February 2006 Archives

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

After 25 years in the mail order business, I finally got "modern" and created a web page for my mail order wares. See: http://www.survivalblog.com/catalog.html Up until just recently, I only had a an e-mailable catalog.  Now I have a proper web page catalog.  I just have to remember to keep it up to date, as items come and go. As time permits, I plan to add photos of some of the more expensive items.

Thanks for all of the recent "10 Cent Challenge" contributions. My special thanks to R.M. and R.K.E., who each donated $100. I appreciate your generosity!

Last year I met with Eline Hoekstra Dresden. Among the things she gave me along with her book "Wishing Upon A Star, A Tale of the Holocaust and Hope" was a bookmark
that I will quote:

[begin quote]
During my years of public speaking, I have been asked repeatedly, "how did you live through the Holocaust?" I usually answer "I don't really know." However, the following list provides examples of things that worked for me (along with luck).
Tools for Survival
* Be alert, not paranoid
* Be optimistic, but realistic
* Find strength in faith (whichever)
* Recognize hidden danger
* Do not ever show weakness
* Listen to "gut" feelings
* Use humor daily
* Draw on inner strength
* Take care of your health
* Stay productive
* Don't let your guard down
* Face danger with courage
* Share your fears with others
* do not ever give up hope
* Before going to sleep, Imagine better times.
*Keep these tools in good repair* [end quote]

One thing I've noticed when speaking with Shoah survivors is that they mention that the objective of the camps was to break their faith in G-d. Even now, 60 years later, I see the scars in their faith.

I am considering making a sizable purchase from one of your advertisers. I have enjoyed your site a great deal and would value your opinion. Would you stock Mountain House foods for your own needs? I am not familiar with mountain house foods. What is your opinion of their products? How do they compare to MREs? I would like to get about a year of food put aside. I am sure you are very busy, so a detailed response is not necessary, as I said though I value your opinion. Thanks in advance, - K.

JWR Replies: Mountain House freeze dried foods are delicious and have a very long shelf life. The individually-packaged meals are the preferred foods for most backpackers because of their great taste and extremely light weight. But they do require water to reconstitute. Canned freeze dried foods are ideal for situations where you need to keep many weeks worth of food in a small space for 10 + years, and where you have water available. The advantage of MRE retort packaged entrees is that they don't require water. However, they are both bulkier and heavier than freeze-dried. They also have only a two to five year shelf life, depending on temperature. (See MRE Information for details on MRE shelf life versus temperature.) If space and weight are not an issue, then bulk air dried foods that require cooking are far less expensive than freeze dried. (Such as five gallon buckets of wheat, rice, and beans.)  It all depends on your circumstances. If you live at your retreat full time or plan to "bug in", then having a majority of bulk foods is obviously the way to go. But if you plan to "bug out" from an urban or suburban home, then nothing beats freeze dried foods for weight, space, and storage life.

Mr. Rawles,
Reading the great post on preparedness kits I noticed a couple things that I do differently with my vehicle. I've got a spare tire mounted on a homemade bracket on the front of my truck. this took an hour tops with an iron pile and a welder. It's not meant for pushing but it sits there comfortably mounted to the existing bumper and the metal near the hood latch. I would think also that with some forethought it could be incorporated into a big frame mount push bumper. its a classic 'country' configuration which clears up room in your truck bed or inside the vehicle. It's never made sense to me to mount the spare tire under the rear end of a 4WD vehicle.
This setup also lets you put your chains on the tire which makes them easy to get too and easy to lay out when the time comes. Once they are on, just wire up the extra and throw a big bungee on to take up the slack and rattle. I've even found that a license plate will fit inside the rim of most truck tires (15" or larger). If you are worried about theft you can attach a padlock and/or use a big nut/bolt and lock washer which will ensure that somebody has to take the time with a wrench or tire iron to get at your spare. This is a really cheap way to save space and make your rig more functional. Thanks, - Hi-Plains Reader


Mr. Rawles,
I just read the article about field kits and have to agree with Christian Souljer. I a similar setup in the event that I can bug-out in my truck. My plan is to bug-in but if I have to leave I have 2 options to my disposal ( driving or walking ). Most of my equipment is in rubbermaid type plastic boxes and ready to go. The only thing I would suggest is have several different size tarps to go with you. When out camping using my equipment I put up tarps over the tent and kitchen area to keep the rain out, for shade, and privacy for toilet and solar shower. As far as rope goes I have one box a dedicated rope box with different lengths and types of rope. Great article and keep up the wonderful work that you do. - R.H. in Asheville, N.C.

Just got the chance to listen to some of the Ark Institute radio programming archives from this October. It might be a good idea to remind people those audio files are still there to enjoy. Still just as topical today as then. - R.S.

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. For details on how to hear the webcast archives, visit the Republic Radio web site: http://mp3.rbnlive.com/Geri05.html.  The interviews that you mentioned were conducted on October 15th and October 22nd.

I'd read your post in SurvivalBlog about body armor - someone had asked for some recommendations. I own a small company and my employees wear armor, I've worn armor for ten years... And there have been some upheavals recently that those looking to acquire used body armor need, desperately, to be aware of that weren't addressed in your answer - which was adequate but I felt needed elaborating on - so here goes!


Both Second Chance and Point Blank are facing bankruptcy and major lawsuits associated with some of their vests - specifically the so-called 4th generation fibers known as Zylon, Second Chance used them in it's ULTIMA, ULTIMAX and TRIFLEX series of vests and Point Blank (who also make the PACA brand vest) used them in too many products to list here - so I'll give you the PDF link to the document on file in the current civil case against them.


I could ramble on about the foreign buyout of both companies prior to their spectacular failure rate - but it's irrelevant to survival. So, what brand to buy?

Gee, I guess that means Safariland or ABA (American Body Armor) are safe huh?

Nope! Everybody messed up! Again, too many products to list here - here's another link for Safariland's vest exchange program.


I'd guess that the above manufacturers represent about 90 percent of the total law enforcement vests sold in the last ten years. They'd still own the market today, if they hadn't gone to Zylon to try and increase flexibility in the vests.

Yes, there are other manufacturers (a couple dozen in fact), nearly all of them import their vests from our Chinese friends, few manufacturers make them here - and you can still get a quality vest WITHOUT Zylon from these guys... but you need to know more, you should understand what soft body armor can and cannot do.

The basic theory behind soft body armor is the same as a baseball glove, spread out the impact and it doesn't do as much damage (or penetrate) Kevlar fiber has tremendous linear strength to other fibers, tightly interwoven like a trampoline, and layered, it catches the bullet, spreads out the impact and your skin is not penetrated - you go up in levels from IIa -> II -> IIIa (IIIa is the highest soft body armor rating - above that is level III and IV, hard ceramic plates)to defeat the more energetic 9mm rounds which are only a real threat for one reason, they are more pointy than other pistol rounds and FAST. Essentially, to defeat soft body armor you need to be fast and/or pointy - a 22 LR Stinger round is plenty fast, but is blunt tipped and will not penetrate even the lowest level of soft armor. The newer 17 caliber ballistic tips are a real threat to soft body armor. A 17 HMR I fired at a level II vest panel, waltzed right on through. Granted it was an old vest panel (about 8 years) but it seemed solid to me. I don't know what energy might be left after penetration, I just wanted to know if it WOULD penetrate. Ironically, 12ga slugs and 44 Magnum rounds are so flat that even a IIa will stop them, you don't get the higher rated soft body armor the heavy rounds - you get them to defeat 9mm subgun rounds. This logic stemmed from, I believe, the idea that you should always wear a vest that will stop the bullets you carry. And with many police agencies carrying 9mm HK-MP5 variant subguns, it spawned the popularity of the IIIa level vest. The dinky little round that FN developed for their P90 was specifically meant to defeat soft body armor - hence the near moratorium (note that they are now marketing a 16 inch barreled version of the P90 now for civilian sales) on the gun for civilian use, and the absolute moratorium on the 'good stuff ' (steel tipped) and FMJ versions of their ammo. The new ammo for the gun is aluminum tipped, and deforms too easily to defeat a IIIa vest - or so I am told.

Incidentally, "NO!!!!" I will not conduct a series of tests to determine what newfangled bullets will or will not penetrate soft body armor. Hundreds of guys with more time than me have already done so. Google is not just a cute sound made by a baby. Look it up.

Things like ice picks and shanks go right through soft armor (sharp and pointy). Your vest will give you some protection against slicing damage in a knife fight, but almost none against a vigorous stab. There are a whole generation of specialized 'stab' rated vests that prison guards wear, although Second Chance does make a vest that has dual layers (ballistic and knife), I think they call it the Prism series.

All centerfire rifle bullets will penetrate soft body armor too. You hear/see those 'trauma packs' or 'plates' that some manufacturers put in their vest - they are NOT rated to increase the stopping power of the vest - they are to spread out potential heart stopping, or rib breaking (with accompanying lung puncture) impacts and decrease the amount of damage you might take if you get in a head on collision. Second chance used to make a hard-plate that increased your ballistic protection, they still do - but they add a LOT of weight - for about the same weight you can get a REAL ceramic plate that IS rated to stop rifle rounds.

The only thing that will reliably stop rifle rounds (most of them) is ceramic plates, commonly referred to as SAPI plates by the military. They are typically 10 inches by 12 inches (size varies with application) and slip into a carrier over your soft body armor, they are meant to be used in conjunction with the soft armor as some rifle rounds will fragment on striking the plate and the vest is supposed to catch those fragments. It is not very reassuring to know that only a 10 by 12 inch square on your torso is resistant to rifle bullets - but you shouldn't be presenting ANY target to a looter/criminal - much less a fully exposed torso. Plates are HEAVY - not something you'd wear everyday. You are far more likely to be wearing simple soft armor in an everyday scenario, or while out working in your victory garden.

My entire point isn't to dissuade you from buying body armor, it is to make it clear that you need to do your research before you buy - especially if you are going to buy used, or off of Ebay. You need to understand the limits of it, and find a way to make it part of your routine. Just yesterday a police officer was killed in a city south of me, I will be sending a contribution off to his widow - he was not wearing his armor when killed - although the department had issued it to him. Body armor is uncomfortable to wear, but if you do it often enough it becomes less annoying. That's why I had some panels inserted into a levis jacket - even in a casual setting, I can have it with me without arousing suspicion (unless someone picks it up!).

Were I to make a recommendation, find a used vest that you can VERIFY was sold in the last year or two, VERIFY has no Zylon in it, and VERIFY that it has not been exposed to harsh environments. Apparently Zylon was super-sensitive to getting damp/wet, all manufacturers used to encase the panel in Gore-Tex to help with wicking away sweat, now some are encasing it in a thin rubber casing to totally exclude water dampening the Kevlar - because, YES! Even Kevlar will deteriorate with prolonged or repeated exposure to dampness/heat/sweat/bad-breath, etc... And when you get that used vest delivered, take the panels out and look at the dates or date codes listed, a LOT of used vest hawkers on the internet buy new carriers (the thing the panels go in) and the vest looks new in photos - but may contain ten year old panels. So, again, if you MUST buy used - buy from someone with a solid, honest reputation that you can VERIFY.

Soft body armor needs to be comfortable, if it's ill-fitting you wont like wearing it, ergo, you will NOT wear it. For that reason I do not recommend EVER buying a used vest that doesn't fit your measurements exactly. If you go to a police uniform shop, they'll measure you for a vest, and then you'll know the exact size front and back panels you'll need to find in a vest. Be careful though, some uniform suppliers are 'snooty' - believing that only police officers and other government agents should have soft body armor (no kidding). In some states you may not legally possess body armor. I'm pretty sure New York City restricts it, as well at the PRK.

So be wary, do your homework and be patient for the right used vest to come along. For TEOTWAWKI I must say I prefer concealable body armor - what the goblins don't know about they can't take steps to circumvent. Make it obvious that you wear armor, and I can guarantee you a looter will stay awake nights plotting his next head shot. While you are toiling away insuring the survival of your family, they have ALL DAY to plan looting you - it's their CHOSEN CAREER PATH.

In case you folks are wondering about the body armor I own...

1 Point Blank full vest tactical carrier (external) - with IIIa panels made by another manufacturer
2 sets of SAPI plates one level III and one level IV that fit in the above vest
2 PACA concealable IIIa vests. (kevlar only) 1 year old and 4 years old.
1 tanker style kevlar helmet
1 USGI camo pattern flak vest, five years old - fits nicely under either PACA. I'd rate it at a IIa for most applications, maybe a little less. It is, however, intimidating to wear - psychological factor is why I have it.
1 Levis denim jacket with IIa panels integral to the torso and back and upper arm. I can wear this anywhere and NOBODY knows I'm armored.

OK, so maybe I do have a bit of armor - and that's not counting what I have for the family, maybe someday I'll post the picture of my eight year old daughter and her somewhat large vest and AR-15.

I did manage to get hold of a few dozen "destroyed" body armor panels (for testing!), I trimmed, sandwiched and overlapped them in a few waterproof (vacuum) bags and sized them for my door and rear panels in my '65 Landcruiser. I'd considered using lexan laminate bullet-rated plastic, but MAN is that stuff expensive!!! I didn't pay for the 'destroyed' body armor panels, so it was just labor to make them. My source was a body armor representative that was swapping out vests for a couple of local departments (police departments buy new vests every five years regardless of use/wear) - this activity happens every day around the country - where do you think a lot of those used eBay vests come from? These panels are somewhat stiff given how I fastened them to one another, and are two layers thick everywhere with IIIa panels. These used vests are shipped overseas for police officers over there who cannot afford them. England is a big benefactor from this program, and many eastern bloc countries. (Was that politically correct?)

ALL that being said, body armor is something that is not only 'nice to have' but lends a passive safety factor to your life - you don't have to 'display' it for it to be useful, and the stuff keeps you warm in the winter! I've had to lay prone for extended periods of time in the snow, and the armored parts of me stayed very warm, it also smoothes out the rocks that always seem to exist in any terrain that you might be called upon to go to ground on.

What do I think you should get? I think you should buy NEW - it's somewhere between $300-500 dollars for a quality Level II these days - or you could go the used route, but I don't think it's worth my life to save 100 bucks... I read a passage from John Ross's "Ross in Range" commentary area (www.john-ross.net) that says something along the lines of 'Friends don't let friends buy junk guns.' - and I'd like to second that opinion but apply it to body armor. The time to find out that your body armor was just a little TOO old to stop that 9mm round going a measly 1000 f.p.s. is not when you're wearing it. I'd also suggest reselling it every three years and using the proceeds to upgrade to the new stuff. If the political rhetoric hits the revolving finger slicer you might be faced with a few years of using the stuff - and unavailability of new replacements. The more life you have in the vest when the balloon goes up, the longer it will be useful. Or rotate the used vests (if you can afford it) to the barter goods bin (and seal them away from moisture and heat) - if you think a tanned piece of leather will be worth something in a disaster - imagine what value will be placed on any body armor you have tucked away as surplus. - J.H. in Colorado

Odds 'n Sods:

A source for greenhouse construction kits:

   o o o

After an outbreak of H5N1 in India, the government killed all poultry within 10 kilometers of the affected town. If NAIS succeeds, our government here in the U.S. will know exactly what animals you have and where you are. If they decide to they can just come and take or kill your livestock. See:
and www.NoNAIS.org

   o o o

I recently discovered that WorldNetDaily columnist Vox Day has his own blog:  http://voxday.blogspot.com

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul." - Goethe

Monday, February 27, 2006

Please keep spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Just by adding one line to your mail ".sig", or by pasting a SurvivalBlog banner in your web page, you could help attract hundreds of new readers.  Many Thanks!

I'm often asked for advice on grain mills. Having stored wheat and corn necessitates having a good quality durable grain mill. Electric-only mills are not recommend because they will of course become useless ornaments once the power grid goes down. An inexpensive hand-cranked mill will such as the Back to Basics Mill  or Corona Mill might suffice for a short term disaster, but in the event of TEOTWAWKI you will want something built to last.

I started out with a Corona mill in the early 1980s. It was a lot of work to use! It seemed like I burned as many calories cranking it as I got out of the flour that it produced. In 1998, we got a Country Living Grain Mill. It is a superior machine--much faster and easier to use. With just about any mill you will have to cycle the grain through several times to get fine flour. I recommend that if you are going to primarily hand-crank it that you get the "Power Bar" handle extension for extra leverage. Country Living Grain Mills are available through Ready Made Resources and several other vendors. Like any other quality tool that is built to last, they are expensive. But it is better to buy just one machine that you know will last you a lifetime, rather than a succession of "bargains" that turn into disappointments.  (This same logic applies to other tools that you buy for preparedness.)

Because they have a V-belt wheels, Country Living Grain Mills are readily adaptable to an electric motor for use day-to-day, or in  the event of a grid-up scenario.OBTW, for someone that has some mechanical acumen and some time of their hands, it is also possible to convert a bicycle frame or perhaps a piece of exercise equipment to power a Country Living Grain Mill. For any of you that have a background in welding, building such frames might make a nice "niche" home business.

The Weapon is a science fiction novel by Michael Z. Williamson. (481 pages. ISBN 9-781416-508946  Published by BAEN Books.) This is sort of a "intra-quel" storyline to Williamson's novel Freehold, which I previously reviewed. (See my Sunday, February 12, 2006 post.) Like Freehold, this novel is a fast-paced Libertarian think piece. It is a tale of interplanetary colonization, set some 500 years in the future. The descriptions of the bureaucratic totalitarian central Earth government are contrasted with the "Freehold" colony planet, Grainne. The main character is a Grainne special operations soldier that is sent on a "deep cover" mission to Earth. The story heats up when Earth decides to invade Grainne, to "civilize" it. I enjoy Williamson's writing. I enjoyed this novel even more than I did Freehold. I highly recommend it. There is quite a bit of violence and some adult situations, so it is definitely not a book to let your kids read. I should also mention that Michael Z. Williamson is a SurvivalBlog reader.

I was a bus driver for the evacuation of the New Orleans Convention Center and figure that I should put my two cents in worth.We drove straight through from Ohio to a staging point (LaPlace) in New Orleans and were escorted to the Convention Center. This was on Saturday morning around 9 a.m. New Orleans time about a week after the dikes let go. We were lucky not to be in the first wave that came into the Super Dome earlier in the week as we heard they were still ordering parts to repair the busses that got busted up when they got mobbed. [By the time that our busses arrived] they had the evacuees fenced off a block from out busses and they only let through enough to load one bus at a time. They were literal bag people and brought what they had in bags and we loaded them up and took off to wait for a escort. We went to a staging site to get the escorts for our first leg of the trip and for all the busses to form up. There were ten in our convoy. We did not know where were going. We were told in Ohio we were going to Texas, but when we got to the staging area we were told we were going to Arkansas. Fort Smith to be exact a old WWII training base with some of the barracks restored. The evacuees needed off the bus to use the restroom and we were told not to let anyone off, but the call of nature reigns, so we let everyone off to pee and smoke before heading for Arkansas. The back story for not letting people off the bus (which we learned couple days later) was that they did this at another location and the people would not return to the bus in a timely manner and looted the site they had stopped at. The number one item looted was alcoholic beverages...so no stops anymore was the order of the day...
We had little food on board, just what folks in Ohio gave us to give to people, Vienna sausages, sardines, and water. Some of the other buses were luck in that they had pallets of MREs and water at the Convention Center and those at the end of the line were loaded up with them for the trip...
We started for Fort Smith with the escorts switching when jurisdictions changed. We were not briefed on the trip and it turned out they were not going to stop for anything. About five hours into the trip the last five busses in the convoy (we were the second bus, but everyone kept passing us) got off the highway and went to a travel center that was turned into a rest
stop for evacuees. Boy talk about a needed break. We needed to get out of the drivers seat for a while. Most of the busses had two drivers and a few had only one. We had two and learned latter that is what FEMA required for the trips, but some companies only sent one driver per bus. We drove straight through from Ohio to Fort Smith switching off every five hours or when we got sleepy. All DOT regulations were suspended for the emergency, no log books, no hours of service everything was suspended. We were running on agricultural fuel as they were so short of over the road fuel. The agricultural fuel is tax free and dyed red, so that the DOT can catch illegal use of non-taxed fuel. Anyway the stop was a evacuees dream come true, A tent with mostly new clothes and other items free for the taking and heater meals and water to drink and flush toilets. Speaking of toilets we did have a toilet on the bus and had to open it up. We were told by the company to keep it locked up, but on a non stop trip that was not going to happen. More on this subject, later. :O(((
We got our break and we told everyone on the bus when they heard us honk the air horn to get back to the bus or they were going to be left behind.
Everyone got back on the bus, but many got on another bus as they did not remember which bus they had been on. So off for Fort Smith again...the next two stops were for fuel as some of the busses had small tanks and did not get topped off at the staging point..We had a 210 gal tank and had topped off just before getting into the affected area as we did not know what the fuel situation was..We saw several mile-long lines at gas stations after we refueled and were happy we refueled when we did.
We got into Fort Smith at 5:30 am and were told no one off the busses....well that did not happen, our toilet was full and the evacuees had been on the bus some 20 hours and needed to stretch their legs and get something to eat. They had busses lined up what seemed like a mile on base. We could not figure out what was going on. We let the evacuees off as there
was a mess hall serving food, but they could not remove any items from the bus. Well it was 7 PM before they off loaded from our bus and the local authorities were stripping everything off the busses and going through everything and I mean everything. They took all our water and food off, so we did not have anything for any other evacuee we might be hauling, and they went through everything the evacuees had. They were looking for weapons and alcohol in particular and anything that might be considered looted items.
So expect to get searched. If it is a biological or chemical issue then expect everything you got to be trashed and then you will be issued clean items to wear and sleep in.
Anyway, we went to a hotel and spent the next day cleaning the bus up. The smell was unimaginable from the sardines and people who had not showered for a week or more and the toilet, which we dumped the next day...but we were lucky..on some of the buses people just went where they were and there were wet seats and other stuff laying around.  It looked like a party was going on with all the whiskey and wine bottles we found...
We heard that they relocated everyone from Fort Smith to smaller sites like Bible camps in the middle of nowhere and the evacuees were told they were not allowed to leave the site, but then again some of these sites were several miles from anywhere, so they had nowhere to go... The evacuees had no idea of where they were going when evacuated, some were flown to other places, some were bussed. Families were split up and they had no idea of where the rest of the family was. One story going around was that a lady wanted to know where her father was going and the guard she was talking too did not understand and she explained they put him on the plane that had just taken off, separating the family. They did not keep track of anyone and where they were going. They dealt with this issue once they got evacuees to a shelter/final destination.
We did not carry any more evacuees even though we were there for three weeks, sometimes sleeping on the busses due to lack of housing. It was very chaotic, more than what I am used to, out on disasters. I did enjoy my three weeks as my past disaster experiences prepared me for this one. The only regret was not being able to stock up on all the MREs that they had lying around. Pallets of them...I just got one or two at a time for meals...
I have been out on disasters for over ten years now and they are all chaotic at best especially the big events. They are too big to get a handle on in short order. They can take from days to weeks to get out of the chaos stage and into some kind of organization. The politics can be horrible to say the least...
If you have not been through one first hand and want to see what it is like before you are affected by such an event find a humanitarian aid organization and volunteer to go out on a or several disasters. It is a eye opening experience and very good to understand what you might be going through if an event happens in your area.
My take on the Asian Avian flu is that we will be sheltered in place which is isolation of the people infected with bird flu from the rest of us. We will have to fend for our selves in our homes or business pending on when the quarantine is issued. Hopefully you will be at home when the quarantine is issued. Figure essential personal will have to live at heir work locations to keep the power, water, sewer, phone, etc.. going. Have heard that care packages may have to be made up and delivered to residences if the quarantine is long term. Basically take a Tupperware container fill it with stuff--food water, etc.. and tell everyone to stay in their homes until it is dropped off on the porch and then after the people
delivering it leave then they can get it. Dealing with the sick and dead will be an issue, just hope you do not get sick. Mass evacuations are a last resort in a bird flu situation as it raises the risk of spreading the illness not controlling its spread. You end up in a mass shelter you will have a higher risk of getting the flu. Keeping people in their homes and restricting contact with others is the best defense. If you have any questions, I can try and answer them. Thanks, - Ron

Hello Jim,
I just wanted to clarify a few points on C-68 and current Canadian gun control laws. There is a 5 round limit on box magazines for semi-automatic, centrefire long guns. There is also a 10-rd limit on magazines for handguns. No grandfathering for magazines or individuals. So that's why the Lee-Enfield magazines are unaffected. The only exception to the rifle magazine capacity limit is for the M1 Garand. As well, I believe the wording of the law, or at least legal precedent, has it that the magazines only have to be neutered in such a way that it can not readily be reverted to it's original capacity by hand. - L.K.,  Ontario, Canada

"If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism." - Thomas Sowell

Sunday, February 26, 2006

If you know any soldiers that are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia, or The Philippines, please let them know about SurvivalBlog. In coming weeks, we will be covering a wide range of topics that will be of interest to them including body armor, IEDs, counter-sniper shooting, MOUT, and night vision equipment.

Today we feature another great entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries for Round 3 is the last day of March, 2006. We've already had plenty of motivational pieces submitted.  Please keep your contest entries focused on practical skills.

When trouble comes and you are required to re-locate, there may not be time to try to find, organize and then pack your emergency gear. Just the stress of an emergency situation alone can keep you from thinking clearly enough to gather and pack all you might need. Getting your gear ready in advance can minimize this problem. Over the years I have developed a system in which I assemble “Field Kits” for my outdoor and emergency equipment and supplies. This allows me to keep my stuff organized and ready for future use. I assemble the kits with items needed and then I inventory the contents and I keep a copy on file as well as a copy in the kit. That way I know what I have in there two years down the road and I also know if any of the contents have a shelf life – they have been dated and a periodic inspection of the list allows you to know if an item (such as Aspirin) should be replaced or not. In the following paragraphs I will share my experience with building and using these kits including the number of years that I have employed each different kit.

I have assembled and used the following special purpose kits as described in the following paragraphs:

Bug Out Bag (BOB): I won’t write much detail about this type of kit because most of you know about these. (If not, do a Google search to get good contents lists etc., ) I use mostly backpacks for this purpose rather than a shoulder bag because I know if I have to carry the kit very far - a backpack is going to be much less fatiguing on my body than carrying the weight in my hands or on one shoulder or the other. I have a BOB backpack for everyone in my household, plus a few smaller spares. One thing I would recommend here though is to have an essentials kit within the larger full kit. For an example, a small pack inside the main compartment or attached to the outside of the large pack. (JWR recommends this.) In my main Emergency Backpack – I have a small but rigid Italian military pack that can be slid right out the top in the case that I am injured and can’t carry the large pack or if I am escaping some danger but have to move fast uphill – I can pull the little pack out and go. The little pack has all the essentials: plastic tarp, fire starters, water, a little food, flashlight, rope, compass, knife and so on. (I made my first “survival kit” as a Boy Scout in the 1970s, but this mentioned pack has been in place since 1993. I have field tested the overall pack.)

Rifle Kit: The rifle kit is a kit made specifically for a certain rifle. It can contain 6-to-12 spare magazines, spare parts, and cleaning kit, gun oil and lubes, and perhaps 140 to 300 rounds of ammunition that that rifle is sighted in for. These are usually made from the common “mini-range bags” that have 6 magazine pouch pockets on the outer sides, and has both handles and a heavy shoulder strap. They can be purchased for as little as $7.95. I buy the black or O.D. green colored bags. (Used these since 1998) [JWR Adds: For these kits (rifle of shotgun  accessories) I recommend that you use duffle bag that is big enough to accommodate a full set of web gear--complete with belt, suspenders or vest (LC-1, MOLLE, or perhaps set of the nice Tactical Tailor type suspenders if you have a big budget), magazine pouches, and and canteen for each long gun. IMHO no long gun is truly tactically functional unless you have a proper set of web gear--full of magazines--to go with it.]

Pistol Kit: The pistol kit is similar to the rifle kit – being made specifically for a certain pistol. It can contain 6-to-10 spare magazines, spare parts, and cleaning kit, and perhaps 100 to 300 rounds of ammunition that is known to work well in that pistol. These are made up from the same common 6 magazine pouch “mini-range bags” that have both handles and a heavy shoulder strap. (Used since 1998)

Rifle Range Kits: When heading to the rifle range, I take two kits I have prepared for that purpose. One is a toolbox, which holds most of my gun cleaning supplies and a few tools for adjusting sights, and for small repairs at the range. The second Range Kit is a shoulder bag, which holds all my paper targets, a stapler, and spare staples for mounting targets. It also holds my foam earplugs and my hearing protector headsets, range notepad/log, pens, and so on. Add your rifle, ammo and some lunch and you are ready for a day at the range. (Used since 1990)

Auto Kits: For my vehicles, I maintain multiple kits: (1) Emergency Road Kit in medium large Tupperware tub – jumper cables, flares, mechanics suit, space blanket, flashlight, etc. (2) In another medium large Tupperware tub is my Spare Parts and Repair Kit including hoses, belts, bulbs, fuses, radiator sealant, tire repair plug kit with spark plug adapter hose to fill tires, distributor cap and rotor. And for my 4WD I might include a spare water pump, alternator, starter and fuel pump. (3) A full tool set in a heavy-duty box. (4) Field Tool Kit - in my 1/2 ton 4-wheel drive Suburban I have made an additional long wood box (approximately 70” long, x 8” wide, x 17” high), which has small wheels on one end and a heavy duty cargo handle on the other end. It is tall but narrow and can hold all my field tools which include my high-lift jack, 1 or 2 come-alongs, 2 shovels, an ax, a hatchet, backpacking snow shovel, crowbar, tow strap, and large and small bow saws with extra blades. The top is held on with a window type latch on both hands and once the handle end is released the lid comes right off. You can pull a shovel from out the top or roll the box to the edge of the tailgate and set it on the ground. The wheels allow for you to roll the box all the way to the end of the tailgate before lifting out and you can also roll it across smooth ground for a short distance. This box is stained wood and coated with a sealer to minimize weather effects. (5) The Tire Chains Kit can be kept in a separate kit - a wooden box, plastic crate or in heavy canvas bags. Keep your chain tension devices in with the chains as well. (Parts of this kit used since 1992, but the wooden field box was built and employed in fall of 2005)

Chain Saw Kits: My chainsaw kit is two parts, the first being a chainsaw case with my saw, chain oil, 2-stroke oil, and funnel, spare spark plugs and tools. The second part is another Tupperware tub with pre-mixed fuel can, extra 2-stroke oil, and a large container of chain oil, heavy gloves and hearing protectors. I have not purchased extra chains or bars yet but they are on my purchase list and will be added to one of these two kits in the near future. (Used since 2004) [JWR Adds: I also strongly recommend buying a pair of Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps.]

