Note: This editor's letter is from our latest publication, Recoil Offgrid Issue 54. If you'd like to purchase a copy of our magazine or subscribe, go to

The title of this editor’s letter is actually a quote from our good friend and contributor, Ed Calderon. The full version goes something like this: “All restraints are temporary. You either get released from them, escape from them, or the coroner removes them from your lifeless corpse.”
It’s a rather grim outlook, but one we feel adequately captures the grave perils of being taken or held against your will. While kidnapping per se is not an immediate threat to most people, there are a number of situations that could lead to you being trapped or taken hostage, on a short- or long-term basis. These include abductions related to sex trafficking and restraints applied by an abusive spouse or angry ex. Even though it’s a statistically unlikely scenario, it’s probably one of the scariest and most severe survival situations you could wind up in. This is why many military units go through rigorous multi-week survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) training programs.

So, we’ve decided to take this issue to examine how to evade danger — whether it’s before or after you’ve been actively held hostage. Our What If? column examines an escape-from-captivity scenario in extra depth, with security specialist Mel Ward providing a veritable treatise on how to prepare for, and deal with, such a situation. Patrick McCarthy’s training column, The Final Weapon, covers lockpicking skills and tools. Dean Freeman has contributed an article on facial recognition technology, and how to preserve your privacy in an age of constant surveillance. In a similar vein, our longtime friend and contributor Freddy Osuna of Greenside Training has recently begun teaching an entire class on camouflage and concealment techniques. Patrick Diedrich brings us the scoop on that. We also have a surprisingly thorough, if not a little stomach-turning, article on the viability of eating canned dog food to survive, in the event nothing else is available.

Elsewhere in the issue, Mr. McCarthy brings us a very thorough introduction to selecting, mounting, and employing a Low-Power Variable Optic (LPVO) on a general-purpose carbine. If you’ve been thinking about upping your optic game from a red dot to a 1-4, -6, or -8x scope, read this first! Joe Alton also gives us some information about common cold weather injuries, since many of you will still have snow in your yards when you read this.

We hope you find this look into escape and evasion informative and thought-provoking. We also hope you never need to use anything you read here. Stay safe and stay ready.

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