1. 511 Rush 24 multi-cam daypack (other colors available as needed)
  2. Ozark 5-day insulated cooler (for perishables as needed)
  3. Energizer jump starter/air compressor/remote power supply combination
  4. Case of bottled water
  5. KUIU 30-degree super down sleeping bag
  6. Five Meals Ready to Eat (MREs)
  7. Roll of Duct tape
  8. Comprehensive trauma medicine/first aid kit
  9. Iridium Satellite phone
  10. Handheld Garmin GPS unit
  11. Leatherman MUTT multi-tool
  12. Two Bic pocket lighters
  13. Two Bic fireplace lighters
  14. Chainsaw blade wood-cutting tool and nylon case
  15. Goal Zero solar panel power supply
  16. Ultimate Survival Technologies deluxe survival kit
  17. SteriPEN ultraviolet water purifier and nylon case
  18. Two extra CR123 lithium batteries for SteriPEN
  19. Two Surefire LED 300-lumen LED flashlights
  20. Ten extra CR123 lithium batteries for flashlights
  21. Two Coast LED headlamps (not pictured)
  22. Six extra AAA lithium batteries for headlamps

A Lifestyle Adapted

While putting together comprehensive bug-out bags for both personal and vehicle carry is not an inexpensive endeavor, they are the best investments you can make for you and your family’s survival. Just the peace-of-mind of having both kits ready to go for immediate use should the worse-case scenario occur is worth the investment. Like we say on our tactical team, “Train and prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” And this mindset carries over well for your personal survival preparation.

Fortunately, I’ve never had to deploy my G43 from my Remora pack to protect and survive — and I hope that I never have to. But if that dark day comes, I’m prepared and confident to handle any survival challenge to save my life and the lives of others.

Be Prepared!:

Secrets To Mounting A Precision Scope On A Long-Range Rifle


How To Mount A Scope 7

It takes more than Loctite and torque to robustly mount a precision scope. Find out the secrets to getting the most out of your long-range optic.

What Are The Tips For Mounting A Precision Scope:

Over the past three decades, I’ve had to extract every bit of accuracy potential from both my recreational and duty rifles. Coached by my precision-driven father on the handloading bench during my teenage years, I developed this same obsession at an early age.

This passion has continued for me as a long-range hunter and a marksmanship, tactics and sniper instructor, as well as when developing and running my agency’s first Designated Marksman Observer (DMO) team in 2014. Throughout it all, attaining quarter-minute-of-angle (MOA) accuracy from any rifle system has been an objective.

How To Mount A Scope 8
The author acquired quick success while zeroing from the bench after completing the scope bedding process for his long-range precision rifle system.

Today, the interest in long-range accuracy among the shooting community has never been greater. The exponential increase in the amount of precision rifle platforms over the past decade has been overwhelming for long-range shooting enthusiasts, with a plethora of rifle and optic options now available in a wide range of both new precision-oriented calibers and the time-tested classics.

For any precision rifle to perform at peak potential, all three components within the system (rifle, scope and ammunition) must be of high quality with extremely narrow tolerances to provide repeatable quarter-minute accuracy or better.

For the focus of this article, let’s assume we’re working with a vetted precision rifle from a reliable manufacturer; a quality scope that’s robust and proven to be reliable under even the heaviest recoil stresses from modern, big-bore, long-range calibers (.338 Lapua, .300 PRC, .300 RUM, etc.); and, of course, quality match-grade ammunition with bullets capable of remaining stable and hitting consistently past 2,000 yards.

With those base-level equipment requirements covered, let’s focus on techniques for securely mounting and setting up that tier one optic on your precision rifle system.

Building The Perfect Bond

For decades, I’ve carefully mounted my single and two-piece bases to all my rifles the way I was taught by my gun-building and precision handloading mentors. This two-step process includes mounting the base(s) to the rifle’s receiver by mating a completely clean and degreased base set to a clean and degreased receiver before carefully anchoring the two together.

How To Mount A Scope 3
Use the right products to do your long-range scope bedding project. A quality torque wrench calibrated in inch-pounds, a good bedding compound such as Marine Tex and an easy-to-get release agent such as Johnson’s Floor Wax will work well.

To ensure the base screws would not vibrate loose during barrel whip and harmonics when being fired, I routinely anchor the two base(s) and receiver together using a very small amount of medium Loctite in a few of the threads in the lower third of the base screws. This is done to make sure the thread-locking compound will be effective below the contact point and into the rifle’s receiver for maximum contact. It is critical to only use medium Loctite during this process so you can remove your base screws without problems if you need to in the future.

While this process has proved effective overall for my rifles, I have occasionally witnessed other shooters having sudden zero shifts with their tack-drivers using this common base-mounting process. Even with Loctite added appropriately, those base screws can, and do, stretch over time. Repeated harmonic vibration (especially in the larger-caliber, magnum-class, long-range cartridges) whipping through your rifle with each shot can loosen your base screws and cause significant zero shift.

