Using Your Vehicle as a Weapon

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I don’t know when or where I first heard it, but there’s an important concept that we should all understand as part of our self-defense strategy. That is, “To one who understands weapons, anything can be a weapon.” We see this best portrayed in Jackie Chan’s movies, where he uses anything from a stepladder to a broom as a weapon.

Granted, that’s Hollywood and we all know it is unrealistic. I personally don’t have Jackie’s martial arts ability or his ability to improvise and would prefer to avoid doing so on the spur of the moment. Even so, the fact that he does so, so successfully, illustrates what I’m saying. Just because I can’t effectively hold off an attack with a feather duster, doesn’t mean that nobody can.

Probably the most important key to being able to use unconventional objects as weapons, is seeing them as such. One can’t really use an umbrella as a weapon, as long as they are just seeing it as something to keep the rain off their head. But once you decide it can be used as a weapon, you start looking at it differently, thinking about how you would use it as a weapon.

I was faced with the need to think unconventionally about weapons a number of years ago, when the violence caused by the drug cartels in Mexico started getting serious. At the time, I was traveling into Mexico two to four times per week. But Mexican law doesn’t allow me to carry my pistol there. Being caught with even one bullet in the car would earn me a 20 year prison term in a Mexican prison. I’ve seen those; they’re not a place you would want to visit, let alone spend 20 years there.

When we can’t use guns, most of us start thinking about what else we can fall back on. For me, that usually means a bow, knife or sword. But the reality is, none of those are in the least bit effective against gun-wielding thugs, when I’m trapped inside my vehicle.

As I’ve previously discussed, using a gun while inside a vehicle is difficult. But this was even worse. I didn’t have a gun. All I had was a knife and the vehicle I was driving. Fortunately, that vehicle was a full-sized custom van; two tons of Detroit steel.

Let me ask you this question. If you were a bad guy, holding a gun on some dude driving a large, heavy vehicle, what would you do if he hit the gas and came straight for you?

I suppose the right answer is to stand your ground and put steel on target. That’s the macho answer, at least. But the reality is that most people forget to be macho when faced by real danger. Oh, they might be macho enough in their own right; but somehow that’s hard to maintain when real danger is looking you in the eye. 

Well, the one time I had to use that van as a weapon, the guy broke and ran. I apparently managed to convince him that I was going to pin him against the wall with my grille and he didn’t like that idea. He ducked, and that gave me the opportunity I needed to turn my wheel and go on down the street, escaping him.

Granted, I’m not going to recommend a vehicle, no matter how large, as a primary weapon for anybody to use. But when you don’t have anything else effective to use, use what you have. That’s definitely better than just accepting that you’re a victim.

The other thing we have to realize in a case like this is that what I did was extremely dangerous. If the guy pointing the gun at me had been any good with that gun, he could have put a round in my head, ending my life. I had to balance that risk against the risk of losing my life, if he managed to kidnap me. Considering how few people survive those kidnappings, I decided that attacking with my van was the less risky move.

But before you think it was a careless move, let me assure you that it wasn’t. I had thought through my options ahead of time and prepared for such a move. Knowing that I was essentially unarmed, other than a combat knife and my van, I had spent time thinking through how I would use that van to my advantage. I had also spent time working with the handling characteristics of the van, so I would know how fast I could accelerate, how fast I could stop and how tight a turn I could make.

Like any “real weapon” we need to know what we can do with an unconventional one, like a vehicle, before attempting to use it as a weapon. As much as practically possible, we need to think through the potential scenarios and decide how we will react. And we need to practice those reactions, committing them to muscle memory, so that we don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking, when we need them.

That worked out well for me, in that one case; but I really wouldn’t want to try it again. For one thing, I’m driving a much smaller vehicle now. For another, I really don’t like taking chances with my life. But then, the bad guy with the gun had already decided that for me. So, are you ready to use your vehicle as a weapon, if you need to? Maybe you should think that one through a bit and try out a few maneuvers. It doesn’t hurt to be ready, just like it doesn’t hurt to keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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