Why Should They Have All The Fun?
One of the topics that often comes up prepper conversation is self-defense. What pistol is best? What carbine can I use for home defense? Will this knife be good for stabbing or slashing? How can I best carry my gear?
When I was a cop, I carried on my belt: two pistol magazines, my pistol, two handcuff cases, a pouch with a CPR mask and gloves, an ASP baton, a flashlight, OC spray, and keys. I also had a couple flex cuffs slid inside my belt. Some carry all that plus a Taser. Now I'm not suggesting you strap on Sam Browne belt and tote 15-20 pounds of gear everywhere, but let's look at some of the items that could be of an aid in a self-defense situation.
Back when I started as a cop, I carried a hickory wood 24 inch straight baton. About all it was good for was hitting a person, and some very limited blocking and jabbing. It banged on my knee and generally got in the way. A lot of the time, it got left in the car. I can't really recommend one to you.
Later, we transitioned to the PR-24. That is the side handled baton made infamous in the Rodney King beating. I became an instructor in the PR-24 and really loved it. It was big and bulky, but amazingly versatile and effective... if you practiced on a regular basis and were skilled. It was great for hitting, jabbing, blocking, come-a-long holds, takedowns and cuffing techniques. If you're into martial arts and training with weapons, it might be worth having one in your BOB, but for most folks, I'd advise against it.
For the last part of my career, I carried a 21 inch ASP collapsible baton. I became an instructor in the ASP and taught not only my department, but with my partner, we were the instructors for two different regional academies and a neighboring agency's in-service for several years. I really liked the ASP. On the belt, it was compact, about 8 inches long, and about the diameter of a roll of quarters. Open, it is good for hitting, and limited blocking. Closed, it can be used for jabbing, or to enhance a punch. The training for it is pretty basic, and can be picked up from videos and books. If you have a police officer friend, he could probably show you the basics. Security training schools usually offer the training if you want to get the full deal. They may or may not be willing to train someone who is not a licensed guard, but that might depend on local laws. For practice on your own, rather than just swinging at air, I'd suggest finding a used boxing heavy bag and hanging it from a tree. Another idea, but not quite as good, is get a strip of carpet scraps a few feet wide and about 10-15 feet long. Roll it up, wrap it in tape, and suspend it from a rope as a target. If you want to go harder, get a training strike pad and a willing partner. In training, I used to put on a padded Red Man suit and go in the pit with students wielding training batons. With some basic training and practice, an ASP can be an effective tool in the BOB or car. A tool to defend against an attacking dog, a way to break glass to get in a wrecked car, a weapon to fend off an unarmed attacker... all of these could be legitimate uses for an ASP.
I was also an OC spray instructor. It is not a sure thing fight stopper, but it is pretty darned effective on MOST people. When I was in instructor school, one guy took a shot of fog, a shot of stream, and a shot of foam before he finally went down. Most people only take one shot and lose their will to fight. As a civilian, with pepper spray, you don't try to contain the bad guy. Spray, and use it to flee the area. Here's some things to be cautious of. Watch the wind, you don't want to spray into the wind if you can help it. If you get some overspray on you, don't panic. It won't kill you. You've got to fight through the pain to either defend yourself or get away. After you use it, when you are in a safe location, wash your hands before rubbing your eyes or using the bathroom.
There are tons of different brands and types of spray. I suggest one with a stream or a foam. Avoid the small key chain ones. The $4.99 types at the checkout counter are pretty much worthless, and the decent brand name ones are too small. When you first get a can, test it with a short spray, to make sure it works. Rotate to a fresh can every 6 months or so, then use the old one to practice. Draw a face on a paper plate and stick it on the fence in the back yard. Aim right above the eyes in a quick pass over both.
As for what brand to get, get a brand name. I've heard OK things about Sabre and Fox Labs. Kimber makes a little derringer-sized unit that is highly regarded as it is very easy to aim and an effective recipe. Another good quality one is Cold Steel Inferno.
I can't think of any reason to carry handcuffs in your BOB or on a daily basis. But they could have a use in home defense. Maybe keep a pair with your flashlight and bedside gun. If you take on an intruder, I'd never say move in to cuff him your self, but if he is surrendered, or laying in the kitchen floor bleeding, you could toss the cuffs to him and tell him to cuff himself. With cuffs, get a name brand... either Smith & Wesson, Peerless, or ASP. Stay away from the store brands or no name ones. You need to have a key, just in case, but in the above scenario, only the police will be uncuffing the guy, and with the name brand ones, the keys are universal.
Please be sure you are in compliance with your local laws before buying or using any of these items. Also, get some training, and practice.