December 2008 Archives

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's your last day! More than 675 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packing/sealing systems at the special December $59.99 sale price. We get a little "piece of the action" for each order. So this a is a great way to save money and to support SurvivalBlog in the new year. Don't miss out on this sale! You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly code L8FAV28 at checkout. This sale ends at midnight Eastern Time, tonight. By buying foods in bulk and re-packaging them in more handy (single meal size) vacuum bags, you can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. You can also vacuum pack Mason jars! (These come with a wide mouth Mason jar adapter as an included accessory.) But be sure to get an additional regular mouth Mason jar adapter, for an extra $8.99.) Buy a FoodSaver. You'll be glad that you did!

College is alarmingly pricey. As a child of the 1970s, I grew up understanding that you either got a useful degree or paid your own way.

I contend that the most useful education currently is learning a trade. Welding, auto repair or electrician's certification will pay the bills through the rough times as people choose to repair instead of purchase. As times get better, some of those trade school credits may transfer to a college and you are on your way. What is that architecture degree, but about a year of drafting plus three tortuous years of art...the discovery of use of light and space...with a dash of engineering. One of the coolest people I know, was a blacksmith who got his doctorate in physical chemistry. You never know where your trade may take you.

Art comes in many mediums that must be learned such as welding for those grand sculptures that grace the lawns of universities and corporations. Get the "practicals" under your belt first, while you make a few bucks or barter for your dinner.

Don't forget that the library is free. You should know your reference librarian as she hold the key to all knowledge or can borrow it from another library for you. Read. Read everything you can get your hands on.

As you head off to college: Find out all the required courses for your degree. Does your college allow "testing out" of any subjects? The last I checked it cost about $75 average to test completely out of 3 or 4 credit courses. Testing out may not be an option for "required for major" courses.

If you are still in high school, go for every advanced placement (AP) for college credit course you dare.
So as you plod away learning your trade that is only vaguely related to you dream degree, remember: we do what we have to do so that eventually we can do what we want to do.
Now, who is gonna come fabricate some new tines for my tiller? - The Accidental Survivalist


For more than 20 years I have volunteered my time with unemployed US scientists, engineers, and computer professionals. Based upon my experiences, I suggest that young people 1) attempt to have a trade under their belt before they get a four year college degree; 2) preferably pick a college major that will allow one to work for oneself and not as a mere employee; 3) consider mixing two majors such as getting a teaching certificate and forensic accounting as this might give one two options for a career. If the student is not committed to college or unsure what to major in, consider attending a community college first as it is less expensive. Learning something either in college or via the trade pre-college that is hands-on work such as plumbing, construction, roofing, carpentry, welding, aquaculture (fish farming) , farm management, get commercial driver's license, learn to drive farm equipment, learn to repair things -- electronics, washers/dryers, etc. Some high schools have working relationships with community colleges where a high school student can take college courses while still in high school thus saving lots of money while living at home. Some schools will allow students to attend high school part time and learn a trade at the local community college at the same time. Many high tech professionals in the USA have been told by college career counselors after the student graduated with his degree in chemistry, physics, engineering, or computer science that he should consider that degree as nothing more than a 'hobby'. Kind of a fun mental exercise but it was foolish of the student to expect to have dreamed of a career in that field. What you are looking for is a skill (or skills) that allow you to be self-employed. If the young person is in college, they should focus on skills that will make them more marketable -- oral communication skills, writing, bookkeeping (useful for one's own business), marketing, solid basic math and computer skills. Having a degree in the medical profession may or may not make one employable -- I have read of dentists and physicians who were unemployed during the Great Depression. It is possible that cosmetic surgeons might be in high demand if there are wars as the victims (military/civilian) may need reconstructive surgery. Health care professions are still probably a good bet but it doesn't guarantee a career or stable income. Case in point: I have a friend whose brother-in-law in California is an allergist and is now closing his practice because he can't making a living in this specialty. He is dropping down to become a Physician's Assistant (PA) and will work for his wife who is also a physician. He, however, cannot afford to maintain the cost of his license as an allergist with fewer people willing to see an allergist in an economic recession.

Princeton University economist, Alan Blinder (do an Internet search to read his international presentations) has stated that young Americans should not waste their time and money (paraphrasing) on a four year college degree. Instead, American youth should be learning trades that cannot be off-shored. (Unfortunately, he doesn't raise concerns about the importation of cheap labor.)

One should strive to have a college education that is debt free. No one knows what the future holds and graduating with an educational debt for a degree that may or may not provide a job (no longer a career) is a tremendous burden for a young person to enter the adult world with. When looking for a summer job or working during college -- try to pass on the burger flipping jobs and look for work in something where one can enhance a skill such a learning how to pump out septic systems, car parts shop, working on a dairy farm, landscaping, etc. I do think that having a college degree is valuable to one's personal understanding of the world but it is not necessarily essential these days to earn a living. I would urge young people, if possible, to complete a four year degree but not having one is not a sign of failure.

Finally, I also urge parents to help their children to learn basic life skills -- how to manage the home budget, cooking skills, gardening, car repairs; as well as learning to be happy and enjoy life. Learn to sing, dance, play some musical instrument, juggle, something to bring happiness to oneself and to others. This might sound like it is off topic, but when one is unemployed if you have these inner resources to pull upon it can literally be life saving.- Cynthia W. (An informed American on jobs and education)

In a recent post you mentioned unbuckling your ALICE belt when going prone. I learned a little trick in ROTC using a carabiner and two pieces of 550 [parachute] cord. First, adjust belt the way you want it. Second, tie the two pieces of 550 cord onto the end of the ALICE belt and hook them together with the carabiner. Adjust the length of the 550 cord to get the slack needed when going prone. This allows you to keep your belt buckled but when you need additional slack, just release the buckle and the 550 cord keeps the belt from flopping around too much. Don't tie the 550 cord together, as the carabiner allows you to unhook the belt quickly if you fall into a creek or river and need to dump your LBE - Bill N.

Dear Jim:
Thank you for referring readers to us for advice on web gear. At BulletProofME Body Armor we are authorized dealers for Blackhawk and SpecOps tactical nylon gear, but really our focus is body armor. Normally we only do quantity orders for tactical nylon, outside of specific armor-related items we stock. But we can give some good advice on the questions to ask to help avoid major mistakes.
There is such a huge selection to choose from these days, and so many different situations, it is hard to give universal advice. Some basic questions are in order - and probably mandatory to remind “gear freaks” to keep it practical! ;-) . There is no one right solution, and all solutions have tradeoffs:

1. What are the possible situations / circumstances ? Under contract for a year of security duty in “the Sandbox”, or trying to keep the neighborhood secure during a power outage… As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind".

2. What do you really need to carry? More weight and bulk = less mobility. versus “two is one, and one is none”.

3. How discreet do you need to be? A basic kit on a belt might be preferred to avoid the martial image that a full chest and drop leg rig gives off. On the other hand, if you were doing a ‘Neighborhood Watch on Steroids” in a post-Hurricane Katrina type situation, you might want to be more overtly armed and armored to deter looters.

4. In a similar vein, does the setup identify you as one of the good guys? In a chaotic active shooter incident you don’t want to be the recipient of “friendly fire”.

5. Used with, or without a backpack, or day pack?

6. Can you access your most time-critical items standing, kneeling, sitting, prone - or in a vehicle? (By the way, the practice of putting lots of equipment on the belly area is a really bad idea when you really need to get low and prone…)

7. Can you get in a vehicle and drive reasonably comfortably with the rig on?

8. Can you keep your pistol and spare mag in the same place whether it is concealed carry, open carry, or on a tactical rig? This is so that your pistol draw (and spare magazine draw) are always the same in your muscle memory. You probably don’t have the time to do the amount of draw practice you really should right now - why add another draw to practice? Keep it simple for your muscle memory with less chance of a slow or fumbled reaction under life-threatening stress.
A similar line of reasoning applies to rifle magazine pouch placement - keep it simple and consistent.
For example, assuming you are not a full-time SWAT officer, holsters on drop legs are probably not such good idea, unless you can really make the time to practice a different draw stroke until it becomes instinctive under high stress. (We do recommend drop legs for additional ballistic protection and secondary pouches.)
A belt attached to armor is a great idea to keep it consistent, and all one piece.

9. How fast can you put the gear on? Waking up to the sound of breaking glass at 3 a.m., or a patrol officer pulling up to a bad scene - then it had better be fast to throw on. Keeping it to just a belt is faster, or all web gear on one piece of armor with MOLLE [attachment points].

Some options for speed:

Spare ammo already on the rifle
A “Grab and Go-bag”
Bandoleers (Note that these can flop around, but they are very fast to throw on.

Yours truly, - Nick at

 Reader N.L. spotted this useful article at the Backwoods Home magazine web site: Bury a gun and ammo for 15 years. (BTW, I consider a subscription to Backwoods Home magazine for families that are seeking genuine self-sufficiency.)

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Eric flagged this Wall Street Journal piece: Bumpy Crop: Farming's Sudden Feasts and Famines, As Grain Prices Rise and Fall and Perhaps Rise Again, Growers Struggle to Navigate a New Age of Volatility and High Costs

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The Werewolf (SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Brazil) must have been thinking about the snow-bound Great White North when he spotted this snow bike and sent us the link.

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The Economatrix sent all these: Wall Street Makes Gains as GMAC Gets $5 Billion Lifeline -- US Confidence Sinks to Record Lows -- Home Prices in 20 Cities Drop 18% in October Alone -- Holiday Sales Drop to Force Bankruptcies, Closings -- Japan Banks May Get $110 Billion Bailout -- New Thai PM Warns of Shattered Economy -- UK Workers to Face Layoffs and Pay Cuts in 2009 -- Crackdown on Hedge Funds After Madoff -- Celente: Top Trends 2009 -- People Pulling Up to Pawn Shops Today are Driving BMWs and Cadillacs -- Annus Horribilis 2009

"While 2008 will probably be best known as the year that global stock markets had their values cut in half, it was really much, much more. It was a year in which every major asset class - stocks, real estate, commodities, even high-yield bonds - suffered significant double-digit percentage losses, resulting in the destruction of over $30 trillion of paper wealth. To blame this on subprime mortgages alone would be to dismiss an era of leveraging that encompassed derivative structures of all types, embodying a belief that economic growth was always and everywhere a certainty and that asset prices never go down." - Bill Gross

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles:
First and foremost thank you for your novel "Patriots" which I am currently reading.

I live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. As of late there seems to be a rise in the number of "home invasion" type of crimes in this area. Every morning that I go to work I hear about a new incident in the metroplex. This has led me to put inside locks on my bedroom doors and purchase my first gun. I consider myself one of those "know enough to be dangerous" people, but am planning on taking a handgun safety course . I'd like to know your thought on preparedness for these "home invasion" crimes which are on the rise. Once again thank you for your novel which has opened my eyes to just how unprepared I am. Sincerely, - Geoffrey T.

JWR Replies: You've surely heard the phrase "caught off guard." In my opinion, almost the entire American citizenry has been systemically "off guard" since the end of the US Civil War. There are two fundamental weaknesses that make American homes vulnerable to home invasions: a condition white mindset, and appalling architectural weakness. I'll discuss each.

Condition White Mindset

First and foremost is an almost universal Condition White mindset. This refers to the Cooper situational awareness color code for "unaware and unprepared". The vast majority of the urban and suburban population spends 90% of their daytime hours in Condition White. They do a lot of idiotic things, like failing to keep their doors locked at all times, and failing to keep loaded guns handy. Most folks lock their doors only just before retiring each evening. So most daytime and early evening home invasion robbers simply stroll in to unlocked houses and catch the occupants flat-footed. By adopting condition yellow as your norm, and by taking the appropriate security measures, you will tremendously lessen you vulnerability to violent crime, including home invasions.

Architectural Weakness

Secondly, 150 years of relative peace, stability, low crime rates, and cheap energy have worked together to push American residential architecture toward very vulnerable designs. Modern American homes are essentially defensive disasters. They have huge expanses of glass, they lack barred windows or european-style security/storm shutters, they lack defensible space, and they often have no barriers for the approach of vehicles. Another ill-conceived innovation is the prevalence of floor plans that situate the master bedroom at the opposite end of the house from the children's bedrooms.

For the past 25 years, one of the hallmarks of "bad neighborhoods" in the US has been the prevalence of barred windows and beefed-up doors. These are neighborhoods where the prevailing crime rates have pushed the majority of the population into Condition Yellow as a full time baseline mindset. Given the upswing in crime rates that will undoubtedly accompany the coming depression, I wish that everyone in the ostensibly "good neighborhoods" had this same outlook. I don't find it all surprising that criminal gangs now specifically target wealthy suburbs for home invasions, for two reasons: A.) That is where the good stuff is, and B.) These residents are sheep for the slaughter (given the prevailing condition white mindset.)

One of the most chronic defensive lapses is American suburban architecture is exterior door design. Typically, entrance doors either have widows immediately adjacent, or set into the doors themselves. Even worse is the ubiquitous sliding glass door. Nothing more than a brick or a paving stone tossed through the glass and bingo, instant access for home invaders, with the fringe benefit of instant fright and surprise for the occupants just inside, who will likely be startled by the crashing noise and flying glass. SWAT and MOUT trainers call this a form of "dynamic entry". There are umpteen variations. You may recall the use of a piece of patio furniture in Robert DeNiro's dynamic entry of Van Zant's house in in the movie Heat. Another is the vigorous application of a 5- or 6-foot length of steel pipe or a more specialized tool, in (the proven "break and rake" technique preferred by the British SAS and SFOD-D (commonly called "Delta Team") to quickly clear any protruding shards of glass).

America in the Near Future = Welcome to South Africa

In South Africa, the crime rate has been so high for so long that it has changed the way that people live in a day-to-day basis. Every stranger is viewed with extreme suspicion. Automobile drivers regularly refuse to pull over if they are involved in a minor traffic collision, for fear that it is a pretext for a car jacking.

Threat Escalation and Proactive Countermeasures

Modern military planners often talk in terms of threat spirals. In essence, a given threat escalates and it inspires a defensive countermeasure. The ideal situation is "getting inside your opponents threat spiral"--meaning that your anticipate your opponent's next escalation, and proactively take countermeasures, insulating yourself from the future threat.With that in mind, here are some thoughts on potential home invasion threat escalation and countermeasures (perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers would care to add to this list):

1.) More frequent home invasions. The worse the economy gets, the more crime we can expect. Home invasions and kidnappings are likely "growth" areas.

2.) Use of dynamic entry tools by home invaders. We can expect them to use commercial or improvised door entry battering rams and Hallagan tools--like those use by police. This means that just standard solid core doors by themselves will be insufficient. Switching to steel doors and.or adding sturdy cross bars will become common practice.

3.) Possible use of vehicle-mounted battering rams.

4.) More frequent and elaborate police impersonation by home invasion gangs.

5.) Larger, better equipped, and better organized home invasion gangs. Larger gangs will be able to invade a home--conceivably even when there is a party in progress.

6.) The potential use of cell phone jammers.

7.) More elaborate ruses as pretexts to get homeowners to open their doors. For example, not only will the "point man" be dressed as UPS driver, but there will be a very convincing looking UPS truck parked at the curb.)

8.) More home invasions at any time of the day or night.

9.) More use of pepper spray and other irritants by home invaders.

10.) Use of large diversion such as explosives to draw law enforcement to "the other side of town."

11.) More elaborate intelligence gathering by home invasion gangs--researching exactly who has cash, fine art, gemstones, precious metals, or jewelry in their homes. (BTW, this is just another reason to practice good OPSEC.)

Given these possible threat spiral escalations, you might consider building a dedicated "safe room". I can think of no better way to get inside the bad guys' threat spiral. Such a room could serve multiple purposes, including "panic room", gun and valuables vault, storm shelter, and fallout shelter. (And hence, provide you family with solutions for multiple scenarios. The folks at Safecastle (and other specialty contractors) can build these both aboveground or underground, with special order inward-opening vault doors.

You mentioned putting a lock on your bedroom door. This is usually insufficient, since most interior doors are hollow core, they typically use lightweight hinges, and they have insubstantial strike plates. Most of these doors can either be knocked down or knocked though, in very short order. I recommend replacing your bedroom doors with heavy duty exterior type doors (preferably steel) with heavy duty hinges and one or more deadbolt locks. If your house has all the bedrooms isolated on one hallway, then I recommend adding a heavy duty door at the end of that hall, and keeping it locked at night. (Basically a "safe wing" for your house) Then, inside of that safe wing, you should have a far more secure dedicated safe room that your entire family can retreat to, before the outer layers of defense succumb to physical attack.

Redundant communications are important, so you can solicit outside help. Both the master bedroom and the safe room should have hard wire ("POTS") telephones that are serviced by underground lines with no visible junction boxes. Be sure to test using a cell phone, as a backup, from every room. Having a CB radio in your safe room also makes sense. OBTW, one of my consulting clients in New Mexico intentionally installed a vertical 3"-diameter air exhaust vent from the ceiling of his safe room/fallout shelter to his roof. Using a broomstick, he can pop the slip-fit flapper valve loose, and then use the pipe as a conduit for flares from his HK P2A1 flare 26.5mm flare pistol! He reported that he has tested shooting meteor flares "up the spout", and it worked fine. Very clever.

The Ultimate Solution: Designing for Security from the Ground Up

I most strongly recommend that the next time that you move, that you buy a brick or other masonry house and upgrade its security, or better yet, start with a bare lot, and custom build a stout house with and integral safe room, from scratch. As previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, two good starting points for house designs are Mexican walled courtyards and building with square bastions (also known as Cooper Corners). These projecting corners eliminate the "blind spots" that are common to typical square or rectangular houses.

For greater detail on this subject, I recommend Joel Skousen's book "The Secure Home." My novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" also has some detailed design description for ballistically armored window shutters and doors, as well details on constructing neo-medieval door bars.

If you are serious about custom building or retrofitting an existing house for increased security and/or adding a safe room, then I recommend the architectural consulting services of both Safecastle and Hardened Structures.

I love the questions on web gear. Best advice I can give, having gone through multiple iterations of trying this and that, is to divide up your load. What do I mean by this?

In the military they have a “combat load” and an “approach load” concept. Your “combat load” is the web gear that you see troops with all the time – their “battle rattle.” On the other hand the “approach load” is similar to what we would refer to as a survival load (roughly).

The major problem with web gear is that it does not work with any backpack that has a waist belt unless you set it up to not carry anything on the pistol belt unless it is carried with a drop leg (thigh) type of setup. Oops, no ammo pouches or canteens on the pistol belt. That means that forget the cheap ALICE gear etc. unless you plan on walking only for a day and not even spending the night in bad weather. You have to go with a vest type setup right out of the gate if you want to use a large backpack.

Personally, I have used an Enhanced Load Bearing Vest (ELBV) and H-harness that can carry eight M16 magazines in chest mounted pouches, or a no-name (custom made) survival vest that carries magazine pouches on the belly with some success. I prefer the ELBV as it can take all the cheap ALICE gear in a pinch. It also does not dig into me when I go prone like the other vest (which I only use when I am out hunting any more as it makes the perfect day pack with minimal survival gear – which is what it was designed for). I then have my pistol in a drop leg holster so that it rides below both the pistol belt and the backpack waist belt. On the other side I have a knife in a drop sheath and pistol magazine pouches in a drop leg configuration (holster and magazine pouches from Black hawk).

Water is in a hydration bladder inside the backpack as well as two one quart canteens (you can’t beat the old canteen cup and canteen cup stove with any modern gear) and two two quart canteens in or on the backpack. I would recommend people look at the Kifaru line of backpacks – they are rock solid (mine has survived three trips to the Middle East and one swing through Afghanistan) and built by the guy that started Mountain Smith. They are pricey but they don’t fail in the field and wear like a dream.

I also carry on the outside of the backpack a Camelbak hydration pack with 100 ounces of water. It has just enough carrying capacity to make up for the butt pack that I used to carry on my pistol belt (poncho, some food, and SERE gear). In a fight I can ditch the backpack in under a minute, get the Camelbak on, get one of the two one quart canteens clipped on, and shove the Russian Spetsnaz shovel into the loops on the Camelbak (designed to carry ice axes) after I take it off of the larger backpack. So, while not perfect it is the best thing I have found to date.

A couple of tips no matter what brand/setup you go with. First, go prone and roll around on the ground. Your magazine pouches should not dig (try to land on one if it digs into your diaphragm …) and at least some of them should be accessible regardless of the position you are in. Second, you should be able to roll over and over and low crawl with the rig. I saw one kid with a ton of gear not be able to get low enough behind a street curb one time and he ended up a casualty. [JWR Adds: One reason that I prefer traditional pistol belts and suspenders is that by simply unbuckling the pistol belt latch, any pouches in the front can be pushed to the sides (putting all the weight on the suspenders), allowing the wearer to low crawl effectively.] Remember that hard objects in your backpack become shrapnel when hit by bullets. Third, when you jump up and down you should not make any noise.

When you are done with your web gear buying and backpack buying and you start to load up, keep this in mind. On your web gear you only want those things that you will need in a fight.

The Colonel that was portrayed in the movie “Blackhawk Down” now has an infantry battalion in Iraq. Because of his experience with the [Mogadishu] “Blackhawk Down” affair he now never leaves his compound without having at least 30 loaded magazines on him. Plus he carries a combat lifesaver kit. This outfit has the best ones on the market today. - Hugh D.

In the wake of the real estate collapse comes inevitably: Squatters: The latest real-estate menace. (A hat tip to Hoffmama.)

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Several readers sent this: As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S. (Of course, consider the reliability of the source.)

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David D. mentioned that Farm Show magazine has lots of articles with energy saving ideas, including: "Wood Gas Generator Produces "Free" Power", a Coal-Fired Grain Dryer, Biodiesel Generator Powers Up On Veggie Oil (or Almost Any Oil) , and Manure Furnace Burns All Kinds of Waste.

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Florida Guy mentioned another Nanny State scheme: Oregon attempts mandatory GPS car tracking of all new autos

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The latest Glut-'o-Gloom from Cheryl: Kerkorian Sells Off Remaining Ford Shares -- Oil Surges on Concerns Mideast Violence will Disrupt Supplies -- Fallout Begins After Dismal Holiday Season -- Ruble in Trouble -- 10 Things that Won't Survive the Recession -- Crisis Batters American Small Businesses -- In a Recession, Execs Make a Quick Getaway -- Stocks Pull Back Amid Mid-East Tensions -- Dollar Rocked by Mid-East Violence -- Wall Street Faces Record Losses in Last Week of 2008 -- Shoppers Even More Finicky

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Edmund Burke, 1770

Monday, December 29, 2008

Just three days left! More than 625 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packers at the special December sale price. I consider a home vacuum packer & sealer a key item to own for family preparedness. These greatly increase the storage life of foods. They also allow you to inexpensively buy foods in bulk and then pack them in single meal sizes. This capability alone will make the Foodsaver pay for itself in less than a year. And if you get the optional regular mouth Mason jar vacuum sealer attachment for an extra $8.99 your Foodsaver will be even more versatile. (They all come with a wide mouth Mason Jar attachment as a standard accessory.) We get a little "piece of the action" for each Foodsaver that is sold using our link. So this a is a great way to save money and to support SurvivalBlog! Don't miss out on this sale! You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly Be sure to use code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or while supplies last. We've had one here at the Rawles Ranch for many years and it gets a lot of use. Buy a FoodSaver. You'll be glad that you did!

Today's first post was inspired by the recent drop in both crude oil and refined oil prices, following their huge bull market for the past three+ years. (Short term deflation is now upon us, but I predict that inflation will be back in the long run, with a vengeance!) It is a piece from the SurvivalBlog Archives, circa October, 2005. In retrospect, I can see that I was right about my predictions on fuel and grain prices.

Note that there are now nearly 5,800 archived SurvivalBlog articles, letters, and quotes, all available free of charge!

It has been said that nothing is inevitable except death and taxes. But personally, I add inflation to that list. Inflation is an insidious hidden form of taxation

We've been robbed! According to The Inflation Calculator, what cost $100 in 1905 would cost $2052.36 in 2005. The U.S. dollar has lost 95% of its value in that time. (If you were to buy exactly the same products in 2005 and 1905, they would cost you $100 and $4.87 respectively.) The inflation rate jumped considerably in the 1960s and 1970s. It is no coincidence that the U.S. Treasury stopped minting real silver coins in 1964.

Even it this current era of supposedly"low" inflation, the depredations of inflation are inexorable-- but just slower. It is like watching a 50 pound ice block sitting in the sun. The real rate of inflation is presently about 6.5%. Thus, you need to make at least 6.5% a year on your money just to keep pace with inflation. In the long term the concept of "saving" for retirement is almost fallacious, especially when you consider the bouts of inflation that are likely to occur in the next 20 years. The twin deficits--budget and trade--will inevitably lead to much higher rates of inflation in the years to come. Perhaps we'll even experience a full-blown hyperinflationary currency crisis that will wipe out the value of all of our dollar-denominated investments in just a few months. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: If you want to protect yourself from inflation, then buy tangibles. My late father used to be fond of saying: "There are three kinds of people in the world: People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and [the majority of people,] the people who wonder, 'What the heck happened?'" Inflation is a process that is so subtle that the majority of people do not recognize it for what it is.

It is safe to assume that inflation will continue, and will only get worse, especially with commodities. Oil will likely double in the next 18 months. So that means corresponding increases in gas, diesel, and home heating oil. Wheat, rice, and other commodities will also jump up in price. They too, may double soon. Protect yourself from inflation. Stock up on tangibles. Not only is it wise to be prepared physically, but you can also consider these tangibles a prudent investment.

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to get the word out to all that have not heard yet, all non-CARB (California Air Resources Board)-approved fuel cans will be no longer be sold nationwide [in the US] after January 1, 2009. That means you will not be able to buy any more of the ever-so-useful NATO gas cans to store fuel in and I assume any other fuel can that does not meet this new regulation. I know this is a little late to post this, I just found out myself a few days ago. I talked to Maine Military Surplus this morning and they still have a few left and are expecting a new shipment soon although they had to pay more for the latest ones. With shipping these were just over $26 apiece. Anyone who thought this was a free country needs to think again.

Thanks so much for all you do, Mr. Rawles. I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas. - S. in Oklahoma


I read the recent post on CARB compliant gas cans that are going to be mandatory for the US in January. Here in Pennsylvania we've had them in place for a while now. It might be good to let your readers know what they're in for.

My first words of advice to anyone in a non-CARB compliant state -- go buy any "old style" gas cans that you can find now if you need them. The new CARB compliant cans are a real pain in the rump to use. The CARB compliant cans are the most over-engineered product I've ever seen. They're airtight, child-proof, and typically require 3 hands to get gas out of them. The first models used a spout that hooked onto the lip of a gas tank and needed to be pressed in to actually let gas out. Newer models use a lever-style handle that's easier to deal with, but there's a child-proof tab that needs to be pulled back before the lever can be pressed. Fortunately that child proof tab can be removed out in about five seconds to make the cans much more user-friendly. The CARB compliant cans are ventless; there's no more little vent opening and the venting is actually done through the spout. This prevents evaporation that occurs when the vent spout is open, but it means that air has to come in while gas flows out and that makes emptying a can much slower. It also means that older spouts won't work well with new CARB compliant cans because they aren't designed for venting through the spout. Emptying a 5 gallon CARB compliant gas can through its supplied venting spout takes about 5-to-6 minutes -- but it seems a lot longer when you're holding the heavy can with one hand and pressing the pour lever with the other.

Fortunately, I've found a solution to the whole CARB compliance debacle -- the tried and true siphon hose. I recently bought a "Super Siphon" from Boat Show Products -- what a great product! Unlike the CARB compliant spouts, the Super Siphon can empty a fives gallon can in two minutes or less. I was looking for the fastest and easiest way to fill up my cars from gas cans. The super siphon fits the bill. It uses a ball-check valve to let liquid in but not back out, so there's no manual sucking gas through the hose required. You just shake the check-valve end of the siphon hose up and down into the gas can until the gas fills the hose and starts the flow then physics takes over and the gas moves. I position the gas can I'm filling from on a step ladder to keep it higher than the car's gas tank opening. No mess, no heavy cans to hold and the fuel gets transferred quickly. Plus, I don't need to stand there holding the can while it fills - my hands are free and I can pay attention to something other than the gas can (Like getting the next can ready to go).

I have no business connection with the Super Siphon or the vendor, I'm just a happy customer. I just wanted to pass the info along to anyone who stores gas for a bug-out situation. There are other similar siphons on the market and it might even be possible to build your own if you can find the check-valve piece somewhere. I highly recommend that everyone who intends to fill their car with a gas can at some point actually try it. Most CARB compliant cans don't have nozzles long enough to fill a car, and even if they did it's a challenging if not impossible hold the can, fumble with the child safety lock and the gas release lever all while trying to keep the gas flowing into the 3/4 inch opening of the gas tank. Siphoning is definitely the way to go.
Thanks for you blog; I've enjoyed reading it. - Doug in Pennsylvania

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter. An even faster method than a siphon pump is a homemade 12 VDC fuel transfer pump. Every prepared family should have one or two of these.

longer this [economic death spiral] goes on, the more it looks like this is going to be at least a decade before normality returns. So, if you've got a teenage kid you're probably thinking, what kind of career (assuming we don't totally melt down at a societal level) path he or she should take...

I was talking to someone the other day and he told me his kid was studying art. "Oh, I asked, is he any good?" He replied "No, not really." This family man is spending good money, money that could be put into preparations into a liberal arts education? Idiot.

Even if his son were Michelangelo reincarnated, who is going to pay for artwork in a depression. It's not like he is going to get a stipend from the Medici family and work on family portraits of the rich and famous.

I'd like to ask the collective survival mind as represented by SurvivalBlog readers, what careers do you think are worth paying money to learn how to do for the next generation? - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Off the top of my head, I think that any of the medical professions would be good choices, especially those related to geriatrics, since we live in an aging society The only notable exception would be cosmetic surgery.

BTW, the Memsahib's parents grew up during the Great Depression and consequently they told the Memsahib and her sister that they would be willing to pay for their college education only if they wanted to be "teachers, nurses, or dental assistants"--because there would always be some demand for them. No fru-fru art degrees for their daughters!

Mister Rawles:
Just a quick note on ALICE and MOLLE gear. I love both my girls and sometimes have a hard time choosing, but when using ALICE pouches on a MOLLE system, it's better to use the adapters (available inexpensively on EBay) or the ALICE clips will wear out the MOLLE [attachment] strips very quickly. - DRZ

Kurt reminded me that the US Army's Survival Manual (available for free download in PDF) has and appendix on Edible and Medicinal Plants. It includes a lot of color photos, which makes it a lot easier to identify plants.

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Some good news, especially for those of us that plan to stock up on winter-formulated gas: South Carolina gasoline hits 91 cents per gallon

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Robert S. in Las Vegas e-mailed to alert us: "While out shopping for post-Christmas deals yesterday we ran into a great deal on 20# propane cylinders (the standard BBQ size). We have a multi-fuel generator as well as several backup heating and cooking systems that use propane and maybe some of the SurvivalBlog readers do as well. Some of the stores called The Great Indoors are closing and going out of business. I found several palettes of new unfilled 20# propane cylinders on sale for 25% off marked down to $22 each which is a very good price."

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Thanks to Rich at KT Ordnance in Montana for sending this link that illustrates the depth of the state budget crises: Fire Sale: Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are thinking of selling Toll Roads

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Doc Gary flagged this one: Hybrid auto as an emergency generator.

"It was the Wild West. If you were alive, they would give you a loan. Actually, I think if you were dead, they would still give you a loan." - Steven M. Knobel, a founder of the appraisal company Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson, that did business with Washington Mutual (WaMu) until 2007, as quoted by The New York Times

Sunday, December 28, 2008

If you find what you read in SurvivalBlog useful and that is has saved you from making some costly mistakes, I hope that you will consider joining the 2% of readers that have become voluntary Ten Cent Challenges subscribers. Many Thanks!

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you very much for your web site. I have been reading it every day for the last two months. It is a wealth of knowledge. Read your book as well. I have been researching food, water et cetera for quite a while and your site has helped a great deal. My family will be quite prepared for whatever in short order. The one thing that ha me confused is web gear/tac vest/ALICE gear. In your book you refer to a certain type of web gear but I am having trouble putting all of the pieces together. I am ex-Coast Guard and not at all familiar with land gear. What web gear goes with what pack and belt, et cetera? Can you help me with a list of compatible gear or recommend a book or manual? Thanks, - Kurt in Washington

JWR Replies: There are umpteen opinions out there on web gear, so take the following as just one man's view. Although they are currently all the rage, I am not a fan of load bearing vests. I still primarily use the old tried-and-true ALICE gear, although I have upgraded from the traditional "Y" suspender harness to the more heavily-padded Eagle Industries Ranger "H"-harness.

The new modular MOLLE (spoken "Molly") vests are more versatile than the older-generation Woodland camouflage vests that have stitched-in magazine pouches, but I prefer having nearly everything handy at belt level. I've found that it is slow and cumbersome to get magazines in an out of pouches that are any higher than my solar plexus. So that is why I'm still an ALICE LC-2 vintage dinosaur. But as they say, "Your mileage may vary" (YMMV).

Adding body armor to the equation changes things considerably, since full Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) with a MICH helmet weighs anywhere from 19 to 25 pounds, depending on sizes and how many add-on pieces--such as upgraded SAPI plates--are included. And keep in mind that those figures do not include the weight of ammo, magazines, a full hydration bladder, and various wunderkind gadgets. When wearing non-concealment body armor, a load bearing vest/carrier does make sense. Talk to the folks at (one of our advertisers) for details on getting set up with body armor, pouches, and hydration systems that are practical and comfortable. As I've mentioned before, fitting is crucial with body armor, so talk with an experienced dealer with a big inventory and responsive customer service policies that can fit you properly.

Here is a brief overview on the older ALICE generation US military web gear. Greater detail can be found in FM 21-15, "Care And Use Of Individual Clothing And Equipment", which can often be found at, Midway,, and

Here is a PDF of a Fact Sheet on the latest MOLLE generation US military web gear. Since this is the era of the high tech Stryker soldier, most of the "documentation" for MOLLE gear is actually in the form of instructional DVDs. Oddly, I've never seen these DVDs for sale in the civilian world. (But no doubt the Airsoft Mall Ninjas have a secret distribution system, via Bit Torrents or some such.)

The majority of ALICE and MOLLE items will interchange--meaning that in most instances you can clip an ALICE magazine pouch onto a MOLLE vest, or attach a MOLLE pouch onto a ALICE belt. Don't be worried about mismatched colors or camouflage patterns. Practical civilian survival "ain't a beauty contest." In real world camouflage, randomness is a good thing. Anyone that tries to tell you that all your gear has to be "color coordinated" is a poseur.

Both ALICE and MOLLE gear is available from U.S. Cavalry Store. (BTW, if you follow that link then we'll get a little piece of the action when you order.)

Dear James:
Having recently acquired two M14 pattern rifles and some reloading equipment, I was interested to read yesterday's article on using soft point ammunition in battle rifles. As a Canadian citizen, my main battle rifle options were quite limited. Firstly, our misguided "gun control" legislation prohibits civilian ownership of most main battle rifles; FALs, CETMEs, G3s and the like are all "prohibited firearms". However, semi-automatic M14 variants, such as the M1A and Norinco/Polytech M14 clones, are "non-restricted firearms" and can be bought with ease, used for hunting purposes, etc. (traditional wood stocked appearances apparently can deceive gun control bureaucrats). Secondly, the fact that in Canada the Norinco M-14S/M-305 semi-auto M14 clones sell for $400-500 as opposed to $1,800-2,000 for [Springfield Armory] M1As is quite compelling; one can buy two Norinco M14S's, plus reloading gear, plus a few hundred rounds of ammunition for the cost of a single M1A. [JWR Adds: Be advised that a good portion of the Chinese M14S production has suffered from insufficiently heat-treated ("soft") bolts and some very bad bolt geometry. Clint McKee at Fulton Armory recommends replacing both their bolts and barrels. The result will be a reliable rifle.]

Reloading for Norinco M14S's is quite popular north of the border. I'd recommend this site as a guide for those interested in reloading for the M14.

Two rules that I now follow when reloading for my Norinco M14S's is to always use CCI primers; they are harder than the competition's primers and indent less upon chambering. Given the M14 pattern rifle's robust design, they do not require soft-primered cartridges to function. The difference in indentation on chambering between CCI primers and Winchester primers is visible to the naked eye. I never had a slam-fire with the 300 rounds I loaded using Winchester primers, but having seen the difference with the CCI primers, I now use CCI exclusively. Secondly, when reloading .308 brass for my M-14S's, I load conservatively, replicating the M80 [standard ball] 7.62 load (although I eventually plan to experiment with replicating M118 and M852), which is below maximums for .308 Winchester, and carefully inspect each case before reloading it. It goes without saying that handloading is an activity that demands extreme care and meticulousness.

[JWR Adds: Keep in mind when working up "GI Ball" 150 grain soft nose equivalents (or "GI Match" 168 grain soft nose equivalents) that because of the thicker brass used with military 7.62 mm NATO cases, the case volumes differ considerably from civilian .308 Winchester brass.]

Lastly, I'd like to say thank you for all the energy and devotion that you've put into running SurvivalBlog. It's been a daily read for me since I discovered it a few years ago, and I routinely recommend it to friends. It's provided invaluable guidance to me in my preparations. Best Regards, - A Somewhat Prepared Canadian.

American Fork [, Utah] Man Is Food Storage Fanatic

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Rod M. sent us a link to this tongue-in-cheek piece from Australia on the resurgence of survivalism: Where is The Safest Place on Earth? BTW, the article includes mention of our spin-off web site,

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Several readers sent this: Mormons prepared for hard times. While I'll never see eye-to-eye with the LDS church doctrinally, I highly commend them for their food storage policy and their extensive cannery and bishop's warehouse infrastructures.

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Another huge batch of economic news and commentary from Cheryl: One Third of US Banks May Fail or Merge In 2009 -- Fed Grants Request to Make GMAC a Bank Holding Company -- 32,000 UK Realtors Jobs Wiped Out -- Economy on Knife-Edge as Japan Faces Deflation Fears -- Retailers Foresee Dire 2009 -- British GDP Drops Faster than 1940s -- Gas Prices Drift to 58-Month Low -- Joel Skousen: 2008 in Review -- Financial Markets and Economic Potpourri December 26, 2008 -- Insolvent Financial System Signals Higher Gold -- Families Turning to Insurance Fraud to Beat Credit Crunch -- Economists Who Called it Right & Predictions for 2009 -- Crackdown on Bailed-Out Banks (But will the legislation go retroactive?) -- Housing Has its Worst Monthly Price Drop in 20 Years

"And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." - Isaiah 58:11

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I have been deeply perplexed ever since first beginning to read SurvivalBlog. Every night, while the wife and new baby daughter slept in peace, I have thought about my lack of tangible knowledge. Sure, I have many skills over a variety of useful tasks in our everyday lives, and even some that would help my family survive in a bad situation. But, when we have to be brutally honest with ourselves, self-doubt can get the best of us. I say this now because it was reading the highly useful SurvivalBlog that brought on this doubt for me. I wanted to be able to contribute, but doing that means you have to actually know something useful for others to consider in their preparations. The essay contest at SurvivalBlog has reminded me to be more vigilant in learning the right skills-the ones that my mother’s generation stopped teaching us (or we were not listening). The site and community here has triggered me to ask myself, “What do I know well enough to actually write about?” I believe we should all self-reflect; it may give us strength now for when our families will need it most.

But this essay is about something else. This essay is a thought experiment in reminding ourselves of what not to forget in any horrendous situation that might occur where people depend on our foresight and fortitude to survive. What is it that we must never forget? That we are a nation of laws, not men. Let me explain, and it will be shown that what I write about is indeed a skill. A skill that all of us will need to insure the long-term survival of our families, nations, and world, no matter how bad it gets.

Here is a hypothetical: A worst-case nuclear scenario. Multiple hits. Fallout. It could be worse-but you prepared. You covered all the bases, down to the last pound of hard wheat and fully stocked ammo cans. You have a shelter that helped you survive the initial effects. You find the government fails and falls. For a time, you are secure with the skills and supplies you have, and your family lives on. Very quickly, though, things begin to deteriorate into lawlessness. I am not just talking about hordes of zombies running rampant; I am talking about every institution that you staked your survival on being gone. That survival retreat you bought has no more boundaries-it is open to all who wish to take it-even once friendly neighbors you never knew you had. I am talking about the threatened existence of private property. What do you do?

What about justice for the weak and the wicked? It cannot always come at the end of a smoking barrel. I have as many guns as the next guy and train with them-but real law comes only when we can make promises and keep our word. At the root of every law in our land lies a promise- a promise to do or not to do something-and another person that makes the same commitment. It is called a compromise.

What about a court system to enforce these promises? Sure, as citizens we often lament the court system as it applies to our everyday lives. Sometimes its because we do not understand its complexity-and it is complex-but other times it is because the system actually does do wrong to someone. Nonetheless, it is a necessary evil if we are to live in a truly free community and nation. Do not misunderstand me-I am a libertarian to the core, not a pro-big government full of too many laws type. I write these words hesitantly only after substantial thought of how to protect my family in the long-term. That is where the skill enters the fray.

The skills I believe are critical for all of our survival include negotiation, objective legal analysis, compromise, and institution-building. I am not going to detail here how best to create a judicial system or government out of the proverbial ashes. What I will discuss are the basics of thinking about problems we will have post-TEOTWAWKI in a way that really insures our long-term family and community survival. At some point, supplies will run low, skirmishes will occur (either between neighbors or communities), and arguments over what is whose and who promises what will prevail. How will you deal with these situations?