Financial and Personal Papers Kit: This kit is composed of a medium-small fanny pack, which includes identification, passport, contact information (phone lists, account information), and some pre-1965 90% silver coins for emergency purchases or bartering. Also tucked into this little fanny pack are a "P-38" [key ring type] can opener, a small lightweight Gerber pocketknife, butane lighter and a small flashlight. For those that are so inclined, you can add other items such as precious metals, cash, a small pistol or whatever else will fit and you are willing to legally carry. (Used since 1998)

First Aid Kits: My first aid kits are in many sizes. I have the mini-kits in all the backpacks, and then I have some Auto Size kits in the vehicles, then a field medic’s medium, shoulder carry kit for field use. Then, the mega-kit that has all the extra supplies, field medical books and extra medicines in it. This is a large gym bag sized bag which is red in color. I also have a yellow and purple (magenta) bag of the same size, which holds my chemical masks, extra filters, potassium iodide, gloves, shoe covers, and wipes, etc. for chemical or nuclear emergencies. (I've had these kits in place since 1999)

Winter Survival Kit: This kit is added to the vehicles that I am driving during the winter and it is a “per-person” type kit. I include insulated over-pants (or insulated coveralls) with leg zippers, incase you have to do some work outside or walk in the cold weather beyond what you would be comfortable without long johns. A sleeping bag, a heavy wool blanket, a stocking cap, heavy work gloves with liners, a lofty poly-pro pullover, and a heavy coat or parka. Along with the extra clothing here, a sleeping pad, tarp or tent, and some field foods (two MREs, a can or two of mixed nuts, a few power bars, some chocolate bars, a large bottle of Gatorade and a gallon of water) are added to this kit. (Used since 1998)

Communications /Electronics (GPS) kit: This kit is composed of the small size (.30 caliber) ammo cans which are used singularly by themselves or if two cans are used they can be tucked inside a heavy outdoor carry bag with shoulder strap. Inside the ammo cans I keep my FRS radios, a portable CB radio, headsets, operating manuals and fresh extra batteries. I also keep my GPS and 12 VDC auto adapter in the cans when not in use. This kit is carried in my vehicle on camping and hunting expeditions or other field trips. In addition, in the very large size ammo cans (measures approximately 15” x 10” x 25”), I have my spare CB radios, and other electronic equipment [to provide them protection from EMP. The large cans I keep in the garage and they are grounded to an outdoor water pipe since they are stationary. (Used since 1999)

Fire Starting Kit: This kit can be as simple as a small cardboard box, which has enough dry tinder in a heavy duty zip-lock bag to start a fire in bad /wet weather. Included here should be some homemade or commercial fire starters, candles, safety-flares, etc, (I will save the details for another article). I keep my fire starting kit with my camping stuff and pack it in with my gear for the late fall hunting trips. (Used since 1986)

Camp Kitchen Kit: The Camp Kitchen Kit is a ready to go complete kitchen other than the food and it’s all packed into one box. It has stainless eating utensils (silverware) for 10 people. Over several years I found a number of stainless steel pots of slightly different sizes that will all fit together into one stack in my plastic kitchen box with folding lids. I also have a plastic pitcher, which I fill with the silverware, plastic re-usable plates, cups and bowls. I have a small grill to place over rocks, a coffee pot, several large serving spoons, spatulas, and kitchen knives. I have a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, half gallon baggies, and a whole box of strike anywhere matches, a long neck lighter, bar soap, a small bottle of dish soap, wash cloth, hand towel, and steel wool and copper scrub pads. Salt, pepper and other spices are included along with paper towels, coffee filters and about 60 paper plates. All of this fits nicely into my heavy-duty plastic kitchen box. (Used since 1988) I have a second box, which goes on some excursions – this kit has a large Dutch oven with lid, a lid lifting handle, a cast iron skillet and a manual coffee grinder. I keep at least two bags of charcoal (and some lighter fluid) on hand for the Dutch oven. (Used since 2003)

Notes on Kitchen Kits: Medium to large metal cups can be used for coffee, soup or whatever and can be kept warm by placing them on the campfire rocks or on the edge of your cook stove. It’s nice to keep your food and drink hot in cold weather! Some real decent outdoor cookware such as stainless pots and pans, utensils etc, can be purchased for very little money at a thrift store. I once had to buy some of these items when I went on an “emergency field trip” and realized in the rush that I had not gotten any cookware packed. I stopped in a small town and picked up all I needed for less than $3.00. Most of that stuff is now in one of two permanent kits.

Field Food Kit: It is a good thing to always have some fresh camping type foods ready in a box for a quick field trip. This can be the usual soup, chili, canned meats, rice, beans, noodles, MREs, and freeze dried food. Add to this power bars, Gatorade, and whatever else you prefer for quick field meals. (Used since 2003)

Stove and Lantern Kits: I purchased a propane adapter for my Coleman fuel stove and I keep both the adapter and the fuel tank with the stove to burn whichever is available. I can fit at least one propane bottle inside the stove when it is stored. I also keep spare mantles, and generators inside my Coleman stove and lantern boxes along with good quality strike any ware matches. And I store my stove and lanterns with fresh fuel in them so that they are ready to go right out of the box. That way when I arrive at camp in the dark, I can produce some light, or cook some food without having to refill first. I have not had any leakage problems in the 10+ years I have used this practice. Also, I never store (put away after a trip) a lantern with bad mantles, but rather put new replacements on if they need it before storage, but I don’t burn them in until I get into the field. (Used since 1995)

Fishing Kit: Mainly for organization – I keep most of my fishing gear in one large rubberized bag which is camo’d and is designed for holding duck and geese decoys. It has the usual handles and H.D. shoulder strap. I keep my fishing tackle boxes, gill nets, folding fishing rod/reel, and all my spare fishing gear in the bag except for the full size rods. The fishing rods are kept in an overhead rod holder (nice and out of the way). Of course I have some mini fishing kits/nets in my survival kits. (Used since 2004)

Hunting Kit: My Hunting Kit consists of a camouflage bag which holds hunting maps, game regulations, game calls, safety equipment like orange vests/hats, game bags, animal scale, game scents, and other things needed for hunting that are not included in the other kits. (Used since 1987)

Shelter /Camp Kits:
In a GI duffle bag with shoulder straps I keep a full size camping tent, all of its poles and stakes, and some rope. I have a dedicated “ground cloth” tarp, which I keep with this duffle bag. In a second very large bag I keep most of my folded tarps of various sizes. I also keep most of my remaining rope in this big bag in two different large zip lock bags. In addition, I have a camp “outhouse kit” which is a regular home toilet seat mounted on an aluminum folding camp chair frame, along with a large tarp setup and more rope. (Used since 1996)

Personal Gear Kit: My Personal Gear Kit is a medium small bag sized to fit on the front seat of my Chevy Suburban. In it I keep the stuff that I want handy there and also things I might put into my pockets when walking into the woods but stuff I don’t want to carry on my person through the evening once back in camp. Things like a GPS, FRS radio, Binoculars, Range finder, gloves, sunglasses and other personal gear that you probably won’t need in camp. This bag keeps my front seat more organized during road trips too. (Used since 2004)

Packing and Storing Your Kits: Remember to inventory your kits as you make them. Keep duplicate contents lists on file, and label your kits well. In addition to my personal color-coding systems, I attach tags or in many cases I just make a label from 1-inch masking tape describing the type of kit and attach it to the box or to the shoulder strap of the kit. I affix the labels to either the end or side of the box, and also on the top of the box so that no matter how it is stored on a shelf – I can see one or both labels and I know what kit that is. If I am not sure what is in the kit - I just have to check the inventory sheet to verify the contents.
As JWR and others have mentioned – it is an excellent exercise to try packing your emergency equipment into your escape vehicle. This will help you learn two things, first – how to pack it most efficiently and second to know how much your vehicle(s), trailer, or whatever you are planning to use will carry. [JWR Adds: It is crucial that you pre-position the majority of your gear at your intended retreat, since you may only have one trip outta Dodge!] For packing your gear into your vehicles, it is good to find containers (boxes, bags) that will pack well together. For the larger kits, I usually use stackable boxes that together are a little shorter than the height of my SUV. Then I pack the smaller and softer gear around them.

Conclusion: Once you have made your kits, test them in the field. Make sure they work, and that they have what you need, but not a bunch of stuff you will never use. Having your equipment “kitted up” and ready to go will help you to be ready when the big event hits. Whether it is a tsunami, an earthquake, an economic collapse or a full scale invasion by foreign troops – you’ll be ready, and this preparation will give you some peace of mind knowing that you are much more ready that the average Joe. Once your done, help a neighbor and a friend build a kit. Be Prepared, - Christian Souljer, Pacific Northwest

JWR Adds: I greatly appreciate you sharing your experience and insights.  It goes without saying that it is important to rotate the perishable items in your various kits regularly. In particular: food items, batteries, some first aid supplies, and chemical light sticks.

Hi Jim!
All things considered, what is your best "guestimate" on when this economy will crash or the SHTF ? - M. in Montana

JWR Replies: Sorry, but I don't have a crystal ball. All that I know is that with the massive debt accumulations (both Federal and consumer debt), the real estate bubble, and the burgeoning trade deficit, the U.S. economy is highly unstable. Other factors like international terrorism and the Asian Avian flu are totally unpredictable variables. The bottom line: Just be prepared, and be prepared soon.

The USGS the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is an excellent resource when you are looking for specific areas on a map: http://geonames.usgs.gov/ You will want the underlined part--click on it: United States and territories. Enter the name of the place you want and the state (or any other information you have). It will give you several choices.

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Safecastle (one of our advertisers) is running a special on Mountain House #10 (1 gallon) cans of freeze dried foods at their on-line store--48 cans for $789 and free shipping. That's a good deal, but for SurvivalBlog readers, if they email Vic, he will reply with an additional discount on top of the sale price.(For SurvivalBlog readers, only.) See: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8771416861 Vic's email: jcrefuge@safecastle.net (Include :SurvivalBlog in the e-mail title.)

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The American Conservative magazine ran a thought-provoking article titled "War of the Worlds", available on its website. (See: http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_02_27/article3.html)

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Doc (at www.bigsecrets.cc) contends that the best ballistic barrier that can be improvised on a low budget is a lamination of 1/8" steel plate, 1/4" plywood, and 1/8" steel plate. In other words, cover both sides of plywood with steel plate. It won't stop .50 caliber rounds or RPGs, but most shoulder fired weapons can be stopped with this barrier.

"There's a fine line between eccentrics and geniuses.
If you're a little ahead of your time, you're an eccentric,
and if you're a little to late, you're a failure,
but if you hit it right on the head, you're a genius.
So I have never worried much about eccentricity."  - Tom Watson, Jr., IBM

Saturday, February 25, 2006

It appears that a mutation of the H5N1 Asian Avian influenza virus into a form that is easily transmissible between humans is now "likely within the next 36 months." Read: "possibly better than a 50/50 chance." From an actuarial accounting standpoint, this should be considered a call for action. Quit dawdling. If you do not yet have an honest two year food supply set aside for your family, do so soon. If you wait until after a mutation occurs, it will be too late--all of the storage food vendors will sell out immediately, and then they will start to build an order backlog that will stretch into months, and then years. I'm not kidding. Some storage food vendors that I can vouch for include:

Freeze Dry Guy
JRH Enterprises
Ready Made Resources
Survival Enterprises
Safe Solutions
Walton Seed
Live Oak Farms
AlpineAire Foods
Best Prices Inc. Storable Foods of Texas

(Yes, the first six of those are SurvivalBlog advertisers, so I guess that makes me biased. But at least I know that they are trustworthy and sell top quality products.)

If you are relocated: Depending on the circumstances of a relocation it may be salvation from danger (large disaster) or because you are considered a threat (a la the Japanese Americans during WWII) In any case, a government camp can be one of the most undesirable places to be once you are out of danger. Once you are their "guest", the organization who has sheltered you may feel they must continue for political or security reasons to see to your well being. Ease of providing security, lack of ID, or fear of rioting may be excuses for denying or making difficult the conclusion of your stay. Separation of men and women may be mandated, especially after the rape problems at the Hurricane Katrina stadium relocation "camps".
The U.S. Forest Service fire camp is essentially the same model used for most FEMA operations (look up "FEMA ICS"-- Incident Command System), there is a whole industry which starts in spring through late fall following the fire season. Federal and state prisons employ trustee fire crews right alongside regular crews on large fires. Prison infrastructure and security is present at most large fire camps.
In the event of a large national emergency in your area, be prepared for forced evacuations. Have a plan in case you are caught in a relocation and are unable to make your way (or are prevented) on your own. An assessment must be made whether you are a prisoner or a guest but even guests of an operation like this are treated like to some extent as prisoners to reduce manpower requirements.
Cyclone (chan link) fences are made to keep you in, out, or prevent your crossing. In any of these circumstances a proper heavy duty wire cutter is needed to make your escape. Cutting through private or farm fences is a bad thing to do (use good judgment) but if you are trapped (detention camp) then this tool may be a life saver. Be sure that the jaws are of proper temper so they do not blunt or fall apart.[JWR Adds: A heavy duty "compound" design wire cutter is probably your best bet.] A smaller cutter may be a good item to hide in addition to the big cutter.
Concertina or razor-type wire may be employed to prevent foot crossing or even just block a road. Stacked concertina wire [typically deployed stacked, with two "tubes", parallel, with a third tube resting on top of the base pair, forming an obstacle that looks triangular when seen in cross-section] is almost impossible to cross bare-handed. However, scrap carpet, sleeping bags, canvas tents, tarps, et cetera can be used to reduce injury on large group crossings.
When I lived in the U.S., most sniffer dogs were for drugs and this is likely still the case. Expect to be sniffed at some point. Expect to be questioned, if you are dealing with prison guards they are more looking for nervousness or hesitation at answering than what you are really up to also do not fail the attitude test and get aggressive unless you want to be
considered a risk. Be a "Gray man." Don't complain or ask for favors be the easy one to forget then you won't be missed. Expect only a cursory search if large numbers are being taken in, having your own gear makes it easier to keep escape tools likely the back or kidney padding will not be searched on a backpack.
The U.S. government has huge stockpiles of large tents, sleeping bags, ground pads, heaters, and other supplies ready to be shipped in and form these camps.
Private contract companies for fire and security and site services are ready and trained to make these FEMA camps go up quickly in response to an emergency. Command, Finance, Logistics, Operations, and Planning personnel are pre-trained and certified to come together without ever having met and set up a huge working camp and tackle an assignment. It would be interesting to hear from a SurvivalBlog reader that has worked as (or for) a security contractor or warden about fire/recovery type operations using inmate labor, and how security is handled. [As a firefighter, my role in forming these camps was always on the "ops" end attacking fires so the other roles were only observed or in command simulations

It is important to remember as always most workers in a camp like this (if not all) think they are doing the best for both you and the public at large. Even if you hold by the "UN is evil" theory (I do) understand that the troops in the field are specially trained and motivated (brainwashed) by upper command. I have seen it in Israeli police and IDF soldiers during the ejection of Jews from Gush Katif. Use subtle resistance tactics, not violence.

Good Morning Jim,
My wife recently bought me a "Polarwrap" cold-weather mask. When I first got it, I tried it on and promptly tossed it on the top shelf of my closet. "No way I'll ever wear that thing!" I thought to myself.

Well, yesterday morning, with the mercury hovering near 30 below, and chores to do, guess what? I went to the closet, found my mask, put 'er on and went outside to work.

It's darn nice to find a product that works... and this baby works! As one exhales, the warmth and moisture of the outgoing air heats up the innards of the Polarwrap and the frigid incoming air is warmed up nicely.

At $50, one of the best gifts my wife ever gave me. I intend to buy an extra and keep it with my emergency gear.

(Congrats on the lifestyle change... I'm part of the 10 Cent Challenge now!) - Dutch in Wyoming

Recombinomics has issued a new prediction and warning of a likely alteration in the avian influenza H5N1 hemagglutinin gene. Like the warning/prediction issued in October, 2005, this new alteration will increase the affinity of the virus for human receptors and lead to more efficient transmission of H5N1 to humans. For the full text of the press release see: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/02-17-2006/0004284283&EDATE=

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"Doc" at  www.bigsecrets.cc recommends this site on ethanol: http://www.standardalcohol.com/FFV.htm

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Ready for an ice storm? See some amazing pictures of this one from last year, in Geneva, Switzerland: http://www.markdaviesmedia.com/cold

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SurvivalBlog reader P.L. recommends a web site dedicated to helping Americans emigrate: http://www.bidstrup.com/expat-assets.htm as well as this site with information on Pacific Islands: http://www.southpacific.org. Based on my recent research for a consulting client, the island nations of The Cook Islands, Niue, and Tonga seem to offer the most freedom in the Oceania region. (Any nation, such as these, that is chided by the UN for having "too lax" gun control laws sounds pretty good to me!)

"Of all serious crimes under the law, smuggling...  least violates the consciences of men. It is a crime against law and against government, but not against morality. The smuggler robs no man. He buys goods honestly in one market and sells them honestly in another. His offense is against an arbitrary regulation of government.... he simply fails to pay its demands.Many men otherwise honest are unable to see any moral turpitude in smuggling. ...government, in exacting toll, plays the part of the highwayman." -  The Oregonian, Jan. 21, 1886

Friday, February 24, 2006

In previous articles, I talked about what exactly is needed to stop different types of projectiles to include lists of materials and the thicknesses needed to achieve the desired protection. Here, I'm going to talk about some specific items you should give consideration to protecting at your retreat.
Yep, your gonna need a lot of sandbags. No way around that. Some things we can get creative with, some we cannot.
Let's start close to home. If your house is not of the construction that will stop bullets, and you intend to live at that house after TSHTF, then we have some work to do.
At a minimum, I would sandbag to the height of the windowsill of each window for all windows that you could shoot out of. Furthermore, I would sandbag the width of the window plus 1 or 2 sandbags wide and an additional 4 or 5 higher than the sill (on the sides you widened. If you windows are lower, you'll be squatting or kneeling if you have to shoot out of them anyway. If time and the situation permits, and they haven't already been shot out, you should attempt to open the window before shooting out of it. Remember though, you don't want to stick your weapon THROUGH the window. Actually, keeping a good distance BACK from the window would be helpful in many ways--it will lessen the flash and smoke seen from your shot, the shadow should help conceal you, you will be less "framed" than standing directly in the window, and the angles will work to your advantage as far as being able to see more from further back.
Let me explain that angles thing a bit. Think about when your driving down the highway. A big rig is going slow in front of you and you want to pass. You get right on his tail and try to look around to see if it's clear to pass- you can't see much can you? So you drop back 20 or 30 yards, nudge over just a bit and you can see clearly. It's the same way working with angles in houses. This is also great for clearing rooms also, but that's another article.
If you have the will and inclination, and your floor can handle the weight, you might opt to build a 3 or 4 bag high wall around on the INSIDE of the house. Why the inside? Surprise. If you stack 3 or 4 sandbags high on the outside of the house, this will just encourage someone to shoot higher and to expect return fire from you. If it's INSIDE the house, no one will know from outside.
Can your floor handle it? On a "slab at grade" style house, most definitely. On a house with a basement, you'd have to check. What your looking for is the size of the floor joists, how far apart they are, and is their any bridging (little brace looking thingees between the joists). With this info, you can go to the local library or Lowe's and check a book on carpentry. Any decent carpentry book with have tables with allowable floor joist sizes and "live" and "dead" loads for each. You need to know this ahead of time if you intend to sandbag later. You can always reinforce the joists if you know ahead of time.
What other things around your retreat should you plan to "harden?"
How about any above ground fuel storage. Namely liquid propane (LP) gas tanks. When you get one, have them install it a good stand off distance from your structure for this reason. Yes, it will cost you some extra money in the distance of the line, but it's better than blowing up your house isn't it? You could sandbag your fuel tanks or if they are a permanent fixture, you could also pour a rectangle footing around the outside of it, and build block walls around it. Be sure to use rebar and fill EVERY cell with grout mix. Be sure the block wall goes higher than the top of the tank. You could make this decorative with a tin roof.
Any building housing critical infrastructure should be hardened. A small shed containing a well pump should be hardened for ballistic protection as well as EMP protection as well. The same goes for your generator building.
Any exposed hose bib that could be used for fighting fires should be protected as well.
All observation posts (OPs) and trenches should be hardened either by the use of sandbags, packed earth or permanent construction with concrete and rebar.
Communications and medical buildings should be protected at least to the level of a four high sandbag retaining wall.
Any critical equipment such as well pumps, generators, radios, should be double sandbagged if possible.
If you have the idea that your retreat is going to look like a firebase after TSHTF, then you are on the right track.

I noted your recent reply to someone regarding medical training and thought I'd drop you an email.  For a point of reference I'll first state that I'm a paramedic by trade.  Knowing all people won't be able to take advantage of the class you reference I would suggest if people are interested in learning basic CPR and first aid courses I would highly recommend they contact their local EMS offices.  This is especially true in the rural setting as many smaller services offer courses at very low cost.  For those that may have a little time on their hands they may want to see if their local EMS stations offer an EMT-Basic course, several community colleges also offer these courses in the evening.  It should be noted just like anything else some instructors are better than others so ask around if you can. 
One thing people should consider is if they can achieve an EMT-Basic state certification many rural EMS system have first responders that provide assistance within their systems.  That is to say they will often provide a first responder with a pager, basic bandaging supplies, oxygen tanks and some of the accompanying equipment to respond to emergencies and provide first response assistance.  I'm sure most people can see the benefit in this as they receive experience and equipment all for the cost of their time helping others when their available and if SHTF you've got some equipment that you can use for your own purposes.
For those that don't have that kind of time available I would suggest reading material.  Look for an  EMT-Basic book to start off with and then move on to EMT-Paramedic materials.  Two well known instructional EMS material providers are printed by Bryan Bledsoe or Mosby with various authors.  Another good book that covers variety of subjects is the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook, but some knowledge of the basics is suggested for this book. Hope this information provides to be useful.- J.S.

The American auto making giant General Motors has launched a big advertising campaign to promote E85 ethanol-compatible cars and trucks. See: http://www.gm.com/company/onlygm/livegreengoyellow/index.html They could have ramped up production of Flexible Fuel vehicles a decade ago. Oh well, at least they are dong something now. We have a Flexible Fuel Ford Explorer here at the Rawles Ranch. If the gasoline companies would just get busy and distribute E85 outside of the Midwest, we would be able to run our Explorer on something other than gas.

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SurvivalBlog reader Warhawke recommends "The Law " by Bastiat. (I also highly recommend it. It is ground truth.) The text is available at: the Von Mises Institute web site: See: http://www.mises.org/story/2060

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Now key players in Norway (the largest oil producer in Europe) are leaning toward opening an oil bourse denominated in Euros. Hmmmm... See: http://www.energybulletin.net/13081.html

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A portent of things to come? The BBC reports: "India seals off   bird flu town." See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4739800.stm

"Chances are, if you're ever going to be involved in a home defense situation with a shotgun, you'll be in your birthday-suit. So unless you've got ammunition Velcroed to your a**, all the extra ammunition you'll have will be on the gun." - Greg Hamilton, Self Defense Instructor March, 1999

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Don't forget to send your entries for Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries for Round 3 is the last day of March, 2006. We've already had plenty of motivational pieces submitted.  Please keep your contest entries focused on practical skillsThanks!

The Laboratoire européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020, LEAP/E2020, just posted a "must read" article. The article begins: "The Laboratoire européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020 now estimates to over 80% the probability that the week of March 20-26, 2006 will be the beginning of the most significant political crisis the world has known since the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, together with an economic and financial crisis of a scope comparable with that of 1929..." See: http://www.europe2020.org/en/section_global/150206.htm

Fellow SurvivalBlog Readers:  
JWR is dead-on regarding his advice on NVGs or NVDs. I accumulated 11,000+ first pilot time and started out flying with
AN/PVS-5s. The ANVIS you are flying with are great for aviation or driving but suck for ground pounding. I like my nostalgic PVS-5s with the cut away for peripheral vision improvement but upgraded them to Gen3 tubes thru Ed Wilcox, Wilcox Engineering and Research: http://www.wilcoxeng-res.com/. A good, fair and highly qualified man to deal with.
For ground pounding, in addition to a dedicated NV weapon sight, I settled for a PVS-14D 72 line pair monocular from NVEC (Complete with data sheet, of course.). With the adjustable gain, I have the best of vision utilizing both eyes, one aided and one unaided. BUT you just can't drive or fly with only one eye. :-)
Since 1999, my favorite page, the most knowledgeable and filled with people like Lanny Leonard who actually like to help people is: http://nightvisiononline.com/index.cgi. If you want to learn about NV devices, here's the place. No pushy sales and no pushy adds. Just NV talk and lots of good experience that rubs off. Hope this helps. Best Regards,- The Army Aviator


Hello James,
In my limited experience with NVGs, I have noticed lots of differences. You do not want to save money on these if you take home defense seriously. I personally think you are wasting your money on a Generation 1.
1). The intensifier tubes have a "shelf life". Buying new is important if you can afford it. As you previously recommended, buying a scope rather than a pair of binocs is a must. Seeing your "threat" does nothing when you can't even focus on your sights.
2). Pay attention to the field of view, minimum focus distance, etc.... I don't know about you, but I would sure like to be able to see what is 20'-70' away from me and make an assessment, some optics don't focus on items closer than 50 yards!!!
3). Illuminators are a dead giveaway to someone else with NVGs. It is like the "raccoon" eye effect you mentioned, except in this case, it's like turning on a flashing neon light pointing at you. This is true for Lasers as well. Also, it is my understanding that illuminators can cause burn on the intensifier tubes. My knowledge is limited, but I think this was true on all but the latest patented NVGs. Also, do some research. Do not take your recently purchased NV item and peer out the glass in your home or vehicle. In certain instances, (i.e.- illuminators), this can cause permanent intensifier burn out. I try to be careful with purchases that cost over $700,...hope this information is accurate and may save you the unknown danger to your potential lifeline!
4). There are many options with optics now. I personally am intrigued by ATN Corporation's Day/Night Scope System. With a simple twist, you remove the NV system and the main body of the scope system stays mounted and keeps Zero! How cool is that? Kills two birds with one stone, Hence helping justify the expense, (at least to the Mrs., ha ha).
As as a side note, these products may be useful in obtaining game, (legally of course) or for that matter, protecting your heard of livestock from coyotes or similar predators. In my state, there is no clause against night vision as long as it does not "project a beam or ray of light", (i.e.- such as a laser or a NVG illuminator). Food for thought. - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: Thanks for your comments gents. In addition to the The Army Aviator's recommendation for Wilson Engineering and Research, as previously mentioned, three night vision gear vendors that I personally know and trust are JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, and STANO Components, Inc. 

The Laboratoire européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020, LEAP/E2020, just posted a "must read" article. The article begins: "The Laboratoire européen d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020 now estimates to over 80% the probability that the week of March 20-26, 2006 will be the beginning of the most significant political crisis the world has known since the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, together with an economic and financial crisis of a scope comparable with that of 1929..." See: http://www.europe2020.org/en/section_global/150206.htm

Regarding [military surplus] Ishapore SMLE .308 bolt acton rifles, I bought a few of these a while back on a "buy ten for" deal. A buddy and I both sprung for five of them to get 10 of these and we paid a ridiculously low price… something like $69 each plus shipping and tax.
Anyway, I gave one to my dad and my uncle and kept the best of the lot for myself.
These are some of the finest bolt action rifles we have ever used. They all had decent two stage triggers. Each came with a 10 round box mag, and I ordered a few extras. (The extra magazines were $35 each!)
This is a very accurate rifle, though a little heavy as it came out of the box.
My dad took all the wood coverings off the barrel, the bayonet lug and front sight off and it lightened the rifle by about 3 pounds.
We had a heckuva time getting a scope mount to work and ended up milling our on as the ones we bought would not hold sight after about 10 shots.
The "redneck engineered" version we made is dog ugly, but you could drive a truck over it and it would not come off.
This his and my uncles favorite truck and hunting gun now, as they don’t mind beating it up, but know it will still shoot every time.
I have shot mine at the range and consistently shot 1-inch groups at 100 yards with open sights.
Even my Sako M995 Kevlar wiz bang super accurate .300 Win Mag doesn’t shoot much better.
Most of the “goodness” is in the trigger. It really does have an excellent trigger.
If folks get one of the yellow sheet wholesale gun mags like Shotgun News, they will find lots of dealers selling Ishapore .308s cheap… maybe not as cheap as the ones I bought, as they had just come out and folks hadn’t yet realized that they were diamonds in the rough. - Mel

"Government cannot bestow rights and liberties to the people. It can only take them away." - Donald Tichenor

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm often asked about the ideal location for a retreat. Every locale has its pros and cons. But in general any area that is well removed from major population centers and that has fertile soil, a long growing season, and plentiful water should give you far better chances of pulling through that the average urbanite or suburbanite. A more overriding concern is what you do with your retreat, and how soon you get it truly "squared away." Having one or two years of food storage is commendable, but in the event of a full scale TEOTWAWKI, what will you do once you've consumed your larder? Similarly, merely owning survival gear and knowing how to use it are two different things. (This encapsulates my oft-quoted "Gadgets Versus Skills" argument.)

