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Doug Clark: High-tech gadget guy a perfect ‘prepper’

John Adrain shows off the console bunker he designed for the space between the front seats of an SUV Tuesday. (Jesse Tinsley)

From an impenetrable gate to under-mattress safes, John Adrain’s cliff-side Spokane County manor (don’t ask where it is or I’ll have to kill you) is a survivalist showcase worthy of national TV.

No kidding. Adrain and his amazing air-filtered abode will be featured on “Doomsday Preppers” next Tuesday night on the National Geographic channel.

But as cool as all the fancy gadgetry and security-minded gizmos are, my focus shifted to a more primitive concern when the inventor/entrepreneur practically dared me to shoot his “bear gun” off the back end of his patio.

“It’s brutal,” added Adrain, a gun enthusiast, in a shiver-inducing tone.

Oh, well. I’ve always said I’ll do anything once for a story.

And so Tuesday afternoon found me slipping a pair of protective muffs over my ears while Adrain slid a bullet into the chamber of a rather stubby lever-action rifle.

Did I say bullet?

From my vantage the projectile looked more like a torpedo that a World War II sub would fire.

“A .457 Magnum,” he explained.

“Dirty Harry wasn’t dirty enough to shoot a gun this big,” I countered in an attempt to sound brave.

My host handed me the now-loaded weapon.

Then he scampered back into his house, which really didn’t boost my confidence level a whole heckuva lot.

“Don’t have another set of ear protectors,” he chirped from the doorway.


Alone and armed, I aimed said rifle at a sizable stump that jutted out of a barren patch of ground. I exhaled slowly, the way my old man showed me when he taught me to shoot his shotgun.

Finger squeeze and…


There have been louder noises, I’m sure.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens, say.

The first A-bomb test.

But Adrain’s bear gun was right up there.

“Holy ($%^#),” I yelled.

Did I hit the stump? I’ll never know.

Quite frankly, after the shoulder-shocking beast went off, I counted it a victory that I didn’t wet myself.

But I didn’t come to Adrain’s home to blast a bear gun, of course.

I came to learn about survival, which is a hot commodity right now.

And no wonder. Thanks to the ancient Mayans, we now know that the world will end by January unless we can just tax the rich.

No, wait a second. That’s the fiscal cliff.

The End of the World as we know it is even more serious, and Adrain seems ready to meet it.

In fact, when The End does arrive, I’m thinking that only two things will survive: that damned stump I shot at and the Adrain compound, which includes security features such as …

• A steel-reinforced driveway gate that will stop a 10-ton truck coming at it at 50 miles an hour.

( A must-have for any parent with teenagers learning to drive.)

• A computerized front-door camera that will recognize friends and assess the threat factor of strangers.

( If there’s a Jehovah’s Witness setting, I’m getting one!)

• Custom safes that Adrain has ingeniously secreted beneath the mattress on his bed and below the cushions of his living room couch.

( Thanks to body heat, happiness really can be a warm gun.)

Meeting Adrain is a bit like meeting “Q,” the genius R&D geek who keeps James Bond supplied with an array of neat-o spy stuff.

There’s no mystery why “Doomsday Preppers” would want this likable man. Adrain’s inventions and living quarters will make for compelling television.

Why Adrain agreed to appear on the show is no mystery, either.

“I’m a born-again capitalist,” he told me with a grin. “I don’t have any problems that can’t be solved by money.”

See, Adrain isn’t into all this for mere kicks and giggles.

He sells many of the aforementioned security items through his company, Heracles Research. (Check out his website,

Adrain hopes the TV exposure will translate into sales.

I won’t bet against it. The show features a lot of potential customers, people who are preparing (“prepping”) for nuclear war, economic collapse, falling meteors and a chocolate box of other cataclysms.

And this isn’t the first time that Adrain has enjoyed the national limelight.

A year or so ago, his “Bed Bunker” caught the public’s fancy.

The $5,400 gun safe is designed to replace your box springs and will hold scores of rifles, handguns or miscellaneous valuables.

Even comedian Stephen Colbert spoofed it with three minutes of jokes.

“I don’t know if you could say I’m prepared for Doomsday,” said Adrain.

“But … anything could happen.”

Adrain is just a guy who believes in that old Boy Scout ethic of being prepared.

But if you don’t have a lot of dough to spend on couch bunkers or computerized camera systems, then I recommend investing in a bear gun.

If the Mayans are right and society crumbles like feta cheese, just fire it off once in awhile.

Don’t worry about hitting anything. Just the bloody noise will keep the lawless roaming hordes from coming anywhere near you.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432

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