I am a soon-to-graduate law student, and will be a high-level litigator for lawsuits against the government. I attend a powerful law school that breeds politicians and world leaders at the highest levels of government-and that is all I will say in the service of relative anonymity. My essay here addresses the topic with the skill and reality of a lawyer-not someone merely interested in reading books about law or statutes of gun laws. Let me make this very clear: The law is not black and white. It is gray-and this is why lawyers have jobs. It is gray because it is a human endeavor. This is why you must be able to deal with human beings! You must be able, in any survival situation, to make everyone feel like they have gotten their fair shake at the table. You have to be able to negotiate, analyze without emotion, and compromise. If you do not acquire these delicate skills, you will not survive very long. People in your community will not deal with you. If you do have these skills, you can quickly become the go-to person for resolving disputes, whether local or not. No matter what happens to our present world (excluding religiously based predictions), people will eventually congregate again and begin to bargain. Eventually those bargains will get more complicated. Eventually martial law on anything is sight will have to give way to civil and political discourse. You must be able to do this. Before anyone discounts any of the preceding words as not a “survival” skill per se, or not an OPSEC consideration, I point to the founding fathers of this country. They were revolutionaries, patriots, but many were also lawyers. And our country was born. I hope I have conveyed the importance of the skills I outline. They are not just for lawyers that many seem to have a dislike for.

: The first step to a successful negotiation is trust between the parties involved. Simple steps can be taken to do this. Say two neighbors are fighting over a property line-but the court burned with all the recorded deeds and surveys. Even if the property owners have their own copies, who will enforce it? What if one has more ammo than the other? Uh-oh! If you are involved and take a leadership role this can be resolved and you keep your family out of a cross-fire. So, establish that both parties can trust you, even if they don’t trust each other. Some of this should have already been done before a disaster-that is, you, as a preparedness-minded individual should have already shown yourself to be a trustworthy and fair citizen. Of course, bad OPSEC would require you to allow all neighbors to know your exact preparations. You don’t have to do that. By simply respecting the rights of your neighbors now you have established some trust to use later. Other ways of establishing that you are fair and trustworthy come in the form of charity, as always discussed on this site, and in being straightforward even when it does not benefit you. This is perhaps the fastest way to becoming a successful negotiator. If you have done right by others, and these two neighbors begin to involve you in their dispute, it is time for step two: Establish the outer limits of what both parties want. In the property line dispute, you would resort to your skills at reading surveys (if the parties have them), and use that knowledge to see where both parties want their line to be. As an aside, this could be just a land transfer where the parties both want to readjust boundaries but argue over payment, etc... I say this because this article is meant to trigger your own assessment skills and apply them to a variety of possible scenarios. Once you have established the outer bounds of what the parties want, it is time to figure out a way to do step three: Convince the parties, or even better, allow the parties to convince themselves, of why settlement is in their best interests (and yours, because you don’t want to be involved in an escalating situation). This is where your own style and finesse plays a determining factor. Be creative. Once these three steps are accomplished, you are on your way to becoming the local negotiator! Resolving disputes by negotiation is precisely the kind of skill every “prepper” should be adept at:

: This skill is related to negotiation, but I classify it separately because I define (for this article only) a negotiation as you acting as agent between two other parties. Compromise, on the other hand, involves you as one of the parties. This makes it much more difficult because we have personal interests at stake. In these scenarios, it is critical to have a developed sense of legal analysis. This is a loaded term, but for our purposes it means to see a problem as a problem-not a problem that affects you. Step away mentally and see the other person’s argument. Try to understand them and what they want. Yes, what they want might be something you’ll never give, but in order to develop a strategy you must understand what you are strategizing against! The next step in effective compromise is to offer your fair solution and then ask the other party to offer theirs. Even if no one thinks this will yield results, what else is there to do? Argue and elevate a situation? If nothing else, actually doing the repetitive act of offering solutions to each other will postpone a violent conflict long enough for you to gain a short-term tactical advantage. At best, it may actually yield a compromise you both can live with.

The aforementioned skills of negotiation and compromise are only meant to be a primer for further thought by all SurvivalBlog readers. I thought it important to contribute a few ideas on what will ensure our true long-term survival in any situation. As a parting thought, imagine the worst-case scenario. The constitution of this country has been dissolved. Awhile down the road, you are called upon to go to a convention. Would you have the skills to ensure your rights, and the rights of your countrymen, are again enshrined in a new founding document? Think about it long and hard. I think about it every evening with a .45 discreetly hidden near the desk I use to study Law for a living.

Our country will need you. Thomas Jefferson pioneered the ideal of a “citizen-lawyer,” and our nation was founded upon the idea that all persons were equally responsible in ensuring the proper functioning of the government. The “citizen-lawyer” does not have to be a lawyer-indeed, Jefferson meant it to apply to all equally. I believe that the preparedness-minded individual is uniquely situated to appreciate the need for the skills I have addressed here. Without them, our ammo and food would run out...and that is it. Run out. Do you want that to be the end result of your preparations?

I've only been reading your blog for a short time, but I find it both interesting and informative.

Having been a hunter for the last 56 of my 64 years, I do wonder why anyone who plans on getting out of Dodge and heading for the woods would want a battle rifle with ball ammo when we won't be bound by anything like the Hague Convention as to the ammo we use. Seems to me, that soft points would be a better choice and if the SHTF. My M1A will be traveling with me and will be loaded with hunting ammo.

My personal choice, if I could only carry one firearm, would be a 12 gauge shotgun with rifle sights. With slugs, it's good to over 100 yards for big game and men, with 00 or 000 [buckshot shells] it's great for self defense and you don't have to be all that good a shot, and #6 shot works well for smaller game. I came very close to using mine this year on elk because my grandkids scammed my .308 and 30-06 for their elk hunt and I don't have anything else that's legal for hunting.

Forting up in our home [in the city] also seems like sure death if those who mean us harm are intent on doing so and have a pint of gasoline and a match, so hitting the road for a less urban environment sounds like the best thing to plan for.

At any rate, I like your site and it has been added to my favorites. - Don J.

JWR Replies: I was an M1A owner for more than 25 years, before recently switching to L1A1 (inch pattern FAL) rifles. I switched only because the cost of spare magazines and spare parts for M1As was becoming prohibitive. (An original USGI M14 parts set (everything except a receiver) now costs in excess of $1,200, and I just recently saw one advertised for $1,500!)

You are correct that in most defensive shooting situations, there will be no need to penetrate armor, and the mushrooming effect of soft nose ammo will be preferable. However, I recommend the use of soft nose ammo for .308 battle rifles only for handloaders. Let me explain my rationale: Military 7.62 NATO brass is not identical to civilian .308 Winchester brass. It has a thicker case head, and is hence more robust. Military ammunition is also loaded with less sensitive "hard " primers, that differ from civilian primers. Also, some civilian .308 loads exceed the military pressure specifications for 7.62 NATO. The following is a quote from the M1A manual PDF available at the Springfield Armory web site:

"The M1A is designed and built to specifications to shoot standard factory military 7.62 NATO ammunition. The specifications for standard military ammunition include harder primers to withstand the slight indentation from the firing pin when the bolt chambers a cartridge. This slight indentation is normal. The use of civilian ammunition with more sensitive primers or hand loads with commercial primers and/or improperly seated primers increase the risk of primer detonation when the bolt slams forward. This unexpected "slam fire" can occur even if the trigger is not being pulled and if the safety is on. Use of military specification ammunition will help avoid this."

The most cost effective approach to providing soft nose ammo for 7.62mm NATO battle rifle is to use a collet-type reloading press bullet puller, and pull the FMJ projectiles from standard 150 grain 7.62 NATO ball ammo. Then re-seat 150 grain spire point ("spitzer") civilian soft nose .308 bullets, such my old favorite, the Sierra 150 grain spitzer boat-tail. Repeat, repeat x 1000. This is time consuming, but it will give you appropriate soft nose loads with safe pressure an safe primers for your M1A, and it will save you about 30% on the cost of commercially-loaded ammo. Technically, this is still "handloading", so it will void your warranty, but you'll have safe and cost-effective loads that will mushroom on impact.

Frequent contributor Bill N. mentioned an interesting site on off-road driving. Bill's comment: "The guy teaches 4WD recovery procedures and has several articles posted on his web site. I read his one on Hi-Lift jacks and learned some things."

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KAF was the first of several readers to send us this: Homeland Security forecasts five-year terror threats

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Justin and Jeff both sent this, from The Wall Street Journal: Fourth Quarter Retail Sales Plummet.

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Reader Dan. H. mentioned this photovoltaic power system in the San Juan Island archipelago in Washington that includes hydrogen storage tanks and fuel cells.

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." - John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765

Thanks so much for Survival Blog. It's been an invaluable resource to me and my family as we prepare for what's coming. This is the first time I've ever emailed you, but it's with a question that I haven't been able to find a good answer to elsewhere. I'm hoping you'll share your advice.

With the price of gas so low right now, I'm thinking it would be prudent to stock up. I'd like to have some on hand at my house to run the generator for small events like snowstorms and such, but I'd also like to have extra gas around to take with me should the need to G.O.O.D. arises (to extend the range of my bug out vehicle). My problem is that I'm in a typical suburban neighborhood so my only option for gas storage is really my garage. I don't have room to build a shed far away from the house. On top of that, I have a [natural gas] water heater with a pilot light in the garage. It's 18 inches off the ground on a wooden platform (supposedly to keep it away from heavier-than-air gas fumes) but it still makes me uncomfortable.

My question is this: Is it safe to store 20 gallons or so of gas (treated with Sta-Bil) in approved 5 gallon plastic containers in my garage? If not, what is the safest way to store gas? I've thought about putting the plastic containers in a small plastic storage unit in my backyard, but my house gets southern exposure so the storage unit will heat up a lot during the summer months, which I know is probably not safe either. Any ideas? Thanks and blessings, - Alex H.

JWR Replies: First and foremost: Do not store any gasoline in can in an attached garage! As I illustrated my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", ounce-for-ounce, fuel-air mixtures can be some of the most potent explosives imaginable.

If you live on a postage stamp-sized city lot and don't have room for a detached shed to store gasoline, then your best bet is to ask a friend that lives outside of city limits--or at least on a much larger lot with room for a detached shed--to store some gas cans for you. But there are some clever alternatives for someone that doesn't mind a bit of digging and has basic carpentry skills. The first is digging a concealed cache for some gas cans, covered by a stout platform (deck/walkway), or wide paving stones (often available free on Craigslist). Another method that requires a less stout "lid" is buried cache under a Japanese arched bridge. (One of my consulting clients did this when he re-landscaped his suburban back yard. The cache has a sheet of marine grade plywood for a lid, covered by gravel. The bridge and the lid beneath it can easily be moved to access the cans. Make it look decorative and "Zen", and few will ever guess what lies beneath.) Yet another option is to build what looks like a typical raised planter box, but make it actually a tray with soil only 3 or 4 inches deep. That way you'll only have to dig a trench for the cans that is one foot deep. Just be advised that from all reports storing gas cans underground works well only if your property has a low water table and only if you use plastic fuel cans. (My favorites, Scepter cans, are sadly now banned from civilian sale (but not ownership) in the US, but are still available in Canada.) OBTW, don't try an underground gas storage approach with steel "Jerry" or "Blitz"-type cans. Even if you put them up on blocks and paint them with asphault emulsion, they will eventually rust.

Friday, December 26, 2008

We are having a quiet, snowy Christmas here at the ranch. As you know, I write and edit most of my posts a day in advance, so these posts for December 26th are being composed and posted on the 25th. Sorry that the blog is a bit "light" today, but I'm a bit preoccupied with the Christmas dinner preparations and present opening chaos. All that I can say in my defense is that I haven't missed a day of posting yet, since SurvivalBlog was launched on September 5, 2005. There are now more than 5,700 archived articles, letters, and quotes. I hope that you enjoy reading them and that you find the blog useful and motivational. Merry Christmas and Semper Paratus!

The blog post regarding diesel gelling is correct for the most part. However there are solutions that are easy and inexpensive. There are many aftermarket additives that will keep your fuel oil from gelling and also raise the cetane level of the fuel. The cetane level is similar to the octane level of gasoline, the higher the better it burns. DieselKleen, Stanadyne and others are good choices. My 6.0L Ford F350 gets a full mile per gallon better mileage with the addition of DieselKleen and I have not had a single engine problem in over two years of operation. One gallon of DieselKleen is about $17 dollars at Wal-Mart and treats 300 gallons of diesel fuel. For climates where freezing temperatures are a concern, make sure to purchase an additive that has anti-gelling properties. DieselKleen in the silver container is the anti-gelling formula. Hope this helps. - Jim T.


Those of us who live in Canada (in my case 60 miles northeast of Toronto) and drive diesel vehicles (1990 diesel Land Cruiser, HDJ81) know the problem of diesel gelling all too well.
However there are measures you can take to lessen the problem, e.g. add an anti-gelling diesel additive with every fill up, the amount varies with brand). In addition install a heater on your oil pan, a block heater to warm the coolant, and lastly and by no means least, wrap your battery (two batteries, in my case) with an electrically heated battery blanket. Also, use a lighter weight oil in the winter, such as 5W40. Regards, - Mark N.

JWR Replies: As this article (cited in Eric's letter) describes, unfortunately the currently available selection of additives do not work in preventing wax dropout in the new USLD formulations.

Here's my feeling on what pistol mags to obtain. Obviously, if you have a high capacity handgun, it behooves you to have at least ten mags for it. I actually have 30 Glock Model 19 mags since I already have one and contemplate picking up another that a friend wishes to sell.

I'm also trying to pick up Glock 17 mags, even though they stick out the bottom of my G19. I really want a Glock 34 long slide 9mm, and figure that the only way I may be able to get mags for it down the road is to have them on hand. They fit my [Model] 19, and stick out a little, but that's okay. [JWR Adds: There are magazine "filler" sleeves made for the compact Glock pistols, making them more comfortable to hold when using full-size magazines--such as G17 mags in a G19, G22 mags in a G23, and G21 mags in a G30.]

I want to warn you folks of one thing about Glock magazines. I am under the impression that the company will be making the new Glock 21s, Glock 19s and some others in the "SF" [Short Frame] variation, which has a thinner frame, and is more ergonomic. The problem is, while he new SF mags will fit the older Glocks, the old [pre-SF] Glock mags won't work in the newer SF models. Apparently the mag body is cut for the mag release in a different place. Thus, I'd recommend getting the older version of the model you want, or just get the new SF mags. Right now, as I said, I think only the Model 21 and 19 Glocks are made in the SF variation.

If you have an odd pistol, pay close attention to magazine availability. My favorite carry gun is my Walther P-99 in 9mm. Mags were in the $50 range, which made them hard to afford. Every now and then, a company like CDNN gets trade-in mags, which are priced affordably. CDNN were selling the trade in SW-99 mags (which are the same gun essentially as the P99 for $28. I was able to pick up two, but the company ran out the day after the election, and hasn't gotten anymore. Since I like this handgun, I may have to bite the bullet and lay out twice as much as what I give for Glock 19 mags to get a supply for this pistol. I think the lesson is, if you have a Browning 9mm, or a Ruger P95, or a high cap handgun you don't see every day, it would make sense to buy the mags while you can. - Lawrence K.

JWR Replies: I have been told that the SF mag catch notch (on the front of the magazine) can actually be cut by hand, with an X-Acto knife, to retrofit older Glock magazines. BTW, I'm confident that some enterprising individual is sure to soon produce cutting jigs, to make this job easier .

Mr. Editor;

How can you tell people they should 'invest' in magazines? That doesn't make sense. They are a commodity, that can be cranked out in huge numbers. - E.G.B., near Atlanta

JWR Replies: Magazines were until recently a commodity but their status as a commodity is is now dubious. As I described in this article, Federal "bans" and "freezes" often spread economic chaos. When governments interfere with free markets, prices can get crazy. Just look at what happened to price of small containers of Freon, a few years ago.

Based upon our knowledge of what happened during the last magazine ban (circa 1994 to 2004, and thankfully terminated by a sunset clause), and seeing a new presidential administration with hoplophobic tendencies waiting in the wings, it is safe to assume that a new ban is fairly likely. It is therefore wise and prudent to stock up, in anticipation. My advice is to buy all the full capacity magazines that you and your children will ever need, plus a few more, as an investment. In as little as six months, you may be very glad that you did! If a new ban is enacted, it is very likely that the prices of most magazines will double, and that some may triple or even quadruple.

Katie F. suggested this account of surviving and airliner crash.

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Several readers mentioned this: "The End of the World As We Know It": An unexpected, thick layer of solar particles inside Earth's magnetic field suggests there are huge breaches in our planet's solar defenses, scientists said. These breaches indicate that during the next period of high solar activity, due to start in 2012, Earth will experience some of the worst solar storms seen in decades.

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Aaron R. flagged this one: Liquidity Traps versus Inflation Traps

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From Cheryl: Massive Hedge Fund Redemptions as Investors Flee (just as JWR warned you, back in October of '07) -- Bleak Economic Future Seen in New Data -- Japan Car Production Biggest Drop Since 1967 -- California Budget Deficit Now $42 Billion -- US Retail Traffic Fell 24% Pre-Christmas Weekend -- Where to Find the Absolute Best Post-Christmas Sales

This is a coalition to ban coalitions, I ain't a politician but I've got views.
Some folks want to ban cars some want to get rid of Fender guitars.
Why don't you do your thing and we do our thing too?
Now they want to take my cigarettes and all my good whiskey
And these d**n coalitions they are after you and me
They want to get rid of my forty fours and all the R-rated films
If they only knew how much we'd all love to get rid of them

And this is a coalition to ban coalitions, the views of a musician, yeah I've got some
Some folks want to ban cars some want to get rid of electric guitars
Why can't everybody else leave everybody else alone?
Now the latest thing they want to stomp out is violence on TV
And the worst of all is that Oscar winning rabbit Bugs Bunny
Farewell Foghorn Leghorn, so long Yosemite Sam
They're messin' with our heroes and we got to stop 'em now.
And this is a coalition to ban coalitions..." - Hank Williams, Jr., The Coalition to Ban Coalitions

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas! Please keep Christ foremost in your mind, as we celebrate his birth and as we prepare for what appears almost certainly to be a tumultuous year ahead. May God Bless You and Yours!

Whilst pondering the various possibilities for the future, it is easy to get caught up in the minutiae of radio frequencies, milligram dosages, microns of filtration, calibers, and calories per ounce. (You'' read plenty of those details in SurvivalBlog. But in doing so we can easily lose sight of bigger, far more important issues such as charity, civility, community, and hope.

Most of you reading this are the heads of households that are far better prepared than your neighbors. Your deep larder, expansive fuel storage, advanced skills, and wide range of useful tools will put you in a distinctly advantageous position in the event of a catastrophe. I implore you to be charitable, even to those that stubbornly ignored your warnings and shirked their responsibility to provide for their families. My philosophy, oft-repeated, is to give until it hurts.

Going hand-in-hand with charity is civility. Hard times call for increased caution, but unless you are facing a bad element, there is no need to be mean or offensive. When dealing with neighbors, do your best to keep up he standards or normal pre-Crunch civil interaction. Be courteous, be helpful, be generous, and in all ways pitch in to be a good neighbor. Just be very circumspect about your preparations. Always keep the "need to know" rule in mind, and drill it into the heads of your family members. Unless a neighbor truly needs to know, then you should not mention--or allow to be seen--the nature nor the extent of your preparations. Just make it clear that you have "a little extra" of this or that, to help out neighbors that are in genuine need.

In contrast, when dealing with strangers, it is best to be far more firm but non-threatening. Just leave them with the subtle impression that you are not one to be trifled with.The sight of pistol on your hip or a rifle close at hand speaks volumes. If you want to help refugees that are transiting your area, then please show the foresight do so anonymously through an intermediary, such as your local church. By donating some of your storage food to your church, you'll be able to look firm and resilient to refugees, yet still have good news for them. You can honestly say: "Some people in the community have been leaving food and warm clothing at the church 1/2 mile down the road. It is at 123 Main Street. They will be able to help you. God bless you." Note that this was carefully phrased in a neutral way, not indicating that you were the donor. Parenthetically, this level of OPSEC means that you will need to carefully brief your church pastors and elders and get their solemn promise not reveal who provided the food.

I've written at length about the need for a genuine sense community to achieve the best chance of survival in hard times, so I won't repeat all that here. In essence, lone wolves will not be the most likely survivors. Build a true community, and you will have friends that you can count on (and vice versa), when the Schumer hits the fan.

As a Christian, I use word "hope" in far different way than non-Christians do. In the Christian context, hope means absolute assurance of eternal life for the elect, bought and paid for by Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. With the sure knowledge of my salvation, I am willing to risk more in this life, to do what is right--that is, what I believe will please God, and glorify God. The perils in this mortal life are brief, but the promise of heaven is everlasting. That is my hope.

Hi Jim,
My Bug Out Vehicle is a diesel truck that is also converted to run waste [vegetable] oil, on my trips to my retreat I sometimes need to tank up. As all diesel owners (should) know our new diesel is ULSD which is a new standard for low sulfur in diesel. As this fuel becomes more common and mandated more and more diesel pumps dispense it with no other option.
Important information for those running diesels as their prime source of transport.

We've had fleets of school buses and even our street plows taken out of commission in the -19 degree F weather we had last week with extremely bad fuel gelling. This article may explain it. Here is a quote from the article:

"The Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD (S-15)) that we started to receive in mid 2006 has shown some dramatically different cold weather characteristics from the earlier High Sulfur (HSD (S-5000)) and Low Sulfur Fuels (LSD (S-500)).These new characteristics including higher temperature gelling, wax dropout, icing, and difficulty in treating have in the first year and will continue into the foreseeable future to provide some significant challenges to distributors and end users during cold weather. Due to these new characteristics users in areas of the US where they have not seen cold weather problems in the past, are now and will continue to see serious issues with gelling, wax dropout, and icing."

Regards, - Eric

Thank you for all the work you do. I thought I'd give you a Christmas chuckle. My small daughter was telling us the Christmas story, but it had a twist. She told us that "the wise men brought Jesus gold, food, and water, because they [Joseph and Mary] had to leave quickly and didn't get their bags ready." Just when you think your children aren't listening...

Needless to say, we set her straight on the real story, but have been, and will continue to smile over that story for a long time.

Have a terrific Holiday, - Mr. O. in the Ozarks

Several readers sent us the link to this Christian Science Monitor article: Survivalist businesses surge in uncertain times. BTW the article mentions both our spin-off web site ( and several of our advertisers.

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Speaking of retreats, readers FFF and Ben H. both mentioned that the newly-released US Census data might be useful for anyone looking to buy a retreat property:

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Michael from Texas suggested this: Google Maps Mashup Combines Your Address, Nuclear Blast

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I wish that I had better news for you for Christmas, but here is some more economic news and commentary, courtesy of Cheryl: Jobless Claims Surge to 26-Year High -- US Economy Shrinks Fastest Since 9-11 -- California Will Run Out of Money in February 2009 -- The Party is Over if Deflation Grips the Economy -- Britain's Slide Toward Recession Accelerates -- Iceland "Like Chernobyl" as Meltdown Shows that Anger Can Boil Over -- US Debt Approaches Insolvency, China Currency Reserves at Risk -- US Calls the Tune as Gold, Silver Plunge (PDF) -- Oil Dips Below $37 on String of Bad Economic News -- Increased Shoplifting is Another Sign of Bad Times -- Housing Crisis Worsens as Economy Weakens

"The giving of gifts is not something man invented. God started the giving spree when he gave a gift beyond words, the unspeakable gift of His Son." - Robert Flatt

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I wish a joyous Christmas to the SurvivalBlog readers in 157 countries. Christ is my Savior, and I pray that he is yours, too!

Hello Jim:
I send this to you from the snowy Seattle, Washington metropolitan area where we are digging out of a fairly impressive storm of snow and icy temperatures that have plagued an unprepared area. As a cop and a Preparedness Oriented Person (POP), I have been watching the lead up to and duration of this weather event. Here are some observations:

Advance Warning & Notification
Folks in these parts complained that there was little warning of the impending snow event. Some stated that since weather forecasters were often wrong, they would be wrong about this. When you had local television outlets, NOAA, The Weather Channel and AccuWeather all providing similar information, some of us would call that a trend likely to occur. Indeed, there was anywhere from a week to 10 days advance warning and modeling showing the cold temperatures and ice. Gosh, you didn’t have to have a degree in weather sciences to understand that when warm air with moisture slides over the top of entrenched cold air, you would get snow. Media outlets correctly warned folks to prepare. In my observations, most did not heed the warning until it began to get bad. Indeed, metropolitan areas (as I type this) have seen from 6-20 inches of snow. Outlying areas are at three (3) feet or higher! That is impressive for this area.

The Problems
Folks from other regions, especially the Midwest, often chuckle when folks in the Western Pacific Northwest (Portland Metro and Tacoma-Seattle-Everett Metro) areas complain of a few inches of snow. Problem is that much of these cities are built on hilly areas. Some cities see a 500-800 foot elevation gain within the city limits, features not seen with our neighbors in the plains. Add to the mix infrequent snow events so there are few plows and you have an immediate transportation problem. The lack of plows has hampered a quick cleanup of arterials in the region along with a general reluctance to use road salts (environmental issues so heartily embraced in this liberal region). Sand pits are well away from urban areas so transportation of sand to terminal points or public works yards were hampered. Most cities and the counties have given up on side streets and less traveled rural roads, leaving them to become ice skidding messes. Many people in the region were smug that their front, all or four wheel drives would get them through the mess, up and down hills, all without alternative traction devices like chains. That has led to nearly 1,000 collisions just on the interstates alone (early estimates are that there are likely 10,000 or more collisions, spin outs, street blockages and so on in the cities which have not tallied their response counts like the state). When heavy snow started falling, roads were passable at slow speeds. However, timid drivers afraid of the snow would abandon their cars on the streets and state highways, leading to blockages. These blockages would snarl traffic, cause collisions and block major transit routes for goods and services. For the airports, a shortage of liquid de-icer led to delays and cancellations (it should be noted that one company in North America makes de-icer and a strike there led to shortages – a ripple effect). Avalanche dangers led to passenger rail cancellations. Commercial bus companies canceled their runs due to closed mountain passes or streets adjacent to their terminals that were iced over and not sanded or plowed. At one point, the roads became so poor that our chief ordered us back to the station for emergency responses only, no active patrolling. Folks would call us for the most inane stuff. Unfortunately, this was stuff we would respond to on normal weather days. However, when they were told they were on their own to solve these minor problems, they got mad! Somehow, it was foreign to many of them to that they would have to solve problems like blocked cars or icy sidewalks. Unreal and yet, expected for this area. Makes one think of the challenges people would have in bugging out if a volcano were to cork off, an earthquake to split some bridges or a WMD type event.

JIT Wasn’t In Time
Just In Time (JIT)deliveries were hampered by the road conditions. Many gas stations in the region are starting to run their tanks dry as commercial fuel carriers can’t move product safely on icy arterials and side streets. Grocery stores reported runs on staples and emergency supplies (batteries, candles and TP, just to name some items) but were limited on restocking because normal 18 wheeler rigs were downloaded to smaller trucks or bobtails, just to make it safely. Many people failed to remember the last major storm we had and did not fuel in advance, either gas cans for their generators or their vehicles. Last week, prior to the storm and to beat an expected OPEC price hike, I was refueling some gas cans and topping off my car. I had a fellow look at me and ask if I was expecting the worst. I explained that I would be ready as I had learned early. His response to me was typical of folks in this area: “Nah, we’ll have regular deliveries.” I expect his thirsty F250 must be a bit annoying to him right now, especially after both gas station in my area and many more surrounding gas stations in the area when dry. I spoke with grocery store managers in my patrol area. They reported that people needed “just a few things” to tie them over. These people came back to find limited supplies like milk or eggs and were mad at the store! Certain large grocery chain stores reported that they ran out of shopping carts as so many people crowded into the stores to get what they could when the snow began to fall and stick. A local hardware store manager told me that he had a stream of people that came into his store, angry that he had sold out of faucet covers, rock salt, presto fire logs and snow shovels. He laughed when he told me that he saw the weather trending as did the corporate offices. They sent him additional product to stock and he sold it quickly, early on to those he described as, “Preparing early and correctly.” My liberal, elderly neighbors became snowbound. They believed that the government would make sure they could drive by having a plowed road in front of their house. [JWR Adds: See this Seattle Times article for background on counterproductive city policy: Seattle refuses to use salt; roads "snow packed" by design.] My wife and I wound up assisting them with taking some supplies to them when they ran out because they could not get out to the store.

Personal Preparations
I have been though many weird storms in this area. When I started tracking the forecasts 10 days out, I made sure I had the necessary food stuffs, fuel and firewood ready. The generator was tested. The inverter cart was charged and readied. The wood was stacked for easy access from the piles. The chainsaw was tested and topped off. It didn’t take much. I asked folks both at work and in the community if they were ready to hunker down if they needed to. Most of my fellow officers looked at me and said, “it won’t be that bad. I can always go out and get some stuff.” They would have to admit to me later that it took an awful long time to go out to find that milk, or it was sheer terror driving on the roads for a half gallon of milk.

Folks in the Pacific Northwest have no reason for not being prepared. And yet, I saw the same mistakes being repeated. Folks lulled themselves into complacency, believing that JIT deliveries would be there, roads would be tended to quickly and they could get out there and take care of things, “as needed.” I have learned it is the same folks who remain prepared, time and again, and who help those who either are too sheep like to do the minor work of preparing or recognizing that bad weather, environmental or mad-made events, can and do occur.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Winter Solstice. I’m back to work in a day to deal with more snow (and more dealings with sheep). - MP in Seattle (a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber)

Mr. Rawles.
Regarding long range communications: If any SurvivalBlog readers are already ham operators they can join their county Radio Emergency Service (ARES) network.It already well established throughout the US. There are county emergency coordinators who have Same Time "meetings" on a regular basis. You might even become an Emergency Coordinator for your County.

I would strongly recommend that our fellow readers get their ham Operator License no matter what. There is no longer a Morse Code requirement [for the Technician license] and the test in relatively simple . Then you can legally buy equipment, legally use it, as well as join the ARES community based organization, You will be privy to what's going on locally from a much larger perspective. If you choose, you can become FEMA certified and you will gain access to a nearly endless and very informative set of FEMA online communications. Believe me when I say the communications coming out of FEMA can be eye openers.

I would also recommend that you set up an emergency backup power system to a 12 volt "base station" in your radio "shack". The 12 Volt radios use about 1 or 2 watts and a battery backup from a deep cycle battery that is solar charged will last a very very long time. I also have an older CB system in my Shack, just in case. There are still truckers that use CB radios. - Carl In Wisconsin


Hello again, Mr. Rawles,
I am still doing the "Ten Cent Challenge" (about a year) and I read the blog everyday. Since I last wrote to you that I was improving my Rifleman skills but I have also been working on my radio skills. I decided that getting a Ham radio license would be beneficial to me and my family and community, so I made a goal to get knowledgeable, equipped, and licensed. Before starting I hardly knew the difference between AC and DC power so I first got the Boy Scout Merit Badge books on Electricity, Electronics, and Radio. Then I picked up a manual from the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) and started learning about radio. I thought your readers might be interested in knowing some details about amateur radio and it’s advantages in difficult times.

The FCC issues three licenses for amateur radio: Technician, General, and Extra. Pretty much anyone can become licensed. There is no age limit. All you have to do is pass the written test for the license level you want to obtain. There is no Morse Code test anymore. The cost is $14 per test and you can check on the ARRL web site for a test site and time that is convenient for you.

Just like with firearms and other tools, different radios and different frequencies and different transmission modes are good for some things but not for others. With a Technician license, you can transmit on certain frequency ranges (called “bands”) that are said to be in the Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) ranges. These frequencies really only work with line-of-site so they are good for local communications, like with search-and-rescue or talking to your buddies around town. With General and Extra licenses you can transmit on lower frequencies in what’s called the High Frequency (HF) bands. These frequencies are better for farther-than-line-of-site communications because the signals in these frequencies bounce off the atmosphere and can go quite long distances, hundreds and even thousands of miles, particularly at night.

There are several modes of radio transmissions, each having advantages. Voice communication of course is the most natural mode but it also uses the most bandwidth and requires a pretty clear signal for intelligibility. Continuous Wave (CW), the mode used for Morse Code, uses a tiny amount of bandwidth and sometimes is the only way to communicate at some distances and ionospheric conditions. Morse Code is not a quaint old mode that geezers continue to do for fun. It sometimes is the only way to make contact, and it is used very frequently for long distance communication. And finally there is Digital communications which also use little bandwidth but which does require the use of some sort of computer to process the signals. There of course are many flavors of each mode and there are other lesser-used modes, like video, image, and satellite communications, but those are probably less useful in a survival situation. But they are all open to amateur radio operators.

For my equipment, I opted for the most portable configurations available. VHF\UHF radios are readily available both in mobile configuration (meaning they are in a vehicle) and in portable configuration (meaning something you carry). For HF portable configurations, there are not as many options. The two leading portable HF radios are the Yaesu FT-817 and the Icom 703. I went with the Icom 703 and got all the necessary accessories to use it in the backpack configuration. So now I can walk around and make contact with people hundreds of miles away.

Power is always an important consideration for radios, especially portable radios. Mobile radios can be powered by the car battery. It seems that each radio has it’s own power connector and I wanted to create some sort of standard power connector that I could use to plug everything into. It turns out that the Amateur Radio community has been dealing with the exact problem and they came up with the Andersen Powerpole connector [JWR recommended!] for DC-powered devices. They wanted a connector that was gender-less, did not require tools to connect or disconnect, and that could handle fairly high levels of amperage. I put an extremely short Powerpole line with fuses on the car battery, then connected a long Powerpole wire from this wire to the inside of the cab of my truck, and then put a four-way Powerpole splitter on the end of it all. Then each device has a Powerpole adapter with fuses than I can plug into the splitter in the cab (or any other Powerpole connector). This has worked out really well and is very modular. I have an adapter to plug any DC device into any DC power supply I know of.

Since ham radios need a decent amount of power to transmit, portable radios usually need a fairly large battery pack, and often require Lithium-ion batteries. Portable power is a concern because lugging around a car battery would totally defeat the purpose of having a portable radio. When the radio receives signals it doesn’t require much power, only when it transmits. I got an Icom T90A VHF transceiver which comes with one Lithium-ion battery pack. Extra battery packs are quit expensive. What I found out is that there is an battery pack adapter that lets you put in 2 size AA batteries inside it, and it is in the exact same form as the Lithium-ion battery pack. The downside is that the voltage in this configuration only has about 2.5 V versus the 7.3 V of the supplied Lithium-ion battery pack, which also means that you can’t transmit on high power. But, it turns out that there are Lithium-ion batteries that have the same dimensions as AA batteries (but without the knob on the positive end) called “14500” batteries. They are 3.6V each so two of them together would be 7.4 V which is very close to the supplied Lithium-ion battery pack. Actually it turns out that all that’s in the supplied Lithium-ion battery pack is a couple of 14500 batteries. So rather than pay $50 for an extra battery pack, I paid about $7.50 for a couple of 14500 Lithium ion batteries. I bought a total of 20 “14500” batteries for the equivalent of 10 battery packs for about $75 rather than $500 for replaced Icom battery packs. Incidentally, almost all laptop batteries just have a similar type of battery in them called “18500.” So if you wanted to replace your laptop battery you could just carefully open the battery case and re-solder new 18500 batteries inside. They are about $4 a piece and there probably are only a few (4-6) of them in any given laptop battery. Note that Lithium-ion batteries need to be charged in a charger specifically designed for Lithium-ion batteries. And because the voltage of Lithium-ion batteries is about 3 times greater than AA batteries, you shouldn’t try to use Lithium-ion batteries in devices that only take regular AA batteries or you will probably fry something.

It can take a lot of time and effort (and money) to learn how to effectively communicate using amateur radios, so why bother? I think the advantages are that you have means to communicate that do not rely on any system at all. There is no central radio system and you supply your own power so you don’t even need the power grid. You are essentially using the electromagnetic spectrum itself as the communication medium. You don’t need any other equipment besides two radios to communicate. Short distance radios like the Family Band radios you can buy at Wal-mart are good for very short distances, like just outside shouting range. They are good for around the ranch, on patrol, and in a convey. And you probably don’t really want outsiders eavesdropping on your communications. For communicating over a few to several miles, VHF radios work well. For across-town communication, city-to-neighboring-city, and rugged terrain operation, VHF is the way to go. And if there is a repeater close by, you can communicate with anyone else as long as you both can communicate with the repeater. This is why repeaters are often on mountaintops, so that people on opposite sides of the mountain can communicate. I bought a book of all the repeater locations and frequencies in the nation and I keep this with my VHF transceiver.

But if you want to talk to some across the state, in the next state, or even in another country, you would need an HF radio. In the television show Jericho, the townspeople are just dying to know what’s going on outside their town. They don’t know what the governor is doing, let alone the President. They don’t know if the National Guard is coming. They don’t know what cities got hit by the bombs. They don’t know who did it. They basically had no information. If someone had an HF radio they could get all sorts of information. They could also transmit to others what they know. They could even contact family and friends to tell them that they were all right, and could find out if those family members and friends were all right, too. Shortwave receivers are better than nothing, but you are limited to only receiving information, and usually just from voice modes (no Morse Code, digital, or even some types of voice modes) from commercial and government broadcasts. You can’t ask questions. You are still largely relying on the “communication systems.” But with an HF radio, you don’t need any system at all to communicate long distance.

Sometimes you want private communications and sometimes you want to be able to communicate with lots of people. Use short-distance Family Radio Service (FRS) radios for more private communications. When you want to receive news and to give out news, you want to be talking on frequencies and modes that everyone else is. This is when you’d want to use amateur radios, particular on the HF bands. Besides amateur radios, Citizen Band (CB) radios also can help with getting and giving news. I got a CB radio for $26 on Amazon and a $35 antenna from Radio Shack. This radio plugs can plug right into the cigarette lighter of the car and the antenna is just about 2 feet tall and sticks to the roof of the car with a strong magnet. No difficult installation required. No license is required to use it and there are plenty of people on the CB bands. There’s even a dedicated “emergency channel,” channel 9, that is only supposed to be used when someone has an emergency and is probably monitored more than any other channel. You get a lot of the advantages of amateur radio (like no “system” required to use it, people are already listening on it, it is highly mobile and\or portable) but for a fraction of the cost and effort. I think this is a cost-effective solution for listening to what people are saying, being able to communicate to others with no reliance on any system, and being able to call for help if needed. All for about $60 that you can even just keep in the trunk of your car if you’d rather not have it out all the time.

In my last email to you, I reviewed the .22 caliber adapter for the HK91 and how I was a “Rifleman In Training.” I am still am in training, but I am going to Front Sight in a few weeks and I plan on going to an Appledseed Project Boot Camp in the spring. I am committed to do it now, whereas before I just thought it would be a good idea. I keep on trying to improve my skills and have some other things I am going to be learning which perhaps I’ll detail in future emails. I try to keep things simple and try not to get to clever with preparedness. Sometimes you just gotta walk into the trade school and ask to talk to a counselor, or buy that radio book, or sign up for a class even though you really don’t know anyone and you don’t really know what you doing. To me, it is my duty as a father and member of my community to consistently do all I can to improve my skills to help out whenever trouble strikes.- Still A Rifleman in Training

I am sending you this message via my VHF ham radio sitting in my ham shack using only battery power and my laptop to reply. The connection from my radio via airwaves into the Internet is via what is called a gateway. I could also do this from my car, or on a mountain top using only batteries and a portable antenna. I could also do it via HF or UHF.
I could use a mode called PSK31, and if you had a ham radio I could send it to you in this same format peer to peer with no internet connection needed. So, my point is that anyone with just a ["No Code"] Technicians license can do this. The license is $15, and a simple 35 question test. I hold what is called an Extra class license AD7VV and so can use more advanced modes to communicate.

I have many friends who are doing what the writer of that letter suggested, but it takes practice. God bless you, and have a blessed Christmas season.- Michael H.


Mr. Rawles,
In light of yesterday's mention of ham Radio, I thought I might offer a little more information on how my fellow ready can get involved and equipped, and why. It bears mentioning up front that in most countries, Amateur Radio ("ham") is subject to some government licensure and regulation. For instance, in the US, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) creates the laws and issues you the right to use Ham frequencies. In the US, it is illegal to transmit on the Ham bands without an FCC issued license and call sign. So follow the rules, and get licensed. It really is easy, I did it with my dad's help when I was ten years old. Now the good stuff:

Ham radio is indeed a fairly robust form of communication (even capable of running off of small solar panels in the case of handheld radios), and for the most part, the Ham Radio community itself is very emergency preparedness oriented. There are numerous Ham groups across the US with the sole purpose of maintaining and practicing communication under disaster conditions, and most local area clubs participate regularly in related drills, classes, and actual disaster coordination.

Becoming a "ham" involves learning some of the technical aspects of radio and electronics, and for good reason. You don't want to be without those skills, because Amateur Radio is a very do-it-yourself hobby. You have to hook up your equipment and know how to operate it. You have to understand the basics of RF theory so you can buy (or build) the right equipment.You are responsible for safety in your gear and the way you use it. But that makes it a very rewarding and open-ended hobby. It may sound daunting, but like I said, it's easy enough for kids to grasp. And the things you learn in the process are invaluable steps toward greater self-sufficiency in many other areas.