You've heard me preach on the importance of pre-positioning the vast majority of your logistics and living at your retreat full time. The latter is crucial not just for security of your stored logistics, but also so that you can make your retreat truly self-suffcient. By being there year-round, you will have the opportunity to plant perennial crops (such as berry bushes), to tend fruit and nut trees, to learn the habits of the local wild game, and to build up your flocks of small livestock. Building your practical skills inventory is just as important--if not more important--than building your larder. You can only do that if you are there to do it. If circumstances dictate that you can't live at your retreat year-round, then hopefully there is some other member of your retreat group that can--perhaps someone that is retired or self-employed. There is also nothing quite like living at a retreat year round to insure that you "work the kinks out" of everything from your water system and wood stove to your photovoltaic power system. Any such difficulties would be mere inconveniences if encountered today, but could be positively tragic if you wait and discover them after TSHTF, when luxuries like "mail order" and "the hardware store" are just memories. You will only know for certain if you live the life.

Mr. Rawles:
After reading your novel [Patriots], I realize that I've lot to learn to get truly prepared. I'm especially worried about the Asian [Avian] flu. If a human-compatible form of it hits nationwide, I think that things are gonna come positively unglued in the big cities. (Just like the picture of the collapsing infrastructure that you painted in your novel.) We are living in a house of cards. The interdependencies are so far-reaching that they make the prospect of a collapse frightening. I'm getting my "beans bullets and band aids" lined up quickly, but what about training? What's the most important class/course to take first? How about old timey farming knowledge? Thank you, H.L. in Knoxville

JWR Replies: I recommend that you take advantage of free local classes first. Take the American Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes. Don't overlook free classes offered by your local ham radio club. The wealth of experience offered by those "Elmers" is phenomenal. Seek out other elders in your community for "old timey" skills like do-it-yourself canning. If you want to learn how to live through a depression or a banking panic, there is nothing quite like learning from someone that has already lived through one. Sadly, there are a lot of old folks that have been "warehoused" in retirement homes that would be happy to share what they know.

If you are worried about societal unrest and looting, then it essential to get top rate firearms training from a shooting school like Gunsite, Front Sight, or Thunder Ranch. (Even if you are prior military service, you'll learn more in just a few days there than you learned from years of military service.)

Once you have acquired proficiency at your tactical skills, seek out some advanced medical training. If possible, make plans to attend one of the specialized Tactical Lifesaver Courses. The next will be held on April 15-16, 2006, in Douglas, Georgia. A Iraq war vet Physician's Assistant (PA) will teach you a lot of skills that the American Red Cross doesn't. (Such as: how to prep an intravenous infusion, how to insert and orthopharyngeal airway, wound debridement, suturing, how to treat a sucking chest wound, and much more.)  Don't neglect taking this course. See: http://www.survivalreportblog.com/Tactical_Lifesaver_Course.html

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to say I enjoy your blog very much and look forward to it everyday. I am happy to contribute to your 10 Cent Challenge. Regarding your 20 February post on NVGs, I've looked at a few web sites just to see what is available. I have never actually put one of these models on so I may be out to lunch but it seems that most of the NVGs are built to cover your whole eye, allowing no peripheral vision, amplified or otherwise. I am currently an F-16 pilot in the Air Force and we fly quite a bit with NVGs. Our NVGs do not cover the entire eye and are more like a set of binoculars (without the amplification) positioned in front of the eyes. This is gives us the ability to glance down into the cockpit (a must in order to kill and not be killed) and have peripheral vision (though it is not amplified by NVGs of course). 40 degrees of NVG vision is not a lot and is akin to looking through a toilet paper tube. Having the ability to glance down at your weapon or detect movement out of the corner of your eye (movement, even at night, is best seen with your peripheral) is priceless. Once again, maybe I am wrong about the way they sit on your eyes but it not, then it is definitely something to think about. I would rather have 40 degrees of night vision and and still able to look down and have peripheral vision versus 40 degrees of night vision and nothing else. Once again thanks for putting such a great blog together. - Sterno

JWR Replies: Many thanks for your input. In my experience, the requirements for NVGs in ground combat are much different than for use in a cockpit. The biggest tradeoff is peripheral vision versus the risk of "raccoon eyes." Let me explain: If you have the goggles set forward on a typical helmet mount to allow peripheral vision then they cast a bright glow on your face. This glow can be seen by someone in front of you for well in excess of 50 feet without NVGs, and for hundreds of yards with NVGs. That is one of the reasons that I prefer either NV weapons sights or NV monoculars with rubber eye cups (with the folding flap that opens only after your have pressed it to your face. To a bad guy in the distance, using any sort NV device without an eyecup looks like like you are shining a flashlight in your face.

"How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual... as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of." - Texas State Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mr. and Mrs. Rawles,
I’m immensely enjoying your Blog. Thank you for the time and effort you place into your blog. I was reading into the archives trying to catch up and in the August 8th replies you had a reference to the wooden cages. One way that will help mitigate the problem of chewing and weakening of the wooden structure of the cages. You can use metal corner bead over the edges of the exposed wood inside the cage. It would be better as you stated to use all wire cages, they are by far the best. But the truth is that some people will use wood because they can’t afford wire, they have the wood already or because it how their father and his father did. Just a thought. All the best, - C.K.

The Memsahib Replies: When we first got rabbits, we got a bunch of free wooden hutches. We planned to upgrade to wire cages as money allowed. We up graded a lot sooner than planned because we discovered porcupines in Idaho have a special fondness for wood legs on hutches because of the minerals that soak into the wood from the rabbit urine. Of course upgrading isn't always possible. Thanks for the good suggestions.

Hi James,
I would like to clarify a few things that J.G. from Auckland stated. Magazine capacity is limited for those with “A” category licensing only. Those with “E:” category license can have center fire or rim fire magazines for the “E” category weapons (military style semi automatic) that are unlimited in capacity. Pistol ownership merely requires that you join a pistol club, install an adequate safe in your home for pistol storage, obtain a “B” category license and attend 12 club shoots per year which is not much if you intend to shoot competently. 

Our country has troops currently in Afghanistan and in the past sent combat engineers to Iraq.

J.G. correctly points out that we in New Zealand are uniquely blessed with a land that has more food units than people and is still largely agrarian. - B.W.  from the Bay of Plenty.

JWR Replies: Things are quite a bit different here in the U.S. Of course the State laws vary widely. We don't have a unified "Country Code" like the Commonwealth countries. Outwardly, out patchwork of laws looks a bit chaotic, but it has its advantages.  One of the most notable of these is that if a state gets too intrusive we can "vote with our feet" and just move to a different state. (Witness the current out-migration of conservatives from California to States like Idaho, Montana, and Nevada.)

Re:  "Pistol ownership merely requires that you ..."   Your description seems like a lot of "flame filled hoops" to me. In many states (such as the aforementioned Idaho, Montana, and Nevada), if an adult wants to buy a pistol from another citizen that lives in the same state, he just opens his wallet and buys it, with no government intervention whatsoever.(No registration, no competency tests, no licensing, no storage requirements. Nothing!)  Needless to say, gun shows here are a lot of fun!  Our newspaper classified ads have lots of private party gun ads.

There are far more paperwork requirements when one buys guns across state lines, or any transaction involving a Federally licensed dealer.  But thankfully, private party gun sales are the last bastion of privacy here in the States. We like it that way.

I don’t know how recognized a Euro note would be in a U.S. crisis, especially the premium of the dollar. (“Funny money” may even be assumed to be devalued, as if Canadian.)

The real concern about large Euro notes is that of presumed counterfeiting. A British friend recently told me that 500 Euro notes are essentially not legal tender for most commercial transactions, due to widespread counterfeiting suspicions. You can take them to a bank, but that is about it.

Unless you need to carry substantial wealth that will be put in an operating bank at your destination, I’d stick to dollars or precious metals. FYI: US currency weighs about one gram per bill. Which means that a stack of $20 bills is presently nearly “worth its weight in gold!” That means that gold over about $3000/ounce would be more portable (and far more compact) than our largest [piece of] currency. I prefer the more romantic notion of a vest with gold pieces sewn in. A man could wear a vest with nearly 400 one ounce gold coins sewn in (single layer) that would weigh nearly 30 pounds, and be worth about $250,000 at current prices. Now that is “bug-out wealth”! - Mr. Bravo

SurvivalBlog reader "Rourke" mentioned a great alert site in Hungary that was recently mentioned on the Aussie Survival discussion board: http://visz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/woalert.php?lang=eng

  o o o

SurvivalBlog reader H.P.F. recommends three interesting sites: 
http://www.netcastdaily.com/fsnewshour.htm  (listen to "Hour Two"),
http://www.finance.messages.yahoo.co...mid=648143 NEWS BRIEF: "Americas Foes Circle Wagons", by Claude Salhani, UPI International Editor, reprinted in Raiders News Updates, February 16, 2006 and,
http://www.countercurrents.org/p...180206.htm  -- a piece titled Peak Oil - The Great Tsunami, by Michael Payne

  o o o

I might have mentioned this one before... A handy tool for calculating the effects of monetary inflation (in the U.S.): http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

"I am completely out of ammo. That's never happened to me before!" - Burt Gummer, in Tremors 2

Monday, February 20, 2006

I would appreciate your help spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Doing so is in your best interest. Why? Because each neighbor that you convince to prepare will be one less person that you'll find begging on your doorstep, come TEOTWAWKI+1.

I'm often asked by SurvivalBlog readers in Canada which rifles I recommend. Sadly, the C.96 semi-auto rifle/magazine ban in Canada didn't leave Canadians with a lot of options. Since there may be more bans in the future, I'd recommend something in the Lee-Enfield bolt action family. There are so many of those rifles in circulation in commonwealth countries that they will probably be exempted from any bans on rifles with detachable magazines.  (Notably, SMLE 10  round magazines were *specifically exempted* in the Canadian C.96 "any rifle magazine over 5 round capacity" ban.)   Yes, I know what you are thinking... Just give the politicians time, they'll get around to banning anything that will even accept a detachable magazine. In fact, they won't quit until the have you down to archery equipment... We have the same problem here in the U.S. The only difference is that the politicians aren't in as much of a hurry.

Depending on your ammo sources, I'd recommend either a SMLE .303 or  perhaps an Ishapore IA1 .308. (Assuming that their magazines are exempt under the Canadian 5+ round magazine law, too.)  Make sure to get a half dozen spare magazines to allow sustained fire.

If you are an optimist, you might buy a U.S. M1 Garand semi-auto rifle. Because of their 8 round expendable en bloc clip, there was a special grandfather clause included in the law. That makes it the highest capacity centerfire rifle that is legal in Canada.  (Aside for law enforcement officers and a few rifle team members, that can possess rifles such as M1As and L1A1s, and high capacity magazines.) Being a pessimist, I predict that the M1 Garand will eventually be banned in Canada, as well.

I'm a newbie at preparedness. I have some nitro-packed storage food and I'm working on buying a few guns and getting training.  I think I'll start with a course at Front Sight. But for immediate needs, I'm about ready to buy some body armor for "just in case."  Are the mil surplus flak vests that I see advertised for +/-$80 a good deal? - T.Y.

JWR Replies: I highly recommend the training at Front Sight it is top notch! About body armor; first things first: Forget about the older-vintage military surplus "flak" vests" that you saw advertised. These are primarily designed to stop shrapnel, but not bullets. Most of the pre-1985 military issue vests would barely rate Class IIA.(Which is lower than Class II, if you aren't  familiar with the rating system--that numbering system confuses a lot of folks.) I do not recommend them. About their only advantage is that some have a collar, which provides better neck protection than typical law enforcement (concealment) vests. IMHO, you are better off buying a law enforcement trade-in vest, Class II or higher. (Which would be: Class II, Class IIIA, or Class III.) Used Class II vests start at around $200.

My personal approach: For myself, I bought a pair of slightly used Class II vests, with one of them slightly larger than the other, plus a trauma plate. This cost less than buying a new Class III vest, and they are more versatile than a single heavy-weight vest.  I can wear either of  them alone for concealment, or I can wear *both* plus the trauma plate in between when the Schumer really hits the fan. This will provide better than Class II protection.

BTW, the Memsahib has a Class IIIA vest, contoured for ladies. It also was a trade-in vest, which she got for a bargain price at a gun show.

Two body armor dealers that I recommend are: Y2K Body Armor (which is operated by T. Allen Hoover) and BulletProofME.com Body Armor.  Of the two, Terry Hoover seems to have the best prices. He specializes in vests that come from police academy wash-outs.  These are "low hours" vests that are in great shape and very reasonably priced.

Are you going to do a post on [Starlight] Night Vision Goggles, where to buy, and what type of NVGs is the best? - K.T. [of KT Ordnance]

JWR Replies: The light amplification NVG market has become crowded in recent years, primarily with junk that is prone to failure. I most strongly recommend that you you buy only good quality scopes. This generally means American or Israeli-made, not Russian.

If you can only afford one piece of starlight gear, then make it a weapon sight. You can always use a weapon sight dismounted (as a monocular), but you cannot mont a monocular or a pair of goggles to a weapon. (Yes, I know, you can use NVGs in conjunction with a laser aiming light, but that is adding another layer of logistics complexity.) I would rather have one reliable first generation ("Gen 1") or second generation ("Gen 2'") scope such as an AN/PVS-2 than I would three or four fragile, unreliable Russian scopes for the same amount of money.

If you have a lavish budget, go for broke: buy a redundant set of two or three Gen 3 scopes (such as AN/PVS-4s) and two or three NVGs (such as AN/PVS-7s). If you have bagoodles of money, you might even consider getting a few AN/PAQ-4 laser aiming lights and perhaps even one of the new Raytheon Gen 2 "Warrior" IR-50 thermal weapon sights that are just coming onto the civilian market. But hang on to your wallet... The IR-50s currently cost around $20,000 each!

When selecting any starlight gear, buy only equipment with guaranteed "low hours" U.S. full military specification tubes that come with authentic data sheets specifying their actual measured number of line pairs.  If you have the opportunity to do side-by-side night-time comparisons, pick a device that has minimum scintillation (a.k.a."the sparklies"), a maximum number of line pairs, and the best possible optical clarity.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for someone who is looking at the potential of  a "long term worst case" situation, you should buy only equipment that is compatible with standard "off the shelf" rechargeable NiMH batteries. As David in Israel is fond of mentioning: "Remember, you are not the U.S. military with a huge budget and a long logistics tail."  Plan and make your purchases according.

Three night vision gear vendors that I know and trust are JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, and STANO Components, Inc.  All three of these firms are competent, trustworthy, and will go to the extra effort to make sure that you are completely satisfied.

"The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage." - Thucydides

Sunday, February 19, 2006

It's kinda sad that Winchester is going out of production. I've owned a couple over the years and they gave good service. My Model 70 .308 is still a favorite gun. Light, accurate, pretty, tough. What more can you really ask for?  I don't have Boston's Gun Bible at this location so I can't remember where he came out on the Remington/Winchester scale (and of course
there are Browning/Savage/Ruger/Sako/Weatherby/Tikka arguments to be made - not to mention surplus guns. I wrote the homage to the Mosin-Nagant last week)... but no matter where your loyalties were seeing another finely crafted American icon bite the dust can't be good. Turns out they are owned by a Belgian company, the same one that owns F.N. and Browning. They make guns in Belgium and Japan (A-Bolt and the Winchester 1895 clone.) But there license to use the Winchester name is timing out next year, and sales are down (only 80,000 rifles a year). And the license to manufacture the Model 1894 lever gun, the Model 70 bolt action and the Model 1300 pump guns that were made at this factory are owned by the union, so the plant closes, the guns stop production and the [Winchester] name goes back to Olin (the ammo manufacturer) So where is a Winchester guy to go now? The H.S. Precision rifles look real nice, but are three times the cost of a new Winchester. I guess that Remingtons are the obvious choice. Opinion? Comments on the passing? - K.T. [of KT Ordnance]

JWR Replies: I personally lean toward the synthetic-stocked Savage 110 for a reasonably priced precision bolt action rifle. The inherent accuracy of the 110 design is amazing. The 110 barrel nut is admittedly ugly, but quite practical.

The following anonymously-posted account is re-posted with permission from Mel's Riser's "My Solar Village" blog (http://mysolarvillage.blogspot.com.) Some of you might find this account is eerily reminiscent of my novel Patriots:

The craziest thing about the whole Katrina fiasco was that my father in law (technically he's just my girlfriend's dad, but we've been together long enough that this is what we call him.) I always make fun of him because he keeps his garage stocked with something like 100 gallons of water, a bunch of big jugs full of treated gasoline, food, etc. He also owns quite a few guns. So I picked on him a lot for being borderline nuts even though he's fairly normal. So when Katrina rolled around I ended up evacuating with them since the woman wanted to be with her parents. It took us 35 hours of nonstop driving to drive to Dallas. It's usually a four hour drive or so. About twelve hours or so in you had to drive around a car that had run out of fuel every fifty feet or less. They were everywhere. It was hot, too, and we saw hundreds of families standing on the side of the road sweating. A lot had infants and little kids. Even if you somehow did find a gas station that wasn't sold out of gasoline (probably 9 out of 10 were sold out) the line was literally miles long. About 20 hours in, or a little over halfway to Dallas, we noticed the convenience stores were being looted. The people busted out the windows (we didn't see who, but they were busted out) and we saw people coming out with any drink they could find. It was pretty much chaos. There was one cop on the scene and he wouldn't get out of his car. He just sat across his street with his lights swirling and people ignored him. By this time there were so many cars broken down that we spent a lot of our time driving off road. We had a big tarp on the back of the truck with all the gasoline but we were forced to fuel up in front of people. We had enough fuel to fill up our two vehicles three times which turned out to be just enough to get us to Dallas. As we were fueling up crowds of not-so-nice looking folks with empty gas tanks were staring us down. We gave one guy five gallons of fuel because he had two little kids. We were approached the second time we fueled up on the side of the road by a pissed-off bunch of people asking for gas. We told them we needed it. They didn't care obviously. One younger guy went towards the back of the truck and said something like "I'm taking one, call the f**king police if you want." and my father in law had to use his pistol to convince the guy otherwise. We were then standing there, funnel in the truck, me trying to pour gas in, him with a pistol in his hand, my girlfriend and her mom crying, and all of the gas-thief's buddies looking real tough. He just stood there like some sort of tough-guy a**hole. I got the cap back on the jug and we got out of there with our nerves really frazzled. I kept my pistol loaded after that. We went through a LOT of water. It was really pretty hot out there. I slept in little two or three minute bursts when traffic was stopped which it almost always was. Sit for a few minutes, move ten feet. Repeat a thousand f**king times. My leg actually cramped up from break/accelerate/breaking so many times and I had to pull over. This happened to pretty much all of us. It sounds melodramatic but driving actually f**king hurt at that point. To save on fuel I didn't run my air conditioner so I was also sweating the whole time but we thankfully had a lot of water. At close to 30 hours people got fed up with the traffic and we started seeing cars zipping past us on the southbound side of the freeway, heading north the wrong way. There were still quite a few emergency vehicles heading south so this was a dangerous idea. It didn't take long until hundreds of people switched to the other lane and headed northbound on it. A half mile or so up we saw the first head on collision. A family headed north had struck a police cruiser heading south at the crest of a hill. They'd never seen each other until the last second, I guess. We saw a lot of these accidents. The swarm beat the police,though, and we were out in nowhere, Texas anyway so there probably weren't that many police to respond. Eventually the entire southbound lane was just as clogged as the northbound. More so, really, because there were the head-on accidents. The police couldn't go south or north now so it was a kind of weird feeling of being on your own. So many people were broken down now that you had to swerve not to just hit the people who were out lingering. They had nowhere to go. Our big tarp-covered pickup drew a lot of eyes, too. We again had to fill up in front of hundreds of people. He again had to use his pistol as a friendly reminder that we didn't wish to be robbed. He never actually pointed it at anybody, he just took it out and held it as a reminder. People just stared at us with hate. I can't blame them, I guess. But he was watching out for his wife and daughter and I was watching out for her as well. Most people would do the same.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
One of your readers recently mentioned using chlorine in the water tanks for household toilets as a means to preserve clean, drinkable water. I realize I need to do this. Question: how much chlorine should I use? IIRC the water tank for a typical [traditional] toilet holds approximately 5 gallons. As always, thanks for your help and for the good work you do. Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord, - S.P.

JWR Replies: The more recently-manufactured toilet tanks hold only about 2.5 gallons. The guidelines for treating water from questionable sources (via boiling, chlorine, or iodine) are concisely summarized at the Captain Tropic's web site: http://www.stormsurvival.homestead.com/Disinfecting_Water.html

Many of the recommendations in your book, Patriots, and on your blog deal with survival contingency plans from a small-group/family perspective. Simply put; what is your advice to single (possibly young) people who have no dependents or family structure? In Patriots, one of the characters (who was not an original member of "The Group") is a young, single male, who "freelances" (almost in the Medieval sense of the term) to the group. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, is it plausible to hope that one can form a mutually beneficial relationship, perhaps in exchange for goods or services? Of course, relying on that alone is a poor plan. As not everyone will be able to develop the same level of networking, or preparations for when TSHTF what do you suggest? Is a covenantal relationship something that would be desirable, especially from a Christian standpoint? Thanks, - Mountain Goat

JWR Replies: I strongly recommend that anyone that does not yet have a firm retreat locale planned and coordinated link up with an existing group long before TSHTF. If you can't find an existing group, then form your own, preferably starting with like-minded friends from your church. The chances of finding a group that is looking to expand post facto are slim, since most rural farmstead retreats will have burgeoning populations as "cousins by the dozen" inevitably arrive.

As I previously stated (see my August, 2005 posts in the SurvivalBlog Archives) to have a good chance at pulling through when things get Schumeresque, it is important to pre-position logistics at a defendable retreat in a lightly populated, agricultural region with plentiful water that is well-removed from major population centers and the likely "lines of drift" for a torrential flood of urban refugees. This entails pre-positioning large quantities of logistics---far more than be could carried in a car or pickup. Ideally, to assure the security of your pile-'o-logistics, you should start with an existing farm or ranch that is owned and occupied year-round by a relative or close friend.

My survival shotgun is surplus from the Michigan state police, through a dealer--Remington 870, well worn, but with a glass-smooth action. $125, with plastic stock already on. Nothing against Mossbergs; I have one of those also, but the Remington is exceptionally common, which is a plus. As I'm not too concerned with keeping it looking like an innocent hunting weapon, I've added a tube extension, side sling mount, fluorescent orange hard plastic follower, and Cavalry Arms stock conversion that let me fit an Ergo grip and AR stock. This creates the exact same length of pull as my ARs, and adds a rail for sights/optics. At 50 yards offhand, slugs print a 2" group, and recoil is quite manageable for fast follow ups. I, too, have looked at the Knoxx sidewinder drum conversions. The drums do not change rapidly, requiring pulling out, and inserting at an angle to start and then pressing home. The two extra rounds and 2" shorter barrel would help somewhat, but it doesn't seem to be a huge improvement or cost effective. I'll post pictures of these items shortly. Meanwhile, Oleg Volk has this photo of my daughter practicing one of her skills: http://www.olegvolk.net/gallery/madmike/pinkrifles0511 Morrigan is 8 years old, and was featured in Concealed Carry magazine in December, in an article about women and guns. It's my experience that if you teach the kids gun safety early, shooting comes naturally shortly thereafter. Thanks for your comments on my novel Freehold. It was my first novel, and I hope I've improved since then. I just started work on a new science fiction novel. - Mike

Dear Jim:
With all of the prevailing concerns about the USG economy and the specter of a hyper-inflated or collapsed USG dollar, many people are seeking to invest in the precious metals like silver and gold. But, unfortunately, many of us have previously invested in dollar-denominated IRA's, 401(k) and other pension plans. As you know, if a person withdraws money from these plans he must pay all applicable taxes PLUS a 10% penalty which makes this a prohibitive thing to do. Therefore do you have any suggestions on what to do with existing retirement funds? Are there any precious metal-backed plans that you are aware of? BTW Everbank offers a CD called the Gold Bullion CD where the rate of return is tied to the price of gold bullion over a 5 year period and not to a fixed interest rate. But the potential downside is that it is backed by the USG's FDIC (for whatever that is worth). What do you think of this instrument? Thank you for your prescient insights. B'shem Yahshua Ha Moshiach Sar Shalom, - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: I consider the Everbank Gold Bullion CD a decent investment, but it is two steps removed from the ideal situation.  Instead, I recommend rolling over your existing IRA and 401(k) into a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America.  I did so six years ago, and I'm glad that I did, since gold has nearly doubled since then.  The IRAs is in the form of U.S. Mint Gold Eagle bullion coins, held in vault storage by American Church Trust, in Texas. In a perfect world, we would be allowed to hold the coins in our personal possession and yet still have them qualify as an IRA--but sadly we live in world managed by bureaucrats and bean counters. The next best thing is a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America. I suggest that you get your IRA converted during the current advantageous dip in prices. This still looks like a long term bull market for precious metals.

The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC)  (http://www.odac-info.org) recently updated their site with several interesting articles related to the much-debated Hubbert's Peak in Oil production.

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SurvivalBlog reader R.B.S. recommends this commentary posted at Gold-Eagle: http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_05/willie021506.html

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Doc of  http://www.bigsecrets.cc recommended this source for "truckable" water tanks: http://www.aquaflex.net/

"When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water." - Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Grid-up bugouts of the non-universal TEOTWAWKI type (more like Hurricane Katrina) allow you to take advantage of modern infrastructure even if you have limited means. If your escape happens during a time where resources allow a hotel may be a better choice for those who have lost their primary residence (rural or urban) and do not have a fallback location yet. In the event of a major power outage the cellular infrastructure has several days of generator power at each tower so the ease and reliability of mobile telephony may have advantages over ham radio for contacting family. In unaffected areas ragged dirty survivors and strange vehicles may be treated with suspicion a good appearance is key when interacting in normal areas. The following are some things to consider for your Bug Out Bag (BOB) -- also known as a Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) pack:
Cellular Telephone:
Think about getting a plan that includes Internet make sure that your phone supports Bluetooth or IR, a data cable which works with your computer will also work.  I suggest having a paid up prepaid SIMM chip taped in the battery cover purchased cash from a convenience store in case you need to switch phone numbers. A 1-800 type calling card for pay phones is a very useful tool.
PDA or Laptop:
Having access to web information has clear advantages, make sure you have car charger if in a vehicle. If in a pack PDA with a keyboard makes more sense wi-fi or cellular telephone connection will get you online.
Both a AA/AAA/9V battery charger and power cables for your gadgets keep you going, A crank charger is an excellent idea especially for your cellular telephone.
Immersion Boiler:
Available worldwide (both 120 and 220 VAC models) this small tool will heat water to boiling quickly or heat a bucket of water to bath/washing temperature in about ten minutes.
A flat universal sink/tub stopper and a lighter bungee type clothesline are all you need to keep your clothing presentable if you must interact with the otherwise normal world. Dish soap works very well for hand washing.
Vehicle "Camouflage":
A standard [loose fitting] car cover often has the power to make your car somewhat invisible, in a suburban/urban neighborhood especially in sunnier areas these are more common.
Most important is that it makes the vehicle anonymous even if you need to sleep inside you are mostly protected from security or police or neighbors shining the vehicle at night.
A USB type keychain drive [commonly called  a "thumb drive" or "stick"] allows access to your files, even in a library. Reduced size hard and scan copies in a double ziplock of marriage, military, birth, home and vehicle titles, education docs, certifications, licenses, resumes, previous employer and finance info are high on the list of docs to have.
Computer files can also be stored on email or file storage sites.
If possible have duplicate ATM/debit cards as well as credit cards in your BOB. Several hundred dollars in mixed bills cash several sealed opaque pouches is a good idea too.
Eating out at restaurants may be convenient but is a terrible waste of cash unless Uncle Sam is picking up the tab. Cook using your immersion boiler or in the coffee maker provided with most rooms many recipes are available on the net, avoid the temptation to use a liquid fuel stove inside for obvious safety reasons.

[JWR Adds:] The majority of your cash should be carried in a money belt, especially if think that you might end up in a public shelter. You will probably want the majority of it in the most compact form available--large denomination bills. Here in the U.S., we are unfortunately limited to $100 bills--the largest denomination in circulation. However, in Canada C$500 bills are still in circulation, and in Europe there are EU500 bills. Both of those take a little searching to procure, but are generally available without paying a premium.] About money, if you become displaced you likely will have a very high cash burn rate as well as loss of work income all add stress especially if you have family worries included.  A single male may find shelter in a youth hostel or less secure in a low rent hotel. Both options leave you wide open to loss of your gear to theft. Keep your vehicle in mind as a shelter. A much better idea is to be in contact with your particular religious community in the place you are staying and be placed with a family. This, or a real hotel are the most viable options open to a displaced family.

