RESOURCES

Vetted products and resources that will help you live the Gentleman Spy lifestyle.

BUILDING THE GENTLEMAN SPY BODY

Living the Gentleman Spy lifestyle starts with building your body. Neither a scrawny marathoner, nor an overly muscled bodybuilder, you need a physique built for performance.

Browse below to find ideas, tools, books, and links that will help you forge the physique you need.

Bodyweight Workouts

Pullup Bar — In almost any possible workout program, you will need access to a place to do pullups. If you're strapped for cash, the door frame mounted pullup bars work for a little bit, or you can find a tree branch or local park to do pullups. But if you're serious about building a world-class physique, you need to build or buy a quality pullup bar (and/or use the power rack below if you're building a complete home gym — highly recommended).

RingsGymnastic rings are a useful and versatile tool in your arsenal. From muscle-ups to pushups or handstands on the rings, these help build tremendous amounts of strength and skill. They are also great for travel or to keep in your car to get a great workout in anywhere — string them over any tree branch, park equipment, goal post, etc. to get in a great workout without having to carry around heavy or cumbersome equipment.

Parallettes — Like the rings, parallettes are a versatile tool. Use them for L-sits, planches, handstands, swing-throughs, and more.

Barbell Workouts

Barbell — At the heart of any real strength workout is the barbell. Like the pullup bar, if you're serious about your training, you owe it to yourself to skip the cheap junk you'll find at Dick's or Academy and go for a high-quality barbell. Rogue Fitness is your one-stop shop here, where they manufacture their own excellent barbells, as well as selling other great brands like Eleiko, Uesaka, WerkSan, and York.

Bumper Plates — After the barbell come bumper plates. These are hard rubber or urethane plates that — unlike the metal plates you're probably used to — are designed to be dropped repeatedly. Whether you're working on deadlifts or olympic lifts that start and end on the ground, or squats where you might have to dump the weight, bumper plates will save your floor and your bar from unnecessary abuse.

Fractional Plates - the bumper plates make up the big changes you'll be making, but 10 lbs. is as light as they go. To get the proper weights for your workouts - especially as you start plateauing and making less progress each week - you'll need fractional (or change) plates.

Squat Stands or Power Rack — You can do a lot of work with nothing but a barbell and bumper plates (see Dan John's From The Ground Up program), but to get the most of your programming, you'll want at least squat stands. A full rack (wall mount or free-standing) is an even better choice that will do everything you could possibly need. It holds the barbell for squats and presses, and provides a measure of safety if configured with safety bars.

Bench — If you're going to bench press — and you should — then you need a bench. You can spend money on an adjustable bench if you really want, but a basic flat bench will do just fine.

Proper Shoes — Do not lift in cushy running shoes. Either invest in proper weightlifting shoes, lift barefoot, or in minimalist footwear like FiveFingers.

Running

Pose Method — You run wrong. Don't worry, it's not your fault. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, most people forget how to run properly. The Pose Method will re-train you to run as far and as fast as you want, without the risk of injury common to most runners. Start with this free video series, then buy the book or take the course (marathon or speed training) to get more in-depth information.

Proper Shoes — Ditch the cushioned running shoes you have (if you have them) and buy something more minimalist. You could go barefoot of course, or wear something like Vibram FiveFingers, but there’s no need to go that extreme. Merrell, New Balance, Innov-8, and others make excellent models to choose from.

Swimming

Total Immersion — Swimming isn't a natural skill for most, but it can be learned quickly and efficiently. If you are not already an excellent swimmer, you should go through the Total Immersion training program. Start with either TI's Udemy course, the downloadable self-coaching videos (or their online Academy), then register for in-person training if you want more.

Goggles — You need some type of goggles (or mask) to see underwater. Interestingly, the best choices are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Swedish goggles (Swedes) are the underrated king of swim goggles. These are as basic as goggles come — you even have to put them together yourself — but they are so good that even Speedo had to license the design so that their sponsored athletes wouldn't be in breach of contract when they refused to wear anything else. At $3/pair and arguably superior to ever other goggle available, you should give these a try before moving on to more expensive goggles. For those who don't want to deal with the Swedes or are convinced they need something more comfortable are the AquaSphere Kayenne. These are incredibly popular with triathletes and open water swimmers, for good reason.

Mask — For those who are interested in snorkeling or diving, a good mask is paramount — goggles don't have the nose pocket necessary to equalize pressure at depth. Fit is key — if the mask doesn't fit, nothing else matters. You want a low-volume mask that is easy to clear and provides good visibility. Photographers, technical, and cave divers prefer black skirts which block out unnecessary light, keeping your focus where it needs to be — on stuff you can really see. The Halcyon H-View, Scubapro Frameless, and Atomic Frameless are excellent options; one of those three will almost certainly fit your face perfectly.

Fins — As soon as you've gotten good without fins, you'll want to start adding swimming with fins to your training regimen. Swimming with fins will help work on strength and endurance, while developing additional overall capacity. You can go for an easy snorkel over a reef, a 5-mile swim using the combat swimmer stroke, or anything else in between.

Because the focus here is on overall capacity, not competition swimming efficiency, skip the "swim fins" and go with the real deal. Scubapro rubber full foot fins are perfect for an easy snorkeling trip, and if you're a scuba diver — or plan to be — just go right for the Scubapro Jet Fins preferred by tech, cave, and professional divers worldwide.