Now, in the US, the FCC requires that you pass a test to be licensed as a Ham Radio operator. Learning and studying for this test is the only real effort required to become a ham. The good news is you can study much of the material for free, the testing is often free, and there is only a nominal fee for getting a license. Here are some great resources online:'s How To - More information for those interested in pursuing a license in the US.
ARRL's Exam Site Index - Find the exam site nearest you. Site Map - Find practice exams and lots of other information from active hams, including forum.
FCC Ham Site - Information on licenses, processes, etc.
Thanks, - Little Bird

Dear JWR:
I took your wise advice posted in the blog back in October and stocked up on magazines for all my guns. I 've even bought some mags [for other guns] that I just plan to buy, such as M14 magazines for my eventual super match M1A buy. But what I'm thinking is, I should also do is by even more magazines just "on spec", knowing that with Obama coming in[to office, that] a ban of some sort is more likely that not. What types/model high capacity magazines would be best to invest in, for the most possible gain?

I love your blog. I read it almost every day. I recently "did the honest thing" and became a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber. (I'm the one that sent you a roll of silver Mercury dimes.) Thx, - Pat H.

JWR Replies: First, I must mention: I refuse to use the term "high capacity" magazine. As our friend Boston T. Party correctly pointed out, "High capacity" is a political term, designed to foster dislike and distrust by the Generally Dumb Public (GDP). The correct term should be "full capacity". What is being foisted upon us by the Barbara Boxers and the Chuck Schumers of the world are 10 round reduced capacity magazines. A limitation to anything less that full capacity is a diminution of our full and proper right to keep and bear arms. Further, from a practical standpoint, speaking as someone that lives in grizzly bear country, don't ask me to carry just a 10 round magazine in my XD .45, when I could have 15 or more cartridges. It conceivably might take more than 10 rounds of .45 ACP to stop a charging grizzly. And I have serious doubts that Mr. Ursus A. Horibilis will stop and wait patiently if I yell "Time out, while I reload!"

For investment, I recommend that you concentrate on magazines for popular European high capacity pistols, such as Beretta, Glock, SIG, and HK. The greatest gains will be seen in magazine prices for models that have just recently been introduced and for which there is now just a scant supply in the country. Magazines for the new Springfield Armory XDM ("M" as in Mega capacity--this latest model holds 19 rounds!) would be another good choice. Although Springfield Armory is an American company, their XD series pistols and magazines are imported from Croatia. If there is an import ban enacted early in Obama's first term, I expect all XD magazines to at least triple in price, and XDM magazines to perhaps quintuple in price. I'm not kidding.

The SIG P250 is another perfect example. Here is a gun that was only recently introduced. Its magazines do not interchange with pistols from other makers. The majority of new P250 owners presently have just one or two spare 9mm magazines, and no spare .40 or .357 SIG magazines. (The pistol is modular, allowing it to be quickly converted to other calibers.) If and when an importation ban is enacted, these owners will be screaming for magazines. I wouldn't be surprised to see the price of spares to jump to $125, or more. If you think that P250 magazines are currently scarce and expensive, at $43 each, just wait a year. If a ban is indeed enacted, these magazines could be a tremendous investment. But even if there is no ban, even as a commodity these magazines will be a good hedge on future inflation. (Under those circumstances, don't expect them to gain value, but as a practical tangible they will at least hold their value, even in the blistering heat of mass currency inflation.)

Another good example is the 31-round "Glockamole" magazine made for the Glock Model 17, 18, 19, and 26. These magazines jumped from $30 each to a whopping $150 each during the 1994-to-2004 Federal magazine ban. Three months ago--when I bought my pile for investment--they were $27 each. They've just recently jumped to around $50 each. I expect them to at least double again in price, if a new ban is enacted. In fact, even standard magazines for Glock are likely to at least double in price, and probably go even higher.As evidence, I can cite that when the last ban was enacted, the price of 17 round Glock Model 17 magazines jumped from $18 to $75 each.

Again, IMHO, at present your investing emphasis should be on imported full capacity magazines, since an import ban could be put in place with nothing more than an an executive order.

Reader Chris M. sent this from UPS: Global Supply Chains Not Ready for Challenging Times

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Jim G. sent us a link to a YouTube clip with some timely humor: Sponsor an Executive

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Eric sent this big batch of economic train wreck news and commentary: Where'd the bailout money from taxpayers go? Shhhh, it's a secret -- Bailed-Out Executives Got $1.6 Billion in 2007 -- Housing crisis worsens as economy weakens -- House-price stabilisation is not imminent -- Banks brace for an ugly 2009 -- Mortgage Re-Defaults Rising With No Sign of Slowing -- Revising Loan Modifications -- Will the Bubble Burst Aspen? -- Downturn hits vacation enclave of New York elite -- Life Without Bubbles -- Another Reason Not to Trust So-Called Economic Experts -- English bailiffs get power to use force on debtors -- Fiscal Insanity Virus Rapidly Spreading the Globe Part 1 (Mish Shedlock). And Cheryl (aka The Economatrix) sent us all these: Dow Falls Fifth Straight Session On Grim Data Reports -- US Home Prices Drop at Near-Depression Pace -- US Property Developers Seek Government Aid -- UK's Brown Wants 27% Interest On Loans to the Poor -- RBS Case Highlights Foreclosure Threat Even When Mortgages Have Been Paid -- Global Jobless to Rise By 25 Million -- New Zealand Recession Deepens -- Champagne Sales Collapse -- Ukraine Crisis Escalates Fears Over Gas Supplies -- Why the US Trade Deficit is Worsening and Dollar Implications -- The Great Stock and Commodities Deleveraging Crash of 2009 -- Belgian Gov't Collapses Over Fortis Bank Selloff -- Growing Signs of Workers' Unrest in China -- Great Depression Plus Hyperinflation -- [US Refiner, Distributor, and Truckstop Chain] Flying J Files for Bankruptcy -- US Army Ready if Downturn Gets Out of Hand -- Four Really, Really Bad Scenarios

"There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries." - W.J. Cameron

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mr. Rawles;
In the event of total meltdown, have you thought about using bulletin board systems (BBSes) as a means of communicating? If, and that could be a big if, the phone land lines were still operating, but ISPs were down, then a BBS would be a excellent way to keep folks informed. Pre-Internet I ran BBSes with multiple phone lines with great success. Just an idea.

Also, while on that topic, has there been any discussion as to shortwave frequencies that you may support? Is there/are base stations set up for relays of news and information? A survival Net so-to-speak. I come from a hard core marine/yacht background and the are cruiser nets worldwide, depending on what ocean you are in at the moment. Something like that for landbase usage would, to my way of thinking, help to ease folks' minds, pass on latest news and to quiet down the rumor mills that spout false info. I can't stress the need for people to become well versed in the ownership and usage of shortwave amateur sets. They can be had on the cheap and be in use now! This is not something that you have to stash away until you need it but a tool that you can enjoy for years to come. They are also a good way to access e-mail accounts when your current provider is down. I won't this all this here as there are books on this topic and pages of programs that will work with a SSB/Ham system, either land-based or marine based. - LAS

JWR Replies: Since traditional telephone services, DSL, cellular services, ISPs, and the Internet are all more or less dependent on grid power, I expect them to all go down within a few days of each other, in the event of major catastrophe. There will, however, be some utility in ham radio based packet radio and digipeter networks, that can operate like BBS servers and even like a quasi-Internet. These can operate over long distances in the HF ham bands. There are also some regional 2 Meter Band networks that are partially served by photovoltaic-powered repeaters. So parts of those networks might also remain intact. Because many older hams are retiring, there are lots of used radios and packet TNCs on he market, selling for very reasonable prices.

Rather than "re-invent the wheel", I recommend joining and expanding existing packet HF BBS networks, such as those listed at One word of warning: Do not just bookmark the Totse page. Like all the other World Wide Web pages, the Totse page will vanish if the power grid goes down. So be sure to print out an updated hard copy, roughly twice a year. (Mark your calendar.)

I also recommend joining an existing topic-based scheduled ("same time, same frequency") HF ham call in. Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers that are active hams can recommend an existing scheduled meeting time and frequency to discuss preparedness topics.

Parenthetically, I should mention that since the sunspot number is currently fairly low, this is now a great time to join a network. (If you can get connectively now--with such poor skywave propagation--then odds are that you will be able to do sp just about anytime in the future!)

Regarding the comments from PPPP and Hugh D.: I couldn't agree with them more! Both were exactly spot on! The person shooting is 99% of the equation. Training (and lots of it) is the most important aspect, and in the long run, will probably wind up being more expensive than the firearm itself (instruction, gas to the range, ammo consumption and cleaning supplies are just to name a few).

I strongly urge your readers to partake in any excellent training afforded by professional institutes such as Front Sight, OnPoint Tactical, Suarez International, et al. If these locations are too distant, I hope they can find an experienced friend or relative to help them develop good habits in shooting.

Sometimes people get too caught up in statistical analysis and numerical comparisons. I did not write that piece to attempt to illustrate one as better than another. I enjoy shooting all of the calibers mentioned (and many more), and easily see the benefits of each. I am sort of remiss that I did not point out the different circumstances in which I find each major rifle caliber best. But I'll leave that up to the shooter to determine for his or her own purposes.

While my article had many statistics, I must reiterate that none of it means a darned thing without a competent shooter. Handgun/Rifle ballistics and their effective ranges are nice to know for new shooters, at a glance, to better illustrate the limitations of any firearm (mostly with effective range, bullet drop and penetration). But the only way to see those numbers (all taken with a grain of salt) in action, is to go out and shoot. We can be Keyboard Commandos on the internet all day long, but in the end, talk means nothing without practical experience. While the numbers in my comparison look "definitive," they are merely a composite; hashed together to simply compare and convey energy/speed of bullets beyond the muzzle.

The real test is: does the shooter know how to best utilize what firearm he or she has to its greatest potential? Some can adapt available firearms to certain situations better than others. Eyesight, body size and ergonomic preferences factor in, but in the end, it boils down to experience. There are a few natural prodigies out there when it comes to shooting; but for most of us, all that bullet velocity or energy doesn't mean a thing if you can't hit your target consistently...and the best way to do that is to shoot (and shoot, and shoot, and shoot...rinse and repeat as necessary).

Shoot enough, and you'll develop that skill as almost a second nature. But don't kid yourself, it takes years of routine trigger-time. It doesn't come overnight. I'm still working at it. Even when one gets fairly good, it still has to be maintained just like any other skill.

Whether it be 9mm or .45, 5.56 or 7.62x39 or 7.62 NATO or .30 Carbine...get out and shoot, and shoot often! And be safe out there people! Always wear hearing/eye protection, and follow the Four Basic Rules of Firearms Safety.

Personally, I feel all shooters ought to be able to consistently hit a man-sized target at 50 yards with a handgun, and at 300 yards (preferably 500) with a rifle (as often advocated by both William Buppert and the late Jeff Cooper).

Yes, ammo is expensive. It's the most expensive it has ever been, but, it's also the cheapest it's ever going to get. See you all at the range! - Kyrottimus

Frequent content contributor KAF suggested sci-fi novelist David Brin's nonfiction book "The Transparent Society" as a useful reference when considering retreat OPSEC in this modern era of Google Earth. BTW, its was Brin who authored the novel "The Postman", which Kevin Costner later put on the big screen, with uneven results.

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Reader Michael H. notes: "[My friend] Art was just reading in an airline magazine article that mentioned in 1960, 1 in 9 people in the US were overweight or obese and we averaged 8.5 hours of sleep daily. Now 2 in 3 are overweight or obese and we average 7 hours of sleep." It sounds like people must be eating large bowls of ice cream while watching the Tonight Show. It goes without saying: Get regular exercise and lose that spare tire if you want to be ready to pull through the coming hard times.

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Just a few days left! More than 550 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packers at the special December sale price. We get a little "piece of the action" for each one that is sold. So this a is a great way to save money and to support SurvivalBlog! Don't miss out on this sale! You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly Be sure to use code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or while supplies last. By buying foods in bulk and re-packaging them in more handy (single meal size) vacuum bags, you can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. Buy a FoodSaver. You'll be glad that you did!

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SurvivalBlog regular Michael Z. Williamson mentioned Grabill Meats, a small company in Indiana that produces canned meats at competitive prices. (Roughly $3 per pound, before shipping.) They we-pack can beef chunks, pork chunks, boneless chicken, boneless turkey, and ground cooked beef in 14 ounce and 27 ounce sizes.

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The day's economic news: First Paul in Texas sent us these two cheery headlines: World faces total financial meltdown Bank of Spain chief. and IMF chief warns 2009 may be 'even darker'. And the industrious sent us all these: Five articles illustrate how global shipping is sinking fast: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 -- Toyota Posts First Ever Annual Loss -- Obama Team Plans Biggest Boost in History to Save American Economy -- Bush's Detroit Bailout Looks Like Path to Bankruptcy -- Warning of Wave of 2009 UK Retailer Bankruptcies -- China Cuts Rates for Fifth Time in 90 Days -- Japanese Exports Fall Record 27% -- US Gasoline Seen Hitting $1 Per Gallon in 2009 -- World Wide Bankruptcy Wave About to Hit -- Protectionist Dominoes are Beginning to Tumble Across the World -- Irish Banks Saved by $7 Billion Bailout -- Canada to Give GM, Chrysler $4 Billion -- Money Market Funds Reel as Yields Near Zero -- COMEX Gold and Silver Price Manipulations are Bashing Precious Metal Investors, Miners and Shareholders

"No state or policy can prosper unless the groundwork is moral." - Thomas Masaryk (1850 - 1937), founder and first president of Czechoslovakia

Monday, December 22, 2008

I just noticed that we are nearing the milestone of six million unique visits. Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a great success! Please help spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Links to SurvivalBlog in your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would be greatly appreciated.

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,000. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

3.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

You've surely heard by now that the Federal Reserve has effectively lowered interest rates to zero. Obviously having learned nothing from the mistakes of Japans's decades-long recession, Ben Bernanke & Company have instituted their own Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP). By artificially lowering interest rates, many economists predict that the Fed will actually delay economic recovery for many years. ZIRP was a failure for Japan, and I predict that it will be a spectacular failure for the United States.

The Fed could, in fact, lower interest rates below zero, to the so-called "Super Zero" range. Such absurdities are not impossible in this wacky age. Just look at what is already happening (much as I predicted): Using Trillions of taxpayer dollars, the Federal policy wonks and their bankster buddies are attempting to reanimate a collapsed housing marked, defrost a globally frozen credit market, and turn several Detroit auto manufacturers that are bankrupt into corporate zombies. Any shred of fiscal restraint has be thrown out the window. And if you are saying to yourself "super zero rates will never happen", then ponder this: If you factor in the prevailing inflation rate, then the ZIRP has already created super zero conditions, for all intents and purposes.

Deflation, Then Inflation
We will soon be living in some uncomfortably interesting times. As I've mentioned before, we could see simultaneous inflation and deflation. But, in general, I predict that in the US 2009 and 2010 will be sharply deflationary, but that the subsequent years will be distinctly inflationary. You need to be watchful and ready for these sea change shifts. Don't hesitate to restructure your investments accordingly, once the changes becomes evident. Anyone that hesitates--the proverbial "deer in the headlights"--will surely become investing road kill, wiped out by the onset of rapid inflation.

Where does the Hunter Thompson style "Fear and :Loathing" come in? The fear will be an almost universal visceral reaction to declining stock prices, declining real estate values, and monumental corporate layoffs, in the unfolding deflationary short cycle. In the short term, cash will be king. People will fear getting laid off, they will fear making unnecessary expenditures, and they will consequently hoard their cash and try to minimize taking on new debt. This new mindset of deflation will soon become the norm. Dollars will be systematically hoarded. But not long after, to the surprise of many, cash will suddenly become trash. The citizenry will soon learn to loathe the dollar, since its purchasing power will wither with increasing rapidity as inflation escalates.

The Mass Inflation Trigger
The new mass inflation will be triggered by foreign creditors coming to the recognition that Federal spending for the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) has gone out of control and that the US Dollar is doomed. Once they do, it will start a cascade of events culminating in the utter destruction of the US Dollar as a currency unit. The first indicator will be the failure of US Treasury auctions. This will be accompanied by a sharp drop of the Dollar in foreign exchange. (Watch the US Dollar Index closely!) Then will come news of rapid monetization of the Federal debt. And last will be the rapid stair-stepping of consumer price inflation, well into double digits, and possibly getting out of control into triple digits, once the near hysterical psychology of inflation comes into full swing. (The perception of inflation becomes self perpetuating. This happened in dozens of countries in the last century.) The tidal shifts, first to sharp deflation, and then to rapid inflation will overwhelm many people. I can foresee that having the deflationary mentality suddenly inverted will be just too much for many people. It will be hard for them to mentally "switch gears", and their net worth will consequently suffer, once stagflation begins.

In times of rampant inflation, holding cash will be foolish. Pensioners and anyone else on a fixed income will have their savings wiped out very quickly. So just a couple of years after getting used to hoarding cash, people will suddenly have to learn to hate cash, in deference to tangibles. Much like the situation I described in the opening chapter of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", more and more dollars will be chasing fewer and fewer available products. If the 20th Century taught us anything, it is that these situations can quickly spin out of control.

The Future for Precious Metals
The pendulum swings in manipulated markets tend to be very wide, making wildly exaggerated moves. Witness, for example, the meteoric rise in crude oil prices for the past two years, followed by a veritable crash in recent weeks. I predict that the precious metals market will continue to be in the doldrums for perhaps the next 12 to 18 months, making just modest gains. But then once inflation kicks in as confidence in the US Dollar vanishes, gold, platinum, and silver will skyrocket. My advice follows a simple age-old adage: buy low and sell high. You should begin buying precious metals now, while they are relatively low. If you wait until inflation kicks in, then it will be too late to shelter your assets.

If and when you decide to liquidate part of your precious metals holdings in the midst of a mass inflation, do not trade your metals for greenbacks or other paper currencies--since they all inevitably share the same fate. Trade them only for productive tangibles. Buckle your seatbelt for what will surely seem like a very bumpy roller coaster ride. For most Americans, it will be a ride to financial ruin. But for an astute and perspicacious small minority, it could very well turn out to be a ride to safety and perhaps even to financial independence. Be ready.

Dear Jim,
I have been saving money and selling some of my unnecessary items and toys for a while now and have amassed $42,000. I have plenty of firearms and ammunition, tools, a house that is semi-remote, and a stash of food (which isn't enough I'm sure). I have paid off my credit cards and only have a house payment left. My job is relatively secure I feel, as I work at a power plant; though once the coal stops moving I wont be needed, I guess. I'm not sure what iI should do with the money I have saved. It would seem there is nothing secure anymore and with the government attacking its own money, the dollar wont be worth anything soon. I'm going to look into gold and possibly some land, but might I ask any recommendations you might have. Thank you in advance! - C.K.

JWR Replies: Your highest priority should be rounding out your larder of long term storage food. I might be biased, but I believe that my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course preparedness course is a good guide for that project. But after you have deepened your larder, you should further depression-proof your life.

Even though you consider your job fairly secure, keep in mind that entering some almost unprecedented perilous economic times. I expect massive layoffs and chronic unemployment in this nascent depression. As Sarah Connor puts it so succinctly: "No one is ever safe." Anyone can get laid off. You can be an outstanding worker, in a presumably "safe" industry, yet in a depression you can still get laid off or fired on a pretext, for example just to make room for a nepotistic replacement.

I recommend that you take part of your nest-egg and invest it in developing a second stream of income. Ideally this would be a family-operated home-based business. Take a look at the community nearest to your retreat, and see if you can determine what would be a good "niche" business that would be depression proof. Part of the savings that you mentioned could be used for education (to develop a skill, trade, or even a second profession), or for specialized manufacturing machinery, tooling and/or raw materials, or for buying inventory to re-sell or barter. The bottom line is that it takes money to make money.

Keep in mind that if you choose publishing or another mail order venture selling something compact and lightweight, then you can take advantage of a national or even global market. But if you are selling a service or a relatively bulky or heavy handcrafted item, then your market will be essentially local. So choose your venture wisely.

If, after you've expanded your food storage program and have developed a home-based bushiness, you still have some remaining cash, Then it should be used to either pay down your mortgage, or invest in precious metals. If you expect chronic deflation, then apply it to your mortgage. But if you expect Uncle Sugar to inflate his his way out of the current economic morass (as I do), then put it in precious metals.

Two notes about Some Call Me Tim's excellent recommendation of JanusVM:
1) Use to verify that you've done everything right. It uses a whole host of very strong tests to attempt to locate your computer and will find out if you've slipped up somewhere. The place you've slipped up is almost always DNS but cookies and other things can give you away too.

2) Be aware that this encrypts the traffic you're sending and receiving, it doesn't make it go away. Someone listening in can tell when you're sending/receiving and how much, they just can't read it. Timing and bulk are circumstantial evidence, true, but they are there. So it is best to keep your subtle browsing small and not be noticed. - PH .

As a network administrator. I generally find pleasure in "testing" networks. JanusVM works great when getting past firewalls, but its large size (~22mb) could be an issue. I have found UltraSurf works extremely well. It is fast, 50 times smaller than JanusVM, and most importantly, defeats web filtering and tracking software. It was developed to be used in a certain communist country with a rather large firewall, but is now used worldwide. Its small size and no need for an install make it ideal for quickly dropping onto a system in a cafe/library/school or just simply running in the background on your personal system. I personally have used it in each of those situations.
One drawback is that some network virus scanners have been notified to look for it and declare it a trojan to prevent its use on networks. I've encountered this once in an Indian Internet cafe (of all places) and once on a university network. To combat this you can do two things. First, keep up with the latest version, as their signatures aren't tagged by the scanners. Two, rename the file to something like "stamp_collection.exe" to prevent simple name recognition.

All of this is great, but what if the user can't download it in the first place? Many times the web site will be blocked, but the download itself is available, especially the ".exe" download as it is not linked from the front page. You can also find it on popular download sites (like this one), which will not all be blocked. Emailing it to yourself using a web mail account is an option, but the user will have to rename it to something like "file.txt" as .exe file extensions are usually not allowed attached to emails; just change it back to an .exe extension to use. Once downloaded, the clever user can simply carry it around on a USB ["thumb"] drive or floppy disk to pull out when needed.
Keep up the good work, - Blaze


In regards to SurvivalBlog, I am still able to access it via NMCI as of this morning. They have been pretty strict lately due to a Navy/DOD wide virus getting passed around via thumb drives (which have since been banned from use). On the matter of privacy, anyone should know better than to think they will have privacy while using anything that belongs to the government! Before you are granted access to a DOD information technology (IT) asset you sign an "end user agreement" which prohibits the use of third party proxies to bypass firewalls, as well as downloading anything like privacy software. I can say from my own negative experience that the computer types keep track of anything and everything, including attempts to circumvent firewalls by various means. I think the email update idea does have much merit in this regard, especially for the shipboard folks. Keep up the great work Jim! - O.E.


Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for your tireless work in educating the masses about the importance of preparedness. I discovered your writings and your Survival Blog a few months ago and have enjoyed the treasure trove of valuable information that both you and your audience contribute. Fortunately, it has reinforced most of the preparations I have made to date, but it is nonetheless a wonderful resource to be sure. "Patriots" was a great read, by the way, and I have given five copies away to friends, both preppers and non-preppers. The "nons" have since seen the light and are getting started on their way to complete independence and self-sufficiency. While I have been casually encouraging them to do that very thing for a while, it was your work that finally opened their eyes, hearts, and minds. Thank you.

The reason for my correspondence is to make you and your readers aware of one of the most important tools available for the computer user who wants to maintain complete privacy on both his own computer and public computers that he may use while traveling or evading.

Iron Key is a USB flash drive, but it is unlike any other flash drive on the market today. It uses an onboard browser and proprietary hardware and software encryption so information stored on the device or sent or received while online, including web traffic, cannot be intercepted by any else. I will let the folks at Iron Key do the rest of the selling. I am nothing more than a customer of theirs, but I believe wholeheartedly in their product and recommend them without equivocation. Godspeed, - Jason in Central Texas

Reader Tim L. suggested economist Roger Garrison's lecture (MP3 file) titled "The Great Depression". Time notes: "It is very illuminating since it explains why booms and busts happen and also why the Great Depression was much worse than it had to be."

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David B. recommend this brief but telling article: Outrage in New Hampshire Over Power Outages

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Ron S. pointed us to a great post by Mike Vanderboegh on the importance of having enough ammo for an extended firefight close at hand, already on stripper clips. Those should of course be stored in ammo cans with gasketed lids, but Mike's point is a good one--you don't want to fumbling around with loose ammo from cardboard boxes once bullets start flying

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Three pieces of gloomy economic news, courtesy of Jean in England: Up to fifteen retail giants to go bust next month -- IMF's warning to Britain: Bailouts will need to double to prevent economic collapse -- End of the Eldorado dream: A plunging pound and property crash have left thousands of expat Britons on the breadline

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This is the last day for BulletProoofME's SurvivalBlog-only special. The 30%-off special is $580 for the mil-spec Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest. The similar sale that they ran last year for SurvivalBlog exceedingly large response. This special pricing is only available because of a military contract overrun. Note that they are running low on inventory this time around. All items will be first come, first served. The sale ends at midnight tonight. (December 22nd.)

"Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war; and this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties." - Aristophanes (B.C. 448-380)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My special thanks to Jim in Ohio, who sent a multi-year "catch up" Ten Cent Challenge subscription payment in the form of a 1/2 ounce gold American Eagle coin. Thanks also to Chuck in Georgia, who sent a $300 contribution. That was very kind of both of you!

Dear Mr. Rawles
As a network administrator, I spend a fair amount of time making sure my end users cannot access certain web sites from company computers and data lines. I try to make sure we don't get too draconian in our filtering practices, I do my best to make sure that not streaming audio or video, social networking sites, or other time killers make their way through the network.

Recently, a friend of mine told me about a tool called JanusVM, a combination of Internet anonymity tools (TOR, PRIVoxy, Squid, and VPN) that runs in a virtual machine. You basically run the VM in a VMWare player, connect a VPN connection from your PC to the VM, and open your web browser. Like a lot of anonymity tools, it isn't very fast. It is, however, about as anonymous as you can get on the internet. I went to a web site that displayed my current IP address as well as your geographic location and found I was supposedly surfing from Paris, France. One page reload later and I was in Northern California, and then followed by Denmark, all without ever leaving my chair. According to the web site's very brief write up, the DNS requests are so scrambled that even your internet service provider can't tell where you're surfing. That made me wonder if I could use this tool to get around my web filtering firewall as well. I tested my machine to make sure I was blocked out by our firewall by trying to visit Facebook, which is a big no no site around here. Sure enough, it's blocked. Then I closed my web browser, established the VPN connection to the JanusVM, and re-launched my web browser. Bullseye! I had Facebook access. Not only was I anonymous, I'd also defeated my own web filtering software and firewall.

While this is a great tool, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. I haven't tested it on any other system, so YMMV.

2. You need a network with at least one available IP address for the VM. It can be an internal IP, but it still needs one. This keeps it from working with Verizon broadband cards. If someone out there gets it to work with one, I'd LOVE to hear about it!

3. Anonymity is not the same as privacy, or even security. Don't count on this tool to protect your internet logins and passwords. Hackers have been known to sniff incoming and outgoing traffic on TOR nodes for unencrypted passwords. They may not know where they came from, but they can still read them. If they can figure out where they were headed, you're in trouble.

4. Your workplace or branch of the military may frown on anyone trying to circumvent their firewalls and web filters, so use this information at your own risk.

- Some Call Me Tim


A couple of notes about your post on [SurvivalBlog being blocked by the US Navy and Marine Corps Internet system]:
* with varied duty hours and multiple shifts, there's no such thing as only blocking during "duty hours".
* Anonymizers are just about the first thing blocked by any organization that filters net access. :)
* If you have scripting capability on a web host, CGI Proxy and PHP Proxy are both good alternatives. Of course, they're going to be blocked, you still would have to find an unblocked site that has it or an alternate ISP long enough to download the scripts. People also run services with these or other types of scripts, but they come and go, and as mentioned previously, will most often be blocked. You also never know who's running them.
* An alternate site works for a while, but it will eventually get blocked, too. It also dilutes your "brand".
* The XML RSS feed option is probably the best, as it doesn't rely on working around the restrictions so obviously. I use Google Reader myself, through which I can read web sites blocked by the corporate firewall. It cuts you off from reading comments, but that's not a problem with your site. Some may be concerned at Google having too much information and choose some other feed reader, but I'm not too concerned with it. [JWR Adds: To avoid trails of "cookie crumbs", I've read that the best choices are the Avant Browser for PCs and the NewsFire Reader for Macs.]

The feed option is good for current reading and keeping up, but for searching on a topic or looking at items in a non-linear fashion a proxy of some sort is a better, more flexible, yet more complicated option. Hope this helps. - Robert

At the conclusion of his article, the Army Dentist says, "I think this can at least organize a discussion or be a good stimulus for questions." So (if it's somehow possible to do this in SurvivalBlog format) I'd like to ask him, In case of an irreversible pulpitis or abscess, if professional dental care is not available, then what are the best tools and techniques to perform a "home extraction"? And how about anesthetics? - Charley S.


Hi Jim,
The Survival Dentistry article by The Army Dentist is a very informative and important piece. Home dental care i.e., dental hygiene, is essential in preventing decay, pain, potential loss of teeth and last, and perhaps least, halitosis. I might add, and am sure that the good Army Dentist will agree, that flossing your teeth, preferably daily, is nearly as important as brushing the teeth.

Something else that can be useful in killing oral bacteria is a mix of 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 water for occasional rinsing and gargling. It's cheap, and it works.

In addition, tooth decay can lead to heart problems, though it's rare. - SLC


I just wanted to point out to the readers of survival blog that fluoride is a poison. There has been a lot of research done lately about this. Those of us that are health conscious avoid it. It is safer to use xylitol instead. Check out and related videos on YouTube and Google Video. Your Fellow Countryman, - S.B.


I would like to know what the dentist thinks about the use of peroxide as a mouth wash? I am far from a poster child for proper dental care, but since I have started using peroxide mouth wash the hygienist hasn't found anything for the dentist to work on teeth or gums.- Keith S.

Vice-President Elect Joe Biden: US Economy in Danger of "Totally Tanking'. His solution? More "stimulus". Just as I warned, the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) will continue to grow to gargantuan proportions that will inevitably spawn stagflation. Mark my words: Deflation in the short term, and mass inflation in the long term will be the hallmarks of the emerging Second Great Depression. Oh, speaking of inflation, SurvivalBlog reader Bill N. sent us this propaganda piece from the 1930s, archived on YouTube. Back then, just $4 billion was considered a massive economic stimulus. My, my! How times have changed.

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Thanks to KAF for finding this: Forget the economy: Killer asteroids could pose real danger

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KAF also sent this article, that ands some details to a previous post: Magnetic Field Hole Could Cripple Communications

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My old friend Sandy recommended this great sermon about America's debt money system.

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The latest dose of GuD (Gloom und Doom) from Cheryl: Wall Street Sets the Stage for Next Big Heist -- Bush Orders Emergency Auto Bailout (Gee, I thought the Constitution said that only Congress could appropriate funds?) -- California Unemployment Rate Jumps to 8.4% -- Bye-Bye Dollars, Bye-Bye Treasuries -- Rescue Loans Guided by Raters Who Graded Subprimes AAA -- Billionaires' Ski Club Stiffs Vendors after Collapse -- Glut of Oil Creates Short-Term Storage Problems -- Stocks End Choppy Session Mixed -- Gold Ends the Week Up Again

My son, fear the LORD and the king;
Do not associate with those who are given to change,
For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them? - Proverbs 24:21- 22 KJV

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today we present a guest editorial by the well-known global economics analyst J.R. Nyquist. I've always found his writings captivating. His archives hold some real treasures. This particular article meshes nicely with my observations on the fragility of our modern technological society.

Years ago, when the West entered onto a path of decadence, it became fashionable to deny the historical consequences of permissiveness and bad behavior. As the old standards fell away, new standards of “tolerance” and “acceptance” took hold. With the fall of colonial empires and the upsurge of student radicalism in the sixties, the notion of “barbarians at the gates” became outdated. Heaven forbid that anyone should be described as a “barbarian” or as “uncivilized.” The idea that some peoples were more advanced, that some civilizations had more to offer, was no longer an acceptable way to talk. The fall of the Roman Empire, therefore, had to be billed as a “transition.” The barbarians were not the bad guys, civilization did not collapse, and the Romans were hardly degenerate. One should not use words like “decline” or “fall.” Perhaps such words hit too close to home. Better to deny the very history of decadence. Consequently, Edward Gibbon’s magisterial History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is no longer entirely respectable. In James J. O’Donnell’s expertly crafted, politically corrected version of the fifth and sixth centuries, The Ruin of the Roman Empire, we find Gibbon’s work described as the “long shadow of a short, fat man” darkening our understanding of the Roman world. It is not the fall of Rome that is dark, but Gibbon himself!

The American Heritage Dictionary defines decadence as: “A process, condition, or period of deterioration or decline, as in morals or art.” The fall of the Roman Empire involved an across-the-board decline. This included, as in our own time, a decline in population. Sizeable military defeats shrugged off by the Roman Republic were crippling to the Roman Empire. In the centuries between the battles of Cannae and Hadrianopolis there occurred a loss of vitality. Sophisticated manufactures in the west Roman world largely disappeared within a period of three lifetimes. Literacy, comfort and trade also collapsed. This was the greatest economic downturn in the history of mankind. According to the historian and archaeologist Bryan Ward-Perkins, “In the post-Roman west, almost all this material sophistication [created by the Roman civilization] disappeared. Specialized production … became rare, unless for luxury goods; and the impressive range and quantity of high-quality goods, which had characterized the Roman period, vanished, or, at the very least, were drastically reduced.”

Civilization doesn’t always move in an upward direction. Decline and fall is more than possible; such has actually happened. Over the last five hundred years we have come to think of civilization as barreling forward, plowing the ground for further progress. Nothing can stop the machine-like advance, the steady rate of accumulation. Today we take civilization’s continuance for granted. In this regard, the history of Rome is an irksome reminder.
But we’re smarter than the Romans, right?

The Roman economy began to move downhill around the fourth century. There was widespread enervation, a loss of intellectual acuity within the elite. Effeminacy had taken hold at a time when warfare was hand-to-hand. Incredible as it seems, the Roman Empire became vulnerable to a relatively small number of barbarian tribesmen. After penetrating the empire’s frontier, these tribesmen found easy pickings within a defenseless interior. When the legions were lost or decoyed, entire regional economies were plundered and ruined. In the fifth century, when the western half of the Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians, the city of Rome lost three quarters of its population. That is to say, Rome lost 600,000 out of 800,000 inhabitants. Such was the magnitude of the massive de-urbanization that occurred.

What led to Rome’s weakening? In describing the city of Rome in the middle of the fourth century, Ammianus Marcellinus wrote of the vanity and materialism of his contemporaries. Rome became great through virtue, he argued, and virtue had given way to vice. Decades before the barbarians broke into the empire, causing the economy to unravel, the Romans were focused on entertainment and self-gratification. “In this state of things,” wrote Marcellinus, “the few houses which once had the reputation of being centers of serious culture are now given over to the trivial pursuits of passive idleness…. Men put themselves to school to the singer instead of the philosopher, to the theatrical producer rather than the teacher of oratory. The libraries are like tombs, permanently shut; men manufacture water-organs and lutes the size of carriages and flutes and heavy properties for theatrical performances.”

To borrow a phrase from Neil Postman, the Romans were “entertaining themselves to death.” A great and prosperous civilization was about to disappear. Who aside from Marcellinus was worried about it? From every indication, the good citizen, the concerned citizen, was increasingly isolated and irrelevant. The Roman Empire lost the ability, the willpower and the inner toughness to confront the shabby little barbarian tribes that collapsed its delicate economic mechanism. According to Ward-Perkins, “The dismembering of the Roman state, and the ending of centuries of security, were the crucial factors in destroying the sophisticated economy of ancient times….”
You do not need atomic bombs to depopulate cities or empires. A foreign enemy, admitted inside an empire, can disrupt trade and stop the flow of revenue. Legions cannot be paid, cities cannot be sustained, civilized life disappears. The resulting economic downturn lasted for centuries. According to Ward-Perkins, “The economic change that I have outlined was an extraordinary one. What we observe at the end of the Roman world is not a ‘recession’ or – to use a term that has already been suggested – an ‘abatement,’ with an essentially similar economy continuing to work at a reduced pace. Instead what we see is a remarkable qualitative change, with the disappearance of entire industries and commercial networks.”

Civilization is fragile. Trade can be interrupted and peaceful industry can be knocked out of operation. It doesn’t take as much interference as you think. In his book, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, Ward-Perkins describes the fragility of sophisticated economies: “to understand the full and unexpected scale of the decline – turning sophisticated regions into underdeveloped backwaters – we need to appreciate that economic sophistication has a negative side. If the ancient economy had consisted of a series of simple and essentially autonomous local units, with little specialization of labor within them and very little exchange between them, then parts of it would certainly have survived the troubles of post-Roman times…. However, because the ancient economy was in fact a complicated and interlocked system, its very sophistication rendered it fragile and less adaptable to change.”

Our modern economy is more complicated, more interlocked, and more fragile than the economy of the Roman Empire. Specialization has made our society wealthy. If the latter-day barbarians can accomplish what the Goths and Vandals accomplished in the fifth century, the descent into darkness could be rapid and last many centuries. “Comparison with the contemporary western world is obvious and important,” noted Ward-Perkins. “We would be quite incapable of meeting our needs locally, even in an emergency. The ancient world had not come as far down the road of specialization and helplessness as we have….” J.R. Nyquist Copyright 2008.

[Regarding the tangent on pistol ammo that got started with the battle rifle cartridge discussion,].I just thought I’d point out for your readers that while it is indeed important to select a common caliber (for rifle or handgun) and one that fits your role/terrain/group, if weaponry isn’t your forte, don’t get paralyzed with “I have to pick the best caliber or I’m unprepared.” I know people who “think it to death” and never purchase anything because that “perfect” caliber isn’t in stock or they can’t make up their mind. Remember that it’s the user that makes the difference. You can be far more effective with a .22LR you’re trained and practiced with it than some couch commando who owns the ‘baddest’ assault/battle rifle but has not trained at all. One of the advertisers here, Front Sight, has a saying, “Any gun will do, if you will do!” That is very true!

And just because I can’t resist the allure of the caliber debate that’s going on, please note that while I acknowledge there are differences between calibers (both among handguns and rifles) in terms of effectiveness, velocities, penetration, and such… just maybe there is a reason that the 9mm Luger versus 45 ACP debate has lasted nearly a century! Could it be that there is no clear winner? From Corbon’s web site (a manufacturer with the tightest quality controls out there):

9mm Parabellum (Luger) +P, 115 grain, 1,350fps = 466 ft/lbs of energy
45 ACP +P, 230 grain, 950fps = 461 ft/lbs of energy

Both are +P, both are common grain weights for defensive loads and they are made by the same manufacturer. From that perspective the 9mm is slightly more powerful than the 45 ACP! I only say this to show that pure statistical numbers don’t matter as much as some of us (me included at times) would like to think. Shot placement and mindset win fights, not online statistics. Train until you can’t get it wrong! - PPPP


Mr. Rawles,
I am confused as to why there is an argument over relative energy at 50 yards. Having taught hundreds of courses and thousands of people how to shoot a pistol, at this point in my life I can say that unless you run across a very competent person – far better than the average police officer or weekend warrior – they are going to be lucky to hit a target at half that range.

Let me give you an example. The local PD where I am a reserve has their annual shooting qualification course set up so that the vast majority of shots are under seven yards. The longest shot is at 15 yards.

Each year I see officer after officer miss the man sized target, three shots out of three, at the 15 yard line. Only a few officers who also are on SWAT and some of us middle aged reserve guys actually hit at 15 yards.

So the argument over energy at 50 yards is absolutely a non-starter in my book unless and until we are talking about sub-machineguns which most of us don’t own. And then the energy figures would be for 10 inch barrels and not 5 inch pistol-length barrels.

You can argue until you are blue in the face over 9mm vs. .45 ACP and neither side will give an inch. Ditto .223 vs. 7.62x39 or .308. Let’s just say that all of them have their place. Personally, I carry a 9mm on a daily basis only because its light enough to wear comfortably. When I am expecting trouble its either .40 when I am on duty or .45 when I am off duty. And a .223 or 7.62x39 in the car where I can get to it …

Overseas I carry 9 mm and 7.62x39 simply because not being associated with a U.S. military unit, it is what I can get a re-supply of in short order.

Final analysis its not the tool, it’s the person. Or, if you look at [Massad] Ayoob’s priorities, gear is at the bottom of his list. - Hugh D.

A reader mentioned a very useful new blog on Survival cooking, recipes and menu-planning. It looks worthy of bookmarking.

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I heard from the wife of an active duty Marine that starting last week, SurvivalBlog's URL has been universally blocked by the US DOD's Navy and Marine Corps Internet (NMCI). I find it ironic that my blog is currently not blocked by Red China's notorious "Great Firewall of China", but it is now blocked to so many US servicemen. This is particularly difficult for Navy sailors aboard ship, who needless to say have few Internet access alternatives. Why is it that the DOD universally blocks access 24 hours a day--even after duty hours? I find that troubling. One option is using a web portal, such as Anonymizer, which I recommend for all SurvivalBlog readers, so that your web surfing "history" never gets logged. That, BTW, is good OPSEC practice for everyone. And, FWIW, I will also look into either setting up a mirror site or an e-mail digest of SurvivalBlog. Keep in mind that we also have an XML RSS feed. (Hint, hint.) Once an alternate web site has been set up, please e-mail anyone that you know that is trapped behind the Navy and Marine Corps firewall, and let them know that they can still read SurvivalBlog. Thanks!