I stumbled across your blog a few months ago and have enjoyed reading it ever since. Your readers would enjoy this link about hyperinflation in Serbia and Zimbabwe.  See: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/feb17_2006.html#Z5.   - Greg

Back in the late 1990s, I corresponded via e-mail with a gentleman from Indonesia who had read the short "Triple Ought" draft edition of my novel Patriots. One of his letters in particular (from October of 1998) had some interesting insights and a valuable perspective on what it is like to live through a period of hyperinflation. (This was back during the time of wholesale inflation of the Indonesian Rupiah.) He started his letter by responding to my request for a sample of the Indonesian paper currency for my collection. To explain: I collect fiat paper currencies that have been destroyed by inflation. The collection was started because of my fascination with economics, and partly as an educational tool for my young sons. The centerpiece of my collection is a 100,000,000 Deutsche mark note from Weimar Germany in the early 1920s. Dear James: [Some personal chatter snipped] ... As for you James, I collected a whole range of the local currencies starting from the smallest denomination all the way to the largest one. The smallest one is a coin worth Rp 25. The largest bill is Rp 50,000. Rp 50,000 is currently equal to US$7. Prior to July of 1997, 1 US$ = Rp 2500. Now it is 1 US = Rp 8000. During the riots, the Rupiah plunged to a low of 18,000 to the dollar. Yes, that's how worthless our currency were. Due to the sharp drop in the value of the Rupiah, hundreds of companies which owed foreign banks U.S. dollars were technically bankrupt. They were forced to shut their operations down and to lay off their workers. Thousands of workers were laid off daily. Unhealthy banks were forced into liquidation due to bad loans and unlucky depositors were left with nothing. We don't have FDIC like your country. Other depositors made a run for the banks and changed their savings to U.S. dollars. This of course created a devil's circle. As more people rushed to dump their Rupiah to buy U.S. Dollars, the value of Rupiah plunged even more causing more panic dumping. To say that we are living in TEOTWAWKI is not an exaggeration. The financial crisis has devastated our economy. Close to 20 million are jobless. The government defines unemployment as " not working more than 1 hour a week". So the real figure is a lot higher. Half of the population of 200 million Indonesians are below the poverty line. As many as 80 million people face starvation and can only afford a single meal a day. Babies and children are getting sick and dying of malnutrition. Inflation is expected to exceed 100% soon. Food items like rice and cooking oil has gone up an average of 300%-400%. Gasoline has gone up more than 75% last May and was one of the cause for the bloody riots. It has since than been lowered to about 45%. With the crisis's end nowhere in sight there have been anti government demonstrations everyday. Crime is skyrocketing. Violent robberies and killings are common place. The past three months there have been numerous mysterious killings of suspected sorcerers or witchcraft practitioners in East Java. It had since then spread to include Muslims teachers. The killings were done by so called 'ninja' killers who were dressed in black. The mostly uneducated and superstitious villagers are now arming themselves and lynching whomever is suspected of being a sorcerer. In response to the killings of muslim teachers, vigilante groups are stopping and killing strangers found wandering after dark and anyone suspected of being 'ninjas'. During the riots last May, more than 1,200 lives were lost. As many as 168 Chinese women were gang raped. Hundreds of malls and thousands of shophouses and homes were burnt down. The ethic Chinese bore the brunt of the violence and destruction. Ethic Chinese make up of only 3% of the population but they are dominant in the Indonesian economy. This makes them especially vulnerable to racial attacks during hard times. The military is suspected to play an active role in the riots and the recent mysterious killings. This is a very plausible theory as they are doing everything they can to maintain the status quo. Many ethnic Chinese, myself included fled the country during the riots. A many as 100,000 Chinese fled to nearby countries like Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia. Others like me fled to faraway countries like the U.S. or Europe. I lived in [eastern U.S. city name deleted] for a number of years and before the riots happened I was already making plans to visit my brother who was in Boston. It just happened that the riots occurred just as I was about to leave the country. Many have since returned. But the economy is dead. I'm living in [name deleted] Island which is close to Singapore. There are no demonstrations and things are relatively peaceful here. It was only recently that I read your novel and was struck by the realism of the story. Like your story, the situation in Indonesia deteriorated rapidly following the currency devaluation and banking collapse. For 30 years, Indonesia's economy used to post 8% annual growth and no one in their wildest imaginations dreamed that this could happen. I had just returned from Boston to help in my families' business on October of 1997. I had been warning my parents of the dangers in Indonesia. Of course they did not listen to me. Like yourself I love to read and my interest in economics and history made me aware that Indonesia is particularly vulnerable to social disintegration. The warning signs were there for anyone who bothered to look. The problem was nobody wanted to look. Well, I hope my story was interesting. Take care and Be Prepared. I was a Boy Scout and I have always lived by that motto. Goodbye for now. Yours Sincerely, [Name deleted]

It's kinda sad that Winchester is going out of production. I've owned a couple over the years and they gave good service. My Model 70 .308 is still a favorite gun. Light, accurate, pretty, tough. What more can you really ask for?  I don't have Boston's Gun Bible at this location so I can't remember where he came out on the Remington/Winchester scale (and of course
there are Browning/Savage/Ruger/Sako/Weatherby/Tikka arguments to be made - not to mention surplus guns. I wrote the homage to the Mosin-Nagant last week)... but no matter where your loyalties were seeing another finely crafted American icon bite the dust can't be good. Turns out they are owned by a Belgian company, the same one that owns F.N. and Browning. They make guns in Belgium and Japan (A-Bolt and the Winchester 1895 clone.) But there license to use the Winchester name is timing out next year, and sales are down (only 80,000 rifles a year). And the license to manufacture the Model 1894 lever gun, the Model 70 bolt action and the Model 1300 pump guns that were made at this factory are owned by the union, so the plant closes, the guns stop production and the [Winchester] name goes back to Olin (the ammo manufacturer) So where is a Winchester guy to go now? The H.S. Precision rifles look real nice, but are three times the cost of a new Winchester. I guess that Remingtons are the obvious choice. Opinion? Comments on the passing? - K.T. [of KT Ordnance]

JWR Replies: I personally lean toward the synthetic-stocked Savage 110 for a reasonably priced precision bolt action rifle. The inherent accuracy of the 110 design is amazing. The 110 barrel nut is admittedly ugly, but quite practical.

Boston T. Party has announced the date and location for the Third Annual Free State Wyoming (FSW) 2006 Jamboree. It will be Worland, Wyoming from May 26 to May 29, 2006. (Worland is in north-central Wyoming, north of Thermopolis.)  He writes: "We are fortunate to have the use of the fabulous rifle range there for Saturday to Monday, inclusive. The Jamboree schedule is being worked out, as well as our campsite.If you plan to hotel it, get going now on your reservations. Stay tuned for more details, but we'll see you all in Worland.' The Jamboree will be held in conjunction with a series of Appleseed (RWVA) shooting clinics and a rifle match.(See: http://www.rwva.org.) Don't miss it!

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China's Nuclear Buildup:  See: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20060216-015853-7367r.htm

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A reader asked us about where to find information about MRE storage life, the latest entree selections, et cetera. You can find it all here: http://www.mreinfo.com/

"The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility. - Admiral Sir John A. Fisher

Friday, February 17, 2006

We spent an evening back in June working on our tactical shotgun drills. Everyone brought their preferred shotgun, and the instructor ran us through the basics of Tactical Shotgunning.
I was really impressed to learn that most everyone was carrying a Remington 870 in one configuration or another. It is a very popular shotgun. Sturdy and robust, and like a Jeep, very easy to modify and improve. I was the only one carrying in the "anti-aircraft howitzer" mode, which is to say that I brought my goose gun with 28" of max choke power. Everyone else had shorter barrels sans choke with extended magazine tubes and Side Saddle carriers and slings. There were a couple of home defense Rambos in our group who sported the neat Sure-Fire pump action light on the fore grip. Nobody had folding stocks or pistol grips, everyone fired from the shoulder.
This was a basic getting to know your gun class. We spent time working from various stages of carry. Instructor Greg stayed away from the "stage 1, stage 2, etc." lingo and focused on simple vernacular that could not be misinterpreted. After learning how to load, charge the magazine, and chamber check, we went to work on firing from different stages of carry.
The instructor mentioned there are a wide variety of shotguns out there, and there is no one single military designated, tried and true shotgun on the market whose technology has carried over to the consumer. This means that shotguns are prone to Negligent Discharge (ND)/Accidental Discharge (AD) problems and extra safety is needed in handling them. He stressed normal carry modes that would leave the chamber empty but the magazine full.

First Carry Method: Transport Mode. Real simple, this is the way you carry a shotgun in your car from place to place. Basically, if you are not going to use the shotgun while in the car, the magazine should be clear and the chamber clear as well. Tension should be off the firing pin and the action closed.
Second Carry Method: Carry Mode. This is for the time you are carrying a shotgun in the field, home defense, on your person, whatever. Using a sling, the shotgun is stored on your weak shoulder with the muzzle down. Have a fully charged magazine and condition check the chamber to make sure it is clear. (NOTE: Instructor Greg asked the question, "What are you checking for when you check the shotgun?" His reply to our dumb stares was that we are checking to see if the weapon is loaded. Remember the first rule of safe gun handling: Always treat the weapon as if it were loaded!!!)
For those of us without slings, Instructor Greg advised that we carry a specific way. Using the middle and ring fingers of our shooting hand, hook the shotgun behind the trigger guard and keep it in the right shoulder-arms position. This was the easiest way to carry and be able to bring the gun in play when a threat presents itself. For those carrying a slung shotgun, they are to grab the foregrip of the shotgun with their weak hand, slide the sling off their shoulder and twist the gun around and up into the firing position.
Third Carry Method: Home Defense. The golden rule for our Tac Tuesday class is: "We train as we fight!" For each person, home defense means something different. Until this class, I kept my Rem. 870 loaded with BBB steel shot and left the chamber empty. (At the time, it was the only round I had in abundance. That has been rectified.) I feared a ND/AD accident, so I kept it in the corner of my closet muzzle down inside a soft carry case half open. This may work for you as well, I don't know. A couple of our guys keep theirs under the bed locked and cocked, and still a couple have some other ingenious ways of storing. One individual has a special set of hooks behind his headboard that holds his street cannon.
Don't forget about kids when you set up for Home Defense. What do they have access to, and what do you give them access to are completely different things altogether. Young children are into everything. I can remember being a young child and coming across my dad's guns hidden in various spots in his closet and under his bed. I was a smart one, I left them alone. Make sure that you have thought out all, and I mean ALL, scenarios and circumstances before you leave a loaded shotgun in the house. Young and single living in an apartment is worlds apart from a thirtysomething couple with a toddler who can defeat child safety cabinet locks. [JWR Adds:  It is best to "de-mystify" the guns that you keep around the house. Make some things clear to your kids from a very early age: a.)  All guns should be considered loaded at all times. b.) Demonstrate by shooting a milk jug full of water the full implications of a loaded gun. I first did this when our #1 Son was three years old, and have repeated it several times since, for the benefit of the others kids. c.)  The kids are welcome to have either parent show them the workings/handling/function/loading/unloading of any gun at any time, at their request.  This satisfies their curiosity. Most of of the ADs involving kids are due in large part to unsatisfied curiosity.]
Fourth Carry Method: Home Storage. For those of you playing the home game, this is the completely nekkid, bare-bones, essential not gonna use it method. Since I don't have a gun vault, I opt to keep my other shotguns in their cases in the back of my closet. I store them muzzle down in a corner so I don't drop anything on them and possibly cause damage. Those of you with a secure means of storage can opt for a locked vault. Remember to chamber check and insure that the gun is clear when you store this way. Most accidents happen when you assume the weapon is not loaded.
Instructor Greg ran us through some other drills that gave us familiarity with the Carry Mode, and how to come out of this mode and into Fight Mode.
First we learned how to load and chamber check our shotguns. Simple, most shotguns use a bottom feed, side eject. Others, like a Browning BPS [and Ithaca 37/87] use a bottom/bottom action. Feed the beast until you can't feed it anymore. To unload, simply reach up under the action and press the little spring release on the right side of most 870's and palm each round as it comes out. Using this method to unload prevents rounds from flying all over and keeps them in your control. Better to have a round in hand instead of on the ground and in the dark.
If you are unloading from a chambered status, first, engage the safety (Until now, the entire class worked without using the safety!). Pull the action back gently to unseat the round from the chamber until it starts to break out of the ejection port. Next, clear the rounds out of the magazine tube. Pull the action back one more time AND WITH YOUR NON-NOSEPICKING FINGER check to make sure the magazine tube is clear and that the chamber is also clear. Now, fully cycle the action, release the safety, aim downrange and press the trigger to release the tension on the firing pin. **NOTE: Some hunting models of the Remington 870 and other brands of shotgun have extended pump actions. These have a tendency to cover up the ejection port when down. Since I was using a 'tactical tupperware' model, I took a hacksaw to it and removed an inch from the end. If you don't want to attempt the home surgery method, there are plenty of after-market options out there.**
Here is where we learned to unsling and engage the target. As I briefly mentioned earlier, for those carrying with a sling, the muzzle is pointed down and the shotgun is slung on the weak side. To unsling, first grab the pump action by your weak hand and bring the muzzle up. Your movements should unsling the gun from your shoulder. By twisting your arm around, the gun should come up into a firing position.
Once in the firing position, the action should be cycled and the gun made ready to fire. Remember to keep your finger in register so the cheap convenience store camera can accurately record your intentions. If you have time, go ahead and top off a round in the magazine. Your mind should be working to remember that you have X number of rounds in the gun and know that one is or isn't in the chamber.
To return to Carry Mode from Firing Mode is just like I explained in the "Crawl" Phase. Safety on, bring the action back until the shell in the chamber starts to peek out. Remove that shell and with the action still back, reach under and pop that shell release spring until all the shells are out of the magazine tube. Condition check with your NNPF (Non Nose-Picking Finger), push the action forward, release the safety and press the trigger to relax tension on the firing pin.
NOTE: We had one guy using a Mossberg pump action who had considerable trouble with the gun jamming on him. At one point, the shotgun failed to clear a round during a fire exercise. In a real fight, he would have been killed just standing there trying to extract the round. This served as a reminder that in a real fight, a back up gun is a necessity. A pistol strapped to your hip is ideal in this circumstance, but may never be an available option. If you train as you fight, this may never have to worry you. On the other hand, just the fact that he could have drawn his pistol and fired a double tap at the remaining threat would have saved his bacon.
I though Airsoft was fun, but this was one massive celebration of gunpowder, recoil and target obliteration. The "Rolling Thunder" Drill was pretty neat, for a parlor trick. I failed to see how it would help in a tactical situation, but nonetheless, it was pretty cool. The object of the drill was to have five shooters on the line with five targets. The Range Officer (RO) would start by tapping the number one shooter and having him fire one round at target number one. Then, shooter #2 would fire at target #1 and so on and so forth until shooter #5 shot target #1. The RO would return to shooter #1 and have him shoot targets #1 & #2, and the cycle would begin again. For those of us with goose howitzers, it became a test of speed loading between turns. I am proud of myself for not nicking up my hands too bad.
Talk about an assault on the senses. In an enclosed range with the air conditioning turned off it got pretty darn smelly and choked with gun smoke. Makes me wanna do it again.
UPDATE: 02/15/06 -- I have since had more training in tactical shotgun. This post is a basic, bare-bones intro. My advice to you, find someone who offers a tactical training class and gain from their knowledge base. Brian Hoffner, Clint Smith, and Paul Howe among others all have excellent classes that are thorough and informative. I was using my shotgun in its stock configuration, as a goose gun, at the time. I have since modified it with a couple of parts that anyone can get, and anyone can install. I started with the Side Saddle shotshell carrier. It adds an extra six rounds to the side of the gun. As a cop friend informed me, you can use the side-saddle to carry mission specific rounds (i.e. slugs, buckshot, bean-bag, etc) right at your fingertips. I have now added a magazine extension and collapsible CAR-15 style stock. I have a regular adjustable sling on at this time, but will be changing that soon to a single point sling as soon as I can (my preference). Each of us has our preference on shotguns. I am not here to harp on one over the other. I hope that this little lesson will add to our already growing fundamental knowledge of firearms so that we may pass it on to our family, neighbors and friends now and in TEOTWAWKI times. - Shooter

Hello James,
I recently found your website and have been reading through the archives. You've put together an enormous resource that can only become more valuable over the coming years. I've tried to purchase your novel Patriots through Fred's M14 Stocks but unfortunately he doesn't ship internationally.

I feel we are relatively fortunate in New Zealand regarding direct threats:
1) The closest part of Australia in 1,275 miles to the west, although the prevailing wind is from that direction.
2) We are an island nation and there are plans to close the borders in the event of bird flu pandemic.
3) With only 3.5 million people on a land mass the size of Colorado State we have plenty of room if TSHTF.
4) Our gun laws aren't overly draconian such as in Australia and the UK. The biggest problem is limited allowable magazine capacity (7 rounds for centrefire and 15 for rimfires). Pistol ownership is a problem as you must be a member of a gun club and shoot regularly with them to maintain the pistol licence
5) We have the largest stocks per capita of Tamiflu in the world
6) Our government does not get directly (and more importantly, publicly) involved in worldwide conflicts e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq etc

Our biggest problems are:
1) Heavy reliance on imports of oil for fuel
2) High cost of shipping for the many products not readily available in New Zealand
3) Small country mentality of "We are too small for anyone to want to attack us"
4) Heavy reliance on imports for finished goods. We export primarily raw materials, meat and fruit.

As a firefighter we do a lot of worst case scenario planning and our country (and probably many others) are entirely unprepared for concerted attempts to disrupt our infrastructure. For example 10 house fires as a diversion in the middle of the night in Auckland would utilize all fire appliances and manpower and leave nothing available to respond to more serious events. Thank you again for providing such a wonderful resource. Regards. J.G. in Auckland, New Zealand

An inexpensive way to store a couple hundred gallons of water is simply in install an extra water heater. Electrics are cheap (a couple bucks a gallon), and don’t even need to be electrically connected. The fresh water continually flows through, and can be drained down for short-term needs during an interruption. If installing in new construction, it’s even easier, and an electrical connection means that you have hot water in the event of a natural gas interruption. Plumbing and valving should ensure that the tank can be gravity drained, and that either heater may be taken out of the loop as needed. Joel Skousen's book The Secure Home is a good reference for a practical plumbing/valve layout for this sort of installation. - Mr. Bravo

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." - Anatole France

Thursday, February 16, 2006

As you can see from our new ClustrMap web visit tracker, there are now SurvivalBlog readers all over the world: http://clustrmaps.com/counter/maps.php?url=http://www.SurvivalBlog.com&type=small&clusters=yes&map=world BTW, it appears that we will have a new foreign correspondent, in Brazil. I'll have more details about that in the next few days.

Thank you for making SurvivalBlog such a rapid success. Please keep spreading the word. One awareness tool that has been proven to work well is a "fortune cookie" paper strip that you can hand out at public events such as gun shows, ham radio swap meets, first aid courses, et cetera. Or you can "carelessly" leave them tucked in books when you return them to the library. ;-)   All that the strip needs is two lines: www.SurvivalBlog.com / "Come with me if you want to live!"

Mr. Rawles:

Well, it seems that Katrina and friends have amply proven what you and many, many other survival writers have been saying for a long time.
1. You cannot depend on any governmental agency to look out for you and yours. Not federal, not state, not county and certainly not local. You have to be fully responsible for looking out for yourself and for your loved ones.
It also proved what I have always felt about FEMA's vaunted 72-Hour home survival/preparedness kit.
2. A 72-Hour (three day) Kit simply does NOT cut it, at all
Anyone who plans on anything less than a minimum of seven days (one week) is just kidding themselves and asking for trouble.
More realistically it really should be for fourteen days (two weeks).
And if you can handle it thirty days (one month) would not be at all unreasonable or out of line.

When you consider the great amount of death and destruction that was visited on the people of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast it is certainly not hard to feel a great deal of compassion and sympathy for those folks who lost their homes, businesses, loved ones or all three. Yet at the same time, considering the past history of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and all the warning that was provided, how poorly many of those people were prepared for Katrina and her aftermath (in a great number of cases, not at all) I really cant and don't feel too sympathetic. Mostly, I feel some anger and a lot of disgust that so many people paid so little attention to their own welfare and that of their children and old folks and totally ignored the well-known hazards of living on the Gulf Coast.
Lets take just a couple of points. First, WATER. There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of cases of severe dehydration, even death due to the lack of water. How stupid! How lazy!! Here in central Los Angeles County, California, I can buy a case of six one gal. bottles of Arrowhead drinking water for less than $5. Four cases for under $20. That's enough water to take care of one person for more than three weeks. I'm sure that there are similar deals in the New Orleans area. Maybe even better ones. No one should have had a dehydration problem with just a bit of thought and pre-planning.
Another point It doesn't really seem that many folks gave much prior thought about getting out of their second floors or attics onto their roofs. I mean really, using a shotgun to blow a hole in the roof! Dangerous and what a waste of shotgun shells. How about having a hatchet or small ax along with a tree-trimming saw. Chop a small hole with the ax and then make a larger opening with the saw. And what's with this making the holes in the middle of the roof at the highest point of the roof. Cut the hole down near the eves and one or two rafters in from the end of the roof where its easy to get out and where any incoming rain wont be soaking the area where you would be trying to live.
One could go on and on about items like this but enough said. Think it through people and get prepared before TSHTF again! - J.S.

Instead of water barrels a previous contributor mentioned in fashioning a water supply setup, surplused water heaters can be used.
(1) They usually are sound, only have failed heater systems--just need flushing;
(2) They are already fitted with correct interior piping and external pipe fittings;
(3) If you can get one tank in the sun (make an insulated box--plans are everywhere), presto, a pre-heater for the hot water tank and a savings on your heating bill;
(4) If you can get these tanks elevated, you should be able to get a little bit of extra pressure for draining off needed water from the lowest one--or, put a pressure tank first in line;
(5) The valve between the street supply and the first tank in the lineup is called a check valve.
And those barrels? Fill 'em up and use that water for flushing. - Bob

JWR Replies: Keep in mind that water heaters have thin walls. So anything that you construct with used water heaters should be assumed to rust out and leak at any time. Position them accordingly, to avoid having a flooded house!

I was reviewing the Blog. this morning and saw the letter on "Barn Designs and Fire." As a retired Lieutenant from the Fire Department I would like to make a suggestion! A 250 Gallon fuel oil tank filled with water, in a house attic or barn attic, can be piped to use a{n automatic] fire sprinkler system. Don't forget to reinforce the weight! Use a pendent sprinkler head rated for the normal high temperature the area will receive and the temperature that you would want the head to go off. Use and a sidewall sprinkler heads for along side walls. - GCP



The recent letter on barn fires compelled to me to write. Many readers are already equipped with kerosene lanterns or pressurized mantle lanterns for use outside or during long power outages. However, these present a significant fire risk when used around dry bedding material such as wood shavings or straw. It may be a good idea to invest in a battery powered or rechargeable lantern. The fluorescent units provide reasonable runtime per charge and run cool. The rechargeable units usually come with both 110 VAC and 12 VDC chargers and could probably be charged from a small solar panel. They can be found in the camping section of most mart type stores for around $30. - Buzz

I have a question concerning heirloom seeds. My question is how long can a seed be stored in ideal conditions and still produce a viable plant? I am currently not at a position of having more then a very small garden, but I would like the security of a stockpile of seeds stored with me in case I need them in the future. what is a realistic storage time frame? and also what would be considered an ideal storing environment? Once the plants are harvested what is the best way to remove and prepare the new seeds from the plants for storage? I live in Wyoming so I am mostly concerned with plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini, Etc. Due to the short growing season here. Thanks in advance for your time. - Brian

The Memsahib Replies: One excellent source of heirloom seeds is Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute. Another is The Seed Savers Exchange (see: http://www.seedsavers.org.) Again, it is important to order heirloom seeds--not patented hybrid seeds. The best place to store your seeds is in sealed containers (such as Mason jars), in your refrigerator. The germination rate starts to drop off rapidly past two years of storage, but you can still get halfway decent yields out of seed that has been refrigerated for four or even five years. Beyond that, that buy a fresh stock of seeds. It would take a book to describe how collect and re-use the various types of heirloom seeds, so let me recommend one: I HIGHLY recommend that you buy a copy of "Seed to Seed" by Suzanne Ashworth.(ISBN 978-1-882424-58-0.) The knowledge on seed saving that is packed between those covers goes far beyond my own!  For the climate in Wyoming, you will need to build a greenhouse, or at least cold frames to get a head start on sprouting your seedlings.

WRT the recent posts regarding "Defensive Shotguns on a Budget", am I the only one that GREATLY prefers the Remington 870? Guess it is probably a Pepsi versus Coke type thing, but I have owned many different brands over the years, and the 870 series is what I find to work best for me. I found a few interesting discussions on the topic online at some of the links listed below, but I would suggest to everyone that if possible, try actually shooting a few different models before making a decision. I learned that lesson the hard way once when I bought 3 HK-91s in a package deal, based on "internet research." Don't get me wrong, I love Heckler and Koch products, and most of my armory has their logo on it, but I just couldn't stand the ergonomics on those rifles, regardless of any other positive factors. Luckily, I live in a state where I can just walk into a gun show with a rifle on a sling over my shoulder and a for sale sign hanging from a stick in the barrel.
Again, I am not saying that anyone that the Remington 870 is the best choice for everyone, but I felt it was worth bringing up how important it is to make sure that whatever you buy, make sure it works for you.
http://www.tacticalshotgun.ca/content_nonsub/shotguns/ compare_870_590.html
keep up the good work! - Jeff

A popular new bumper sticker: I’d rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than ride in a car with Ted Kennedy.

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U.S. brings back the venerable .45 ACP -- at least for Special Forces Operators. http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/2006251215.asp

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A fairly definitive piece on Iran's New Euro-denominated Oil Bourse: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CLA20060210&articleId=1937

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Now H5N1 is in Germany, Austria, and Iran:
...and in Southern Russia:

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Doc at Big Secrets recommends this Water Well tutorial: http://www.lifewater.ca/

"The paper money disease has been a pleasant habit thusfar and will not be dropped voluntarily any more than a dope user will without a struggle give up narcotics... I find no evidence to support a hope that our fiat paper money venture will fare better ultimately than such experiments in other lands..." - Nebraska Congressman Howard Buffett, 1948 (The father of Warren Buffett.) As quoted in Financial Reckoning Day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Please keep spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Just by adding one line to your mail ".sig", or by pasting a SurvivalBlog banner in your web page, you could help attract hundreds of new readers.  Many Thanks!

Seeing the following got me thinking: "JWR's Comments/Recommendations: Mr. Sierra is typical of most suburban survivalists in that he is tied to a Big City job. I recommend that he store at least 100 gallons of water"
Have you mentioned the need for people to flush their hot water heaters twice a year? This minimizes the mineral buildup and provides a fine source of drinkable water.

Putting some chlorine in the toilet tanks does the same thing. This kills bacteria and upon cleaning twice a year, provides more drinkable water.

I have seen systems where people have strung together 55 gallon barrels with removable lids. Their household water from the street runs through these drums. One valve between the drums and the street will prevent contamination if the city/county water supply gets contaminated. - Dave

Hello James,
I have had the heart rending experience of watching my neighbor's barn burn to the ground a few days ago. His livestock fleeing out of it, in desperation... I don't think they all made it. This brings up many topics of discussion. In moving to the country, it is easy to use an old building like it was designed to handle new demands, (i.e.- specifically power consumption, hot temp equipment storage, etc...). Somewhere in your archives the topic of fire protection came to mind. I hate to admit, but it did not sink in like it did seeing that massive structure go from first sight of smoke to flattened, in 20 minutes.
Here are a few observations that may have contributed to this fire-
1). Old building construction methods ("balloon" type framing.)
2). Old wood will never be fireproof
3). 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s wiring is not likely to be safe to use in an agricultural building where the wires are almost always exposed to rodents and the elements, resulting in damage.
[JWR Adds:  Any such wiring should be completely replaced with modern wiring that is fully encased in galvanized steel conduit!]
4). Concrete and heat do not mix
5). Leave a viable escape route for the livestock, (i.e.-light duty tube gates, light duty flat channel gates, or just electric fence strands in aisleways.)
6). Storing wet/damp hay
7). Overloading electrical wiring/circuitry

If you own an older agricultural building and plan on needing it because that new "Morton" building is too expensive, than plan on some time consuming preventatives. Fire stops, (i.e.- draft stops) are the most important contribution you can make yourself with little expense. Take the time and plug every dang gap,crack,void, or cavity that permits you to view or pass air between the levels. This at the very least will buy you more time until the fire department arrives.
You will be better off to condemn the power service to the barn than to overload it and have a catastrophe.
Once a structure has a fire, the foundation and associated concrete items are severely structurally damaged. Try tossing a cement masons block into a fire and leave there until the next day, give it a tap with a bat, and then [for comparison] tap an unfired block. The fired block is not worthy of the structural demands it was designed to meet any longer. In the case of my neighbors barn fire, the adjoining buildings suffered damage that we can't see simply from the heat. The grain silos, (concrete and steel) ignited their contents from heat alone. These are still burning and are now a 7 story disaster waiting to happen. I have seen it happen before. They will collapse without warning.
Wet/damp hay WILL combust and cause many barn fires. DO NOT BALE WET OR HAY THAT IS DAMP WITH DEW! Save yourself some money and hire it done by an expert. One last topic worth discussing is where should you put your Gun Safe. If your safe is situated over a basement, crawl space, or basically any wood structure below, you are asking for trouble. If/when you have a fire in the building that houses the Gun Safe, and it collapses upon itself, you literally have less than an hour to retrieve your safe before the contents are toast. Think about locating your safe on a north wall, (winds in much of the U.S.A. are predominantly from the N.-N.W.) This could give you the ability to get closer to the safe with some piece of equipment (in the event of a fire) and increase your chances of retrieving it. Consider welding a heavy chain to the safe and hiding [the tail end of it out the building, an slightly bury it [and "flag" the end, somehow.] A backhoe could easily reach the chain and hook it with it's teeth to rip the safe from the hot coals. Do not store ANY ammunition inside your vault. Once the internal temps get so far, the ammunition will start cooking off. In doing so, it will likely ruin all the contents of your safe. At least there is a chance of salvation if there is not any ammo in the safe.