If you opt for the Jet Fins, don't forget, you need neoprene booties too.

Snorkel — Whether you plan on training for BUD/S, doing a 5k open water swim with fins, scuba diving, or just going snorkeling in the Bahamas, you'll need a snorkel. Keep it simple here. Your best bet is a basic, flexible snorkel without all the bells and whistles like purge valves and dry chambers.

Diet

Bulletproof — By now, you've probably heard of Bulletproof Coffee, and if you haven't tried it yet, you owe it to yourself to get on board. But buttered coffee isn't Dave Asprey's only contribution to living an upgraded life. His Bulletproof Diet book and cookbook are excellent resources. Other Bulletproof products, from supplements to the whole body vibration plate, are worth checking out.

Robb Wolf — When you hear the term "Paleo Diet," Robb Wolf is who you should be thinking of. Both of his books, The Paleo Solution and Wired To Eat, are excellent resources, as is his site, RobbWolf.com.

Mark SissonMark Sisson is a former professional triathlete turned paleo-evangelist — "Primal" in  his terms. His Primal Blueprint, 21-Day Total Body Transformation, and Primal Blueprint Cookbook are good on their own, and work in tandem to give you everything you need to upgrade your diet and body.

Intermittent Fasting — Paleo, Primal, Bulletproof, Slow-Carb is the diet of choice, but to take your results — and health — to the next level, intermittent fasting (IF) is what ties it together. You'd never find Bond or Bourne carrying around Tupperware with their 5-7 meals per day inside, and you shouldn't either. Brad Pilon's Eat Stop Eat will show you how to use IF to cut cravings and build resilience while eating what you want, when you want.

Cookbooks — "Cookbooks" may be a bit of a misnomer. More than books of recipes, you need to learn how to cook well. Two excellent starting points are Alton Brown's I'm Just Here For The Food and Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Chef.

For date nights, social interaction, and skill building, check out cooking classes in your area. Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma, and 3+ star restaurants are good places to inquire.

Other Workout and Fitness Ideas

Becoming a Supple Leopard / Mobility|WOD — Whether it's because of your training or just sitting at a desk all day, you're bound to have aches and pains. Here's what most people miss — you can and should be able to fix yourself. Kelly Starrett will show you how. Get the book and check out MobilityWOD.com.

Kettlebells — While not directly included inside the Gentleman Spy workout programs, kettlebells can be a useful tool. Whether you use them for conditioning, strength, as part of Crossfit or Systema workouts, these are a great addition to any fitness arsenal.

Grippers — Grip training tools, specifically the Captains of Crush (CoC) grippers, are another excellent addition to your training equipment. Building your grip strength will help with weightlifting, shooting, MMA, and more. NOTE: do not confuse the cheap grippers you find at your local sporting goods store with quality tools like the CoC.

DEVELOPING YOUR GENTLEMAN SPY STYLE

James Bond is first and foremost a military man. Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, Jack Ryan, Ethan Hunt, and real spies around the world all have their roots in the military. They wear their clothes like a uniform, as should you.

To live a life of adventure, your wardrobe must be functional and fashionable. From hitting the beach to the high-stakes poker games, you should be dressed for the situation.

Browse below to curate a stylish, interchangeable wardrobe that will ensure you always look your best.

The Suit

The Suit — The suit is the pinnacle of menswear; the modern gentleman's suit of armor. Whether it's in the form of a tuxedo for a black-tie event, the suits you wear to the office every day, linen for a beach wedding, or the single navy or charcoal suit for the man who rarely needs one, every man needs at least one good, perfectly fitted suit. And while fashions change, a well-designed and good fitting suit is timeless.

Your choices here are almost endless, with good options ranging from $200 to $10,000. Standouts include Tom Ford, Brioni, and Anthony Sinclair who have all dressed 007; Ralph Lauren, Suit Supply, and Brooks Brothers for quality, classic suits that won't break the bank; and Combatant Gentlemen for decent suits under $200.

Start with charcoal grey and navy blue for your first two suits. Favor timeless style and fit over the crazy "in style" fashions (remember Roger Moore's blue leisure suits when he played Bond) and fits (Daniel Craig's suit fit in the Spectre and Skyfall is significantly too tight).

Dress Shirts

Dress Shirts — While your choices are endless here, to exude the style and class of the Gentleman Spy, keep things simple: perfect fit, flat front, no pocket, no button-down collars, always ironed. Clean and refined.

The shirt must fit perfectly, not left blowing in the wind or billowing around the waist like most off the rack department store shirts. The good news is that custom shirting is more accessible than ever with companies like 5th & Lamar, Proper Cloth, Brooks Brothers, and Nordstrom offering athletic cut or made to measure shirts at good prices. If you're dead-set on the real deal, Turnbull & Asser is 007's choice.

And while cotton is the norm, excellent new choices now exist from companies like Mizzen+Main and Wool & Prince that make off the rack shirts in technical fabrics that stretch, move, wick moisture, look, and feel better than cotton ever will.