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Yishai spotted this linked over at the Defense Tech blog: The US Navy is Discussing Economic Doomsday.

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Hard Corps Bear sent us an interesting article posted on Fox News about police in the U.K. cracking down on knife possession. This appears to even include kitchen knives. Police states know no bounds!

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The latest news and commentary from The Economatrix: Bush Okays $17.4 Billion Bailout of Automakers -- Dismal Economy Sinks Oil Below $37 -- A Devastating Impact as the Market Unleverages and a Winter of Discontent -- Toyota Vote of No Confidence in US Economy -- 27,000 Woolworth's Staff Gone in January -- Deutsche Bank Shocks Markets -- Dollar's Slump Erases Months of Gains -- Credit Suisse Execs Get Risky Assets As Bonuses (Poetic justice!) -- Swiss Gold Bullion in Huge Demand as Trust in Banks Dives -- AIG Writedowns May Rise $30 Billion More -- LEAP Report: New Tipping Point in March 2009: When the World Realizes Things are Worse than 1930s -- The Dead Mall Problem -- Arizona Police Trained for Economic Civil Unrest

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States." - Noah Webster, "An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution," 1787, in Paul Ford, ed., Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, p. 56 (New York, 1888).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today is the last day of Safecastle's special 25% off sale for Mountain House canned freeze dries foods. Get you order in, ASAP!

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,000. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

3.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Dentistry may be one of the least exciting topics under preparedness. You will never see a television show on the daily life and death struggles in a dental office and you won’t find too many stories “from the front” on the dental team. But a dental emergency can quickly complicate or even bring to a standstill, daily living and tasks. In a SHTF scenario, this is not something you want to deal with. The confederate army was the first army to recognize this and fielded a dentist for their troops. In Vietnam, dental disease accounted for 11% of Disease and Non-Battle Injury (DNBI). Today, the military recognizes this and has provided more and more dental support closer to the forward line of troops (FLOT ) in an effort to keep troops on duty and out of sick call.

I have been practicing dentistry for 12 years now. I am currently in private practice but I served on active duty in the army for four and one half years and have been in the reserves the balance of my career. I have performed dental procedures in the third world as both a civilian and a soldier in places such as rural Jamaica, Guatemala and Kosovo (and in a few months I will add Iraq to the list but I doubt I will ever leave the wire to treat civilians). Most of these procedures involved nothing more than tooth extractions because it is the fastest way to help the most people. And most of these people recognized that follow up dental care was tenuous at best, and were not willing to gamble on a questionable tooth. On each of the medical civilian aid missions (MEDCAPs) in which I participated, the line to see the dentist was always at least as long as the line to see the physician's assistants (PAs) and physicians.

I would like to present a summary of the caries process and the best way to prevent dental pathology in the first place, a simple way to recognize and or loosely categorize dental symptoms, and some simple treatment alternatives until definitive care can be reached.

The first place I would start, would be to go to your dentist and have everything taken care of immediately. Think of Tom Hank’s character in the movie “Lost” who ended up extracting an abscessed tooth with an old ice skate. Need I say more? Sometimes in dentistry, we will treat a questionable tooth in an effort to save it but the tooth has a poor prognosis and we instruct the patient to return if problems persist. If you feel that you will be remote to dental care for an extended period of time, then I would attempt to limit these “watch and wait” procedures. Always ask for the dentist’s prognosis. You don’t want to find out that the procedure has failed after you no longer have access to the dentist.

After all existing problems have been addressed, begin and maintain (make it a habit) a preventive dental program. It is not a very difficult thing to do and you can save untold thousands of dollars and a lot of pain by doing it. Believe me, I’ll take your money to fix the problems but its better if you just avoid the problems in the first place.

Caries begins when bacteria in your mouth, digests sugar and creates acid, which dissolves tooth structure. As this process progresses towards the pulp of the tooth, you will experience pain. I know you all have heard this a million times but I’ll say it again because if you do this, you will have very few problems. Brush your teeth nd limit your sugar intake. . It really does work. If you can remove the bacteria, which predominantly resides in plaque, from your mouth, you will limit its ability to create acid. Also, the sugar intake frequency is more important than the amount of sugar. Every time you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria will create acid for thirty minutes. If you drink one soda in 10 minutes, and then consume no more sugar the rest of the day, then you will only have acid in your mouth for about 40 minutes. If you take the same soda, and sip on it all day long, then you will have acid in your mouth all day long. Certainly limit the amount of sugar you ingest, but more importantly, limit the frequency with which you ingest it. Also, use a fluoride rinse every night. You should brush your teeth, then rinse your mouth, drink water if you want, and then rinse with the fluoride. Then don’t put anything else in your mouth and go to bed. The fluoride will sit on your teeth and make the enamel less soluble. It works.|

Toothpaste is not necessary in this regimen either. It is good but not necessary. Toothpaste is nothing more than a mild abrasive, flavoring and fluoride. If you want to make your own, you can use fluoride rinse and baking soda although baking soda is much more abrasive than commercially made tooth paste and can irritate your tissues. It is fine to use every now and then and just use fluoride rinse or water if that’s all you have the rest of the time.

If you do develop a carious lesion (a cavity), you can expect the following, which can take months or years to fully develop. These symptoms are never written in stone and vary greatly between individuals and even between teeth in the same person. But this should provide a general guideline so you can estimate what you are dealing with, what symptom may be expected with time and what treatment you may need.

When the tooth structure has been sufficiently weakened, it will break and leave a hole (the cavity). At first you may have no pain and only experience a gingival irritation as food gets packed in it. You may have trouble getting all of the food out. Soon it will start to ache when you chew and possibly will be very cold sensitive. This decay is approaching the pulp of the tooth and is starting to irritate the nerves within the tooth. This is called reversible pulpitis, literally a reversible irritated pulp. This can be treated with a filling. When the tooth begins to hurt spontaneously, wakes you up at night and is sensitive to hot, then you most likely have an irreversible pulpitis. At this point, the tooth requires a root canal or an extraction. The toxins from the decay have reached the nerve and essentially have mortally wounded it. This may last for several weeks and if you gut it out, the pain will eventually go away. When the pain goes away, the nerve has died. Do not leave this tooth untreated! As the nerve decomposes, the body is unable to get inside the tooth to take care of it and you will eventually end up with an abscess. The pain will return with a vengeance. This tooth will no longer be sensitive to hot and cold but it will be extremely painfully to the touch. You may begin to run a fever and experience swelling. Some people say it feels like the tooth has “raised up”. It has. The infection is pushing it up. The infection will seek the path of least resistance in an effort to relieve pressure. If you are lucky it will establish drainage toward your cheeks or lips through the gums. Once the drainage is established, the pain may resolve somewhat. Again, don’t leave this untreated. If the infection, however, travels toward the tongue, neck or sinuses, to name a few places, it can become very dangerous, very quickly. Possible sequelae include septicemia, airway obstruction and pericardial infections. These complications are not common but are very dangerous and need to be treated by a medical professional. Some of the symptoms of these very serious infections will include increased temperature, swelling under your jaw, under your tongue and around your chin, swelling extending toward your neck, swelling in your throat that may begin to push your uvula aside, difficulty swallowing and/or breathing. Do not ignore these! Seek medical care immediately!

As far as field dentistry for non-dental personnel, you are pretty much limited to prevention, and possibly temporarily treating a reversible pulpitis. I have in the past taught 18Ds [The Army MOS for Special Operations Medical Sergeants] to extract teeth and even perform root canals but they are exceptional men in exceptional circumstances and we had a lot of time to work on it. In this venue I will suggest the names and techniques and perhaps you can fill in the gaps with a willing local dentist.

Two long-standing temporary filling materials are Cavit and IRM. Both of these are a powder and liquid that when mixed will become very hard. The benefit of IRM is that it contains eugenol (clove oil), which is a sedative and can sooth a sensitive tooth. These will keep food and “cold” out of a cavity until you can reach definitive care. If you are somehow able to secure it, Fuji IX is a wonderful restorative material that will also release fluoride and can slow down/stop the decay process. I don’t know how you can get it without a dental license but if you are resourceful…please, I am not advocating non-dentists treating tooth pathology in any way, shape or form (i.e. don’t sue me if you try something and it doesn’t work). I am simply offering some observations from my own experiences that may be helpful when dental care is not available. In the end, you will need to find a dentist but hopefully these tips can help you prevent, treat or recognize the severity of dental pathology that you may encounter in remote areas. This is about four years of school crammed into a few pages so there are huge gaps of course, and there are as many ways to treat disease as there are dentists. Others may have different opinions and better treatment alternatives but I think this can at least organize a discussion or be a good stimulus for questions.

At the risk of pestering you, I was curious about your opinion of Mosin Nagant rifles. I have seen them advertised on J&G Sales for anywhere from $69 to $199, with folding bayonets. The advertised condition is "very good". What do you think? It appears that there is pretty widespread availability of 7.62x54r ammo for this weapon as well. Thanks, - MAJ Kevin X., USAR

Here is brief response. (I get 60+ e-mails per day, so forgive my brevity): I do like the Finn M39 Mosin rifles --some of which are available on pre-1899 antique actions--but the little carbines (all legally modern, requiring paperwork) kick like a mule. The 7.62x54r cartridge is a bit more powerful than .30-06.
See: this article on early Mosin Nagant rifles and my Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ.

Pat Burns is a good Mosin dealer that usually has some Finnish M39s built on antique (1898 or earlier) receivers available.
(Scroll down to the second half of the yellow table of M39 listings for the pre-1899 antiques.)

Please note that most of the 7.62x54r ammo on the market is corrosively primed. Search for the Russian Silver Bear 7.62x54r ammo, which is non-corrosive. J&G Sales in Prescott, Arizona often stocks it.

Mark R. and Eric both highlighted this: Depression Possible: Canadian Prime Minister. And Eric also sent this big raft of economic news: Calpers to Report Losses of 103% on its Residential Investments -- Forecast: A Long, Cold Winter -- HUD Chief Calls Aid on Mortgages a Failure -- 55% of SoCal house sales were foreclosures -- Foreclosures push So Cal house prices down 35 percent -- Fed now lending money for 0% interest -- Banks Show No Signs of Easing Credit in Step With Feds Rates -- FDIC rules will ban new banks -- Goldman Sachs' Tax Rate Drops to 1% -- Bonds Stagnate on Mind-Numbing Housing Data -- The Great Unraveling

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Just a few days left! More than 400 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packers at the special December sale price. We get a little "piece of the action" for each one that is sold. So this a is a great way to save money and to support SurvivalBlog! Don't miss out on this sale! You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly from code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or while supplies last. By buying foods in bulk and re-packaging them in more handy (single meal size) vacuum bags, you can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. Buy a FoodSaver. You'll be glad that you did!

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Scott D. forwarded us this commentary by Richard Russell: Warren Should've Listened to Daddy Buffett. Scott's comments: "Please don't think I'm forwarding this article as information related to Investing; it's not. The first part of this is pretty typical stuff - the second part is what I thought was interesting and worth marking. Howard Buffett (Warren Buffet's father) was a congressman. Maybe he was caught up in the post WWII hysteria and the newly developing cold war and wrote this simply reflecting that mentality and isn't particularly relevant. So maybe this "prebuttal" contrasting the Father's opinion to his son Warren's later opinion that the metals have no utility is just a bad comparison taken out of their respective contexts. I don't know. But what got my attention though was that Richard Russell thought it was notable and worth writing now. What's up with that? Maybe it's nothing. I hope so."

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There are just four days left in BulletProoofME's SurvivalBlog-only special. The 30%-off special is $580 for the mil-spec Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest. The similar sale that they ran last year for SurvivalBlog exceedingly large response. This special pricing is only available because of a military contract overrun. Note that they are running low on inventory this time around. All items will be first come, first served. The sale ends at midnight on December 22nd.

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Geoff flagged this ominous news: Chrysler to idle all factories for at least a month. Hmmmm... Lack of financing was blamed. As I warned SurvivalBlog readers back in October: "At present, the global credit market is frozen solid. More than anything, it resembles a Wooly Mammoth that was suddenly frozen stiff with clover grass still in its mouth. Applying CPR won't help the beast. But Ben Bernanke and Congress are still doing their best to resuscitate it, putting on a good show for the public..."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"All centuries are dangerous, it is the business of the future to be dangerous. It must be admitted that there is a degree of instability which is inconsistent with civilization. But, on the whole, the great ages have been the unstable ages." - Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

Today is the last day of Safecastle's special 25% off sale for Mountain House canned freeze dries foods. Get you order in, ASAP!

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,000. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

3.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Note from JWR:

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $860. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

3.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

What a surprise my wife and I received at work yesterday. My wife and I work for the same manufacturing company and after two banner years and a huge Christmas bonus the company is reducing everyone to 20 hours a week. The company we work for is a total "team oriented" place to work and if one person gets a bonus we all get a bonus and the same is true when it comes to layoffs. While our company sets and exceeds the world standard for what we do many of the companies we are dealing with are unable to now qualify for bank funding. What I find odd is the fact that the companies we deal with are the ones that bring food to tables around the world and are consistently profitable. I take pause when the profitable companies aren’t able to do business.

So my true purpose for contacting you is to thank you for blog and the focus it has toward preparation. My wife and I have been reading daily and are Ten Cent Challenge subscribers. Additionally, I have your SurvivalBlog banner on my MySpace page as well as all my outgoing (non-work) e-mail footers. I read your "Patriots" novel and then started reading your blog as well as the Mental Militia forums. Together, those have [motivated] us [to now be] sitting in a much better place than we wouldn’t be otherwise. We now have food supplies for ourselves and our children for six months as well as weapons and ammo cache.

I want to close by saying that my wife or I ever seen this coming and we are thankful to be as prepared as we are and hope that others step up while they can. Sincerely, - "Sharp Shepherd"

I enjoy reading your blog and have improved my preps exponentially since I began following you. I don't know how many dozens of [telephone] consultations you do annually, but you and I spoke for an hour earlier this year. I live on Long Island, if that rings a bell. I feel that it was money well-spent.

The post on vehicle stops was informative. You mentioned Boston T. Party's "Boston's Gun Bible" as a reference source. I have read all his books, fiction and non-fiction alike, and found him to be both entertaining and informative. If I may, I suggest letting your readers know that he has a book devoted solely to interactions with law enforcement. His book is entitled "You and the Police" and can be found on for as little as $10.88 at last glance. This book covers all phases of dealing with law enforcement including traffic stops, roadblocks, airports etc . It also tells you what the police are allowed to do and what your rights are during a "contact", "detention" and "arrest". I have purchased copies for myself, family and friends. As the cover of the book states :If you don't know your rights, you have none!"

Thanks for the blog. It's my first stop each morning. God Bless, - Ken B. in New York

It looks like I kicked a hornet's nest a little with my article, so here is a little clarification on my part.

To reply to Jim H. In Colorado:
"The recent article [by Kyrottimus] that stated that at 50 yards a typical 45 ACP and 9mm [Parabellum] will have the same energy is wrong.
.45 ACP 230 gr ~390 ft/lbs (528 joules) @ 875 fps (JHP)
9x19mm Luger/Parabellum 115 gr ~385 ft/lbs (521 joules) @ 1,225 fps (JHP)"

"Wrong" is a harsh term for so many variable loads for any type of ammo. I basically used the NATO loading data for the 9x19mm in a 5" barrel pistol in a U.S. Military M9.

Muzzle Velocity 375 meters per second (1,230.3 feet per second)
Muzzle Energy 569.5 Newton meters (430 foot pounds)
See: "9mm bullet weights typically vary between 95 and 147 grains. These bullets leave the average pistol barrel from 930 up to 1,450fps."

And from another source:
Ball 115 gr (7.45 g) 1,125 ± 90 fps (343 ± 27 mps)
(If using this, +or- 90 could mean 1,035 fps min or 1215 fps max)
M882 Ball 112 gr (7.26 g) 1,263 ± 5 fps (385 ± 1.5 mps)
(If used, drop ~35fps off for a hand-loaded typical 115gr projectile to get ~1,225fps)

Sources included above; you'll also find references to U.S. military .45ACP loadings as well.
I "dumbed" my stats in the article down to accommodate for ~4.5" pistols or some commercial defense loads. Please revise any old reloading manuals to which you may be still referring.
"His additional assumption, that bullets will slow equally in an air mass, is also wrong."
I didn't claim anywhere that bullets slow equally to each other, but what I did say was a SINGLE bullet will decelerate at a constant rate assuming the atmosphere is at a constant pressure. Allow me to quote myself:
" long as the air resistance remains constant, so too will the rate of deceleration of the projectile." (not "projectiles")
The statement is of a singular bullet, not comparing one to another.
" I noticed that he listed the fps for a 9mm cartridge at 1,225 fps. This is the energy for a 9mm +p+ range cartridge..."
See above reference to NATO 9x19mm cartridge loads.
...while comparing it to the 45 ACP ball cartridge, not a +p rated bullet."

I was merely comparing NATO spec to NATO spec (apples to apples, so to speak), maybe I should have listed that from the get-go. NATO ammo in 9x19 may be applied to handloaders using like weighted projectiles with similar sectional density/ballistic coefficient to allow for better "energy dump."
"How convenient for the crowd that believes 9mm and 45 to be "equivalent"."

They aren't. I never said they were. I'll pick .45ACP nine times out of ten because beyond 50 yards it retains more of its power, further. It also doesn't over-penetrate as much at closer range so it's usually more efficient at energy deposition than the 9x19mm at both closer and longer ranges (in my opinion). Please don't jump to conclusions, I said they were "equal in net force to 50 yards", not in their energy deposition properties.

" The Winchester Ranger +p 230 gr ball is rated at 985 fps out of my barrel and it's ballistic coefficient makes it retain more energy at 50 yards than the lightweight 9mm 115 gr cartridge."

That is a completely true statement, but it's not pertinent to the point I was trying to make in my article.

" So while not trying to get into the age-old 9mm versus 45 ACP fight, he's perhaps unintentionally dishonest in his comparison. I would hazard a guess that the data itself was simple cut and pasted, and the writer is unused to vetting his writing."

If I was somehow inaccurate or dishonest in my assessment of handgun data (used mostly to compare to rifles, not so much to each other), I apologize. It was not my intent.

I used many other sources but most of those were mostly to reassure my own assessments and did not feel pertinent to list every one (those included above with the NATO 9x19 data in the M9 as well as .45 ACP are just a few).

It was not "cut and pasted" and my vetting as a writer is irrelevant. I admit, I over-generalized in my article for the sake of length. Perhaps I should have began with preamble stating so to avoid further reactions. If someone feels the need to add, amend or correct my article, please do so. I don't know everything about firearms, ballistics or physics. But let's be honest, anyone can pit two different calibers and different types of loads and get plenty of different results. I am trying to compare "like loads" as close as possible (barrel length, ammunition purpose, cartridge source, etc.).

Again, my intent was not to imply that one may be better than the other, or to start contentious arguments. I was simply trying to, in generalized manner, display physical properties of energy in moving projectiles.

" I also found a big error, where the writer says: "Note that grains in bullet mass differ from from the "grains" of smokeless powder (nitro-cellulose) propellant, which is not used in this article." He couldn't be more wrong. I thought there was something up when he equated grain weight to carats and then to grams - I don't think this is a reloader or someone more conversant with ammunition - no reloader I know could ever make this mistake."
[JWR Adds: I think that what he meant write was that a physical grain of powder does not necessarily weigh one grain. But you are correct that powder is weighed in the same "grains" scale as bullets.]

JWR is correct. It is my fault, however, for not better wording the statement. It should have read something like this:
"A grain is a unit of lead mass measurement. Note that a "grain" of measurement is originally based upon lead weight and is in no "weigh" equal (pun intended) to a single grain of powder (as powder comes in either extruded/stick or ball/sphere). It is a unit of measuring mass, not individual powder grains. The unit if measurement "grain" is the same no matter what you are weighing; bullets, powder or the amount of pepper in your pepper shaker"

" When he talks of the destabilization of a typical rifle round, he also describes what actually happens erroneously, when referring to the centrifugal force of the cartridge "failing", and "the laws of inertia, resistance, velocity and mass" being the deciding factors after the "spin fails"."

I thought I was using basic words. "Spin Failing" is not a technical term; not by a long shot (no pun intended). Critical destabilization is often thrown around as a buzzword. When a bullet hits something harder than air, it's going to slow down. Longitudinal friction (the direction of the bullet's travel) is not the only friction a bullet encounters when slowing down. Roll/Spin Friction (via the bullet's spin) also occurs. If that friction is enough to slow its spin down beyond the point of stabilization, it will usually begin to tumble (if it is back-heavy). Otherwise it can do a myriad of other unpredictable things.

I am positive I'm close enough to be more right than wrong in my basic sentiments.

"Using words like 'critically destabilizes' sounds like he was quoting something again...."

Maybe I should have used words like "Break apart" or "loses stabilization" or "slows down very fast" to appease those who may find my motives or style of writing questionable. I am sorry if I am not 100% to-the-point in detail and that I have often over-generalized to truncate an already lengthy article. I stand by the basic concept of energy dynamics in firearms ballistics, though.

And in response to the comments by Beach:
"Point blank" is not just vaguely "... a few yards from the muzzle" as Kyrottimus stated."
Correct. Again, my mistake of over-generalization. When dealing with new readers, I should have made a terse, but appropriate differentiation between "point-blank" and the usual closest correct distance to set up a chronograph (which yields "muzzle" data). Beach closed with is:"We need to teach the correct usage of terms, not colloquialisms." I agree completely, and concede this point to you good sir. - Kyrottimus

Thanks to KAF for spotting this: A Giant Breach in Earth's Magnetic Field. This natural event--roughly analogous to the nuclear EMP effect in that it can fry microcircuits--is all the more reason to store your spare radios in ammo cans or other Faraday cage type enclosures.

   o o o

Reader Bob R. notes that there was a recent "Death Map" study done with data from 1970 to 2004 that categorizes US mortality rates from natural disasters. Bob's comment: "One would think that hurricanes would top the list, but it turns out heat is a bigger killer. I think this data would be good for managing your disaster plans." The full report is available in PDF.

   o o o

N.L. sent this: The NAIS premise registration prosecutions begin in Wisconsin. For those of you hat aren't familiar with the NAIS, see this background piece. You will note that we generally avoid politics in SurvivalBlog, but we make exceptions for issues like gun control and NAIS, where government meddling restricts our ability to prepare and to be self-sufficient. Oh, and speaking of threats to Constitutional rights, many readers have mentioned this: U.S. now only two states away from rewriting Constitution

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Eric recommended a piece by Karen De Coster posted over at Lew Rockwell's site: Tolerating Spiders, Using Your Credit Cards, and Other Depression Survival Tactics.

   o o o

Just as I predicted, the US Dollar has resumed it bear trend in foreign exchange, and this has brought silver and gold out of their doldrums. I expect the metals to have lackluster performance until the MOAB-induced inflation kicks in, in earnest. Once that happens, precious metals will surely skyrocket, as investors flock to metals as safe havens. And, courtesy of The Economatrix, here's the latest news and commentary: Analysts: Fed Out of Bullets After Rate Cut -- Fears Behind the Cheers for the Fed -- UK Rates to Follow US to Zero -- Kiss the Dollar Rally Good-Bye -- UK Bank Rescue Plan is Just Not Enough -- Martin Weiss: Deflation Strikes Hard...What to Do -- US Treasury and Fed Determined to Destroy Dollar -- CitiBank's Computers Down, Blocking Account Info -- GM to Temporarily Idle Three Mexico Assembly Plants -- Markets Get an "F" In P/E (Mogambo Guru) -- Raising the Bar for Hedge Funds -- Gold is Money, Therefore a Hedge Against Inflation

"The right of a citizen to bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or the State, is absolute. He does not derive it from the State government. It is one of the high powers" delegated directly to the citizen, and `is excepted out of the general powers of government.' A law cannot be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law, and independent of the lawmaking power." - Cockrum v. State, 24 Tex. 394, at 401-402 (1859)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction that started yesterday is already at $800. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

3.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

Today's first letter comes from my old friend "Jeff Trasel." Those of you that have read my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" will immediately recognize Jeff as the basis for one the thinly-fictionalized characters. In real life, Jeff is a former US Marine Corps Force Recon NCO that later went on to work in the defense electronics industry and the software industry. More recently, he has lived abroad, and he has pursued two graduate degrees.

In continuing our discussion on the warrior-way as lifestyle, I have several observations relative to several recent posts on SurvivalBlog that need comment. First off, I am heartened by the level of awareness, camaraderie, and spirit of practical know-how, innovativeness, and just good common sense that pervades the posts of late. However, several have given me pause for thought, not so much for controversy, more so as how the subject matter should be approached by those new to our practice. For instance, there have been some marvelous discussions on battle rifle calibers and their respective effectiveness. In fact, the data was some of the most comprehensive I have seen since attending the Small Arms armorers' course at Aberdeen Proving Ground and various SOF weapons schools. The authors are to be commended for their research. However, I would caution those in the early stages of the preparedness continuum to perhaps hip-pocket knowledge of this nature, as the reality of such data is more academic than practical. Competence is in many ways more lethal than caliber. I cannot stress this enough and it is this mindset that is the nexus of my writings here.

Projectile weights, powder charges, and the like are good to know if you intend to customize specific loads for your preparedness battery, but in times such as these, the risk-reward ratio of the effort is somewhat squandered, and [for the majority of shooters] the costs better spent on ready-made, good quality commercial or surplus military ball. In fact, you cannot get much better than mil-spec National Match-quality out of the box. I know, as I've tried it, and it took a lot of tests with different projectiles from a variety of manufacturers, and considerable experimentation with various powder [types and charges] to make any measurable difference in many years of experimentation. This is not to say it cannot be done, but there are more pressing matters, such as time on the range that should occupy one's time.

A recent post listed sabotage skills as desirable in a preparedness situation. As someone trained in such matters, and having practiced said skills in the field, I find this a rather curious addition to the discussion. This is a matter of one's personal survival philosophy, but given that long-term living in a preparedness state is akin to living the life of an insurgent, I can think of no quicker way to bring one's existence to the eye of authority. Indeed, this runs counter to any idea of survival in hostile environments, and represents an escalation that could imperil the long-term viability of one's retreat. Sabotage is an offensive, not defensive posture. The nature of survival is to exact retribution only as a last resort and in a fashion that does not telegraph a level of tactical sophistication that is counter-productive. To paraphrase Chairman Mao, " must swim as a fish within the sea of the masses and not antagonize the great angler."

There are distinct tactical reasons where sabotage may be of use, primarily in urban and built-up areas as a means of area denial or in hindering those who may be in pursuit during your egress to your retreat. Caltrops or water in the gas, as mentioned, would certainly work in these and other scenarios. I bring this up only in urging caution in deploying such tactics. It takes practice to become efficient these types of low-intensity offensive operations, and while one should stand ready to incorporate their use in a prudent long-term retreat strategy, it is better to focus on avoidance rather than irritants. - "Jeff Trasel"

I went to college at Western Illinois University [WIU] and now live 30 miles from there. I don't know much about the guys that got arrested but I can give you some info on Illinois gun laws.
No NFA ["Class 3"] items are allowed except for possibly AOWs. I have heard conflicting reports on AOWs, but know for sure that "silencers" (sound suppressor) are
illegal under the state law.

As for transporting guns, all guns must be unloaded and inside of a closed case. This goes for handguns and long guns. And no a glove box, center console, or
trunk don't count as a case for the gun.

Also, the only CCW allowed in Illinois is by police, retired police with the proper paperwork, private investigators with proper paperwork, and of course just about any
Chicago politician. - Mark from the corrupt state of Illinois


Regarding the recent post about the two young men arrested for weapons offenses in Illinois. In Illinois, it is illegal to have a firearm in a loaded or open carry manner in a vehicle. All guns, long arms and handguns, must be unloaded and in a case. Interesting to note, my wife and I drove to Idaho this summer from our home in New Jersey looking for areas for relocation.That was a 6,000 mile trip and the only two states that I could not have my handgun loaded and either on my person or in the glove box were Illinois and Iowa. Although Iowa does have a consideration for concealed carry for residents. Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states in the Union that do not recognize an individuals right for self protection with a firearm (the only two "no issue" states in the union). Just an FYI you may want to pass along to your readers. - CG

An interesting post there "Letter Re: Speeding Coyote Hunters Arrested in Illinois". I was curious why they were arrested and what "aggravated unlawful use of a weapon might be" so I went to look up some Illinois law.

It seems like they were arrested for what I would call "carrying concealed without a permit".
It looks like the problem was the immediately accessible loaded handgun (without a concealed carry permit)--they had loaded handguns under the seat.

1) Don't do that!
2) If you are doing that, then don't speed
3) Never give law enforcement officers permission to search your person, your car, residence, etc.

Some YouTube videos on the subject:


Regards, - Karl W.

JWR Replies: There may have been the doctrine of "plain view" invoked, whereby the owner's permission is not required for a search.
In sum, it sounds more likely it was just bad OPSEC rather to blame, than anything else. When traveling in gun-grabby states, guns and and accessories must be kept out of view.

We live in the era of the Nanny State. So it is important--particularly for those of you that live in the more populous and heavily-regulated states--to study these doctrines which can be used as the pretext for searches: Plain View, Reasonable Suspicion, and Probable Cause. These doctrines are drummed ito the heads of students at police academies. Your knowledge of these doctrines, and your ability to intelligently articulate them to law enforcement are quite important if you want to remain free to go about your business. Be polite, but stand up for your rights. If you are asked for permission to search you vehicle, then decline politely. If the officer persists, you should say something to the effect of" "I'm sorry officer, but I have been advised by my attorney to never voluntarily assent to a search. Is there anything substantive stemming from the doctrines of Plain View, Reasonable Suspicion, or Probable Cause that would lead you to believe that I am engaged in any illegal activity beyond the motor vehicle code infraction for which you pulled me over? Assuming there is not, am I now free to go?"

Further, my advice specifically to the good people of Illinois is: Don't continue to live under such tyrannical laws. Exercising the Right to Keep and Bear Arms should a given rather than something that must be kept a secret. Vote with your feet, and move! FWIW, I briefly compare the gun laws of 19 western states as part of my analysis in my Recommended Retreat Areas page. But for a far more detail on the gun laws of all 50 states, see Boston's Gun Bible. (BYW, I consider that book a "must" for the bookshelf of every prepared American family.)

Reader T.H. in New Mexico wrote to ask, "How long will this recession last, and how deep will it get? A year ago, I would have said that it might last as little as 18 months, and that it would surely be "sharp." But no we see many trillions of dollars being thrown at Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB), thus perpetuating the malinvestment, and doubtless delaying economic recovery. So I'd say that we will see a severe recession if not a full blown depression with lots of disruption that will last between four years and 15 years. Be ready for a couple of years of deflation, probably followed by a period of stagflation, and possibly some quite severe inflation. If possible, relocate to a safe retreat area, soon.

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Justin M. suggested this article: Gun Toting mom divides community. As I've said before: A right that goes unexercised soon devolves into a privilege, and finally a crime. Good for her. If more Pennsylvanians regularly exercised their right to carry, then this would have never have been a controversy.(See the last chapter of my novel.)

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For anyone that has been dragging their feet on the $59.99 FoodSaver vacuum packer special (which will benefit SurvivalBlog, via sales commissions), be advised:

- Orders must be placed by 12pm EST 12/18/08 (tomorrow) to guarantee delivery via UPS Ground before 12/25/08.
- Last day for UPS 2nd Day Air is Noon EST 12/22.
- Last day for UPS Next Day Air 12 Noon 12/23.
- Not responsible for delays due to inclement weather.

You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly from code L8FAV28 at checkout. OBTW, I also recommend getting the Mason Jar vacuum sealing adapter kit, to make your FoodSaver more versatile. This offer is valid only during the month of December, or while supplies last. More than 400 SurvivalBlog readers have already bought these at the special sale price. Don't miss out!

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RKB sent us an article from rom CQ Homeland Security, an inside-the-Beltway publication primarily for lobbyists and media types: Americans Talking the Preparedness Talk, but Not Walking the Walk

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More economic news and commentary from Cheryl: Stocks Rise After Fed Rate Cut -- IMF Chief Issues Stark Warning on Civil Unrest -- Global Woes Fuel Unrest -- Downturn Spurs "Survival Panic" in Some -- Treasury Yields Drop to Records as Fed Foresees "Exceptionally Low" Rates -- The Next Financial WMD? -- Airline Employment Fell 5.7% in October. And to cap all those, Susan Z. sent us a Bloomberg piece that corroborates one of the assertions that I've repeated since SurvivalBlog was started in 2005, that the Fed will likely inflate its way out of any major problem: Fed Cuts Rate to As Low As Zero, Will Use All Tools. (It would have been better titled "Monetizing debt is next, Fed says")

"The bottom line is that we've become a nation of thieves, a value rejected by our founders. James Madison, the father of our Constitution, was horrified when Congress appropriated $15,000 to help French refugees. He said, 'I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.' Tragically, today's Americans would run Madison out of town on a rail." - Dr. Walter Williams

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Congrats to Sheryl, the high bidder in our benefit auction that ended last night. Many thanks for your generous bid. Today we start a new auction, which includes:

1.) A large "be ready to barter" box of full-capacity gun magazines, from the JASBORR. This box includes: 12 - Used original Bundeswehr contract HK91 (G3) steel 20 round magazines, 6 - Used original FN of Belgium-made FN-FAL alloy 20 round magazines, 6 - Used AR-15/M16 USGI (a mix of Simmonds & Colt made) alloy 20 round magazines, and 2 - New and very scarce original FN (Belgian-made) US M1/M2 Carbine blued steel 30 round magazines (marked "AYP") . All of these magazines are of pre-1994 manufacture (and hence legal to possess in New York.) These magazines have a combined value of approximately $450. Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.

2. ) A brand new in box Big Berky Water Filter, with your choice of either four white ceramic filter elements or four black filter elements. This is a $329 retail value, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

3.) A huge lot of DVDs, CD-ROMs and hard copy nuclear survival/self-sufficiency references (a $300+ value) donated by Richard Fleetwood of

4.) A NukAlert compact radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value). 

5.) A desert tan SOG Trident folding knife, courtesy of Safecastle. (a $92.99 retail value.)

6.) A case of 12 recent production full mil-spec MRE rations (identical to the current military contract MREs, but without the civilian sale restriction markings). This is a $90 retail value, courtesy of

Thus, the combined retail value of this combined lot is at least $1,275. The opening bid is just $100. This auction ends on January 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

Today we present a guest editorial by attorney and economic commentator Edgar J. Steele:

The following is an e-mail I sent three weeks ago to a small group of exceptionally-forgiving friends of mine, in which I pre-announced my hunch that things have changed fundamentally in the precious metals (PM) markets:

There are lots of possible reasons: options expiry last week, new administration coming, new econ[omic] team (same as the Clinton econ team, which ran the [Plunge Protection Team] PPT into overdrive), China going into recession, Motor City going BK, a need to devalue the dollar in the face of global recession, shorter hem length, planetary alignment... Fact is, though, it is just a hunch. An educated guess.

Both gold and silver were up smartly last Friday and this morning. This may be a trend worth watching. If you have the ability and have not yet gotten aboard the train, this would be a good time. Silver is much more volatile than gold and moves both quickly and over a larger amount of real estate than does gold. Currently, silver is historically about as undervalued vis-a-vis gold as ever has been seen. A quick march right through $20 per ounce is coming - of that you can be certain - it's the timing that is fuzzy, is all.

eBay hasn't yet caught a whiff of the trend, if a trend it is, thus the premiums for silver and gold still reflect last Thursday's prices. A good time to buy on eBay but not to sell. I hear that Tulving has silver for sale.

Throughout this whole debacle during which physical and paper PMs parted company, resulting in a true "Black Market," real, physical silver never has gone below $15 per ounce. Recall that I said a while ago that you never again will see silver below $15. If we see a sudden upsurge in the spot price of paper silver, it will be interesting to see if the 40-60% physical premium carries along - it probably will for a while, then decline.

My feeling isn't strong enough yet to go public to my list or web site with my hunch. This missive goes out just to a handful of those who I know will forgive me for being wrong, as I so often seem to be regarding short-term PM price movements (though my long-term trend forecasts have been right on the money).

I'm looking for serious and significant politico-social events during the next 90 days. All hell could break loose, in other words. This, perhaps, is the single most important component of my hunch.

- - -
[Some follow-up commentary, also by Edgar Steele, added on December 15th:]

Though I have personally suffered tremendous losses as a result of the government's months-long manipulation of the dollar, silver and gold, it has pained me even more deeply to know that others have sustained such losses, at least partially in reliance upon my outlook.
Fortunately, most have followed my recommendations to the letter and bought only physical silver and taken personal delivery. They will be made whole and then some. A whole lot more than "some," I firmly believe.

Some list members, like myself, have been foolish enough to ignore my fundamental advice to hold only physical PMs, which is all that I continue to support publicly. They and I took substantial positions in mining stocks on margin and we got destroyed during the past few months. It was a calculated risk. I never imagined that the government would drive down PM prices while the stock market crashed and simultaneously inflate the dollar beyond the bounds of all reasonable foresight. Our recent experience illustrates the folly of investing (gambling, actually) with borrowed money.

Now I have no choice but to continue to gamble on the leverage inherent to mining stocks, though I have been stopped out of all my margined positions. As noted below, I believe that the fundamentals have shifted once again, more in line with what existed a year ago.

I still like Pan American Silver (PAAS) and Gold Corp (GG), but am particularly impressed with Coeur d'Alene Mines (CDE), which has declined well beyond the average during the past few months (to less than 10% of its value a year ago, becoming a true "penny stock" today) and which appears to have more headroom than most, as a result. I have bought as much of CDE as I could with what remains of my brokerage account balances (not much), though I continue to hold modest positions in PAAS and GG, as well as a couple of small firms that I cannot in good conscience suggest to others.

Do as you will. You know what I am doing. I can in good conscience recommend only that you buy gold and silver and take physical possession. They are at bargain levels today and are readily available if you are willing to pay the premiums being commanded. Do not mistake spot price for market price.

Check eBay, which is the closest thing we have to a published market these days. Here are links so that you easily can check on prevailing eBay silver and gold prices.

Here are a few good sources for gold and silver bullion: Tulving, Bullion Direct, Gold and Silver Now, and Seek Bullion. (Yeah, well, I wish I got something for recommending these sites - something beyond the knowledge that you almost certainly will be treated fairly and given good prices, that is.)

I believe that the next sixty days or so are among the most dangerous ever faced by America. We are in transition, with a do-nothing, lame-duck president standing in the way of a nation still transfixed by the vision of another man falsely promising change while that man (Obama) surrounds himself with the very people who created the staggering problems, both economic and political, now facing us.

Israel is whipping itself into a fever and virtually certain to strike out at Iran. Pakistan and India are on the verge of nuclear war. Economic riots have spread from Greece to other parts of Europe. Incredibly enough, pirates actually roam the seas again. All hell could break loose at any time, folks.

Take care of the fundamentals first: location, protection, survival. Then, and only then, should any of this financial stuff matter to you.

As bleak as this Christmas might seem to be shaping up, it well could be "the good old days" when viewed from just a couple of years hence. Enjoy it well and be particularly attentive to your family. In the long run, family is all that you have. And friends, don't forget. I count you, particularly, among my treasured friends.

Merry Christmas. - Edgar J. Steele

JWR Adds: Unless someone is very wealthy, I concur with Mr. Steele thatthey buy only physical (read: tangible, in your personal possession) precious metals. Those might prove useful for barter in the recovery phase of an economic collapse, but not in the very depth of it. Here in the States, the easily-recognizable pre-1965 circulated silver US dimes, quarters, and/or half dollars will be ideal for barter.

Steele and I are are also in complete accord on this statement: "Take care of the fundamentals first: location, protection, survival. Then, and only then, should any of this financial stuff matter to you." Or, as I put it, "Get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away before 'investing' anything extra."

Howdy James,
I thought that this article was interesting in the fact that the US Forest Service is calling for a prescribed burn [in order] to locate weapons, ammo, and explosives (sounds like reloading powder) that a fugitive may have stashed around his camp site.

This got me to thinking, how safe are your caches? You will want to make sure any caches you have are buried well if they come looking for your cache and burn the area. Also consider that those landmarks/trees that were there may be gone after a burn, so locating it again may be difficult if you are basing it on 'sight' only! Be sure to have other methods to recover your cache. Later, - Mark in North Carolina


The recent article [by Kyrottimus] that stated that at 50 yards a typical 45 ACP and 9mm [Parabellum] will have the same energy is wrong.

.45 ACP 230 gr ~390 ft/lbs (528 joules) @ 875 fps (JHP)
9x19mm Luger/Parabellum 115 gr ~385 ft/lbs (521 joules) @ 1,225 fps (JHP)

His additional assumption, that bullets will slow equally in an air mass, is also wrong.

I noticed that he listed the fps for a 9mm cartridge at 1,225 fps. This is the energy for a 9mm +p+ range cartridge, while comparing it to the 45 ACP ball cartridge, not a +p rated bullet. How convenient for the crowd that believes 9mm and 45 to be "equivalent". The Winchester Ranger +p 230 gr ball is rated at 985 fps out of my barrel and it's ballistic coefficient makes it retain more energy at 50 yards than the lightweight 9mm 115 gr cartridge. So while not trying to get into the age-old 9mm versus 45 ACP fight, he's perhaps unintentionally dishonest in his comparison. I would hazard a guess that the data itself was simple cut and pasted, and the writer is unused to vetting his writing.

