Letter Re: Any Utility in Caltrops or Tire Spikes for Retreat Defense?

How do you rate caltrops for retreat defense? Would they flatten tires quickly enough to be useful? Perhaps on a long driveway? Thanks, – LKP

JWR Replies: Caltrops have been used as a defensive measure for centuries. I have my doubts about their utility in daylight, but they might prove useful at night. To be useful in daylight for defense against vehicle-borne looters approaching a retreat slowly, caltrops or tire spikes would have to be concealed, which is a huge legal liability. Because we live in very litigious times, I DO NOT recommend using caltrops or tire spikes in in anything but an absolute worst-case TEOTWAWKI situation, where you are completely on your own to defend your retreat, and there is no longer a functioning law enforcement or court system. Using them in any lesser situation is an invitation to a hugely expensive civil lawsuit and possible criminal sanctions. An ambulance-chasing attorney would have a field day, and the likely result would be that you would lose everything that you own in settling a lawsuit. Ironically, this is an example of where using deadly force against an intruder (namely, a firearm) is less likely to result in a lawsuit than a non-lethal weapon. Civil court juries tend to be very sympathetic to “maimed” plaintiffs, and are prone to award disproportionately huge “pain and suffering” damages.

Caltrops and tire spikes are banned in some states in the US, and Australia.

With all that said, commercially made caltrops are available, as are tire spike strips, although most manufacturers will only sell them to law enforcement agencies ordering on department letterhead. The best of these use hollow spikes, so they can defeat even self-sealing tires. And example of this type is the HOllow-Spike TYre Deflation System (HOSTYDS), manufactured in the UK.