Casual Clothing

Polo Shirts — The gentleman's alternative to t-shirts, the fitted polo is versatile, stylish, and comfortable. The Sunspel polo is 007's choice, with other good options available from Orlebar Brown, Ralph Lauren and Lacoste. As with the dress shirts above, cotton isn't the only choice anymore and there are excellent choices in merino wool or other technical fabrics from companies like Mizzen+Main, Wool & Prince, and others.

Sweaters — When the weather gets cool, a quality sweater — especially cashmere — is a great investment. Crew neck, mock-turtle neck, or V-neck is your choice, but if you’re looking to wear one over a dress shirt and tie, opt for the V-neck. Worn alone, over a dress shirt, or underneath a blazer or casual jacket, the cashmere sweater is an essential piece of the gentleman’s winter wardrobe.

N. Peal is 007's choice, with other good options from many brands. Smartwool is another standout with merino wool sweaters and shirts that transition from the office to the trail to lounging at home with ease.

Swim Trunks — If you're living the Gentleman Spy lifestyle, that means hitting the water. Whether it's for a beach holiday or just workouts in the pool, you need good swim trunks. Orlebar Brown is the standout here; they were James Bond's choice in Skyfall. Frescobol Carioca, Mackeene, and Vilebrequin are other great choices that all offer fitted suits in varying lengths to suit any man's body and style.

Footwear

Dress Shoes — If you're going to wear a suit, that means you need dress shoes.

Your first pair of dress shoes should be black Oxfords. A plain cap toe is a good choice that is perfect for business wear and formal enough to do double duty with at a black tie event.

After black Oxfords, a brown pair of semi-brogue Oxfords is a good option that you can wear with any suit color except black, as well as less formal clothes like wool slacks, chinos, and even jeans.

Slip-ons, dress boots, or monk straps all make excellent third choices, based on your lifestyle and environment; slip-ons might be better in Miami while dress boots might be better in New York.

Casual Shoes — You have many styles to choose from for casual shoes, from more stylish and formal monk strap or semi-brogue oxfords, to desert boots, boat shoes, moccasins, espadrilles, and canvas sneakers (Converse or Vans).

Choose a style or two that fits your lifestyle, but remember, to exude 007’s class, you’re looking for something that leans more toward the classy side like dress boots, dark leather or suede desert, Chukka, or Chelsea boots or boat shoes, and less towards the super-casual side like All-Stars, espadrilles, or sneakers.

Socks — First (and this goes mostly for the Americans): you shouldn't be wearing white cotton socks with anything but athletic wear where it doesn't matter. Otherwise, your socks should match your pants (best) or shoes (also fine). Cotton is cheap, but merino wool is king, and Smartwool is the standout. Whether you need dress socks to wear with your suits, casual socks you'll wear with boots and jeans, or specialty socks to run a marathon or go skiing, Smartwool has the perfect pair. Good socks pay for themselves many times over in comfort, foot health, and longevity.

Timepeices

Seiko — If you need a great watch, but don't want to spend the money for an expensive Omega or Rolex, look no further than the Seiko SKX-007 . The SKX-007 (and SKX-009, if you want the red and blue "Pepsi" bezel) meets the stringent ISO 6425 criteria for automatic dive watches and has a "luxury" pedigree including an in-house mechanical movement from a respected manufacturer that isn't met again until you spend well over $1,000. And for those that think "it's just a Seiko," remember that even James Bond wore Seiko watches in the movies between 1977–1985.

Omega — For some people, only the real deal will do. If you're looking for 007's current watch, that means Omega. The Aqua Terra, Seamaster, or Planet Ocean have been featured in all James Bond films from 1995–present.

Rolex — Omega might be 007's watch of choice recently, but Rolex is the original. The Submariner and SeaDweller are the reference dive watches against which everything else is judged. Their timeless style is appropriate in almost every environment. From the original James Bond to the depths of the ocean to the wrists of presidents, CEO's, and style icons, the Rolex Sub's are arguably the perfect watch.

Accessories

Briefcase — The stylish, grown-up version of a backpack or messenger bag, a good briefcase is essential if you work in a professional environment, and a good idea no matter what. Carry your work materials, computer or tablet, everyday carry essentials, even a pistol and spare magazines without looking out of place or juvenile.

Exuvius Titanium Collar Stays — With dress shirts, you need collar stays. To nail the Gentleman Spy lifestyle, check out the titanium stays that have a thread cutter, bottle opener, and screwdrivers machined into them. These are issued as part of urban SERE — Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape — kits to real life spies; they are useful and just plain cool.

Cufflinks — You have many choices, from silk knots to gemstones, comic characters or personalized, world maps, school/team, classic options, even handcuff keys, flash drives, or hidden compartments. Your taste, style, and level or formality will dictate the best choices for you.

Pens — Nothing exudes class like good handwriting laid down by a beautiful fountain pen. While fountain pens aren't necessarily for everybody, a good pen is your friend. But a warning is in order: steer clear of the "tactical pens;" you're here because you want to be more like James Bond, not Tactical Timmy. If you want a tough pen that writes like a champ and can take a beating, get a simple Parker Jotter instead.

Grooming

Shaving — Upgrading your shave from a chore to a morning ritual will makes sure you start every day looking your best. Use a OneBlade or old-school double-edge razor, with quality shaving cream or soap applied with a brush.