I also found a big error, where the writer says: "Note that grains in bullet mass differ from from the "grains" of smokeless powder (nitro-cellulose) propellant, which is not used in this article." He couldn't be more wrong. I thought there was something up when he equated grain weight to carats and then to grams - I don't think this is a reloader or someone more conversant with ammunition - no reloader I know could ever make this mistake. [JWR Adds: I think that what he meant write was that a physical grain of powder does not necessarily weigh one grain. But you are correct that powder is weighed in the same "grains" scale as bullets.]

When he talks of the destabilization of a typical rifle round, he also describes what actually happens erroneously, when referring to the centrifugal force of the cartridge "failing", and "the laws of inertia, resistance, velocity and mass" being the deciding factors after the "spin fails". He uses big words, but I'm positive he doesn't know what the interactions of those forces are. Using words like 'critically destabilizes' sounds like he was quoting something again, and not instructing the reader. You know, as do I, that [Col. Martin] Fackler [the lead author of the NATO Emergency War Surgery manual and numerous ballistics studies] explained all of this stuff very simply and very succinctly - and rotational forces are a primary reason for jacket and bullet fragmentation, they do not "usually fail" as he writes. - Jim H. in Colorado


"Point blank" is not just vaguely "... a few yards from the muzzle" as Kyrottimus stated.

Here is the official definition:
In external ballistics, point-blank range is the distance between a firearm and a target of a given size such that the bullet in flight is expected to strike the target without adjusting the elevation of the firearm (see also gun). The point-blank range will vary with the firearm and its particular ballistic characteristics, as well as the target chosen. A firearm with a flatter trajectory will permit a nearer minimum and further maximum point blank range for a given target size, while a larger target will allow for a longer point blank range for a given firearm.

We need to teach the correct usage of terms, not colloquialisms. - Beach

Eric sent us this: Amish homeowners: Religion trumps building codes

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Michael H. flagged this: Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion

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I'm overwhelmed! More than 300 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packers at the special December sale price.This a is a great way to save money and to support SurvivalBlog! (We get a small commission on each sale, if you follow our link.) You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly from code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or while supplies last. By buying foods in bulk and re-packaging them in more handy (single meal size) vacuum bags, you can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. And of course vacuum-packed foods have greatly extended shelf lives. Buy a FoodSavers, and you'll be glad that you did!

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Not surprisingly, the bad economic news keeps coming: I spotted this article linked at Drudge: Third of Hedge Funds Face ‘Wipe Out’ After Slump, Godden Says. Terry in Cornwall, England sent this: Supermarkets' emergency plans to keep shelves full. Bill N. endorsed a tongue in cheek look by Fred Thompson concerning the MOAB. Michael M. heard an NPR Marketplace news story and sent us the link: Quantitative Easing = "Let's just print the money". Reader "Bigbird" flagged this: Gross Domestic Product: 40 Percent of the United States GDP comes from 5 States; California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. And Eric sent all these: Ponzi Nation -- Just a sign of troubled times, or has the Fed lost it? -- Treasury bonds have reached bubble stage -- Deflation has become inevitable -- Household Net Worth in U.S. Declines Most on Record -- SF feels pain of real estate meltdown. And to round out the day's links, here is the latest batch from The Economatrix: Radical Fed Reserve Rate Cut to .05% -- Dollar Staggers as US Unleashes Cash Flood -- UK Royal Mail Pension in $14 Billion Hole -- Ireland Joins Wave of Bailouts -- Ecuador Default: Fears Others Will Follow -- Alternative Currencies Grow in US -- Bankers Privately Talk of the End of Days (A key quote: "I have spoken to a couple of pretty senior bankers in the past couple of weeks and their story is rather different. They don’t refer to the looming problems as being like 1992 or even 1929. They talk about a total financial meltdown. They talk about the End of Days.") -- Goldman Sachs Faces $2 Billion Loss, its First Since 1929 -- "Already Bankrupt" GM Won't be Rescued By Loan -- Collapse of Pension Funds: End of Retirement? -- Homes Lose $2 Trillion in Value in 2008 -- Grave Worries About Automaker Failure -- Gold Rises to $823, Dollar Sinks

"Let them fail; let everybody fail! I made my fortune when I had nothing to start with, by myself and my own ideas. Let other people do the same thing. If I lose everything in the collapse of our financial structure, I will start in at the beginning and build it up again." - Henry Ford. February 11, 1934

Monday, December 15, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends at midnight (eastern time) tonight!

The high bid is now at $1,085. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, so most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Since there are probably many folks new to firearms in the recent months, it may help to convey a sense of awe and respect for the power which they possess. I intend to use practical examples to give the average person a relative understanding of firearm ballistics; dealing primarily in the overall energy they are capable of unleashing at varying ranges.

I will focus on the three most common military-spec cartridge calibers found in semi-automatic battle rifles in the U.S.: 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win), 7.62x39mm Soviet/Russian and 5.56x45mm NATO (.223 Rem). I will also address some comparisons with handgun ammunition and even the .30 Carbine round.

Note: This article make fair use quotes and cites data from a variety of references. See the References list at the end of the article for links. The author thanks the writers of these fine references for their many hours of research.

It is my hope that people who read this will not only further their knowledge about firearms, but find that it may aid them in their quest for wisdom when it comes to knowing the limitations of their weapons.

The statistics used herein are averaged and aggregated from various sources, primarily focusing on military-spec ammunition (what most civilians wind up buying as "military surplus" ammunition from various nations). Since most NATO nations comply with similar cartridge standards, comparing their attributes is easy.

When it comes to the 7.62x39mm Soviet cartridge, I averaged Tula, Vympel and Barnaul munitions factories from Russia, since Russia is the home where the 7.62x39mm cartridge was born and standardized. While most of us know these brands by their commercial names: Wolf Military Classic, Golden Tiger and Brown Bear, the ammunition itself is made to Russian military specifications.

.30 Caliber Carbine (aka US .30 Carbine) is added to the analysis of modern military cartridges to give those people who use it a realistic idea of its limitations. Not to detract from the merits of a compact, lightweight, easy-to-carry carbine or its light ammunition, but to compare it apples-to-apples when it comes to net power.

All rifle cartridges used in these statistics were Full-Metal Jacket (FMJ--meaning the entire lead bullet is encased in a cupronickel metal covering). The .30 Carbine ammunition statistics can be applied to either FMJ or JSP because both projectile types are the same mass, with the same velocity and with almost identical sectional density.

As we all know, mass x velocity = energy. But it's not so simple. Let's visit some popular mathematic formulas:

F = ma
Force equals mass times acceleration.

P = Fv
Power equals force times the constant velocity.

KE = 1/2m v2
Kinetic energy equals one half of mass times velocity squared.

So a bullet's speed (velocity) means nothing to us unless we know its mass. Coupled together we get:

Caliber, Bullet Weight, Muzzle Energy and Muzzle Velocity

7.62x51mm NATO 147 grain (gr)~2,550 ft/lbs (3,457 joules) @ 2,700 fps (FMJ)
7.62x39mm Soviet 123 gr ~1,525 ft/lbs (2,067 joules) @ 2,360 fps (FMJ)
5.56x45mm NATO 62 gr ~1,250 ft/lbs (1,694 joules) @ 3,050 fps (FMJ)
.30 Caliber Carbine 110gr ~965 ft/lbs (1,308 joules) @ 1,995 fps (FMJ and JSP)
.45 ACP 230 gr ~390 ft/lbs (528 joules) @ 875 fps (JHP)
9x19mm Luger/Parabellum 115 gr ~385 ft/lbs (521 joules) @ 1,225 fps (JHP)

The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) and 9x19mm pistol cartridges were added as a comparison for those familiar with handguns and their energy at point-blank range. At 50 yards, both standard .45 ACP and 9x19mm defense loads are roughly equal in net energy (~350 ft/lbs or 475 joules each).

When measuring both energy and velocity at the "muzzle" of a firearm, it is basically "point-blank range" which when describing firearms [versus artillery] means within a few yards of the muzzle.

Now these figures are measured within a few feet of the muzzle (hence the term "muzzle energy" or "muzzle velocity"), which is the most powerful the projectiles will be throughout their ballistic path. Because of wind resistance, they will decelerate (and thus lose energy) at varying distances. This is why we get the term "effective range," as beyond a certain point the energy is too low to be expected to be nominally effective. Also, keep in mind some projectiles will drop rapidly as their ballistic arc terminates (and is pulled down by gravity). The energy and velocity at ranges listed below are assuming the shooter is holding the sights high enough to get the projectile there before it hits the a certain point this practice becomes futile and borders on indirect fire, going back to the concept of "effective range."

Remember; so long as the air resistance remains constant, so too will the rate of deceleration of the projectile.

Also, bear in mind that while some bullets travel slower than others, if they are heavier they can have a net force which is more than the other (e.g. 7.62x39 has a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2,360 fps and the 5.56 NATO has a MV of 3,050. While the 5.56 NATO is roughly 700 fps faster at the muzzle than the 7.62x39 projectile, the 7.62x39 is almost exactly twice the mass of the 5.56 NATO).

The statistics shown here of muzzle velocity and energy are all given through 20" rifle barrels (though not certain on the .30 Carbine figures, though since there is primarily only one common firearm which fires the cartridge, the M1 Carbine which has an 18" barrel, it is assumed all statistics for that cartridge are applied for a 18" barrel). The shorter a rifle barrel is, the less time the expanding gasses from the compressed burning powder have to accelerate the projectile before it exits the barrel (which ends acceleration and begins deceleration due to air resistance). A 20" barreled AR-15 will generate faster projectile velocity and higher net bullet energy (using identical ammunition) than a 16" barreled AR-15 Carbine [such as an M4gery or a typical civilian CAR-15].

To compare accordingly, an AK rifle and a civilian AR-15 carbine both have 16.25" barrels and thus would have roughly the same ratio of velocity and energy (though at lower values). If one wanted to compare 20" to 20" inch, maybe a standard length AR-15 and a Russian SKS (or even Romanian RPK) would be a fair comparison (either may be slightly over 20" but would be a closer comparison than a full-length AR-15 to a 16" bbl AK).

Probably the fairest means of comparison using statistics below is to assume the cartridges were fired from the following 20" barreled rifles:

7.62x51mm NATO : FN-FAL (most have 21" barrels but many can be found with ~20" barrels)
7.62x39mm Soviet : SKS (most have ~20" barrels)
5.56x45mm NATO : AR-15 (standard size has ~20" barrel)

The measure of mass used for firearm projectiles (bullets) is grains. A grain is a unit of lead mass measurement, roughly equal to 1/3 of a carat or 65mg. 16 grains is roughly equal to 1 gram. Note that grains in bullet mass differ from from " grains" of smokeless powder (nitro-cellulose) propellant, which is not used in this article.

A hard baseball is about 5-1/8 ounces or 149 grams. This equates to 2,300 grains in mass.

The energy being used is in foot-pounds of force and in joules. The best way to describe a single foot-pound of force, "is the amount of energy expended when a force of one pound acts through a distance of 1 foot along the direction of the force." While not scientifically "correct," the terms "force" and "energy" are used interchangeably in this article.

Also, keep in mind that if a bullet does not release all of its energy into a single target, it will go through it while retaining the remainder of its force while coming out the other side. This is why most modern handgun projectiles are Jacketed-Hollow Points (JHPs), so they mushroom in deformation to a larger diameter (usually ~0.72" regardless of what caliber it started out as), thus increasing surface area and resistance in the target medium and will then release more energy over shorter distance (basically to prevent over-penetration at close range). Over penetration of a target means that not all of the kinetic energy in the projectile winds up being released in that target. From the target's perspective, that means less overall damage.

Rifle cartridges are also designed to deposit as much energy as possible in a target in a relatively short distance. The 5.56mm NATO projectile, if within 200 yards, will often critically destabilize while acutely decelerating in a soft target medium and fragment into many pieces; releasing its energy all at once in a very small distance. The 7.62x39mm Soviet will usually tumble a few times (yaw/pitch) in a soft target medium and in doing so release a spike of its remaining energy in each tumble (and if it stops in the medium, will wind up facing backwards). The 7.62mm NATO projectile will usually tumble once and if it does not exit the other side of the target medium (which it usually does at closer ranges), it will expend all of its energy into the target and end up facing backwards--this is due to the projectile's point of balance being closer to the rear, as the back half of most rifle projectiles are heavier than the front. Once any of the Big Three cartridge projectiles begin rapid deceleration in a target medium, their centrifugal spin-stabilization (caused by the rifling in the rifle barrel--similar to a nicely thrown "spiral" pass of an American football) usually fails and the laws of physics continue with inertia, resistance, velocity and mass in the target medium.

Now, let's get into the meat and potatoes of mass, velocity and energy:

A 90 mph (132 feet per second, or fps) fastball (major league baseball is 149 grams, 1/3 of a pound or 2,300 grains) exerts approximately 60 ft/lbs of force as the pitcher releases it:

Baseball (Fastball) 2,300 grains ~60 ft/lbs (81 joules) @ 132 fps (90mph)

This may not be really easy to envision in any practical sense of energy when thinking of foot-pounds of force, so joules are also included.

1 joule of energy is equal to the force required for an average adult human to pick up an apple from the ground to their waist (~1m). Conversely, 1 joule is the amount of force released when that same human drops that same apple from that height. Since an apple weighs about the same as a baseball, a person must exert 81 times the force needed to pick up an apple to pitch a 90mph fastball.

Now that a few rough practical examples of applied force have been given, let us now examine the Big Three military-surplus cartridge calibers' energy at varying distances (.30 Caliber Carbine and two pistol calibers are thrown in as a comparison to more modern military cartridges):

Caliber, Bullet Weight, Muzzle Energy and Muzzle Velocity

7.62x51mm NATO 147 gr ~2,550 ft/lbs (3,457 joules) @ 2,700 fps (FMJ)
7.62x39mm Soviet 123 gr ~1,525 ft/lbs (2,067 joules) @ 2,360 fps (FMJ)
5.56x45mm NATO 62 gr ~1,250 ft/lbs (1,694 joules) @ 3,050 fps (FMJ)
.30 Caliber Carbine 110 gr ~965 ft/lbs (1,308 joules) @ 1,995 fps (FMJ and JSP)
.45 ACP 230 gr ~390 ft/lbs (528 joules) @ 875 fps (JHP)
9x19mm Luger/Parabellum 115 gr ~385 ft/lbs (521 joules) @ 1,225 fps (JHP)

Energy at 100 yards

7.62x51mm NATO ~2,100 ft/lbs (2,847 joules) @ 2,550 fps
7.62x39mm Soviet ~1,200 ft/lbs (1,626 joules) @ 2,104 fps
5.56x45mm NATO ~970 ft/lbs (1,315 joules) @ 2,650 fps
.30 Caliber Carbine ~600 ft/lbs (813 joules) @ 1,570 fps

Energy at 200 yards

7.62x51mm NATO ~1,750 ft/lbs (2,374 joules) @ 2,331 fps (now moving faster than 62 gr 5.56NATO)
7.62x39mm Soviet ~915 ft/lbs (1,240 joules) @ 1,825 fps
5.56x45mm NATO ~735 ft/lbs (995 joules) @ 2,310 fps
.30 Caliber Carbine ~375 ft/lbs (508 joules) @ 1,240 fps (equal in force to 230 gr .45ACP @ ~10 yards)

Energy at 300 yards

7.62x51mm NATO ~1,450 ft/lbs (1,965 joules) @ 2,125 fps
7.62x39mm Soviet ~690 ft/lbs (935 joules) @ 1,585 fps
5.56x45mm NATO ~550 ft/lbs (745 joules) @ 2,000 fps
.30 Caliber Carbine ~265 ft/lbs (359 joules) @ 1,040 fps

Energy at 400 yards

7.62x51mm NATO ~1,200 ft/lbs (1,625 joules) @ 1,931 fps (equal in force to 5.56NATO @ ~15 yards)
7.62x39mm Soviet ~515 ft/lbs (700 joules) @ 1,370 fps
5.56x45mm NATO ~405 ft/lbs (550 joules) @ 1,718 fps
.30 Caliber Carbine ~210 ft/lbs (284 joules) @ 930 fps

Energy at 500 yards

7.62x51mm NATO ~1,000 ft/lbs (1,355 joules) @ 1,750 fps
7.62x39mm Soviet ~395 ft/lbs (535 joules) @ 1,200 fps (equal in force to 230gr .45ACP @ ~2 yards)
5.56x45mm NATO ~290 ft/lbs (393 joules) @ 1,460 fps
.30 Caliber Carbine ~175 ft/lbs (237 joules) @ 850 fps

Energy at 600 yards

7.62x51mm NATO ~810 ft/lbs (1,100 joules) @ 1,560 fps (equal in force to 5.56NATO @ ~150 yards)
7.62x39mm Soviet ~280 ft/lbs (379 joules) @ 1,030 fps
5.56x45mm NATO ~172 ft/lbs (233 joules) @ 1,122 fps
.30 Caliber Carbine ~135 ft/lbs (183 joules) @ 760 fps

It is plainly obvious why so many recommend a 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win) chambered rifle as a primary defense rifle. It clearly overpowers all other modern, common military battle rifle calibers at all ranges and maintains a further effective range. The few negative aspects are the relatively higher recoil, louder report and heavier cartridge weight.

Keeping in mind the power of the aforementioned rifle calibers, and that the more powerful cartridges weigh more, and thus the shooter would be able to carry less ammunition when comparing a like weight (e.g. 25lbs) of ammunition. An average adult human male can only comfortably carry about a 65 lb load on their shoulders. An average adult human female can only comfortably carry about a 40 lb load on their shoulders. Keep that in mind when selecting a primary defense rifle.

Penetration is another important thing to consider. So is effective range and accuracy. Determine which pros outweigh the cons and pick your rifle(s) accordingly. By comparing the Big Three military calibers most commonly found in semi-automatic "battle" rifles in the U.S., I hope you have expanded your understanding a little bit on the amount of power they each bring to bear. If possible, I recommend getting at least one rifle in 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Win) and another in either 7.62x39mm Soviet or 5.56x45mm NATO (or both if you can afford it). Heck, two of each is good too.

When it comes to the .30 Carbine cartridge and the M1 Carbine which fires it, many will pooh-pooh its lack of "stopping" power. Many of these same individuals will champion the .45 ACP as a great handgun cartridge. I know one is a pistol and one is a carbine, but the M1 Carbine more or less bridges the gap between a handgun and a battle rifle. At 200 yards, the M1 Carbine hits with the same power as the .45ACP does at nearly point-blank range. While the .30 Carbine cartridge in military configuration is FMJ (to abide to the Hague Convention of War [that restricts military use of expanding bullets], which at closer ranges can over penetrate a target and thus not release all of its kinetic energy, there are many commercially available sources which are loaded with JSP (Jacketed Soft Point) projectiles. These deforming bullets are essentially the same as most hunting bullets, though would be better as a personal defense weapon than a hunting one. Within the effective range, they will deform and ensure that most or all of the energy of the bullet is released in the target.

For defensive purposes, an M1 Carbine is still viable as a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) in your battery--especially for small-statured women and adolescent children. A Ruger 10/22 (or Marlin 60/795) with Tech-Sights installed has a very similar length of pull, sight picture, and balance as an M1 Carbine. It can easily be used to train a person unfamiliar with firearms using the inexpensive .22LR cartridge until they prove proficient enough to graduate to a centerfire weapon--the M1 Carbine is the perfect transition weapon from the 10/22. It is more powerful and easier to control and has a greater effective range than most modern semi-auto handguns. While both the .30 Carbine cartridge and the M1 Carbine firearm are both fairly outdated, and there are better choices for a defensive rifle and cartridge, they are still better and more versatile than any semi-auto handgun, in my opinion. If you wind up seeing a WWII or Korean War era M1 Carbine from the CMP, at a gun show, pawn shop or from a personal seller and it is a reasonable price, I suggest looking into getting one. Also, a few modern reproductions are floating around out there by IAI (Israeli Aerospace Industries) and Auto-Ordnance (Both are good quality and American made). [JWR Adds: The Plainfield and Iver Johnson clones were also quite well made. The M1 Carbine reproductions to avoid were those made by Universal Industries. Few of their parts interchange with original GI M1 Carbine parts, and their trigger groups could best be descibed as "pot metal". They were in fact more "look-alikes" than they were M1 Carbine clones.]

But when building your survival battery, make certain you can afford the necessary accoutrements for each rifle; such as magazines, spare parts, web gear/LBE, ammunition, lubricant/rust preventative, cleaning accessories, and most of all--training. Get familiar with safety first and foremost, and move your way into nomenclature and eventually to close, intermediate and long range shooting with each caliber in various shooting positions to broaden your horizons further. I also suggest that you pick up some grocery-store throw-away produce and line them up at varying ranges to see what kind of hydrostatic shock your rifle can produce at 400+ yards. Melons, pumpkins and coconuts are fun to shoot. They also put all the numbers above in perspective to what 1,000+ joules of force can do to soft tissue.

Let is all hope and pray that no one reading this will ever need to use any firearm in their battery against another human being. But if one day we find ourselves forced to defend our lives, family and property, then let us be prepared to stand and fight!

Chuck Hawks' Ballistics Page (Rifle Shooter magazine)
.308 Winchester Ballistics (Rifle Shooter magazine)
7.62x39 Ballistics (Rifle Shooter magazine)
.223 Ballistics (Rifle Shooter magazine)
.30 US Carbine Ballistics (Rifle Shooter magazine)
Wikipedia Page: Joule Foot/Pounds
Baseball Pitching Facts and Fallacies
Rifle Shooter Magazine's Ballistics Page
TKD Tutor: The Concept of Force
The cited energy and mass conversions done using Microsoft "Convert" utility program

Mr. Rawles,
I came across this today, and thought you'd be interested: Police: WIU students arrested with cache of weapons.

The key points are:
1.) They were stopped for speeding and their truck searched
2.) Both men had gun permits
3.) They were arrested for possession of firearms and ones' home searched
4.) Both are now facing legal battles - [even though] no laws [other than the speed limit] have apparently been broken

Blessings & Good Health, - Christine

JWR Replies: A few of my observations:

Did you notice the box for the FN FS2000? It looks like they had a big gun-buying budget.

If they were indeed just out hunting, then why were they wearing body armor? That seems a bit odd, but they were certainly in their rights to do so.

I have my doubts about the article's mention of a "silencer." Odds are that either a. ) It wasn't really a suppressor--just a misidentified muzzle brake, or flash hider, or b.) It was an NFA-registered suppressor. The bottom line is that they may not have been doing anything illegal, other than exceeding the posted speed limit. (Although I have no idea if it legal to carry a loaded firearm in a private automobile in Illinois like in The Unnamed Western State (TUWS), where I live. Knowing Illinois, I suspect that they've restricted that right.)

It is curious that the illinois journalist mischaracterized the four guns (one rifle and one pistol per man) as a "weapons cache". That is a pretty modest quantity for a "cache". In Texas, in fact, that would be considered traveling "lightly armed."

And on the lighter side, here is a bit of conjecture, from your friendly Editor: Can you imagine if this had happened in Wyoming instead of Illinois? The exchange probably would have gone something like this:

Deputy: "Do you know why I pulled you over?

Student: "I think it was because I was going 70 in a 55 zone.The 70 zones are so much more common, so that's what feels like a normal speed to me."

Deputy: "You boys need to slow down, especially after dark. Consider this a warning.

Student: "My apologies, officer. I'll do my best to keep a closer eye on the speedometer."

Deputy: "Whatcha boys doing out here with those NVGs?

Student: "Huntin' coyotes."

Deputy: "Had any luck? I hear the price of pelts is was up this year. Oh, you should watch for bobcats, too. I hear those pelts are fetching $800 apiece for nice ones. Now don't forget to slow down. Good luck with your hunt, boys."

Reader Del R. sent word that because of new EPA regulations, this may be your last month to buy large-mouth steel Jerry-type fuel cans.

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Rob at MURS Radio (who also does business as Affordable Shortwaves) mentioned this in an e-mail: "For a limited time I am offering a free earbud microphone with the purchase of a Dakota Alert MURS handheld transceiver. The Dakota Alert Motion Alert Transmitters (MATs) are still at the special low price of $89 each (plus shipping).Also, if you plan on purchasing four or more items (you can mix and match), just mention that you are a SurvivalBlog reader and I can offer you an additional discount on your order. I have plenty of inventory in stock and can get your items shipped ASAP for Christmas delivery if ordered this week." JWR Adds: We use Dakota Alerts in conjunction with matching frequency Kenwood MURS band hand-helds here at the Rawles Ranch on a daily basis. We have been very satisfied with their quality and reliability. In our experience, this combination makes the ideal "low key, low cost" retreat security solution for detecting intruders on likely avenues of approach.

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Just as I predicted, the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) continues to grow, and knows no limits. The latest word: Obama stimulus could reach $1 trillion.

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Barry in Upstate New York fund this site: I thought that your readers would enjoy CD3WD. It is a Third World Development private-sector initiative, mastered by software developer Alex Weir. Barry's comments: "I've never seen so many survival downloads in one place. Farming, livestock, harvesting, renewable energy, health, and woodworking just to name a few categories." There's 13 gigabytes of free information available there. Check it out.

"We goldbugs will get our wish: the explosive price rise we have all drooled about for nearly a quarter century. The bad news it will be in the context of social anarchy and collapse. I have somewhat sardonically mentioned that I have been investing in lead, as in ammo, the other precious metal. If people think the urban mob members in evidence at the Long Island Wal-Mart on Black Friday were unusual or even particularly decadent in their behavior, they need to get out more. The rot is everywhere now. There is no hiding from it anymore. Nowhere; Nohow. My illusions died a long time ago. I write to you in the light of cold, cruel reality. If you can't take it, then go watch American Idol or whatever you do to shield your eyes from the ongoing chaos." - Doug McIntosh

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction ends at midnight tomorrow night. (Monday, December 15th.)

The high bid is now at $1,085. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, so most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Our family lives full time in our camping trailer and have found out there would be many advantages to keeping one in any situation. I am not talking the big 5th wheel or the ones with a motor, just a plain travel trailer [with a traditional vehicle hitch].

Our trailer is 27 feet long and weighs in at 9,500 lbs empty and almost 11,000 lbs full. It is a bunkhouse model and can sleep up to 11 people. It has a 40 gallon fresh water tank, 40 gallon black water tank (waste) and a 40 gallon gray water tank (drain off water from tub and sinks). It has 12 volt battery backup which power lights and the water pump when power is unavailable. The stove and hot water heater run on propane, with the fridge working on both.

Storage can be short, but there is some – under the bottom bunk, the full size bed in the bedroom, under the seats in the kitchen, 2 closets (very small) and cabinets in the living area and bedroom.

Our heater will heat up enough hot water for an eight minute shower and the tub is the size of a 10 gallon bucket. When we are parked in an RV park with power included in the lot fees, we heat our trailer with electric heaters. This saves us money on propane. If we just cook and shower using the propane, then we will go through two 35 pound tanks in just under one year.

We have been buying or having a friend collect empty older propane tanks and then we have been trading them in at Wal-Mart for under $18.00 each. Small solar panels were purchased from Harbor Freight Tools for under $40.00 each, they will [slowly] recharge a 12 volt battery. We will be purchasing more panels as we go so that our entire trailer could be run off them.

We have inline water filters and portable ones, we have potable aqua tablets and shock. Our water tank can be filled by hose or in a pinch by bucket and funnel. After Gustav most of the water here was very bad (boil water order for all of our parish, even for bathing in some areas). When some of our neighbors had no hot water for their special needs family member they came to us and we hauled hot water for them (we were they only ones in an RV to come right back within 72 hours of the passage of Hurricane Gustav). We also have an external shower.

We do have a propane burner for outside, most people here use those for crawfish. We have one very cheap charcoal grill and a good supply of charcoal. We can make our own if need be.

After Hurricane Gustav we were without power for two weeks and used our interior 12 volt DC lights for night time only and for about 20 minutes at a time. Our battery gauge didn’t indicate any voltage drop.

When we do our shows and are in practice we can be ready to move out within 1 hour and we are still working to par that time down even further. What this means for us is that here we could drive out quickly with our home or even put it on a platform on numerous pontoons making our trailer into a riverboat. We live near a very rural area and large uninhabited waterways, where you can go out all day and not see of hear anyone at all.

Our retreat will have a home and a large barn that will house our RV, keeping prying eyes away from it and also giving us a place to go to if heating ever becomes an issue. When the SHTF we can camouflage the RV in another location for a further retreat position, still have shelter and a way to keep everyone fed.
Our trailer is a 1995 and we bought it for under 5,000. You can get them very cheap further north during the off season and move them fairly cheap now that gas has come down a lot. We went smaller because of the towing needs. No matter what you still need to haul it, even if it’s to your retreat.

Granted, it would be more difficult, but not impossible, to utilize in colder climates. Good windbreaks and insulation in the under compartments helps tremendously. Plastic on the windows with the exception of the vents also helps.

In some states that get a lot of hurricanes also are places a lot of people actually live in trailers year round. What sometimes happens when they are lived all the time is they get stripped out to the bare walls and customized. They are cheaper and easier to reinforce that way. A 40 foot trailer stripped out can run you about $1,500 to $2,000 dollars. Most people here take out the kitchen area which I wouldn’t do. They also remove the fresh water tank and if anything I would make the fresh water tank larger than 40 gallons, leaving in the electric pump. With full solar capability you can leave the power system intact and go from there.

In our closets we added small shelves that will hold two weeks of clothing for each of us, four all together. The fridge and freezer will hold 1 gallon of milk, a weeks worth of leftovers, four dozen eggs, one 2-quart juice pitcher (from Camping World, made for trailer size fridges), condiments and the freezer will hold more than one week's worth of meat. The cabinets will hold three weeks of canned goods, spices and what we need for baking for six months. Under the little counter extension we have flour, sugar and rice (large storage containers from Wall-Mart), those last us about three months. We also have food stored under one bed and under both seats in the kitchen. By the garbage can we keep a one month supply of dog food for our 90 pound German Shepherd cross.

To keep our space requirements smaller, we went small flat screen television, a cheap and tiny DVD player and low profile PC tower. Movies are not kept in single cases, they are kept in DVD folders with zippers. Our children are limited to what toys they can have and it must all fit in toy hammocks or collapsible toy boxes at the end of their beds. Our guns are easy to stow in the trailer and are always within reach. On hand we also keep quite a bit of ammo and buy more weekly. We do maintain an inexpensive storage unit elsewhere, and we keep the bulk of our SHTF supplies there for under $80 a month.

There are a lot of extras you can buy for your RV, including wheeled containers to drain black and gray water into for disposal. Pots and pans made for smaller areas, heavier dishes that will last through everything including travel. RV size washers and dryers or the all in ones, which are no bigger than an RV stove. Shower organizers can be installed easily to increase your bathroom storage.

One of the biggest things to like about an older trailer is that no one even looks twice at it, people who don’t own one have no clue how self sufficient you can be in one. It’s not new enough or dressed up enough to get a second look from a trouble makers and family never wants to come stay, none of them can figure out why you would want to trade down and live in something so small. It also makes it easier if you have others that will join you when the SHTF and you are running out of places to put people.

Hi Jim.
I have been a long time reader of your blog and have spent quite a bit of money with many of your terrific advertisers. I am writing to tell you about the serenity of my day in the midst of the hard hitting ice storm up here in New England. Thanks to the information you present in your blog and the preparation that I have taken over the last few years, all I had to do to prepare for this storm the day before was two things - fill the fire wood box and fill the bath tub for toilet flushing water.
I already had food stocked up. I had drinking water available. I had heat via a wood stove. I had a generator. I had plenty of fuel for the generator. (I was even able to loan a spare generator and fuel out to a friend.) I had fresh batteries for the flashlight and radios. I had a scanner to listen to all the emergency calls in the area. (You will realize how under-prepared your neighbors are by all the assistance calls.) I had plenty of alternative lighting (candles and LED lights). I had sufficient quantities of ice melt and sand on hand.

The great thing was that I wasn't stressed out before, during or after the storm. My family mentioned over and over how terrific it was to be prepped. I was fortunate that they were on the "let's get prepped" band wagon with me over the last few years. I got to enjoy the ice sculptures of the day and was able to help out someone else, too. The simple fact of all this is that by being prepared you get to relax a bit during a potentially stressful time. This wasn't an end of the world scenario but nonetheless the preparation was almost the same. Being prepped for any emergency isn't that hard to do and the resources you collect over time are useful in nearly any condition. It was actually a bit fun to see all this preparation fall nicely into place. Thanks for all you do! - Relaxed in New England

I just found a bunch of excellent books, some of which are found on the classics lists for obvious reasons. The Internet dealer Walnut Grove was the only place I could find online that had the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House on the Prairie" nine-book series in hard cover. They also have the box set in paperback for a reasonable price.

I also received an insert with one of my purchases from them for another book listed there titled "The Prairie Girls' Guide to Life" that includes "49 pioneer projects for the modern girl." This should be a really good book for young girls to learn skills needed all to soon. Only $15 USD.

The Walnut Grove web site is not very good for going back and forth so here is the homepage. Click on "SHOPPING Cart" in order to enter their online store.

If anyone is interested in purchasing books or other items from them for Christmas, I can tell you that I placed an order only three days ago, and it arrived today in a Priority Mail box. Regards, - Dan S.

Nick at will be running a SurvivalBlog-only special from Dec.15th through Dec. 22nd. The 30%-off special is for the mil-spec Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest. The similar sale that they ran last year for SurvivalBlog readers had an exceedingly large response. This special pricing is only available because of a military contract overrun. Note that they are running low on inventory this time around. (e.g., no size Medium on sale this time.) All items will be first come, first served.

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Reader T.H.Y. wrote to ask me: "Why do you bother putting flash hiders on your bolt actions? It's a big expense for not much practical gain." JWR begs to differ. This YouTube video clearly shows the difference on a .308--both with and without a flash hider.

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Economic news and commentary, from our ever-reliavle Economic Editor: Ecuador Goes Into Default -- Iceland's Meltdown -- Retail Sales Drop For Fifth Straight Month -- Chrysler Suppliers Demand Cash Over Bankruptcy Fears -- GM May Lose 40% of US Dealers -- Hyperinflation and Then the Second Great Depression -- Bailout Talks Collapse, GM Consults on Bankruptcy -- Asian Stocks, US Futures, Dollar Tumble as Auto Bailouts Fail

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And more news items, courtesy of Manky: White-Collar Unemployment Spreading, and Housing foreclosures draw protesters to Bank of America

"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics." - Thomas Sowell

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The following article was written by a former CIA officer. I can foresee that it might elicit some angry letters from readers. Please take this article at face value. It is not meant to condone or encourage illegal activity. It is simply a background piece describing circumstances that you might encounter if times ever get desperately bad.

The purpose of this article is to put another skill (if not a skill, perhaps a seed) in the mental toolkit of preparedness-oriented individuals. Although not an exhaustive study on clandestine operations, this article will give you a glimpse into an advantage seeking two part mindset – sabotaging the enemy’s equipment and keeping your equipment from getting sabotaged! It is assumed the condition under which this article would find use is the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). Please don’t go do something listed in this article that you don’t have the skill or legal right to do.

You want to ensure the survival of yourself and your loved ones. I’m sure you’ve made preparations to do so, right? You have to keep your equipment preparations running to get a tactical or survival advantage from them. You must learn to see your equipment through the eyes of a saboteur. This will allow you to spot equipment vulnerabilities. Why would anyone want to sabotage your gear? They would do it for the same reasons they would threaten you in the first place. Their lack of morals, planning, and diligence, brought to the surface by a desperate situation, leads them to persecute you for gain. Your equipment stands in their way. The reason could be that they don’t want you to have anything they don’t have!

Some may consider sabotage a little too proactive – too dangerous even. We’re talking nightmarish end-of-the-world stuff here. We’re talking about using any and every tool in the box to keep our loved ones safe. Sabotage is a no-brainer if you are gutsy enough to use recon teams or actually make an armed stand. Once you get past the negative aura of the word “sabotage,” you realize it is indeed a valuable skill. Why would we ever want to sabotage someone’s equipment? It is the same reason that causes us to buy expensive battle rifles and copious quantities of ammunition – to deny the enemy the ability to take our freedom and lives. If you do not maintain or gain the tactical advantage, will not the enemy gain it? What good is a stockpile of all the latest gear or a heap of brain power and courage if you simply refuse to fully use it? Learn to see the enemy’s equipment through the eyes of a saboteur to reap huge tactical rewards. Perhaps the elimination of the enemy’s advantage will spare you from having to take his life. Sabotage can have a large psychological impact. A discovered act of sabotage lets the enemy know that they are not safe. It will throw them “off their game.”

You can hide in your retreat, counting bullets while sporting only your lucky camouflage boxers. However, you wouldn’t need that expensive battle rifle and all that ammunition if no one could ever find you. You will have a confrontation with a hostile organized group. It’s too small a world with too few morals. Ruthlessness is surely a trait that would allow said hostile group to survive in lieu of preparedness. They’ll be roving the wasteland looking for more supplies and victims. Their survival would be evidence of their pillaging proficiency. As we all learned in grade school, bad people don’t fight “fair.” There will most likely be more people in their group than in your group. As we get older, we realize that fighting “fair” really means fighting with a handicap. There must be some pseudo-religious notion in the subconscious mind of upright people that tells them anything remotely perceived as “sneaky” is wrong. When someone threatens the life of you and your loved ones, then you must do whatever it takes to protect yourselves. This is why survivalists who actually survive TEOTWAWKI will use tools like sabotage.

Types of Sabotage
The first type of sabotage is covert. That is, the target does not discover the non-working machine for some time or discovers the non-working machine but does not immediately suspect foul play. This type of sabotage requires the most skill, time, and planning. A lightly armed team of two lookouts and one technician, each fully blacked-out with NVGs and good noise discipline, could accomplish a fantastically effective covert sabotage. One person with nerves of steel, a pile of patience, and the proper motivation can work wonders too! Some of the reasons for covert sabotage are listed below.
1. Keeping the target from knowing there is a hostile force in the area.
2. Attempting to avoid retaliation from target.
3. Extra time for escape and evasion.
4. Attacking the target right before it discovers its equipment doesn’t work (surprise!).
The second type of sabotage is overt. It could be loud, fast, and ugly. It could also be just loud, just fast, or just ugly. If this type of sabotage had a mascot, it’d be a sledgehammer. Once the target gets near the machine, it’s red alert time. The target may even hear or see the sabotage happen. It doesn’t matter; you just want his machine out of the game! Overt sabotage is mostly the stuff of last ditch seat-of-the-pants defenses. Some of the reasons for overt sabotage are listed below.
1. Approaching enemy vehicles.
2. Quickly shutting down enemy communications.
3. Diversions.

Covert Vehicular Sabotage
Covert vehicular sabotage can range from slowing the target down to keeping them from moving at all. Probably the most cunning covert design is that which leaves a small team stranded some distance from base camp. The designer would have a good opportunity to ambush the stranded team. The following list is a sample of what can be done. It is mostly arranged from mild to wild. Not all items are applicable to all vehicles. Some of these items may require the use of an “improvised” car door key. Some vehicles have the hood release cable located directly behind the grille, which can be manipulated to open the hood without gaining access to the interior of the vehicle. Remember, it is assumed that the perpetrator has put some thought and planning into situations like these:

  • Water in the fuel tank. What is more innocuous than this?
  • Loosened valve stem on one of the tires - just enough so that the tire will be flat in the morning.
  • Replacement of a critical fuse (fuel pump, ignition) with a blown fuse of the same value.
  • Cut on bottom (non visible) side of main engine belt deep enough to reach the interior cords. This action removes most of the belt’s tensile strength and creates a stress riser in the belt. The result is no alternator, water pump, power steering, or AC – oh my.
  • Loosened or removed lower radiator hose clamp. Coolant will leak out under pressure when the engine gets warm (away from base camp that is). Loosened oil plug or filter. Oil will leak more freely once it is warm (away from base camp that is).
  • Loosened battery cable. This could turn into a nasty surprise if the battery is emitting hydrogen when the sparks start.
  • Un-plugged vacuum lines.
  • Modified ignition timing. Distributor equipped vehicles only.
  • Plastic electrical connectors un-plugged from critical sensors – just enough to break electrical contact. A look of authenticity is given when the small connector retainer arm is broken.
  • Switched spark plug wires that are similar in length. Not for coil-per-plug vehicles.
  • Bleach in the fuel tank. Once cranked, the engine will eventually sputter and stop. (Mythbusters rule!).

Examples of Overt Vehicular Sabotage Here is a partial list of the easy, ugly, quick, and dirty.