How To Mount A Scope 9
Apply a 1/16-inch layer of bedding compound on the bottom of your one-piece scope base. Bedding material is only applied to all points of contact with your rifle’s receiver before anchoring the scope base to your rifle.

An even more precise and secure process of mounting your scope to your precision rifle is direct bedding. My friend, Marc LeQuieu, over at Axial Precision, introduced me to this process earlier this year, and I’ve found it to be a straightforward, rock-solid and reliable way to eliminate inconsistent accuracy problems generated at your scope base.

As with all other components that comprise your precision rifle system, only use bases manufactured to very high tolerances. Regardless of whether you’re using a two-piece base, a single-piece, hunting-style base or a robust, one-piece tactical Picatinny rail base, the technique remains the same. I prefer a single-piece Picatinny base, because its inherent strength over a two-piece base eliminates more variables for inconstancy over the long run.

Using single-piece bases on your precision rifles also allows you to easily move an optic and scope ring set among a variety of rifles. The process for mounting a Picatinny rail is also much simpler, given its one-piece design. Granted, the overall weight of your precision rifle platform will increase a bit with a one-piece base, but the numerous advantages outweigh the weight gain—a small price to pay to guarantee the maximum strength, stability and consistency possible in your long-range optics kit.

Bedding the Scope Base(s)

Bedding the base rail to the top of the receiver with a light layer of Marine Tex bedding compound (the same compound used by Axial Precision and other tier I precision rifle builders to bed their stocks to their receivers) is the best option. A 1/16-inch-thick layer of compound spread evenly along the entire bottom surface of the base rail allows the rail to mate perfectly to the contours of the receiver. It will also eliminate any gaps created by machining errors or profile variations in either the top of the receiver itself or the bottom of the rail.

How To Mount A Scope 10
Use an effective release agent (such as Johnson’s Floor Wax, pictured here) on your scope’s tube before mating the rings to the scope. This will prevent the scope from being permanently bonded to the rings and allow you to remove your scope from the rings later on if needed.

To prepare the surface of the receiver before beginning the bedding process, use either Johnson’s floor wax or a commercially available release agent to ensure the rail does not become permanently attached to the rifle. Prepare the base rail screws for release by waxing them as well. The Marine Tex compound acts as a cushion between the receiver and rail surfaces when it is still pliable before you tighten the base screws just to the point at which the bedding compound begins to squeeze out between the rail and receiver. This bedding process allows for a perfect mating of the rail and action.

At this point, begin torquing your rail screws down to 22 inch-pounds before removing the excess bedding material that has seeped out around base screw contact areas. Do so in a systematic, back-and-forth method to make sure there is incremental and uniform torque pressure on all anchoring points along the rail. This will guarantee that the bedded rail is now rigid and extremely secure.

Bedding the Scope Rings

We use the same process to bed scope rings as we do when bedding the base rail to the rifle receiver—regardless of what ring set you use for your long-range optic kit.

How To Mount A Scope 5
An ideal and even spread of bedding compound should be applied to your scope rings before bedding the scope in your rings. This same amount of bedding compound needs to be applied to the top scope rings as well, allowing for 360-degree coverage of bedding compound on your rings to ensure 100 percent contact with your scope.

Traditionally, I’ve carefully and tediously hand-lapped my scope rings until attaining as close to 100 percent contact between the bearing surface of the entire scope tube and the complete surface area of each scope ring. This process works effectively but is a bit messy … and very time-consuming.

An easier and faster method is bedding your scope rings to your scope just as you do when bedding the scope base to your precision rifle’s receiver. Start by using the same bedding compound on the inside surfaces of the ring set. Just as when bedding your scope base, a 1/16-inch layer of Marine Tex on the entire inner circumference of the top and bottom ring halves will suffice. Use the same release agent on the scope’s main tube to ensure the rings do not become permanently bonded to the scope.

The objective is to create a complete match between the scope rings and optic with 100 percent contact between the inner circumferences of both rings and the scope tube itself. Be careful not to put too much bedding compound on these parts during the process, because more than a 1/16-inch layer of bedding compound in the right places can get messy.

More Long-Range Shooting Info:

Just as on your one-piece base, tighten the screws down only enough to see the compound start to squeeze out from between the rings and main tube of your scope. Once you’ve reached this level of contact pressure on all your ring screws, wipe off and remove the excess bedding compound from the edge of your rings; continue to systematically tighten them down in small increments until you reach an ideal torque level of 18 to 22 inch/pounds. Do not tighten past 22 inch/pounds! Also make sure each ring screw is torqued to the same pressure before completion.

While this process takes some time, it is a straightforward end-user method to avoid micro shifts in your precision rifle’s zero that can be completed without paying a gunsmith to do so.