The best way to upgrade your shave without the pain or learning curve associated with double-edge razors is to go right for one of the OneBlade starter kits. The Core kit is superior in every way to cartridge razors and comes with everything you need to get a superior shave. The Genesis starter kit includes the absolute best of everything available, from the razor to the Castle Forbes shaving cream and all the accessories you need.

CULTIVATING THE GENTLEMAN SPY ATTITUDE

The Gentleman Spy is confident, but that is built upon his skill of always knowing what is going on around you and being prepared for any situation or social encounter.

Whether it’s scoping out the lay of the land and knowing where the exits are or seducing the most beautiful woman in the room, your situational awareness and social engineering skills contribute to the self-assuredness you need.

Browse below for books, websites, and information to help you step up your game.

Situational Awareness

Books — Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps' Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, by Patrick Van Horne and Jason Riley

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker

Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making (MIT Press) by Gary A. Klein

On Killing, by Dave Grossman isn't directly about situational awareness, but covers related mindset issues that come into play throughout the Gentleman Spy program and lifestyle.

Online Resources — By Patrick Van Horne (author of Left of Bang), CP-Journal.com has more excellent resources including his own online Tactical Analysis Course.

Private Intelligence Organizations — Organizations and think tanks like RAND, Stratfor, Oxford Analytica, OODA, and others offer better analysis and actionable intelligence than any news station does. Scroll to the Information section below for links and to sign up for the free reports from the major players.

Social Engineering

Seduction

Additional Attitude Resources

MASTERING THE GENTLEMAN SPY SKILLSET

What sets the spy apart is that he can take care of himself in any situation. Chasing down a bomb maker in Uganda, fighting multiple assailants, saving the day, winning at the casino – the Gentleman Spy has what it takes to win.

The ultimate Jack of all trades, you may not be the best in the world at any one discipline, but can be better than most in many different arenas.

Exploding pens, ejector seats and machine guns in theAston Martin, or stun guns in his phone – this crap is for the movies.

Browse below for the real-life skills and tools that, when carried and used properly, can save your life or that of others.

Close Quarters Combat

Filipino Martial Arts — “All blade, all the time” is the motto of Sayoc Kali. Most Filipino martial arts like Arnis, Atienza Kali, Eskrima, and Pekiti Tirsia Kali follow a similar methodology by teaching weapons first, then going on to empty hand techniques. With a massive emphasis on blade work, it also covers batons, projectiling (throwing knives or other objects), improvised weapons, and empty hand skills.

A feeder-based system, Sayoc Kali’s basic drills are designed with the aggressor in mind. Sayoc Kali uses transition drills, multi-man drills, training modifiers and target-specific tapping against intelligent, skilled and resisting opponents.

The FMA's in general, and Sayoc or Atienza Kali in particular, earn the highest recommendation as complete combatives programs. If you can't find a school near you, you can try to find a training partner, attend a seminar, and/or order their DVD's.

Systema (Система) Russian Martial ArtsSystema is a Russian martial art that has been adapted for use by Russian Special Operations units and their spy network.

Covering everything from hand to hand skills to knives, guns, and improvised weapons, Systema is focused on natural movement and controlling body levers through pressure point application, striking, and weapons application.

Breathing and breath control are integral to the system, the use of kettlebells is common, and the focus on natural movement generally includes a lot of training in rolling and mobility so Systema is a good choice if you don't have a parkour gym near you.

You can find a school, find a training partner, or get started on your own with the DVD's from Vladmir Vasilev or Martin Wheeler.

Krav Maga (קְרַב מַגָּע) Israeli Martial Arts — Designed for the Israeli Defense Forces as a system that is easily trained and practiced, Krav Maga training will likely be more accessible for most people than the Filipino Martial Arts or Systema (see note below).

Krav Maga focuses on counterattacking (or preemptively attacking) as soon as possible, and targeting those attacks to the body's most vulnerable points: the eyes, neck, face, solar plexus, groin, ribs, knees, feet, fingers, etc.

Arguably the most aggressive system, it is focused on ending a fight as quickly and efficiently as possible. While KM does include blade and improvised weapons work, these do not account for as much of the program as they do with either FMA's or Systema, so choose KM as the last resort if you cannot obtain FMA or Systema instruction where you live.

NOTE: Because of Krav Maga's popularity and marketing, you must do your homework and vet your instructor thoroughly. Lean for training geared towards self-defense, NOT the popular Krav Maga fitness classes.

In general, instructors or schools associated with the International Krav Maga Federation, Israeli Krav Maga Association, Krav Maga Global, and Krav Maga Federation, or those taught by former IDF operatives will be better choices than other options that are often heavily marketed in the US.

MMA Equipment — MMA training doesn't require a lot, but it does require some basic equipment to get the most out of your training. The list below will get you started.

BASICS

Get these before your first class.
You won't be able to train any contact sports without them:

Mouthguard — The best option is a custom fit mouthguard from your dentist, Impact Custom Mouthguards, or Damage Control. If you're just getting started and not ready to make that investment, Sisu, Shock Doctor, Venum, and Damage Control make quality heat-to-fit mouthguards that are inexpensive and excellent.

Cup and supporter — The best options are compression shorts with cup supporter built in, but a simple supporter (jock strap) will do the job in a pinch.