  • Slashed tires
  • Cut fuel lines
  • Cut transmission lines
  • Cut coolant hoses
  • Cut under-hood wires
  • Large holes put in the radiator or fuel tank
  • High-powered rifle bullets fired into the engine block or transmission of approaching enemy vehicles
  • Explosives wired to the ignition switch circuit

Examples of Stationary Equipment Sabotage

  • Cut power wires
  • Cut control wires
  • Cut antenna signal and guy wires
  • Loosened electrical connections – done when equipment is de-energized
  • Water or dirt placed in bearings
  • Removal of chain master link retainers – done while equipment is stopped

Protecting Your Equipment from Sabotage
We have explored some sabotage possibilities. Hopefully you will start examining your equipment for possible vulnerabilities. It is not possible to list every conceivable scenario here like a playbook, therefore, it is important you learn to use your imagination and think like a saboteur. Use the following list as a starting point:

  • Know your equipment
  • Inspect your equipment often
  • Don’t leave equipment where it is visible - if possible
  • Always lock every lock (sidearms excluded)
  • Mark the head of bolts and the bolted equipment with aligned paint dots for indication of tampering
  • Use fasteners with tamper resistant heads (High security bits are uncommon)
  • On vehicles, cover the lower engine compartment openings with expanded metal
  • Run power and communications wiring underground and have it enter a building through the floor thereby minimizing outside exposure
  • Run critical wires in conduit
  • Run “dummy” wires in plain sight while hiding the route of the actual critical wires
  • Install an alarm with security lights and motion detectors in critical areas
  • Use dogs to alert you to suspicious activity
  • Use sentries to watch the premises
  • Move the equipment to a secure shelter or build a secure shelter around the equipment

Use layered security (combination of all) for the most effective setup. - A. Farm Graduate

Good morning,
While shopping for an antique agriculture book, I found this web site at Cornell University. It is a link to 2,047 antique agriculture books online from Cornell University. Since I farm organically I like to read how the farmers did it 100+ years ago before cheap oil and John Deere tractors. I thought your readers might be interested. - Adam in Ohio

JWR Replies: I must add this proviso: Keep in mind that 19th Century safety standards were considerably more relaxed than today's, so old formularies and "farm knowledge" books often do not include any safety warnings. Use common sense around chemicals, flammables, unwarded gears and cutting blades, heavy objects, and so forth. Stay safe.

Storm Cuts Power to More Than One Million Homes in New England. But of course SurvivalBlog readers were well-prepared. One key quote from the article: "It's kind of lawless out there right now. There's a lot of people very frustrated, stacking up at the gas stations. It's pretty ugly."

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Sans culottes! Wall Street sage Jim Rogers declares that most of the big banks in the US are "totally bankrupt." The comment was made in the Reuters Investment Outlook 2009 teleconference: "Without giving specific names, most of the significant American banks, the larger banks, are bankrupt, totally bankrupt, " Rogers said.

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More economic news, courtesy of Manky: Fed Mulls Issuing Own Debt -- Our asset-dependent economy (Tom Iacono) -- Why home values may take decades to recover, Some see 2006 as 'lifetime' peak in prices -- World markets plunge on US auto bailout failure -- Humpty Dumpty On Inflation (Mish Shedlock) -- ‘Pay option’ mortgages could swell foreclosures

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Thanks to Brian H. for sending this: Russians Buy Jewelry, Hoard Dollars as Ruble Plunges

"When you have no principles, your life is first worthless and then lost." - Christopher Anvil, Pandora's Planet

Friday, December 12, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,050. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, so most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.


Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Most of the readers of Survival Blog agree on at least the distinct possibility, if not the absolute certainty, of a collapse. This may come in a variety of forms - flu pandemic, economic depression, or an EMP attack are likely scenarios. Regardless of the form, the result will be very similar and our concerns are as well: How do we protect ourselves and our families and provide a living? While stocking up on beans, bullets, and band-aids is the initial response, further preparation encourages us to find a defensible, as well as productive retreat. But then what? So you have your retreat (or not), you’ve stocked up on seeds and a food mill, and “the event” actually comes. Are you prepared to provide for yourself when the food runs out or if society never returns to “normal”?

My family and I got a crash course in self-sufficient farming when my husband left the Air Force to fulfill my life-long dream (and eventually his, as well) of returning to the farming lifestyle of my youth. We made the highly idealistic decision to get out, not get a job, and learn how to make it. I might add, the farm of my youth was not a self-sufficient farm, so we had a pretty steep learning curve. And there is a lot to learn. When you have an established farm and have gained experience, pneumonia sweeping through your cattle herd would be a problem, but not insurmountable. Butchering chickens will no longer be an intimidating production. Reserves or other income will make poor beef prices a disappointment, rather than enough to drive you out of the business. It is vitally important you learn the skills necessary to provide for your family now, not when your survival depends on it.

The first thing you need to do is stop saving all your seeds, and plant them! (Keep enough in reserve in the likely case you are not able to harvest all your own seeds from your first gardens.) Even if you are in the city or suburbs, convert much of your manicured lawn to a garden. Without a lawn, there is still the option of container gardening and community gardens. There is a lot to learn about gardening, and even the most experienced gardeners are learning new things and still having unexplained crop failures. Square-Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew is an excellent resource. Master Gardeners at your local County Extension Office, as well as free publications offered there, will give specific recommendations for your area. The most important thing, in my experience, is to get out there and weed and water, and harvest when the time comes. We are all busy, but consider it therapeutic, or part of your homeschooling curriculum, or family quality time.

So now you have your harvest, and no one can eat as much zucchini as your garden was kind enough to provide you. Even if you haven’t been able to grow your own, buy bulk produce and practice putting it up yourself. Save up, and invest in the equipment you need to preserve your harvest. It could be a freezer, which although not viable for long term if the grid goes down, is great for now. We have zucchini bread in January. Lehman’s is a great resource for food preservation equipment, but Wal-mart has all your basic canning materials, as well. Canning was very intimidating for me, but in the long run, it is not as difficult as I believed. Get a book, read it, but then do it. Head knowledge is never the same as actually gaining the skill by doing it. A pressure canner is next on our list, in order to preserve meat and vegetables safely, in case we lose our freezer.

Next, of course, is livestock and larger-scale farming. Many may feel this is not an option because of your location. The Memsahib has already written in great detail about keeping rabbits, both in town and in the country. Bees are a great option for in town, and in many locations, chickens are legal, also. Both bees and chickens will be helpful in your gardening endeavors. Chickens are great for eating garden pests; just make sure your plants are mature enough to withstand their scratching, and fence them out when your tomatoes and zucchini are mature if you want to get any!

As for location, is it really necessary to live in town? For some, it may certainly be. For others, you may need to consider it. Jim is an advocate for moving to your retreat, so I won’t belabor the point. If you’re there, you should be taking advantage of it. While there may be little time for full-scale farming, you must do a little on the side to learn the skills before your life depends on it. And if you don’t have a retreat, consider other options. Is a local farmer or rancher willing to lease you a few acres to put some animals on or grow some wheat? We have chosen to rent a small place with less than 10 acres to hone our skills on. The house leaves a lot to be desired, and we could be living in a nicer place in town, but this was the trade-off we made.

Once you have found your few acres, work it as efficiently as you can. We enjoy the books Country Life by Paul Heiney (unfortunately out of print; try your library) and Guide to Self-Sufficient Living by John Seymour for getting the most out of your acreage. Country Life is more of a motivator/idea provoker, whereas Seymour’s book is more “how-to”. And, of course, a must-have is Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living, which is extremely detailed on the many subjects it covers. You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, while less self-sufficiency, is a fantastic book about farming, and getting the most out of your land, while putting the most into it. There are many examples where we are putting this into practice. What follows are what we have chosen, but the opportunities are diverse to becoming more self-sufficient. Research and choose what works according to your preferences and situation.

An easy choice was chickens. They provide eggs, meat, and several other services to improve our situation. Although there are different thoughts on this, we are still free-ranging our chickens until avian flu becomes more of a localized threat. They get plenty of protein from insects, the eggs are more nutritious due to the chicken’s high chlorophyll intake, they manage the horse and pig manure in the pastures by scratching through it, and all of this saves on feed costs for us. In addition, they keep down insects in the garden. In spring, we will hatch our own eggs. We could easily buy chicks, but believe hatching our own eggs is a skill to learn now, before we need to do so.

Our sow grazes out with our horses. Her grazing saving us feed costs, and if pigs are allowed to root, they don’t need minerals. It is not cost-efficient for us to keep a boar for only one sow, so we have learned how to artificially inseminate. In TEOTWAWKI, that will likely not be an option, but we pray by that time we will have enough land to keep a boar, as well as more sows. Not only are we gaining experience raising hogs, but are able to provide ourselves and extended family pork which is vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free which we would otherwise be unable to afford. Also in the spring, we will turn part of our horse pasture (not that great, anyway) into a corn patch so we can at least supplement our pig and chicken feed. I have spent the last week digging up my last garden, and mixing all the great manure our animals have been kind enough to provide into it.

For a small acreage, hand tools are sufficient, although hard work. Although we have not expanded yet into growing our own grain, we stock up on tools as we can find them and afford them, and practice with them. We also have a team of Belgian Cross yearlings (from the mares we owned during our farming experiment), although I would recommend anyone new to horse farming buy an experienced team and get training. Doc Hammill in Deer Lodge, Montana provides numerous clinics as well as videos, and is very reputable. My husband will attend training next year to help start our colts right. Lynn R. Miller, also the editor of Small Farmer’s Journal, has several books which are great resources. Right now, the colts are hay burners, but we enjoy them. Since our goal is to have a large enough acreage to necessitate horses, we will keep them. Unlike tractors, you have to feed horses even when they are not working, but they can help make their own feed. And unlike tractors, they can make more of themselves when they wear out. They are also future transportation, if needed.

Next on our list will be to acquire a dairy animal. We have postponed this because of the time commitment involved and the requirement of daily milking. But we feel this is an important addition (especially considering the price of milk and the amount we go through!). Beyond teaching us the skills needed for keeping a dairy animal and providing artificial hormone-free milk, this will allow us the opportunity to learn to make butter and eventually, cheese. In addition, a milk cow’s calf will provide us with beef and extra milk will augment pig and chicken feed. Dairy goats are a better option for many people and deserve serious consideration.

I am not going to mislead you - this is a lot of work and money, too (although providing your own food saves money in the long run). My husband works a full-time job, while I homeschool our young, growing family, and we do a lot of things ourselves in the interest of saving money (cloth diapers, clotheslines, wood heat). That doesn’t give much time for self-sufficient farming, but we feel truly worth the current sacrifice. The argument I am making here is that there are a lot of skills that many used to know, that now nearly no one knows, and they are not that easy to learn! It has been a humbling experience for both my husband and I (a born perfectionist), who were successful in our careers, school, etc., to find we couldn’t do much of a practical nature! I prefer to learn now, rather than when my family’s survival depends on it. And we have a resource that many people in our society overlook - children. Children require a lot of love and care, but they do not require nonstop playtime. Our children are learning skills and do chores as their age and ability allow. I pray they will be much more skilled than we are. They are a force multiplier, particularly if you find something in which they are interested. Mom and Dad can’t be an expert in everything. For example, my #1 daughter wants to learn to spin yarn. So our plan is for her to become the resident sheep expert as well as the expert in yarn production.

Although it may be difficult to learn and find the time for, the ability to provide for yourself provides incredible rewards. If we should need to return to a less technologically “advanced” society, many people will not have the knowledge, skills, and determination to do so. A few forward-thinkers will. Which do you want to be?

About the recent post on HDPE food grade buckets: Please note: Plastic food grade buckets are oxygen and gas permeable and will not store food for a long time by themselves. That is what a mylar liner is for, to greatly slow this process down (it will not stop it entirely).

Here is some data for oxygen permeability & plastics: o2/(day*mil*sq. meter*atm)
PE (polyethylene).......................6000-15000
Foil laminate...............................0
Plastic laminate...........................10-400

Regards, - Malcolm


Just an add-on for Don in Ohio's post: I live fairly close to a major soda bottler/distributor. Their flavoring comes in white food grade plastic 50 gallon drums and they readily sell them to the locals around here. You can get them for $8 to $10 . They are quite sticky inside due to the high sugar content in soda and need a good rinsing .

On another note, I own a trucking company and one thing that a lot of people don't know is that some of ingredients in some things are hazardous to humans believe it or not, until the manufacturing process is completed. For example...The most popular sports drink in the US, the concentrated flavoring is considered HAZMAT when it's being transported from the supplier to the bottler and is only safe after the bottling, dilution, and sterilizing process. So please read the labels even if you consider it "food grade". Remember, food grade doesn't necessarily mean edible in the current form. And I would also recommend reading the MSDS sheets that came with the original container. Just ask. Most people will be happy to supply them. - Gary in Kentucky

Just a note of thanks. Years ago I purchased a Bosch brand food saver, which has worked well but died about a year ago,. Since it cost over $300 years ago I had not gotten another. When you mentioned the special sale on the FoodSaver v2830, I ordered one (Dec 1) which I just received. I strongly recommend these units, I just received mine yesterday, and it is every bit worth the $59. Thank you James! I love your novel, have read it 4.75 times now, (taking notes) and can see the truth of the story line being fulfilled in the news papers today. Get Ready, Get Ready, Get Ready, Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually. If I read my Bible (KJV) right it is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. - The M. Family, Up North.

JWR Adds: About 275 SurvivalBlog readers have already taken advantage of this special sale. Don't miss out! (BTW, by doing so, you'll be helping to support the blog, since we get a small commission on each sale. Thanks! These make a very practical Christmas gift.

"Beware of those who say we've hit the bottom." - Nouriel Roubini

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I often get e-mails from students and retirees on fixed incomes that mention that they enjoy reading the blog, but that they can't afford a voluntary Ten Cent Challenge subscription. This is perfectly understandable. One thing that they can do to help that costs nothing but a bit of time, is to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. For example, please mention SurvivalBlog in your annual Christmas letter. Hopefully, this will result in some of your relatives and friends getting "squared away". (Which, BTW, is in your own best interest. Every individual that prepares represents one less that will have to depend on charity, when times get hard.)

Links to SurvivalBlog in your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would also be greatly appreciated. Again, subscriptions are entirely voluntary. If your budget is tight then please do not subscribe.

Dear Editor:
Food grade plastic buckets can be found for free or fairly cheap ($1-$2 each) by checking with Dunkin' Donuts, grocery store bakeries and restaurants. Some throw them away and will be happy to sell them. The fillings and glaze coverings for donuts all come in buckets. Fast food restaurants get their pickle slices in buckets (the strong pickle flavor/odor will be hard if not impossible to remove from the bucket-watch what you store in these, it will absorb that pickle odor).

When you get used buckets (make sure you ask for lids!!!) you will need to clean them out, even if they are clean. Take a butter knife and pry out the rubber gasket in the lid. Wash everything and then make sure it's totally dry before using. Watch the thin plastic buckets, often more square shape, but sometimes round. You can almost see through these. They will get brittle and shatter (after 10 years or so) if dropped and faster if the sunlight gets to them. I wouldn't necessarily pass them up, just be aware that they have this weakness. Buckets without lids should not be passed up, they will be needed to haul water, compost, during a harvest and a million other uses.
Have a reason for wanting a lot of buckets so that you don't stand out. If you can get buckets from multiple businesses, this will spread the operation out and provide better cover than buying everything from one business. After you buy a bunch, the businesses will either start charging or charge more. You will create a market. They need to make a living, too. Compare what they charge to buying new buckets and you will still be getting an incredible deal.

Buckets could be buried if needed and they will last a long time underground. Only the handle is metal. Remove that and a metal detector won't find caches of food and other supplies.

Another option is food grade [plastic] barrels. These can be filled with bulk food like rice and grains. While harder to obtain, they can be valuable to store bulk foods. I would suggest that a person use large food grade plastic bags to store multiple bags of food within a barrel rather than a full 55 gallon barrel of grain. A full barrel will weigh around 500 lbs (depending on what you store). Multiple bags helps you to be able to remove a smaller quality without exposing the entire contents to moisture in the air when you pull some supplies, and it's easier to handle. Barrels can also be buried as a cache and a metal detector won't pick them up (unless you fill them with lead, brass or blued steel). If you have a few barrels, invest in a hand truck (around $50 at Sam's Club, Tractor Supply, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc) so you can move them around.
A warning on storing rice. We have stored food for 20+ years. I have found some plastic rice bags to have the ink printing get sticky after 10 years. Somehow it breaks down and is a mess. The rice inside is edible, but removing it without getting that ink on it is tough. Is the ink poisonous at this point? I don't know. It takes a lot to wash it off your hands. Break it down into clear food grade plastic bags to avoid this. - Don in Ohio

Mr. Rawles,

I am a junior college student on a quite limited budget. Right now, my only guns are a Daisy Model 881 pellet [.177 caliber air] rifle and a Ruger 10/22 [.22 Long Rifle semi-auto rifle.] I hope to buy an [M1] Garand [semi-auto rifle] that belongs to my uncle, but for now my "battery" is limited. (LOL!) Here's my question: Will a .22 [LR rimfire] actually be sufficient, if I put enough rounds into a bad guy, to stop him? Thanks, - G.H.

JWR Replies: If circumstances dictate that you must use a .22 for self defense, then aim for neck and head shots. Because of the high volume of fire required to achieve a good stopping hit, I recommend that you buy at least one reliable 30 round magazine--and preferably several, if you can afford them. I particularly like the robust machined aluminum Ruger magazines made by Tactical, Inc., up in northern Idaho.

The following, quoted by, is a news article from 1988 that illustrates that with well-aimed shots, the puny .22 Long Rifle can, with good fortune, stop and even kill an attacker:

Switzer, S.C. - An 11-year-old boy who had been left alone after school shot and killed two men as they tried to steal a videocassette recorder from his family's home, police said.

William Todd Knight, the son of Billy and Ann Knight, "acted very wisely," said Spartanburg County Coroner Jim Burnett. "His life was in danger, he looked for an escape and could not find one ... he was a very brave young man."

Spartanburg County Sheriff's Department Capt. John Blackwood said the boy was watching cartoons in his parents' bedroom Monday afternoon when he heard noises at the front door of the family's brick, ranch-style home.

Todd told officers he was scared, so he went to his room for the .22-caliber rifle his father had given him for Christmas and loaded four rounds.

He then went to the front door and saw a man he described as "rough" pounding on the door. The man finally left in a white Datsun.

Todd said he resumed watching cartoons and about 10 minutes later heard banging, this time at a dining room window.

He saw two men climbing through the dining room window. The boy said he went into the bathroom to climb out the window, but saw the white Datsun was parked in the back yard.

Todd told police he went back to the hallway, peeked around the corner into the den and was spotted by one of the intruders as they were taking the VCR.

Todd then fired three rounds at the men, who dropped the VCR and fled.

When police arrived, one of the dead men was found face down next to a woodpile in the back yard, approximately 50 to 75 feet from the house, while the second man was in the driver's seat of the white two-door Datsun.

It has been said apocryphally that the .22 Long Rifle has killed nearly as many deer in America as the .30-30. That might be true.

If you don't get that M1 Garand, then at least buy yourself an inexpensive military surplus bolt action rifle, such as a Mauser, Enfield, Mosin-Nagant, or a Schmidt-Rubin. (The latter is a novel straight pull design that I've always liked.) These are often available for $90 to $250 at guns shows and at some sporting goods stores. (Major sporting goods chains that sell guns include: Big 5 Sporting Goods--in the western US, or Bass Pro Shops--mainly in the Eastern US, or Cabela's--throughout the US). OBTW, some of these guns are available from 1898 or earlier production runs, which makes them Federally "antique" and hence exempt from paperwork requirements in most states. (See my Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ for details.)

M. in the Dakotas sent us a link to an article on solar storms and possible damage to power grids.

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A reminder that Foodsaver vacuum packers are being offered at a special sale price, just during the month of December. You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly from code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or while supplies last.

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I just got an e-mail from our old friend "Trasel" (who will soon return from his umpteenth deployment to The Big Sandbox), alerting me that science fiction writer and SurvivalBlog regular Michael Z. Williamson has had his Wikipedia biography article maliciously flagged for deletion. If you have an existing Wikipedia user name and feel strongly about this (one way or the other), then please politely chime in.

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On the advice of SurvivalBlog reader Peter R., I will be doing some livestock slaughtering tests here at the ranch with Federal’s Tactical bonded Law Enforcement (LE) ammo. In .45 ACP, their catalog item number is LE45T1. Peter writes: "This ammo is a 230 grain +P bonded round that is hot, and the difference between gelatin and the real world, is gelatin is a single density material. As the bullet core and jacket spin out of the barrel, they rotate at the same rpm. When the bullet begins to strike clothing, windows, car doors, skin, bone muscle and the like, the jacket of the bullet begins to slow its rotation rate down much faster than the core inside the jacket (when they are not bonded) causing the bullet to break up much sooner and cause less concentrated damage. A bonded bullet tends to stay together longer giving you more uniform expansion and a far more devastating wound cavity. The best way to stop a person or animal is liquid out, air in. Hence, the bigger the trauma and wound cavity, the faster this is accomplished." This ammo might be just the trick here in grizzly bear country, where we've long wanted both the deep penetration of full metal jacket "ball" ammo and the expansion of hollow point ammunition. The Federal Tactical bonded LE ammo sounds like a better compromise than the Federal Hydra Shok loads that we've been using.

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The latest economic Gloom und Doom, starting with a "feel good" press release that David B. forwarded: FDIC Reiterates the Guarantee of Federal Deposit Insurance (Oh, I feel so much safer now. Thanks.) And now, courtesy of Cheryl come these items: Auto Rescue Bill in Peril as More Republican Senators Revolt -- Is the Fed Taking First Steps to Selective Default and Devaluation? -- Forbes: Dollar Devaluation to Fix the Great Recession (Forbes calls the perpetrators of this mess "banksters." A great term. I wonder where I first heard it?) -- Interest on US T-Bills Falls to Zero -- 0% Interest Rate Looms; Economy Shrinks Double Speed -- Worst US Spending Slump Since 1942 -- GMAC Rescue Plan Falters Raising Bankruptcy Concern -- Rio Tinto (Anglo-Austrian Mining Giant) to Axe 14,000 Jobs -- World Economy May Shrink First Time Since 1945 -- Maersk Shipping Line Warns Shipping Industry Needs Lifejacket -- The Boom Years are Over for Chinese Exports -- US Economy in Rapidly Accelerating Freefall -- Asian Trade in Freefall as Exports to West Dry Up -- And top all that off , Eric sent us this: Bernanke 'War Powers' Undermine Fed Bank Presidents, and lastly, Ann spotted this reiterative evidence of the Fed "Turning Japanese": Fed to cut rates again, maybe all the way to zero

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.
If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds... [we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers... And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another ]...
till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression. - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Samuel Kercheval, Monticello, July 12, 1816

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do you have a few favorite attributed quotes? If so, send them via e-mail, and if they are apropos to SurvivalBlog, then I'll post them as space is available as Quotes of the Day. Thanks!

I have been shooting M1911 steel-framed Colt .45 ACPs for more than 35 years, and up until now, I've always considered myself a M1911 die-hard. But through those years, I've seen the price of Colt pistols and spare parts radically escalate. My first M1911-series pistol was a slightly-used Colt Commander that I bought in 1981 at a San Jose, California gun show, for $160. (In those days, you could pay cash for a pistol from a fellow private party, and walk out the door with it, sans any paperwork. Sadly, things have changed in California--and that was one of the main reasons that I migrated to a free state at my first opportunity.)

I have bought and traded my way through a dozen more 1911s, since the early 1980s. In the early 1990s, when stainless steel Colts became available, I sold off my blued-steel Colt pistols and bought a pair of stainless steel Gold Cup .45s, for around $350 each. I remember that The Memsahib was aghast when she heard that the price jumped to $505, just a few years later. More recently the retail price of the same pistols has galloped up to $1,116! In my estimation that is an absurd price, when you can buy a polymer-frame Springfield Armory XD .45 for around $500, or a polymer-frame Glock 21-SF .45 for around $550. (And even less, if bought used.)

The 1911 design is nearing its 100th birthday (sniff!), and although it is still a great design, I can see the wisdom of moving on to a more modern design with two-column magazine. And even though I have a lot of training hours and muscle memory invested in the M1911 platform, I consider it now well worth the time and trouble to transition to polymer. I can literally buy twice as many pistols if I sell off my Colts. I will also end up with pistols with considerably larger magazine capacity. (13+1 , versus 8+1 for the single-stack Colts.) The other advantage is durability. In so-called "torture tests", the reliability of both the XD (20,000 rounds in one test) and the Glock (still shooting after insane levels of abuse) have been well documented.

Selling off my accumulation of spare parts (nearly a tackle box full), extra magazines (about 40), and various holsters and mag pouches will be time consuming, but again, I think that I'll come out ahead.

Now that spare parts are becoming available for Springfield Armory XD .45s, I think that will be my logical choice. Speaking of XD pistols, I highly recommend that SurvivalBlog readers take advantage of the "Get a Gun" package deal at Front Sight, that was recently extended for a few more weeks. This training plus XD pistol plus field gear plus references package is a tremendous bargain. Effectively, you'll end up with a free pistol. I've had overwhelmingly positive feedback from the SurvivalBlog readers that have taken advantage of this offer. I realize that he offer sounds almost too good to be true. But it isn't a fantasy or some shyster come-on deal. It is a genuine offer, and hundreds of people have already completed the training and gone home very well trained as the proud owners of very reliable XD autopistols. (BTW, I'd like to hear from more of you. E-mail me your impressions of the training.) Don't miss out. OBTW, the winter months are the ideal time to take a course at Front Sight. In the desert climate of southern Nevada, January and February can be in the 70s. You do not want to go there in July! The Memsahib and I both took the Four Day Defensive Handgun course, and loved it. It is truly outstanding training!

That was a great article by George Haystack in Tuesday's blog! I thought I was the only one [that carried so much survival gear around on a daily basis.] Mr. Haystack takes it further than I do. First, I could not carry [a concealed firearm] at my workplace being within the secure area of an airport. I generally carried a sturdy day pack, with the following:
(1) Lockback knife
(2) LED flashlights (9 LED's / 3 AA batteries)
(16) spare AAA batteries
(1) regular AA flashlight
(4) spare AA batteries
The following are all OTC medications, of course
(1) small bottle aspirin
(1) small bottle acetaminophen (Tylenol)
(1) small bottle ibuprofen (Advil)
(1) small bottle naproxen sodium (Aleve)
(1) small bottle antihistamine allergy medication
(2) bandanas 1 blue / 1 red
(1) pocket AM/FM radio uses 2 AA batteries
several pens
(1) steno pad
(1) change of underwear/socks/t-shirt
(12) decaffeinated tea bags
(4-6) pop tarts/granola bars, or similar quick food
(1) metal mug ("grannyware" type camp cup)
(1) set of tableware, knife, spoon, fork, and a "steak knife"
(1) hat and gloves
(2-3) cigarette lighters
(2-3) books of matches
(2) "space blankets"

This is far from what my co-coworkers carried in to work each day. I still had room for my work papers, and such, which went in on the top, for ease of access, and to keep my preparations from "prying eyes". I may not have carried my sidearm at work, but the items in my pack would have raised management's eyebrows, and gotten me a talking to, that's for sure. Luckily for me, the company was shut down, and I am currently an unemployed student. The only thing my co-workers knew was that if they had a headache or a cold, I was the "go-to guy" for an aspirin! Or the guy with the multi-tool to fix whatever is busted in the office! LOL!

On my person, I always carry at least the following, in normal pockets, or on my belt:
(1) cigarette lighter
(1) multi-tool on my belt
(1) Swiss Army knife
(1) LED flashlight
(1) Wallet, which is regularly thinned out to keep only what I'm going to use for the day/trip
(2) key rings, one for car keys one for house, general keys. Only frequently used keys are on the ring.
(1) spare set of car keys in an undisclosed pocket or in my backpack, as well.
(1) cell phone

Mr. Haystack is so right that most folks simply give no "tactical" thought to daily clothing choice. A few take the advice of frequent travelers and choose natural fibers, and loose-fitting, comfortable clothes for air travel, but many more simply wear the style of the day with no thought as to how hot that artificial polyester shirt or top will burn if there is actually trouble. How it clings to the skin like napalm, and burns severely. The problem with air travel today, is that the items I mentioned carrying in my pockets are now "prohibited items", and so every year, I fly less. At work, only when I had to to keep my currency up for annual training. I'll take a mode of transport that impacts my liberty and preparations a little less, thank you. Great article! - R. in the Northeastern US.

Mosby reminded me about the upcoming annual National B.O.B. Weekend.

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President-almost-elect Obama says that he doesn't want to take your guns. But if he is truly a supporter of the Second Amendment, as he claims, then why does he use the Brady Center for Civilian Disarmament's mantra of "Common sense gun safety laws"? Common sense to them means reducing the populace to owning just sling shots and BB guns. My level of trust for BHO on this issue is miniscule. I recommend stocking up on semi-auto firearms and full capacity magazines before he is sworn in and starts issuing executive orders and joining in legislative "teamwork" with the liberal majority that now controls congress.

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Nick at BulletProoofME will be running a SurvivalBlog-only special from Dec.15th through Dec. 22nd. The 30%-off special is for the mil-spec Interceptor Outer Tactical Vest. The similar sale that they ran last year for SurvivalBlog with an exceedingly large response. This special pricing is only available because of a military contract overrun.

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Reader "Spiker" forwarded this: Rare 50 year Arctic Blast Sets Sights On Southern California.

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A fresh batch of news and commentary from The Economatrix: BIS Warns of Collapse in Global Lending -- Japan Recession Much Worse than Predicted -- Sony Axes 16,000 Jobs and Shuts Plants -- UK Slowdown Worse than Forecast -- Banks Withdraw Business Overdrafts -- 90% of UK Pension Plans in Red Over $300 Billion -- The Great Credit Card Scandal -- Former Bear Stearns CEO Says "Wall Street is No More" -- Barofsky Appointed Bailout Watchdog -- The Famine of 2009 -- Are You Ready to Kill Your Neighbor?

"Today, a major economic crisis is unfolding. New government programs are started daily, and future plans are being made for even more. All are based on the belief that we're in this mess because free-market capitalism and sound money failed. The obsession is with more spending, bailouts of bad investments, more debt, and further dollar debasement. Many are saying we need an international answer to our problems with the establishment of a world central bank and a single fiat reserve currency. These suggestions are merely more of the same policies that created our mess and are doomed to fail."
"The choice we face is ominous: We either accept world-wide authoritarian government holding together a flawed system, or we restore the principles of the Constitution, limit government power, restore commodity money without a Federal Reserve system, reject world government, and promote the cause of peace by protecting liberty equally for all persons. Freedom is the answer." - Congressman Ron Paul. Speech, excerpts from: The Austrians Were Right, a speech delivered before the U.S. House of Representatives, November 20, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

”Wherever you go, there you are." And hopefully so are your clothes. Therefore it is vital to think of your wardrobe as part of your survival gear on a daily basis. It’s not good enough to have a closet full of BDUs and a piles of high-tech gear if they aren’t near you when you need them. Most of the crises that people face do not rise to the level of TEOTWAWKI and these emergencies don’t come at convenient times. Events like building fires, car wrecks, or muggings come at you when your just out living your life. A firearms instructor once told me, “if I knew I was going to get into a gunfight if I went out, I wouldn’t bring more guns, I’d stay home.” The point is this: you don’t know when bad things will happen, and you can’t stay home all the time, so a well-planned wardrobe and pocket gear are essential at all times!

It is amazing to me that many people interested in survivalism will assemble BOBs, GOOD kits, and build retreats in the hinterlands, and yet give almost no consideration to the clothes on their backs. I have a friend who routinely runs errands in his pajamas and slippers with nothing but his car keys and wallet with him. I’ve seen men at the shooting range in beachwear! What will they do if life throws them a curve? They will suffer, that’s what. But why suffer if, by following a few simple guidelines, you can dress for survival success?

Choosing your clothing
Most people have different clothes for different events, but the rules for clothing selection are the same whether you’re at a formal wedding or at a summer barbecue. First, select clothing of high quality and good fit. Second, always choose comfort and utility over fashion. Finally, think of clothing in tactical terms. How would they aid or hinder you in a crisis?

You want to ask yourself, “would I wear this to the apocalypse?” If the answer is no, start over. On 9/11 thousands of New Yorkers were forced to walk miles, in dirt and filth, with only the clothes on their backs and the contents of their pockets and satchels. Think of them while you plan your wardrobe. When they went to work that morning they could never have imagined what they would face that day, and most were horribly prepared. Men and women alike were forced to walk barefoot because their dress shoes were not suitable for what amounted to a several mile forced march. Most had no food or water. Their clothing, particularly in the case of women, was more a hindrance than a help. Learn from their mistakes.

The single most important consideration is footwear. Always choose a sturdy shoe in which you could comfortably walk several miles over unpredictable terrain. An above ankle hiking-style boot with a waterproof liner would be preferred in most cases. Be sure to wear good socks made for hiking and suitable for the time of year. Carry and extra pair of liner socks in your satchel in case you must walk a distance on a cold day. Do not wear cotton socks! They hold moisture next to your skin which will diminish your comfort and can speed hypothermia if the temperature is low. If you are at an event that requires dress shoes or flip-flops or some other tactically undesirable footwear, be sure to bring good shoes and socks with you. Keep them in the car so that you will have them in case of emergency.

Your undergarments should comfortable and weather-appropriate. Again, this typically means no cotton! Wear silk or synthetics intended for athletic use. If you must wear a tie, wear a clip on so that it cannot be grabbed by an assailant and used to strangle you. For this same reason, avoid necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry. If it is attached to your body in such a way that having it yanked out would cause pain, then lose it!

Pants and shirts should be loose fitting for mobility, well made for durability, and have lots of pockets for gear. A number of companies make casual “tactical clothing” that is very suitable. Choose styles that mimic normal street clothes so as not to attract undue attention to yourself. Avoid bright colors and striking patterns. Earth tones and simple patterns may offer a degree of camouflage without screaming out, “look at me, I’m survivalist!” You don’t want to attract attention to yourself if you can help it. Wearing military styled clothing sends a loud signal to others so unless you want to be thought of as the local John Rambo, stick with civilian clothes. If you must wear camouflage and live in a rural area like I do, you can easily get away with the civilian hunting patterns like RealTree or Mossy Oak.

Always have seasonally appropriate outer wear with you or close at hand. You may not think it will get cold, but unless you can predict the weather infallibly, it is better to be prepared for the worst. Where I live in northern Minnesota, people die every year because they get caught outside at night without appropriate clothing. Hypothermia is a real threat in all seasons, not just winter! Have a hat, gloves, and jacket nearby at all times. Choose a hat with a brim to block the sun. This can be a boon in both summer and winter. Also make sure the jacket repels moisture. As always, avoid cotton in favor of wool or synthetics. Choose clothing made for outdoor activities such as hiking or hunting.

Choosing your gear
Gear falls into three categories: wallets, widgets and weapons. Each category should be covered whenever you leave your home. It is tempting to overdo it when trying to decide what to take with you when you head out of the house, but there is a limit to what one person can carry! You don’t need to carry your BOB with you wherever you go, just enough useful stuff to get you through in a pinch.

Your wallet should not be thought of as a single accessory to your wardrobe, but rather as a series of places to put important pieces of paper and plastic. You will want to keep these things in separate places, and you want to keep them to a minimum. There is no need to haul around a year’s worth of receipts, business cards, and shopping lists. Routinely clean out your pockets! Most people’s wallets contain far too much information about their owners. Neither criminals nor the government need this information.

Ditch it.
As to the necessities, I keep it simple: money, driver’s license, CCW permit, a few discount cards for places I frequently shop. You may need to carry a few more items depending on your lifestyle. Spread this stuff around, don’t keep it in all in one place on your body. I use a money clip for small amounts of cash and my discount cards. My driver’s license and CCW permit are clipped together in another pocket. As a side note, while driving it is advisable to have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance in your breast pocket for quick access in case of a police stop. You don’t want to have to dig around for this stuff and possibly call attention to your “car gun” while doing so! Larger amounts of cash should be carried in a money belt or a hidden pocket. A money sash worn under your shirt can also be a great place for cash and important papers. Do not place your cash in anything that may be left “off body” like a purse or satchel!

The only actual wallet I carry is a decoy containing some of those phony credit cards that come in the mail along with a few bucks. This is what I would give to a mugger by tossing it to the ground in front of me. Most criminals are opportunists and will take a dummy wallet and leave you alone. If they don’t, you can always resort to what I refer to as “Plan G.” I think we all know what that is.

In addition to your important papers, you’ll want to be sure to carry a variety of useful and fun widgets. The following are indispensable: a multi-tool such as a Leatherman, a folding lock-back knife, a flashlight, and a lighter, and a bandanna. I also always carry a Swiss army knife on a chain with a Swiss army pocket watch, a pad of paper and a “write anywhere” pen like the Uniball Powertank, and a compass. It is amazing how many people think I’m nuts for carrying a compass everywhere I go, but after taking a short hike off-trail in an area I thought I knew well and becoming hopelessly lost for a couple hours, I think it is indispensable. Other things that I typically carry are small foam hearing protectors, a 3’ measuring tape, a bore light (you never know when you’re going to encounter someone selling a gun!), an athletic band to hold my glasses up, and a tiny back-up flashlight and a few feet of paracord. One final thing that most people must always carry is a set of keys. I like to carry my keys in a key silencer that hooks on to a clip that attaches to my belt. It is really amazing how loud a set of keys can be, and a key silencer of the sort used by police can quiet them right down. I sometimes carry a spare house and car key in one of my pockets. Keep the number of keys on your key ring to a minimum. Do you really need to carry the key to your dad’s garage when you only use it once a year? Leave it in your car!

There are many electronic devices that you may want to add to your supply of personal widgets. The only one that I consider indispensable is a cell phone. If you carry a cell phone you may find it useful to use its security feature to require a code before it can be used, but keep in mind that this means it can’t be used by someone else if you are incapacitated! Other items that may be carried include small digital cameras, GPS units, and PDAs. If you value security and privacy, you will want to remember that some cell phones and GPS units can be used to trace your location. Obviously individual criminals can’t use these features to track you to your retreat, but government criminals certainly could.

For longer trips away from home you may want to include a few other items. On the top of the “extended trip” list is a small pocket first aid kit. They are available in a small size that will tuck nicely into a cargo pocket. Consider including a few custom items that you may need but are not included in a basic kit. Keep in mind that pills or tablets tend to turn to dust when carried, so replace them frequently. Extended trips also call for spare batteries for flashlights and other electronic devices. It is very frustrating to suffer from dead batteries while away from home and have no replacements. Some flashlights use batteries that are not readily available at convenience stores. If you carry this type of light, spare batteries are a must. And don’t forget to get a spare bulb!

When selecting your widgets, always choose high quality gear. The last thing you want is a broken tool right when you need it. Buy the best, buy once. Well, in some cases you’ll want to buy twice or even three times since redundancy guarantees that you’ll have a functional specimen when you need it. I typically carry three knives, two flashlights, and two guns. “One is none, and two is one,” is a good principle to keep in mind. Select your gear carefully and don’t be distracted by the dizzying array of options we now have when it comes to pocket tools, flashlights, and electronics. Think though your personal needs carefully, and choose accordingly. For instance, many flashlights come with an aluminum case and a crenulated (ridged) bezel so that they can double as blunt striking weapons. Do you need this type of flashlight? Are you trained in this style of hand-to-hand combat? If not, perhaps a different style of light may suit you better. One thing the manufacturers won’t tell you is that these hardened aluminum bezels will saw through your pocket in a few days. If you select such a flashlight, put it in a nylon belt carrier!

As to weapons to be carried for self-defense, much has been written by those far more knowledgeable than I am. Read and study the experts and decide what is best for you. I have decided that my self defense needs are met by a Smith & Wesson stainless steel J-frame .357 magnum revolver carried strong side in a paddle holster paired with a lightweight J-frame .38 special rated for +P cartridges carried in my off-hand front pocket. That way I have a gun accessible to each hand. If you choose pocket carry, you should use a good quality pocket holster and you must not carry any other item in the pocket with the gun! I carry at least one, and sometimes two, speed loaders of good +P .38 ammo that can be used to reload either gun. If you carry speed loaders or spare magazines in a pocket, do not put anything else in that pocket. You don’t want to be digging around in a pocket full of junk when you need a quick reload. As a backup to my firearms I also always carry a Cold Steel folding knife in my strong side pocket. When I go to the “big city” I change up the .357 to a Glock .45 Model 30 with a couple of full-capacity 13 round backup magazines.

You may find that other weapons in the “use of force continuum” are more suitable to your needs. Defensive pepper sprays, Tasers, stun guns and kubotans form an important part of many self-defense kits. You may even consider a defensive cane or walking stick. Whatever your personal protection strategy may be, keep in mind that anyone who chooses to carry firearms, knives or other weapons for personal defense absolutely must know the legal implications of the use of deadly force, and they must observe all safety rules all the time. Do not become lazy and take shortcuts!

Satchels, packs and pouches

So how are you going to carry all the gear I’ve suggested? I find that I can carry all my gear in a good pair of cargo pants and one belt pouch that holds my flashlight and multi-tool. Most quality cargo pants have at least six big pockets and a smaller pocket for a cell phone or backup magazine for your semi-auto firearm. If I’m going on a trip and need some more extra gear, I throw on another belt pouch and that solves the problem.

It can take a little time to become accustomed to carrying all this stuff. I carry several pounds of stuff with me all the time, but since I’m used to it, I hardly notice the weight. You may want to build up to a full load one or two items at a time. Once you’re used to the extra weight, you won’t notice it either.
Why not use a satchel, pack purse of some kind? Simple: You will leave it behind. No matter how conscientious you are, it will happen eventually. Not only that, but such off-body carrying devices provide tempting targets for thieves. Why risk it? The only exception to this rule relates to food and drink. I always try to have a water bottle and an energy bar close at hand, either in a fanny pack or backpack. I don’t carry food and drink on me at all times, but I’ve never regretted having a little sustenance close by!

What about one of those snazzy “tactical vests” with about 100 pockets? These vests are admittedly very handy and cool looking. You can really load them up with gear. The problem is that when you wear one, you look like a body guard or a photographer who lost his camera. I prefer to keep a low profile, so even though I love my Sig-Tac tactical vest, I usually leave it in the closet.

