Former CIA Officer Jason Hanson Reveals...

Spy Secrets That Can

Save Your Life

Get Out Alive

Mailbag Monday

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Over the last year my wife and I have been creating a bug out plan. We have mapped out places to camp. My concern is that we plan to build a fire for warmth and cooking. How do we stop the smoke and smell of the fire from making us easy to find?

-From Jesse L.

Answer: There is no way to completely eliminate the smoke or smell of food when cooking. But, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Obviously, avoid cooking foods with lots of spices, which can create a stronger smell.

Also, try not to make a fire when it’s really windy so the smoke and odor won’t travel as far.

There are thermal cookers, which is basically a plastic box you can cook inside of, however, these aren’t something you would probably have with you during an emergency situation.

And learn how to build a “Dakota Hole” which is a type of fire that gives off very little smoke.


I’m retired from the Army. I served in the Middle East and became skilled at clearing buildings. But serving in combat and clearing my house are very different things. How do I adjust to the different scenarios of my house?

-From Aaron T.

Answer: The key here is to practice… especially since you’ll most likely be clearing your home alone.

​When clearing your home by yourself, always remember to watch your back. In addition, unless someone is in immediate danger, remember to go slow.

Lastly, one of the best methods to clear a home is to “slice the pie.” This is a slow process but allows you to safely see corners before exposing yourself to danger.


I need your help in answering the ultimate question that I can never find a clear answer on. Is it okay for me to dry fire my pistol? Or does it cause damage?

-From Rick A.

Answer: Dry firing is a very good way to practice your handgun techniques, however whether it is bad for your gun simply depends on the firearm.

Back in the day a lot of people claimed it damaged your firearms, but this was mostly only true for revolvers. Dry firing most centerfire handguns is perfectly safe.

However, dry firing a rimfire gun is a bad idea.

The firing pin of a centerfire gun is designed to strike a primer located in the center of a cartridge’s base. When no cartridge is present, the firing pin strikes nothing.

With a rimfire, though, the firing pin is positioned to strike the soft brass rim of the cartridge. When no cartridge is present, the firing pin strikes the hard steel of the breech face.

I dry fire my 9mm pistols daily and have been doing it for years.


I have a question about escaping handcuffs. If the bad guy double locks the handcuffs would the shim or picking method still work?

-From Greg K.

Answer: Surprisingly, when I worked as a police officer a lot of people failed to double lock handcuffs.

The thing is it can be a pain to maneuver the cuffs to double lock them and I know too many people who just don’t bother.

The fact is, most criminals are going to put you in handcuffs and throw you in a trunk or basement. In other words, they aren’t likely to take the time to double lock the handcuffs.


My wife and I are about to retire. We live in California and can’t wait to leave. If you were going to move anywhere in the U.S. where would you go?

-From Mike B.

Answer: A small town in a conservative state. I would move to someplace like Wyoming or Idaho or Utah or Texas. Definitely stay far away from any large cities.


Do you think the 00 load is most appropriate shotgun ammo given the issue of over penetration? I currently use 00, but I worry about it and have thought about switching.

-From Bill B.

Answer: I use 00 buck (double-ought buckshot) for home defense. Federal and Winchester make solid shells.

The most important factor is that you want a round with stopping power. It’s estimated that a single 00 buck shell can convey as much force as 10-15 .380 handgun rounds at close range.

That’s a lot of stoppage from a single shot, making shotgun shells great for home defense.

With that being said, as with any gun, always make sure you know what your backstop is, as well as what is on the other side of the wall if you fire inside your home.

If you live in an apartment or share a wall with your neighbor then you need to be careful with over penetration.

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