FULL KIT

The rest of the tools you'll need to get everything possible out of your training. You'll probably need everything here within days or weeks of beginning a full MMA program.

Hayabusa, Revgear, and Venum all make a full range of MMA equipment so links are included for all three when applicable.

Boxing Gloves — standard 16ox heavy gloves (Hayabusa, Revgear, Venum, Cleto Reyes).

Boxing Headgear — may or may not be strictly necessary depending on where and how you train, but can help protect against cuts, bruises, and the occasional concussion (Hayabusa, Revgear, Venum).

Shin Guards — the standard versions that strap outside your leg may be fine, or opt for the MMA/grappling versions that are contained within a sheath that encases your whole leg (Hayabusa, Revgear, Venum).

Knee Pads — fall somewhere between "good idea" and "must have" for rolling; Asics and Brute are the top choices.

Hand Wraps — the elasticized versions are a great upgrade from basic cotton.

Combatives Equipment — Your combatives training may or may not require specialized equipment. Unlike MMA, Muay Thai, or BJJ, you'll probably train in street clothes. Training blades, guns, eye protection, sticks, and more may or may not be provided by your instructor.

Training Blades — Assuming you carry a knife (and you should carry a knife), it's best to have training blades that are as close as possible to your live blade. Emerson, Spyderco, and Kershaw all offer training versions of their folding knives. Tuhon Harley Elmore, Tracker Dan, Hardcore Hardware Australia, Dynamis Alliance, and others offer packages that include a live blade, matching training blade, and sheath — all designed by people who use and carry these tools every day.

Blueguns — If you're going to regularly use an inert training gun, it should be as close as possible to the gun(s) you carry for real. Use this in training with the same holster and carry method you use every day. (Glock 19, Glock 43, S&W M&P9, M&P Shield, Sig P320)

Airsoft Training Guns — You may have the option to engage in force on force training using Airsoft weapons. (Glock 19, S&W M&P, no Sig P320 option yet)

Eye Protection — This may or may not be necessary for your day to day training — some trainers will require it for blade work, some won't — but is absolutely essential for any Airsoft work. ESS, Oakley, Smith, Revision, and Wiley X are all good options.

Note on Airsoft: There is a big difference between using Airsoft as an effective training tool and "playing Airsoft." Know the difference and practice accordingly.

Note on eye protection: if you are current or former military, law enforcement, fire department, or EMS, do yourself a favor and sign up for Oakley's Standard Issue program. From daily wear glasses like their aviators or sportier wrap-around shades to mission-specific eyewear like the Tombstone shooting kit or Halo goggles, you'll get the best possible prices on exactly what you need.

Guns & Shooting

Pistols — 007's Walther PPK might be the iconic Gentleman Spy's gun, but there are better choices available today. Pick up either a Glock 19, S&W M&P9, or Sig P320 and get training. If you need a smaller pistol for concealed carry, the Glock 43, M&P9 Shield, or Sig P365 are your top choices.

Pistol Parts and Accessories — The Glock, M&P, and Sig pistols are pretty good out of the box. But they can be made better with certain choice accessories.

Sights — Stock sights suck, especially on Glocks. Replace them with quality metal versions. For night sights, Warren Tactical is an excellent option (Glock 19, Glock 43, M&P, Sig). Defoor sights from Ameriglo (Glock, M&P, Sig) are a good, basic option.

Holster — Whether you're going to carry your pistol every day or just attend the odd training class, you'll need a holster (or few). For daily carry, you want an inside the waistband holster. The Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 is excellent, and the Selective Minimalist from The Maker's Innovation is an innovative take on the same theme. If you're going to attend training classes, the RCS Eidolon and HSP Incog are good choices.

Triggers, Mag Wells, and More — Your options for customizing your pistols are endless. From extended magazine releases and slide stops to triggers (Glock, M&P, Sig), red dot sights, barrels and compensators, suppressors, or full-on race guns or Roland Specials, you can go as far - and spend as much - as you want.

Be smart. $2,000 in training and ammunition will make you a far better shooter than $2,000 in pistol upgrades.

NOTE: if you only have one pistol, just go to the gun shop and get your sights installed. If you have two, three, or twelve, do yourself a favor and invest in a sight-pusher tool (Glock, M&P, Sig).

Rifles — The AR-15 is the most widely used semi-automatic rifle in the English-speaking world and it's variants are in use by almost every western military in some capacity. Colt, Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal (FN), Knight's Armament (KAC), Heckler & Koch (HK), and Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT) all produce quality rifles for military contract. Daniel Defense, Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM), LaRue Tactical, Noveske Rifleworks, and others produce exceptional rifles that have been widely adopted by law enforcement and civilians.

The AK (-47, -74, and variations) is the other major option. If you travel extensively to the former Soviet bloc, Africa, or the Middle East, learning your way around it as well is a good idea. Rifles imported or manufactured by Arsenal, Century, Inter Ordinance, Kalashnikov-USA, or smaller shops like Rifle Dynamics that specialize in the AK platform are all good choices.

Rifle Parts and Accessories — A modern fighting rifle needs three things: a sling, an optic, and a light.

Sling — The sling should be an adjustable two-point like the B-sling, Magpul MS-1, Proctor Sling, VCAS, VTAC, or similar.