I also find that getting dressed in a ritual fashion helps me to keep everything in order and keeps me from forgetting anything when I change pants. I empty pockets in order, one at a time. I place my gear into clean pants in the same order. Have a place for everything, and keep everything in its place. Once you develop a pattern, stick with it.

Maintaining a “survival wardrobe” is a lot of work, and it costs a lot of money. But it only makes sense that if we spend endless time and energy preparing for the big, epic crises we should also put some effort into preparing for the mundane emergencies that we are much more likely to face. Lots of little things can go wrong in life. When problems strike, having the right gear in your pocket can make a huge difference. Not only that, but I find that all my gear allows me to help those around me, and that brings a reward all its own. So fill your pockets with good gear, and dress for survival success!

Hi James,
I have found so much value in your site, I have contributed to the 10 cent challenge multiple times. I have also spent several thousand dollars with your advertisers. I believe in supporting a site that provides so much value to me and family. I'm passing a couple items along you might find interesting.

First, here's a news item about riots in Greece. It just shows how a variety of things can trigger TSHTF and things can turn on a dime:

Also, here's an interesting personal story about always being prepared and testing your gear:

The other night I heard a noise outside my bedroom window at about 3 AM. I went to the closet to grab my 12 gauge and bandolier of 12 gauge buckshot. I discovered that the hiding spot for my shotgun wedged it behind a shoe storage"tree" mounted on the wall. Well, in the dark and in a hurry, I couldn't wedge the shotgun away from the shoe tree without making a bunch of noise. After struggling with it for several seconds I finally gave up on the shot gun and walked into the next room to get to my 9mm pistol. It didn't cause me much of a delay, but it was a delay nonetheless. The noise turned out to be some birds nesting in the rain gutter by our bedroom window.
But the first thing I did the next morning was find a better hiding spot for my shotgun and ammo bandoleer, and I've tested it numerous time. Now I know that I can get my shotgun and ammo out quickly and stealthily.

This experience just confirms: Test your gear and train with it. All the best, - Dan G.

Thanks to "asderathos", who created a YouTube video of my recent interview on the Armstrong & Getty radio show. It was pretty cute how he (or she?) used a photo of "Burt Gummer" (Michael Gross from the movie Tremors) for my portrait. My favorite quote from the interview: "This guy is disappointingly reasoanable." I guess they were hoping to interview a real wild-eyed lunatic. Sorrry to disappoint.

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From Cheryl, our volunteer Economic Editor: Wall Street Extends Rally on Infrastructure Plans -- Oil Prices Up on Talk of OPEC Cut -- Interest Rates Heading for Zero -- Global Failures Headed to Record High -- Global Advertising to Fall $21 Billion -- Pension Funds Beg Congress to Suspend Billions in Contributions -- US Hyperinflation Right Around the Corner? (The Mogambo Guru) -- Food Pantry Stacked with Patrons

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Brian in Colorado flagged this article: In lean times, SoCal residents trade guns for food. One wonders about the wisdom of some people. FWIW, I've recently had a huge financial setback, with my wife's hospitalization and subsequent treatment and pharmacy expenses. I've had to sell a lot of posseessions, but my guns will probbaly be the very last things that I'd sell. That would be like sellnig my birthriight.

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John L. found this link to a PDF that describes and illustrates the recently-discussed US Marine Corps PT Test. Ooh-rah!

"Do we really think that a government-dominated education is going to produce citizens capable of dominating their government, as the education of a truly vigilant self-governing people requires?" - Alan Keyes

Monday, December 8, 2008

Although I'm retired from federal law enforcement, I am far from being a firearms expert or zealot. For me, a weapon was just a tool furnished by the agency to conduct business. Things (and my opinion) have changed a bit now - although I'm still not as aggressive as a lot of preppers.

That said, I have a question regarding the reliability of magazine's that one might keep loaded (i.e. in a nightstand) for months or years. Wouldn't the magazine springs tend to (eventually) take-on a "set" that would reduce reliability? Should we replace certain springs with better(?), rotate the magazines every few months to relieve the compression loading on the springs ... or ?

To make this question more specific I'm asking about factory magazines for a SIG P229 (.40 S&W) and a Model 1911 (.45 ) ACP.
I would be interested in your opinion on the topic generally. Thanx, - C.

JWR Replies: In my opinion, the entire "springs taking a set" premise is over-blown. I've been told by a metallurgist that only a coil spring that lacks proper tensile strength at the time of manufacture will show weakness significantly over time, under compression. Ditto for magazine feed lips. So if a magazine is properly manufactured, then this should not be an issue within the span of a couple of generations. With that said, as an ultraconservative "belt and suspenders" type, I do rotate my loaded magazines once per year. (I keep only half of my standby magazines loaded, at any given time.) But shooting that ammo in target practice--my favorite way to "rotate" it!--is more for confirmation of having reliable ammunition than it is about magazine trustworthiness.

In 1989, I took part in firing two 7-round M1911 magazines of .45 ACP ball ammo (with 1943 headstamps) that had been stored loaded continuously since the end of WWII. These two magazines had been left in the back of a desk drawer in a manila envelope with a 1945 postmark. Not only did the cartridges all fire, but the pistol functioned without a single failure to feed. I just wish that I had shot video of the event. These days, that clip would probably do well on YouTube.

One thing is for certain: If you have troublesome magazines, do not attempt to "tweak" them, by bending their feed lips or stretching their magazine springs. Both of these methods will only make matters worse, because you will be destroying tensile strength of the steel. If any magazine you own is not 100% reliable, then either A.) strip it as a source of spare parts (namely, its follower, floorplate, and floorplate retainer), and discard the rest, or, B.) paint its floorplate red, so that it will be relegated to "target shooting only" status. The last thing that you want is an unreliable magazine mixed in with the good ones that you 'll trust your life to, if an when times get Schumeresque.

Just an FYI for those who think the food grade plastic buckets are expensive. I have been putting together a list of places to find food and buckets. Online resources seem way too expensive so I've been looking local. I found that my local junk store had used but still in fine condition 5 gallon food grade buckets for $1.50 each. I also called some bakeries and was able to get the 3.5 gallon buckets for free after they were done with them. And finally I live about a half hour north of a large amish area. There are some bulk food stores in this area and after spending a half hour calling around I found I could get 800 pounds of hard red winter wheat for $470. Of course I'd have to pick it up but online the best deal I could find was $270 for 315 pounds. Further, I'd have shipping after that which would be quite expensive. - Geoff

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am new to your blog (a real treasure chest!) and happened to read your post concerning the Pollys in our lives. I have also spent many of my days what seems like shouting out of the bottom of a barrel to raise people's awareness of the potential issues that surround us.

I did note that you mentioned [the television series] Jericho as a means of raising people's awareness concerning survival, etc. Our family has been able to share our DVDs almost like a lending library all summer and had many, many friends and even acquaintances not only like the series (even though I agree wholeheartedly that the information is skewed ...who looks at a mushroom cloud to see another day or drink iodine???), but they have consequently started thinking about what they might do personally in the event of a disaster. My biggest hope has been to make the younger generation of people who have never seen any hardship nor thought such thing to be possible, aware of and contemplate the possibility at least once in their lives.

As of October 21, CBS has made Season 1 of Jericho available online on YouTube. There is no registration necessary to view the entire first season. It is a great (and free) way to plunge through the episodes with a minimum of distraction. A number of people have been keeping track over the past couple of weeks on the Jericho message board on NBC universal and the views on the youtube episodes are now averaging 50-60,000 a day and rising for the pilot episode, and 15,000-17,000 a day for the first 14 episodes (each!). Something has started making people become more aware. The final episodes of Season 1 are much lower in views but that, most likely has to do with the view-counters for those episodes being out of whack. Anyway, I thought you might like to be able to get the word out to people that they needn't even spend any money to buy Jericho, they can simply watch the first season online, or on TV (see the next paragraph) for a short time.

Also, as of November 30th, the network channel The CW [a broadcast television network in the US] started re-playing Jericho on Sunday evenings prior to their big movie. It is finally being broadcast at a time when normal human beings and families can watch it at 7 pm EST (6 pm MST), and on a non-cable channel. UHD [Universal High Definition] TV has been re-broadcasting Jericho for a while and will continue through December. There were only 1.3 million viewers for the pilot episode last week but the CW only advertised it for one week prior to it's start. For those who are interested, they could probably catch up the Pilot episode online on YouTube and then continue with the rest of the series as a family on Sunday evenings. I have truly seen nothing better for entire families to get them engaged in the preparedness discussion.

While I sound like a bit of an apologist for Jericho it comes from the heart of watching people's awareness blossom into being able to acknowledge that perhaps they best do something...just in case. One of the new young couples who watched the whole series in 16.5 hours straight (as only young people can do! ) looked at me and said, you know, maybe we better think about buying some food and having some things on hand...just in case. That totally made my day. When is the last time I have seen a young couple even contemplate such thinking. :) Thanks for your amazing and informative blog - TPL


Howdy James,
Reading your SurvivalBlog post on your recommendations of some television shows with survival mindset themes, here's a few more...


Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Season 1 is now out on DVD (available at Netflix)
Current season full episodes available at

[A post-apocalyptic science fiction series that] ran two seasons [as a Showtime series]. No real "end" to it. An, interesting show, though.
Seasons 1 & 2 available on DVD (available at Netflix)
Netflix has it available to watch online as well as on DVD.


Hoods Woods (Ron Hood)
I rented his intro DVD from Netflix, and I'm looking forward to getting his 25 DVD set, which is on sale until Christmas.

Survivorman (Les Stroud)
Seasons 1 & 2 of Survivorman out on DVD (available from Netflix)
Les Stroud also made a documentary for Canadian television a while back called "Off the Grid with Les Stroud " [that is available on YouTube]. A pretty good show, about Stroud and his family moving from the suburbs to 150 acres in the Canadian wilderness with solar and wind power, etc. Off the Grid is available from the Survivorman web site.

Ray Mears
Ray Mears has done several shows for British television, and has consulted on several more, notably, the popular "Long Way Down" motorcycle trek by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Here are the shows I've heard of, seems there's another new one called Walkabout, but I haven't seen it...
Extreme Survival
Wild Food

The shows are available on DVD from the web site.

I hope these are helpful, enjoyable, entertaining, educational, and motivational to some folks! Thanks, - Rick in New Hampshire

As my friend "Kevin Lendel" likes to say: "Such a deal!" More than 175 SurvivalBlog readers have bought Foodsaver vacuum packers at the special December sale price. Don't miss out on this! You can buy a FoodSaver v2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free Standard Shipping for orders over $100, directly from code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or while supplies last. BTW, I recommend getting the optional set of Mason Jar suction attachments, as they are particularly useful.

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"AZ-V" mentioned this CNBC clip where Hugh Hendry, a partner of Electica Asset Management dared to whisper the word "depression", and talked about it taking 25 years to recovery, starting from the market peak of the boom, in the late 1990s. Daring, indeed, for Wall Street's indefatigable cheering section. Sometimes they can't depend on their guests to follow the "buy and hold and all will be well " party line. -- In other economic news, we read: U.S. Job Losses Signal Recession Will Be Long, Deep. Here is a key quote: "The plunge may spur incoming President Barack Obama to come up with a fiscal stimulus package larger than the $700 billion plan some economists advocate. Obama today promised to make the “single largest new investment” in roads and public buildings as part of his plan to save or create 2.5 million jobs". -- Speaking of BHO, in a Sunday morning talking heads show, the president-almost-elect admitted that the economy to get worse before it improves. -- And from The Economatrix comes all this: Import Cars Piling Up at Port, No Demand -- PhD Economist, Prof Says Gold Market Manipulated -- Fears of a Million Layoffs a Month in Corporate America -- Deflation Moving Beyond 1930s Extremes -- Spain Faces Full Recession -- UK: How Bad is the Economy Going to Get? -- Grim Job Report Not Showing Full Picture -- 41 US States Face Bankruptcy in 2009 -- Foreclosures Soar 78% to Record 1.35 Million

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I noticed that Safecastle has started a 25% off sale on their Mountain House freeze dried foods, with a 30 year shelf life. This sale will last just two weeks, so don't miss out!

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Reader KAF put forward this Eugene Volokh piece: Interior Department's New Rule on Firearms Possession in National Parks. My only disappointment is that this ruling exempts only "lawful" concealed carry of handguns. In many states in the American West and in a few southern states, both concealed and open carry without any license or permit is perfectly lawful, anywhere outside of city limits. And in Vermont and Alaska, permitless concealed carry is lawful even inside incorporated areas. (And I expect that to soon be extended in several of the Rocky Mountain states.) The bottom line is this new ruling shortchanges those of us that carry pistols without some bureaucatically-issued license. This narrow and inexactly-worded ruling only addresses "lawful" carry of concealed handguns. (Not long guns, and not open carry.) If I were to carry a holstered pistol in plain view past the entry gate of a National Park, (as I often do on on National Forest lands), then I would still be subject to arrest. The ruling does not change that. And, again because the ruling is poorly worded, I suspect that I would also be subject to arrest for carrying a concealed handgun without a state-issued CCW permit. The ruling leaves a huge door open to administrative misinterpretation. The key words in the ruling are "...individuals must have the actual authority to possess..." Along with most American gun owners, I recognize that our "actual authority" is our antecedent right to keep and bear arms, which was simply recognized and secured by the Constitution. But to the mind of a petty bureaucrat or National Park police officer, this could be misinterpreted where "actual authority" is somehow granted by a CCW license or permit, issued by state government. Unless there is a subsequent ruling that clarifies the muddy wording of this new ruling, this will doubtless someday come to a test in the courts.

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Adam in Ohio urged me to visit the web site for The Wagon Teamster. This gent is traveling the country in what could be be described as a horse drawnRV trailer. He has earned my admiration for his gumption, and a link at my Links page. I'll be following his progress in the months to come.

"Most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame...'What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?' And so they sit there and they... die. Because they didn't do the one thing that would save their lives...Thinking." - Anthony Hopkins as Charles Morse in "The Edge" (2007); screenplay by David Mamet

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On another Sunday, exactly 67 years ago, the lives of millions of Americans changed drastically. The citizenry rose to the occasion, and vanquished some mighty foes. I hope and pray that we have the collective will to do so again.

In response to Heather M., I think your Old Testament examples are excellent, but there are numerous New Testament examples as well, with the best being St. Paul's admonition in II Thessalonians 3: 6-15

"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother."

And as this past Sunday, was the Last Sunday of the Church Year, the appointed Gospel text - Matthew 25: 1-13 - is an excellent discourse on physical preparedness (the bridesmaids having enough lamp for their oil) being a discipline that prepares us for Christ' return (the coming of the bridegroom) -

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

What more can be said about life in general, than the last verse?

Finally, a word of caution about tossing around Lk.22: 35-36, as a "preparedness" quote. Take note of the larger context of Luke 22. This is a condensed version of Jesus' farewell discourse (John chapters 14-17). Look at where Jesus is going, with vv.35-36, in vv.37 & 38;

He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."
The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.

The important part of these four verses, is v.37 - Jesus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53: 12 - "And he was numbered among the transgressors." The disciples (collectively) "need" swords, so that when confronted by the Temple Guards in the Garden of Gethsemane in a few hours, Jesus may be said to be among, 'armed riffraff' - "transgressors" - as it were. This is not a "preparedness" admonition, so much as it is, the fulfillment of prophecy. A better place to look to Jesus supporting personal defense/being armed, are those verses that back up what you cite correctly, in Ex.22: 2, regarding our actions towards the thief who comes in the night. Matthew 12: 29, 24: 42-44; Mark 3: 27, and Luke 11: 21, 12: 39-40 all are examples of Jesus commending a man to watchfulness of his household. Of course, even as He cites these temporal examples as good and God-pleasing, He exhorts us to greater watchfulness in spiritual matters, but the point is clear enough. The Gospels and New Testament support temporal preparedness, as a discipline that puts faith into action - spiritual preparedness.
Sincerely, - Your friendly neighborhood Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) Pastor

I concur with your recommendation for a .45 ACP, and the Glock in particular. The Glock 21/30 family is also well-equipped to handle either the .45 Super, or Triton’s .450 SMC, with just the simple addition of a heavier recoil spring and rod. (In the 21-23 lb range.) A Glock set up with this heavier spring is also still able to shoot standard .45ACPs all day long. While not sanctioned by Glock, myself and many, many others have shot a huge number of these rounds downrange in our G21s and G30s without so much as a hiccup. The [discussion forum] site GlockTalk (where, BTW, there are lots of Survivalblog fans) has a ton of information on shooting the 45 Super through Glock 21/30 Pistols. In Him, - E.R.P.

JWR Replies: Owning a spare barrel for your Glock in .45 Super sounds like the best of both worlds. For those that can afford the extra parts and more expensive ammo, it affords the extra stopping power of the .45 Super for a better chance at stopping dangerous game. Fortunately, pistols re-barreled to shoot .45 Super can still shoot the ubiquitous .45 ACP cartridge.

The only drawback to owning a dual-caliber pistol might be getting the cartridges mixed up, in the stress of a protracted self-defense shooting situation. But there are ways to avoid that. (Such as color-coded ammo can lids and corresponding colors for magazine floorplates.) Besides, a pistol is not likely to be used much in an extended gunfight. Properly, that is the time and place for a battle rifle!

John B. pointed us to an interesting article in Slate on the effects of inflation in Argentina: Coins more valuable than bills. This ties in with my advice starting in 2007 on buying up rolls of US nickels . This is just one of several tangibles strategies to get prepared for the incipient mass inflation in the United States.

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New ID Scanners at Borders Raise Privacy Alarm. These RFID scanners can be overcome by an expensive commercially-made wallet, or by something a simple as a few wraps of aluminum foil. Speaking of privacy, nearly a dozen readers sent us this link: SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio.

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Reader Laura H. sent us this from The Moscow Times: Former Tycoon Avoids the Financial Crisis by Raising Sheep.

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Economic News: Eric S. sent this: Bank of England mulls "nuclear option" of cash injection. Matt Drudge had a link to this: Mortgage Delinquencies, Foreclosures Rise to Record Levels. JWR spotted this: Obama unveils 21st Century New Deal (More MOAB, by any other name.) And Cheryl sent us these items:-- Times Must Be Hard: Americans are Buying Spam Again -- Oil Staggers Below $42 -- Paulson Shoots the Economy in the Heart...Again -- Stocks Rally Despite Grim Jobs Report -- High Inventory is Killing Home Builders -- Job Picture Could Get Even Worse -- Stocks Pick Up Steam as Insurer Hikes Forecast -- Hidden Pension Threat Could Make Painful Recession Worse -- Unretired: Retirees Are Back, Looking For Work -- 23rd Bank Failure of the Year in US: First Georgia Community Bank

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Hawaiian K. mentioned that our old friend Bill Buppert helped promote The Appleseed Project in his latest column.

"Japanese naval officers in dress whites are frequent guests at [the Pearl Harbor US Navy Base] officers' mess are very polite. They always were. Except, of course, for that little interval there between 1941 and 1945." - William Manchester

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

About The Author: “HardCorpsBear” is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as an ammunition and explosives tech, specializing in demolitions, in Anbar Province. He is an NRA certified firearms instructor and a US Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor, teaching nutrition, combat fitness, martial history and hand-to-hand combat.

Are you really ready to meet the challenges of a TEOTWAWKI situation?
I think often about what may happen if I have to move myself and my family over a long distance of rough terrain through a hostile environment and in urban combat conditions. I’ve wondered if I’m physically ready to face the challenge. Maybe you’re wondering the same thing. But have you ever actually put yourself to the test to really know what you can do?

Maybe you say, “Of course, I'm ready. I have a basement full of food-stuffs, ammo and weapons, and survival gear. I have a 4WD vehicle in the driveway. All I have to do is load my gear and bug out.” But have you asked the hard questions? Have you put aside your facade of macho pride and actually assessed your physical readiness to accomplish the mission of preserving your family and your own life?

Start at the beginning. How long will it take you to move your stockpile up a flight of stairs? Do you have the endurance to lift all of those buckets, tubs and packs into your truck by yourself or with one other person? All the gear will be useless if you are too exhausted to even take the first step in your plan.
Then what if the vehicle runs out of gas or is otherwise immobilized? How do you get where you're going? You probably figure you’ll pack what you can in your BOB and huff it on foot, right? Really? How far will you get before you collapse? One, two, three miles? How do you know?

What will you do if you must cross a defended danger area and are engaged against armed hostiles? Can you assault through using fire and maneuver? It's exhausting.
What if you're already in a secured retreat? Have you thought of what you will do if your retreat is overrun by a superior force? You may have no other option but a rear-guard movement to another location. Can you hack it?

Do you think you’re in pretty decent shape? I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty fit person. I ran cross-country and track in high-school. I scored a 96% on my Presidential Fitness Test. I did calisthenics and weights for 1-2 hours a day for years. I was a big-city cop and hit the gym after hours, did some martial arts on the weekends, and thought I was a pretty tough dude. But the years of sitting on my butt, consuming donuts, McDonald's and post-shift beers took their toll. My traditional fitness regimen just wasn’t cutting it.

At 25 years of age, I enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and I barely passed my initial strength test. A mile and a half run, max set of pull-ups and two-minutes worth of crunches had me reeling.

Let me tell you a little about the traditional training our nation’s “Few and Proud” go through. And then I’ll tell you why the Marines have realized that even that is not enough.

We started with mile and a half runs at about a 9-minute/mile pace, a measly five pull-ups, 50 crunches in two minutes, and about 50 push-ups a day. And we were just disgusting First-Phase "Maggots".

Over the course of 13 weeks we increased these to 3 mile runs at an 8-minute/mile pace. We had a platoon goal of a minimum 10 pull-ups. The hotshots aced the test with 20 pull-ups. Everybody did 100 crunches within the two-minute time frame. In the final phase of boot camp one day I decided to count how many push-ups I did. I quit counting when I hit 500, just before lunch. We felt invincible.

But then came the infamous Crucible, our final graduation requirement. Have you ever rushed a 30-degree incline hill using fire and maneuver (leapfrogging) with a full rucksack, after marching for three or four hours? How about doing it several times a day after marching for 30, 40 or 50 miles in a few days? Have you ever tried to stay awake on a guard post, covering your three or four buddies while they sleep, when you’ve only had four hours of sleep in the past three days? What about carrying a 180 pound casualty on a litter for a half-mile under the blazing California desert sun? And this is only recruit training.

Despite this rigorous regimen, members of the military community of which I am a part have recognized that the traditional fitness models of long-distance running, calisthenics and weight-training are wholly inadequate to prepare a person for the rigors of extended periods of combat. Do you think your current fitness plan (of let’s be honest, complete lack thereof, right?) has you’re ready?

Last year the Marine Corps did a study on “Functional Fitness” concepts. The high incidence of non-combat-related injuries among forward-deployed troops highlighted the need for a change. Guys who could run 3 miles in 20 minutes were collapsing during approaches and assaults. Guys who could do 20 pull-ups couldn't carry a casualty or climb a wall. If a combat survival situation presents itself, what should you expect? Unless an EMP nuke goes off while you are at the YMCA, I can guarantee you won’t be going for a 5-mile jog in a track suit with sneakers on. You’ll need the endurance gained from this kind of training, of course, and you’ll need the strength gained from push-ups, pull-ups and crunches. But you’ll need more.

Seriously think about what you might be doing. Loading boxes of ammo and food stuffs into vehicles? Jumping in and out of trucks? Climbing over walls, through ditches, sprinting from block to block? Or taking an extended trek across the Midwest as you head for the mountains? What if a team member is injured? What will you do?
What about when you get where you’re going? You’ll likely find yourself digging ditches, earthworks and fighting positions, chopping wood, hauling water and sandbags, and maybe even dragging large game away from the kill site. How do you prepare for this?

The result of the Marine Corps’ study was the implementation of a new Combat Fitness Test. There is much you can learn from in this program. I’ve seen “fat-bodies” and “weaklings” pass the traditional 3-mile run, pull-up and crunches test. But I’ve seen some pretty “tough” guys fall-out vomiting from our new test. The new test consists of a combat simulation based on our recent actions in Haiti, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first element is a Movement to Contact; running to the fight. It’s an 800 meter “sprint” in full utilities and boots.

The second element is an Ammo Re-supply. You lift a 30 lb. ammo can from your chest to an overhead, arms-extended position as many times as you can in two minutes.

The third element is a 300 meter Movement Under Fire. Start in a prone position, as though firing a rifle from a covered position. Sprint 25 meters to another covered position and hit the deck, back into a prone position. Low-crawl on your belly for 10 meters. High-crawl on your hands and knees for another 15 meters. Stand and sprint through a 25-meter serpentine (place cones 5 meters apart, every 5 meters for a zigzag course). When you get to the end of the serpentine, you have a seated “casualty” you must lift up from behind (squat down and grab him under his arms) and drag back through the serpentine. Once you’ve gone back through the serpentine, transition your buddy to a fireman’s carry and sprint 50 meters back to the starting point. You’re now halfway through!

At the start line, pick up two 30-pound ammo cans and sprint the 50 meters to the serpentine. Negotiate the serpentine. Now, pick up a grenade (you can use a baseball as their nearly the same size and weight). Lob it at a 5x5 meter target 25 meters downrange. Hit the deck and do three push-ups. Stand, pick-up the ammo cans, go back through the serpentine, and sprint the last 50 meters to the finish.

I run a near perfect score on the traditional test, and I nearly failed to complete the new course on my first attempt. So how should we train?

First, you need to develop a basic level of fitness. If a flight of stairs leaves you huffing, you’re really going to be hurting WTSHTF. Start walking. Over the course of a few months, increase from a half-mile after dinner, to four miles. My mother did this and lost about 60 lbs in a year. When you can walk 3-4 miles, start jogging. Begin with a mile at a 9-10 minute pace and then build up to where you can run 3 miles. Unless you’re training for a specific athletic event, there’s not a real need to do longer runs than this. The risks of injury versus gains in endurance are impractical and the further endurance can be gained by increasing your walks to five or six miles and maybe a 10 or 15-miler once a month. Do at least a third of your running in clothing similar to what you’ll be wearing to bug-out. Do at least half of your walking with a full backpack on.

Calisthenics are also useful for developing the basic body structure necessary to support a combat fitness regimen while minimizing injury risks. No special equipment is needed to do crunches, push-ups, leg lifts, squats and stretches.

Depending on what kind of shape you started out in, you should be able achieve a basic level of fitness in one to three months. Then you can begin your combat fitness conditioning. Now, I live in an urban environment and due to my job, have little opportunity for the kinds of work I did as a laborer in college. There’s no lumber or concrete to haul to a job site and no hay bales to throw in the back of a pick-up. But there are a few things I do have, that you can incorporate into your daily fitness plan.
First off, get a couple of sandbags from a farm-supply or military surplus store. Fill them and empty them. Repeat. Build up to doing fifty in one session. I dare you. You will build incredible forearm strength and endurance, as well as thickening up your hands, strengthening your shoulders and stretching out your back.
Carry the sandbags around. Do you remember the “shuttle run” from gym class where you laid bean bags on the lines of the basketball court? Put two sandbags on a line 15 yards out. Run out, pick one up, bring it back and drop it. Run back out and get the other one. Vary the set up and repeat. Do this in boots and utilities.
Buy a couple of ammo cans. Fill them with sand (or boxes of ammo, right?). Weigh them out to about 30 pounds. Set up some cones in your yard (or the local park or a parking lot) and run with one in each hand through a serpentine course. Try running with 60 lbs of ammo for more than 5 minutes. You will strengthen your back, shoulders, forearms, knees, ankles and mind.

Lift the same ammo cans. First, as a traditional squat, from the ground to standing, then set them down again. Repeat. 100 times. Next, lift them from your chest over your head and back down. Repeat. 100 times. When you can do this without collapsing, you may be getting close to being ready (at least physically) to handle a dire situation.
Now get a partner. I like partnering with my wife and kids. Put a kid on your back and run around your house 5 times. Don’t pass out. Have your wife lay down “dead” on the ground. Get her up over your shoulders and fireman-carry her around the block three times (3 laps times 4 sides equals 12 city blocks, approximately a mile!) You may have to do this for real some day!

Practice sprinting 15 yards and then hitting the deck and rolling to a covered position. Count to 5, push-up into a run and do it again to the next position. Repeat for a good 5 or 10 minutes.

Load your bug-out bag and go for a hike. Can you do 10 or 15 miles? Are your feet calloused enough to do this for several days in a row without disintegrating? Skip the keg party this weekend and find out. I'll bet that five miles leaves most of us office-jockeys spent.

These practical drills can help prepare you for the time when you may have to G.O.O.D. in a hurry with a bunch of armed and panicking locals in your way.
At this point you may be thinking, “Well, here's another military fitness nut. These are ridiculous. I don't have time to do all that. I'm sure I'll have the energy and adrenaline from my need to survive if the time ever comes...”

I've been there, done that, and failed. Fortunately it was in practice drills that I was slapped awake to the extraordinary challenges of combat survival. Without the strength and endurance I've achieved from focused training and conditioning, I would have failed to accomplish my assigned missions in Iraq. Even with the training, there were times I thought I wouldn't make it through. I was pushed beyond the limits both mentally and physically.

How we train is how we will fight. And failure to plan is planning to fail. “Hope” is not a plan. The two objectives of Marine Corps Leadership are mission accomplishment and troop welfare. Among combat instructors we have a saying: “The best form of troop welfare is tough, realistic training.” All of the drills and exercises I recommend are tough. But more importantly, they are realistic. They will prepare you for the things you may be called upon to do should we face the worst.
Now that you know, are you willing to make yourself ready?

I'm very pleased to report that SurvivalBlog is now indisputably the most popular preparedness blog on the Internet, with an average 117,200 unique visits per week.

The phenomenal growth of SurvivalBlog's circulation (which has more than tripled in the past 16 months), has brought with it some growing pains. As I'm sure you recall, since November of 2005 we used a scrolling script to make all but one of the ads slowly scroll by. This worked fine back when we had just a dozen advertisers. But unfortunately we've found that it was a very inefficient solution: We've received several complaints from readers about the scrolling ad bar sucking up their CPU cycles --by as much as 98% of available processing power! This "CPU drain" has actually cost us some readership. To avoid this problem, we had no choice to but to make a change: Starting yesterday, we switched to a random order fixed ad stack. Here is how it will work: Each time that you visit SurvivalBlog, you will see the ad stack in a new random sequence. When you come back to the site the next day, or each time that you hit "reload", you will see the ads in a different random sequence. It is my hope that you will find this both easier on your eyes (no distracting scrolling going on), and much easier on your computer's CPU

The other change will be coming on December 31st, when our advertising rates will be increasing by an average of 33%. In the interim since our last rate increase, both our daily hit count and our unique visit count has more than doubled. Throughout the publishing world--both in print and online-- it is circulation that determines ad rates.

I hope that you enjoy the new look of the SurvivalBlog advertising stack. Please patronize our advertisers, and when you do, please mention where you saw their ad, and thank them for advertising.

Keep in mind that without advertising revenue, it would be impossible to provide SurvivalBlog as a free service, so please give your business to our paid advertisers first! Thanks!

Reader "Photo Man" sent us this: Mob runs riot as Zimbabwe runs out of water.

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Courtesy of Eric comes this link: The American Crisis and the Case for an Inflationary Depression

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Rich Fleetwood at SurvivalRing mentioned that he has just finished creating a brand new DVD book library. It has 4 DVDs containing over 4,000 Third World appropriate technology books and articles, and a multi disk package of Alex Weir's 44 CD library (which he asks as many folks as possible to both mirror, and offer, to readers all over the world). Fleetwood is offering the library for only $10 per DVD, (or $40 for a set) and the set includes free Priority Mail shipping. Check it out, here.

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A big batch of gloomage du jour from Cheryl: First Time In 50 Years Stocks Yielding More Than Bonds -- Fortress Suspends Redemptions in Biggest Fund (JWR warned us about hedge fund redemption suspensions, back in October of '07) -- Consumers Unexpectedly Cut Back on Credit in October -- Bush Finally Admits Recession, Says All Three Major Automakers May Not Survive -- Employers Cut 533,000 Jobs, Most in 34 Years "The unemployment rate would have moved even higher if not for the exodus of 422,000 people from the work force. Economists said many of those people probably abandoned their job searches out of sheer frustration. In November 2007, the jobless rate was at 4.7 percent." Also remember that those who have used up their unemployment benefits are not counted in this statistic either, thus, there are a lot more people out of work than this number indicates -- Gulf Oil CEO Says Gas May Drop to $1 Per Gallon -- China Slowdown Could Drop Oil to $25/Barrel -- US Banks to Cut 30,000 More Jobs -- 50 Ways to Beat Deflation (Sung to the tune of the Paul Simon song) -- The Great Depression II: Are We Being Played? -- Swiss See Platinum as Safe-Haven Investment -- Why Credit Cards Matter So Much

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In the Just For Fun Department: You gotta love MakeZine. This is from their latest issue: The Chainsaw Bayonet.

"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets." - Will Rogers

Friday, December 5, 2008

Knowing that a survival situation will be most likely without medical help - one of my first thoughts is - make sure I have some essential oils.

What are essential oils? Think herbs, with the important oils all "juiced" out of them.

I first became interested in oils after learning that oils are mentioned in the Bible quite frequently - both in the Old and New Testament. God had/has a keen interest in them. Maybe I should too, I mused.

Lately, I've tried to stock up on my favorites, as they may become difficult to buy in the future, as the economy weakens. If I had to pack my G.O.O.D. bag with oils, I would do them in this order:

1. Tea Tree Oil - an all around favorite for washing/sanitizing hands, applying to cuts or wounds, and a general antibacterial, antifungal oil. Tea tree can be obtained at Wal-Mart (a full 2 ounces--the big oil bottle, for under $10 bottle. The price has gone up, just recently). Look in the vitamin section.

2. If I had room for a second bottle, I would put in a concoction of several oils to ward off/ deal with current typical illnesses (colds, flus, bronchial, weak immune system, bleeding gums, etc).... It would consist of: thyme, oregano, clove, eucalyptus oil. Some of these are harder to find than others, and the price would be around $35 or so. You need to mix these (equal parts or so) yourself. This can be applied directly to the chest and/or the bottom of the feet. A few drops will do. Make sure you have a "dropper" style lid under the cap.

3. A tie for second place bottle would be a "pain relief" bottle - consisting of a blend I would make myself of peppermint, wintergreen, clove, and cypress oils (go heavier on the peppermint and wintergreen). This should be around $20. Peppermint has a heavy "fume" to it, and if it is even near the eyes, it will feel like it's in your eyes - be careful (If you do ever get oils in your eyes - any kind of vegetable oil helps bring it out - not water). This is great for headaches, injuries (like a hurt knee or slight sprain or backache), etc. Again, a couple drops will do. Have your dropper style lid in place.

4. If there's still room in the bag, go for some Rosemary (under $5 for .5 oz). I've personally found Rosemary excellent at antifungal applications. A survival situation may entail some tangles with athletes foot, toe/finger fungus or ringworm, and the Rosemary (which can also be teamed with a little Tea Tree) will almost always do the trick. Again, just one drop, using the dropper lid.

I've found the key to essential oils is to use very little - maybe just one drop, for your problem...but to do it constantly - like at least three times a day. Conventional medicines don't require that kind of attention...but, who can get a refill on prescription in the middle of the wilderness?

5. And, if you can, grab a bottle of Lavender oil. (Usually around $10). The intense stress that we will all be under when times get really tough can be relieved by a little lavender oil. It never ceases to amaze me how a drop or two can relax and then - put to sleep! - myself and others - in anxious circumstances.

People in the essential oil business argue which manufacturer is best. I'll tell you my 2 cents and leave it up to you. Young Living is probably the most expensive (purchased on the Internet), but they claim most of their oils can also be ingested. That part is appealing. For oils that you can apply or use in different ways, you may be happy with other brands. I've used Aura Cacia, Thursday Plantation, and Sante with good results. They and others can be purchased at health food stores.

There are many other varieties of essential oils that I could comment on, but thought I would keep it to a few important ones.

I'm in the process of packing the family's G.O.O.D. bags. And I hope to not leave home without the oils. Thanks for all you do, Jim. Take care, - Jean L.

JWR Replies: Thanks for those suggestions. Here is a good on-line reference on how to safely use essential oils.

Hi Jim,
I’m an avid reader of your blog but I have a question: Can I store vacuum sealed wheat in regular buckets (not food grade)? I like the idea of having 10 lb bags of vacuum sealed wheat for simplicity in retrieving when needed and for distributing as charity if needed. I realize it wastes space in each bucket (being in a vacuum sealed block) – but my question is whether it’s safe to use the less expensive buckets or will potential out-gassing eat the vacuum sealed bags?

Your books (I have all of them) are very helpful to me. Between my father and I, we’ve probably bought several dozen copies of "Patriots" over the past five years to give to people. I have my 20 acres in one of your recommended areas and will break ground in the spring for the retreat. I just hope I have enough time to prepare as it seems things are moving fast.

Also, how do you store other consumables? Metal wall lockers (as in "Patriots")? Is there a more mobile solution I can use for the time being until I get my retreat built?
Thanks for all you do. - Rob S.

JWR Replies: I'm not a food safety chemist, so I can't give you a definitive answer. As discussed in SurvivalBlog previously, the issue is the toxic injection molding release compounds used in making some buckets that are not marked as NSF, USDA or "Food Grade" certified. These mold release chemicals can contaminate food. My advice is to err or the side of caution and to use your utility-grade buckets for storing non-food items (ammo, clothing, field gear, etc.), and only certified food grade buckets, for food. Even if food items are in a sealed food grade plastic package, you never know when the integrity of that inner packaging might be compromised with pinholes.

Most of my consumables that won't fit in our kitchen, pantry, and laundry room cupboards(Castile soap, cleansers bandages, paper products, etc.) and most of my field gear items are stored in big green plastic Rubbermaid Roughneck storage bins with snap lids. They are great for "grab-'n-go" situations. Just keep in mind that a determined rat, given enough time will be able to chew a hole through these containers. They are fairly expensive if bought new in stores, and expensive to ship if bought via mail order, so watch and wait for them to be offered at a sale price. BTW, you might also try placing a local "Wanted" ad on Craig's List.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
My son has asthma and I have had the unfortunate experience of not having power when he needed a nebulizer treatment. Please inform you readers of the absolute necessity of having power inverters and testing your needed appliances before an emergency. Not knowing how sensitive a medical nebulizer is and knowing that some equipment is sensitive to modified sine wave power from the cheaper inverters was terrifying. Having the power out and an asthma attack at the same time was bad enough.The prayer that I said when turning on our only nebulizer plugged into a gizmo (my wife's word, not mine) that was attached to a car running in the driveway with jumper cables was unique to say the least.

Buy good inverters and test [them with your various electrical and electronic equipment] before the storm.
I now have several and we insist on our young drivers keeping their cars full of gas.
My point in writing you was to inform your readers that everything in their house can be ran in a emergency. Nebulizers are not very power hungry and can be run with very inexpensive equipment. - GB

One of our neighbors--and where we live, the term "neighbor" means anyone in a 10 mile radius--mentioned that she recently obtained 20 dozen Mason-type canning jars offered gratis on Freecycle. The boxes of canning jars almost entirely filled up the back of her SUV. In my experience, Freecycle and Craig's List should be watched diligently by preparedness-minded families. The tighter your budget, the more crucial these resources are! And, BTW, if you benefit from Freecycle, be sure to return the favor, by offering the things that you no longer need.

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Bob G. mentioned an informative piece that explains the spread between physical metals and spot futures metals, over at Financial Sense: Precious Metals: Price Disparity Equals Opportunity

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For any SurvivalBloggers that read Norwegian, see this article: Klar for dommedag: Survivalistene gjemmer seg ikke lenger i skogen. Nå bor de i fine forstadshus

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T.A. flagged an article about he possibility of a European-style VAT tax scheme for the US. T.A.'s comment: This is probably the way the government is going to collect the tax money for the MOAB."

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"C" told us about this Newsweek article: 'Depression Economics', Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman on America's financial crisis. And on the topic of the economy, these items were sent to us by The Economatrix: Jobless Rate at 26-Year High, Factory Orders Drop -- Oil Dives Below $44, New Gas Low -- AT&T to Drop 12,000 (4%) of Staff -- November Worst Retail Month Since 1969 -- Citi Reaps Fantastic Deal in Fed Bailout -- Credit Suisse to Cut 5,300 Jobs -- Interest Rates Dive Around the World -- China Devalues Yuan--May Worsen World Crisis -- Millions of Chinese Grads Go Jobless -- Private Sector Lost Another 250,000 Jobs in November -- What's Really Going on With Gold and Silver? -- Fed: Economy Darkens Heading into the Holiday Season -- The Treasury Market Reaches Breaking Point -- The Grapes of Wrath -- Record Number of Americans Using Food Stamps -- The Last Thanksgiving Before GD2? Here is a key quote from that last article: "About five years back I began scrutinizing US T-bill holdings. Three years ago to my great surprise it appeared that both China and Japan had stopped accumulating US debt. Out of nowhere came a new category of buyers referred to as “Carribean Banks” [sic]. My understanding is that this is a nice euphemism for Fed-owned hedge funds who serve as a shill buyer to keep up the appearance of demand for US debt."

Mexican Boy (pointing): Mira, mira! Viene la tormenta!
Sarah Connor: What did he just say?
Mexican Gas Station Attendant: He said there's a storm coming.
Sarah Connor: I know.