I pray for those who have experienced a fire. There are very few forces like it in nature. It was a very helpless feeling. Plan, Prepare, Do not despair, -The Wanderer

JWR Replies:  For any of you that might ever build a farm from scratch, even if you build a steel barn there is always a greater risk of barn fires than house fires. Therefore, it is important that, terrain permitting, you: a.) build your barn at least 50 feet away from your house, b.) Make sure that your house has a fire-proof roof, c.) Install a proper fire fighting hose rig with at least a 2,000 gallon cistern feeding a 1.5-inch or larger service line, preferably gravity-fed, and d.)  Build your house upwind from your barn. (BTW, the latter is an advantage vis-a-vis barn smells, too.)

The Army Aviator recommends upgrading the plugs on pump action shotguns with fluorescent ones. He notes: "I did this on all of my shotguns and I like the idea. I've never actually shot a tube empty but a couple of times it was comforting to roll the weapon and not see fluorescent yellow."

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Take the opportunity to read (and copy) the Hirsch Report on Peak Oil before it disappears again.  See: http://www.energybulletin.net/12772.html

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Another entry for the "ingenious, but stupid" file, on some storm drain denizens: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060204-9999-7m4encamp.html

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As previously noted, I recently finished reading the science fiction novel "Freehold" by Michael Z. Williamson.  Now I've moved on to another of his other novels, "The Weapon." (Published by BAEN Books.) It is sort of a "intra-quel" storyline to Freehold. I enjoy Williamson's writing, so I'll be posting reviews here, on Amazon.com, and at a few other sites.

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NAIS became mandatory in Texas on Monday (Feb. 13 2006), with $1,000 per day fines. Could any SurvivalBlog readers living there give us some more information? See: http://nonais.org/index.php/2006/02/04/monday-last-day-of-freedom-in-texas/?s=texas

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NoNAIS.org has announced that there will be a speaker from the USDA addressing NAIS at Oroville, California on February 23, 2006. There will be time for questions during the meeting. See: http://nonais.org/index.php/2006/02/11/ca-usda-nais-speaker-223/  Be sure to watch for announcements for similar meetings and public feedback sessions in your area.  Let's raise a ruckus! 

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A South Korean study shows that shopping cart handles have more germs than bathroom doorknobs. Yeech! See:  http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/2/14/112554.shtml?s=he. After you read this article, you will probably want to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car, and one in your desk drawer at work.

"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits."  - Plutarch

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Our new ClustrMap web hit tracker is now working. See: http://clustrmaps.com/counter/maps.php?url=http://www.SurvivalBlog.com&type=small&clusters=yes&map=world.  Please tell your friends that live overseas about SurvivalBlog, and you can watch them pop up on the map, a day or two later.

Dear Jim:
I just finished reading an article from the Gold Anti-Trust Action (GATA) group which quotes a Treasury Department official as saying "The U.S. Government has the authority to prohibit the private possession of gold and silver coin and bullion by U.S. citizens during wartime and declared emergencies..." I have also learned that the USG also considers "junk" pre-'64 silver coins to be bullion and therefore subject to confiscation when the situation arises. In talking with our good friends at Swiss America it appears that, currently, only coins minted before 1933 and having a numismatic grade of MS64 or better would NOT be confiscatable because they are considered to be collector's coins and not bullion. Any other type of gold/silver bar or coin is not exempt. I would appreciate your comments on this please. - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

If there were a monetary crises, I think that gold confiscation would be far more likely than silver confiscation. The sheer weight and volume of silver versus gold would make any government silver confiscation scheme problematic. (Since dollar for dollar, silver is seventy times bulkier than gold.)  This is just one the reasons that I prefer investing in silver rather gold.

IIRC the U.S. 1933 gold ban law exempted any  gold coins "with significant collector's value."  Therefore in the event that similar legislation is enacted, presumably any coin that is graded at or near mint state (MS-60 or higher--or perhaps even AU-58) would be exempt. Why pay so much more, for MS-64 coins? AU-58 and MS-60  $5, $10, and $20 gold pieces can still be found for as little as 30% over their melt value if you buy coins with common mint dates.

OBTW, for any SurvivalBlog readers considering investing in numismatic coins: Unless you have experience with coin grading, then I recommend that you buy only PCGS or NGC "slabbed" (professionally graded and encapsulated) coins. Buy only from a reputable dealer such as Swiss America.


That was a good article from your wife. I would love it if you post this link and let folks consider ordering from Fedco. I have no affiliation with them at all, other than admiring a company that puts righteousness ahead of making money.   See: http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/monsanto.htm - L.H.

...The Army Aviator might want to track down Plumrose ham. I've bought the cans at Sam's Club in 3 packs, and at CVS in singles. No refrigeration needed, but they are only one pound cans. They are not an American product, they are an import from Denmark...

The DAK brand Danish canned hams are...   ...at Walmart on occasion. I also like supporting our friends in Denmark...

...PLUMROSE makes a 3 pound ham in a sealed metal can... ...I buy mine at SAM's Club, WalMart, and Publix....SAM's have them in a 3 pack, and I usually get 2 or 3 [of  the thee packs] every time that we go to SAM's for the quarterly buy out of goodies. They are fantastic...bake them, chop them for beans, eat out of the can...they are really tasty. I probably sound like a commercial. (LOL.)

...I bought some at WalMart a while back, although I haven't seen them recently. My family didn't particularly care for the meat - "too much
like SPAM". Plumrose USA is the packager. Check out www.plumroseusa.com (under Products > Specialty Items)

...They can be found in my area at the different "value" stores like Dollar General, Family Dollar Store and Wal-Mart. The "hams" are small, but quite satisfactory...

...There is a 1.5 lb shelf stable canned ham (Royale) sold at Big Lots. It is a Canadian product priced at $2.99. We have stored it and eaten it. It's pretty good...

... both the DAK and Danish Crown brands are available as one pound units with a 5 year marked shelf life approximately $2.50-2.80 each, retail. The last batch that I got 3 yrs ago were an "After New Years" closeout at a Super Walmart for $1 each.

Mr. Rawles:

Regarding pump shotgun techniques go to this link http://www.jspublications.net/records/records.html and scroll down to "Shotgun."
They show: six shots on knockdown targets in less than five seconds starting with an empty gun laying on a table, and shells in belt! - Jim B. in WV

Going back to the subject of, "Well now I live in the middle of nowhere, how do I make a living?" The middle of nowhere is surrounded by farms, small towns and older townsfolk. What does this mean? Antiques! Old store signs, auto parts signs, gas pumps, oil can racks and tools will bring in a nice price from eBay or other auction houses. Just think of the estate sales or farm sales! Generations of old furniture and other household goods! Yes it's sad to watch our farms and farmers die off (I've read that the average age of the American farmer is in his 70s.) So if your dealing with a widow, {be charitable and] fix the leaky sink or re-glaze the window.
Soon you'll be known as the "Guy Who Buys the Old Stuff." So the trick is to get the goods to the people that collect these items, but don't have access to them. Or as they are often known as, "City Folk." This could be an all-cash business and if you get the reputation of being fair, then word will spread. Your truck and mileage and storage area and phone and office could all be a tax write-off. Any idea what a 1940s Quaker State Oil sign would bring on eBay? - Stimpy

The mainstream media pundits keep saying that "inflation remains low", yet Uncle Sugar's own statistics show that the aggregate supply of U.S. dollars in circulation (both printed and electronic) grew from $2.5 trillion in 2000 to $4.5 trillion by the end of 2005. So is it any wonder that price of gold and gasoline have nearly doubled?  One might conclude that we are not so much seeing commodities going up in value as we are seeing the dollar going down in value. I recommend that you protect yourself from the mass price inflation to come. There could even a full scale monetary crisis and dollar devaluation. Invest in tangibles.

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"Secret Squirrel" (a regular SurvivalBlog contributor) recommends two useful web sites: http//solarcooking.org and the CDC's page on water treatment: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/water_treatment.htm

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I just noticed that Safecastle has added several varieties of large "ScramKits" to their product line  (I posted a review of their smallest kit, which fits in a belt pouch, back on Friday, January 27, 2006.) Their big ChowHaul duffle bag kits are ideal to keep stowed right next to your Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) backpacks. Because ScramKit sales have been brisk, most of their kits are currently sold out, so please be patient.

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SurvivalBlog contributor Dr. Sidney Zweibel mentioned that the ubiquitous Wikipedia has added a new page titled "PetroEuro"--describing the implications of the nascent Iranian oil bourse. It will be denominated in Euros rather than U.S. dollars, so it could have major implications. The same article mentions that about the same time that the new oil bourse opens up, the M3 aggregate money supply figure will no longer be reported by the U.S. Treasury Department. I'm sure that these two developments did not escape the attention of either the oil traders or the international currency traders. Two possibilities: war with Iran or a dollar crisis--we might expect either (or both) in the near future.  Buckle your seatbelts. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroeuro

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A site that focuses on country, organic foods, and self sufficiency issues was recommended by a SurvivalBlog reader. He described it as "educational and empowering." See: http://www.metrofarm.com

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Syria switches to the Euro amid confrontation with U.S.. See: http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyid=2006-02-13T153028Z_01_L13432231_RTRUKOC_0_US-SYRIA-US-FOREX.xml&rpc=22

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A web site for those who would be interested in heirloom fruit trees and berries: http://www.treesofantiquity.com

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The latest news about using RFID biochip implants in humans: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/ec414700-9bf4-11da-8baa-0000779e2340.html

"Government cannot make man richer; but it can make him poorer." - Ludwig Von Mises

Monday, February 13, 2006

This is the time of year when all those inspiring colorful seed catalogs are arriving. I have been spending too much time dreaming of my Spring garden and comparing the offerings of all the different catalogs. That was until the latest issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal (March/April '06) arrived. There, I read the article by Jerri Cook on page 60 entitled "Do You Know Where Your Seed Come From?" According to this article, just six companies: Dupont, Mitsuri, Monsanto, Syngents, Aventis, and Dow control 98 percent of the world's seeds. Monsanto holds over eleven thousand U.S. seed patents. Monsanto is estimated to control about 90 percent of the U.S. nursery market. When an American buys garden seeds most of the time they are buying from Monsanto regardless of which catalog they order from. Almost all the large seed and garden companies use the same seed brokers to buy tons of seeds at a low price selling the same seeds to everyone. Furthermore seed companies can resell seeds, plants, roots, bulbs, and trees using whatever names they wish. You may think that because you ordered string beans from three different companies each named differently that you have three different varieties. Think again!
Monsanto, Dupont, Mitsuri, Syngents, Aventis, and Dow are eliminating older open pollinated varieties and replacing them with patented hybrid varieties (which are illegal to save seed from or propagate!). They are also genetically modifying plants so that they won't produce seeds at all or the seeds that they produce are sterile. Since 1980 there has been a 90 percent reduction of seed varieties available to Americans. Seed biodiversity will be compromised globally. But we can do something about this. We can grow and save heirloom seeds. A great place to start is The Seed Savers Exchange (see: http://www.seedsavers.org.) Order heirloom seeds--not patented hybrid seeds. Then save your seeds and share them with your friends and neighbors.


Jake at The Armory brings up a good point to expand on, regarding the feeding of a Mossberg pump shotgun with a Sidewinder detachable magazine. [His premise was correct that] you don't have a mag tube to feed anymore. So, if you don't have a spare detachable magazine, you throw in a new round through the ejection port. From a Sidesaddle this is very fast with practice. It's fastest to load the shells in the Sidesaddle with the rim (primer end) up. Keep the weapon at the shoulder, grab the shell, go over the top of the receiver and drop into the ejection port. [JWR Adds:  This matches the "shoot one, load one" doctrine that is now espoused at many of the recent tactical shotgun courses. Just like in the early days of bolt actions rifles with a "magazine cutoff" device (such as Krags and M1903 Springfields) the weapon's magazine is kept topped off and essentially held in reserve, except in situations where you are rushed by multiple opponents. OBTW, perhaps some enterprising individual will invent a modern-day "magazine cutoff" device for Remington 870s and Mossberg 500s and 590s.]
It is marginally faster to pause to load six rounds in a tube magazine, and then shoot six rounds - but I sure wouldn't want to take that long a pause in a real gunfight. The Sidesaddle lets you keep a steady stream of fire, loading one round at a time. It's faster than loading a mag to get one more round off, so you might even want to do it in an emergency, as a stopgap before you get a fresh mag on.
Whether you have a Sidewinder detachable magazine or not, this "combat loading" a really useful trick for anyone with a pump shotgun so you can keep fire going downrange without a long pause feeding a tube. It does take practice to get smooth under pressure, just like most other gun skills.
The Powerpak shell carrier added on the SpecOps buttstock is best loaded up with heavy slugs to counterbalance the muzzle heavy weight of shotguns. You don't need the weight for recoil control, but a better balanced gun is much more ergonomic.
Pistol Grip versus. SpecOps BUTTstock Options:
Knoxx, the maker of the SpecOps recoil reducing BUTTstock, also makes two recoil reducing PISTOL grips, see:
My recommendation was for the SpecOps BUTTstock, since it gives you the recoil reduction in BOTH the pistol grip AND the buttstock - and of course you have a proper buttstock to aim and steady the gun with. The buttstock is even collapsible like a CAR-15 buttstock so you can shorten up the whole weapon. The pistol grip options are more for door lock breaching than home defense. Hope this clears up the confusion. Regards, - OSOM - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"


To catch up on several topics...

On Satellite Internet:

As you all probably know from previous letters, I do both motor home living and the ranch, out in the country without common city amenities. For the last 10 years or so, I've been using Direcway satellite for the internet and TV at both locations. I put in a real T-1 at work back in 1996 and honestly, other than the fact that uploads do take a little longer through the satellite, I don't see any obvious difference at home via satellite. Perhaps it's the fact that I have a fixed IP [address] at each location. Beats me, but I'm happy. I even run my web page out from one of the motor home servers. Pretty cool, actually, I can even access the remote control camera at either location from anywhere I can get Internet.
Just my two cents worth regarding satellite.

Mossberg 500s:
I looked at the mag feed conversion awhile back, but didn't do it. I figure the 500ATP with the long tube has always been adequate in the past. Maybe they'd be nice for use with an auto-shotgun but then I never did see anything beneficial regarding the "Street Sweeper" other than Hollywierd Bravo Sierra. With a shotgun, mags just seem like something else to have to carry. The military 12 pack shell holder for the belt is pretty workable. I comfortably carry two on a web belt.

Liquid Fuel Lanterns:
I got the PetroMax/BriteLyt lantern and it's ok, but I still like my Coleman Peak 1 better. It's my opinion, and I feel comfortable with it, that the PetroMax style should not have gasoline used in it. Just my decision and if others want to use gasoline in them, good for them. I think most people should have a couple Petromax style, a couple normal railroad style kerosene, a couple of Aladdin's and some coleman gas lanterns as well. All in all, they are actually inexpensive and each is suitable for particular purposes. Similar to different calibers need different needs too. The particular thing I like about the little bitty Peak 1 is that I can turn it full bright or all the way down to run all night, which is kind of like an electric lamp.
I just wish somebody made a neat brass lampshade for the Peak like they do for the PetroMax. I have to admit I really LIKE the lampshade.

Liquid Fuel Stoves:
In addition to my Optimus and MSRs of many years, I still use my Military issue Coleman Peak 1. Nice if you have gas, ok if you have kerosene or diesel, JP8, etc. Lately, I've been using two others. One is a low pressure Kerosene, a old Perfektus and the other is a 10 wick stove, both about the size of a coffee can.
The Optimus, MSR and Peak 1 have lots of heat but they are noisy. The Perfektus is the first low pressure kerosene stove I've ever used and it's a pleasure. Just a quiet blue flame same as the kitchen gas stove. Now here's the surprise. I like the 10 wick stove best. No pumping. Just light it and wait couple of minutes and go for it.The stove looks really cheesy but what a joy. If you get yellow under your skillet, you've got it cranked up too high. Between the 10 wick stove and 2 Lodge cast iron skillets (made by John Lodge in South Pittsburgh, TN.) I made the best shrimp scampi and linguini with garlic sauce that I've made in a long time... WOW!

Butane Lighters:
I'm pretty sure it's been brought up but here it is again. BUY a CASE of butane lighters. Cheap and great barter. Even seen a smoker who has cigarettes and no flame while stuck four miles up a trail?

Now I need some advice. What was the name of that book, circa1962, written about a nuclear war on the USA and was set in northern Florida?
Just can't pull it up. Anyway, that's what lead me to the next thing: The fellow in the book had, on a whim, put away a canned ham for a special time.
So, remembering that, I went looking for canned hams that don't require refrigeration. You know, like a big SPAM can only tastier.
All I can find in Safeway, Albertsons, King Supers, Walmart, etc. is a Hormel Black Label ham (three pound) in a white plastic container with a metal top and it has to be refrigerated. So what's up with this?
Even the FDA site you listed showed these hams with just a two month usefulness if unopened and refrigerated. (Not good for storage, eh?)
All the clerks I asked knew what I was looking for but were surprised that they no longer carry them.
The FDA site also listed the non-refrigerated canned hams I was looking for as good for two years at room temperature and longer if kept cooler.
So who out there has a good site for canned hams in real "all metal" cans that taste good and aren't too expensive? Help?
One last request, any good leads for MCW/LRP meals? They sure disappeared from the market. Best Regards, - The Army Aviator

JWR Replies:Yes, the efficacy of storing cheap butane lighters has been mentioned by several SurvivalBlog contributors including the gent that wrote the article on Flea Market shopping, as well as David in Israel in his recent article of fire starting.

I believe that the novel that you were referring to was Alas Babylon, by Pat Frank.  It is a bit dated, but I still highly recommend it. BTW, that book is included in my "must read lists" at The SurvivalBlog Bookshelf web page.

Perhaps some of the SurvivalBlog readers will be able to answer your questions about the canned ham issue, as well as a source for MCWs and/or LRPs.

Readers on the East Coast should make plans to attend the specialized Tactical Lifesaver Course on April 15-16, 2006, in Douglas, Georgia. A Iraq war vet Physician's Assistant will teach you a lot of skills that the American Red Cross doesn't. (Such as: how to prep an intravenous infusion, how to insert and orthopharyngeal airway, wound debridement, suturing, how to treat a sucking chest wound, and much more.)  Don't miss this one. In fact, SurvivalBlog readers from Canada or the West Coast ought to seriously consider burning some of their accumulated frequent flyer miles to attend this course. See: http://www.survivalreportblog.com/Tactical_Lifesaver_Course.html

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A tip of the hat to Noah at the Defense Tech blog, who pointed out a blog article at Intel Dump about the soft life led by some of the "Fobbits" at the nicer FOBs in Iraq.See: http://inteldump.powerblogs.com/posts/1139566139.shtml. I wish that all of our deployed troops lived in such safety and comfort.  Sadly, most do not.

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H5N1 Asian Avian Flu has now spread to Italy: See:  http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/02/11/birdflu.wrap/index.html. Granted, it still isn't a strain that is easily transmissible between humans, but the more it spreads, the statistical chance of the dreaded mutation increases.

"The most expensive thing in the world is a second-best military establishment, good but not good enough to win." - Robert A. Heinlein, "The Happy Days Ahead" in Expanded Universe

Sunday, February 12, 2006

One point that should be made regarding obstacles around the retreat such as ditches barricades etc. Be sure to look at them from the "other" side as well. You don't want to give your adversary firing positions and areas you can't put fire into. Ditches may keep vehicles out, but it gives the opponent some place to run to and get out of the field of fire. Walls, barricades, road blocks and other obstacles can do the same. Perhaps you can go into more detail on that later on. Enjoying your blog and learning quite a bit.Good luck! - Old Retailer

Many thanks for all of the recent "10 Cent Challenge" contributions! One gent kindly sent $200. That was way above and beyond the call of duty! (All that we ask is 10 cents a day.)

Survival Communications, Cellular Phones, Satellite Internet Service

Hello James,
I was faced with making decisions on how to connect to the Internet at a faster connection as the city technology has not reached me yet. I looked into DirecWay and Dynamic Broadband, and I can't find the other company off hand. In my research, there was a hefty out of pocket to acquire the equipment, and bulkier fees per month with contracts running years. I found in looking further that claims of download speeds were just that--download only. It turns out that the upload speed,(at least to residential isolated candidates) was comparable to a conventional dial-up modem or less. In retrospect, do the research, if seeking a home based career, access speed can shape your options. -The Wanderer

I'm not sure about one letter you posted on February 10th. While I have no direct experience with them it is my understanding that the conversion for the [Mossberg 500] Knox drum and magazines do not allow the use of the gun's original magazine tube. Thus, the Sidesaddle and shell carrier on the butt COULD be used to "combat load" through the ejection port with the Knox drum/mag conversion [in place] but otherwise it only adds weight to the gun. The conversion (I believe) only allows feeding from the box mag/drum). Hopefully someone with hands-on experience will be able to confirm or refute my understanding of things.

I can comment on the recoil reduction from their pistol grip stock, one of our customers had one for a short time and I did try it a few times. When used as most of us have been trained, firmly pull the butt into the shoulder, it does little to reduce felt recoil. The trick is too hold it loosely against the shoulder to allow the recoil reducing device in the pistol grip to do it's thing. I think if it requires a different grip and mount on the gun the same thing (reducing recoil) can be done without shelling out the cash for a fancy stock. I don't know who first started pushing the new shooting style for shotgun but it works, let me try to explain:

Shoulder the gun as you would normally but don't pull hard into the shoulder as we all have been told for all these years, only use the force needed to keep the butt in place. Use your support hand to pull forward and use it to absorb recoil. Don't lock the support arm out, allow it to flex some at the elbow and let your support arm function as a shock absorber. You can even use this in close quarters by allowing the stock to ride over your arm/shoulder and rotate the gun a bit inboard (counterclockwise for the right handed shooter). This allows the muzzle to come back as much as 5 inches in my limited experience. The key to all this is to pull the gun forward against the force of recoil. It is especially useful on short, pistol gripped breaching guns (the only real use for a pistol gripped shotgun, as I see it) as it keeps the recoil from pounding against the web of the shooting hand. If my shoddy explanation makes sense to you, take the wife and kids out and try a box or three and you will see a difference, I have had good results with some timid and recoil sensitive shooters. - Jake at The Armory

I just finished reading the science fiction novel "Freehold" by Michael Z. Williamson.  It is a fast-paced Libertarian think piece. "Freehold" is a tale of interplanetary colonization, set some 500 years in the future. The descriptions of the bureaucratic totalitarian central Earth government are contrasted with the "Freehold" colony planet, Grainne. The main character is an Earth army logistics soldier that is unjustly accused of embezzlement. Realizing that she can never get a fair trial on Earth, she flees to Grainne. There, she finds a new world with a minimalist government and the sort of freedom that is only dreamed of. She soon acclimatizes to the new society, but things get complicated when Earth decides to invade Grainne, to "civilize" it.  The novel is marred by some unnecessary descriptions of rape, torture, and assorted kinkiness. However, there is so much good in this book that I still recommend it. But keep in mind that it is definitely not a book to let your kids read. I should mention that Michael Z. Williamson is a SurvivalBlog reader. Oh yes, I should also mention that Williamson starts each chapter with a quote. Starting today, I plan to shamelessly high grade some of those great quotes for use as "Quotes of the Day" on SurvivalBlog.  Thank you, Michael!

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H5N1 Asian Avian Flu had spread to Nigeria and Azerbaijan. See:

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The folks over at The FALFiles mentioned a very clever product:  A compact bow saw (a triangular-framed Swedish saw --commonly called a "Sven saw") that disassembles in such a way that all of the parts can be stowed inside the handle tube. It comes with three blades: wood, meat/bone, and hacksaw. It is called the Arkan Saw Camping Backpacking Ultra Lite Saw, made by Allenall Associates. (See: http://www.lanavaja.com/webapp/eCommerce/product.jsp?Mode=Cat&Cat=7&SKU=ARK26043.) With blades only about 18" long, it appears to be limited to cutting branches or small diameter firewood, but that is the inescapable trade-off to achieve compactness. It looks ideal for backpackers or perhaps someone in the military that needs a saw that can easily be stowed in a pack that can quickly cut a lot of branches for camouflaging. I am surprised that these sell for under $10. (Hopefully, this pricing isn't because they are manufactured in mainland China. I hope that they are American made.) If the folks at Allenall send me a sample, I'll test it and will write a full review. (Hint, hint.)

   o o o

Those sneaky NAIS types are implementing their plan, whether folks want it or not. NoNAIS.org reports that farms and ranches are being premise enrolled in the NAIS database without their knowledge or consent.  Often, the modus operandi is a "telephone poll", with calls to farmers and ranchers to gather pertinent data. The other method that they've used is surfing the Internet, looking for web pages of livestock breeders. They've found all the data that they need for initial enrollment, particularly at the web sites of folks who are touting their rare breeds. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky. It is no wonder that the USDA now claims that half of the farms and ranches in some states have been "premises registered." They've apparently done much of it on the sly. Please call your legislators. The NAIS scheme represents the intrusive "Nanny State" at its worst.  It must be stopped!

"If a man neglects to enforce his rights, he cannot complain if, after a while, the law follows his example." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, February 11, 2006

You may have noticed that #1 Son added a nifty new web mapping tool down at the bottom of our scrolling ad bar. This plots the source of SurvivalBlog web hits on a global map. Tres cool, huh?  (Sufficient data to plot "clusters" should be available by Monday. Be sure to click your browser's "reload" button to see the results.) We didn't do this just for the wow factor. Our goal is to find some more international correspondents for SurvivalBlog, who will serve in the same capacity as David in Israel. (They'll have to be be in just for the glory, and perhaps a few free books.) So if you have any friends that live overseas, let them know about SurvivalBlog. Perhaps you have a relative or a buddy that is deployed down in Bananaland, or over in the Big Sand Box. Perhaps someone living in some other exotic locale?  It need not be a place that is particularly inimical. Granted, it would be particularly interesting to read the insights of folks who are are currently surviving hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, or secessionist turmoil in Kashmir, or convoy IED attacks in Iraq, or kidnappings in Columbia. But we'll settle for mundane...

There a lot of self-proclaimed "experts" on wild game out there. Years ago, I shot a deer with a bow just before dark and he ran off. At 8:00 P.M. that night we found the arrow covered in blood. The blood trail started two feet wide and my friend said: "This deer is dead. We'll find him in an hour." At midnight we lost the blood trail. To make it easier to get back to the truck at night, every 20 feet or so we had places a few pieces of toilet paper. This really paid off because we were able to back track right to the truck. The night cooled off to below freezing. Next morning bright and early I was back on the trail. The cool morning frost crunched under my feet. The fall colors blazed out at me. The smell of fall was in the air. My favorite time of year.

Following the toilet paper trail it was an easy walk in to where we lost the blood trail. I started circling around the the last known blood spot. I began checking under small pine trees and brush piles, looking for the buck. This is a slow and tedious process. Slowly, I expanded the circle. Sometimes a wounded deer will jump 20 feet to one side change direction and lay down watching their back trail. I will never forget what happened next. The circle had expanded to about 100 yards from the last spot and I came out to a wide, slow moving creek. I looked down the creek to my left and then to my right just as the sun broke above the tree top. I saw a log with a single branch sticking out. I thought: "That branch looks just like part of the buck that I shot." Curiosity took the best of me and I just had to see this branch better. Walking a little closer something almost magical happened: The "bark" on the log turned into deer hide and the branch had turned into an antler. I ran up laughing and thanking God for leading me to the buck.

I dragged him out tagged and gutted him. Now the fun began; dragging the deer out by myself. Slowly I worked my way back to the truck dragging my prize. Loaded him up and drove home. Skinned and butcher him putting the wrapped meat in the freezer. Of course I rewarded myself with back straps for dinner. Wow that was some awesome eating. The next day at work I was bragging about it and one guy said that the deer I had bagged was "unfit to eat." I replied: "You're crazy. I already cooked up some backstrap and it was fine. He then said: "I used to work in butchering shop and any deer not found within an hour after it was shot is no good to eat." Needless to say I ignored his ranting and the deer was eaten over the course of the following winter.

Now if I would have listened to "Mr. Expert" I would have wasted a whole deer. There was recently another "expert" saying that a snared deer is unfit to eat. A snared deer is dead in less than one minute. How that somehow make is not fit to eat is beyond me. What the heck is the difference if you shoot a deer and he runs off and dies 30 minutes later?  Is that deer unfit to eat? Of course not. People are weird when it comes to wild game. I trust wild game one heck of a lot more than I do store bought meat. Like I have said many times, I should have been been born in Missouri because I come from the "show me" state. I test everything and taste test all this unfit to eat meat. (Grin.) Not that I have ever snared deer but have eaten plenty of snared animals and never found one to be "unfit to eat."

Even if the animal was still alive in the snare it is still good to eat. I just shake my head at these experts and wonder how the human species survives. If you are starving are you going to waste a whole deer because some expert said it was unfit to eat? I hope not. Don't let other people sway your opinion. You hunt and trap in the fall for a reason. Why? Because the little ones have had a chance to grow up, the disease is down to almost zero. You know the funny part is these are the same people who spend hours typing up what is the best slingshot, bow, crossbow, pellet gun to buy for silent game gathering. A properly trained trapper/snaresman will out-produce any hunter alive. I guess it is just more fun to talk about silent game gathering weapons then it is to talk about traps and snares.

After eating wild game going on 35 years I should have been dead years ago from eating all these "unfit to eat" animals. But I keep finding myself waking up every morning. I wonder why? Oh I know, it is because I didn't listen to the "experts" and I tested it myself. - Buckshot (http://www.buckshotscamp.com)

I recently bought a "no FFL" antique German (Oberndorf) Mauser Model 1893 (Turkish contract) from The Pre-1899 Specialist that had been rebarreled to .308 Winchester and turned into a nice sporter that looks just like a modern hunting rifle.  I read on another web site that they don't recommend re-barreling Model 1893 or Model 1895 Mausers for modern high pressure cartridges like.308.  What do you think? 