Optic — The best bets for optics are red-dot sights like an Aimpoint or EOTech for home defense, or low-power variables like 1–4x or 1–6x for longer range work. Low-power variables are becoming better and more popular with models from Bushnell, Leupold, Nightforce, Swarovski, Trijicon, US Optics, and Vortex now dominating 3-gun competitions.

Scopes need mounts; American Defense Manufacturing (ADM), Bobro Engineering, LaRue Tactical, and others make good choices.

Light — The light should be something like the Surefire X-series or Scout, Streamlight TLR or ProTac, or Inforce WML. The brighter, the better.

Like with the pistols, you can go as far as you want here, and could easily spend $10k+ on a single rifle. But a $1,500 rifle, a training class, and a few thousand rounds of training ammunition will take you much further.

Training — Owning guns without proper training and practice makes you a liability, not an asset. If you're going to embrace this aspect of living the Gentleman Spy lifestyle, you absolutely must have recent, proper training.

NRA — Politics aside, the training put on by NRA instructors is an excellent and inexpensive way to get started. Whether you "grew up shooting" but haven't had formal instruction in a long time, or you're new to guns and need the basics, getting in touch with a local NRA instructor is where you should start.

AppleseedProject Appleseed, put on by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, combine a weekend of high quality rifle instruction interspersed with a great history lesson and storytelling. Appleseed shoots are inexpensive for everybody, and highly discounted for children under 18, military, law enforcement, and the disabled.

Defensive [Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun] — defensive/practical/combative pistol, rifle, or shotgun classes are often held at local ranges. These are the bridge between the basic NRA instruction and more "real life skills" like drawing from the holster, moving and shooting, multiple targets, etc.

High End Classes — these are the courses offered by Academi (formerly Blackwater), Costa Ludus, Gunsite, Haley Strategic, ITI, Kyle DefoorMagpul Core, Rifles Only, Rogers Shooting School, Sentinel Concepts, Suarez International, Thunder Ranch, and other top-rated trainers. Between travel, lodging, and ammunition, these may be significantly more expensive than training at your local range, but are worth every penny. If you get the chance to attend a course with any top-level instructor, jump on it.

While formal training and live fire practice at the range is essential, you can and should train on your own at home. Regular dry fire practice, weapons manipulations practice, and using a SIRT training pistol are free or inexpensive ways to get better fast and maintain the skills you've learned at other courses.

Protective Equipment — If you're going to own a gun and shoot regularly, you need more than the absolute basics. Good eye protection, ear protection, cleaning equipment, and more will protect you.

Eyes — Eye protection for shooting does not mean your regular prescription glasses or expensive and stylish sunglasses. You want eye protection rated to ANSI Z87.1, EN166, or MIL-PRF-31013. ESS, Oakley, Smith, Revision, and Wiley X are all good options. If you're military, LE, or a first responder and not already signed up for Oakley's SI program, do yourself a favor and sign up now.

Ears — Don't be an idiot and shoot without ear protection. Preferably double, active protection that protects your hearing while allowing you to communicate and hear range commands. The Surefire Sonic Defenders underneath active hearing protection like MSA Sordin, 3M Peltor, or Howard Leight electronic muffs is your best bet.

Trauma Kit — Accidents happen, and gunshots require more than a basic first aid kit. Do not go to the range or training course without a trauma kit that includes a tourniquet, hemostatic dressing, and trauma bandage. You can make your own or purchase a kit from Chinook Medical, Dark Angel Medical, ITS Tactical, or Phokus Research Group.

Medical Training & Equipment

First Aid / CPR / AED — If you have not had recent advanced medical training, start with a basic First Aid/CPR/AED course from your local Red Cross/Red Crescent chapter. These courses are inexpensive, regularly scheduled almost everywhere, and only take a few hours. Schedule your course now.

Red Cross Intermediate Training — The next step up, also available via the Red Cross are two intermediate courses. Responding to Emergencies is a 30 hour course designed for high school and college students (but likely available to the general public), and Emergency Medical Response is a 51 hour course that is the first step in professional training towards becoming an EMT.

Emergency Medical Training —Emergency medical training is generally broken up into four distinct levels: Emergency Medical Responder, Emergency Medical Technician, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, and Paramedic.

While Paramedic and even Advanced EMT certification might be overkill for most people, those living a very adventurous life will likely benefit from obtaining their EMR or EMT certification. Most local community colleges will have easily accessible programs you can join, or see the Remote Medical section below.

Remote Medical International — While any Red Cross and/or basic EMT program will increase your skill set, the programs from Remote Medical International are a step above in every way.

Recommended courses include the 2 and 3-day Wilderness First Aid and Remote First Aid programs for those needing basic skills. The next step up is either Wilderness First Responder (9-10 days onsite) or Hybrid Wilderness First Responder (20-30 hours homework before class; 5 days onsite).

For those who need the best EMT programs available, the Remote EMT (26 days onsite) and Hybrid Remote EMT (70 hours homework before class; 12 days onsite) will give you not just basic EMT skills but include more advanced skills like antibiotic therapy, catheterization, childbirth, IV administration, suturing and stapling, and more.