Torquing Base and Ring Screws

As we’ve touched on earlier, all base and ring screws must be torqued to proper levels in an incremental and systematic method to ensure maximum strength and consistency.

How To Mount A Scope 4
Systematically torquing the base screws down into the receiver to 18 to 22 inch-pounds during the bedding process. Note the ideal small amount of excess bedding compound seeping out from around the base screw and rifle receiver contact points.

For example, if you’re working with a single-piece Picatinny rail scope base that has four base screw holes mated to your rifle receiver’s tapped scope base threaded holes, start all four screws into their slots only to the point of the threads catching in the rifle’s receiver. Using a systematic approach, torque the far-forward (closest to the rifle’s muzzle) base screw down only one full turn before moving to the far-rear (closest to the back of the rifle’s receiver) base screw and doing the same. Go to the next base screw behind the far-forward one and anchor it with just one turn to set the screw into the receiver’s threads. Then, continue to the next rearward screw and do the same.

Repeat this back-and-forth process systematically on all four base screws until you feel resistance and free spin on all four has stopped. Once there, continue working systematically back and forth between the four screws until all the excess bedding compound has seeped out between the two bearing surfaces and you’ve reached the desired amount of torque on each screw (18 to 22 inch-pounds).

Systematically Torquing Scope Ring Screws

For ring screws, the same method applies. What’s different in this case is that you will have many more screws to deal with on each ring set (usually at least four screws for each scope ring on quality optics). Not to worry: Just follow the same process as described for the base screws. For systematic torquing on multiple ring screws, remember to do so in a repeatable pattern.

How To Mount A Scope 2
This is an ideal front scope ring bedding example with 100 percent contact between the scope and scope rings.

For instance, when dealing with two scope rings that have four screws each, start with getting all eight screws started into their threads before proceeding to the next step. Now, using a repeatable crisscross pattern (similar to tightening lug nuts during a tire-and-wheel replacement) for all eight screws on both scope rings, torque in short increments until you feel resistance from each. Continue incremental torquing on each of the eight screws until all the excess bedding compound has seeped out from under the bearing surface of the scope ring. Once all screws are torqued to this pressure, continue the crisscross torque pattern in short increments again until all screws are at the same torque level of 18 inch/pounds.

For Picatinny rail-compatible scope rings that use a typical ½-inch locking nut at the base of each scope ring, use the back-and-forth and incremental torque pressure on each ring nut until you reach the prescribed torque level (65 inch-pounds for steel rings and manufacturer specifications for aluminum rings).

Scope Alignment

For long-range shooting consistency and success, proper scope alignment is critical.

We’ve all been frustrated while trying to twist our scope’s tube carefully left or right to find that level sight picture through our eyepiece during the scope mounting process. Using the vertical and horizontal crosshairs in the scope’s reticle as a reference, we find a sight picture that looks level and then start to systematically torque down our scope ring screws to the prescribed 18 inch/pounds. When shouldering the rifle and looking through the scope again, the crosshair now looks out of alignment—canting left or right of where we felt it was ideal just minutes before. We go through the process again, sometimes repeatedly for hours, without reaching a satisfying scope image.

How To Mount A Scope 6
Here’s, an ideal rear scope ring bedding example with 100 percent contact between the scope and scope rings. Note the even amount of bedding compound seeping out from the scope ring and scope tube contact points.

In the past, I’ve used scope-leveling kits with two magnetic bubble levels (one for your scope and one for your rifle’s receiver) with mixed results. However, a much easier scope alignment method works well to remedy this frustration: Having a rear scope ring that utilizes a small bubble level mounted at the top of the ring ensures you’re level with the target when taking a long-range shot. This eliminates any cant error effect on your shot’s point of impact for an accurate hit.

Steiner makes an excellent set of steel rings with this embedded bubble level feature that is both durable and streamlined. By making sure your bubble is centered in its tube and is level with the horizontal crosshair of your scope’s reticle, you’ll attain proper scope alignment—regardless of shooting position or individual body mechanics—when mounting the rifle. While effective, this method is also a lot easier and less time-consuming than all the others I’ve tried through trial and error over the years.

Well Worth the Time and Effort

The techniques outlined here comprise the starting point to achieving the best possible results with your precision rifle—well before you fire your first shot. While these procedures require a time investment and attention to detail, the results are well worth it.

A sudden zero shift and inconsistent group placement caused by a poorly mounted optic is not only frustrating, it also engenders doubt and a lack of confidence in your precision rifle system—a nightmare for all of us long-range enthusiasts. With so many environmental variables already in play that affect accurate shot placement at longer ranges that we can’t control, preparing your precision rifle system properly right out of the box will eliminate the variables that you can control.

This saves time, frustration and, just as importantly, it keeps the shooting process fun—as it should be when you make that rewarding first hit on steel at a mile.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the 2019 Long-Range Shooting issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.