JWR Replies: The re-arsenalized Turkish contract Mausers were far and away the strongest of the 1893-to-1896 series small ring Mauser bolt actions. Because of their re-heat treating (quite deep), they are stronger than even the famed Swedish Model 1896. And it is noteworthy that back in the early 1990s thousands of Swedish Model 1896s were rebuilt by Kimber with "as is" receivers as sporters in calibers that included .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. I have seen no reports of problems with any of those. The warnings on M1893s and M1895s that P.O. Ackley, Kuhnhausen, and others have made (and that you often see repeated on the Internet) were primarily regarding Spanish arsenal-made Mausers (from the Oviedo and La Coruna arsenals), which had very poor (shallow) heat treating.

If you are REALLY concerned and ultra conservative, then have the headspacing checked before you shoot the rifle the first time, and again after you fire the first 100 rounds of factory soft nose ammo. If there is no sign of increased headspace then you have a rifle that will be good for a lifetime of shooting full house loads.

OBTW, for any of you reading this who are wondering about the legalities of re-barreling a Federally exempt pre-1899 rifle into a modern caliber, see my Pre-1899 FAQ for details. The FAQ includes scans of a BATF letter that specifically confirms that re-barreling, rechambering, or sporterizing a pre-1899 does not in any way dilute its "antique" exemption.

Have you ever wondreed how to decipher the date codes stamped on canned foods? See: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Food_Product_Dating/index.asp

   o o o

A Portland Oregon TV station warns of the Tsunami risk on west coast of the United States: http://www.katu.com/news/story.asp?ID=82990

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More on the planned non-nuclear "Global Strike" Trident missiles:

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Another record trade deficit: http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/02/10/D8FMANN00.html

"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock." - Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man (Screenplay by Graham Greene)

Friday, February 10, 2006

An appropriate addition to your selection of firearms should be a black powder (BP) revolver and longarm.
Many very fine guns of these types are sold all over the U.S. and so detailing the good and bad of each is probably beyond the scope of this commentary. Many prefer their own experience in the area when choosing a good BP firearm, and so I will not try to express my own biases here. What counts is having them.
In terms of mobility, pre-cast bullets would be the best bet. In terms of a permanent site, storage of raw lead is perfectly fine (since it never goes bad!).
Quality casting equipment [for lead bullets] helps as does some experience in that area - like anything there is a learning curve which in this case allows for a quick level of expertise derived from having a good time learning. Errors in casting bullets can be re-cast allowing for very cost effective on the job training. Lead essentially becomes the ultimate recyclable material - very little wastage. Recovering bullets from a day's shooting of your cartridge firearms simply adds to your supply of lead for either your BP or conventional cartridge firearm (assuming that you reload).
Ruger's products are very well respected - the Old Army is perhaps the best choice in BP revolvers, Colt's BP series is also an excellent choice (though more pricey). Kit guns can be fun to assemble, but normally require some amount of hand-work to fine-tune. Italian-made BP revolvers by Uberti, or Navy Arms are good choices too.
Personally, I would not buy a Walker-sized revolver simply because of the weight issue. Colt's Army, or Ruger's Old Army are well-balanced and handy.
Browning's discontinued Mountain rifle was an excellent product and pretty collectible. One should track one of these down if you can find one for sale. But like the revolvers mentioned above, the Browning Mountain rifle is not the only great BP rifle available. Kit rifles can be excellent choices too. Aside from being an adult, Federal regulations are very liberal. It is well-worth your investigation of State and Local regulations though, to be sure of you area's laws.
Calibers do not matter much past knowing what you need your firearm to do. BP hunting journals are excellent sources for this information, while there are typically many books published on the subject available in larger gun stores. Finding a copy of the Foxfire book that deals with making BP wouldn't hurt, but read as much as you can.[JWR Adds: He is referring to Foxfire Volume 5: Iron making, Blacksmithing, Flintlock Rifles, Bear Hunting...]
Making BP is something I cannot comment on as I have not made it myself. You would be best advised to learn such an art VERY cautiously for two good reasons. Poor BP makes for poor performance, and mishandled BP - poor or good - can be volatile. Learning from BP enthusiasts is a good start, though most will probably tell you to opt for factory made powders.
There is no great mystery to BP grain sizes - though archaic the grains sizes used in most rifles or revolvers is FFFG - you can work with different grain sizes but the largest size is really not going to be an option.
Simply put, any well-stocked retreat should have BP arms, just like it should have a good hunting bow.
For hunting in some areas, the BP seasons are run longer and earlier. Using them conserves your precious cartridge supply. There is no need to worry about "reloading" cartridges cases that soon split, or complicating your life with re-loading equipment. - Falsemuzzle

JWR Replies: I agree that BP guns do have a place in survival planning.  However, if someone's main goal is getting guns that are outside of Federal jurisdiction (with no purchase paperwork required in most locales), from a practical standpoint they are better off buying pre-1899 cartridge guns from the 1890s, such as the Mausers and the S&W top break revolvers that are sold by dealers such as The Pre-1899 Specialist.  If, in contrast, the intent is to have guns that will remain useful in the event of a multi-generational societal collapse, them BP guns make a lot of sense. Lead for bullet/ball casting can be stored in quantity, and even salvaged wheel weights or battery plate lead could be substituted. Black powder and percussion caps could conceivably be "home brewed"--although there are some serious safety considerations. 

BP arms have lower velocity and hence less stopping power than modern smokeless powder cartridge guns. However, they can still be fairly reliable stoppers.  I would NOT want to be a burglar confronted by a homeowner that is holding a pair of Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers! OBTW, since black powder is inherently corrosive, I recommend buying stainless steel guns whenever possible. So make that a pair of stainless steel Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers.

If you ever envision BP guns being pressed into service for self-defense, then get models that optimize fast follow-up shots and fast reloading. For example, consider the the Kodiak brand double rifle. Some brands of BP revolvers have cylinders that are relatively quick to change. For those, it makes sense to buy two or three spare cylinders for each gun that can be kept loaded. Of course be sure to have each gun tested with all of the cylinders to make sure that they all function and "register" correctly.

Dear Jim:
Mr. Bravo is right on the money regarding Mossberg shotguns. They are inexpensive and reliable. At IDPA shoots (www.idpa.com) I see problems EVERY match with auto shotguns, but far fewer problems with pump guns. The pump gun is a little slower to run, but the major problem of short stroking the pump is quickly corrected on the fly, while the autos can jam and are completely out of action.
The only mechanical thing I have had go wrong with my Mossberg 500 or 590 is the safety's spring loosening up after 10 years, with the safety coming on with recoil. The factory fixed the 10 year old gun at no charge.

Combat Pump Shotguns:
You can now add a recoil reducing pistol grip stock to your Mossberg or other pump gun. This actually tames 12 gauge birdshot down to .223 recoil levels! 00 buckshot is a breeze to shoot.
In my opinion the Mossberg 500 home defense model with the lighter and shorter 18.5" barrel is the way to go, vs. the 20" barrel, 8 shot 590.  See: http://mossberg.com/pcatalog/Specpurp.htm
Save the money on the shotgun model because you can add the "Sidewinder" 10 round DETACHABLE drum magazine for 10 + 1 firepower. The Sidewinder detachable mag is only made for Mossbergs, a critical reason to go Mossberg....
Put a SpecOps recoil reducing stock on the Mossberg 500, and add the "PowerPak" 5 round stock ammo carrier for more ammo on the gun, see
and then add the 6 round "SideSaddle" mag on the side of the receiver, see
Now you have a 10 round mag + 5 on the stock + 6 on the receiver = 21 rounds of 12 gauge on the gun! Ideal for the emergency "grab and go" situation where you don't have time to put on all that Tommy Tactical gear. In a real emergency time is often the most critical asset. If you do have time to put on gear, you can keep the optional 6 round box mag on your belt.
You can even get cute, and load birdshot or buckshot in the mag for less penetration, and then put specialty rounds like flechettes, or slugs on the Side Saddle and PowerPak.
Rough pricing, Mossberg 500, $230 and up, all the other accessories total roughly $ 450. As always shop around - links are to manufacturers, but retailers are often cheaper, e.g., Cabela's is $220 on the Sidewinder. Regards - OSOM - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Jim -
Use "Ed's Red" for a great home made weapon cleaning solution. See: http://www.building-tux.com/dsmjd/tech/eds_red.htm. I made a couple of gallons a long time ago and I'm still working on them... Regards, - G.T.

Hi James,
Possibly the best information source on the web for "homemade cleaners" is here: http://www.frfrogspad.com/homemade.htm
Regards, - "Moriarty"

As with any obstacle, roadblocks will only be effective if covered by fire. Also obstacles must be tied into the terrain and the overall fighting plan. Digging an anti-tank ditch across a road [in level country] won't stop anyone if they can just drive around it. The French Maginot Line was a great obstacle, but the Germans just went around it. So any roadblock has to tie into other natural or artificial barriers. A roadblock that denies the only bridge that crosses an otherwise impassible river is a good example of one that ties into the terrain. However, if that obstacle is not covered by fire, then it only provides a delay. An enemy will still reach it's objective, it just might take longer. It's pretty simple. If there is no covering fire, then the obstacle can be reduced sooner or later. A tree across a road might stop a truck, but a few sandbags on each side and a truck can get over it. If no one is there to provide "discouragement", then the obstacle will be breeched. Adequately covering that tree with fire prevents it's reduction, and the obstacle prevents mobility. So each enhances the other. Also, the obstacle has to be sufficient for the desired effect. The tree has to be big enough, or the wall tall enough, or the river deep enough, etc. The Alamo had one portion of it's wall that was very weak and thrown up at the last minute. While covered by fire, it was inadequate for what was needed, and this is where the Mexican Army was able to breech the fortress by concentrating force at the weak spot. So think obstacle, not speed-bump.
In your defense planning, remember that an obstacle NOT covered by fire will not STOP anyone.

Use OCOKA (Observations and fields of fire, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Key terrain, Avenues of approach) when you analyze the terrain. Tie your obstacles in with your overall fighting plan. They're just one tool in the box, and must be used with other tools to get the job done. By themselves, they do nothing but cause you to expend resources on them. Tie them in with your retreat defense plan. - "Doug Carlton"


A point that I raise with heavy equipment is not a new one, but important to know. Most manufacturers, (even to this day) have one key, (meaning all matching door knobs, ignitions, etc...) for that brand. This means in simple terms, if you own a CASE skid loader, then you can start everyone else's too. Not much for piece of mind!
As a kid, I remember my Dad sticking the old Ford pickup keys about 1/4" into the dozer ignition and voila! It starts. He ended up putting a push button start in a secret place and it took the key and the button to start it. I would hate to have a D4 dozer aimed at my retreat no matter the construction!
-The Wanderer

JWR Replies: I'm sorry that I did not make myself clear. It almost goes without saying that to be relatively "immobile" a vehicle needs to have its ignition system rendered useless. This is best accomplished by removing a key part. (which will vary, according to the engine and ignition type.) In regard to Doug's comments: A great description of the futility of constructing roadblocks that are not covered by small arms fire is described in the Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel "Lucifer's Hammer."

Disarming gun owners wasn't enough for the hoplophobic Scots. Now they want to ban knives, too. See:   http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/55905.html and
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4691634.stm Laddies, its time to call Mel Gibson. You could use another William Wallace "Sons of Scotland!" speech about now...

  o o o

Only six year too late, President Mugabe is asking Zimbabwe's displaced farmers to return: The http://news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/09/wzim09.xml.
Good luck Comrade. They'll come back, but not until after you and your henchmen have been sent packing.

  o o o

Some of the Cell Phone Tracking web sites that we mentioned last week are being shut down: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/8/212731.shtml?s=ic

  o o o

The folks at NoNAIS.org have posted a new article that warns that RFID biochips could be "hacked" or copied and used to point the finger of blame for any misdeed (real or imagined), at will. Please write your congresscritters. NAIS must be stopped!

"I tell ye true, liberty is the best of all things; never live beneath the noose of a servile halter." - William Wallace, Address to the Scots, circa 1300

Thursday, February 9, 2006

If you have been putting off signing up for our "10 Cent Challenge", then here is a quick and easy way to set up an automatic monthly PayPal billing (just $3 per month.) Is reading SurvivalBlog worth 10 cents a day to you? If so, then please click this button:

SurvivalBlog reader L.M. alerted me to an informative article at Armalite's web site about how automatic transmission fluid can be used as a firearm bore cleaner, and how motor oil can be used as a gun lubricant. Even if you are committed to Break-Free and Hoppes #9 (like me), this is good to know WTSHTF and cleaning supplies get scarce. See: http://www.armalite.com/library/techNotes/tnote64.htm.

Hello James,
I have been thinking back upon your novel Patriots and the importance the "spider holes" played.  That sparked another memory, one of discussion some time ago in the blog about blocking roads, one gentleman even mentioned dropping a tree across his drive if necessary. What would be a good, better, best barricade of the next four,... and what else could you suggest?
1). Dropped Trees/ telephone pole, logs, et cetera
2). Large boulders, (3' on up)
3). Posts buried but sticking up to random heights
4). Some sort of a berm or trench
In line with my first question, what is a suitable tactical layout, (i.e.- spacing) for "foxholes" [or "spider holes"] and what type of construction would you recommend? - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: I generally recommend mobile roadblocks, in all but the absolute worst case exigent circumstances. (Waves of crazed mutant cannibal zombies.)  In wooded or steep country, a D4 (or larger) Caterpillar tractor parked perpendicular to a road with its blade dropped works just dandy.  Nobody is going to be able to move it unless they have the ability start it up. BTW, a large car or truck with its tires deflated (remove the valve stems) can work nearly as well. Don't forget that permanent road blocks work both ways. The beauty of a mobile road block is that you can still exit your property on short notice.

As for foxholes and spider holes, their spacing depends on the terrain and vegetation. In open, fairly level country, they should be spaced as much as 20 yards apart.  In densely wooded country, perhaps as little as 5 yards apart.  They should be arrayed in a "Lazy W" pattern, as shown/described in U.S. Army Field Manuals (FMs) such as Chapter 2 of FM 21-75  (See: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/21-75/.) I describe construction techniques fox holes and spider holes (the latter are one man fox holes with camouflaged covers) in my novel Patriots.   They should be lined with plywood. BTW, don't forget that drainage is crucial for fighting positions in all but the driest of climates.

Why [do you] recommend [serialized] 100 ounce silver bars when 90% silver coins are selling at spot and the bars are at spot plus $.30 (this is from www.cmi-gold-silver.com in Phoenix)? It seems like silver coins would be the better choice because they are cheaper and more versatile than 100 ounce bars. - Springmtnd

JWR Replies: If you can buy circulated pre-1965 U.S. silver coinage at spot, that is fantastic. Even after the recent dip, most dealers currently charge around 7 times face value ($7,000 per $1,000 face value bag.) As a point of reference, a $1,000 bag with typically worn coins contains about 715 ounces of silver. Here is the math: 715 x $9.50 per ounce = $6,792. That--or near that--is what most "storefront" (coin shop) dealers would pay, wholesale. Typically they would then re-sell it for 3% to 10% more. (Closer to the lower end of that range on half-bag or larger quantities.)

I agree that coins are more versatile that bullion bars. I only recommended 100 ounce bars for non-barter investing, because they generally carry a lower dealer premium. Coins only take up a bit more storage space, and they weigh only 10% more that bars, per dollar value. So if you have the opportunity to buy coins cheap, then go for it!  For any of you  reading this who are wondering about size and weight:  A $1,000 bag weighs around 55 pounds, and is about the size of a bowling ball. Like the 100 ounce bars, the bullion bags make great "ballast" for the bottom of a gun vault.

Firstly let me congratulate you on taking your blog full-time. It has proved an excellent resource for myself and getting friends and family to see the benefits of preparedness. Almost as effective as your novel, in fact! I hope resources will permit me to become a contributing reader in the very near future.

A quick note on Cellular Broadband for remote locations, several companies are now offering broadband speed to cell phones or mobile devices(such as the Palm Treo or the RIM Blackberry). Several of these phones can act as a modem: by attaching the cellular phone to the computer it can act as the wireless PC card mentioned in Keith's letter. This has two benefits: the phones often have better antennas then the PC cards(at least in my experience) and the monthly data plans for handheld devices are often cheaper than for dedicated PC cards.
The downside is that while you are away from the computer (with your cell phone) the computer is no longer online. The newest Verizon Blackberry offering has this ability, I am certain we will see many more to follow.

Having Email and Internet on one's cell phone may seem frivolous, but I see a very real benefit in being able to receive emails and notifications about news, severe weather, etc while away from my computer. Thank you again for such an excellent resource. Sincerely, - Pat


To begin with, MOST of the sat connections are NOT for multiple people. The key is to setup a NAT/Proxy on the computer that connects to the satellite service and let it be the gateway to the net for all the other machines behind that machine.

We have used a directPC unit with 20 people getting net access via one account and machine. the business version is designed for letting lots of folks access at the same time, but the consumer units are way cheaper and the monthly charges are about $99 per month.

I am considering getting a RV unit for my search and rescue vehicle to setup mobile command posts and information units.

ALL of it costs, so take baby steps. I also have some experience with HF packet radio rigs, but they are mostly suited for sending emails, and not in great volume.

A good HF radio with a Packet TNC runs about 1000 to 2000 [baud], but can give you some email from way away places.

a combination of a sat connection along with and HF rig could be mighty handy if TEOTWAWKI materializes. - M.R.

I just learned that Ken Timmerman, my former colleague at Defense Electronics magazine, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize! See: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/2/8/111611.shtml?s=ic Back in the late 1980s Ken was living in Paris and was a columnist for Defense Electronics. At the time I was an Associate Editor, and I edited some of his columns. Since he was in tight with folks in both Parisian defense and diplomatic circles (he speaks fluent French), we had some fascinating conversations and on-line chats.) In the same era, Ken edited the Middle East Defense News newsletter (a.k.a. MEDNews.) His most recent book, "Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran," was published in Aught Five. I highly recommend it.

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Doc at Big Secrets recommends this site with tons of "hands on" practical info: http://www.enterpriseworks.org/vita.asp

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Here is an Agriculture Department report on the efficacy of drilling or digging do-it-yourself water wells: http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/X5567E/x5567e00.htm

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A reader pointed me to an interesting site on general survival topics: http://www.survivalmonkey.com/ It is particularly useful for its PDF files and links.

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For those of you that are into gardening and livestock, be sure to visit the Homesteading Today web site. (http://www.homesteadingtoday.com). Don't miss their interesting discussion forums.

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There is a site with a handy graphical summary of current hacking and Internet virus threats: http://securitywizardry.com/radar.htm

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Well, I've taken the plunge: I just gave my boss two months notice(Up until now, I have been working a "day job" as a full time salaried technical writer, and just blogging part time.) As of the last day of March, I will be devoting myself to writing about survival and preparedness topics and will be republishing my novel "Patriots."

My immediate goal is to build up the number of SurvivalBlog advertisers as well as the number of  "10 Cent Challenge" contributors. If you feel convicted to do so, please pitch in your 10 cents. Thusfar, only 65 readers (out of 9000+ who read SurvivalBlog at least once a week) have ponied up 10 cents a day, or more.

More importantly, if you have any personal contacts with a company that is a potential advertiser, please ask them to get a SurvivalBlog banner ad. Our ads are very inexpensive compared to a magazine ad. (Starting at as little as $55 per month!) BTW, you can mention that our current advertisers report that their business has increased anywhere from 25% to 300% after they started running their SurvivalBlog ads.

The big 48 cent "profit taking" drop in the spot price of silver yesterday represents a great buying opportunity. For those of you that felt that you "missed the boat" this dip is your chance to buy some silver before the bull resumes his charge. For those of you that already have a pile of silver, don't let short term volatility like this spook you. We are in the opening stages of secular bull market in precious metals that may last a full decade. The long term charts at Kitco.com should convince you.Quit hesitating and Buy! (Yes, I mean you too, Fred.)

Regarding your post on the above topics, another new satellite service of interest might be www.wildblue.com, who have been marketing themselves through rural telephone and electricity co-operatives.

As an alternative to a satellite ISP, [cellular services such as] Cingular, T-Mobile, and Verizon are beginning to offer wireless broadband services in limited areas. Cingular, for example, offers something they call BroadBandConnect, which can be added to your current account. One would then obtain a wireless PC card (modem card) and install it into your laptop or desktop(with additional hardware). For a static desktop setup, I have looked into replacing the built-in antenna on the wireless PC card with a better antenna from Wilson Antennas (www.wpsantennas.com.) All this for much less money invested in hardware and a less costly monthly fee than for satellite (about $100 in hardware and $60-70 for monthly service for the wireless broadband.) Right now these wireless services are offered in limited locations, but the networks will expand quickly, I believe. Another alternative, I'm hoping Wi-Max will begin to show up at the end of this year!!!

An additional nifty piece of equipment is a cellular docking station which allows you to connect your hardwire house phones into your cell phone and forget about a land line. To improve reception, go to Wilson Antenna and get a better antenna hookup for your cell while it's in the docking station. Regards, - Keith

I just completed reading a book entitled, "Return of the Black Death: The World's Greatest Serial Killer" by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan.
This book is a history of the Black Death that gripped Europe from October of 1347 through the late 1600s. The premise of the book is that the disease that caused the plague was NOT the Bubonic Plague - which is spread by rat fleas and is a bacteria - but a viral disease and a version of hemorrhagic fever possibly related to Ebola. They make the case rather convincingly based upon accounts of the course of the disease that were written at the time and on records kept by local church parishes of deaths from the plague via which they are able to follow the course of the disease in a number of small towns.
From the records it is easy to see that the disease did not spread in a manner which would be typical for a disease spread by rats and fleas, but was consistent with a disease spread by human contact. The book convinced me that their premise is correct and that we have much to fear from a possible re-emergence of this disease. At the time of its first emergence the disease took three years to kill half the population of Europe - moving at essentially a walking pace from its point of origin in Italy up through central Europe then England, Scandinavia, and finally even Iceland. Today the progress would be MUCH more rapid. The really scary part about the original Black Death is that a person is contagious for about three weeks before they even become aware that they are infected. The course of the disease is generally about 37 days. The latent period (the period where one is infected but not infectious) being about 12 days, followed by an infectious period of about 21 days which is BEFORE the first symptoms appear. Then the symptomatic period is generally one to five days before death finally occurs. The symptoms initially consist of red and/or black splotches on the chest known at the time as God's Tokens - from the time the "Tokens"appear a person generally has about three days to live.
On your web site there is has been talk about self quarantine and what sort of time frame one would need to prepare for. This book gives a pretty good idea based on real events. First they tried 30 days and the disease still spread so, over time the quarantine period was changed to 40 days. This fits with the books view of the course of the disease - a person who is infected might not be showing any signs at 30 days so the quarantine must extend beyond that. The 40 day quarantine period was enough to stop the spread of the disease, but only in households where they already knew the disease was present. So, if someone in a house became sick with the plague the house was quarantined for 40 days from the last signs of the disease. For example, if the father becomes sick and shows signs of the plague then the house is quarantined for 40 days from his death or recovery. If anyone else becomes sick after that time - during the quarantine - the quarantine period is extended for an additional 40 days from that person's death or recovery.
Finally, it can be seen from examples given in the book that a better self quarantine period for people trying to avoid the disease completely is something on the order of 18 months to 2 years. For example, in the town of Penrith, in England, the disease struck in September of 1597. The last recorded case of death by plague in the town from this same outbreak was in January of 1599! The population of the town was about 1350 people at the start and by the end of the epidemic about 640 people died from the black death - 48% of the town died in the epidemic! In another town named Eyam - also in England and also using the church records - the disease follows the same course, with one twist. The inhabitants of the town agreed to create their own quarantine or "cordon sanitaire" around the town and allow no-one in or out as they were the only town in the area with the plague and did not want to spread it to others. The outbreak started in the summer of 1665 and continued through the following fall and winter and re-emerged with renewed intensity during the spring and summer of 1666 until it finally burned out during that winter with the last recorded death from plague being in December 1666. The town had 350 inhabitants before the plague and 260 died of it - a death rate of 75%! The Rector of the town, who survived the epidemic, wrote the following in a letter to his father after the plague has passed: "The condition of this place hath been so dreadful that I persuade myself it exceedeth all history and example. I may truly say that our Town has become a Golgotha, a place of skulls; and had there not been a small amount of us left, we had been as Sodom and like unto Gomorrah. My ears never heard such doleful lamentations. My nose never smelt such noisome smells and my eyes never beheld such ghastly spectacles."
I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on a lot of these things, but this book was a real eye opener on what happened during the time of the Black Death and how drastically it affected society. Another thing that I found very interesting was how quickly society recovered. However, I think that is based on the level of knowledge at the time. Virtually everyone knew how to raise their own food and specialization was not so pronounced. If the same plague were to strike today I am quite sure that our society would collapse for an extended period of time. We are much too interdependent and people do NOT have the knowledge of how everything worked as the people of that time did. I came away from reading this book with a new found desire to increase my supplies and preparedness! - Tim P.

Hello Mr. Rawles
Several years back, I would go with my church on mission trips to Northern Mexico, while there I would stop at the local Pharmacies and stock up on antibiotics. I bought several full treatment doses of Zithromycin, Cipro, and some Neosporin eye drops, and paid less than $50.00 American for all of it. It was not out of some dusty bottle off a dirty shelf, but boxed and in foil packs for long term storage in a clean modern Pharmacy with an English speaking pharmacist. They also had a more realistic shelf life than we have here in the U.S. The U.S. will allow you to bring back a three month supply for personal use and will let you import (Mail order) a three month supply for personal use. I have no interest in ordering “RED FLAG” items like narcotics, but I would like to restock my supply of antibiotics, and others may want to stock up on home meds. Do you or any fellow readers have any experience with dealing in this by mail order, and or have someone that they recommend? Thanks as always, - Rusty

The UPI recently ran a news story from the RussianNovosti news service about a Russian astronomer that has predicted that Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. See:  http://upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060207-041447-2345r. Here is an excerpt from the article: "Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg said Monday that temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak, RIA Novosti reported.  The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said. Dramatic changes in the earth's surface temperatures are an ordinary phenomenon, not an anomaly, he said, and result from variations in the sun's energy output and ultraviolet radiation. The Northern Hemisphere's most recent cool-down period occurred between 1645 and 1705. The resulting period, known as the Little Ice Age, left canals in the Netherlands frozen solid and forced people in Greenland to abandon their houses to glaciers, the scientist said."

The Mossberg Model 500 has some very good safety ergonomics that make it a good choice for an "under the bed" shotgun for families with children. When it is stored with the action closed on an empty chamber, it requires several steps before shooting. While it is not difficult to learn to press the action release button behind the trigger guard, rack the action, and switch off the intuitive forward/rearward safety, before shooting, it is difficult for an untrained child or a miscreant to do this.

An uninformed/untrained burglar who finds a Mossberg in this condition, and who intends to shoot it, is likely to do the following: pull the trigger. Nothing. Slide the safety forward. Nothing. Try to rack the slide. Nothing. What is easy for the informed shooter is difficult for the uninformed, making the Mossberg an ideal choice. - Mr. Bravo

JWR Replies:  It is also noteworthy that the Mossberg 500 series is a very robust design with dual slide bars. It has proven much more reliable than some more expensive models, such as the Ithaca Model 37/87 series and the finicky Remington 1100. Don't let the low price of the Mossberg 500 dissuade you. It is like buying a Chevy instead of a Ferrari.  Both will get you from Point A to Point B. But one of them will cost you a lot more for the fancy name. In many ways, I would rather have three Mossberg 500s than one Benelli.  (And the cash outlay would be about the same, either way.)

"Naturally, as with every opportunity, equally true is the fact that the country is standing on the edge of a cliff which threatens to take us downhill if we do not move boldly forward with speed to address most our shortcomings." - Zimbabwean Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, describing Zimbabwe's economy, in a speech on his monetary policy in late January, 2006. (This statement was a classic Freudian slip, since Zimbabwe's economy is indeed "moving forward with speed" off  "the edge of a cliff." The Zimbabwean dollar's inflation rate recently jumped back up to 585%, and climbing.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Mr. Rawles:
David from Israel wrote in with some interesting suggestions on fire starting. The method that I use in severe weather conditions is to first dig a small hole, about 6 inches in diameter and about 8 inches deep. Facing into the wind, I dig a small channel into the side of the hole, about 2 or 3 inches wide and sloping up from the bottom of the small hole, about 6 inches long. Then I put tinder in the pit and arrange short twigs around the tinder so that the twigs look like a teepee. To make tinder you can use cotton balls dipped in paraffin wax, or take a small block of resinous wood such as yellow pine and cut slivers and shavings off of it, then cut the block making slivers still attached to the block. You can also use straw or dry grass for tinder - if the grass on top is wet usually you can find dry grass below. I cover the circular hole with twigs and tinder, leaving the channel open, and then put small (1 inch diameter) sticks on top arranged ends inward, in a circle. If the wind is blowing hard, it's a good idea to make a windbreak so that the hole does not have wind blowing directly into it. Sticks, grass, and rocks make a good windbreak - place it about a foot away from the hole. Now take a match and strike it in the channel and put the flame on the tinder, or take a piece of flint and rub it against a piece of steel to produce sparks and make sure they land on the tinder. You'll see the tinder catch, and then blow carefully on the tinder so as not to put it out. It takes a bit of practice, so try this when your life doesn't depend on it (surely people camped out when they were growing up and know about all this?) When you see a flame, put sticks and dry grass in the channel, and soon you will have a good fire. I used this method to start a fire in a blizzard where the snow was blowing straight across (and made a six-inch layer on my sleeping bag in the morning) and the fire was really hot, but there was still six inches of ice around the fire, then snow. BTW, if you want to sleep soundly in such a situation, make sure your head is covered. - H.L.