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) — TCCC and TECC (Tactical Emergency Casualty Care; the civilian counterpart to TCCC) were borne out of the special operations medical communities. TCCC and TECC standards are designed to deal with the three killers on the battlefield, terrorist attack, or active shooter scenario: extremity hemorrhage, tension pneumothorax, and airway obstruction.

Providers for this type of course vary widely, and training can often be coupled with other shooting classes. Many folks will run their own curriculum, but you'll want one that covers at least the TCCC-AC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care - All Combatants) or TECC guidelines. To find a provider, your best bet it to Google "TCCC-AC course near me" or search NAEMT's course directory.

Personal First Aid Kit — This is a small, basic first aid kit you can have on or near you at all times. These kits have the usual supplies like adhesive bandages, antiseptics, and painkillers, with better kits incorporating additional supplies like butterfly closures, gauze, wraps to immobilize limbs, and more.

Skip the super cheap drugstore kits and go with a kit from Adventure Medical Kits or build your own. AMK's Ultralight & Watertight series (.5, .7, or .9) are good options that can be supplemented with additional or upgraded supplies if necessary.

Advanced First Aid Kit — The advanced first aid kit is a bigger and more complete version of the personal kit. This is better suited to keep in your home, vehicle, or office, but is also what you'd be looking at for larger groups or extended trips outdoors or abroad.

These will incorporate more of everything from the personal kit, and add stuff like CPR face shields or masks, SAM splints, EMS shears, trauma pads for more severe bleeding, and other specialized tools you may require.

Adventure Medical Kits' Ultralight & Watertight PRO is a good choice for outdoor use.
AMK's Mountain Series Weekender, Fundamentals, or Comprehensive are good choices to keep in your vehicle and office.
For home use, building your own kit or supply cabinet is a good idea. You can include all the normal first aid kit supplies, as well as adding additional tools like a quality thermometer, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, otoscope, irrigation syringe, and headlamp — all supplies that can come in handy, especially for those with health problems, children, or both.

Trauma Kit — Unlike the normal first aid kits above, the trauma kit isn't designed for "normal/daily" use. It's sole purpose is to save a life by controlling the three major killers on the battlefield, active shooter scenario, or major disaster: extremity hemorrhage, tension pneumothorax, and airway obstruction.

Instead of band-aids and OTC meds, the most basic kits will contain a tourniquet, hemostatic dressing, and compression bandage, with more complete kits including a nasopharyngeal airway, chest seal, and decompression needle.

Because of the nature of the expected use of these kits, it's recommended to keep them intact and separate from your daily use first aid kits. You can build your own from the links above, or purchase full kits from Chinook Medical, Dark Angel Medical, ITS Tactical, Phokus Research Group, or other specialty providers. Don't forget to add the tourniquet if it's not included.

Epinephrine auto-injector (Epi-Pen, Auvi-Q, etc.) — Used to treat anaphylactic reactions (life-threatening severe allergic reactions). These are a relatively easily obtainable and inexpensive insurance policy.

NOTE: this is a prescription-only asset, so talk to your doctor.

Automated External Defibrillators (AED's) — If you or your loved ones have cardiac issues, or you work or play in fields where injury could result in heart problems, an AED may be a lifesaver. Good choices include the Phillips HeartStart Home or the more rugged and advanced HeartStart FRx as a good choice for your vehicle or boat. The HeartStart FR3 is the smallest, lightest, and most rugged professional-grade AED for those who live, work, or recreate at the extremes.

Emergency Oxygen — If you or your loved ones have any medical condition where supplemental oxygen could be beneficial, or you scuba dive where oxygen is a necessary treatment for decompression illness (DCI), you should have an oxygen kit handy. For the divers, get your O2 kit from Divers Alert Network (DAN).

Driving

Driving School — Driving is the most dangerous, most common thing that you do every day, but very few ever get advanced training beyond their first drivers education course. You will spend hundreds or thousands of hours per year, every year, for the rest of your life, behind the wheel, so it pays to become the best driver you can.

With courses ranging from half-day instruction to 5+ day race schools, places like Allen Berg, Bertil Roos, Bondurant, DirtFish, Simraceway, Skip Barber, Team O'Neil, The FIRM, and most race tracks will have some type of training that is close enough and affordable enough that you should be able to upgrade your skills without breaking the bank.

If your daily driver is a luxury or high-performance vehicle, excellent options include schools and programs from Aston Martin, Audi, Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Ford Performance, Jaguar, Lexus, Lotus, Mercedes, and Porsche.

Other standouts include the Bridgestone Winter Driving School or Team O'Neil Winter Driving School if you regularly drive on snow and ice, or specialty Personal Security or Tactical Mobility training offered jointly by Team O'Neil and the Sig Sauer Academy.

Language Learning

Fluent in 3 Months — For the aspiring polyglot, Benny Lewis' Fluent in 3 Months Premium is a comphrehensive resource showing you how to learn languages. Many languages.

Included are an 8-part Speak From Day One course, the 125 page Language Hacking Guide, interviews, video tutorials, immersion resource kits for 13 languages, conversational connectors for 24 languages, and more.

If you're serious about language learning, Fi3M is one of the best investments you can make.

Pimsleur + Text — If you want to acquire a new language with the least possible mental bandwidth, the easiest way to do that is a combination of Pimsleur audio lessons with supplemental reading.