- Closing scene of Terminator (1984) Screenplay by James Cameron, Randall Frakes, Gale Anne Hurd, and William Wisher Jr.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction is now at $1,050. The auction is for a large mixed lot that includes:

A.) 15 brand new 30 round M16/M4/AR-15 magazines from JWR's personal collection. These include four scarce and desirable brand new HK steel "Maritime Finish" magazines, and 11 new USGI alloy magazines made by Center Industries. (Note that most of these were made during the 1994-2004 Federal ban, so most of them have restriction markings, but those became null and void after the ban sunsetted.) Even if you don't own an AR-15, these magazines are great to keep on hand for barter. (Note: If you live in a state where full capacity magazines are banned, then you must choose to: refrain from bidding, or designate a recipient in an unrestricted state, or re-donate the magazines for a subsequent auction.) In today's frenzied market, these magazines have a retail value of at least $460..

B.) A NukAlert radiation detector donated by at (a $160 retail value).

C.) An assortment of loose leaf teas, a box of Bellagio hot chocolate (25 individual packs), and your choice of $50 worth of ground or whole bean roasted coffee. (A combined retail value of more than $150), all courtesy of

D.) A case of 24 cans of canned storage butter, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $110 retail value).

E.) A carton of 10 rolls of Hydrion fuel test strips, (with a retail value of $85), donated by

F.) "Alone in the Wilderness" book and 2 DVD Value Set on the life of Richard Proenneke (a retail value of $51.95) courtesy of Camping

G.) An EVAC Easy Roll Stretcher kit, (a retail value of $49.95), donated by

This auction ends on December 15th. Please e-mail us your bid for the entire mixed lot.

Roughly 10% of the e-mails that I receive from SurvivalBlog readers come from people that mention they have a relative that refuses to get prepared. This is usually because they refuse to believe that anything could ever go wrong beyond a localized and short-term natural disaster. ("Order and commerce will certainly be restored within a week!") This is what I call the Pollyanna syndrome. How someone could have witnessed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina so well-documented on television, yet still maintain a "Polly" attitude astounds me.

Convincing Pollys to to get prepared can be frustrating, especially when they stop listening to logic and descend into sheer stubbornness. But I have found a couple of approaches that have proven successful at convince loved ones to get prepared:

First, if they are Christians or Jews, try to convince them of the Biblical responsibility to provide for their families. The verses that I cite at my Prayer static page are quite clear on this subject.

Second, hand them a book. Most people will not take the time to read a survival manual, but they are often willing to read a novel. In addition to humbly recommending my own novel ("Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"), I recommend all of the following:

Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (Classic nuke scenario)
Pulling Through by Dean Ing (a more modern nuke scenario + a mini nuke survival manual) Not to be confused with my screenplay that has the same title.
Some Will Not Die by Algis Budrys (Plague total wipe out scenario)
No Blade of Grass by John Christopher (Massive crop disease/social breakdown scenario, from the British perspective.)
Vandenberg by Oliver Lange (Invasion scenario) later republished under the title “Defiance”.
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
Last of the Breed by Louis L’amour

And for those that refuse to even take the time to read a novel, there is always "Plan B"--movies and television series. For my movie recommendations, scroll down near the bottom of the SurvivalBlog Bookshelf page. For television, in the US, I recommend the short-lived series "Jericho", which is now available on DVD. The show portrays some horribly bad Hollywoodesque tactics and is not particularly instructive of specific self-sufficiency techniques, but overall it is still worth watching, just for the sake of "atmosphere" and instilling a survival mindset.

In the UK, the new BBC television series "Survivors", debuted last month. It is a remake of the British series of the same name from the 1970s, that was produced by Terry Nation. I've seen only the first two episodes, but the story thusfar seems fairly plausible. UK residents can watch full episodes online but outside of the UK the only thing available at the BBC web site are short clips. The series will be available on DVD in UK format in January, but I'm not certain if there are plans to make it available in the North America DVD format. Beware that the "Bit Torrent" streams of this show that are now being circulated at sites like are not licensed copies.

Dear JWR
I am fairly new to prepping but as a lifelong asthma patient I quickly realized that I cannot depend solely on my current nebulizer WTSHTF. This is because it plugs into a wall and does not have any other alternative way to work when the grid goes down. When I did some research, however, I found a beautiful thing.

There are now handheld nebulizers that have both AC and and DC car adapter abilities as well as a rechargeable [gel cell] battery. They cost around $200 or slightly more but I can tell you that this is a bargain compared to dying of an asthma attack because there was no power and the hospital is not an option for one reason or another. For other people who will want to do this kind of prep for themselves or family members with asthma a prescription is required for the medicine and also the nebulizer.

The most common issue though is to acquire this unit, it seems to be on backorder from most of the local places I have tried. So for preppers I advise start the process now if you need one of these. I was just told today by one company that they haven't yet received their order that was placed in August .

Respectfully, - SKT

JWR Replies: This is a similar requirement than the CPAP machines needed by some folks with sleep apnea. (This has been discussed previously in SurvivalBlog,.,and elaborated on further in a subsequent letter about refrigeration for insulin.) Thankfully, most nebulizers have fairly modest current requirements.

Mr. Rawles,
Papa Papa made mention of getting in shape before the need to bug out:

Here is a link to a good workout that I found online. I have been using it and it is an intense workout that requires very little of my time. The information is available for free. The workout also goes by the name Combat Conditioning. Sounds appropriate. Matt Furey sells a comparable course for over $100. I hope your readers find this useful. Thank you for your help. I am praying for the Memsahib and you. - Konrad M.

Derek C. sent us the link to the full text of the recently mentioned nuclear and biological terrorism threat report, in PDF.

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Mike Williamson mentioned Survival Straps. Mike's comment: "I came across these in another forum. Someone skilled at braiding could make their own, or can support an American small business by buying one of these. We each have a bracelet made in this fashion, that are stylish and useful. Parachute cord is always a useful thing
to have on hand." JWR Adds: Paracord can also be unbraided into individual nylon threads, with even more uses in the field.

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I spotted this gem over at the DefenseTech blog: New Russian Camo Causes Finnish Angst. This story undergirds one of the strategies that I teach my consulting clients: Establish a clothing SOP for your retreat group to use in the event of a worst-case TEOTWAWKI. Buy a camouflage pattern that is relatively hard to find--something that is not ubiquitous like Woodland BDU. Better yet, buy two patterns: one for al of your shirts and jackets, and another that is distinctly different for all of your pants. With everyone in your group wearing the same obscure camouflage combination at all times it will be very difficult for an intruder to sneak into your defensive perimeter un-noticed. (Wearing camouflage is not for "style points". That is Mall Ninja nonsense.)

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From Cheryl (aka "The Economatrix) comes this news and commentary: UN Economists Warn US Dollar in For Hard Landing in 2009 -- Expect the Worst Recession Since WWII -- German Car Sales Collapse -- COMEX Gold Shock and Awe -- Economic Disaster on the Way -- Search for Stimulus in Zero-Interest-Rate World -- Fed Monetizing Debt by Printing Money -- Men Choose Army over Bleak US Job Market -- College May Become Unaffordable for Most -- CIC Won't "Dare" Invest in Financial Firms -- Auto Sales Hit New Low; GM Sales Plunge 41% -- HSBC Fund Returns to Buying Gold as Hedge Against Inflation (and may start adding coffee, sugar and grains next year)

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Several readers sent us this: St. Louis City Leader To Residents: Get Armed. A key quote from this brief article: "The community has to be ready to defend itself, because it's clear the economy is going to get worse, and criminals are getting more bold,"

"I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men." - Sir Isaac Newton, shortly after losing all of his savings in the South Seas Bubble investing swindle

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My sincere thanks to a "Secret Squirrel" reader that has very charitably sent cash every week for the past couple of months, with notes indicating that the money was for The Memsahib's medical bills. You are too kind! My plan is to "pay it forward", once my wife is well, and we have recovered financially. God Bless you!

Today we present another entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

For most of us who don’t live at a retreat [year-round] our plan is to G.O.O.D. When the time comes we plan to load up our bug-out vehicles and head to our own “Shibes Meadow” as the family in the movie Panic in Year Zero did. At least that’s the plan. But how well have you considered this plan? In other words, have you done a practice “load-up”?

Some of the characters in Mr. Rawles' novel, "Patriots", had to implement their bug-out plans and pack their vehicles for the trip to the Gray’s retreat. In that packing process they discovered that due to limited cargo capacity they couldn’t take everything they wanted. The choice came down to a triage of their equipment and supplies into three piles “Essential”, “Second Priority”, and “Nice to Have”. Since this bug-out would be a one-shot trip (no return trips for what was left behind) they had to wisely choose those items they needed.

I too have always had a bug-out plan but I had never down a practice load-up. Sure, I had sort of a mental list of things that I’d grab and go but really had no firm plan. With uncertainties in the current economic situation I finally decided that maybe it was time to actually see if my bug-out plan was feasible. So with a day off for the Columbus Day holiday I decided to run a practice load-up by myself.

My primary bug-out vehicle for cargo is a 1994 GMC Suburban which I calculate has about 128 cubic feet of unencumbered, interior space. This area will accommodate larger items that won’t fit in a car and is also protected from the weather and prying eyes. The first items to be loaded were the many boxes of a one-year food storage. After one hour of lifting and carrying I was done. Notice that I said I was “done” and not “finished”. Despite the large amount of space in the Suburban, the food storage quickly filled the entire cargo area. No room left for a generator, guns, books, kerosene, winter clothing, etc. Hmmm.... that’s instructive, I thought. My mental load-up plan hadn’t survived the reality of limited cargo capacity. It was a good thing this was only practice and not a real emergency. Decisions on what to take and what to leave are best made when you are not under stress.

With aching muscles I unloaded the food storage boxes and returned them to my basement storage area. As I did this I wrote down the contents of each box, weighed it on a bathroom scale, and recorded all of this information. From this list I can now identify some of the boxes that could be left behind. But the larger question remained - “How can I formulate a plan to take everything I want?”

The goal of any practical exercise such as this is to evaluate how well the current plan worked and to compile a list of “lessons learned”. After some time to reflect on this experience I’ve come up with several things to keep in mind when I have to do this for real.

1. Obviously, pre-position as much stuff as possible at your intended destination. For some people this just isn’t practical. I had much of my stuff stored in a rural location until last year when a changed in ownership of the property compelled me to remove my pre-positioned items. The more things that can be stored securely at or near your retreat location the better.

2. If you decide to run a practice load-up (or during the real thing) remember to practice OPSEC. The last thing you need is a nosy neighbor to ask questions about why you are loading all of these boxes and things into your vehicle. Have a pre-planned excuse for all of your activity - “The wife wanted me to clean out some of this junk and put it in a storage unit.” If possible load vehicles in your garage with the doors closed. I have a detached garage which means I have to move items stored in the house to the garage out in the open. Fortunately, I ran my practice load-up on a minor holiday when most people had to work so most of my neighbors weren’t home. Also, my garage is behind my house, not easily seen from the street, and relatively concealed from view. In a real bug-out situation I might choose to load up at night while being as quiet as possible. If you are loading a pickup, have a tarp or topper to protect your items from the weather and conceal them from uninvited inspection.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Obviously, a first priority is food. Second, is water purification equipment. Third, is clothing and shelter (such as tents). Arms and ammunition also rank highly. Only you can decide what you will need based on the available cargo capacity and items you have.

4. Make a list or spreadsheet of all the items you intend to load and weigh each item or box. I was surprised to learn that my food storage weighed in at nearly 1,600 pounds total. This has implications for weight capacity and distribution in your bug-out vehicle. Check your vehicle owners manual for suggested maximum load limits. With increased loads you may also have to increase air pressure in your tires. (You do have a compressed air tank in your garage to fill your tires [and adjust shocks] don’t you?) Realize that with a heavily loaded vehicle all performance characteristics (braking, acceleration, turning, etc.) will be much different than what you are normally used to.

5. Make a diagram of the cargo area and indicate where items will be placed. Your practice load-up will help you determine the most efficient use of space. Pack heavy, dense items (such as ammunition boxes or books) on the floor of the vehicle. For some SUVs and pickups too much weigh that sits too high in the vehicle raises the center of gravity for the vehicle which could lead to a potential roll-over situation. Light items such as bulky clothing can be packed on top of heavier items in the cargo area. Just make sure that in case of an accident those items don’t move forward on impact. Cargo netting can be used to help secure these items.

6. Observe LIFO (Last In, First Out) when packing. Cans of gasoline (and funnels) used for in-route refueling should be easily accessible. (Gasoline should only be stored in Explo-Safe or Eagle safety cans.) The spare tire, jack, tow straps, and any other emergency equipment should also be equally accessible. For a car you may want to remove the spare tire and jack from under the trunk floor and put them in the back seat. The last thing you want to do is unload your whole car trunk so that you can change a flat tire.

7. Employ labor saving devices whenever possible. I used a two-wheel hand truck to move boxes to and from my house to the garage. This did save some labor and speeded up the process. Hoists or block-and-tackle could be used to load heavier items such as generators. It is also a good idea to store items close to where you will be loading them. Obviously, leaving your food storage in a garage where temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit is not conducive to long shelf life. But items that are not affected by temperature change like winter clothing can safely be stored in a garage or storage shed.

8. Use proper lifting technique when handling your items. The last thing you want is to “throw out your back” or have a mishap while carrying things up or down stairs. Make sure you are in good physical condition especially with regard to arm and upper body strength. Even though I bicycled to and from work all summer my legs were still sore and fatigued the next day. It may be time to hit the gym again or begin lifting free weights at home to increase strength.

9. Organize your family into a work detail. Everyone should have a job based on their age and abilities. Young children may only be able to carry light object or locate specific items for their parents. Older children may be physically able to help with the heavy lifting. The more hands available the faster the task can be completed.

10. Drive part or all of your intended escape route with your fully loaded bug-out vehicle. Due to a lack of time I was not able to do this. However, if you intend to drive on unpaved or gravel back roads out of the city you should get some idea of how your vehicle will respond under load conditions. You may find you can’t drive as fast as you would like or drive on some roads when muddy or snow covered. My Suburban is only a 2-wheel drive model which limits somewhat my selection of escape routes.

With a fully developed load-up list I am now concentrating on finalizing details for a vehicle convoy. Since all of my family members are adult drivers we will have several vehicles to convoy, most of which will have passengers. I am still developing the actual convoy plan based upon military tactics and have more study to do. However, I am planning for two basic scenarios - one in which civil orders remains pretty much intact (i.e. natural disaster evacuation, etc.) and one in which “all bets are off” (ABAO). An ABAO scenario could include a nation-wide grid-down situation or the aftermath of a “dirty bomb” terrorist attack. An ABAO situation will require more emphasis on personal and convoy security.

Some of life’s best lessons are those that are hard-learned. My practice load-up was such a lesson. Now my bug-out plans have a more practical basis rather than one based upon wishful thinking or mere speculation. Even so, I will continue to refine those plans in the future. What about you? Is it time to get moving?

JWR Adds: Papa Papa's experience underscores the importance of pre-positioning the vast majority of your storage food and gear at your retreat. I've stressed this repeatedly in my writings and in my consulting work. I tell my clients: You may have only one trip "outta Dodge", so 90% of your goodies need to be at your retreat well in advance!

Hi Mr. Rawles:

In your comments to the family living in Trinidad & Tobago, you wrote: "As your budget allows, buy a small solar charger for your AA and AAA NiMH batteries."
Do you have personal experience with any of these solar chargers? Can you recommend any? Many thanks, - Larry T.

JWR Replies: Depending on your budget, solutions can run from "micro", to "mini", to "maxi." These inexpensive solar chargers sold by Ready Made Resources (one of our long-time advertisers) work fine as a "micro" solution., but be advised that they are not waterproof. I recommend setting these up on a windowsill, inside a south-facing window. In my experience, it is best to buy at least two of these chargers, since they charge slowly, via "trickle charging".

Moving up to the "mini" solution, there are these 6.5 watt flexible (amorphous), photovoltaic (PV) panels. Even modest-size PV systems with a small deep cycle battery bank can make a huge difference in providing small scale lighting and battery charging for crucial security measures such as radios and night vision equipment. There are so many LED lights, battery charging trays, and various pieces of electronic gear available that will run directly from 12 VDC or from a DC-to-DC converter, that you might be able to skip the expense of a full-up system with a large AC inverter.

If you have a bigger budget, Ready Made Resources (RMR) and other vendors can also supply larger pre-packaged PV power systems, either with or without an AC power inverter. (Without an inverter, they will provide only 12 volt or 24 volt DC power.) RMR even has experience designing "maxi" systems--6 KW or larger. (BTW, they offer free alternate energy system design and consulting.)

Keep in mind that starting January 1st, grid-tied PV systems will be eligible for a 30% Federal tax credit in the US. Many states also offer their own tax credits. In some states such as Florida and California, the combined Federal and state tax credits may reduce your expense by as much as 70%, when all is said and done.

Mr Rawles:
For some time I was a lurker, reading SurvivalBlog on a more or less regular basis. Eventually I decided I needed to pay for what I was getting. I became a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber. Yesterday, you saved me more than the cost of my subscription with just one tip: I ordered a Foodsaver V2830 and paid just $59.99, postage paid. These originally sold for $169.99. I had wanted one for a long time and put off purchasing it because of the expense. Many thanks! And to the rest of the lurkers out there, it's time to pay your way! - Randy D. in Maine

JWR Replies: Many thanks for that compliment. A reminder to our readers that Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

Another way that you can help support the blog is by patronizing our advertisers. The FoodSaver offer is from one of our Affiliate advertisers, where we earn a small commission for the purchases that you make when you follow our links. For example, the FoodSaver vacuum sealer that Randy mentioned is a FoodSaver V2830 for $59.99 with free standard shipping, directly Use code L8FAV28 at checkout.

Reader Vanya O. wrote to ask: "When do you expect that the MOAB will end?". I expect the MOAB to drag on for several more years--and possibly a full decade--reaching absurd proportions. States, counties, and cities, and pension funds may eventually be bailed out by Uncle Sugar. That last stage of the MOAB may very well culminate with a direct bailout of individual subprime mortgage holders. Yes, it will be your tax dollars at work: Paying off the mortgages held by your NINJA neighbor, who for the past few years has been living in a house that he could never afford to begin with!

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DCB sent us this article link: Panel: Biological warfare attack likely in next five years. (Yet another reason to move to the boonies!)

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Eric mentioned this sage advice from veteran financial analyst Marty Weiss: Starting Now: America’s Second Great Depression

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Eric also sent a link to an obviously slanted Associated Press article that casts the preparedness movement in a bad light: Survivalist business booms as economy flails Thankfully, the article only quotes me briefly and withholds any disparaging remarks about SurvivalBlog.

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Yea, the MOAB doth groweth as was foretold: Feds to expand rescue. And from The Economatrix comes these articles: Wall Street Rebounds Sharply After Yesterday's Selloff -- Ford Asks For "Stand-By" $9 Billion Line of Credit (that it thinks it won't have to tap) -- GM Says it Needs $12 Billion in Loans by Late March -- Arnie Says California Almost Broke -- Oil Drops to as Low as $46/Barrel -- Bond Risk Surges to Record on Concern Slump "To Hard To Fix" -- Monday: Fourth Worst Drop Ever for Dow -- Delinquent Mortgages Set to Nearly Double in 2009 -- Laughable "Loans" to Prevent the Bust (The Mogambo Guru)

"So here we are in a country with more wheat and corn and more money in the bank than any other nation, more cotton, more everything in the world – there’s not a product that you can name that we haven’t got more of than any other country had on the face of the earth – and yet we’ve got people starving. We’ll hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poorhouse in an automobile." - Will Rogers, in a live radio broadcast, October 18, 1931

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For today's blog, I had originally posted a lengthy entry on herbal medicine for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. But I removed it just two hours after posting when I was alerted by two readers that the article's author had included some extensive plagiarism. Plagiarized articles cannot be accepted!

Mr. Rawles,

In your novel ["Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"], you mentioned having bolt action rifles fitted with flash-hiders., to kinda "tacticalize" a civilian rifle. What type of flash hider do you recommend, these days? My gunsmith (locally) says that he can thread the muzzles on my two bolt guns to 1/2 x28 threads. But all of the flash hiders with that thread that I've seen advertised are for 5.56/.22 bullets. Solutions? Thanks Much, - Marty in Rhode Island

JWR Replies: Previously, I used drilled out Vortex flash-hiders, to provide .308 bullet clearance. But I now recommend the Hurricane flash-hider, made by a home-based gunsmith that does business under the trade name "Moses." He advertises them at the FALFiles Marketplace. You might ask for them to be made ito the Rawles Special specifications, to wit:

2.5 inches long
Twist prongs (similar to the Vortex)
.30 caliber bullet clearance
Two rear grooves
1/2 x 28 RH threads (Same muzzle thread specification as M16/AR-15)
Very dark gray Parkerizing.

Disclaimer; I have no remunerative interest in these flash hiders. I'm just a very satisfied customer.

As I've mentioned previously, I recommend leaving a muzzle brake on your rifle in normal times. This does not attract unwarranted attention when out hunting, or when visiting your local rifle range. If and when the Schumer Hits the Fan, you can quickly switch to the flash hiders. (Be sure to do some target tests with both the flash hider and muzzle brake, to make sure that the different barrel harmonics don't change the bullet's point of impact.)

The muzzle brakes that I prefer are made by Holland's of Oregon. (You may recall that they were previously a SurvivalBlog advertiser.) Darryl Holland has set up four bolt actions and a Valmet Hunter for our family with his muzzle brakes, and I've been very pleased with his work.

OBTW, we also use olive drab Holland's of Oregon brand zippered-nylon buttstock pouches on our bolt actions. These also work well for holding small (4 or 5 cartridge) detachable magazines. These stock pouches have very comfortable neoprene cheekpieces. I noticed that they are not currently cataloged at the Holland's web site, but I believe that they should still be available. (Call to inquire.) This is an exceptionally well-made item.

I was pleasantly surprised with the first two episodes of the new BBC television series "Survivors", that debuted last month. It is a remake of the British series from the 1970s, produced by Terry Nation. Aside for some anti-gun stereotypes (the only characters shown acquiring guns are "Tom Price"--a convicted murderer, and "Dexter"--a drunken sociopath), the story thusfar seems fairly plausible. The acting, cinemaphotography, production value, and music all seemed above average for a television series. I got a BBC review copy, but I've heard that the series will be available at a site called Mininova. (But I don't think this is a licensed site.) UK residents can watch full episodes online but outside of the UK the only short clips are available at the BBC web site.

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Today's economic news and commentary from Cheryl: Dow Down Almost 680 Points on News Recession Began in December of 2007 -- Credit Cards to Chop $2 Trillion in Credit--Goodbye Spending! -- China President: Get Ready for Rough Ride from Global Recession -- The Hyperinflationary Depression -- UK Closer to Switching to Euro -- Volvo and Saab Ask Sweden for Help -- Concerns Mount on Ability to Fund State Debt -- Malls are Next to Face Foreclosure -- Quantitative Easing: The Kickstart of Gold's Moving to $1,200 and $1,600 (Jim Sinclair) -- Pennsylvania Gun Owners Dodge Tax on Ammunition

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I've previously noted post-election price increases at the retail level, but now even manufacturers are raising their prices for full capacity magazines. I just noticed that Springfield Armory boosted their price on M14 (M1A) 20 rounders to nearly $50. DPMS raised their price on AR-10 clone magazines to nearly $45 each. Meanwhile, Ruger jacked up the price of P89 magazines to $38+ each. My advice, once again, is to stock up on any top quality magazines that you can find at pre-BHO administration prices. Come February, I expect full capacity magazine prices to triple. There will doubtless be a race, as manufacturers rush to produce (and importers rush to import) before inauguration day. I suspect that quality control at the aftermarket magazine makers will suffer, making what were already inferior products even worse. This is precisely what happened in the interval between passage of the 1994 magazine ban, and its implementation. (With a few notable exceptions, DO NOT buy aftermarket magazines, or you will be buying grief.)

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From the ever-cheery Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: World stability hangs by a thread as economies continue to unravel

"No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause." - Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, December 1, 2008

We've completed the judging for the latest round of our nonfiction writing contest. The judging was difficult, because we had so many great entries. The first place winner is Carolyn W., for her lengthy article Gardening and Seed Saving. She wins first prize: two transferable Front Sight  "Gray" Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value.

Second prize goes to "Hermeneutics" for her article Intellectually Self-Reliant Children: From Homeschooling to College. She will receive a three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses.

Third prize goes to Ryan S., for his article Criminal Gangs in TEOTWAWKI -- Understanding a Potential Threat. He will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Honorable mention prizes go to Donna G. for her article Mini Dairy Goats for a Sustainable Future., and to O.F. for his article Preparing for Survival Retreat Perimeter Defense. Both will receive an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Note to the prize winners: Please e-mail me your snail mail addresses!

Today we begin Round 20 of the writing contest, with the same great prizes. Round 20 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The first article today is a new retreat owner profile. I find that these profiles of real-life preppers are incredibly instructive. If nothing else, they inspire some great "what have I overlooked" analysis of our preparations. OBTW, we still have room for a lot more overseas profiles. They would be greatly appreciated!

A rental three bedroom roomy apartment in suburbs. One hour from capital city of 30,000 on a relatively large Caribbean island, with nearer smaller towns. Ten minute drive to large mall, and 'Big Box' mart.

Ages: 44 and 28

SOs: Two children, 12 year old and 2 year old.

ANNUAL INCOME:varies from $9,000 to $13,000.

PROFESSION: Photographer/Entrepreneur and Seamstress/Homemaker

INVESTMENTS: Various modest financial tools including stocks, CDs, savings, mutual funds, annuity, and Silver Eagles.

VEHICLES: Nissan station wagon (2000), 18-speed mountain bike

FIREARMS BATTERY: No firearms, due to excessively restrictive, outdated, draconian, colonial laws. Also, most government policy makers are hoplophobes. Unless one is wealthy, then the chances of affording the necessary bribe to senior officials for a firearms license is slim to remote.

MAIN BATTERY: No firearms. 2 air guns: RWS magnum .177 smoothbore air rifle. (1,000 fps). Webley Tempest .177 smoothbore air pistol. (450 fps).

STORED AMMO: 2,700 pellets, plus 1,000-2000 always on hand for weekly practice with elder son, wife and fellow shooters.







2 FRS radios, with charger, 2x NiMH batteries, capable of AAA x 4 alkaline. Cell phones. AM/FM radio. 8 AAA, 8 AA rechargeable batteries.

WATER STORAGE: 6 days for family of 4 (84 litres) inside home. Bleach and buckets with lids. Two 400 gallon tanks in yard, but this must be shared with two other families. Building has roof guttering that can be easily harvested during an emergency. Nearby rivers and streams can provide even more.

FOOD STORAGE: 6 weeks+ for a family of four. Wife thinks we comfortably have more than 2 months food and that I'm being overly conservative in my estimate. These include over 90 cans, honey, salt, sugar, Ramen, flour, pasta, powdered milk, baking powder, yeast, beans, rice, cooking oil etc. We have also included comfort foods such as cookies, peanut butter, potato chips, wholesome cereals (muesli, oats, granola, etc.). There are other foods that I have not included, but all the foods that we have stored are foods we eat regularly (thanks to SurvivalBlog).

Poultry, fish, TP, disposable diapers are bought in bulk. Some of the poultry and fish are stored in the next door neighbor's freezer. They are a retired couple with no kids.

A few thousand open pollinated seeds: corn, eggplant, pigeon peas, sorrel, pumpkin.

MEDICAL: This is one of our weakest areas, but we've still managed to accumulate a few items. Oral rehydration salts, bandages, gauze, medical tape, syringes, surgical gloves, baby wipes, painkillers, anti-pyretics, anti-fungals, anti-inflammatories, anti-diarrheals, antihistamines, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, sulfa tablets, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflamatory Drugs (NSAIDs), baby fever medication and a few more.

OTHER PREPS: A family Bug Out Bag with items that will sustain us for three days or more. Our preps are bucketed, boxed, bagged or in otherwise mobile-ready condition for quick transport if necessary. A detailed family emergency plan is on the fridge door, with a copy in the BOB.

Even though beginners, we've also included toilet paper (2 months), feminine napkins (3 months), maps, matches, lighters, tools, batteries, changes of clothing, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soaps, pens, notepads, games that require no batteries (chess, checkers, dominoes etc), lots of batteries, chargers, cash, WD-40, oils, reading glasses, knives, children's books, cleavers, candles, Thermos flask, utility gloves, dust masks and a few other items.

All important documents have been copied (2 copies each) with a copy kept in the BOB. Soft copies are also kept on a flash drive, as well as on CDs. Our preps, even though modest and woefully lacking, have taken us almost three years to stockpile--the same time I have been a SurvivalBlog reader.

HOBBIES: Shooting, gardening, reading, out-door activities with the kids, hunting, photography, sewing.

Both of us were born and raised Christians in the Caribbean. Don't wear our religion on our sleeves. Live in an area that is fairly 'family-friendly' with many parks, schools, playgrounds and other green spaces in every direction. Our children are happy and healthy.

We are currently looking for land to buy within 20-40 miles of our present location. Building our dream home/retreat will be the next big project of our lives.

Our country is experiencing an economic boom with 13 continuous years of growth, due to abundant hydrocarbons. Headline inflation is over 13% and growing. Food inflation is 25-40%.

Thrift and proper planning allows us to prep, while others who earn much more than we do can't seem to make their monthly pay cheques last more than three weeks. We eat out only once (or in a good month—twice) per month, while adding two or three cans to our stockpile per grocery visit. We scour the sales, visit thrift stores, and attend garage sales.

We are trying to prepare for the upcoming inevitable changes and seek to be self-reliant. The country has had a military uprising in 1970, and an attempted coup in 1990 that left many dead; several buildings in the capital city burnt to the ground and widespread looting, curfews, criminal activity, even by law enforcement and military personnel. Due to predatory, arcane, colonial laws against individual rights to own and bear arms we own no firearms yet.

He was an active member of a local rifle club for years, learning and shooting pistols (.22, .38 and 9mm) on the 25m range twice a week.
Wife and son, 12, now learning to shoot the pistol. They like it. The air rifle heavy for them. If she applies for her own, then we'd buy a smaller air rifle that is comfortable for both wife and son.

Why did you choose your location?
Area close to an airport, golf course, mall, hills, rivers, many farms, schools, rapid public transportation system. Good roads, farmers market, many green spaces, several middle class communities, great for small, medium businesses. Good hunting on state lands close by. Three industrial estates. National disaster planning authority's head office is in the area. They don't provide any tangible pre-disaster help though; just information leaflets. Their methods are reactive, bureaucratic and slow. They don't partner meaningfully with the public.

What are the drawbacks to the region?
Violent crime can be a serious factor, as throughout most of the island. Close-by hills prone to forest fires during dry season. Nearest fire station has only one tender and is approximately 10 minutes away. Recently, minor flooding has been an issue.

Who will be joining you at your retreat if the balloon goes up?
No one. We'll have to be self sufficient. But next door neighbors, a retired couple will be mutually useful. He has a ton load of tools, practical skills & know how. She an avid kitchen gardener, wine maker, cook.
We also have a written plan-–should home get too sticky--with evacuation to relatives with 3 good rural retreats, in 3 different directions. Due to our modest preps, we won't be a burden to them initially. But should the situation persist into months, then we'd have to get creative.

How long do you expect that it will be before order is restored?
Three to six weeks. Or longer.

What is your worst case scenario?
Category five hurricane followed by flood, then crime surge, which may include bold, violent, daytime home invasions by gangs. Aviation accident, with clogged highways and main roads. No electricity, water. Groceries, pharmacies closed, and thence looting. Police confiscating legit gun owners' weapons (which is their counterintuitive policy during certain types of emergencies), while leaving criminals armed. Foreign forces arrive to 'help' (steal, rape, kill, plunder).

What personal circumstances have shaped your preparations, and how?
Observing the events of attempted coup in my country. Also, seeing and reading of the horrors experienced by those unprepared folks in Louisiana during Katrina, and the government's (non)action that made a bad situation hellish.

I never want my family to stand in line for food, water, shelter, medical care or rescue. Nor to be at the mercy of others, like waiting for NGOs, government agencies to help us.

One can observe other events around the globe that create refugees in their own communities. Such as Myanmar cyclone that killed over 60,000 and it's aftermath. Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica are perennially ravaged by hurricanes. [As of this writing in late 2008.]

What shortcomings does your retreat have that you would like to improve if you had the opportunity?
Houses are too close. Not enough land between. Difficult to defend against three or more armed, determined intruders.

What are your long term goals?
Live a wholesome, productive Christian life that best prepares us to cope with any problems that will arise. Allow our children to learn through observing us consistently making the right choices, supported by the right actions in every situation encountered. Learn and practice regularly, new useful survival skills. Ensure our children survive and thrive in this unpredictable world.
Buy land and house on one of the picturesque mountains in the area.
Get several battle rifles, pistols, shotguns and several thousand rounds of ammo. Train with them regularly.
Enough land (5 acres +) to grow food, raise livestock (chickens, ducks, goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, fish), build shooting range and build dream home with additional buildings for a small shared community of like minded moral, ethical families and individuals.

Most of our friends are woefully unprepared (we were there only three years ago) and discreet enquiries confirm this. We hope through gentle reason, logic and moral suasion to help some take their first steps in family preparedness. No one was present to help us when we began almost three years ago, and most of what we learned came from SurvivalBlog. For this, we are eternally grateful to you and your contributors.

JWR Recommendations:
As your budget allows, buy a small solar charger for your AA and AAA NiMH batteries. In the short term--while you are waiting for the slow-moving wheels of bureaucracy to turn,--you should acquire high-power, large bore air rifles (such as the Quackenbush .308) for each teen and adult family member.Also buy a couple of real (not flimsy "decorator") sharpened swords (such as Cold Steel Warrior series Katanas or Wakazashis), and couple of 26.5mm flare pistols for "boating emergencies", with a large assortment of flares. Get plenty of parachute flares for illumination and either "meteor" or "cluster" type flares for dissuading any would-be "Pirates of the Caribbean."

When you build you new home, pick out a parcel of land with advantageous (defendable) terrain, and plan for security measures throughout the design process. Ditto for energy and water self-sufficiency. Some key design points to consider: Masonry construction, minimally-sized extra-thick plexiglas windows (with bars), all entries accessed via very stout steel doors (with two extra hinges, set in steel frames that are securely bolted deep into the masonry with numerous large diameter bolts). All these features could easily be explained as "hurricane-proof" architecture.

We've read your blog pretty faithfully for some time now and found it extremely good in all regards.

While I'm actually writing regarding vehicles, I'd like to share for just a moment how preparedness saved our behinds recently. This year we have had a string of minor events that collectively should have put us in the poor house. Broken bones, loss of a tenant and friend to a heart issue, surgery, car accident that totaled the vehicle - right in the middle of the other mentioned things - and a few other items too. Had we not maintained a small garden and some "stocks on hand" in our "urban" small town home, we could have lost our home and sanity to boot. Yes, it can happen to you, it happened to me, and it's going to happen to others too. Christian Charity helped us, and we honor that by being charitable at every opportunity! Praise to The Most High God!

I don't recall seeing any thoughts on types and methodology towards automobiles themselves lately. Here's a (hopefully few) brief thoughts on the autos we rely on every day, and how to optimize our driving experiences, no matter the conditions that surround us.

First, I highly recommend getting out of car (or truck) payments as quickly as possible. Fixing up your auto of choice for bugging out will do no good if your finances get hosed, and the repo man shows up. Also, not having a car payment, we can afford a few more dollars for gas and maintenance, and still save money. Not requiring full coverage insurance because of a car payment helps even more.

Second, know your vehicle! Even if you're totally inept at mechanical stuff, a basic set of tools and a good manual will do wonders. Keep good records of breakdowns, installed parts, maintenance, and usage (has your teenage son been hot rodding around town?). Knowing your car's quirks, needs, and limitations are very important. Keep the maintenance up, and if you have the ability, do your own work. That stripped bolt that your mechanic didn't tell you about may come back to haunt you. Research your type of car/truck on the Internet and join a forum for advice, "tips and tricks", and "life expectancies" of all the sub-assemblies (engine/tranny, suspension, electricals, etc..). Our flavor of Ford Explorers have a bad rap for transmission problems, but few people actually ever have their tranny serviced. Maintenance is key to longevity. A well maintained used auto will usually serve you well. The previously mentioned Internet research and forums are great for those little tips/tricks to maximize your vehicle, what works and what doesn't, and how to overcome many problems cost effectively. Several common Explorer problems are cheap fixes, instead of expensive parts - when you find out the "trick". Predictive maintenance is a handy thing too. Realizing that the alternator is original on a 1998 whatever-car merits checking it over good, or replacing it and shelving the old one as "backup spare part", for example.

Third, selecting a new purchase. I'm generally writing in the regard of those who already own something they want to keep, but we should consider those who are looking to buy something better and/or more reliable. Mr. Rawles has recommended a few very durable autos, older diesel Mercedes wagons for one I think. Good choices, but I wonder about parts availability. My old 1978 F150 4x4 is a great truck, but sadly parts are becoming harder to get. I actually prefer the most common SUV for the area that you live in, in my case Ford Explorers. (I'll admit a little bias, I was raised in a Ford family) Parts are plentiful, and generally not expensive. Again - Maintenance is key to longevity.

When looking at a new purchase, please consider availability of parts in your area, ease of maintenance and repair, and expected life cycle. How the vehicle in question was treated before you own it is a crap shoot, but a shoddy interior and greasy under the hood or underside are tip offs to a bad experience. So is unevenly worn tires, drips under car/truck on the pavement, or hanging wires under the dash. Many youngsters have damaged wires in the dash trying to hook up a fancy stereo, for example. A glove box full of receipts for parts is a plus to me. It shows that those parts don't need replacing soon, and I know what's been done lately. Is the current owner friendly and willing to let you have a mechanic look it over? Often that willingness on the sellers behalf is enough to keep me happy. Exercise some caution with modified vehicles, some folks do great installing a lift kit in a 4x4 truck, some don't (for example). Engine mods can be tricky too. (Can you tell I'm a country boy?)

Fourth, commonality and spare parts. Although parts availability (from a store) was mentioned a bit, consider junk yards a second line of components. Further, if you find a cheap and complete car/truck of your year (or "generation") with a bad motor or other issue(s), buy that puppy and park it out back - just for parts. Apartment dwellers wouldn't fair well in this regard. About commonality, my gal and I drive the same model of SUV. She has a '93 4x4 Explorer, mine is a '92 (also 4x4). The parts donors are a '92 (wrecked) and a '95. The '95 isn't really all the same, but several parts have swapped well for us. '91-'94 Explorers are common and swap parts extremely well. '95 - '01 Explorers look the same, but there's enough changes over the years to make it a difficult call (motors, trannys, and other things). [JWR Adds: I do not recommend Ford Explorers made before 1995, because of their higher center of gravity, which means they have a much higher roll-over risk. Lift kits are definite no-no for 1994 and earlier Explorers! Also, if possible, try to find a "Flex Fuel" variant, so you can burn E85 ethanol as well as gasoline.] Of course, whatever your flavor of transportation, these principles apply. How many years was the auto in question produced in that configuration (or "generation")? I'm mentioning the Ford Explorers not because I think they're the "best", they're extremely common here. I worked an hour north of my home for awhile, and I hardly ever saw one there. Odd, but true. There were lots of Chevy Blazers and GMC Jimmys there though.

Yep - parts, I keep mentioning that. They wear out, they get broken and damaged. A stray bullet or even a rock off the road in a bad place (between a belt and pulley for example) can be a side of the road event. If you can't fix it and find the parts, it's a great big paperweight. I dare say I have more raw weight in parts than I do tools in my garage. Most breakdowns can be dealt with, after closing time at the parts house. When it's vital to be able to go - I'm going!
Do you have a case of oil on hand? Filters? Anti-freeze? Transmission fluid? Brake fluid?
Do you have these things at your retreat area?
Do you have a few dents and scratches on your ride? I leave them alone on mine. It adds to the "OPSEC".

Obviously, gas (or diesel) might get in short supply in troubled times, but in the meantime we can optimize what we've got and save some cash.

I found this linked over at TMM Forums: Biodiesel home-brewers on the rise, with many skirting regulations

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If you've ever wondered why the precious market is so volatile, this piece by Jason Hommel makes it quite clear: The Tiny Size of the Gold Market. It doesn't take much to move such a thin market.

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I've often mentioned the utility of owning Foodsaver vacuum packing unit. We have one here at the Rawles Ranch that we've used regularly for 15 years. The only drawback has been their high retail price. But for a limited time, you can buy a FoodSaver V2830 for $59.99 (originally $169.99) with free standard shipping, directly Use code L8FAV28 at checkout. This offer is valid during the month of December, or just while supplies last.

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Don W. flagged a general piece on military sniping at The Register. It has quite a bit of hyperbole, but some useful information.

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And from the Economatrix come the following news and commentary: UK Could Collapse Like Iceland -- Bankrupt Britain Trending Toward Hyper-Inflation? -- Stocks End Short Session with Fifth Straight Gain [JWR's reminder: Dump your stocks during rallies. Re-invest in tangibles!] -- Eurozone Inflation Falls Sharply -- Helen Thomas: It's a Depression -- Bankrupt UK Heading for Hyper-Inflation? -- Bernanke's Deflationary Tactics

"The moral and constitutional obligations of our representatives in Washington are to protect our liberty, not coddle the world, precipitating no-win wars, while bringing bankruptcy and economic turmoil to our people." - Congressman Ron Paul, 1987

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