For those that already own a sporting shotgun, you should know that riot-gun barrels can be had rather inexpensively used. Many people buy a 20-22" cylinder bore barrel with rifle sights for deer season, then sell it later. eBay commonly has barrels selling for $100 or so, for common shotguns such as the Remington 1100, Mossberg 500, etc.

Add an extended magazine [tube] for $30, and you've got a pretty good tactical shotgun for about half the price of a new one. Plus you can switch it back for bird season, et cetera. - J.N.

JWR Replies: That is a great idea.  IMHO, it is best to find barrels that are threaded for screw -in choke tubes, to maximize their employment flexibility. OBTW, if you hunt around, you can even find used slug barrels that already have tritium front sights installed.  As they say on Firefly: "Shiny!"

Just a quick note to say Great Blog Column! Being prepared is important. Checklists help a great deal. We all need a little organization. Sometimes in our quest to prepare we forget about the immediate pressing details of ordinary life. Here's an article I find helpful as they update with the seasons: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/homegarden/2002699796_checklistwinter24.html This last one is a little dated (Dec. 24) but still very much applies.
Regards, - M.R.

Sorry about an error in my previous e-mail. After the article went out a friend told me that he couldn't find the pack plans on thru-hiker.com. I was mistaken about where I had seen them.

Gossamergear who the makes the GVP4 pack also posts plans for the pack on their web site. See the link. http://www.gossamergear.com/cgi-bin/gossamergear/myog.html

Ray Jardine also sells a pack kit for $49.95 on his site. http://www.ray-way.com/php/order-form.php

Ah, I found it!  See: http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html. Check out the Lab 2300. The first two [designs] seem unnecessarily complicated. I would take a close look at the last one.

My pack is 37" in diameter by 21" tall. This gives it a volume of about 2300 cu. in. The top pocket is not included. After looking at mine it also looks complicated but I have added a lot of details that the basic design doesn't need to be functional.

The top pocket the water bottle pockets and the main pack body were all made with a technique I call "boxing the corner". If you take a pillow case a push the bottom corners to the inside and pin them flat so the bottom of the pillow case now looks square you will see what I mean. Sometimes you see sleeping back stuff sacks made this way. Anyway, it is a simple way to get a three-dimensional shape.

The gray on this pack is silnylon and the green is lightweight coated oxford nylon ( maybe 2.5 oz.) I hemmed the edges back on the silnylon before sewing the seams to make the seams stronger and to distribute the seam loading over more of the fabric.- Springmtnd

SurvivalBlog reader Warhawke mentioned that he recently downloaded an excellent book called "The Farmer at War" about the terrorist war in Rhodesia in the 1970s and how the farmers responded. Not a lot of detailed information but well worth the read.  See:  http://www.rhodesia.nl/farmeratwar.html

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In yesterday's issue of the Defense Tech blog (http://www.defensetech.org/) our buddy Noah has a snippet and a photo about the U.S. military's new facial armor. It looks a bit reminiscent of Star Wars storm troopers.

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Yahoo News reports: "Firewood in Vogue As Oil Prices Rise." See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060205/ap_on_re_us/fashionable_firewood

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Cell phone tracking, for a fee: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/48872

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The editors of Slate have issued a summary of the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR.) The Slate editors opine: "The document envisions a world where the U.S. military's main missions are homeland defense, the war on terrorism, and "irregular" or "asymmetric" warfare (i.e., wars against enemies that are not nation-states or that use weapons and strategies, such as roadside bombs, that make the most of their relative weaknesses). Much ink is spilled in discussing these new kinds of wars and the new kinds of soldier and command structures that they require. But look at what the Pentagon is really doing, how it's spending its vast sums of money (close to $500 billion next year, not including the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). With a few notable exceptions (most of them inexpensive), you'd think that we were still fighting the Soviet Union and that the Cold War were still raging on... For the full text of the article, see: http://www.slate.com/id/2135343/fr/rss/. And if you are a more ambitious reader, for the full text of the QDR itself   (a 113 page PDF), see: http://www.defenselink.mil/qdr/report/Report20060203.pdf

"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)." - Ayn Rand

Monday, February 6, 2006

Whenever I talk with my consulting clients, the topic of retreat locales almost inevitably comes up. When describing their criteria for a new retreat property they almost always say something to the effect of: "The property has to have an existing phone line or one nearby, so that we can have Internet service."  But these days, I'm now quick to point out:  "That shouldn't be an issue."  Why? Because things have changed. Lots of Asians, Europeans, and Americans now have no traditional "land line" phone service at all. They utilize the steadily expanding network of cellular phone towers. Even more crucially, reliable and affordable two-way satellite Internet systems are now available. Early in 2001, two companies, DirecPC (DirecWay) and Starband, began to fill the pent-up need for two-way satellite Internet systems. For a satellite dish to both send and receive signals, the alignment between the dish and the satellite must be precise. This can be a bit tricky. A few experimenters have put these same dishes atop RVs and fifth-wheel trailers.  (See: http://eduscapes.com/mm/motosat/.)
For more information on two-way satellite Internet systems, see these sites:

In essence, you can now put a survival retreat just about anywhere south of the Arctic Circle (or north of the Antarctic Circle) as long as there is a source of potable water. Thanks to photovoltaics and modern sine wave inverters (a la Xantrex), a connection to the power grid is not an issue. You can make your own power. The aforementioned factors open up lots of new retreat possibilities such as remote regions in the western U.S. or "The Wet" of northern Australia, and perhaps even lightly inhabited islands out in the South Pacific. Wait a minute. Do I hear ukuleles?

Here is a dry topic that most people have no skill in they just rely on the old Indian fire trick (liquid fuel on wet wood) which is wasteful, dangerous, and teaches you nothing. My school of thought is as follows:
    Carry two major tools:
    2 or more - butane/flint lighters
    1 - Longer life flammable (such as Hexamine fuel tablets or bars and/or a 15 minute road flare)
The butane lighter can be quickly dried and burns for many minutes about as well as hundreds of strike anywhere matches in a match safe. The flint over
electrical ignition makes a bright spark which while not a real strobe is visible in darkness. Carry several they are super cheap and easily replaced.
Flame transfer can be a pocketful of tea-lites (candles in aluminum tins), oil and floating wick in jar, or a Hexamine Esbit stove brick. What we are looking for
is something which will transfer enough heat into your collected fuel to dry and ignite it.
American style road flares can not be carried in large numbers in your pack but in a real hypothermic emergency that pop-fizzzz and knowing you have enough
fire to light all but the wettest fuels is a comfort.
Another home brew gadget for lighting fires is carrying a short length of of brass tubing with several feet of surgical
tube (doesn't get stiff when cold) to blow air to feed a small flame if you can get it started with matches/sparks. The Coleman battery-powered air mattress
inflaters also work for this application. Some aluminum foil can help concentrate heat in a tiny
incipient fire, practice using it.

Mr. Rawles
I've just finished reading the back blog and thank you for creating such a great resource! I haven't read "Patriots" yet but it is coming on inter-library loan since it is out of print. After reading your thoughts on the .45 ACP I was wondering why I've never seen the HK USP mentioned. I own one and really like it quite a bit. It shoots straight and is soft in the hand. Plus it has the rail mount for weapons lights and comes in either stainless or the hard black. I keep mine in a Bianchi holster which will adjust for carry of the gun with a weapon light. I'd love to hear your opinion.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is dogs. I'm no expert but I've been around and training dogs all my life. Mostly for hunting but I am now moving up the food chain so to speak. My current dog is a Belgian Malinois and I am very impressed. These dogs are fast (30+ mph), hard hitting, have good noses and a strong protection instinct. Plus I have no worries letting him play with my three year old nephew--supervised, of course. He is absolutely gentle with the boy yet when I play with him he knows that he can get rough. Another thing is that when I take him outdoors he is attentive to me. Hunting dogs just want to hunt to the point of distraction, its in their blood. Malinois are protectors. When he hits the yard he stands up tall, head up, ears up and watches. I know that it's often not good to take the military approach to survival but I want to point out that the U.S. government is going to Malinois and Dutch Shepherds. Also since you have so much livestock it would seem that having a natural herder would be advantageous. Don't forget also that what is true for us is true for our dogs. I'm talking about training. It does no good to have a giant dog who doesn't know how to bite or who isn't obedient (which is dangerous). Thanks again for what you do and thanks for listening.  - A Hi-Plains Reader

Have a good supply of replacement generators (vaporization tube) gaskets and pump cups. In my experience leather is the best because it rots less than rubber. In my opinion Pellgunoil (intended for air gun lubrication) is the best oil for anywhere on your lamp.
I personally have run kerosene for several years in my Coleman dual fuel (unleaded gasoline/Coleman fuel)  lanterns, use this info at your own risk light is not
as bright as the generator jet is optimized for gasoline/white-gas/Coleman fuel. Everclear/ethanol is good for cleaning out gunked generators, they can often be rebuilt. Coleman used to make a pin pricker tool for opening the jet orifice as well as unscrewing the generator, buy several wrap in foil and wire to the lantern. If running kerosene, diesel, or jet fuel in your lanterns (at your own risk) have a lighter or squirt bottle of alcohol to preheat the generator especially in very cold weather.
Most of this advice can be transferred to liquid fuel stoves.
You can make a replacement crystal from steel window screen. Proper sized jar can be etched and hot/cold cut if you break your lantern crystal.
Reinforce your mantle with a coil of steel wire anchored to the tubing or generator for longer life.- Anon.

Hi Jim,
I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who is considering purchasing a wind turbine to generate electricity for his house. He has a constant breeze at his hilltop location. I told him I didn't think it would be a good idea because they require a lot of maintenance. Any input would be appreciated. Blessings, - Find 1

JWR Replies: I only recommend wind generators for locales that are both windy and cloudy, and/or that have minimal solar exposure. The cost per watt is so low for photovoltaic (PV) panels these days that they make more sense in nearly all areas. The maintenance for PVs is trivial compared to wind generators. Also keep in mind that there are safety hazards involved (tower climbing. lightning strikes, et cetera), and that wind generators are surprisingly noisy when in operation.

Regarding your reply to Jerry T., who was interested in purchasing junk silver... For those of us who can't afford (or don't wish to purchase) $1,000 bags, there is an alternative: eBay. Search for "silver dime roll" (or a similar search phrase for other denominations) and you'll find tons of them for sale. To simplify the bidding process, use eSnipe (www.esnipe.com). The usual caveats of buying on eBay apply: always check the seller's feedbacks [number and ratio of positives], and things that sound to good to be true usually are, etc. However, I've done a number of silver transactions and have so far never had a problem. (He said, knocking on wood). The up side is that for each buy, except one that I've made, the cost, including shipping and insurance, has been less than the spot price of silver for the content of the roll. Being a frugal sort, I like that. - The Freeholder


I feel you have helped give us all a heads up on how to go about, and who to contact in regard to precious metal investing. I have one looming question.
Let's say we purchase our silver at a price far less than the anticipated high. What, when, or how should we consider selling, what would be the strategy? Do we "cash out", or do we actually just ride the wave? I think there are several answers to this question that I would love to hear. In the scenario of a dollar collapse,.... I find it hard to find value in selling at a high when the dollar will only lose it's value on the other side of the collapse. Any insight would be valuable.
Thanks, -The Wanderer

JWR Replies:  I recommend that you use two methodologies to purchase and maintain two distinct hoards of silver, and that your do not co-mingle them:

1.)  Your designated "barter" silver stockpile. The barter portion of your silver stockpile should be in small divisible units, ideally pre-1965 90% U.S. silver dimes.  (Or the country specific equivalent, for our foreign readers.) That "barter" silver should be considered a core holding, and never sold for the sheer sake of profit. If you don't ever have to use it for barter, then count you blessings and just pass it along to your children or grandchildren so that they will will have something to use for the same purpose.  As previously mentioned, if you can afford it, I recommend buying one $1,000 face value bag for each member of your family.

2.)  Your designated "investment" silver stockpile.  The best way to buy this--with the lowest dealer premium per ounce--is serial number stamped 100 ounce bars, from a well-known maker such as Englehard, A-Mark, or Johnson-Matthey. This stockpile is designed as a time machine to protect your wealth from one side of an currency crisis to the other.  You buy it in current day dollars. After a currency collapse has come and gone, when a new stable currency (hopefully backed by something other than hot air) is issued, then you can convert part or all of your investment silver stockpile into the new currency.  Odds are that most if not all of your original purchasing power will be preserved by this method.  Leaving your money invested in dollar-denominated investments --and I do mean any dollar-denominated investments--for the next 30 years will be disastrous. This is because the currency unit itself represents the biggest risk. In the long run--like all other un-backed fiat currencies--the U.S. dollar will end up like the Zimbabwean dollar--inflated away to nothing  Call me old-fashioned, but I put my trust in God and I invest my money in tangibles. (Such as productive farm land, gold, silver, and durable tools like guns.)

The old "wait until it doubles and then sell half" strategy is sound, but look at the long term "big picture."  If the currency unit itself is doomed, then you may want to wait a long time before you sell the other half of your investment silver.

"To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish, then resolve to pay the price to get it." - Nelson Bunker Hunt

Sunday, February 5, 2006

I recently did some research about some offshore retreat locales on behalf of a client, who ultimately decided not to opt for an expatriate lifestyle. She has kindly consented to letting me to post my research notes to the blog. Hopefully a few of you might benefit from this data and analysis. Over the next few days I will be posting this information in several parts. Today, I'm presenting the first increment:, which is my research on the Bay Islands of Honduras.

The Bay Islands, called La Bahia in Spanish, are located about 30 miles off the eastern coast of Honduras. The predominant language spoken is English, albeit in a Creole dialect. To outsiders, the islands are best known for their snorkeling and SCUBA diving. The islands have the second largest coral barrier reef system in the world--second in size only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The water clarity is amazing--sometimes providing underwater visibility of 200 feet or more--which is typical of the Western Caribbean. The reefs are home to an incredible variety of fish, so the islands will probably never lack a source of protein. The islands have a surprisingly large expatriate population, mostly American retirees, plus a few assorted dive instructors and would-be dive instructors from all over the world. 

There are three main islands in the Bay Islands group:

Roatan - The largest and most populous of the islands, roughly 22 miles long and just four miles wide at its widest point. It has a major airport, which has regular flights from the Honduran mainland as well as U.S. cities such as Tampa and Houston. (For example, a round trip ticket from San Francisco: $511.)

Utila - This island is the dive bum's dream land. Utila is a mecca for twenty-something world travelers--especially those that like to snorkel and SCUBA dive. There is so much competition among the dive schools that you can get  PADI open water diving certification--with loaner equipment--for under $350. You can often can negotiate a package price that includes lodging.(For essentially free lodging.)

Guanaja - The least developed of the islands. This island has no significant roads, and virtually no cars. Most of the travel from point-to-point around the island is via boat. The economy is primarily cattle ranches and a few small resorts.

The aggregate population of the Bay Islands is estimated at 65,000. (There has never been an accurate census. The latest figure was extrapolated based upon electrical utility usage.) The population is slightly above the agricultural carrying capacity of the islands, in the event that the Schumer ever starts flying around. The economy is roughly 30% fishing/agriculture and 70% tourism.

The Plusses:  Hey, its the tropics! Beautiful sunsets. White sand beaches. Great fishing. Low cost of living. Affordable houses. Virtually no expense to heat a house. Minimal gun laws--and the few that exist are not enforced. In these days of satellite Internet service, great connectivity.

The Minuses:
Mosquitos--complete with malaria.

MaÒana Syndrome --It is agonizingly slow to accomplish anything--like getting a house built, or even just getting a driver's license or mailing a letter. The power utilities are unreliable, so a lot of folks have installed photovoltaic power systems. (Particularly on Guanaja and in Roatan's East End.)

Machetes y Pistolas--This one takes some explaining: Gang members is nearby La Ceiba (on the Honduran mainland) take the Galaxy ferry to Roatan and burglarize the homes of wealthy gringos. They soon developed an extensive fencing network utilizing native islanders. Nowadays, they prefer to wait for the owners to return, hold them at knife or gun point, rob them of their jewelry, wallets and purses, and force them to open vaults and/or show them where valuables are hidden. Ex-pats have taken the law into their own hands, getting guard dogs and hiring "watchie-men." But the Honduran courts do not seem to be doing anything substantive to deter the criminals. Here are some examples: An ex-pat shot and killed one of three armed men that were invading his house. That ex-pat is now facing murder charges in the Honduran courts. An ex-pat who was assaulted on the beach identified the perp and even had a piece of fabric that she had torn from his shirt as evidence--and the crooked Honduran court still let the perp go free. In the course of our research, The Memsahib corresponded with an American ex-pat that lives at Roatan's West End who said that his home had been broken into four times in five years

The bottom line:  If it were not for the crime rate, I would recommend La Bahia. But with the current situation, I cannot.  For further research on the Bay Islands, I suggest that you start with back issues of The Bay Islands Voice, which are available on-line. See: http://www.bayislandsvoice.com/  The latest issue (January, 2006--Vol.4, No. 1) has some interesting statistics on crime.

Mr. Rawles:
I stumbled across a very cool generation option for very long-term power generation: the Listeroid ["Lister"] generator. Its based on a design that has been in production since about 1930 and as such is dirt simple. Its about as uncomplicated as a diesel engine can be. They run at very low RPM (650-800, no I didn't forget a zero), are built to be field-serviceable, and have massive flywheels to keep them running smoothly. They're extremely low-tech and all the bugs have been worked out dozens of years ago. The original Lister company no longer makes them, but various Indian and Chinese firms have picked up the casting and are happy to sell to American buyers. The very best thing about these is that when they say 100% duty cycle, they mean it. Listeroid engines when properly set up have been running non-stop for a decade in rural Alaska, and most likely around the world as well. They are also very efficient, pushing 2500 watts runs an average of 0.125 gallons of diesel per kW/hr. The per-kilowatt cost of the hardware is low too, the engine itself runs around $800 for a 6 hp one-cylinder which should generate 3kW.
There are (as always) a few downsides.
1) Weight. These things are huge. The engine alone runs in the 750-lb range, and a proper installation requires a good cooling system (radiator), generator head and a solid concrete block for anchoring. You're not likely to throw one in the trunk for a Bug Out.
2) Do It Yourself. Because these are actually just engines not complete generator sets, assembling a properly functioning one takes some know-how. I don't really consider this a downside, but if you need power up and running yesterday, this isn't for you. If you have the time (and power) to take your time getting your setup just right for its environment then you'll probably be happy with a Listeroid. On the other hand, the need for actually getting your hands dirty means you are guaranteed to know how to fix the thing when it breaks.
3) Quality Control. These engines are all made in either India or China. Some brilliantly executed stuff comes out of both countries, alongside some of the most irredeemable trash known to man. The notion of consistency does not seem to exist in the firms making these. This can have a silver lining if you are mechanically savvy and have some tools you can save a load of money by buying a lower-quality engine and replacing the stuff that is broken yourself. This is usually things like leftover sand from the casting inside the engine, bad seals, cheap plumbing for the fuel and oil lines, etc. Nothing anyone who can change the oil in his/her car shouldn't be able to manage. Its not like the parts are small. On the other hand, if you want a bit more of a turn-key solution, the manufacturers are reportedly more than open to requests for a specific level of quality. If you take the time to talk directly with the manufacturer and make it clear to them what level of quality you are expecting, you will probably get it. These firms seem to be eager to get good American Testimonials so will go the extra mile in many cases.
4) Shipping. The engine is assembled in India or China. You (probably) live somewhere in the U.S. About half the planet is between you and your engine. There are two options: Pay an importer to do it for you or negotiate the shipping yourself. The consensus seems to be that doing it yourself is a good way to get ripped off, but if you know a guy you might be able to get a good deal here. This Guy seems to import them and most of the testimonials on the web refer to him in on way or another.
Further links can be had here, where I originally discovered them. Also, Googling for Listeroid is informative.
If you're planning on using something like this to actually run your house, i.e. an off-grid setup, you should really consider setting up a proper power regulation system. Because diesel generators are most efficient at a certain load, you don't want them to be throttling like a car engine. A way to avoid this is to essentially set up a big battery bank that runs high voltage DC and charge that with the generator as well as any other power sources (solar, wind, micro-hydro, your Prius, et cetera) and convert to AC for household use with a beefy alternator. This does have more bits to break in an emergency but for real 24x7 use you will probably appreciate the efficiency gains.
I would like to see someone rig up an automatic hydraulic or mechanical starting system just for the niftyness factor. If anyone has any real-world experience with that Startwell gizmo I'm sure many would like to hear about it. It sounds like a great backup starter for a diesel truck that would require no electricity without plumbing your pickup for hydraulic start.
I should disclaim that I do not own one of these. Finding a place for it in my shoe box apartment would be entertaining. - P.H.

JWR Replies: You probably missed it, but I posted a brief piece on Lister and other stationary engines back on October 5th, 2005.  (See the SurvivalBlog Archives.) The tolerances and quality control seems to be better on the Listers that are made in India, since they inherited a couple of sets of tooling that probably date back to the British Raj.  (The Chinese engines, in contrast, were reverse-engineered, and some of the parts appear to be from the "file to fit" school of assembly.)

Dear Jim,
I really enjoy your Blog. On Friday the 3rd of February you wrote: “I recommend that you first buy one $1,000 face value bag of circulated ("junk") pre-1965 dimes or quarters for each family member as your designated "barter" silver.”

How do you go about acquiring the junk silver? My local coin store guy just talks about grading…I can’t seem to get him on a silver to trade concept.

Do any of your advertisers deal in that type of silver? Can you recommend any other types of trade goods? Beads and sea shells are probably out even when the SHTF. I won’t trade ammo to strangers but booze is an option.

A short sea story on an older lady that was preparing for the Y2K disaster. She was a wise old lady who knew that if Y2K was a big deal that as an old lady she needed to be able to survive. She was a good friend of my mother so my mother took me to see her. The old Lady was proud of her collection of silver and how she was READY. But she was crestfallen when I asked her what she was going to eat if the time came. I said that I would be happy to trade her some leftover food for a bucket of silver after the Time. We had a great discussion of the value of metal vs. meals. The results were interesting. After she passed away her daughter showed me her mom’s home. One entire bedroom was now a pantry. Every can was dated. And the old stuff was in the front. The daughter was laughing as she pointed out the case of bourbon and scotch…her mom didn’t drink. My Mom and the daughter both cried when I pointed out the can of silver that she had collected. It had not gotten any bigger. I sure hope that her mom went peacefully and not worried but prepared. I did get a bottle of bourbon for my advice and did you know even cheap booze is smooth after 5 years.
Thanks for your ideas.- Jerry T

JWR Replies:  To get your local dealer's cooperation, simply ask him point blank whether or not he can order $1,000 face value "junk" bags from his dealer network--yea or nay. If not, then find another local dealer. If there are no local sources, then you can always mail order bags or 100 ounce serialized bullion bars from any reputable firm like Swiss America or Camino Coin Company (phone 800-982-707 or e-mail Burt Blumert at burtblumert@comcast.net.)

Great job on the blog site. I find lots of information on buying and holding silver, but cannot get a handle on where to invest money that is in a qualified plan to take advantage of the run-up in silver. Thank you for your blogging about gold. I invested money within said plan in a small basket of gold stocks and yesterday I was up 38 %, as of a few minutes ago I am still up 37.1%.

I think the jump will be four or five times greater in the short term for Silver. If the ETF becomes available then... wow. Do you have any thoughts on Silver investment options within a qualified plan? My plan is in a brokerage account at a major house. I plan to send you a Texas Silver coin as my part of the 10 Cent Challenge. Keep up the great work, it is appreciated - Clifford

JWR Replies:  Within a qualified plan, your best best is to buy silver mining stocks or a mutual fund that heavily invests in stocks such as Coeur 'd Alene Mines.

I was alerted to a useful forum on survival topics: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SurvivingTheDayAfter/. Lawrence Rayburn, who moderates the forum, custom builds 20 to 60 foot triangular towers and single to multi-tier Savonius windmills for pumping water and generating electricity. These are installed at survival retreats, farms, ranches, and other remote facilities. BTW, it was Lawrence who coined the term GLAZIS--for global socialists.

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SurvivalBlog reader "OSOM" recommends the article War Scenarios and Predictions by William Lind - a very insightful military commentator. See: http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind87.html

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I'd like to welcome our newest advertiser, Safe Solutions. (See: http://www.SafeSolutions.net.) Please take a few minutes to check out their assortment of preparedness products.

"This course is dedicated to the idiotic proposition that you can be taught the fundamentals of Organic chemistry, Inorganic chemistry, Qualitative analysis, Quantitative analysis, Physical chemistry, and Biochemistry all in one semester. The odds against any of you passing this course would be staggering to contemplate if there were any time for contemplation. However, there is not. Get out your notebooks." - Max Shulman in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

Saturday, February 4, 2006

I am seriously considering taking up SurvivalBlog as a full time occupation. (I currently write/edit this blog in my "spare" time which means that I'm working 11+ hours a day.) If I do switch to full time blogging, then I could then expand the blog and cover topics in greater depth. Sooo... If you'd like me to do so, just take out and ad, or send a 10 Cent Challenge donation. Thusfar, only 62 readers (out of 9000+ who read SurvivalBlog at least once a week) have ponied up 10 cents a day, or more. If you chip in, then I'll "quit my day job." Thanks!

Greetings Mr. Rawles,
In the spirit of, “Physician heal thyself” I offer up for consideration the following: Our country was once considered a country of Riflemen with a rich history of standing up for Liberty. After all, where would we be without those who made a stand for Liberty at Lexington and Concord? Over time we citizens have let slip those past treasures. I have often heard at gun shows, gun shops, and conversations between hunters that they are ‘rifle shooters’. The term Rifleman has managed to slip away from our Lexicon. I too am guilty of such laziness, hence I am healing myself. The basic and advanced training at such facilities as Front Sight is invaluable and well done from all I have read. And attending such sites is well worth the money. However, budgets being as they are, not everyone can afford to go to such facilities. And if one does manage to budget for such training you will spend more time on very basic instruction as opposed to fully utilizing the resources of the facility to raise your abilities far beyond what you think you are capable of. So where is a common man or woman to get even the basic training in marksmanship? We can go to a local range and burn as much ammo as we can carry and still not correct mistakes or improve above a basic level of safe and competent shooting skills. Being able to hit a FBI target or tin cans at relatively short range is one thing. Being able to make head shots at 250 yards and body shots at 500 yards with iron sights is an altogether different matter. That ability is the difference from one who shoots a rifle and a Rifleman. Enter, stage right, Project Appleseed. Project Appleseed is a grass roots movement to train Riflemen. It is a program to train people in solid basic rifle marksmanship using standard rack grade rifles and surplus ammunition. This year kicks off the first of the Appleseed tour. Shooting clinics are to be held at the following locations: Ramseur, North Carolina on February 25/26, Morehead, Kentucky on Feb 18/19 and March 25/26, and Evansville, Indiana on April 29/30. [More shoots will soon be added to the schedule.]
The course is set up in such a way that you can learn with a .22 caliber rifle if that is all you have. Just bring a rifle, ammunition, and a willingness to learn. There are some additional accoutrements that will enrich your experience at the class, which are listed on the site of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association. This organization is taking on the task of helping to plant the seeds of the tradition of The American Rifleman, and return us to that tradition. I was lucky enough to talk with one of the organizers a short while back. And after my talk with him I left totally charged and ready to participate. Now my entire family will be at one of the shooting classes. I hope to take away not only better skills, but the knowledge and ability to teach. That ability is an important part of the program. If just one member of each family or group attended one of the Appleseed clinics, and then taught their friends and family, we could restore not only a fine tradition but provide an invaluable service to the cause of Liberty and self sufficiency. I am bringing this up not as a member of the organization, but as a future participant. I do not derive anything from brining this project to the blog, other than spreading the word and doing something to further and American tradition. The entry fees are very reasonable at $45 for one day or $70 for both days per adult. Anyone under 20 shoots free, as does military – active, Guard, and Reserve. Also you can be assigned to a squad with your friends and family and any Internet group such as the FALFiles, NoR, etc. For more information on the Revolutionary War Veterans Association see:
There are links on the left side of the page that will lead you to all you need to know about Project Appleseed. For a printable entry form and a basic rundown of the clinic see:
One additional bonus to this project is that this shoot does qualify as a marksmanship activity to obtain a Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) M1 Garand or an M1903A3 rifle. And if you don’t belong to a CMP qualifying club an associate membership at the cost of $20 to the Revolutionary War Veterans Association will meet the CMP club requirement. Now for those who do not know what the Civilian Marksmanship Program is and what it offers, see:
Now there is a political side to this activity. The way I see it is that the more ‘peasants’ that have pitchforks, the more that the rulers will need to pay attention. I figure, as far as I am concerned, that ‘list’ that most are so afraid of being on is one I am already on. So what the heck, I may as well make a stand and say to 'the powers that be’, “Sure, I own a firearm. I am another person you will have to ‘deal with’. I will remain within the bounds of the law. But I will not surrender my Liberty or that of my children willingly. You will have to work a bit harder to steal that away.” Each CCW permit issued in this country represents another person who makes a stand and says, “No. I will not be a victim.” With each person who teaches another proper marksmanship skills, that is someone to close the ranks when that teacher is no longer able to teach. The spread of knowledge and skills can not be stopped if enough people are willing to learn and teach. If you know of a rifle range that could host an Appleseed Project shoot, contact them and make it happen in your area. And being able to stand toe to toe and tell those who want to further enslave us, they will not have an easy time of it, makes us mighty. So brothers, and sisters, get thy self to a good marksmanship clinic. No matter if it is The Appleseed Project or one offered by the NRA or other organizations. Become a Rifleman, become another monkey wrench, become mighty. - The Rabid One

Cheuvreux, the equity brokerage house of the large French bank Credit Agricole has advised its clients to buy gold, citing short supplies and galloping demand. They expect a price spike to $2,000+ an ounce. The report is titled "Remonetization of Gold: Start Hoarding." For the full text, see: http://www.gata.org/CheuvreuxGoldReport.pdf

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"Successful" Wolf Habitat Re-Introductions? See: http://eco.freedom.org/el/20060201/beers.shtml

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Hyperinflation-ravaged Zimbabwe has started to issue a $50,000 bank note. The new note is worth a whopping 50 cents, American. This travesty of monetary policy illustrates that Comrade Mugabe and his band of fools could muck up a two car funeral procession. See: http://www.zwnews.com/issuefull.cfm?ArticleID=136961

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More on the nascent NAIS bio-chipping nightmare: http://www.newswithviews.com/Morrison/joyce23.htm

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I pity da terrorists fools that try to ram the gate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories! See: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/02/02/lab.defense.ap/index.html


"But if anyone provide not for his own, and specifically for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." - Timothy 5:8 (KJV)

Friday, February 3, 2006

Yesterday, we surpassed 6 million page hits and 227,000 unique visits.  Thank you for making SurvivalBlog such and astounding success in just six months.  Please visit the web sites for each of our advertisers, and see what they have to offer.  Thanks!