30 minutes a day of listening to Pimsleur, supplemented with the Lonely Planet phrasebooks and Teach Yourself books will give you a basic competence in your target language in a couple of months.

This won't take you as far, as fast, as Fluent in 3 Months, but it is a proven and easy method to develop a new language capacity fairly quickly.

Parkour

Parkour Shoes — Parkour doesn't require much special equipment, but good footwear helps. If you have quality, minimalist running shoes like Merrell, New Balance, or Innov-8, you're already good to go. Some folks swear by Vibram FiveFingers, and the Evolv Cruzer, Feiyue, Know Obstacles (KO), Onitsuka Tigers, and Take Flight Ultras are all highly regarded in the parkour communities.

Climbing

Climbing Shoes — If you're going to get into climbing, your street shoes aren't going to cut it; you need the proper footwear. Tight fitting, with "sticky" rubber soles that give better grip and traction on the rock. Excellent choices are the La Sportiva Genius or Katana Lace as the best all-around climbing shoes on the market, and the Five Ten Anasazi Moccasym slip-on for beginners or comfortable gym work.

Helmet — A lightweight foam helmet like the Black Diamond Vector is good for climbing and mountaineering, while a slightly heavier and more durable helmet like the Black Diamond Half Dome or Petzl Elios will do just about anything you need from an adventure helmet, from climbing and mountaineering to skiing to caving.

Harness — For any climbing other than bouldering, you'll need a harness. Top choices include the Arc'teryx FL-365 and Black Diamond Chaos for pure rock and gym use, and the Arc'teryx AR-395 or Black Diamond Couloir if you think that alpine, ice climbing, or ski mountaineering might be in your future.

Chalk — Sweaty hands will get you nowhere on the rock. Climbing chalk, kept in a chalk bag attached to your harness will keep your hands dry and in good shape for the climb.

Belay device and locking carabiner — The carabiner attaches the belay device to your harness and allows you to keep whoever is climbing from falling. The most common versions are the Black Diamond ATC (preferred by many climbers) and the Petzl Grigri (most common in climbing gyms).

Rope — A 70 meter length of 9.2–11mm dynamic nylon kernmantle rope is what you’ll use for climbing. Non-dry rope is fine for basic sport or trad climbing. If you expect to get into ice climbing or mountaineering, you should opt for dry rope that has hydrophobic coating on the sheath and/or core to prevent moisture buildup.

Poker & Gambling

Cards — If you're going to play poker at home, you'll need cards. The standard Bicycle cards you'll find at any supermarket or drug store work, but you'll have a better experience by upgrading to the Copag (better) or KEM (best) cards.

Chips — Whether it's playing with the kids, hosting a weekly poker night, or getting ready to play in the casinos, you'll want poker chips. A set of 300-500 chips is the way to go unless you're hosting a very large home game or tournament.

The cheapest plastic sets are better than nothing, but the slightly upgraded "clay composite" chip sets are worth the small investment for a much better experience.

The next step up are the nicer clay composite chips (usually with a metal insert for weight) like the Monte Carlo or Mint sets.

If you take your poker seriously and want some of the best chips you can find outside of a casino, invest in clay chips. The best value for your money will be the Milano or Majestic chips, and for the James Bond fans, check out the Casino Royale chips and plaques.

NOTE: If you want the European high-roller feel of playing with plaques but don't want to screw with your game by using the Casino Royale $100k, $500k, and $1M plaques, the previously noted Majestic chips have matching jetons and plaques in more useful denominations including $20, $50, $100, and $500, going all the way up to $500,000.

Table — A specialized poker table or table top will give your best experience.

If you only occasionally play for fun, a folding felt table cover is an easy and inexpensive option.

The next step up is a dedicated lightweight folding poker table. When set up, it's an excellent full size poker table, but you can fold it up and put it away when you don't need it.

Finally, there are the "real furniture" convertible gaming/poker tables for the ultimate home gaming experience. These will have a reversible/removable wooden dining table top, with a felt playing surface on the other side or underneath. They're costly, but worth it for the enthusiast.

Other Cool Stuff

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Information

Private Intelligence Organizations — Private intelligence organizations and think tanks like RAND, Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor), Oxford Analytica, and OODA will give you not only the news, but comprehensive analysis of what happened, why it happened, and what it means going forward.

Sign up for the free subscriptions here:

RAND: go to RAND.com and register for an account. Once you've registered, you can sign up for RAND Policy Currents (weekly), RAND Review (six times a year), and special reports from RAND divisions, Health Quarterly, policy updates, congressional updates, and more.
Stratfor
: go to Stratfor.com. Click the "Sign In" button — there's a link there to register for free access. Once you've registered, you'll receive an e-mail to sign up for The Brief, a tri-weekly newsletter highlighting major events and trends, as well as a link to read their annual forecast, the big-picture evaluation of the upcoming year. The Stratfor Horizons blog is also good reading.
Oxford Analytica: sign up for the Weekly Brief (sent every Friday) first. You can also request trial memberships to their Daily Brief and Global Risk Monitor subscription analysis services.
OODA Loop: sign up for the OSINT Daily newsletter. Also check out their cool concepts and cool quotes pages.

Other good options include Matt Devost's Global Frequency newsletter (sent every Sunday), and Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram newsletter.

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