Please, please, please, do not use peroxide in wounds. I know, I know, "everyone" says to do it. However, it destroys already injured tissue, just like it does hair and skin. Just use the Betadine type products, and rinse well. - M.M., DVM

Dear Jim:
I noticed in your SurvivalBlog post of January 27 that you mentioned that you have invested in 100 oz. Englehard silver bars.

1.) Do you recommend this type of purchase in today's silver market? [JWR's replies are in-line.]

Even at $10 per ounce, silver is still a relative bargain.  (It certainly when you consider the real value of the U.S. Dollar--which is essentially nothing.) I recommend that you first buy one $1,000 face value bag of circulated ("junk") pre-1965 dimes or quarters for each family member as your designated "barter" silver.  Those coins could presumably be used for day-to-day purchases in a recovery stage (post-collapse) economy. Beyond that, for "investment" silver--designed as a time machine to protect your wealth from one side of an currency crisis to the other--you should buy bullion silver with the lowest premium per ounce, yet still not regularly subject to assay.  IMHO, the type of bullion that best fills this need is serial number stamped 100 ounce bars, from a well-known maker such as Englehard or Johnson-Matthey. The big 1000 ounce industrial bars almost always require assay for re-sale, which is expensive and time-consuming. Not to mention that they are a pain to transport.

2.) What about 10 oz. bars? What, if any, are the advantages in owning 100 oz. or 10 oz. bars?

When coin dealers buy silver bars, they typically pay the spot price of silver, or just below the spot price if they are in a particularly greedy or grumpy mood. When they sell silver, dealers charge a premium over spot, which provides them most or all of their profit on the transaction. Silver almost always has a higher premium than gold, because of the greater minting cost and shipping weight of silver, per dollar. (By weight, gold is presently around 59 more times more valuable than silver.) Currently 10 ounce bars carry a 70 to 90 cent per ounce dealer premium (profit over the spot price), whereas 100 ounce bars have a premium of as low as 50 cents per ounce. Hence, unless you foresee the need to press your bullion silver into service for day-to-day barter, then it is best to buy the 100 ounce bars.

3.) What do you think about "silver rounds"?

I don't recommend buying the one ounce rounds.  They often carry a higher premium per ounce than circulated ("junk") pre-1965 coins, and they will probably be suspect as counterfeit in a barter situation. (With one ounce trade dollars and perhaps even with one ounce American Eagles, people may ask: "How do I know those are real?" In contrast, pre-1965 coins will be much more readily accepted and trusted with little more than a glance at the edge of the coin.

4.) What about Peace or Morgan silver dollars?

Silver dollars, even in poor condition sell for about 20-to-30% more than the equivalent in silver dimes or quarters, both because of their slightly higher silver content (per dollar), and because even cruddy-looking silver dollars still have some numismatic value. So for barter you are probably better off with dimes and quarters. However, it s noteworthy that U.S. silver dollars will be even more recognizable and trusted than the smaller denomination coins. So if you presently own any silver dollars, save those for transactions with your most reluctant barter customers.

5.) Are assaying expenses of any consideration, and, if so, what are they?

Typically, assay is only an issue with bullion bars that are not serialized, and of course any bars that are heavier than 100 ounces each, regardless of whether or not they are serialized.

6.) In light of the impending "explosion" in silver (if not all precious metals) what immediate action do you recommend?

Stock up!  Even if you are one of those folks that feel you should've bought back when silver was $8 an ounce and that you have "missed the boat", then don't worry. At $10 per ounce, the downside risk is minimal, and the the upside potential is huge, particularly in this new "Bernanke Era."

I appreciate your valuable insights. - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

I have a couple of questions regarding rifle parts for you and the "SurvivalBlog.com" community. This is mostly from a hunting standpoint, as my dad and I are winding down from this last deer season and planning next. I am planning on replacing the wood stock on my .30-06 and going synthetic. Do you, or any of the SurvivalBlog readers, have any other resources for synthetic stocks? I have looked long and hard at McMillan and others, but wanted to make sure there are no others I am missing.
Next, what resources are there available for Mauser receivers and Enfield receivers? We have a surplus Enfield that serves as a camp gun/coyote control, but have thought long about building up either a Mauser or an Enfield receiver in maybe a .300 Win. Mag, .308, or .30-06. I have a couple of small books on the subject and have Googled ad nauseam on the subject. And finally, are there any other hand loading resources available that I am not thinking about? Something that should be obvious to me? I have all the usual suspects bookmarked on the home computer. Dad has been looking for Norma cases for a while. He can't seem to get enough of them for whatever reason. Thanks for the help. Peace. - "Shooter"

JWR Replies: In my opinion, the either the McMillan Brothers stock or the H-S Precision stock would be great choices. The inherent accuracy provided by a Kevlar-Graphite stocks with an integral aluminum bedding block is almost legendary. I have my Winchester Model 70 .30-06 (my primary deer, elk, and bear hunting tool) in one. That H-S Precision stock transformed a "decently accurate" rifle into a veritable tack driver.

If your goal is primarily just weight reduction and weather resistance rather than absolute peak accuracy, then you might consider some of the less expensive plain fiberglass stocks made by makers like Brown Precision and Bell & Carlson. An even less expensive option is to get one of the Dupont Rynite stocks made by Choate. These are categorized as medium weight and are relatively "Plain Jane" looking (although they now come in several colors). However, Choate stocks are zero-warp regardless of the weather and are very easy to inlet--if for example you have installed a bull barrel. Just use a Dremel tool set to low speed. (Higher speeds get a carbide cutter too hot and then you'll start "melt inletting.")

As for military surplus bolt action rifles/receivers for sporterizing, I recommend the Turkish contract pre-1899 (no FFL) Model 1893 Oberndorf (German) Mausers that are sold by The Pre-1899 Specialist. These are ideal for building a .308 or .30-06. (But not a belted magnum--you would need a Model 1898 Mauser action for that.) This is your chance to get a high pressure 8 x57 Mauser delivered right to your doorstep without filling out a Form 4473. There is no paperwork required because these rifles are Federally classified as "antiques" and hence entirely outside of  Federal jurisdiction. (Of course consult your state and local laws before you place an order.) The last I heard, The Pre-1899 Specialist still had a few M1893 rifles with cracked stocks available for just $169 each.  Those would be perfect  for building a sporter, since you will be discarding the stock anyway. OBTW, synthetic stocks that fit Model 1893 Mausers (the same and a "Model 1895" stock BTW) are available from Bell & Carlson and Choate.


It was nice hearing the President mention in his recent State of the Union address the need to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil and his goal to get ethanol production into high gear. Hopefully this won't be just more of the same empty "essential need for energy independence" rhetoric that we've been hearing from Capitol Hill and the White House since the Jimmy Carter regime

   o o o

The U.S. Northern Command recently "hosted representatives from more than 40 international, federal and state agencies for an exercise designed to provoke discussion and determine what governmental actions, including military support, would be necessary in the event of an influenza pandemic in the United States." For the full story see:

   o o o

Gold-Eagle.com proves once again that they have the best investing and economic commentary on the Internet. For example, I found the three following pieces there:

From Jim Willie: http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_05/willie013106.html

From The Contrary Investor newsletter: http://www.gold-eagle.com/gold_digest_05/ci020106.html

And this "must read" piece from Franklin Sanders: http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_05/sanders013106.html ("In inflation adjusted 2005 dollars silver hit a 1980 high at $127.87...")

"If you think about disaster, you will get it. Brood about death and you hasten your demise. Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience." - Aviator Edward Rickenbacker (1890-1973).

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Today we feature another entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries for Round 3 is the last day of March, 2006. We've already had plenty of motivational pieces submitted.  Please keep your contest entries focused on practical skillsStart writing, folks!

On another note: If you know anyone that sells preparedness-related good r services, please ask them to advertise on SurvivalBlog.  Thanks.

Can you carry your bug-out-bag (BOB)? If your vehicle breaks down or the roads are impassable can you carry on your back the BOB that was intended to be carried in your vehicle? Just having shoulder straps on your car BOB doesn’t do it. The BOB in your vehicle is not optimized for carrying on your back. This article will introduce you to some of the techniques ultra-light back packers use, techniques that you can use to create ultra-light BOBs for you and your family members if you need to travel by foot. These will be subsets of your vehicle BOBs.
We are not talking about how much you can carry. We are talking about how little you can carry and still meet all of your needs. What if small children need to be carried? What if one of your party were injured? Could you help them or carry them and your BOB? Is it light enough your spouse or older children can carry it? If your BOBs are well planned they will be light enough that members of your party can carry their gear and yours too, freeing you up to do what needs to be done. The lighter your load the greater your ability is to respond to the unexpected. Give yourself every advantage.
A light load will enable you to move faster and go farther. In an emergency, reaching your family or retreat as quickly as possible is critical. Speedy travel will limit your exposure to the dangers of the road and reduce your food and water requirements. Being nimble on your feet versus burdened with a heavy load also has tactical benefits.
Adopting ultra-light backpacking techniques will lighten your BOB. Ultra-light backpacking techniques don’t lighten the load by leaving critical items out. Instead, you just make sure that the items you do carry are the lightest possible that will do the job. Carrying a lot of heavy gear requires a substantial pack to support the weight. If you choose lighter gear your backpack doesn’t have to be as heavily built. A lighter pack and lighter gear means that your footwear doesn’t have to be as substantial to support your feet, so you can get by with running shoes. Everything ends up being lighter.
With typical backpacking gear you might have:
  5 lbs. pack
  3 lbs. sleeping bag
  5 lbs. tent
  2 lbs. stove, fuel and pot
  1 lb sleeping pad
The five heaviest items adds up to 16 lbs.
My ultra-light gear:
  16 oz. pack
  21 oz. down top bag (sleeping bag without bottom)
  8 oz. silnylon 8x10 tarp
  7 oz. electric draft wood burning stove*
  4 oz. aluminum pot and lid
  9 oz. Ridgerest sleeping pad
* This is a custom made item. Alcohol or Trioxane stoves are more readily available.
The same items add up to 4 lbs.,1 oz.
This is less than the weight of a typical empty backpack. With ultra light gear it is relatively easy to keep your pack weight, minus food and water, less than 10 lbs. With a total pack weight less than 20 lbs it is possible to walk briskly for long periods of time.
Do you regularly travel with 30 to 40 lbs on your back? Add any weapons to your pack and the weight goes up dramatically. A difficult situation is not the time to practice being a beast of burden. In addition, a heavy load will have an impact on your ability to respond to confrontations or emergencies.
You should include an ultra-light BOB in your vehicle kit.
There are a number of choices for commercially made ultra light backpacks (packs under 2 lbs.). This is a pricey way to go and most of the commercially made packs are still heavier than they need to be. In Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking the author describes a basic design for an ultra light backpack you can make yourself. It will be lighter, under 1lb., considerably cheaper and will have just the features you want. While you are at it you can make one for each member of your family.
Pack Specifications
An ultra-light backpack should have an interior volume of about 2500 cubic inches. It shouldn’t be much bigger than this because it is not designed to weigh more than 20 lbs fully loaded. For additional features I like a couple of water bottle pockets on either side that will take the tall 1.5 liter water bottles from the supermarket. I also like a waist strap.
The typical backpack has a hip belt and a rigid structure to transfer the weight of the pack to your hips rather than hanging it off your shoulders. Ray Jardine does away with the hip belt to save weight and keeps the pack light enough that it can hang from the shoulders.
I also suggest designing your pack so that your sleeping pad (I use a head-to-hip length Ridge Rest) folded in fourths can be fastened in place with two vertical straps inside your pack against the back. This provides structure and padding to protect your back from any hard items in the pack. If the pack is properly loaded it is stiff enough to ride on the top of your butt when pulled into the small of your back by the waist strap. If you arch your back the shoulder straps will stand free of your shoulders. In normal use the shoulder straps bear against the front of your shoulder to keep the pack from falling over backwards.
To load the pack, stuff your sleeping bag directly into the pack instead of using a stuff sack. Stuff your other things into the pack pushing the sleeping bag down as necessary. This technique ensures that your pack will always maintains its proper shape no matter how much or how little you put into it.
Plans for a 13.5 oz pack can be found on http://www.gossamergear.com/cgi-bin/gossamergear/myog.html
Sleeping Bag
Many ultra-lighters have moved away from conventional sleeping bags. They are not as efficient as a quilt or top bag. The material and insulation on the bottom just adds weight and expense without doing much to keep you warm. The sleeping pad will provide underneath insulation. Ray Jardine uses a purpose built quilt. I use a down top bag.
My basic design for a top bag is 38” wide at the foot by 48” wide at the top by as long as it needs to be to accommodate your height. I included a short zipper to create a pocket for my legs from the knees down. It would be lighter without the zipper but the zipper allows it to be opened up for use as a quilt. There is a drawstring at the top with Velcro tabs at the top corners. I also attached 10” wide “wings” to the sides of the bag from the top down to the zipper. I tuck these pieces of fabric under myself when I lie down. Some of the commercial top bags use straps that run underneath you and join the two sides together
When I crawl into my bag I zip up the foot and put my legs into it while sitting up. I adjust the drawstring to fit around my neck. I fasten the Velcro tabs behind my neck. I lie down and roll from side to side so I can tuck the "wings" under me. I cover my head with a jacket or wear a down hood to bed.
Plans and materials for a 17 oz. down quilt can be found on http://www.thru-hiker.com
A Silnylon tarp is a very popular shelter solution for the ultra-light hiking crowd. It will provide the same advantages for you in your ultra-light BOB.
Silnylon is lightweight rip stop nylon that has been saturated with silicone based water proofing compound. It increases the weight and strength of the fabric slightly and makes it waterproof. The waterproofing can’t peel off and since the fabric is completely impregnated with waterproofing the uncoated side can’t become saturated with water like typical coated fabrics. It is the lightest and strongest waterproof fabric reasonably available and makes an excellent lightweight tarp. I also made a very satisfactory pack with this material.
Fabric, completed tarps and setup instructions can be found on http://www.thru-hiker.com and http://www.ultralighttarps.com.
I use a 5’x8’ ft. flat tarp weighing about 8 oz. as a single person shelter. An 8’x10’ ft. tarp provides better protection for two people than if you each have you own 5’x8’ tarp.
The most popular stoves for ultra-light hikers are homemade alcohol stoves and tablet stoves that burn commercial (Esbit) tablets or military heat tablets [Hexamine "heat tabs", or Trioxane.] The commercial backpacking cartridge stoves are the next lightest option but they cost considerably more to buy and operate and they weigh more.
I would recommend a solid fuel stove for your BOB. The alcohol is at greater risk of being lost through leakage or damage to the container than are solid fuel tablets. Coghlan’s (http://www.coghlans.com/) sells a stove and tablet combo pack for about $5.
Other Items
I have covered the heaviest items above. The other things you need should be examined just as carefully for their balance of weight versus utility.
  Clothes – Merino wool top, socks and underwear; down vest or jacket
  Shoes – comfortable lightweight trail runners
  Wind Shell/Rain Gear – Provent or Frog Toggs are light weight, inexpensive, waterproof and breathable
  Pot – Walmart aluminum grease pot is light and cheap
  Ground sheet – Silnylon
  Water Purification – Aqua Mira
Implementing these ultra-light backpacking techniques provide not only the lightest solutions but also oftentimes the least expensive solution.
Don’t imagine that you can walk any distance carrying your BOB unless you have actually prepared to carry it. The techniques I have outlined will enable you to create an ultra light BOB that you can easily carry, leaving you fast and agile for emergencies in your travels.

Mr. Rawles:
I very much enjoying reading your blog. Keep up the good work. Here are two articles that you might find interesting:

How to Plan for [Post] Peak Oil on a Limited Budget
Very simple plan on what you need at bare minimum...attitude and mind set.

Our Village
"A few years after the Soviet Union collapsed, I spent some time living in a small Russian village where my wife's side of the family owns a house..."
- S.H.

I spotted two interesting articles on the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat faced by our deployed troops, and some prospects for IED countermeasures:

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The Buckminster Fuller Institute has an informative web page that highlights dome building.  (For the sake of weatherproofing I prefer monolithic domes, but a lot of principles are common to both both geodesic and monolithic domes.  See: http://www.bfi.org

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It has been reported by the U.S. Commerce Department that the U.S. consumer savings rate has recently dropped to NEGATIVE 0.5 percent. Collectively, we are "spending it all"--and then some. This sort of insanity cannot go on very long. The -0.5 % rate cited is the lowest rate of savings on record since 1932 and 1933--back during the depth of the Great Depression. Hmmm...

   o o o

Don't forget to sign up for one of the RWVA's Spring Appleseed Tour series of rifle training sessions/matches. They have shoots scheduled for North Carolina and Kentucky (both in March), Indiana (in April), and Wyoming and possibly Wisconsin (both in May.) It is dirt cheap to attend, so don't miss it. And for those of you that live in the Pacific Northwest, don't  miss the annual "Boomershoot" dynamite shooting competition, in north-central Idaho. It's about the most fun that you'll ever have on a weekend. See: http://www.boomershoot.org/  Be sure to check out the pictures at the web site. IMHO, the Boomershoot makes the Knob Creek machinegun shoot look tame by comparison.

   o o o

I have once again updated and expanded the SurvivalBlog Glossary.

"Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking." - R. Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, 1963

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

And The Winner Is... It was tough judging all of those great entries, but we reached a decision on the winner of Round 2 of our non-fiction writing contest. Congratulations to "EMT J.N." who wrote the excellent article: "Getting Your Group to Buy In: The $20 Medical Kit." (This article was posted on Friday, January 13th.) J.N. wins the contest prize: a "gray" fully transferable four day Front Sight course certificate. These certificates can be worth up to $2,000 each!

Start writing and sending your entries for Round 3 of the contest. This contest round will again run for two months. Thanks to the generosity of Front Sight's director Naish Piazza, the contest will have the same awesome prize. Please limit your entry to non-fiction pieces only, preferably articles about practical skills rather than something that is just motivational. 

The following is the first of the Round 3 writing contest entries. BTW, this article brings up a thorny issue amongst SurvivalBlog readers. Our readership runs the gamut:  Atheists, Agnostics, Orthodox Jews, Messianic Jews, Christians of umpteen different denominations, New Agers, Unitarians, and Buddhists. I love all of you. Some claim that my blog is "too religious", while others complain that it not sufficiently religious. Obviously, I cannot please everyone, so I'll just do what I believe is best and hopefully not offend too many of you. If any of the religious content bothers you, then just skip past it. But don't ask me to censor this blog. I don't hide the fact that I'm a Christian. I consider both preparedness and charity as my Christian duty. I sincerely believe that prayer works. Enough said.

Before we get into this, a few folks may ask "Why prepare? God will take care of us." If one wants to approach preparedness from a scriptural point of view, consider history when the Pharaoh of Egypt dreamed there would be seven plentiful years followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh was instructed to store corn "that the land perish not through famine." The Pharaoh was told by God, through Joseph, to set food aside. In the Gospel books Matthew, Mark and Luke we see famine is once again predicted. If we follow God's previous instructions, perhaps it is time to set aside some provisions again.
We need to prepare both spiritually and physically for potential upheavals. There are those who have been rather vocal and strident, who believe that the only necessary preparation is spiritual - that anything else demonstrates a lack of faith. For the most part, these are not bad people. I believe that they are misinformed, and that they misinterpret the Scripture. They cite such Scripture as the following:
Matt. 6: 19 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth..." They argue that preparing is contrary to Jesus' teaching. No one is suggesting that the food we save to keep body and soul together is a "treasure," or that we let it become an idol. We don't consider the food that we stock in our pantry for 2 weeks a "treasure." Nor do we hold it up idolatrously. It's just stuff we need. The same is true for larger amounts for longer times.
Matt.6: 25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink..." The "worry" referred to here is an all consuming preoccupation, and fear of want - that you won't have enough. It also denies that God is faithful and will provide for His own. But, simply preparing for the normal necessities of life hardly constitutes "worry" in this sense. We are not to wring our hands, get all worked up about it and drive everyone into a panic.
Matt. 6: 26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them." But Jesus didn't say the birds don't work. Anyone who has watched a sparrow build a nest and feed itself and its young knows that it does indeed work. Birds, however, do not worry. They aren't anxious. They just do what they have to, and because they do God takes care of them.
Matt. 6: 31 & 33 "Therefore do not worry, saying, what shall we eat or drink...But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Jesus is not teaching indolence or idleness. He explicitly says, don't worry, seek God's kingdom First, and what you need will be added to you. How? By just standing there with our mouths open and our hands out? As you will see from what follows, that's not how the Apostles Peter, Paul and John understood the teachings of Jesus.

My Commentary: A Biblical Defense of Preparedness
1. Consider 1 John 3: 17 - 18 "If anyone have this worlds goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth." You cannot help a brother in need if you can't help yourself. If we wait too long to prepare for problems we won't be able to help ourselves or anyone else. If this verse is to be obeyed then some sort of preparation is not only in order, but required.
2. Paul exhorted a collection for the saints in Jerusalem who were experiencing a famine. Why didn't Paul just write to the Church in Jerusalem and tell them to trust the Lord. Didn't God provide the Manna for ancient Israel? Wouldn't He do it for them in Jerusalem, and for the needy in a crisis?
3. When God gave Israel the promised land, except for those places that were under the "ban" and were completely destroyed, He left them with cities they hadn't built, fields they hadn't plowed, crops they hadn't planted and vineyards they hadn't tended. Did He then say, I've given you all this, just sit and enjoy it? Did He not expect them to tend the vineyards, plow and plant and harvest. In short, did they have no responsibility to be a good steward of what they had been given and to make them even more fruitful so they could live off the bounty of the land as the Lord blessed their labours?
4. If God expects us to do the everyday work by which we glorify Him and sustain our families during normal times, why doesn't He expect us to do the same for crisis times? If after our best efforts, guided by His gracious hand, we do not have enough to survive on, then perhaps we may expect Him to intervene in extraordinary ways to take care of us. If not, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Under normal circumstances the Lord gives us the strength to provide for ourselves and families, why should we expect something different in hard times? Not to provide for ones self and family when one had the power to do so seems to tempt God. When God provides the opportunity to prepare and we don't, are we any less foolish than the 5 virgins who could have, but didn't take enough oil for their lamps. We all know that this parable has to do with being watchful and ready for the coming of the Bridegroom, but an ancillary lesson is that the 5 foolish virgins were declared foolish precisely because they could have avoided their plight but didn't.
5. Malachi 3: 10 speaks of bringing all the tithes into the storehouse and "see if I will not pour out a blessing such as you cannot contain" But how are you going to bring in a tithe if you haven't worked to produce a tithe, either in good times or crisis times?
6. What does Prov. 6: 6 - 11 mean, if not that we are responsible to do the work of preparation while we are able. "Go to the ant you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep - So shall your poverty come on you like a robber, and your need like an armed man." See also Prov.13: 4; 20: 4; 26: 16. One brother suggested that the proper interpretation of this passage was a "spiritual" one. Even if that were true, and I don't concede that it is, it would be true spiritually ONLY if it is also true physically. We can hardly expect to get spiritual truth from false statements.
7. 2 Thess. 3: 10, says, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." No amount of exegetical legerdemain can make that verse say anything but what it says. My version - "No work - no grub." Obviously that does not include the infirmed or the aged. But it does plainly teach that indolence should not be rewarded. What else can it be called, when we could have prepared for the crisis but we didn't? That is a principle that applies in either normal or crisis situations.
8. Please note that I have refrained from calling names. The "names" you've seen are what the Bible has to say about those who do not provide for their own, or who are "sluggards" or "imprudent" by ignoring the obvious.
9. With regard to fleeing from life-threatening situations - what one brother sarcastically refers to as "hidey hole" theology - Both Peter and Paul escaped from life-threatening situations. Peter fled from Jerusalem after his miraculous deliverance from prison by the angel. Paul was let down over the walls of Damascus when a plot against his life was uncovered. Both of these were escapes from the physical persecution that arose against them because of their testimony and preaching of the Gospel. Are we supposed to believe that God is only interested in preserving His people if they are in danger as a result of their following Jesus? That if the shortsightedness or greed of the world, places Christians in danger, that somehow that is not sufficient reason to escape in order to continue to serve, worship and love God and those around us? I can't speak for others, but I know my purpose in preparing for eventualities. It is not merely to save my hide; it's not worth that much anyway; but to do what Christians have done throughout the centuries, namely to maintain a LIVING witness to the redemptive love of God in Christ, and to continue nurturing the Church which God has called me.
10. Some Christians believe that it is wrong to leave your urban or suburban home to find a rural setting where survival would be more likely. They call this "hidey hole" theology. Yet, after the stoning of Stephen much of the Church in Jerusalem dispersed precisely to preserve their lives, to continue to care for each other and spread the Gospel in the new surroundings. God called Stephen to martyrdom, but not the whole Church. The Church in Rome met in the catacombs. Some lived in the catacombs. Was that "hidey-hole theology?" When Jesus began his ministry He read from Isaiah in the synagogue, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me....This day the Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." They wanted to kill Him, but He "passed through them." He escaped. Was that "hidey hole" theology?
11. In 1 Kings 17: 8 - 16, Elijah instructed the widow of Zarephath to give him her last cup of flour and last bit of oil. He told her don't be afraid, God will provide. God caused there to be a daily miracle provision of flour and oil for her survival. But another widow and her son in 2 Kings 4: 1 - 7, were instructed by Elisha to gather many containers, for God was about to provide for her needs. There was an immediate miracle of multiplication of the oil, part of which she was told to pay off her debts, but the remainder she was to store. Thus, there was preparation, provision, and then storage in order for this woman and her son to survive. Sure, the provision was miraculous; but her use of God's provision was quite normal and mundane. Nor did Elisha criticize her for storing her oil for her family’s future needs.
12. Am I stupid, sinful and unbiblical because I want to see that my family survive? Am I to suppose to believe that God doesn't want me to do anything about the survival of those whom I love, whom He has given to me? Have I no responsibility? Do I just stand with my eyes scrunched closed and say, "OK God, you take care of me and mine?" Survival is not the ultimate value or goal for me or my family. It never was or will be. "Glorifying God and enjoying Him forever" is. If God wants me and mine dead, so be it, and may He be praised forever. But I don't see that glorifying God and staying alive are mutually exclusive, especially when He seems to be graciously giving us advanced warning precisely so that we may continue to survive, so that we may serve Him and others.
And you, O mortal, do not be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns surround you and you live among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words, and do not be dismayed at their looks.- Ezekiel 2, verse 6
The clever see danger and hide; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. - Proverbs 22, verse 3.
A closing thought:  When Noah built the ark, it wasn't raining

Mr. Rawles,
The Ben Meadows catalog is a great place for all kinds of outdoor equipment. The print catalog is a few hundred pages long, with everything from soil testers to firefighting gear and arborist supplies. I consider it recreational reading as well as a supply source. Their website has a "Wildland Fire Management" page: See: http://www.benmeadows.com/refinfo/wildlandfire.htm?cid=W51206  Regards, - TFA303

In regards to S.F.'s letter regarding medical kits, suture/wound closure, and use of Ipecac... 1. I would not recommend the use of Syrup of Ipecac to anyone without proper training in airway management, i.e.: intubation/suction equipment on hand .The airway problems far outweigh the gains, you have to know what can come back up without problem also, leave this to the trained and save your money for other supplies. 2. Wound closure, "to be or not to be closed," again if you do not have the supplies or the know how ALL wounds can close from secondary intention, that is clean and let heal over time, yes the scar is worse but the associated problems of infection/drainage are overcome. 3. Cleaning wounds is a long subject, [but in brief]: pressure and copious amounts of normal saline 0.9% will clean most wounds others have to be debrided, large pieces of contamination can be removed with hemostats or tweezers that are sterile/clean for the rest of the debris use a large syringe (sterile) with a needle attached (18 ga sterile) to increase the pressure and normal saline in copious amounts until [completely] clean to the eye.Use of Betadine and hydrogen peroxide mixed 50/50 initially is an accepted process it makes for a foamy mess but kills most all bacteria in the wound. Then again flush with normal saline until clean. With can discuss wound care of wounds healing for secondary intention at a later date if anyone is interested. 4. Most supplies can be obtained from veterinary supplies in bulk much cheaper than anywhere else: needles, syringes, dressings, tape suture(fresh not surplus), normal saline solution, betadine, et cetera.  Do a search for veterinary supplies get a few different catalogs and compare prices prior to ordering. I get a lot of meds from the vet but I have a ranch. Antibiotics/ointment et cetera are sometimes on the shelf--you just have to know what you want/need and the name and most vets will sell it off the shelf. Buy stainless steel bowls that can be sterilized for use in wound cleaning or use glass. These two items have been used for ages and can be cleaned sterilized in the oven or pressure cooker and reused over and over again. - John

"Rome wasn't built in a day -- but it burned in one."  -  Rourke http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat

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